Buried Alive by J. Jacob Jenkins

•I believe that when we reach the end of this life and cross over into eternity we will look back on today and we will see millions of faces so consumed with trivial, finite matters that they are missing what truly matters.  Rick Warren writes, you will not be in Heaven two seconds before you cry out, Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary?  What was I thinking?  Why did I waste so much time, energy, and concern on what wasnt going to last?

 

Busyness:

•In todays world we actually brag about being too busy.  As if it were some kind of status symbol to be poorly prioritized and out of focus, we chat about how full our schedules are.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We boast about how long its been since weve had a day off or some time for ourselves.  We discuss how little sleep weve gotten lately and how exhausted we are.

•I believe it is one of the greatest lies we tell ourselves, that we will be different when the circumstances in our lives are different.  We promise ourselves well be more generous with our money when we have more money to be generous with.  We convince ourselves well be more dedicated to our spiritual lives when we finally find that perfect church family.  We even justify our shameful actions by telling ourselves well be better when were older and have less temptation to deal with.  But the simple truth is if you and I are not generous with our current salaries then we will not be generous with any salary.  If you and I are not dedicated now, or if you and I are indulging in now, then no outside circumstance will ever change that.  Nothing will ever change unless we make a conscious and deliberate decision to change.

•Research has shown time and time again that people who make a tangible list of their goals are far more likely to reach those goals.  This is true whether it is a to-do list for tomorrow or a mission statement for life.

•By clarifying your lifes mission you will have a better understanding of what your own values and principles are.  You will be better able to make decisions according to those values and principles.  And you will become a proactive person, controlling the course of your life, rather than a reactive person who is controlled by the fickle winds and currents of this world.

 

Laziness:

•I cannot count the number of times I have given counsel to individuals who seemed unable to discern what was the right thing to do.  You would think those situations were highly complex and difficult to unravel, yet most of the time the counsel I gave was not the result of high discernment or unique intuition.  Their situation was so clearly defined in the Scriptures that there was no ambiguity about what they should do.  Too often the response was the same: I need to pray about it.  Erwin McManus

•Dont misunderstand me, prayer is vital.  I doubt that any of us will ever comprehend the depth and power of communing with our Lord.  And of course we must always wait patiently for Gods guidance, rather than acting hastily on our own.  But at the same time we must stop kidding ourselves, pretending to seek the will of God when we are actually avoiding it.  We must stop using prayer as a lifeless tool of procrastination.

•Our behavior will not be changed long with self-discipline, but fall in love and a human will accomplish what he never thought possible.  The laziest of men will swim the English Channel to win his woman.  I thinkthat by accepting Gods love for us, we fall in love with Him, and only then do we have the fuel we need to obey.  Donald Miller

 

 

 

•It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.  Moliere

 

Comfort:

•Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.  Edmund Burke

•Most Christians I know think they must answer certain questions certain ways, more like regurgitating arithmetic tables than being transparent, because they are more concerned with the right answer than the real answer.  As a result, they can never have doubts.  They can never think or question outside of the box.  They can never admit confusion, disappointment or fear.  In essence, they can never be honest.

RETURN TO MAIN

stop recycling, and fall in love with the Republican Party.  As a result we often push unbelievers away who see Christianity as a cookie cutting religion and we wring all the color out of new believers.

•That is the risk we run with extreme fundamentalism.  Instead of laying ourselves bare before the Lord we pretend to have all the answers.  Instead of looking at our own deficiencies we eagerly point out the faults of others.  Instead of humbly admitting that were unfinished Christians we hide away, cover up, gloss over, or ignore the parts of life that dont fit into our own theologies.  In the end we sound less like Christ Jesus and more like the religious leaders who killed Him.

•Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry on as if nothing had happened.  Winston Churchill

 

Compromise:

•We must be the change we wish to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

•I believe the gravest mistake we as Christians make today is to play the role of the victim.  To make blanket statements about how the world is falling apart and then sit back doing nothing is just useless.  To over simplify reality and then turn our backs to it is simply ignorant.  To blame society without taking responsibility is truly lifeless.

•The purpose of Christianity is not to critique or criticize this world in which we live.  The purpose, rather, is to change it.

•Ive always thought itd be nice if I could walk up to an unbeliever and show him or her a nice little chart saying, Look, Christians are more loving, more forgiving, and more likely to not cheat on their taxes.  I have always thought that would be a very convincing testimony of the power of Christ.  But in reality it seems that the actions of Christians are often no different than the rest of this world.  Despite what Romans 6:6-7 says, there is often no statistical difference between the lives of believers and unbelievers. (In fact, certain research has found that the divorce rates between born again Christians and unbelievers are virtually identical).

•By definition holiness means to be set apart, sanctified, consecrated, and dedicated.  

•Sin is the monster we love to deny.  It can stalk us, bite a slice out of our lives, return again and bite again, and even as we bleed and hobble, we prefer to believe nothing has happened.  That makes sin the perfect monster, a man-eater that blinds and numbs its victims, convincing them that nothing is wrong and there is no need to flee, and then consumes them at its leisure.

 

•Our society today is more interested in appearance than substance.  We care more about looking slim and fit than we do about actually being healthy.  We care more about appearing prosperous than we do about true financial stability.  In the same way, many Christians today care more about giving the impression that they are nice, pleasant people than they do about actually following Christs teachings.  As a result many of us seek a sort of superficial sanctity.  

 

Materialism:

•People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  The Apostle Paul

•If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of God, any table better than the Lords table, any persons better than Christ, any indulgence better than the hope of Heaven, take alarm.

 

•A mere 12 percent of born again Christians tithe their income, and Christians spend seven times more on entertainment than they do on spiritual activities.  No wonder Jesus spoke more about money than about heaven or hell.  No wonder there are 450 passages in the bible that deal with wealth.  No wonder nearly 1/5th of Jesus recorded words dealt with the issue of money, and nearly every time He taught on the issue He advised us to give it away.

•Just imagine if Jesus walked into your sanctuary on Sunday morning.  Imagine if He walked up to the podium and cleared His throat to speak.  Do you think Hed suggest you take up a special offering so that you can add more square footage to your church building, with even more columns and chandeliers, facilities and amenities?  Or do you think He would urge our hearts with tear filled eyes of love and mercy to reach out to our communities and to our world, working to help and to build His eternal kingdom rather than our own petty buildings?  The answer is obvious.

•Now, imagine how all of this must look to an impoverished young boy from Zambia who lives off of less than $1 a day and who views America as a Christian nation.  He sees our lives of excess and extravagance.  He watches day after day as we indulge in our material success.  Does that image reflect the true teachings of Christ?  The answer is just as obvious.

•John Stott once said our blindness to materialism is similar to the western cultures blindness to the sins of slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Today we look back in amazement that Christian people could not see it for the evil it was.  And likely, thinks Stott, future generations, should they look back, will regard our day with the same perplexity: How could they not have seen it?

•America, a supposedly Christian nation, suffers from chronic obesity while millions of people around the world die from starvation.  In fact, we constitute only 6 percent of the worlds population yet we consume 43 percent of the worlds resources.

•The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.  What you hold most dear in your life is a measure of the worth of your life.  What you value most determines the value of your soul.

•What does that say then about the soul of America when we value fame and fortune above all else?  What does that say about you and me when our only measure of success is how much money someone makes?

 

A Discussion on Overcoming the Seven Lifeless Sins

 

Introduction:

•The Seven Lifeless Sins; Tolerance, Fundamentalism, Compromise, Materialism, Busyness, Laziness, Comfort.

•This list of the Seven Lifeless Sins may not rob you of your eternal life, but it will suffocate your present one.  It may not keep you from entering the eternal presence of God, but it will keep you from the safari of life.  Like a living purgatory it will render you lifeless.  For as Christians the enemy cannot kill us.  So he aspires instead to bury us alive.

•Many people have no idea what they are missing.  Christ has offered each of us a life unlike anything we have ever known or could ever imagine; a life that breaks all the rules of this world; a radical journey of wonder and pleasure that begins today and reaches into eternity.  Yet many of us never realize that were meant for more.  As Christians we never seem to consider that the life were living is a mere glimpse of what it could be.

•You see, it is not usually the sins of murder and death that paralyze us as Christians.  We dont ordinarily have twelve mistresses.  We dont typically drink or gamble our lives away.  We dont frequently rob travelers and leave them for dead.  Rather, we just pass by on the other side (reference to The Good Samaritan story).  We so tolerate the beliefs of this world that we lose sight of our own.  We become so wrapped in the fundamental teachings of our Christian religion that we overlook their point.  We compromise with the world for so long that we cease to be its salt.  We so blindly accept American materialism that we fail to ever see it as the vice that it is.  We live such busy lives that we forget the things that matter most.  We embrace a level of laziness that keeps from living our lives to the full.  And lastly, we become so comfortable in our spiritual walks that we never challenge or change any of this.

•That is what it means to be buried alive.  Its not that we are wicked, evil people.  We are not deadly sinners.  But as weve discussed here, the issue is not so much about wickedness and death as it is about apathy and lifelessness.

 

Tolerance:

•Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth.  John Stott

•In the end, Christianity for many of us has become about as bland as a school lunch, so afraid of offending someone that it fails to satisfy anyone.  It doesnt inspire.  It no longer stirs.  It doesnt even attempt to challenge, provoke or stimulate.  Instead, it is just nice.  And mere niceness is lifeless.

•At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordinglyevery religion at its core is exclusive.  Ravi Zacharias

 

Fundamentalism:

•Fundamentalism means we move through this life with a stiff neck, and held breath.  It means we become more concerned with what were separated from than what were separated for.

•You and I may not suffer from the vice of homosexuality, but what about other sins?  According to scripture homosexuality is wrong, but having said thatso is greed.  So is lust.  So is jealousy.  So is grumbling.  So is gluttony.  So is vanity.  So is selfishness.  So is adultery.  So is judging.  So is dishonesty.  So is pride.  So is envy.  So is resentment.  So is cheating.  So is hatred.  So is hostility.  So is bitterness.  So is arrogance.  So is over indulgence.  So is disloyalty.  So is deceit.  So is conceit.  So is extravagance.  So is theft.  So is pornography.

•Perhaps it is time we stopped using Christ as a wedge and started seeing Him as a bridge.  Perhaps it is time we put aside the stones, along with our pride.

•Love as an Endnot as a Means.  Dont reach out to someone so that you can bring them to church.  Reach out to someone.  Dont befriend someone so that you can share Christ with them.  Befriend someone.  Dont show compassion so that they may see the love of Christ.  Show compassion.  Love them unconditionally, as you and I are called to do.  No facades.  No agendas.  No schemes or strategies or tricks or conspiracies.

•We have a tendency to see our own way as the only way.  The obvious problem with this is that God transcends any possible understanding of Him.  God is bigger than any tidy little package of beliefs that we try cramming Him into.  And any metaphor we use to describe Him is merely that; a metaphor.

•I dont know about you, but I still havent figured out how to make my VCR stop flashing.  How on earth, then, do you or I have the audacity to think weve figured out our God?  Why on earth do we presume to comprehend the countless complexities and infinite intricacies of our Lord?  God is greater than any theology or system of ideas we come up with about God.  God is not defined by our systems, by our theologies.

•We expect everyone to think just as we do, squashing out all room for diversity.  And unbelievers think that if they place their faith in Jesus Christ theyll have to cut their hair, 

 

 

Taking Back Your Faith:

 

We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.