04-19-15 Basic Training: What Are You Relying On?

People are complaining that it’s getting cooler out, but I’m loving it.  What I’m not loving is how much my lawn has grown while I was waiting for my lawnmower blades to get sharpened.  Lots of bagging of grass for Pastor Kevin later on today...

You could, however, be in prayer for The Walk, coming up this Saturday.  People from all over the area will be coming together to support the Women’s Pregnancy Center and Esther House by being sponsored in a two-mile walk.  That’s not impossible to do in the rain that forecasts are predicting, but it’s sure not going to be fun to do.  So please be praying for pleasant weather on Saturday morning, as well as for those who are participating in this ministry to women and children in Central Illinois (I know that Linda Irwin will be walking this Saturday, and perhaps some others from our church family as well).

Oh, and please do make sure that you’re here to join us on May 3 -- not only for Communion Sunday, but also to welcome some new members into our church family here at First Covenant.  Terri Doremus, Anna Wietharn, and Alex Wright are officially joining our congregation, and we want everyone to be on hand to extend our fellowship to them.  Make it a date, if you can.

In our message this week, we continued out look at Paul’s letter to the Romans, viewing it as if it were Basic Training for Christians.  For instance, one of the first things that they yell at you in a classic boot camp is, “Your rifle is your friend!  Take care of your rifle, and it will take care of you!”  Now, when the drill instructor says that, he’s not telling you to rely on your rifle, like it’s automatically going to save you -- what he’s saying is that you need to rely on your properly maintained rifle (think about it -- should you really rely on your rifle in battle, even if, say, you haven’t loaded it?).

So what do you rely on in your Christian life?  Do you rely on the external stuff that everyone can see (and that’s really easy to quantify)?  Do you rely on your spiritual résumé (what a good kid you were, that missions trip that you went on that one time, how consistently you’ve attended church services, etc.)?  Do you rely on how well you follow the rules -- church-y rules, rules that you’ve personally decided make sense for Christians, etc. (or at least how much better you follow those rules than, say, someone else apparently does)?  Do you rely on how many rules you follow, vs. how many that you’ve dropped the ball on (like, you may have cheated on your taxes, but it’s not like you’ve murdered anyone)?  Do you rely on the stuff in your life that make you look like your spiritual rifle is loaded?

The thing is, that makes it all about you, instead of about God, and you’re going to fail yourself (that’s not an indictment -- that’s just human physics).  But God wants to “circumcise” your heart, to change you from the inside-out.  He wants to make it so that your spiritual success is dependent upon His ability to work in you, not your ability to look like you’re working.  God promises that if you let Him do that -- if you let Him change you, and not just your outward, quantifiable stuff -- then your praises in life will be “not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:29).

Now that’s something to rely on...