Lukewarm

Ever get the craving for a nice, tall glass of room-temperature water? The kind that you can hardly tell you’re drinking because it seems to have no temperature at all? Yeah, me neither.  I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I drink a lot of hot coffee and hot chocolate. Fall means hot cider, spring and summer mean ice water, cold lemonade or iced tea. But there is never a time of year where we crave lukewarm water.

Why is that? It just never sounds good! One of my friends, who I help bale hay with several times during the summer tends to describe our warm water bottles (after they’ve sat in a hot truck for several hours) as “It’s not cold, but it’s wet.” Think about that. It’s wet. Really, that’s the only good thing about this water, since it’s so hot outside, and what we really want is ice cold water. Lukewarm water is never enjoyable. We either want cold water in the warm weather or hot drinks in the cold weather. Never, ever lukewarm.

In Revelation 3:16, one of the seven churches is described as “lukewarm” and because of this awful trait, God says he will spit them out of his mouth. He would rather have the church be hot or cold, but not lukewarm. This is clearly a negative trait, not only for our drinking water, but also for our lives as Christians.

We can’t judge people’s hearts, this is my disclaimer. I will not judge anyone’s hearts now, or any other time. But this article is meant to open the eyes of Christians (myself included) to what our calling as the Church is!

What is a lukewarm Christian? There is an incredible amount of passivity in the church world today. I hear a lot of “It’s not like I’m an atheist” or “I’m not like a super Christian, but I believe in God,” around campus and life in general. Don’t get me wrong, not being an atheist, and believing in God are both very good things (small starts though) to being a Christian. However, even as I type those words I can practically see people shrugging the words off in much the same way that I might say “I’m not like a diehard hockey fan, but I think it’s pretty cool.”

It’s so easy for people to say they’re Christians. In fact it’s somewhat of a romanticized idea. You see a beautiful mountain scene? Post a picture to Facebook and talk about how God doesn’t need a filter! Something good happen in your life? #blessed. Do you wear a cross around your neck, have a Jesus fish on your car, or post lyrics to Christian songs? All of those are good things and they’re certainly not bad in themselves. But if that’s what makes or breaks our faith, we are in big trouble. We can’t express our faith just on Sundays, or just when something good happens in our lives or just when we see a tiny fingerprint of God’s beauty in creation. Being Christian is a 24/7, 365 days/year task.

When we express our faith, no matter if it’s private or public we should feel and see in ourselves a flame, white-hot and almost frightening in its intensity. Every day, every moment this burning passion in our hearts should lit, and we need to stoke that fire with kindling every single day. We can do this by our personal devotions, time in the Bible, singing or listening to uplifting, Christian music, and constant prayer.

Figure out what lights that fire in you. For me, it’s singing. When I was in choir in Covenant a few years back, I think that was one of the first times I felt that burning passion so really in my soul. Now, when I listen to those songs from choir or sing along with them, I can feel I’m kindling the fire. Whatever it is for you, figure out what your kindling is and fuel your passion.

Next time you take a huge gulp of your coffee and then realize it’s gone cold, go ahead and spit it out.  This summer, when you grab for your water bottle at work that’s now warm, and you do a spit-take, keep in mind this is God’s reaction to lukewarm Christianity. It’s far better to be either hot or cold. Enjoy your hot coffee and ice water, and remember to never let yourself become lukewarm.

Suzie Kuiper

Keeping Our Hearts Online

Many people today use the internet. Using the internet to do research for papers or classes is something that we are all familiar with in a school setting. It also has tremendous social capabilities. There are millions of people worldwide who use Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and a whole host of other social networking sites and blogs. These sites allow us to keep up with family and friends whether they are 10 minutes away in the next community or whether they are on the other side of the world. Facebook and Twitter allow people to say anything that comes to their minds. This can be beneficial because we know what people think and why they feel that way. This, however, is also a great disadvantage as not every user of these forums uses these websites wisely. One girl down in Texas, for example, recently got hired at a Jet’s Pizza location in the town of Frisco. She posted something like this on Twitter “ewww tomorrow I start this stupid job”. This was followed by a thumbs down sign used a number of times. Her manager-to be saw that and responded “You’re not starting your stupid job tomorrow because I fired you”.  Proverbs 4:23 tells us:”keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”. In other words, what’s on the inside in our hearts eventually comes to expression either from our mouths or online in the form of a tweet or a post on Facebook. Although this passage applies to our lives in school, church, and the workplace, it applies here too. We must be careful about what we say and what we choose to view online. Why? Because employers are increasingly taking to Twitter and Facebook to check up on potential and current employees. This means that if you post a mean status about your current boss, for instance, you will most likely not be hired for a particular job. The same goes for those who post themselves doing things which are stupid at best or illegal at worst, as employers look to see what kind of judgment someone has. The internet is a great place to gain knowledge, provided that that knowledge is wholesome and God-glorifying. “The tongue of the wiseuseth knowledge aright: but  the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness”(Proverbs 15:2). When we sin online we must seek forgiveness for it and strive to better. May God give us the grace to be witnesses for Him while we are online!

Kevin Rau

Be Zealous

“Who (Christ) gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14

Friend, please read that again.

Do those words bring a prickle of shame? Do you feel guilt? I hope so. I know I do.

Has anyone ever told you that you’re peculiar? Most likely someone has at some point in time. Has anyone ever told you that you’re peculiar because you have shown yourself to be zealous in your service to the Lord? I doubt it. No one has ever told me that. And that’s certainly not to my credit, or yours.

What is zeal? Here’s the definition I found fitting: “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.” To be zealous is to pursue something with energy, to devote time and enthusiasm to a particular activity.

How often don’t we make comments about each other, noting the important things in each other’s lives? We often say “You can tell that basketball is important to him.” “She really cares about her school work.” “He puts so much effort into his job.” Our actions each day show what we value as most important. The things we’re excited about, discuss with our friends, and devote much of our time to are the things we’re zealous about. But why are the comments we always make pointing to zeal for earthly activities? There’s nothing wrong with being zealous for earthly activities – and often they’re good things to care about – but there is certainly an imbalance where spiritual activities are concerned. Is it because earthly things are easier to talk about than spiritual things? Perhaps, but I doubt it. I think we most often take note of the zeal for earthly things because most often that’s the only real zeal we are showing.

I very rarely am zealous in doing good works. I am next to never enthusiastic about sitting down for devotions time each day. Even when I do flee a particular temptation, I don’t follow the Lord’s will with great energy and excitement. I am far from zealous in being a servant of Christ. In fact, most days I am the exact opposite. I’m a sinful child, ungrateful and unwilling to obey my gracious Father. If you’re anything like me, the same is true of you. Zeal for the Lord seems like a lot to ask of us.

But Christ gave himself for me and for you, friend. Every bit of himself, offered for us. And what does he ask in return? He asks for energy and enthusiasm in doing the good works He calls us to. And we often feel like he asks too much? We ought to be humbled by his grace. Ashamed of our attitudes.

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:19

Repent, friend. And then go out today, and tomorrow, and every day and be consciously, actively zealous to the point of peculiarity. Be excited when you open your Bible for devotions tonight, rather than opening it out of a sense of duty or guilt that you haven’t lately. Be the peculiar one, the one zealous enough to tell your friends that you won’t watch the movie they’re popping in when you know that none of you should be watching what will come up on that screen. Be zealous enough to drive to school in silence because every song you flipped through on the radio was filled with profanity or inappropriate lyrics. Be enthusiastic as you encourage and help others. Whatever good works the Lord calls you to, do them not because it’s commanded, but do them because you have a thankful, grateful, zealous heart. Be zealous to the point that others see that the work of the Lord is the most important thing you do during your day.

Anna Van Egdom