Obama won. What now?

What should be done now that Mr. President has won another four years in the White House? How should this affect our actions and attitudes?

In brief: It shouldn’t.

If something affects our actions and attitudes in a fundamental way, that thing should be of fundamental importance.

There is a concept that Christians seem to be exceptionally fond of stating and much less fond of applying.

We are NOT of this world. This world is NOT our home.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. (1 Peter 2:11)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (Philippians 3:20)

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:16)

No fundamental truth of our existence has changed. God is still God. God is still good. You are still not God. God has still called you to be agents of true change in this world.

Obama ran on change in 2008. Romney ran on changing Obama’s change in 2012, but we as Christians know where actual change comes from. Change does not come from an act of will, it does not come by political force, it comes through one agent acting in one way alone; The Holy Spirit bringing conviction. And we have been given the privileged duty of bringing this message.

In as much as this country is disintegrating, in as much as Obama or Romney could change its outcome for the worse, our responsibility to the outcome is whole obedience to God’s will.

We have the change that everyone is looking for. We have the solution to our increasingly rampant social ills. In as much as we are not sharing the Gospel when we can, the outcome and nature of this nation is our fault. In as much was we have been being utterly obedient to God, we have done as much as is possible.

The world will not end unless God allows it. This country will not end unless God allows it. And while both of those are possible, I stand certain that if God allows it, then I can withstand it by His power and grace in me.

Instead of responding and reacting to this news as if God is not in control, we as Christians should understand and be firm in the fact that regardless of the outcome of elections to determine earthly authority we are sure of the source of all authority and we are equally sure that events occur either because He intentionally brought them to pass or allowed them to occur. Our mission of being the taste and presence of God on earth is in no way aborted or changed.

So don’t hope for the world ending to escape Obama’s authority. Don’t threaten to move because he was elected. Absolutely do not loose focus on God and His will for your life…both in the large strokes of major decisions and in the minute details of how to respond to an election.

In this season our identity is presented with more clarity than in most times. Check your identity. Ask God to bring it into line with Him, that your definition of self would not be in your president or your political ideology, but rather on the perfecter of your souls, the author of your salvation, Jesus Christ. Depend on God for everything. Live on mission for Christ.

Christian Success

Hello brothers and sisters!

God has put this topic on my heart to speak to you about for the past couple of days. This is what should we define success as?

This topic is central to being a Christian, as it tells us where our priorities lie.

If you are like me, I have problems keeping my definition of success and as such my priorities straight in multiple ways. One way is that my priorities will shift subtly daily. Certain things will lose their importance if I do not re-affirm their importance daily. Another way that my priorities will shift is that a lower priority will overwhelm a higher priority subconciously.

Usually for me this happens with a primary and derived priority. What I mean is that there is an overarching abstract priority that creates a lower, but concrete, priority.

One example of this is this blog. Fletcher and I have talked about blogging and writing for several years. We have both talked about the reasons why it is important, its value, and most important its purpose.

That is and prayerfully will always be to share with others what God shares with us.

As a concrete sub-priority there is the maximization of how many others we share with. This is why we share our posts on facebook and twitter, and are exceptionally thankful when y’all share our posts with others.

However, very conciously I had to fight in the R&R post on the Gospel to prevent myself from changing the Gospel to try and attract more people. This obviously goes against the priority of sharing with others what God has shared with us, but it is affirmed by increasing the number of others. Notice that the overarching priority is abstract, it cannot be measured how well we shared with others what God had shared with us. However how many people are being reach is easily measured and as such is concrete.

Because it is easy for my head to work around concretes, the concrete priority was pushing me to ignore the real purpose and goal.

Easily the most common situation with this is results. I struggle the worst with not allowing results to become more important than other things.

To put it clearly, we prioritize what is coming out of what we do more than what we do. We feel unsuccessful when we don’t see results from what we do.

The big realization is that success in the Christian life is about obedience…not results or anything else!

Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” – [1Sa 15:22-23 NASB]

This means two things.

One we should be very vigilant in maintaining a correct focus and priority in our lives of obedience to God.

The second is that whenever we redefine our success in terms of anything else, we are living in rebellion to God.

This is incredibly encouraging. I would regularly slip into a habit of defining my success as a follower of Christ to the perceived success of the ministry I was engaged in. I would feel like results defined my success. This definition of success will always fall short as we have no control over the results of ministry, only God does. Because of this, along with our limited perspective, we may be ministering in a way that we will see no results. We must be content with obedience to God. Always check the obedience of your heart to God before anything else.

The application of this is that whenever you feel as if something is off in your life or ministry, you check your obedience:

  1. Is the primary act of your life worshiping God?
  2. Are you remaining open to His will through regular time spent with Him through a cultivation of spiritual disciplines?
  3. Is there anything He has revealed to you through His word, His Spirit, or His people that you are ignoring or refusing to incorporate into your life?

Redefined and Rediscovered: The Gospel

Hello again brothers and sisters!

It has been sometime. I have been busy and it has been productive. I pray that you have done well as well.

When we last talked about the Gosple I left y’all with a quote from a friend of mine,”The Gospel is a righteous God declaring sinners righteous in a righteous way.”

Really what the Gospel is about is God, not man. Its about God being God. Period.

Making the mistake of putting man before God in the Gospel creates problems in how you live life and share the Gospel.

As I said, it is all about God being God.

Many times we put God in our terms. For instance, we think of God as the all-powerful  super-mighty ultimate strong-man. This is true. He is all of that. Thankfully however He is SO much more than that. Being God means ultimate perfection. Not just perfect and almighty strength. His perfection is so utter that in many instances theologians instead of calling aspects of God attributes rather denote their excellence in degree by referring to them as perfections.

At any rate, some grab cling of certain verses, such as 1 John 4:8

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

And define God as love. This is a grave mistake. God is love. Love is not God. Nor is God only love. God is also justice. God is also righteous anger. Indeed love is excellent, but God is PERFECT. Instead of simply being love, God is in His very nature the perfection and manifestation of all positive attributes. Not only does He manifest them, all of them are not seperate perfections(attributes) within Him warring for control or decision making, but rather are completely in harmony.

This might seem like a bit of a diatribe, but it will make sense in a moment. Not only is God love, but He is also perfect justice. Not love fighting justice for control of God’s decisions…but rather a perfect harmony of perfect justice and perfect love.

So often the Gospel is the good news of God forgetting our sins. While He does forget our sins, the epic amazingly awesome rock your socks off-ness of the Gospel is so much greater than God forgetting our sins. God forgave our sins.

See…it is not just, and thusly not righteous, to forget sin without it being forgiven. Justice demands payment for sin. Love demands forgiveness. And God is so perfect that He doesn’t even have to perceive it that way. We have to talk about attributes and perfections in contrast to each other because our members war within us. God is so excellently perfect that what we have to weigh out as being acceptable to multiple perfections of God is not simply second nature…but first nature to Him…indeed it is His indelible nature.

The beauty of God’s nature is that the separation between attributes that is a part of our nature since the fall in Eden is not a part of His nature. Whereas to our perspective righteousness is made up by multiple different attributes all put together, instead in God’s nature righteousness just is.

And the beauty of the Gospel is that it embodies this righteousness. Instead of God simply forgetting our sin…He forgave it. Instead of denying justice for love’s sake, or denying love for justice’s sake, He in perfect righteousness forgave our sins by taking upon Himself the iniquity for which we were condemned.

And in this embodiment of His righteousness, we are declared as righteous as God by God Himself. By His imputation of our iniquity to Him, He imputes His righteousness to us.

He does this because of His righteousness…but to put it more in our terms…it is because of His grace, love, and righteousness. He covered over our sins through payment rather than forgetfulness. He was the perfect sacrifice who in His righteousness declared us righteous righteously.

And God chooses us as the ambassador’s of His message. He also chose faith/belief as the vehicle by which His salvation comes to us.

As such we implore you…be reconciled to God! Furthermore, go forth and engage and implore others so that they will be reconciled to God!

As is evident from the Gospel, God’s salvation for us, self-sufficiency is a joke. We cannot be self-sufficient. Rather in the salvation that God has offered as well as everything else, we depend upon God for obedience.

We are, regardless of how we delude ourselves and regardless of whether we wish to admit it, utterly dependent on God.

The question is whether we embrace that dependence or run from it. Indeed that is the question for all.

Stay dependent brothers and sisters.

karch

Redefined and Rediscovered: The Gospel. What is belief?

Hello again brothers and sisters!

When I last left you, I left you with a verse to think about. Mark 9:24:

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

This verse is very informative for this discussion. This statement by the boy’s father seems contradictory. Why would he need help believing, if he already believed?

My initial reaction when I read this verse to learn about belief was to place my faults and failings on this man. I assumed it was his pride. He did not want to acknowledge his own difficulty believing, and instead was kind of hedging between his pride and God’s place. In other words, “I kinda believe because my pride won’t let me say otherwise, but I know I really need to believe and I need you for that.” However, context is key so lets take a look.

And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”
And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:17-24

So instead of a prideful man. It is clear that this man was actually desperate. He did believe that Christ could do it, however, he also recognized his own weakness and inability to believe that Christ could do it. This, the very opposite of pride resulted in Christ healing his son by casting out the demon.

Have you ever thought that what kept you from acknowledging your need for God to help you believe is your own pride? That in actuality our nature of staunchly stating that we know what the Gospel means is the root of our issue in actually believing it?

Another way of saying it is that as soon as you, in your heart, decide that you know the depth of the Gospel, you have indeed lost all capability for understanding it. By its very nature, our pride cuts us off from the source of the faith that we have, the work of the Holy Spirit.

Specifically the difference is between a headfull and a heartfull. There is a difference in knowing and believing. Belief brings about action based in that which is believed. Knowledge becomes belief through the working inward of that knowledge by the co-labor of your spirit with the Holy Spirit. This is a part of sanctification, or the separation of yourself to God’s purposes rather than your own.

Knowing is not believing. It works like this: All that you believe you know, but there are things you know that you do not in your heart believe.

To return to an earlier passage we talked about, James 2:18-20:

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

The idea that James is reiterating is that faith without works is not true faith. Faith with works is true faith because when you actually believe something, when you have faith that something is true, you live as if it is true.

Now lets take a look at our faith to see if it is really faith…or simply an acknowledgment in our minds.

Do you worry?

If you do, you are not having faith in God. Matt 6:25-34.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Do you tell others of what God has done for you?

If you don’t, how true is it that you believe He has done it for you? Not many would refuse to tell their neighbor about something that was going to kill them. Yet, when you do not share what Christ has done for you, when you do not live according to His commands, you show you do not believe and do not tell them.

There are many more questions that can allow you to gauge what your belief is like. If you are like me, I was shown to be a liar by the first, not to mention the second.

So inevitably the question is, what do I do to fix it?

Do you remember in the last post when I said that the problem with those statements of the Gospel was that they were focused on us? Yet asking what we do to fix it is the same problem. Your pride screams that it is something you can handle. The truth is it isn’t. It never has been. And your and my belief that we could handle it was what put us in our current predicament.

The problem is our heart. Its not a problem we can fix. Like the man in Mark, Christ is the only one who can help us in our unbelief.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

So, renounce your pride and ask God to help you in your unbelief, as the boy’s father did. Be made new.

In other words: Be Utterly Dependent.

The grace and peace of Christ be with you.

karch

PS. Look forward to the next post. Now that we have a solid understanding of what it means to believe, and how we have gone wrong in our thinking before, we need to find what we are believing. A quick preview, one definition of the Gospel by a wise guy is: The Gospel is a righteous God declaring sinners righteous in a righteous way.

Redefined and Rediscovered: The Gospel.

Hello brothers and sisters.

My name is Karch Frankenfield and Fletcher asked me to write a post for him while he is on a mission trip in Africa.

Be sure to pray for him during this time that God would speak through him rather than him speak his own words. Pray that God’s will would be his will, not allowing anything to come between him and God.

Pray that for myself as well.

At any rate, the Gospel.

Redefined and Rediscovered is the closest way I can come to describing the intent I feel God has placed on my heart for y’all.

I am not defining it differently than it was originally defined, nor am I discovering some gospel that is better than or different from the Gospel as presented in Scripture.

Rather I am attempting to persuade you to come with me in examining what the Gospel actually is. Not the catchphrases that we use to describe it, nor the church jargon that we hardly know what means. But rather journey to the heart of the thing which is an outpouring of the heart of God.

What is the Gospel?

If you are like me then you immediately respond with, “The good news of course!”

All right. What is the good news?

Once again if you are like me, then you say something about “being saved” or “the gift of salvation”. If you are that one kid in sunday school, you might say “Jesus’ blood poured out for sinners”

All of these answers are right…partially. They are missing the big picture by trying to focus in what man gets out of God’s work. They are focusing on what it means for me. Me being saved, me getting the gift of salvation, Jesus’ blood poured out for me. But because these answers focus on what man gets out of the picture they lose sight of God…and they lose their veracity of the Gospel.

Now. If you are like me…then you likely don’t know what veracity is. Its a word that uniquely fits the situation at hand. Veracity means habitual observance of the truth. They lose their regular observance of the Gospel.

Its kinda scary what happens when we focus on what we get out of life…rather than what God wants us to do with life.

We become people who focus on self and what needs to be done for us to feel the way we want or get what we want. We are interested more in our good than the good of others. All this because of a decision to focus on what I get out of the gospel?

Yep. Because the way you treat the Gospel is a watershed for how you treat life. By watershed I mean that it is one point where what you actually believe about that point determines what you actually believe and act about on a large variety of other points.

James talks about this quite a bit. James 2:14-20 NASB.

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

What James is saying here is that true faith brings about action. Meaning that if you seriously believed the Gospel you would not be focusing on what you get out of it. You would be focusing on God. Knowledge does not equal belief.

You, just like myself, may need to repent of your disbelief. While we have not yet defined the Gospel, it is clear that if you are not sharing your faith, your actions to not match your claims.

Works do not save you. Faith does not save you. God saves you. He does so through His grace which you accept by faith.

However, works do bear witness to your faith. Sharing Christ does not mean that you are being faithful, but not sharing Christ definitely means that you are not being faithful.

So in this journey towards what the Gospel is…we have come to a bit of impasse. What is belief?

I will leave you a verse to think on and pick this discussion back up tomorrow. Mark 9:24:

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Be dependent. Utterly so.

Karch