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 The Redneck Gospel excerpt

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kypheonix
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PostSubject: The Redneck Gospel excerpt   Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:14 pm

This is an excerpt from my other book project, which I think is becoming a companion to the Forgotten Kingdom. Thank you for taking the time to look!

God Bless,

Aaron


Chapter Four – Discouragement
Oftentimes life sucks. When we are in the middle of a bad time it seems like it always sucks, but I think that is just our misery talking; the majority of us have what we actually need – food to eat, a roof over our heads, and beds to sleep in at night. However, many times we buy into the prosperity gospel myth that says God wants us to be happy, successful, and wealthy right now and when life surrounds us with heartache, struggle, and bills we cannot pay, a cloud of disillusionment and hopelessness settles around us.
Aren’t things supposed to be better than this? Where is the triumphant, rejoicing life in Christ that we are promised? How can Jesus tell us not to worry, that we are not forgotten when the great Provider God of the universe refuses to relieve us from the pressures and demands snarling at us from all sides? Surely the God that flung all the stars into the heavens is capable of bringing His resources to bear on a monthly electric bill or a rattling car held together with duct tape, bubble gum and barely sufficient prayer!
I wish the answer to all these questions was more glamorous, because we see these well-groomed mega-church pastors in soaring cathedrals talking about how God wants the best for His children now, and that happiness and prosperity can be ours if we but claim it, etc., etc. How can the quiet truth of Jesus’ words compete with such an exciting philosophy? My issue is that if we buy into their way of thinking, then it means something is wrong with us and also our relationship with God, since we are not experiencing such uplifting success. Apparently we are somehow failing in our Christian walk and need to become better believers!
I don’t know about you, but one of the quickest ways to get me roaring mad is to have these well-dressed religious experts suggest that our shortcomings in life are due to some kind of spiritual incompetence or unbelief. Not only are they dead wrong, they are completely ignoring Jesus’ teaching that worldly success now comes at an eternal cost later. This blindness to the truth of God’s word creates a theology that is seductive in the presentation but will leave all who buy into it regretful for following its’ flawed teaching.
Remember the Sermon on the Mount with its comforting word of blessings to the poor, sad, hungry, and the down-trodden? The stories of grand feasts where self-important snobs are refused admittance and smelly, disheveled beggars are rousted out of their gutters and brought into the empty seats? Remember Jesus calling down woes upon all who are happy, popular, and prosperous now because they have already received their reward? Even the blessings that He promised His disciples for following Him were interwoven with predictions of earthly suffering and struggles. This is a gospel where the majority of our reward is substantially delayed; most certainly not immediate and oftentimes barely visible to the human eye.
On the one hand it feels great to have our Lord condemning all the get-rich-now philosophies around us, until we realize that following Him means our earthly life will more closely resemble that of a beggar than one of a typical American success story. You do not find a ton of fun oozing out of someone whose existence is characterized as poor, sad, and disrespected – try selling that picture on the recruitment brochure for Christianity! While its’ truth provides a quiet encouragement for those who are struggling, it doesn’t grab anyone with an “I gotta get me some of that!” enthusiasm which seems so necessary for attracting believers.
The simple fact is that while we so earnestly long for peace and prosperity now, it is most definitely not good for us. Someone who is comfortable and free of pressure or struggle is often fat and lazy spiritually speaking, forgetful of Who provides his next breath and ungrateful for its’ provision. As much as we all desire to be free of these stressors that howl around us, God is allowing them now to help build a future for us later. Every moment we struggle here is investing into our share of the kingdom that He has promised us, much like an eventual retiree sacrifices now to have a reward later. The big difference is that a nest egg in God’s kingdom cannot be lost, corrupted or stolen, unlike what we have seen and will continue to see in this world.
There is one exception worth mentioning: if we are struggling due to bad choices on our part, than we are carrying a burden we heaped on ourselves, and I do not believe that God’s grace covers stupidity. The Bible calls it foolishness, but when I look back at some of the choices I have made, stupidity seems much more appropriate. It does me little good to beg him for relief from bills if I have spent myself into a hole for things I did not need, like the shiny new hdtv that caught my eye in the store or the impressively capable tool that I absolutely could not live without and which is now quietly gathering dust in my garage.
This is why prayerful self-examination before the Lord is so critical. Only the Holy Spirit can speak into our hearts as we wait before Him, sorting through all the cares and concerns we hold there. Then He will teach us how to resolve the issues we bring upon ourselves, while giving us the peace and patience to wait for God to bring answers for those that are beyond our control. This process sounds a bit vague, but that is intentional because the Lord communicates differently to each one of us in an exchange that is as unmistakable as every believer is unique. Do not worry; if we take the time to listen, He will make Himself heard.
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Lora
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PostSubject: Re: The Redneck Gospel excerpt   Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:04 pm

Absolutely! This is directly related to what Paul said in 2 Cor. 12:7; 9-10: "So to keep me (Paul) from becoming conceited….,a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited….But he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I especially love the last sentence in this verse. If we truly desire to experience his presence, his love, his power, we get there fastest when we are put in a place where we have to totally and wholly rely on him. That's why Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven. Not that a rich man cannot get to heaven. I know people with money who truly love the Lord. The point is, that one needs to completely rely on him. Another great chapter!

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