Feeds:
Posts

In another misadventure amongst the cornstalks, we learned, in weeks following the incidents in last week’s article, a broader (and maybe deeper) perspective of some kingdom principles.

It had come to our attention in the course of that summer that the number of tomatoes among the vines in our garden were not in quantity what we had expected. At first, it was simply a vague feeling that something was amiss, but it got to the point of being fairly obvious when a tomato vine on one evening would have multiple clusters of tomatoes and then suddenly be stripped bare by the next morning. Cucumber plants also were being plundered although squash plants were only mildly disturbed: I guess that squash was not someone’s favorite vegetable. The bean plants did not appear to be disturbed suggesting that the task of picking beans was simply too time consuming or too much work to bother with for our neighborhood vegetable picker.

Standing Upright 2We considered the various culprits that possibly could be responsible and had to rule out animals (even raccoons). The plants were not pulled down but were simply plucked of their vegetables. What planted the realization beyond the reach of doubt, however, was our discovery of our storage building’s doors having been forced open, the latch bent almost beyond repair (with a few items missing from our building). Our backyard is completely surrounded by a chain link fence with gates that are locked but a spry person (or persons) could hop over the fence and back again without too much trouble.

The aggravation came to a head (or maybe I should say that it came to an “ear”) when we realized that someone was carrying off the corn. In spite of the hard work of preparing the soil (we had the help of a small rototiller for some of it but did most of it just with a shovel), the ongoing work of weeding (a never ending battle), and the struggle with falling cornstalks (don’t worry, I won’t go into that again), someone had carried off twice as much corn as we were able to pick for ourselves.

Needless to say, the Lord used the experience to develop our character in the realm of anger. And really, if someone wanted some of it we would have liked to have shared it with him… or her… or them.

But in our discussing the whole matter, my wife, Diane, and I were actually reminded of Jesus’ parable of the sower, the seed, and the soils in Matthew 13.

“He told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them’… ‘Anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path” (Matthew 13:3-4, 19 ESV).

There is a “seed” called the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is being sown along the path of life today and there are “birds” out and about scavenging that seed. A little bit like those that have snuck into our backyard to help themselves, there are causes and philosophies and false religions that steal from God the harvest that He desires in His people. What complicates this is that much of this is happening, in a sense, in His backyard. Causes that compete with the proclamation of God’s Truth and ideas that have their origins in worldly philosophy have a way of infiltrating the lives of Christians and consequently steer them away from the harvest of Godly fruits that the soil of their lives would yield for Christ.

Instead of the fruits of worship, thanksgiving, love, joy, peace, holiness, and glory to God, folks are too often giving themselves to thieves. As a result they leave behind legacies of selfishness, resentment, strife, brokenness, anger, immorality, and dishonor to God’s name. Frankly, if your life is not wholly surrendered to God for His glory and purposes, and obeying Him and experiencing His love in your life is not your top priority, then someone has been plundering the garden of God and you are an accomplice.

What makes this worse is that many Christians are “okay” with this mediocre and lukewarm spirituality. But the Lord isn’t okay with it. Not only is He being robbed of the devotion of His people, He is also being robbed of the effect that such devotion has on unbelievers: the salvation of souls. And if you can imagine Diane and myself being somewhat disturbed and frustrated by someone coming into our yard to snatch a few vegetables, then you’ll probably realize that the spiritual crime of robbing God is far more serious and deadly.

So what do we do? How do we not rob God of His harvest? The Bible puts forward this plan of action.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV).

So take care to not let spiritual thieves into the corner of God’s garden that is your life. Focus your devotion upon the Lord Jesus and let His Holy Spirit nurture the soil of your heart with His Word. As He brings conviction to your spirit from the revealing of His truth, yield to His leading and follow His lead. Our family finally took some steps to discourage future thefts, and God is taking steps to protect a future harvest in your life. Let Him have His way in your heart and let Him reap the fruits of grace that He desires to produce for you.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Advertisements

An unusually wet summer, years ago, proved to be a special problem in growing corn when my wife and I were a bit more involved in growing vegetables for our family. I recall one garden news expert remarking at the time that since, we were having an especially wet summer, the roots of corn plants had not grown downward as deeply as they generally do thus making them very susceptible to being knocked down. And so it was that a very heavy rain late in the season beat the corn down until the stalks all lay flat upon the ground. Being of the opinion that corn growing vertically would do much better than corn lying flat on the ground, my wife, Diane, and I laboriously restored them to upright positions by carefully standing each individual plant up and then packing soil around their roots.

A few weeks later, a few short but heavy rains early in the day knocked a lot of the corn down again. I was not home at the time so my wife diligently set herself to the task of restoring them to an upright stance and, when our family left to run some errands, the garden was in fairly decent shape. But then we had a “gulley washer” a few evenings later while we were gone. The next morning when we investigated, we found that the four new rows of corn had all fallen, smashed down flat once again by torrents of rain.Standing Upright

When we were finally able to go out to fix what we could before we had to leave again, we found that a lot of the stalks were actually broken or had begun to curve as they lay on the ground, their growth bending them towards the sunlight. Still, it was mostly back in shape by the time we had to leave again.

Two days later, however, Diane went out again to the garden and discovered that another rain had fallen, both adding significant weight to the corn stalks and weakening the soil that we had piled up around the plants causing them to fall again. Needless to say, we were both crestfallen over our fallen corn. We seized the narrow window of opportunity between other responsibilities and stood the plants up yet again.

The end result of our labors I may disclose in a future article, but for now let me only say that our misadventures in trying to keep the corn upright reminded me a little of God’s efforts in growing an “upright” people in whom He intends to produce a harvest.

If we appreciate the fact that God personally engages His people in a covenant relationship (complete with mutual benefits and responsibilities), then we must recognize the trial that we must be to Him at times as we frequently demonstrate a failure at being “upright”.

The spiritual alignment of a Christian is, in a sense, a vertical one. This is not a description of a physical stance but of a spiritual one, in case anyone thought that the human body is some sort of cosmic rabbit ears: lifting your left arm over your head, for example, and holding your right leg backward in the air will in no way improve the effectiveness of your prayers. No, living in spiritually vertical alignment (which is to say “living an upright life”) simply means living a life focused on God and His Word while manifesting a straightforward commitment for “God-likeness” in attitude and character. This orientation, which is not native to us, is the result of a life redeemed by Jesus’ sacrifice and a heart that is transformed by God’s grace.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14 ESV).

We might be considered a “trial” to God therefore when we lean towards either the various distractions that come our way or give in to our own compulsions (the remnants of the old lives we lived before we came to know Jesus as Savior). Such “mild” and subtle bendings in our character are little moments of compromise or laziness that erode a passionate following of Jesus. Naturally, when “heavy rains” of trouble, trial, and temptation come our way, we are knocked flat into a mud of failure and condemnation from the world.

When Diane and I were standing corn up for the umpteenth time, I can tell you that I seriously considered giving up on that corn. But my wise wife gently reminded me of the reward we could expect on the other end of our waiting and working, stalks with full and ripened ears of corn upon them. So I joined her and set myself again to the task of straightening out that stubborn corn.

And I am sure too that when we get knocked down the Lord is quick to intervene in our lives in order to stand us up again in an upright relationship with God. Through His Word He “straightens us out” so that you and I can live an upright life, free to enjoy our fellowship with Him and His people, and ready to produce a harvest of praise and fruitful service to God. The fruit of godliness produced by living uprightly opens the door for a more joyful life and opens the door for those around us to also be touched by the grace of God.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Yesterday afternoon, the stunning horror of the massacre in Las Vegas reached my ears. I, along with the rest of the nation, was shocked by the unveiling of evil in another senseless tragedy. My prayers and the prayers of my family and church go up for those whose lives have been terribly changed by this unexpected intrusion of wickedness.

Many questions arise as the country strives to comprehend why a deeply disturbed man would do such calculated evil. And, as usual, folks from all sorts of political positions are jockeying for an interpretation of what has happened, why it happened, and what must be done to prevent it from happening again. The gun control debate, for example, is finding plenty of explosive fuel for renewed battles in our government and media arenas everywhere.

GrievFolks are looking for easy answers, and, by extension, easy solutions, but are dangerously prone to overlooking the subtle nature of the problem. It isn’t a gun control problem. A person who intends to do a terrible thing will certainly find a way to do it (as the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9-11 terrorists demonstrated for us). It isn’t even a violent game or a violent movie problem, although horrible violence acted out in the name of entertainment doesn’t help in the least and should alarm us at the level of cruelty that can be imagined.

The problem is more basic than these things. The problem is within the human heart. What happened in Las Vegas is nothing less than evil, whatever the motive of the attacker. What was the purpose of his assault? While Stephen Paddock sadly may have been a tormented person (no one seems to know clearly what his story was), the actions of this 64 year-old retiree can in no way be construed as trying to defend himself. It is clear that he was simply driven by a cruel desire to inflict pain and suffering.

However, if we are really concerned about getting right what is wrong with a country in which something so terrible can occur, we need to call this what it is: evil. Somehow evil was given such leeway in his mind and heart that it grew and eventually exploded in this unthinkable storm of hate and rage.

And now families across America are shattered with gaping holes left where loved ones once lived. People like you and me are wounded, not just physically, but in their very souls with images seared into their minds which no one should be forced to see. People like you and me everywhere find themselves confronted by the utterly sobering truth that nothing can be taken for granted and that very bad things are ready to leap in and take what is most precious to them.

In one brief moment, the entire world somersaulted for the those impacted by the Las Vegas attack. Bodies were broken, dreams were shattered, and lives were snuffed out. The tragedy grew and grew, bringing with it a firestorm of anguish that will never completely heal while this world lasts.

As people discuss the terrible events that have taken place, the question arise (quite naturally I might add), “Isn’t there ANY place that one can be safe?” On the one hand, the answer is, of course, “No.” There is no corner into which human presence has entered that there is absolutely no potential for violence and pain. Our social stability hangs upon a mere thread, as we depend on complicated systems of checks and balances to regulate the affairs of each day, recognizing that basic human nature cannot by itself govern and sustain our nation benevolently. In fact, it is a somber reality that any venue in any city, small town, suburban neighborhood or country road can become an arena for the darkest manifestations of evil just as readily as any late night subway or dark alley. Concert halls, shopping malls, athletic stadiums, college campuses, childcare centers, school playgrounds, church sanctuaries, Amish school houses and even living rooms cannot guarantee safety, let alone peace of mind.

But on the other hand, there is hope. The hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ cannot be derailed by sorrow and loss, even when it is of this incredible magnitude, because the hope that we have in Jesus Christ recognizes both the capacity that humanity has for rendering great evil to itself as well as the nearly bottomless depth of sorrow that we bear when faced suddenly with unthinkable loss. As surely as we suffer and mourn the events of today, we can know that God also suffers with us and mourns with us in our hurt, His heart aching from the pain that we bear.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled…. Jesus wept” (from John 11:33, 35).

The fact that our basic nature is not in harmony with His is deeply troubling to God. And when the awful fruits of our “independence” from Him ripen, yielding us a feast of trouble and grief that we cannot swallow, the compassion of God is stirred up and His Spirit reaches out to ours with an invitation to repent and turn to Him. And if in spite of our spiritual blindness and deafness, we can finally discern the truth that we truly DO need God to help us, sustain us, lead us, and purify us, we’ll finally actually begin living in the freedom with which God desires to wrap us.

“Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears!… ‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after Me. I, I am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I am God. Also henceforth I am He; there is none who can deliver from My hand; I work, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 43:8, 10-13 ESV).

When He acts to redeem us from our sin and the hopelessness that characterizes a life that is bound to it, no one can reverse it. As we turn to Him, we come to the one place that truly is safe no matter the howling gales of trouble and cruelty. As we walk with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, abiding in the center of His will, we find that we are also in the center of His mercy and are the recipients of wellsprings of His grace.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust…. If only I will pay attention to His commands, my peace will be like a river, my righteousness like the waves of the sea’” (from Psalm 91:1-2 & Isaiah 48:18).

One whose eyes are clouded with hurt and despair might ask why God doesn’t just do something. But he or she should take heart… God is doing something: He’s reaching out with mercy and grace, calling us to trust Him and to step out of the poisonous vapors of bitterness and despair. And He’s calling us to lift our hearts and voices to Him in prayer, seeking His help in an age where the only help we can truly have can only be found in Him.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Holy Glow…

Sunburns are normally a way of life for me. Fortunately, this year has been better than most.  Only on a few occasions did I have what could be called mild burnS, possibly due to my being outside less than usual, but more likely the careful and conscientious work of a caring wife who sees to it that I wear sunscreen.

But turning red is normal for me whenever I get any amount of sun. Someone told me once that it must be the Irish in me. But when I get a real sunburn, I practically glow in the dark. We don’t even need a nightlight in the house when I’ve not worn enough sunscreen!

All of this reminds me of Moses who, after extended visits with the Lord, would glow with an otherworldly light. In fact, so profound was his shining countenance that he had to cover his own face, veiling the aura of holiness so that others could look at him.

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.  Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.   But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.   And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.   Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded,   the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining.  And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.” (Exodus 34:29-35 ESV).

Consider some of the amazing things about the communion that Moses enjoyed with God. First, there is the fact that although the Lord is beyond a man’s ability to apprehend Him with human senses or comprehend Him with human reason (in other words, He is “transcendent”), God presented His infinite, and therefore spiritually “indigestible”, qualities in a manner that permitted Moses to experience God personally and deeply. This gentle touch and tiny glimpse comes from a God Who is otherwise simply too overwhelming for us to know. He nevertheless permits the hungry heart of humanity to see that there should be more to life than living for the moment, more to religion than ritual, and more to worship than praise choruses. God touched mankind through the life of Moses and introduced to the world a spiritual life that is the purpose for which each man and woman who has ever lived was created. In other words, you have been created to know God!

But just as amazing is the effect that the presence of God has upon the one who has entered it! The holy love of God radiated into the face of Moses and filled His countenance with divine energy. It not only worked on the inside of who he was, but literally emanated from him channeling authority and awe into his service for God!  That holy “glow” emphasized that the One Who was working and speaking through Moses was God Himself and conveyed an awesome majesty upon the message that Moses then shared with the people of God.

Today’s Christian world needs a few more men and women like Moses. We need leaders who know both the ecstasy and the duty of fellowship with God in order to allow His truth to bring clarity to the vision of today’s church. We need those who have been met by the power and the wonder of intimacy with God to lead the church in engaging the needs of those around us with the life-saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, the whole world needs those who abide deeply in the presence of God to allow the light of His presence to shine through them into these dark and evil times, demonstrating that there is something real and incredibly authentic about the call of Christ.

The practical steps of fellowship with God are in our abiding in and obeying His Word, learning the wonder of true worship and dwelling in an ongoing attitude of prayer. Trusting His Son for salvation and then earnestly pursuing Him in everyday life produces a change in appearance in us – not physically, perhaps, but most definitely spiritually. And while it’s not exactly a sunburn, this is a “holy glow” we really don’t want to miss!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

So Why Worry?

Every so often, I will have a conversation with someone who is especially frustrated with financial struggles and is not afraid to say so. It is not hard to find such frustrations especially aggravated by the various realities we face concerning economics, healthcare, drug abuse and addiction, international tensions, terrorism, and natural disasters.  With such apparent uncertainties upon us, one might be tempted to feel worried when financial difficulties come and upset about how one will make ends meet. In all likelihood, you yourself have been affected directly or indirectly by the many upheavals going on in our world and have even found yourself having to tighten your belt or make hard financial decisions at times.

Seek first to be an earthly agent of God’s will on earth while you strive to personify His holy character… and watch Him open opportunities and make good on His provisions for you and your family.

But consider for a moment if worry is an appropriate “go-to” attitude for when times are economically challenging.  If it is, ask yourself the question, “Is worry how I respond to money troubles?”

If now is one of those times when you feel trouble about money and are tempted to fear how things will fall into place, please know that God sees what’s going on. He knows how difficult things are right now for you and even sees down the road all that awaits you in regard to financial recovery, stability and even a sense of sanity. He already knows about future challenges, difficulties, accomplishments, and victories.

Yes, He knows – and cares – about you and about how all these things affect your family. If fact, consider yourself invited to sit down with the Scriptures and listen to God’s thoughts on the matter, so that you will find comfort when so many others might only find worry and fear.

For example, Jesus, God’s Son, said, “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’….  Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31, 32b-33 ESV).

In essence, God both knows and cares about your needs. After all, how could He not? He is not only your Creator, but is also your heavenly Father from the moment you first personally receive His Son, Jesus, as your Savior. And while I’ll admit that you’re one of many, many children of God, you are still known to Him by name for His knowledge and memory and love are greater than all the oceans combined and are as limited in height and breadth as the sky above with all its teeming starry hosts. You are known and prized as a precious child of the everlasting God. So why worry? Simply seek first to be an earthly agent of God’s will on earth while you strive to personify His holy character, and watch Him open opportunities and make good on His provisions for you and your family.

If things seem tight for you and your fiscal future is in doubt, remember that He cares for His own. Not only that, but take pleasure in knowing that you are indeed so beloved as His own, that He moves in your life to remind you that there is more to life than getting (and keeping) stuff! “…One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions…. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:15b, 32-34 ESV).

If you have found yourself living in what seems to be a financially precarious place, don’t lose yourself to the pursuit of trying to upgrade your lifestyle. But instead thank God for allowing you be in a spot in which you can both truly depend on Him and focus on accruing the “heavenly riches” of introducing the lost to Jesus Christ, encouraging discouraged Christian brothers and sisters in their walk as fellow pilgrims, and focusing yourself upon a genuine and passionate God Who undertook the cross of Calvary for you.

And if you have found yourself in a genuine spot of suffering, having been brought to a place where real pain and loss has not only entered your life but has apparently come to stay, think of Job. Here was a man faithful and true as a follower of God, but singled out for suffering and sorrow. Though devoted to God and faithful in all areas of his life, God permitted him to lose everything (wealth, family, health, and reputation) in order to bring Job to an incredible encounter with Himself! Sometimes God strips good things from us in order to make room for better things.

So… if you’re worried about money, take heart. If you’re fretting over the future, take courage. If you’re God’s child through faith in His Son Jesus, take Him at His word: you’re important to the Lord, He has assigned purpose and value to your life, and He takes seriously your needs and the needs of your family.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, Who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

A Passion for Something

Years ago, my youngest brother and I were having a discussion about the various twists and turns that the Lord has led us through in our spiritual walks when he mentioned that he had been asked what his “spiritual passion is”. We chuckled a bit at that because we have both discovered that, in some ways, the expression has become somewhat cliché. Ask a cliché question and most folks learn how to throw back a cliché answer. And if not a cliché answer, then perhaps a mechanical one.

My wife, in a car ride home one evening shortly after, turned to me with a twinkle in her eye. “And what is your spiritual passion?”

“Oh, you overheard our conversation, did you?” I said, laughing. She nodded. “Well, my passion is for God to be glorified.” She waited expectantly. “But what does that mean?” she seemed to be saying. I thought a moment and then continued.

“My passion,” I continued, “is for people to fall so head-over-heals in love with God, that they’re passionate about Him in every aspect of their lives.” And it’s true: I deeply long to see people take the Lord Jesus with them to work, to school, and to play instead of leaving Him at home… or worse, at church on Sunday morning (if they’ve even bothered going). I want to see folks say to the social pressures crowding into their lives, “I’m sorry. I have a very important date with God that I can’t break.”

I want to see people participate in the life of the God’s church NOT because it’s just a cool place to be, or because it’s their duty, or even because they’re hoping to get good moral training in for their kids (although all those things are true). I truly wish that people crave the presence of God so earnestly in their lives that they make meditation in His Word (the Bible) and intense prayer daily parts of each day of their lives.

My passion is to see people involved in God’s kingdom just because they love God. A radical transformation took place in my life when I was about twenty years old. I had called Jesus my Savior and said that He was my Lord, but I had never really surrendered ALL of my life to Him. At least not until I became friends with a college football player named Darrell. Darrell wasn’t a Christian when I met him. He was a nice guy – big, burly, and a lot of street smarts, but still a nice guy. And then one day, he came into the room in which I was working on a project and started talking to some mutual friends about something incredible that had happened to him. He had realized that Jesus had died for him and that He was wanting to be Lord and Master of Darrell’s life. Darrell shared that he had given his heart to God and that everything inside of him had changed.

He got rid of a gold cap on his front tooth (something he had done to make a point with the street gang he had once hung with in Miami, Florida). He got involved in Bible study and then a church. He even became a mentor in a program designed to encourage low-income kids and model for them healthy lifestyle choices. As I watched the changes taking place in him, I recalled a Bible verse that he quoted, Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you” (or “all your needs will be met”).

I remember now, even as he shared then what God was doing in his life, a perfectly clear sense of God’s Holy Spirit speaking to me. “What about you? What are you doing with the investment of my love in your life? Are you going to continue to live your life as you see fit? Or will you truly let Me take charge?”

Of course, there is only one answer to that question. When I consider how miserably lost I would be without Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life, there is no other choice before me. When I think of how I would squander my time here on earth if I were to do with it as I saw fit, I know that there is only One Who can and should hold the reins of my life. As God graciously opened my heart to His loving lordship in those days, He also opened doors of opportunity to get connected with people through whom He’d prepare me for serving Him. Even the wonderful lady who is now my wife is a perfect example of someone I met shortly after that experience with Darrell and who became a major player in helping to shape my future life and work, not to mention that it was during this time of my life that I lived for awhile with my grandparents, both passionately walking with God in the details of life.

And since those days, recalling again and again the lesson that God shared with me in that life-changing experience, I want as much or more than I did then to see God glorified in the lives of His people as they fully surrender their lives to Him.

So if ever my heart desired something and if there is something about which I feel truly passionate, it is that an incredible transformation will take hold of all the Believers in all the churches in our community. How I long for all God’s people to wholeheartedly serve Him. Just think! When He begins to really get a hold of our hearts, our lives begin to radically impact the lives of others and we begin to change the world!

“Thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Seek…

There is something dreadfully wrong with our Christianity when it is hardly more than a program affiliation. In a day when Kroger Plus™ cards and Speedway’s Speedy Rewards™ (for example) loosely tie us in to various brand name or corporate loyalties, I should not wonder that churches might also be on the verge of issuing such membership cards with “perks” or “rewards” each time a “member” condescends to make an appearance at a worship service.

I will concede that this is exactly what society demands of religion in general. It requires and promotes a nice, quiet civil religion that picks up the slack of helping to clean up the mess that society makes, as well as placating its participants with an overall sense of well-being. But it only tolerates even these contributions as long as religion essentially stays out of the way of culture’s pandemonious pursuit of temporal priorities. Yes, I like alliteration (No, I love it actually).

Anyway, inasmuch as Christians buy into such ideology (or at the very least tolerate it), powerlessness and fruitlessness continually plague the Church (overall and individually). It should not surprise us then to encounter emerging adults who get “fed up” with the games that their elders have played with religion. Seeing that “membership” and participation in church do little to actually influence practical living, many conclude that religion is not satisfying and, worse yet, that God cannot satisfy. They then “bail out”, determining to invest their devotion, energies, and time on things that promise to be more rewarding.

Only there isn’t anything more rewarding or fulfilling. At least not in any real sense. Not in any way that proves to sufficiently anchor the soul when calamity strikes (such as the cataclysmic hurricanes that have affected our country), when health fails (as in cancer or Alzheimer’s afflict us or our loved ones), when our economic means are taken away (when we are laid off), when loved ones abandon, reject or abuse us (which is all too frequent), or when our eyes dim as death comes and we slip – ready or not – into eternity.

For religion to truly “work” for those who profess to belong to it, we must meet God. For us to “meet God” – in the here and now – we must seek Him. For our search to be successful, we must come to God on His terms and nothing less.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me. When you seek Me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the LORD…” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a ESV, emphases mine).

Therefore, membership in a church, although appropriate, is not enough. Attendance and participation in church (and presumably Biblically sound) events, although essential, is not enough. Going through the motions of spiritual activity is not enough. Giving all that we have and doing all that we can to appease or impress God is not enough (and please don’t insult Him by trying).

We must simply come to Him as we are, or better yet, as little children, sick of playing games of pretense that we’ve learned as adults. We must hunger and thirst for more than mediocrity and truly seek Him. We must be willing to lose all that we have and all that we are in order to possess the “one thing” without which we are utterly lost.

If you have read much of the New Testament, you may have noticed that Jesus had a way of losing followers (see the Gospel of John chapter six, verse sixty-six as an example). Our Lord had a way of thinning out the crowd, so to speak, so that those who wanted “things”, might not get in the way of those who wanted God.

“Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV).

So what will it be for you? Will you be a mere member of a church or a true follower of Jesus? Will you seek Him when you have the time or seek Him with all your heart? What will your children see in you? What will they say of you? Most importantly, what does God see in you? What will He say to you when you finally stand before Him when this life is over?

Copyright © Thom Mollohan