It’s Not About You

Ever wonder why your prayers don’t seem to get answered?  I’m talking about those heartfelt, sincere, everything that is in you is crying out prayers.  Or, what happens when it seems that you want something or you want out of a hard situation but it seems that God may have other plans?  How do you respond? Do you insist on having it your way? Do you get bitter and resentful?

Discover answers to these questions and the story of a man who showed a godly response in the midst of a very difficult situation with UA Christian Assembly‘s May 30, 2010 sermon by John Myer –  It’s Not About You.

Spiritual Growth

“The hope in the New Testament is to get us to incline ourselves to the Spirit. That is the place of fellowship.  In other words, to let our fellowship with Jesus  influence our lives to the point that it affects our behavior. It affects our attitude. It changes our direction of life. All kinds of things. That is the hope of the New Testament beyond the point of just belief in Him. Slowly this body and this soul would pay a lot of attention to the spirit.  That is the hope. That is what we call spiritual.  According to and of the Spirit. Your inclination should be towards the Christ who lives in you. That’s spiritual.”
-John Myer (The Spiritual ManUA Christian Assembly May 9, 2010)

Spiritual growth as described in the Bible is more than just following an outward set of behaviors.  It is a life and a lifestyle that is changing to match the life and lifestyle of the One living inside of us.  As we cooperate with the Spirit within us we begin to change and grow.  John Myer’s sermon, The Spiritual Man (part of the “Real Progress” series), goes into great detail about what this looks like theologically and practically in the life of a Christian.

In the second half of the sermon John Myer dives into the details of three barriers to spiritual growth using the Corinthian church as an example.  The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians that while they should be growing and on the way to spiritual maturity they have remained spiritually immature and infants.  Three elements that they should be doing for proper spiritual growth are: (1) Self-feeding, (2) Exposure to a more advanced diet, & (3) Dealing with different kinds of behaviors that break out among the believers (i.e. envy, strife, and division).

The Spiritual Man

The word spiritual is mentioned more in 1 Corinthians than in any other book of the Bible.  At first it looks like irony.  Not one New Testament church was more problematic than that one.  But upon closer examination,  it becomes clear that Paul wasn’t positively appraising Corinthian spirituality.   After his glowing description of their eternal standing in Christ (1:4-9), he went on to say that he couldn’t speak to them as spiritual people (3:1).  They just didn’t know what spirituality actually meant.

For more on this, go to the Bareknuckle Bible blog where John Myer, the original author, goes into further detail.  Also listen into the UA Christian Assembly sermon The Spiritual Man by John Myer from May 9, 2010.

Wheat or Tare?

The world today is crowded with false faith that is typically the good-hearted product of religious culture. The parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30 illuminates the danger of remaining with this kind of “faith”.  In the sermon Getting Real With Yourself in UA Christian Assembly’s Awesome Start series challenges the listener to have an honest heart check about their status with God.

Do we consider ourselves to be wheat because we go to a church service, read our Bibles, grew up in a Christian home, or try to live in the way a “Christian should live”? The trouble with tares is that they look a lot like wheat, especially early on, but they are ultimately dangerous to those around them and are destined to be burned up.  Whether we are a wheat or a tare is not something to be ignored or put off for another day.  Listen in to John Myer’s message and come to Jesus with an open and seeking heart so that you can know with certainty.

Robbing God

The Bible gives a serious criminal charge against God’s people – robbing God (Malachi 3).  Even worse for God’s people was that it was God Himself making the accusation, and He is a very reliable witness.  He says that we are robbing Him of tithes and offerings.

Immediately there are a lot of objections that pop up in our mind as we try to sidestep the issue. Have you heard or thought any of these? “It’s my money. I earned it.” “I have too much debt to give right now.” “I already give with my time and energy.” “Tithing is Old Testament and we live in the New Testament era now.” “I am too poor to give.” And one of my favorite excuses because it sounds so funny, “God loves a cheerful giver and I am not a cheerful giver so I shouldn’t give.”

Coming up with objections and getting upset about the subject of tithing is a great indication that God has us nailed for robbing Him of what He is really after – our hearts.  Listen in on the sermon Robbing God (of our heart) and check out the Oasis Christian Community audio page for a Power Point presentation with more resources on the topic.  You can also listen in on this great message by John Myer of UA Christian Assembly on the topic of tithing in the New Testament.

No Blind Leaps

Take a leap of faith. It can sound spiritual but more often than not it gives the impression that faith in God is a blind leap without any basis in reality.  I imagine Mark Twain’s “faith is believing what you know ain’t so” is in response to this kind of “blind faith” talk.  Thankfully the belief in the God of the Bible is no blind leap of faith. It is based in reality and on solid ground. Yes, there is still faith required, but it is a reasonable faith based upon facts.

A great resource for talking with your friends, or even to help answer you own questions, listen in on UA Christian Assembly’s No Blind Leaps: A Faith That’s Reasonable sermon series and their pastor’s blog Bare-Knuckle Bible. Already posted on the blog (with more posts likely to come) are the following topics:

1) No Blind Leaps – Is There Any Such Thing as Absolute Certainty?
2) It’s Actually Difficult to Prove Anything
3) Faith, Not Math
4) Riding a Wobbly Bicycle and Other Adventures in Believing
5) When Proof is Overrated
6) The Mechanics of Belief in God
7) Living in the Infomercial

Deaths Abroad & At Home

There has been a recent onslaught of news about death and despair in the news. Abroad in Haiti and at home with the suicide of an Ohio State teacher/grad student.  With a macabre interest I have been drawn to look at how people not directly impacted by these tragedies have responded. What I have found is a mix of compassion and ugliness.

An article in USA Today displayed both sides in the article Youth in Lawless Haiti At Risk for Sex Trade, Slavery, Murder. There is help and compassionate care from churches to the people of Haiti in the wake of now two big earthquakes and a death toll over 200,000.  There are others who are using the tragedy for disgusting ends of murder and child sex sales.

The student newspaper of the Ohio State University, the Lantern, reported a grad student/instructor’s suicide.  In their online article Instructor’s Suicide Shocks Students the story of a 24 year old young lady leaves the reader wondering “why this tragedy?” Some of the blogged comments blame the “system” for not being supportive enough to grad students, some blamed the girl for killing herself, others suggested that she didn’t listen to enough “lyrics” and take enough “grams” to get through the hard stuff, and some offered condolences and examples of how they have constructively dealt with the rigors and loneliness of grad school. The constructive comments largely dealt with getting involved with a local church with a good grad student population (one mentioned was UA Christian Assembly).

It is great to see Christ’s body reach out in these times of need. I hope that many will find these good shoulders to cry upon and find the ultimate Comforter, Jesus Christ, in the midst of these situations.