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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Counterfeit Consecration and Spiritual Botox

While as I at work last night, I noticed something missing on the belt - king cakes. Suddenly, I realized that the festivities of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras had come to a close, and the conversation soon changed to talking about Lent. A fellow employee came up to me and asked, "So Timmy, what are you going to give up?" I responded, "Give up? What are you talking about?" They replied, "You know . . . for Lent. Aren't you going to give something up?" Although my extended family is Catholic and have Catholic friends, I have not really undertaken the challenge to really understand Lent. From what I have been told, Lent was intended to be a 40 day fast leading up to Easter, much like Jesus fasted for 40 days (in the wilderness). Although there are many devout Catholics who take Lent seriously, the majority of people I have experienced use the time to "give up" something - say chocolate, carbonated drinks, television, etc. One tonight told me, "I thought about giving up something bad about me, but then again I knew that I would break it" (they were referring to their use of language). The moments after these conversations lead me to think thus: Just as much as we a serious issue with counterfeit conversion, we also have to deal with counterfeit consecration. There are those who think that they can fight sin for a season, that they can pick and choose which sins to "give up" and which ones to keep for personal pleasure. Consecration here is but a self-improvement project grounded in sin management that serves the purpose of spiritual botox - it makes us more spiritual, more devout, more committed yet only works on the service and fades away. We are seeking an "extreme spiritual makeover" while neglecting that we need a circumcision of the heart. Because Christ is Lord of the believer, we have no right to pick and choose arbitrarily what, when, and how we fight sin. God alone has the rights to our lives, and he does not want us to give up "things" - he wants us to give over ourselves. Peripheral matters are inconsequential if the core be corrupted still. We do not have the luxury to think that we can turn on and off the command, "Be holy as I am holy" as a matter of convenience or custom. Consider the words of Paul: "In Him you also were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:11-12 God is not interested in seasonal Christians. He wants sinners to be transformed to be like His Son, and that through the Holy Spirit. We have been buried, that is, we have died. He is not like a spiritual botox. God is not interested in face lifts any more than he wants your filthy rags of righteousness. Rather, he transforms us from within, beginning with taking our heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh, causing us to walk in the ways of God. And the journey the Lord has us on does not have pit-stops to indulge in the world, but is a highway of holiness where we are transformed from glory unto glory. There are many who are trusting in their religious devotion to bring them acceptance with God. Many are believing that taking the 40 days of Lent seriously is bringing them closer to God. What our world must know is that the only acceptance between rebellious, sinful man and a holy, righteous God is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No substitute can bring us closer to God. There is one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. And he has brought those he has redeemed before God and presents them pure and blameless, having accredited his righteousness to our account. This is what Easter is all about. This is what Lent should be about, yea what all of life should be about. The only day that we should not offer our lives to God and live for the resurrection of Jesus is the one where the sun doesn't rise. Jesus Christ is Lord - let us live like it.

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