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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Clearing Out the Clutter

I can't continue in intense prayer all the time. I can't study my Bible around the clock. I can' t allow anything to clutter my life-even the good things.

Life gets cluttered when we fail to watch how we walk. The obsession with one activity results in the neglect of another. I can't read my Bible if I witness all the time. I can't witness if I am in intense prayer. I can't worship with others if I continually spend time alone with God. Wisdom in how we use our time depends upon using this time as the Lord leads in the moment rather than simply choosing a good thing and doing it all the time.

Much of the problem of obesity is eating without enough exercise. Both exercise and eating are good but they have to be balanced or our bodies will die. Much of the problem people have with living godly lives is that they are not balanced in the good things in their lives.

Most of us know the things we should avoid. We should avoid gossip, ungodly movies and anything else that damages our spirit and our witness. However, we struggle when it comes to the good things. We lose our balance when we focus on corporate worship without private worship, Bible study  without prayer and witnessing without a quiet time (vice-versa applies to each of these). Our lives become cluttered because we haven't used the wisdom to realize that we cannot be one dimensional. Our lives require balance. It is important that we realize what we need to keep and what we need to put away. It is just as important to know what we need to do with each moment. It means that we make a trade-off with some activities. Whatever we are doing means that we can't be doing something else.

Now, I know that most people would rather that I mentioned watching tv rather than prayer or Bible study when speaking of things that will clutter your lives, but that could easily be misconstrued. Leisure is not evil. In fact, some times we need leisure more than we need work.

We should understand that we can't peg any activity as what we need to be doing all the time. We walk with the Lord daily or we don't walk with Him at all.

So, wisdom considers every moment we spend. It weighs that moment as to what needs to be done. It knows that evil will prevail when God's people fail to do what they need to do. That means they must pay attention to their Lord or their lives will get cluttered.

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV) 15 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.


Anthony Chia said...

Ps Prentis, what you said is absolutely true. I just want to add an angle or two more, to this subject.

Firstly, there is a mistaken notion that we are "gifted" in a particular area of service by God and so, we are to forget about doing the other "stuff", and just do the one thing we are supposed to be good at. While it is true that there is such a thing as a gifting in particular area of service or ministry, it is NOT wise, and I believe it is NOT God's wisdom for people to adopt such an attitude of "I am gifted (by God) in this, and so, I will only do this."

This, for example, does happen in the church. The Senior Pastor is good at preaching the Word, but NOT so, in singing and praising God with songs, and he agrees to “NOT to sing”; let others take care of that. Now, while there is good reason for working with others, and good reason to respect the gifting of others, and deferring to them (and it is a sign of humility), yet it is unwise to have the Senior Pastor NOT seen singing or praising God in church, year in and year out, NOT good for the Senior Pastor, and NOT good for the congregation. What is wrong with the Senior Pastor leading a praise and worship once in a while, or be heard and seen singing and praising God on stage, even if he is NOT particularly gifted in the area. We have to ask if corporate praise and worship is part and parcel of the life of a believer? If it is, why should the Senior Pastor omit doing so, especially he is to lead by example? He is a leader but he is also a member of the body. Many people, including myself, don't sing well (although I sing in tongues pretty beautifully!), but we say they are still to join other brothers and sisters and worship God corporately.

The world practises the "inner circle" stuff so prevalently - people in the circle can do things, people outside are NOT allowed to; or they can omit doing certain stuff when those outside must do. Such should NOT be practised in the body of Christ, in the many Christian setups, including churches. The same can be said concerning other aspects of what a Christian is to do; another example would be, just because you are the Senior Pastor and you are good at preaching, does NOT give you the immunity to preach only and NOT pray for people individually. The point is that Christians are to pray for one another, and we encourage that, and so, at times, the pastor (or one) cannot just go by “I am gifted in this or that, but not praying for another”, or that you do NOT fancy praying for another, but rather you like to preach only.

There is an array of things Christians are to do, and so, they are to do them as far as possible. I have often said, "We don't just do NOT do a thing, because it is hard or difficult (to us)". A Christian's mindset should NOT be firstly that, rather it should be "Is this something God would be pleased that I do?" For a pastor or Christian leader, he must be prepared to do the very things he is exhorting his "followers" to do. If you tell your members to go to the hospital and minister to the sick, you must be prepared to do the same; you cannot say, every time, that you have to meet up with the celebrity so and so, to see if he or she could make some donations to the coffer of the church or organization, and you don’t go with your members. People do have a tendency to only want to do the things they are good at or have developed a liking for, but we, leaders of sort, on the one hand, tell people they cannot ignore the other elements of the array but to make effort, and on the other, we are NOT seen to do the same!

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Anthony Chia said...

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The other angle that I want to touch on is that concerning the portion of the Word we dwell on; in fact, it is foremost that we address this first, before we look at the other various aspects of the things that a Christian should be involved in. I know, repeatedly over the many comments I left here (I thank Ps Prentis for allowing my comments), I have targeted at the “overly grace” preachers or believers. But if we look at their concentrated teaching on grace (based on their purported understanding), from the angle that Ps Prentis had brought up in this entry, we can see the danger of their over-concentration in such grace teaching.

We must first be prepared to take in the whole counsel of the Word, and then eat the Word. When I engaged such believers in the past, I found that when we use the word, “balance”, they would just attack, saying, “Truth is truth, no balancing required”; they refused to listen to our call that the balance that we are talking about is NOT balancing a truth, but is the Word is full of truths, and we are to take in all the truths, and NOT be concentrated in one truth and ignoring all the rest. Do you feed on only one portion of the Word or do you feed on the whole counsel of the Word? Do you only want to read the part that talks about how God will bless you, protect you, and prosper you, but any other parts? We are to live out what we take in, from the Word. So, if you only take in, “God loves me, He will bless me, protect me, and prosper me; it is grace, nothing I do could merit anything from God; and God has forgiven me of all my sins.”, and you keep dwelling on it, and leave out all the other portions of the Word, you may begin to read more into these grace truths, like what the overly grace preachers had done. The same truths may become: “It is all God’s part, He loves me, He will bless me, protect me, and prosper me; it is all grace, nothing on my part, nothing that I need to do, just to bask in grace; and God already forgiven me ALL my sins, including future ones.”, and then it ramifies into a new Christian theology of all you need to do is to accept Jesus as your Saviour, and thereafter the means and the end of your Christian life is to just bask in grace; no “ought”, no “should”, and ignore the conscience; if you are NOT doing it, it must be you are NOT supposed to do it, in the first place, arguing you are perfectly righteous, and you would have been directed by the Holy Spirit; whatever you did NOT do or did, must be the thing to do or not do, purportedly, you have already the mind of Christ. Even if you sin, it is of no consequence, for your understanding is that God has already forgiven that, when you accepted Jesus as Savior, donkey years ago. You begin to think that knowing your identity is sufficient, and you begin to think that right standing is sufficient; and living out your identity, and right living is NOT your responsibility – it is all God’s part, purportedly arguing that since God allowed you into salvation, then it is His problem to see you through; by hook or by crook, He has to get you into Heaven. Soon you will build a wall around yourself, and believe that the new theology is all the truths there are in the Word of God; and you will shut every other truth out, inventing justification of why they don’t apply.

Ps Prentis, this is the dangerous cluttering. Nothing goes in; Matt 6:33-34 of “seek ye first the righteousness of God”, does NOT apply to them anymore, for they argue that they are already completely and perfectly righteous, and at all times, too, and so, that text must be directed at non-believers! Similarly, the same, that “the text is NOT directed at believers”, is used to disqualify 1 John 1:9, and any exhortation in the Word for believers to repent, confess, ask for forgiveness, seek righteousness, resist sin, and to do good works.

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Anthony Chia said...

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We can eat meat and vegetables, but if we eat only meat, we get constipation. It is NOT meat is no good, but you need the vegetables too. If it is constipation that we are talking about, it is NOT so bad; but what if the consequence is much, much more serious than that? Think about it – just bask in grace, do nothing, or do anything you like without consequence (sin consequence), no need to ask for forgiveness; is it just a constipation you will get? How would you describe what these people are doing with the grace of God? What would you say they are doing to God? Trample the grace of God like people would trample a rose on the ground. Taking God for granted. Well, they often say “right standing” leads to “right living”; I say, “Cluttering of ‘overly grace’ teachings, leads to cluttering of life; life cluttered with doing nothing, but just basking in grace or life cluttered with one thing or any number of things!”