The dangers of becoming a "professional" Christian

Yesterday was my sabbath, the day I chose this week to rest from everything that feels like work and to refocus on the LORD.  Because I have the privilege of serving full-time with our church, I work on Sundays.  Though it’s usually a blessed day, it’s far from a rest day.  So this week, I chose Saturday to sabbath.

As I drove to the grocery store on my chosen day of rest, I saw two young men on the sidewalk, dancing as they walked to the beat booming from a cell phone that one held (their version of a “boom box on your shoulder,” I suppose).

I heard a whisper, “Tell them about the destiny I have for their lives. Call out the treasure I’ve deposited in them. Invite them to use the gifts I’ve given them for Me.”

I smiled and waved as I drove by.  I did this so quickly, I didn’t see if they even noticed.

“Hmm… not exactly what I had in mind,” Holy Spirit whispered.  I drove on.

Down a busy road, I saw a minivan parked in an industrial lot with kids peeking out the open doors.

Two adults stood outside with a sign: “Help us get home. God bless”

The whisper: “Stop. Hear about their need. Bring a taste of My Kingdom.”

Wonderings of a calloused heart: “Scammers who go from city to city? A family truly in need? I’ll stop to find out, if they’re still there when I get back from grocery shopping. After all, it’s my sabbath.”

I never found out, as they were gone by the time I drove home.  I even excused myself, thinking: I would’ve stopped if I’d had a friend with me.  I sensed a sadness in my heart but shook it off to continue on with my sabbath observance.

Today, as I drove from the church building to the beach for our student event, I passed a worn-down house with a woman standing outside in the sun wearing a thick hoody and jeans.  The temp was in the high 80s.  Her face looked, in a word: “hopeless.”  I didn’t have a full word of encouragement to deliver to her, but I was prompted to stop and had one word: “HOPE.”

Was that her name?  Was that what she needed to hear?

I slowed down as I drove by.  While I stalled like a child delaying bedtime, she began walking toward a side door and entered the house.  I deliberated turning around to knock and share some “hope.”  I didn’t.

At our beach event, the sister who shared an anointed message spoke on stepping out in faith and listening to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to work through us to speak to and touch others.  Ouch… “I’m listening, LORD.”

I returned to that house after the beach.  When I knocked, I learned firsthand the importance of timely, immediate obedience.

A man gruffly asked, “What do you want?”

“This might seem out of the ordinary, but I felt God…”

“Not interested.”

I didn’t get to see the lady who needed hope.

Holy Spirit, draw her nearer to Jesus and bring other Christ followers into her life who will share Your hope!

Jesus worked miracles on the sabbath, and it triggered the religious crowd (Matthew 12:9-14).  He didn’t stop to touch everyone or fix every problem.  But He did stop every time His Father asked Him to (John 5:19).  No matter what day it was.

Followers of Jesus do need regular rest (Mark 2:27-28).  But, we take no break from obeying Abba, from following the promptings of His Spirit.

Following Jesus is not my “job.”  I refuse to become a “professional” Christian.  If you minister to others for your livelihood, you might be tempted to think of your service as your source and yourself as a professional.

I am not a “professional” Christian, however.  It is not my day job to follow Jesus.  It is not even my duty.  It is my honor and privilege.  He died for me.  I live for Him.

“Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.”

I willingly choose, in response to His love, to live for Him.

I need to repent.

I am not a 9-to-5, punch-in/punch-out “Christian.”  I live on mission.

I am not part of the religious crowd.  I live in relationship with Holy Spirit.

I am not a duty and obligation, “have to” kind of guy.  I get to serve the most wonderful Master!  Living for His glory is my joy!

I’ve learned recently from a friend that repentance is much more than feeling sorrow over my sin or even just asking for forgiveness.

In Acts 26:18, Paul retells the mission that Jesus gave him:
“…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

Paul says he obeyed this calling by preaching “that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (v. 20).

All the facets of verse 18 fulfilled in preaching repentance!

Peter shared that repentance brings times of refreshing from the Presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

I’ve discovered: repentance is turning from sin to face Abba, declaring, “This old pattern is not who I am. I embrace You! I believe what You say about me is true!”

We are called to live lives of repentance.  We are ambassadors of His Kingdom, ministers of reconciliation, those who run with the good news of His love!

Lord Jesus, tenderize my heart.  You died and rose again, so we can live in relationship with You, be filled with Your Spirit, and demonstrate the reality of Your resurrection.  You rose from the dead and so nothing is impossible for You!

I am a student, a learner, an obedient follower, walking in the footsteps of my Master, led by His Spirit.  I rest: daily and weekly.  I can’t fix everything.  I’m not the savior or messiah.  But I do know Him.  And I follow Him.  What He says goes.  As a disciple of Jesus, I will obey Him without question or hesitation.  I love Him, and I trust His heart that much.

I am not a “professional” Christian.  I am following Jesus.  How about you?

 

Five reasons we’re committed to purity

We wait for acceptance letters, job postings, and a baby’s first word. I’ve been waiting and trusting Jesus for a life partner. It was when I learned to rest that He brought me my Eve (Gn. 2:21-22). 


As we prepare for marriage, she and I have established physical boundaries for our purity. We want to share five reasons that we’re committed to upholding these. No matter where you find yourself in this journey of life and love, we pray these underpinning principles will help you.

First, the marriage covenant is the divinely designed context for sexual intimacy. The Lord Jesus created sex to deeply unite husband and wife and to produce children (Jn. 1:3). Children are a reward from the LORD (Ps. 127:3). The lifelong commitment of marriage liberates a couple to be utterly intimate and to make babies. Wedding vows promise future offspring the protection of a father and mother. Jesus commands we wait. His way is the best way.

Second, we are here on this earth to minister the Gospel to unbelievers. The Lord Jesus left His followers with a clear commission to make Him known. His pure Gospel flows most freely from a clean vessel. We preach in the open air that Jesus considers lust adultery in the heart (Mt. 5:28). We share in witnessing conversations that we must repent and trust Christ. Hence, we must also live unadulterated lives of repentance.

Third, our lifestyle sets an example for believers (1 Tim. 4:12). Over the course of our life together, we will influence multitudes. Some look up to us. I’m the oldest sibling of four. My sisters and brother expect me to model Biblical dating for them. Others just notice in passing. We want our example of pure love to point onlookers to Jesus.

Fourth, we refuse to show disdain for God’s grace and mercy. When we least expected it, Jesus graciously bound our hearts together. He’s mercifully protected us thus far. He has poured boundless favor on us through our relationship. He’s revealed to me afresh the passion He has for His Bride—His sacrificial love for the Church. Refusing to wait for intimacy would spit in the face of what He is doing.

Fifth, we honor one another’s convictions. We prayed and fasted together. We drafted physical boundaries separately. When we met to share, whoever had the higher standard set the bar. Guarding each other’s hearts and consciences is an utmost priority. We must be unhindered as we run this race (Heb. 12:1).

Before you enlist to hold us accountable, allow me to issue a challenge. As you wait upon the LORD, consider your personal standards. Have you defined what you will and won’t do? Do you know what foundation your convictions rest upon? Remember it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1). If we’ve been freed from sin, we live in it no longer (Rom. 6). I pray our reasons will embolden you in your pursuit of purity. Holiness is His way. As we surrender to Jesus, His Spirit empowers us to walk as He did.