Pastor Michelle’s started her sermon by saying that I had inspired it, and what good Christian wouldn’t want to inspire a sermon? Of course in almost Jon Acuff style the sermon turned out to be about almost Christians. I don’t know if Pastor Michelle had me in mind for the whole thing, but if she did I don’t think she would have been completely wrong.
She started off talking about Elf (a character I closely resemble and played in rather hilarious Christmas skit). For a brief primer on the story, the main character is a orphan who stows away in Santa’s bag. Once he’s discovered at the north pole and they realize that he’s an orphan one of the elves volunteers to become his father. This is all fine and dandy till he starts to grow and grow and grow, eventually he realizes that he’s not an elf, so he makes his way to where his biological father lives, NYC. And even though Elf is now where he naturally belongs, he still doesn’t fit in, because he’s spent to long at the North Pole.
Elf’s predicament, is the same predicament the Almost Christian finds himself. Not of this world and not of Christ’s. Caught in an uncomfortable place. The Almost Christian appears to be a Christian in every way, they go to Church, they sing loud and proud, they are generous and ethical. To the natural eye they are a Christian, but God’s eye sees their heart. And the Almost Christian’s heart is far from God. They are ethical and generous because it’s the right thing to do. They go to Church and worship God because it’s the right thing to do. All that’s fine and dandy and those things are right and good, but the Almost Christian treats them as an end in themselves, the tools of their own righteousness. In the face of pressure or when it’s no longer culturally acceptable the Almost Christian will abandon his ethics in his best effort to fit in, much like Elf.
What then is a Christian? Three things differentiate a Christian from an Almost Christian.
- They have an all consuming love of God – Who do I have in heaven and earth but You?! Anything that anchors your heart to this world, pulls you away from Christ.
- They are driven by Faith. Intellectual belief is not enough. Our minds can change, what we know as facts can change, but the truth remains.
- They have an intimate relationship. The revelation of the gospel is that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we may have an intimate relationship with God.
In short real Christianity is complete surrender to God’s will. What motivates you? What makes you happy? Is it really God? As I started out, whether I truly inspired all of Pastor Michelle’s sermon or not, I can definitely see parts (or more than parts) of my life that still fall into the Almost Christian category. The difference perhaps is that I know that, where I am now is not the end, but merely another step down the path that God has laid out for me, path that ends love, faith, and intimate relationship with Christ. The path isn’t always easy or comfortable, but as the Holy Spirit prods my stubborn heart via Pastor Michelle’s sermons 🙂 I know that one day I’ll get there. And what an awesome day that will be!
From Pastor Michelle’s Sermon on Father’s Day “Men Behaving Godly”:
Here are the six pitfalls of our masculinity to avoid:
1. Arogant husbands and fathers. Men are 90% ego wrapped
in skin. Unique blend of pride B/C we are warriors. But we have to get Godly pride.
2. Autocratic husband (tyrant) misinterprets the verse that says men is the head of the house but forgets the part that says we are to love our wives.
3. Absentee husband. Men walk around making babies but don’t want to take care of them or their mothers. Forget baby mommy and baby daddy mentality and realize the baby has a mother and a father. Rebellion and misbehavior can be cries for attention.
4. Abusive husbands and fathers. Men taking out anger and fustrations on wives. You don’t have to inflict abuse physically but you can do it emotionally too. Phys can be more painful but emotional can be more destructive.
5. Aloofness (loners) means to be emotionally distant, cold or distant. When we get mad we clam up. Does not line up with psalms 112 women and children interpret silence as rejection.
6. Angry husbands and fathers. Most of us don’t even know what we are angry about.
The key scripture behind Pastor Michelle’s Father’s day sermon:
1 Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!
2 His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.
6 For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.
10 The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!
Her exhortation to the men present and those not present was to be a Psalms 112 man, be a man behaving Godly, not a man as the world would be portray us as men behaving badly.
4/19/10 – Andy and I were staying at a hotel for the night for some reason. We had this big glass globe in the car with 4 types of exotic cats on it. The only one I know of for sure was a panther. I think we had to pick it up from the hotel we were going to stay at for the night in order to get into the hotel. So I think we checked in and then went over to this other hotel for whatever reason. While we walked around a little I started recognizing people there and realized there was some type of Messianic conference going on. When we left and went to our hotel, I was getting out of Andy’s car and went to pick up the globe when the panther leaped off of it and started coming towards me. I heard Pastor Michelle in the background like I was replaying a message she preached or something and then I started cursing or rebuking the panther.
Hotel = Temporary
Panther = High level witchcraft
I’m standing under an overpass. Unlike most there are quite a few people around many walking both directions up and down the street. Cars are zooming along over us as well as the on the street just beside us. I can tell it’s some time in the future based on how everything looks and the style of their clothes.
I’m here to meet someone one. A woman that I love. In the back of my mind I know I’ve proposed to someone else, but this one is my true love. We hug and spend a few mins there ignoring the noise and the people passing around us, just the two of us and some nagging guilt in my head telling me that this is the one I should be with.
As we begin to leave a white van pulls up, and just like in the movies the sliding door opens and we jump in as quick as we can. Inside is my Pastor, Pastor Michelle, and some one else driving who I never see. The inside of the van is stripped to the metal panels, expect the two captains chairs that we are sitting in. PM sits across from us and hands us two metal snaps. (if you’ve ever seen a jacket that had metal buttons or snaps that were used instead of a zipper then you’ve got the right idea) I open the snap and inside is a red pill almost. I see out of the corner of my eye the woman I’m with take the pill. I follow suit and lick the pill right out of the snap.
That’s when I woke up. (Weird right?)
As I briefly mentioned before our Church is watching John Bevere’s Breaking Intimidation movies and while they’ve been very deep and thought provoking I think God is trying to say something specific to me.
From my daily scripture readings this week:
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? Psalms 27:1
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Romans 8:31-34
I started reading Romans 8 after listening to one of my dad’s old sermons that Brit had posted on the web. (Isn’t amazing that God can still use him to minister to me even after he’s gone home to be with the Lord? My dad would love to hear that.)
From the plaque I received today as part of raffle (lol God so doesn’t do random or coisedence does he?)
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
I think God is trying to tell me something here. All of this really struck home when Pastor Michelle was telling Arielle and I about a conversation she had with someone, and in the midst of that conversation she told the person that he/she had a “Man Pleasing Spirit” and needed to deal with it. What is a man pleasing spirit but a spirit of fear/intimidation? (exactly what everything up above deals with) And while I know that PM wasn’t saying that to me, it felt like it. It really hit my heart. And I realized that this is what God has been trying to get through to me these past couple of weeks. With God’s help I will conquer this spirit and step into the place God has called me to be. (I know beyond a doubt that I couldn’t conquer this without his help)