Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings?

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings? rick+warren+wide+gate

(Horatius Bonar, “Self-Denial Christianity”)

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!” Amos 6:1

What do we say to . . .
our self-indulgence,
our spiritual sloth,
our love of ease,
our avoidance of hardship,
our luxury,
our pampering of the body,
our costly feasts,
our silken couches,
our brilliant furniture,
our gay attire,
our jeweled fingers,
our idle mirth,
our voluptuous music,
our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of rich viands?

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings?

Where is the self-denial of the New Testament days?

Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world?

Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen–except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!”
Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not be “living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” But even where these are absent, there is ‘high living’–luxury of the table or the wardrobe–in conformity to ‘this present evil world.’

“At ease in Zion!” Yes! there is the shrinking . . .
from hard service;
from ‘spending and being spent;’
from toil and burden-bearing and conflict;
from self-sacrifice and noble service;
for the Master’s sake.

There is conformity to the world, instead of conformity to Christ!
There is a laying down, instead of a taking up of the cross.
Or there is a lining of the cross with velvet, lest it should gall our shoulders as we carry it!
Or there is an adorning of the cross, that it may suite the taste and the manners of our refined and intellectual age.

Anything but the bare, rugged and simple cross!

We think that we can make the strait gate wider, and the narrow way broader, so as to be able to walk more comfortably to the heavenly kingdom. We try to prove that ‘modern enlightenment’ has so refined ‘the world and its pleasures’, that we may safely drink the poisoned cup, and give ourselves up to the inebriation of the Siren song.

“At ease in Zion!” Even when the walls of our city are besieged, and the citadel is being stormed!

Instead of grasping our weapons, we lie down upon our couches!

Instead of the armor, we put on the silken robe!

We are cowards, when we should be brave!

We are faint-hearted, when we should be bold!

We are lukewarm, when we should be fervent!

We are cold, when we should be full of zeal!

We compromise and shuffle and make excuses, when we should lift up our voice like a trumpet! We pare down truth, or palliate error, or extenuate sin–in order to placate the world, or suit the spirit of the age, or ‘unify’ the Church.

Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing. Let us renounce the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day!

A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him–renouncing ease and denying self.

Our time,
our abilities,
our money,
our strength–
are all to be laid upon the altar.

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!”
Amos 6:1

A Lesson on Gratitude

A wonderful look at Christian gratitude from a dear friend of mine. You can read more of his work here: By Way of Reminder.

By Way of Reminder #83 Reminder
Gratitude (2/5)

On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet saying … “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:1, 6-7)

And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27)

In the previous issue we contemplated the end of our days on Earth, hoping we will look back and see how His word inspired us to action. Though we do not work to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth, our work in this life ought to be an example of what we consider important for the next. We must trust Scripture to stand as truth while many try to discredit His plan, words, and character.


All of the most popular religious beliefs (except agnostics) teach some form of afterlife. Protestants and pagans alike have been guilty of teaching that everyone will end up…somewhere. Hey, if it’s better than this life, why should we care to know more? Heaven is merely a relief from pain: “They are in a better place.”

I am grateful that Heaven is not just better than this life, but because our Lord is there! After the shaking of these dusty dwellings, the church will be together at last (Hebrews 11:40). The innumerable redeemed from every nation and tongue will finally look upon the King of Kings, face-to-face (Revelation 7:9-12).


The heart of man, raging against God, desires to put trust in a system of ever-evolving truths, rather than be accountable to one constant. This self-refuting way of life does not end in truth, nor does it give aid in times of uncertainty. “Science” is heralded as a system of religion, instead of cataloged hypotheses.

I am so grateful that God does not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8), nor does He excuse a sideways glance at His nature, His image, His name, nor His day(Exodus 20:1-11). This is grace, to command our attention (Hebrews 12:1-2) that we might not lose hope as we strive toward home (Philippians 3:12-14).


One of the most potent arguments against God is the exactness that exists in observable movements of space and time. Some reason that “winding the clock back” to the beginning of time would provide ample evidence that everything started with a bang, not a purposeful, inspired event by a sovereign Creator.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:3-7, emphasis mine)

I am grateful, because His Kingdom stands just as He commands, just as He sustains all things (Colossians 1:17). Even the skeptics are being preserved by His word, that He might exact His plans. Contrary to what man thinks he knows,Yahweh of the Bible preserves clear instructions, commands, and evidences of His character within the pages of Scripture, and for our good (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Do justly. Love kindness. Walk humbly. Stay tuned.

In Christ,

CK Hicks

“I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” (2 Pt. 1:12)

Copyright © 2014 CKHicks.com, All rights reserved.

Rick Warren has a pope!

James White continues to stand firm, praise the Lord! I do wish, however, that he would not run to the Reformation as his first line of defense as he often does. While I agree with and thank God for the Reformation, our first line and only line of defense is the Bible – as White came back to later in the video. Also, nowhere in the Bible do we see or get instruction on “living out the gospel”. The gospel is a report of the news of Christ’s redemptive work – it’s not something we live out. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the gospel, we are raised to new life and live for the glory of God, proclaiming the gospel to dead men everywhere. But we do not and cannot live the gospel

None the less, may the Lord protect and hold up our dear brother as he continues to press on!

Speak Softly, and….

Speak Softly, and….

Teddy Roosevelt, US President:
“Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”

Jesus of Nazareth
spoke softly, and carried a cross.

Isaiah 42:1-3

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

Curing “Oh My Goodness!”

We are appreciative to Pastor Jon Gleason for writing the following article which is a follow-on to a previous post on taking the Lord’s name in vain. May this be a profit to you in your life. Jon has graciously given us permission to use his articles here at Defending Contending and this one is certainly very timely.

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Curing “Oh My Goodness!”

Mark Escalera at Defending. Contending. ran (with permission) my post, “OMG” — and Other Ways Christians Take God’s Name in Vain (this continues to be, by far, my most shared post).  In the comments at DefCon someone said she has tried to break the habit of saying, “Oh my goodness!”

This also is something Christians might say from time to time that has no real profit, is often just a “sanctified swearing substitute,” and is highly dubious theologically as well:

Philippians 3:9

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

So much for “my goodness” — that pretty much covers it, doesn’t it?  The only “goodness” we have is the goodness of God, so He is our goodness, our righteousness.  What exactly do the words “oh my goodness” mean, for a Christian?  If you say this, your words are not saying what you mean by them….

It seems this is another expression we really could do without.  It isn’t something I ever said a lot, but I became convinced a while ago that I would be best looking to stop.  As with most things we want to do to please our Lord, Scripture provides some help, and I thought I would take the time here to briefly expand on my answer over at DefCon.

Step 1.  Memorise the following verse, or at least the first half of it:

Isaiah 64:6

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

 

Step 2.  Whenever you slip into the habit and say, “Oh my goodness,” remind yourself your goodness is as filthy rags.

If that doesn’t do it, engage step 3.

Step 3. Tell people close to you (friends, family) you are trying to break the habit, and ask them, every time you say, “Oh my goodness,” to respond, “…is as filthy rags.” If nothing else, you’ll stop just because you get tired of hearing that response!

If they don’t know the Lord, so much the better.  You are giving them an important part of the Gospel in a way they will not be likely to ever forget, showing them your commitment to please the Lord in small things as well as big, and demonstrating a humble awareness of your own sinfulness and need of a Saviour.

In fact, maybe you should just jump straight to step 3!

As with so many other statements that we make unthinkingly, the Christian who says “Oh my goodness” almost certainly never means any disrespect to God, never means to exalt himself or be self-righteous.  It is almost always just a habit into which he has drifted without even thinking about it.

If our Lord has blessed you with a relationship which permits it, perhaps when you hear another Christian say it you can give a gentle reminder of how that expression matches up with Scripture.  Or, if he has a sense of humour, just be ready with a quick response:  “Oh my goodness”” — “…is as filthy rags!”

What Are You Worshiping?

In Exodus 20:3-6, God gives the first commandment, and I think possibly the most important commandment since, if we master this, we will have no problem obeying the others.

idol2cp

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

When you think of idols, you probably think of Bible days where people would build statues or poles and bow down to them, praying or worshiping their “god” made of wood or stone. Today, people don’t seem to do that as much but this doesn’t mean that we don’t have idols just the same.

runegods

Here in America, we are inundated with so many things that can replace time we could spend with the Lord. Whether it’s TV, a relationship, sports, activities, etc., it is easy to get to the end of the day and realize God received a small portion of your time while these other things occupied a good bit of it.

God has blessed us with many things but everything serves a purpose. If any person or possession means more to you than your relationship with God, that thing needs to go. If you spend hours watching TV and only a few minutes with the Lord, your priorities are horribly misplaced.

I am currently evaluating my life in these areas as well. I hate the phrase “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good” because we must be heavenly minded to be any good on this earth. Everything we do should be centered around Christ and what pleases Him. If something does not please Him, it needs to go.

How do you spend your days? Are you daily seeking His face, drawing near to Him, worshiping Him as you go about your daily tasks? Or is he a tack-on to your already full day? I would encourage you to truly ponder this and ask God to show you if there are things in your life that are hindering the close fellowship that He desires to have with you. We often adjust to life and don’t realize that God has so much more for us. This is not a matter to be complacent about. Matthew 6:33 tells us, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” That needs to be our priority every single day of our lives.

Amid the frantic pace of life, don’t neglect quality time with your Savior, the only One you should be worshiping.

Falling in Love with Jesus All over Again

Let me fall in love with You all over again
Let me know You as never before

As I was praying this morning, this song, sung by the late Kenny Hinson, became my prayer. There is nothing I desire more than to fall in love with Jesus all over again.

In the last few years, I’ve gone through a number of changes, some of which I struggled with a long time before surrendering to the direction God wanted me to take. I don’t like change, and I had to be absolutely sure He was leading. As I look back now, it is so obvious to me that He was indeed calling, and I am overwhelmed by His love for me and His willingness to use this weak, stubborn vessel.

In the last few years, God has also brought some wonderful people into my life–those who are willing to intercede for me, bear with me, and encourage me whenever God lays me on their heart. They say if you can count on one hand your true friends, you are very blessed. If I think about it, I can probably do that and more. At the same time, no one can replace my first Love.

loving-jesus

I am not always faithful. I do not always embrace the tests He brings but have instead cried and begged Him to remove tests when I thought I could not stand it. In the end, though, like the apostle Paul, I found His grace to be sufficient and His strength to be made perfect through my weakness.

I was watching Joni Tada last night on the True Woman Conference’s webcast, and she talked about the importance of surrender to whatever will draw us closer to Jesus. That is a lesson I am still learning but, if I desire a closer walk, I must be willing to accept whatever He knows will rid me of myself so that I can have true communion with Him.

Being over 40 years old and single, God has been my husband and Father. He has been the friend who is there in the middle of the night when all I can do is cry. I have felt Him hold me and assure me He is there, even when I knew I had failed Him. True to His Word, He has never left me or forsaken me but He has blessed me much more than I will ever deserve, and He has surrounded me with people who love me.

I have had an ear infection for several months and, yesterday, I finally got in to get my ears cleaned out. I cried as the doctor worked to remove all the junk in there, but I knew the pain was necessary if I was going to be able to hear again and heal completely.

This experience brought home the reality that it is the same way with life. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. The longer we live, the more sin accumulates until we meet Jesus and He begins to chip away the sins that ensnare us. Even after walking with him for over 20 years, there are still things in my life that need to go. Humanly, I don’t want to go through the pain I may need to go through so He can chisel them out of my heart, but I realize it is necessary in order to have more room for Him. He cannot dwell where sin is present and so surrender I must. If I do so, I will feel more of His love and peace, and I will in turn love Him more than ever before.

God, make that truly my desire, that I love You, not only on the mountain when the sun is shining bright, but also in the valleys when it’s dark and I can’t see You. Keep me looking straight ahead and not on what is going on around me for, with You holding my hand, nothing can touch me and, one day, You will lead me to my eternal Home where nothing will ever harm me again. Thank You, Father. Amen!