Tag Archives: heart

Caught in the middle

choose

Somewhere between the hot and cold.
Somewhere between the new and the old.
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be.
Somewhere in the middle, you’ll find me.

These are the opening lyrics to Casting Crowns hit song Somewhere in The Middle.  I have listened to this song several times in the past, but more recently, the lyrics have really hit a little deeper.  It’s funny how God can get a hold of your heart and all of a sudden, songs, stories and verses have a different impact.  This song speaks about the struggle of a lukewarm lifestyle.  Being caught in the middle of what once was, and what should be is one of the toughest struggles I have ever known.

The next statement on the profile of the lukewarm is this: Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength.  They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for pastors and missionaries.

Wow.  Just think about that for a few minutes.  Better yet, chew on that idea for a few days.  I love God, but not enough to give him all of me.  That’s what we’re saying if we find ourselves reflected in this statement.  Now, the classic Sunday School statement to this would be, “Jesus died for you, you should be willing to do the same.”  In one sense, that is exactly what we should be willing to do.  We owe Him that much.  We are human, and we love ourselves just a little bit to much to do that – most of the time.  There are great martyrs for the faith that have given their very lives for the sake of the gospel.  What a testimony that would be.  But I think Jesus is more interested in us willingly giving him access to our whole life – loving Him enough that we don’t hide anything from Him.  We speak up and defend our love of Him.  We pour ourselves into His Word, and never miss a day to stop and pray and talk with Him.

I love God, but not enough to give him all of me.

 We choose Him over us – every time, no questions asked.  When we make decisions, we stop and consider the eternal perspective.  We base our life choices on His glory, not our own.  That is the devotion I think Jesus wants from us.  The best part is this – we can do it!  We don’t have to be some super Christian with a fancy title.  God gifts us all uniquely, just the way He wants us to fit into His perfect plan.  When we commit our life to Him – and that’s what you’re doing when you ask Him to save you, we are dying to ourselves so we can live in Him.  Remember, there really is no half way – He deserves all of us.

Looking back, I am ashamed at how I have used excuses such as, “it must be easier to be closer to God when you are a pastor, because that’s your job, to study, learn and preach.”  Shame on me.  Just because I am not working in full-time ministry doesn’t mean I can’t be full-time committed to a life that is all about Jesus.  His job for all of us is pretty simple.  Love me, follow me, live for me, and tell others about me.  When He is the object of our affection and He consumes our thoughts, and is the one we base all our choices and decisions on, then we’ll experience the type of love and relationship He intended from the very beginning.

It’s time to stop making excuses.  It’s time to stop being comfortably caught in the middle.  Jesus has amazing patience, and exercises a short memory.  Have you been living a life in the middle?  Have you been playing it safe behind empty excuses?  What will you do about it?  Me, I leaving the comfort of the middle and running to the deep love of a fully committed relationship with Christ.  Matthew 22:37-38 says, “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.”  Jesus laid down His life for me.  That’s love.  How can I choose to do anything other than love Him with everything He gave me?

Lord, thank you for the blessing of a life committed to you.  Thank you for never leaving me, and never turning away from me, even when I hung back in the middle.  I pray you will forgive me for not being fully committed to you, in all areas of my life, with my entire being.  I commit to you, all of me.  I lean on you for my everything, and I boldly move forward with eyes fixed on you.  In your name I pray – Amen.

One side or the other

straddling

I hate conflict.  Ask anyone that knows me.  I don’t like to argue to the point that I offend.  I often spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make everyone happy.  I would have been a good mediator – trying to find the best solution for both sides (so long as no one was mad at me at the end of the day).

From a personal perspective, it’s a dangerous line to walk.  Continuing on this idea of profiling a lukewarm lifestyle, trying to balance the line between Christ and the world is a dangerous game to play.  Someone with my personality tends to want to be accepted – no matter the cost.  That plays right into the next statement about the lukewarm

Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.  They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they are care more about what people think of their actions then what God thinks of their hearts and lives.

Confession time.  I love my church.  I love the opportunity to serve God.  I feel alive when I am with other believers.  I feel like I can praise God without fear of having to defend it.  I can truly open up during worship and feel the love of my Savior.  Church is my “safe” place.  When I leave through the doors, something happens.  I tend to laugh at the wrong things.  I find myself agreeing with others when they make fun of something or someone.  I hear words come out of my mouth that are shameful.  I don’t say a word when someone takes the Lord’s name in vain, or even goes as far as to mock the Christian faith.  I fail to live for God when I am in the world.  That statement describes me in so many ways.

So what is the answer?  Do we just surround ourselves with like-minded believers and avoid those that may cause conflict within our heart?  I don’t think that’s the answer.  Jesus gave us all a great mission – tell everyone about me.  We are called to go out into the world and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.  I think the answer is to simply live my life in a way that leaves no doubt about which side of the road I stand on.  I can be in this world, but not conformed to it.  In fact I am to be a shining light so that others may find Jesus through the life I live.  Does that mean I am the perfect example for others to follow?  Absolutely not, I am a sinner like every other person.  But I am called to live a life that reflects what Christ has done inside of me to overcome my sin problem.

Living for Christ means I am going to have to make tough choices, sometimes in the face of conflict.  It may cost me a friend, it may cost me a way of life.  I can be in this world, but I can’t conform to what this world says is right and acceptable.  Jesus stood in the midst of sinners, but He was never like them.  In the end, all that matters is what I did for Jesus.  He sees my inner most secrets, motives and desires.  It’s easy to put on the false face and “fit in” but I’m only fooling myself.  Christ knows my heart and what He thinks is eternally important.

Jesus was clear on what he thought about hypocrisy.  “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.” (Matthew 23:5-7 NIV).

Jesus was describing an attitude of worrying more about what people in this world think of me, rather than having a heart that longs for Christ and letting that be what defines me. In the end, all that matters is what we did with Christ and for Christ.  I have given my life to Christ.  I am saved.  When I stand before Him, all my works will be judged by fire.  Only those things done for Christ will withstand, all else will be consumed and gone.  I don’t want to spend my whole life trying to gain the acceptance and approval of men, only to stand empty-handed before the Lord.

Lord, today I pray that you will change my perspective from worldly acceptance to eternal holiness.  I pray that your strength and courage will fill me when the choice seems difficult and that I’ll live a life that is focused on what you think.  In your name I pray – Amen.

Lukewarm unbeliever

lukewarm_1

Reflecting back on the past year, our youth pastor challenged the students (and me) to read a list of statements under the title of “Profile of the Lukewarm”.  It only took about 5 minutes to feel the weight of God speaking directly to me as if to say, “this is for you too.”  God has challenged me to step up my game and He has used a couple of simple pages of powerful statements to help me see what many of the areas of my life really look like to Him and what they should look like to Him.

Before I jump straight to the first statement, I felt it important to share definitions and synonyms of the word lukewarm.  According to the dictionary, lukewarm is used to describe food as being tepid, or intended to be served hot, but instead served “barely warm”.  It’s also used to describe people or actions as unenthusiastic, indifferent, and noncommittal.  In short, if you’re lukewarm, you’re pretty much just here – nothing outstanding or noticeable.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regularly.  It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go.

That idea of just being here is what sticks out.  The first statement we read said this, “Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go.  On the outside, going to church is what “good Christians” who know the benefit of being together with like-minded believers, do.  We are called to come together often to learn, to pray, and to build each other up so that we are stronger in a fallen world.  But what this statement really speaks to is the person that attends church simply because it’s another bullet on the schedule.  Because of their community status, or their family, it’s what is expected.  They put nothing into it, and they take nothing away from it.  What is lacking in this statement is doing something with church.  There are many people who will find themselves in eternal separation from God that never missed a Sunday service. Church doesn’t save you.  Church doesn’t make you a part of the family of God.  I think this is exactly what Christ was pointing out in the book of Revelation when he speaks of spitting the lukewarm out of His mouth.  It’s a picture of Christ expelling those from His presence that never made a decision to give their life to Christ, and accept His free gift of salvation.

Lukewarm people, or non-committed, indifferent people may attend a church service, but never let God have their heart.

While this statement certainly speaks to the non-believer, I think it has application for the believer as well.  Why do I attend church?  Is it merely out of duty, because I believe I am supposed to be there? Or am I going because I  want to be there to worship my Lord, to share with my fellow believers, to build them up and also be renewed myself?  The answer should be simple, but one we should examine.  While I firmly believe that the idea of a lukewarm Christian is not possible – you are either saved or not saved, I think we can be in “seasons” of lukewarm behavior.

Lord, today, I thank you for saving me.  I thank you that I am all-in according to your promise of salvation for all those who believe and accept your free gift.  Lord, I commit to a Godly attitude toward being in your house for worship and fellowship.  I thank you for the desire you have given me to be near to your people when our church doors are open.  I pray for your wisdom as I examine my life according to your word, and I pray for the courage and strength to follow you, no matter the cost.  In your name I pray – Amen.