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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maybe People Can't See Their Own Hatred

I have just been reading facebook. Many people were commenting on things that they perceived as hatred. They wrote words of hatred back at those whom they saw hatred. Did they not understand that they were participating in the same thing that they were complaining about? Could they not see their own hatred?

I have a friend who openly expressed his disgust to his wife when seeing something during a movie. The people behind him said, "How intolerant!" to express their disgust for his groan. Did they not see that they were being intolerant for his intolerance?

Sometimes people see themselves as justified by their own hatred at the perceived hatred of others. This, of course, makes no sense unless you are so blinded that you can't see yourself in the mirror.

Christians must have convictions and those convictions will be perceived as hatred by others. However, the Christian cannot walk with the Lord and return hatred for hatred. Christians cannot turn away from recognizing their own sins. They cannot say they love while hating. They cannot love God while hating others.

There are many actions which demand justice but the Christian cannot exact revenge and call it justice. He cannot hate back at those who hate him.

The Christian must say, "You may hate me for what I believe but I will never hate you back. I can't. I have been forgiven of too much by the Christ who loved me when I was against Him. I will love you even if you are against me."

1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NIV) 
15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Redefine Missions

Unfortunately a blog can be used to make statements are gripes. I am not sure how to categorize this one.

Missions has been exclusively defined as what is done overseas in many churches. In fact, many people forget those people who are sent to do missions in the US. The lack of an exotic nature seems to eliminate anything we can directly relate to as a mission.

So, we bring in missionaries who tell romantic stories of difficult times. They tell the stories of those to whom they have shared Christ who were persecuted. They tell us of their stories of peril. They tell these stories so that people will reach into their pockets and give to "missions." It is very effective.

Don't get me wrong. What they are doing is missions. We should support them. Yet I have a question which seems almost blasphemous to ask: What makes the souls who come to Christ in a foreign country any more important that those who are a block from the church buildings? Why is money sent to the "mission field" any more sacred than that given to the local church?

I believe that  many people have forgotten that the first mission of any church is local. If the local mission isn't supported, then there will be no foreign missions supported by the church. The local mission must grow. The local church must reach people as if it is on a mission field. In fact, the whole activity of a church is missions.

I would like to send more money and support to those in foreign missions. I would like for them to have everything they need. I would like to see more people come to know Christ in all places in the world. I, however, do not want to do so with such a one-sided view of missions that I neglect the local church.

I wonder how much more foreign missions could be supported if the local church understood that it was on a mission field. Understanding members would understand that the church does not exist to make them happy or comfortable. They would see that their responsibility is to be missionaries in their own neighborhoods, jobs, civic clubs, places of recreation, in fact, everywhere they were. They would rejoice in the salvation of souls and wouldn't miss baptisms at the church. They would pray to see people come to know Christ right before their eyes. They would have their own testimonies of those whom they had seen come to Christ.

And they would give to the mission of the local church. That culture would create an urgency to share the gospel so that members would stop giving only 2% of their income. They would understand that the first mission is here.

And you know what? They would support the foreign missions more than ever. They would truly understand what it means to see people come to know Christ and join in with the foreign missionaries rather than simply give their money.

Maybe we don't need to redefine missions. Maybe we need to find the real meaning of missions.

Acts 1:8 (ESV)

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Bit of Encouragement in Very Difficult Days

Psalm 22:24 (NIV)
24 For he has not despised or disdained
      the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
      but has listened to his cry for help.

Everyone goes through tough times.  Each person struggles on certain days. Those of us who do not have an abundance of money think that the wealthy have nothing but wine and song all their days but they do not. Those who feel unloved think that those famous people in the movies or television who are so beautiful and appear to be so loved are always comforted by others who truly love them, but they are not. So, even the rich and famous have terrible days.

Some people have more than their fair share of difficulties. I don't know how we define what is "fair." Yet, we see parents who lose all their children in multiple tragedies. We see those whose financial status gets worse and worse because the companies which employ them continue to downsize and go out of business. It leaves them looking for work more than actually working. Their families suffer because of the financial strain.

I have always thought that no matter what I am going through there was someone going through something worse than me. That logic means that there is someone who has the absolute worst difficulties. I wonder if this person knows that their's is the worst.

What makes our situation worse is thinking that no one cares. We think that no one will help us, comfort us or even think of us in our difficulties. We believe we are alone in a boat in the middle of the ocean without oars, sails, motor or radio. No one even misses us. No one is looking for us.

We turn to God and ask, "Why?" Have we done something so bad that we have earned this suffering? We wonder why God would send such a tragedy. We wonder how He could let it happen. We curse and cry and think He is not listening.

But God has not turned His face away. I know that His tears match ours when He sees us in pain. I know that He hears our cries and I know that He is full of love and compassion. I know that He is working when we do not see Him working. I know that He is caring when we cannot hear Him. I know that He has prepared the way out of the difficulties even before we started our path into them.

No one is ever really alone. No matter what you are going through. God is always there in His full knowledge or what you are going through. He has a way for you.

So, turn to Him fully and do not hold back. Tell Him your struggles and your fears. Tell Him your disappointments and hurts. Tell Him of your loneliness. Tell Him of your pain.

Then know this with all your heart: He is listening. He is caring and He is rescuing you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Should a Church Sanctuary Look Like?

If you are not careful you will think its all about opulence when you read the story of Solomon building the Temple. Sure, there was no expense spared but I really don't think it was about how much was spent or whether it awed the people who entered it. I believe it was an attempt to build something worthy of the presence of the Lord God Almighty.

I have worshiped in other countries in tin buildings which represented the best the people had to offer.  The worship was rich because it was from the heart. The heart which is committed to loving God without reservation is also the best that humans can offer.

A church sanctuary, the place where the people meet to worship, should be the best those people can offer. The looks will change because of the cultures but the heart of the people will remain the same. They will say, "This is where we meet with our God. We welcome Him here and are prepared to give Him our best."

Giving your best is not mere attendance. That is how sanctuaries were built for some time. They were built with as many seats as possible so that people could attend. Worship is participation. It must invite the congregants to participate. It must leave room for commitment.

The sanctuary is not a stadium for people to watch others perform. The platform in the sanctuary should be a place for worship leaders to bring those gathered into the presence of God. The worship leaders are not performers to be praised by those in attendance. They are leaders who share their own hearts through music, sermons, prayers and testimonies. The platform should promote the use of the worshipers' senses. The words and music must be heard clearly. The leaders should be seen without obstructions.

The sanctuary needs constant maintenance and even renovations. The cracks in the walls must be fixed the broken seats must be replaced when they can no longer be fixed. The stained carpet must also be replaced when it can no longer be cleaned. We must always remember that this is a place that honors God. It should represent our best.

I have been in some beautiful sanctuaries filled with people who had no more worship that wooden posts. I have been in crude sanctuaries filled with people whose hearts echoed their desire to give God their best. But I have never been in a sanctuary which was unclean, filled with broken seats, stained carpet and people who treated their own homes much better than their church sanctuary who really understood what real worship is.

You see, I have found that a committed people want to give God their best. There is no way to give Him your best without worship. That place of worship should represent the best we can offer.

What will you do to change this if this is not true of your church sanctuary? Should we find the glory of the Lord resting on the people who are giving God their best?

2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (NIV)
1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "He is good; his love endures forever."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Is Wrong with the Truth?

I watched a two episodes of one tv program last night. Both episodes had a conflict that involved someone failing to tell the whole truth. There were misleading things said which led others to believe a lie. Let me make this clear: Knowingly leading a person to believe a lie is the same as telling a lie. Anyone who says, "Technically, I was telling the truth, " is probably telling a lie.

In each instance things got worse because the truth was not told. In fact, they were much worse. The truth would have been difficult but it would have been like cleaning up a mess. The mess is in the open. It looks bad but you really can't clean up a mess that is being hidden.

The Bible has a lot to say about the truth and lies. Jesus said that the devil was the father of lies. He said that He was the truth. He said that by abiding in His word, we would know the truth. He said the truth was make us free.

Lies hold us hostage. They keep us from knowing things as they are. We cannot go the right direction when led to turn the wrong way. We cannot lead others in the right way when we are going the wrong way. We can't get where we want to go by going the wrong way.

But lies appeal to people  who do not want things revealed. Lies capture people from even the highest stations in life. President Nixon would never have had to resign if not for the lies he told. President Clinton would not have been disbarred if not for the lie he told. Sure, these men were trying to cover up other sins they committed but it was their lies that tarnished their legacies.

Think of King David. He did the wrong thing with Bathsheba. He should never have asked who she was in the first place. He should have asked if she was married. He should never have invited her over. He knew what he wanted to do. He lied to himself if he wasn't aware of  his motive. He just didn't expect the consequence of a child being born. He thought he could act as if it didn't happen. So, he sought to cover it all up. He sought to place the paternity upon her husband. This was a misleading lie. After a couple of attempts he had her husband killed and took her into his own home. He was going to appear to be her savior until Nathan, the prophet, arrived and revealed all.

Then, David did what he should have done with his sin. He was honest and confessed it before the Lord. Confession is being truthful about sin. It is not merely revealing what was done. It is full disclosure to the Lord with grief and commitment that it will not happen again. It seeks restoration of the relationship between God and sinner. It is the truth.

The truth is hard for the moment. A lie makes things worse and is hard for as long as the lie persists. While the truth may reveal our sins, weaknesses or even mistakes, a lie buries those faults so that we cannot recover.

What is wrong with the truth? I suppose it reveals who we really are and what we have really done. Maybe we are afraid to either face who we are or let others know what we have done. But the truth really does set you free.

Yes, I know that when Christ made that statement about being set free He was talking about people coming to Him. You cannot come to Him by believing lies or living in lies though. You shed these lies to come to Christ. You believe the truth. You accept the truth.

John 8:31-32
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

John 8:42-44
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, of there is o truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

John 14:6
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Negative Do-Nothing

I have observed that people who are negative tend to do nothing. They don't do because they don't believe what they would do will work. They stop doing as much as they can and watch things get worse which reinforces their negativity. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Today, I was reading the story of Elijah (Again! I wondered why God wanted me to read it.) when I noticed that he sat down after a great victory when he believed that Jezebel was coming to kill him. She sent word that she would just to put him in a tizzy. He took off running and finally sat down under a broom tree and prayed to die. He was so negative about the future he wanted it all to end. He didn't want to do another thing.

So, I look at those people I know that are constantly critical. They often say, "Now let me play the devil's advocate. . . ," but most of the time they just sound like the devil. They stop every idea for something new. (There is nothing wrong with pointing out the pitfalls of an idea if you also point out how it could be changed to be more successful.) They offer no suggestions. They do as little as possible and criticize as much as possible. Their seemed to want everything in the world to stop and languish in their own depression.

On the other hand, I see positive people walking into some of the most depressing situations and making them wonderful god-praising successes because they believed there was a God who called and directed them. They did not complain about the minor things. They do not care if they don't get their email or if the internet is down or if they have enough money in their budgets to do what God has directed them to do. They just do what they can and see God do the rest.

And the glory goes to God for what is accomplished.

But does God get any glory from the negative people? He doesn't get any for what they do for they do nothing. He doesn't get any for what they have said. He doesn't get any glory because He is not the center of negative people. The negative person centers on himself.

1 Kings 19:9-10
There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: "What are you doing here Elijah?"
He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too."

And God gave him something to do.

(I am not talking about clinical depression. That is a totally different matter. I am speaking of people who choose to be negative.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do You Know God's Plans for You?

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

I have obsessed on this scripture for some time. I didn't know why but what was unclear is clearing up. Many people realize that God has a plan for their lives. They intrinsically know that they were born or created for a purpose. Yet, they don't know what that purpose is.

So, they wash the dishes, make the beds sweep the floors each day. They drive to work, perform their assigned duties and make the trip home. They try to get their children in as many activities as possible, hoping that their children will not miss what they believe they are missing.

Their lives are a series of circles rather than a line. They do what they do day after day, week after week, even year after year until they reach retirement. I believe that is why so many people only look forward to the day they can retire. They are so tired of the routine. They want a break. They want to move forward.

So, they bought and read Rick Warren's book, the Purpose Driven Life, years ago hoping that it would tell them why they were born. It didn't give them the specifics that they wanted. They don't know what to do now. They just hope they have enough money in retirement soon.

Doesn't it make sense that God would tell us what His plans for us are if He really has plans? Maybe He doesn't need to tell us in details but surely in purpose.

Then, I read the next couple of verses:

Jeremiah 29:12-13
"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Each and every one of us in unique. We have different eyes, fingerprints and, no matter how much we look like someone else, we have truly unique appearances. We are looking for a template which does not involve our uniqueness. We want something we can copy that someone else has done. Fortunately, God has a unique plan for each of us. He just doesn't have a template.

Therefore, we must call upon God and pray. These two things seem the same but they aren't. Calling upon God involves knowing Him by who He is. It is important that we know Him before we call upon Him. Otherwise, how would we know to whom we are speaking. (more in a later blog about that) Prayer is praising, confessing, committing, thanking and asking. We bring ourselves to God prepared to accept His plans for us.

But prayer is also something else that we must do but seldom prepare for. Prayer is listening. It is being silent and waiting for God to speak. It is a commitment to listen until you hear.

Now, the next verse really jumped out at me because I had previously only viewed it in the historical context of the day but I realized something as I read it.

Jeremiah 29:14
"I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity."

Isn't captivity what people are experiencing when they are trapped in a life of circles rather than a line? They need to break out. In fact, all of us need to break out.

Israel has spent time in spiritual darkness often. Eventually, their darkness overcame them and they returned to the Lord. Then, they made the trip back toward spiritual intimacy with God. A generation later, they were back in spiritual darkness. They seemed to get in a cycle that went nowhere except when someone would finally listen to God, receive His plans and walk in those plans.

So, if you really want to know God's plans, you call upon Him, pray and listen. Of course, you also need to be committed to whatever His plans are for you. Why should He tell you what His plans are if you aren't going to walk in them anyway?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You Will Never Find Faith in Security

I like guarantees. I want one that excepts me from any worry. I want one that allows me to do things that never have consequences. I want one which allows me to recover from any decision I have made. I really want one that doesn't require faith.

But no matter how much I really want guarantees, they really don't exist. The guarantees I have depend upon the faithfulness of the one giving the guarantee. Therefore, no matter how truthful a person has been, the guarantee cannot be extended beyond the person's (or company's) ability to ensure that guarantee can be met.

In short, even faithful people and companies die and go out of business. They can't keep a guarantee forever.

But this isn't true for God. He can keep a guarantee forever. The difference is that He often fails to spell out all that He will guarantee. For example, He told Moses to take His people to the promised land but failed to tell Moses all the trouble he would go through in getting there. He often keeps some of the information for Himself.

And why would He do that? I believe He wants us to have faith in Him rather than in (just) what He has said. He says He will take care of us but the details of doing so would take the faith out of faith in Him. His promise should be enough for us.

Thus, like Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah and a host of others we strike out to do His will without the type of guarantee that we would like. We would like to have more money than we knew what to do with before we struck out on any new god-given project. He simply tells us to trust Him. Often we find very little security in that. If we always had all that we needed to do what God wanted us to do, we wouldn't be putting our trust in Him; we'd be putting it in all that we had.

So, we will never find faith in security. But, we will find security in faith.

Our great unreasonable fear is that God will send us to do something and not give us the means to do so. Our fear is that He sends us out and makes His own name mean nothing. Our fear is that we will fail even though we have been completely faithful. Our fear is that God doesn't really know what He is doing when He calls us.

Does that ever really happen? Does God send people out to fail with no purpose?

That's why we need a word from Him before we strike out on our own. We must have the plans that He has for us specifically and know that they are from Him. We accept these things by faith and this is where the security lies.

In fact, i would say that there is no security in waiting until everything is in place before obedience. Anything that appears assured can be taken away except for His word. Circumstances just happen to be what is happening at the moment. Real security is built on the never changing God who has faithfully kept His word.

1 Samuel 3:19
The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Trading the Best for the Good

I have been gone for over a week. My daughter got married in Sonoma, CA and, of course, I attended the wedding and walked her down the aisle. It was majestic!

However, I got back in the office today to find hundreds of new emails. I am still trying to weed through all of them. The problem is that I believe that everyone is important. Every email is important to those who sent it. However, I can't read all these emails and get anything else done.

I really care about people. I don't want anyone to think I don't care. I believe that love needs to be shown rather than simply felt. I also know what I have been called to do. I am to present the gospel, preach the word and pastor my church. The things that fall outside of these essentials must be put on the back burner sometimes.

Isn't that true for all of us? Isn't it the good things that often keep us from the best? Don't we all need to sift through what we are doing to find what the best really is?

I love everyone and want everyone to know they are important. Yet, I have decided that I will not do all the wedding ceremonies at my church. I don't need to. They are not a part of the essentials. I will not visit everyday in the hospitals. I don't need to. It is not an essential. I will delegate to others. I will stop trying to control everything. I will give up that which keeps me from doing my best with the things God has given me to do.

That's what Moses had to do.

Exodus 18:14-23 (NIV) 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?" 15 Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws." 17 Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."

Monday, July 9, 2012

God Is Not For Sale

I have sold a lot of things through the years. As an elementary student I made "creepy crawlers" (soft gel-like plastic insects) and sold them at school. I also sold little cars that I made and anything else I could make a little money on. It didn't amount to much but eventually I was told that I couldn't sell these things at school anymore so I quit. However, I knew what it took to sell things.

First, you have to convince people why they need your product. I played with my products in front of the other kids. I talked about how these plastic insects could scare people. I really didn't have to do much selling after I had a few customers. No kid wants to be left wanting what others have.

Years later, I heard an evangelist appear to "sell" Jesus to a crowd. He used guilt as his motivator. He was trying to create a need. He screamed and put peer pressure on those who stood still. He got in the face of those who listened. I was determined that I didn't need what he was selling. I walked out without Christ.

The next day I realized that he was telling the truth even though I hated the way that he did it. I gave my life to Christ without anyone around. I didn't feel like I had bought Him. I knew He had bought me.

Since that time I have been very careful in my presentation of the gospel. I still offer what is known as an invitation at the end of all worship services but I explain it. I tell them it is an invitation to do what God is telling them to do. I ask them if God is telling them that they need to proclaim Him publicly or maybe coming forward to see if they would like to know more about becoming a believer. I tell them that it isn't easy but that's what makes it do real too. They're certainly not giving their lives to Christ if they aren't willing to walk down the aisle. I also tell them that walking down an aisle will not make any difference if they don't mean what they say. Yet, I make sure that they understand that it is an invitation. I am not trying to sell Jesus.

One method of sales has been discounting the price or giving out extras. So, some churches accept just about anything. For example, some don't bother checking to see if the person is serious about their decision. They don't ask if the person is really making a decision for Christ. Each person must tell their story of coming to Christ before they are baptized. We have services in which we don't do anything but baptize. The person chooses someone who is important to their coming to know Christ read their salvation story just before they are baptized. There are lots of tears, laughter and even some shouting and applause at times when people are baptized. It is appropriate.

We didn't sell them anything. The stories are never what they paid to come to Christ. They are all stories of what Christ paid for them. They talk of their changed lives. They talk of their appreciation for Jesus.

I wonder how many times people have read John 3:16 and failed to realize that the precious blood of Jesus was given for their salvation. It never needs to be sold.

I may get excited when I preach. I may even get loud every once in a while (reasonably rarely though). I get loud and excited at a lot of football games too. But I will not try to coerce, guilt or belittle people to come down an aisle to receive Christ. He is not for sale.

So I pray very hard before every worship service. I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me and to do His work on those who do not yet know Jesus. I have given myself over to the God who seeks after those who do not know Him. He's not in sales either.

John 3:16 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Results Not Typical

I am enamored with stories of success. I love to hear how someone faced impossible adversity and overcame it. These stories are always encouraging, inspiring and, unfortunately, not typical.

Looking carefully at the bottom of my tv screen I see, "Results not typical . . ." as the victorious person tells of making money, losing weight, promoting an invention or curing their own back pain. Each of these people are promoting a product that does not typically produce the desired results, right? No, I don't think that is the real problem.

Often, people do not follow through with the plan. They assumed that going on the diet would take a whole lot less effort than they were willing to spend. They did not follow through until it brought the desired results. They assumed they would make money from the very first day of the investment plan and did not prepare for any setbacks. Thus, they didn't make the money they expected. They did not realize how hard it would be to exercise an hour each day and skipped or cheated at times.

Results not typical may mean that the product still worked but the users failed to work the product.

So, I am thinking about all those testimonies that I have heard in church. You know, the ones that tell of the joy being had with every day since coming to know Jesus. I thought, "Should we put a message on our screens (as the testimony is being told) saying, 'Results Not Typical'?" Too many Christians are living a joyless life.

Yet, what is the problem? Do Christians expect that they will avoid all troubles when they come to know Christ? Do they think that it will make them divorce-proof or financially fit forever? Do they think that everything is set without continuing to seek after Christ?

The problem for most Christians is that they fail to truly follow the Lord daily. They lose the joy of Christ because they do not walk in such an intimate way that they expect that the hardships they are experiencing to produce a greater joy. They do not expect, or in some cases want, to grow as believers in witness and faith. Thus, they walk as the world, riding the waves of their feelings as circumstances determine how they act and feel. They are elated on good days and down on bad.

So, many nonbelievers look at Jesus as a product that works infrequently. They decide that it is not a good buy because they are looking at all the believers who don't look any different than anyone else. It is like looking at an obese person who proclaims the success of the diet they have been on for years.

But Jesus Christ does transform believers who walk with Him. The problem is that so many do not "work the product."

Indeed, maybe we should say of our faith, "Results Not Typical."

Romans 8:29 (NIV) 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Philippians 3:12 (NIV) 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.