Tag Archives: WWJD bracelet

Are You Name-Dropping Jesus?

In the late 1960s through the 1970s, Andre Crouch was the king of Gospel music. While racial tensions were high during those turbulent times, Andre traversed the boundaries with ease. Musicians who either worked with Crouch or performed with him included Elvis Presley, Billy Preston, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson.

In the mid-1980s, a woman at my church announced she was engaged to Andre. She reserved our church building, asked my senior pastor to officiate, sent out invitations, and excitedly shopped for dresses with her bridesmaids. Because Andre was such a high profile personality with a busy schedule, she told the pastor that he would show up in time for the ceremony.

On the day of the wedding, family and friends packed the church sanctuary, anticipating a glorious event. The bridesmaids doted on the cheery bride.

And they waited for Andre to arrive.

They waited and waited while the congregation grew increasingly agitated and concerned.

Finally, my senior pastor met with the bride privately.

“Do you have any idea where Andre might be?”

“I have no idea,” she responded. “That’s just not like him.”

Unfortunately, the bride didn’t have Andre’s phone number with her, so the pastor decided to do a little investigative work on his own. Finally, he was able to locate his phone number (this pastor was very well-connected!). So he dialed the number.

“Hello?”

“Yes, is this Andre Crouch?”

“Yes it is.”

“This is Charles Blair and I pastor a church in Denver, Colorado. A woman in my congregation asked me to perform her wedding ceremony this afternoon, and you’re the man she’s supposed to be marrying. Do you know [woman’s name]?”

“Pastor,” Andre replied. “I don’t know who you’re talking about. I don’t know that woman nor have I ever heard of her in my life.”

The woman, with obvious mental health issues, was all dressed up with no place to go.

That true story has haunted me for nearly thirty years. The troubled woman was name-dropping a person who didn’t know her. She talked a good game. She looked the part. But in the end, Andre Crouch never knew her.

Are You Name-Dropping Jesus?

In Matthew 7, Jesus describes the day of judgment when seemingly godly people stand before him. “Lord, in your name we prophesied, we cast out demons, and performed many miracles. Surely that’s enough.”

But Jesus replies, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (see Matthew 7:22-23)

You can hang a cross around your neck, wear a WWJD bracelet, go to church (when it fits your schedule!), be a good citizen and vote in every election, even throw some change in the offering–but if you don’t know Jesus, then you’re nothing more than a name-dropper. A poser.

In the verse immediately preceding this passage, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” This passage points to three truths:

Doing good deeds isn’t enough. Prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles required the power of God. At a minimum, these people were trying to help people. But they fell short.

Doing good deeds cannot be equated with doing the will of God. Obviously, according to Jesus, they’re different.

Knowing Jesus and doing God’s will go together. Neither survives alone, but it begins with knowing God.

A common ailment among many believers is what I call “virtual Christianity.” We talk so much about something that we convince ourselves we’re doing it. We do it with prayer, giving, community, etc.

We also do it in our relationship with Jesus.

Don’t just talk about Jesus. Know him.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott.

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The Secret To Overcoming Your Sin

In 1899, a famous healing evangelist named John Alexander Dowie founded a Christian city north of Chicago, Illinois named Zion City. His desire was to create a modern-day Utopia by removing every temptation that could lead the city’s inhabitants astray.

In fact, in the city charter he outlawed sin. Really!

Zion City eventually grew to 6,000 people under Dowie’s leadership, but they were never able to achieve their goal of eradicating sin. Zion, Illinois exists to this day, but it resembles any other city.

The season of Lent tends to direct our focus to our sin. And why wouldn’t it when our sins were the reason Jesus was nailed to the cross on Good Friday? Traditionally, Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. So yes, Lent does expend a significant focus on sin.

Like all of you, I have spent a lifetime trying to rid myself of my earthier side. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much energy I expend, I often find that my efforts only make things worse.

Obviously, none of us will completely rid ourselves of our sinful condition until we pass through those pearly gates, but there is a better way to fight the ongoing battle with sin.

Abide in Christ.

Sounds overly simplistic, but it’s true.

The Best Way To Identify An Idol
When I make the focus of my life the eradication of sin, I make sin my focus. I’m actually abiding in my flesh—that part of me which craves sin. So it’s no surprise that I become further entrapped by it. Whatever we abide in, we become.

If I’m struggling with lust and trying not to think lustful thoughts, what am I focusing on, or abiding in? My lust.

Whatever I focus on becomes an object of worship. An idol. If I make finances the focus of my life—maybe I’m not making enough, maybe I just want to make more—then finances become my idol.

Ironically, it works the same way with love. If I focus on becoming a more loving person, who or what am I focusing on or abiding in? Ultimately it’s myself. And in the  end I simply become more self-absorbed and more frustrated because I’m not becoming a more loving person.

Jesus said, “He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).

Anything good, anything fruitful that comes out of us isn’t the result of our efforts, but because Christ did it through us. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—is the fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives. In other words, you can’t produce the fruit of the Spirit on your own.

Stop Working On Your Sin!
So what part do we play? It doesn’t come by struggling with sin or trying to be more loving. Making laws outlawing sin like Alexander John Dowie did with Zion will never be successful.

All we can do is abide in Christ.

The word “abide” means to remain, stay, live, or dwell.

Abiding is not a matter of reading your Bible and praying nor does it mean white-knuckled obedience. It’s a matter of being. Believing.

To abide means to make your abode, your home with Christ.  To live with Christ. You don’t have to always say something to Him. But you know He’s there. You acknowledge Him. You enjoy fellowship and communion with one other.

Abiding in Christ means I take my mind off myself and my problems and onto him.

Steve McVey writes in his book Grace Walk, “The Christian life is not about Christ. It is Christ. It is God’s purpose to bring every Christian to the place where he no longer lives for self, but where Christ is allowed to live His life through us.”

That’s the paradox:  You can’t become more loving by trying harder to love. You can’t become patient by trying to be patient. You can’t overcome your addiction to porn by focusing on overcoming your addiction to porn. You don’t become like Jesus by trying to become like Jesus. You might as well throw away that WWJD bracelet.

We become like Jesus by being with Jesus. By communing with Jesus. By allowing Him to live His life through us. Loving through us.

And that is what Lent is all about.

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