Friday, May 29, 2009

Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.

We continue with our series based on The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do, by Mark Atteberry. The following are some notes from my Sunday school lesson at Providence Church.

DUMB MOVE #3: Living Below the Level of Our Beliefs

There are some more obvious sins, but what about the sneakier ones?

Atteberry offers 3 Sins that often “slip past our spiritual radar” in our daily living:

1. Materialism (Matthew 6:21) ~ An attitude of the heart, more than how much money is in the bank. It's a malady that can affect you regardless of income or things possessed.

“Take an honest inventory of your life and see if you find any evidence of materialism.”
• “Are you so deep in credit card debt that you need a snorkel to breathe?”
• “Are your closets and garage jam-packed with stuff you never use and can’t even remember why you bought?”
• “Do you find spending money at the mall an exhilarating experience, but putting money into the offering plate a painful one?”

“There’s no way to do the math, but just imagine if we could add up all the time, energy, and money Christian people waste on the pursuit of things they don’t need and will probably never wear or use.”

2. Worry (Philippians 4:6) ~ An attitude of the heart, more than presence or absence of difficulties.

“The naïve don’t have much of a problem with worry.”

“It seems logical to think that older people would worry less, but the opposite is usually true. We tend to worry more because we know from experience how cruel life can be.”

Worry not only steals your joy, but “it also serves as a wrecking ball to your witness. It’s a flashing neon sign you carry around with you … a sign that says, ‘Don’t be fooled by my words; I really don’t trust God to take care of me!’”

3. Superiority (Luke 18:11-14) ~ An attitude of the heart, more than accomplishments.

“I, too, have slipped into that cocky, superior attitude that causes me to throw out words of judgment and condemnation as easily as I might make a comment about the weather.”

“And I, too, have a spiritual rap sheet … enough embarrassing failures on my record to completely disqualify me from ever judging someone else. But I do it anyway.”

“This, of course, is one of the biggest reasons why unbelievers hate us so much. They see us a pious, condescending snobs.”

Just as athletes need to play to their potential, Atteberry offers 2 Ways to “Elevate Our Game” with regard to living our faith:

1. Put the power back into preaching. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

“Have we become so obsessed with seeker-friendly that we’re reluctant to offer the whole counsel of God?”

2. Move your heart closer to the Lord. (Isaiah 29:13; cf. John 14:21)

“Here’s the bottom line: History proves that when powerful preaching and tender hearts come together in the presence of almighty God, incredible things always happen. Lives are changed. Families are changed. Churches are changed. Sometimes entire communities are changed. But when the meat of the gospel is replaced by spiritual junk food and the hearts of worshippers are far away, then people will be able to go right on living, guilt-free, far below the level of their beliefs.”

Discussion Questions:
1. “Of the three sins mentioned in this chapter—materialism, worry, and an attitude of superiority—which one have you found is the most likely to fly under your radar and take up residence in your life? Could you add others to the list? What would they be?”
2. Atteberry wrote: “We may believe that God is alive, on His throne, and in control. But when we allow ourselves to worry, we’re living below the level of that belief.” What are the beliefs we’re living below when we fall into the sins of materialism and superiority?
3. Regarding each of those 3 aforementioned sins, what is the antidote of each? In other words, what truths can renew your mind (cf. Rom 12:2) for each to get you back on track?

“A hypocrite knows more than he is willing to do; but a true saint desires to do what he knows, and to know more that he may do more, and better.” - Puritan Vavasor Powell

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At 29 May, 2009 16:16, Blogger Chris Barnes said...

Those really spoke to me today.
I've often wondered why we as Christian's don't demonstrate our faith through a truly changed life. Usually when I think I've got it figured out I find myself guilty of all of the above and then some.

I do find that the more involved I am with Christian service the less materialist and worrisome I am. Giving of one's self seems to provide some insulation against materialism and worry.

But I have to be more on guard against a sense of superiority. Particularly in relation to other Christians. That one seems to find a way in on a regular basis. I need to be continuously reminded not to compare myself to those around me but only to the one true example.

At 02 June, 2009 19:24, Blogger GUNNY said...

"I do find that the more involved I am with Christian service the less materialist and worrisome I am. Giving of one's self seems to provide some insulation against materialism and worry."

Well said, Chris. Thanks for the feedback.


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