Our adult class has had some good dialogue as to what a true disciple is and does. Obviously our heart is the BIGGEST part of our discipleship. In the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15), Jesus mentions four kinds of "soils" (heart-soils). He mentions the hard hearted, the shallow hearted, the heart that is choked with the riches and pleasures of this world, and the good hearted. Ironically enough when people hear this parable, most "assume" they are "good soil." Why? Well, because we like ourselves – we like to think we are a pretty good people -- and we don't want to think that we might be lost! All of us fit into this parable somewhere. Do we automatically assume our hearts are the "good soil” because we go to church?

  It's been my observation that many (if not most) American church-goers are on "thorny ground."  Thorns are anything that distracts us from God.  We pile many things of the world on top of our decision to follow Christ and our spiritual life suffocates. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, secret sins, social activities, and recreation are piled on top of it. No, they may not be wrong in and of themselves, BUT if they are stifling our walk then something must change.

  Let me ask this… Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God's Kingdom (God's Rule) in your life or are you slowly choking it out by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world? Are you satisfied that you are "godly enough" to sneak into Heaven on Judgment Day, especially when comparing yourself with others you know? (Which is not a wise thing to do – 2Cor. 10:12).

  In Revelation 3:14-19, Jesus addresses the church in Laodicea. He accuses the church of being "lukewarm," and encourages them to repent so that He is not forced to disown them. Physically, the church had need of nothing, but spiritually Jesus Himself said they were "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked” -- and didn't even know it!  Now, I'm forced to wonder why God recorded such a negative thing about one of His congregations --- shouldn't He have just left it out of His Book?! --- shouldn't He have been more positive and upbeat?! How in the world does God expect His church to grow when He says things like that?!

  Let’s understand that "The eyes of God do NOT go to and fro searching for big, physically rich, congregations!" "His eyes go to and fro throughout the whole earth searching for those who hearts are faithful to Him” (2 Chr. 16:9).

  Do you truly hate sin? (Ps. 119:128). Are you truly sorry for your own sin, or are you merely sorry because of the penalty God has placed on sin? (Romans 6:23) The mind-set of the lukewarm goes something like this: "Hey, I'm a sinner just like you." – “At least I’m not like…” To put it plainly, the term "lukewarm Christian" is an oxymoron. The thought of a person calling himself a Christian without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd. Only "disciples" are called Christians! (Ac 11:26)

  Were these "church-goers" at Laodicea saved? Well, Jesus Himself said that spiritually they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked -- does that sound like they were saved? They COULD be saved, but before they could do that, they had to "repent." God's grace is available, but He will not force it on you, you have to come and get it (Matt. 11:28-30). If you want to be saved, you have to LIVE like you want to be saved. That requires a commitment on our part – not just a decision!   

With brotherly affection,

Andy B.