Faithfulness; The Choices We Make Today Determine Our Lives Tomorrow

I feel like the subject of faithfulness has come up time and time again lately. This is no small topic or theme though. The choices we make today determine what our lives will look like tomorrow.

“Evidence, evidence, evidence, will be the one thing wanted when the great white throne is set, when the books are opened, when the graves give up their tenants, when the dead are arraigned before the bar of God.” J.C. Ryle—Holiness

How can we be so narrow-minded to think that our decisions affect only ourselves? Today’s actions determine the effect we will have on our lives years from now as well as the effect we have on others’ lives. All of our decisions, actions, faithfulness, faithlessness, generosity, greed, successes, failures, plans, dreams all work together in unison to shape the people we become. Kinda scary, huh? How are we cool with doing anything we’re unsure about now that we know our every move affects our future? This is where it becomes important to trust and rely on the scriptures. One of my new favorite verses is Jeremiah 10:23 “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his step.” So who ultimately establishes the way a man should go? Psalm 37:23-24 tells us:

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.

Knowing that God is sovereign, the question becomes, “But will God really work things out for me? What if this idea I have doesn’t pan out? What if I lose my job? What if God calls me onto the mission field? How am I supposed to be faithful if God Himself won’t even show me what to do?”

What was once an exciting graduation commencement speech of “The future is an ocean and you are the captain of your soul! Set sail and claim your destiny. You deserve it!” goes from anxiously unsettling to downright scary.

We pose the real question, “Is the future really not in my hands?”

According to scripture, no.

Yet we have confidence.

God is not going take us where we’re not supposed to be. We are in the palm of his hand it is HIS plan that is being worked out in our lives.

 Philippians 1:6 says: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” When God begins a work of salvation in a person, he finishes and perfects that work. Thus the verb “bring it to completion” points to the eternal security of the Christian.

That, my friends, is faithfulness.

God will never start anything that He won’t finish. You may be going through a tough time at work, at home or in your life somehow, God is not finished with you. There’s this internal shaping, this molding that God is working on your heart to turn more like His.

The choices we make today determine our lives tomorrow. That is true and it is Christ who works in our lives to orchestrate what tomorrow actually looks like.

So how do we stay faithful to God?

By remembering His faithfulness we are spurred on by the hope of the gospel, that confidence. Christ is our confidence. Christ is faithful, so we are to be faithful.

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The Solution To A Lukewarm Christian Life

I mentioned recently that I’ve been rereading Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love”. It’s incredible all the little things you can find when you read through a great book a second time.

Chapter 2 of Crazy Love is called “Serving Leftovers To A Holy God.” In this section he breaks down the idea of a lukewarm Christian and basically says “There’s no such thing.” As Jesus said, “I’m going to spit that person out of my mouth because that person is not a true follower of mine.”(Revelation 3)

So this whole idea of being a lukewarm Christian is really an oxymoron.

We all have plenty of things in our lives that we don’t think truly affect our Christian walk. Chan makes a good point on that here:

“Recently I saw a bag of potato chips with a bold declaration splashed across the front: “Zero grams of trans fat.” I was glad to know that I wouldn’t be consuming any trans fat, which research has shown is detrimental to my health. But then I flipped  the bag over and read the ingredients list, which included things like “yellow #6” and other artificial colors, and partially hydrogenated oil (which is trans fat , just a small enough amount that they can legally call it “0 grams”). I thought it was incredibly ironic that these chips were being advertised in a way that makes me think they are not harmful yet were really full of empty calories, weird chemicals, and, ironically, trans fat.

It struck me that many Christians flash around their “no trans fat” label, trying to convince everyone they are healthy and good. Yet they have no substantive or healthful elements to their faith. It ‘s like the Laodiceans, who thought they had everything until Christ told them they were poor and wretched. They were all about declaring, “Look, we have no trans fat. We are wealthy, or we have good families, or we go to church every week.” Obviously, it’s not what you advertise that counts; it’s what you are really made of.”

You can try to pack your life full of stuff that all looks good on the outside but what good is that? Don’t flaunt your life as not having all these “bad things” but fill it full of life and faithfulness to Him.

The solution to a lukewarm Christian life is not trying harder.

The solution is to fall madly in love with Jesus Christ.

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Foot-In-Mouth Faithfulness

I used to hate Arkansas.

Let me rephrase that: I used to hate I-40 east. But if you’ve ever driven even 10 miles down the interstate in my old ’93 GMC 15 passenger band van with 6 other sweaty dudes with no AC in July, you’d understand. Times have changed, freon has been recharged, vans have been totaled and replaced, and I’ve seen enough Arkansas Tourism commercials to cause me to completely recant my former beliefs. Cell reception aside, I’d take Arkansas over most anywhere else in America.

300x300 One night we played at a venue named “The Hole In The Wall” in Atkins, AR. Literally. I was standing behind our merch table watching a band perform when I sent out a tweet saying, “I still have yet to form an opinion about this…band?” Immediately after their set finished, one of the guys(who I didn’t know at the time) walked off stage, pulled out his phone and said, “Hey Clay, explain this tweet to me.”

Shocked at being called out, put on the spot and flabbergasted at the power of twitter, I started sputtering. “What the heck?” I thought. “You really can’t just say whatever you want and never face the consequences.” The band guys were gracious and humorous about the whole thing and we ended up becoming fast friends. They’re still two of the most far out and ridiculous people I’ve ever met.

Being confronted about my words really put me to thinking. Many of us are firm and decided in what we think, say, or post online but are we really faithful to what matters most when we’re up against the wall?

Many of us are faithful to our ideas about Jesus Christ, but how many of us are faithful to Jesus Himself? Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can’t see anything.

How about our faith itself?

Faith is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can’t see the way ahead.

This is where obedience comes in. We must ask ourselves, “Am I going to obey and trust Him or will I compromise my words when the waters get rough?”

Thank God for grace.

Thank God for friends with a little extra salt in their pockets to sprinkle on a situation when I say dumb stuff. Our Father does the same thing.

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Undefeated—The Underdog

Everybody loves the underdog.

One of my favorite movies is Remember The Titans. What could be better than a story of unlikely success born from a melting pot of pride, tradition, prejudice, sweat and pig skin?

We all know the ending; a small town dealing with racial tension in the middle of the civil rights movement pulls together and through unlikely circumstances manages to put together an undefeated, championship football team. Great story.

Once you know the ending and how everything turns out okay, re-watching it isn’t the same as the first time though. It’d be pretty stupid to get all worked up over nothing once we know who wins right?

So why do we get so worked up over petty everyday issues  when we know Who ultimately wins?

God has orchestrated our whole lives and knows the ins and outs of our future. He’s the one running the plays, blowing the whistle and taking all the credit when the season finishes. Our job in the meantime is to be a team player, hustle, make plays then take none of the credit.

It is He who works in our lives but it is our job to be faithful.

We all love to root for the underdog. The vagrant. The overlooked. The hometown hero. The real winner who stood his ground even when no one else was willing. 

The only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God 

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