Tag Archives: set apart

Worldly or Wordly?


We all know that being worldly minded is opposite to being spiritually minded, right? Worldly aspirations appeal to our bodies and minds but war against our spirit, creating all kinds of woes and troubles. We’re warned:

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)


That’s plainly spoken. When we’re consumed by the things we crave, the things we feast our eyes on, and our self-centered pride, we lose the love of God. Talk about a bad trade!


When we think about this world as our home, and start conforming to a comfortable lifestyle, we might accomplish our will but miss out on finding the will of God. (Romans 12:1-2) God’s Word tells us that being friends with the world is like taking on an adulterous lover; it makes us enemies with the lover of our soul, God. (James 4:4). We like to be recognized by the world, but  we’re  called to be set apart for the gospel of God. (Romans 1:1) To be in the world but not of the world.


But let’s face it, worldly things appeal strongly to us. And the truth is, we don’t mind being worldly, or at least a little worldly. We live in the world so it just seems natural that we’d long after the things in it. And it’s not wrong to have and enjoy nice things…unless it consumes us and our excessiveness robs from those in need, when it becomes an “adulterer” that robs us of Our love for God.


It’s a bit of a sticky-wicket when we try to assess our worldly behaviors. Lean too far in one direction and we excuse all our self-indulgent behavior. Lean too far to the other side and we believe that minimalism is somehow “more holy.” It’s easy to fall into a legalistic trap.


I suppose we’re all pretty good at putting on blinders that keep us from seeing our own excesses and faults. I know how easy it is for me to excuse my own worldliness. But I was recently challenged again about this. For example, when Paul says to the Corinthian church, “I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly,” the Spanish translation uses the word, “inmaduros” to describe worldly, meaning immature. (1 Corinthians 3:1)


What if we dared to think about our attitudes, behaviors, and ambitions not as “worldly” but “immature?” I might try to excuse being a little worldly, but I don’t want to be called out as being immature! How about you?


The truth is, it’s hard to not be worldly when our focus is fixed on making a living, pursuing adventurous goals, or just surviving. Something that helps us decrease our worldly focus is to set our intentions on being more “Wordly.” When we feed our soul with the Word of God, we find peace and contentment and joy. Helen Lemmel’s 1922 hymn still speaks truth:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”


Worldly and Wordly are at opposite ends of the teeter-totter. The more we focus on applying the Word of God in our life, the more we’re lifted up. The more we focus on loving the things of the world we’re weighted down. If you’re looking for a better life balance, spend more time in God’s Word and discover how being “Wordly” improves your life focus!


All about you?


“It’s all about you!”


That’s the message which constantly bombards us. Advertising, politics, and too many false preachers tell us ‘you’re worth it, go for the gusto, get what you want, you deserve to live in comfort.’  If we’re honest with ourselves many of our prayer habits might resemble this. We want it all, right now, just the way we like it, and with little cost.  But this falls in dark contrast to what God’s Word says. Yes, He wants the very best for you. But his best is often so very different from our desires.


Consider Hebrews 11, the story of faith giants like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David, and other faithful martyrs who were persecuted, flogged, sawed in half, and killed by the sword. So great were the martyrs of the faith that “the world was not worthy of them”. “They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. THESE were commended for their faith, yet NONE OF THEM received what they had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (v 38-40)


Wow. Stack that truth up against the name it and claim it prosperity gospels. The truth is, it’s not all about us. It’s not about our worldly desires and ambitions and goals. It’s certainly not about lifelong efforts, however godly they may seem. For the followers of Jesus, it is simply about maintaining the faith that does God’s will. And that we can only do by the power of the Holy Spirit.


What does this look like? In Hebrews 12 it’s the vigilant and persistent race; a relay race started by the great men and women of faith before us and continued by those who follow us. It’s a race run untangled by worldly passions. Faith runners have their eyes completely fixed on Jesus, their prize, not the spectators. It’s about “enduring hardship as a discipline”, not comfort as a luxury. It’s about living in peace with others, not constantly squabbling over trivial matters. It’s about being holy, the goal of our Christian life. Not some ‘holier than thou’ pious life, but simply and profoundly being set apart for God and nothing else. It is believing we are citizens of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Isn’t that what you desire?


In Hebrews 13 it’s persistently loving one another, honoring our marriages, being content with what you have. It is about imitating the faith of faithful leaders, not idolatrous celebrity personalities and sports stars. It’s about fidelity to God’s truth and not being carried away by all sort of false teaching. It’s about experiencing strength in God’s sufficient grace. Instead of fighting to achieve our personal goals, it’s about finding the peace that equips us for doing God’s will.


It’s not easy in my daily fight and I’m sure it’s not easy in yours either. But it’s possible. What if we lived today in the truth that it’s not all about us?  What would happen if peace guarded your heart and mind instead of it being filled with fear and despair? How would it impact your family, your church and your community to live in the confidence that God answers His promises when it is best for us – even if that best is after we leave this earth? Would that be enough for you?


Let’s aim higher today, beyond ourselves.



Set apart – for a mission


What does ‘set apart’ mean to you?


Among other things, the word ‘different’ probably comes to mind. We aren’t to be Christian in name only. Rather than striving to “fit in”, we are called to be set apart from the world even while we are in it for a purpose.


The question for each us (me too) is “How much does my life look like the world? Does my life look more like the world or the Word?” Do I think about money, getting ahead, being fit, success, time off, sports or other hobbies so much that it really defines who I am more than being a follower of Jesus? We are what we think about, how we respond to life, and what we associate with. (See Proverbs 23:7)


Pastor Cory Stout gave a good message recently on being ‘set apart’ for God as being different in order to make a difference for God. More than just something good we should do, it is God’s calling on those who call themselves Christian for real, not just in name only. To be set apart from, not conformed to, the ways of the world is the true identity of followers of Christ. Jesus said we are the light of the world, not the darkness. Cory shared that responding to God’s call upon our lives should make a difference in:

  • What we consume and what consumes us
    • Not just our diet but those thoughts, attitudes, actions, and even ambitions that consume the way we approach life. Where we spend most of our time, thought, money, and action defines who or what we worship.


  • Our appearance
    • Not just what we wear, but our character, our countenance, and attitude…the way we respond to frustrations and disappointments.


  • Our associations
    • Paul writes that we are ‘new creations’, which means we are dead to that which doesn’t bring life. As such, we shouldn’t associate ourselves with ‘dead’ ways of thinking and responding to our circumstances. A caterpillar no longer crawls along the ground as it used to. It abandons the cocoon and now associates its new life with the freedom of flying. Why should we bind ourselves by those dark things that rob us of love, peace, and joy? What ‘dead’ things do you need to abandon?


Probably, we can easily think of ways we think others should change, but the question is really just for us to answer personally. Ask God today, In what way are You calling ME to be different in order to make a difference? What consumes me that I need to let go? What is one thing I need to change about how I appear to others? What associations do I need to sever in order to behave as one who was created to make a difference?


Be different in order to make a difference. Set apart from the ways of the world, live ‘on mission.’



Pay attention



Does the 1932 iconic photo of the RCA Building (Rockefeller Center) construction workers casually sitting atop a beam some 69 stories above the city cause you any anxiety? Whether or not it was taken as a publicity stunt, it makes me nervous just to look at them on their dangerous perch. I want to shout, “Pay attention! Be careful so you don’t fall.”


Actually, that is a message for you and me today. Though few of us are likely to pose for a photo atop a dangling construction beam, we remain each day a step away from believing lies that cause us to fall from our most cherished beliefs and positions.


What kinds of lies have you believed that have robbed you of joy, peace, and confidence?  We tend to view ourselves and others through the hazy filter of present circumstances, impressions, hearsay, and partial information. Our noisy soul tells us how miserable we are, how many times we have failed, and how hopeless things are. In reality, there is more than our present circumstances: there is the spiritual reality of who we really are, redeemed already by the Son of God, if indeed our full trust is in Him.  God sees us as righteous, forgiven, holy, His children. Yet, we continue to believe lies about our identity. We might think we are controlled by sin but Paul says we ought to reckon ourselves dead to it. That is, believe that it doesn’t control us. If God says we are not under condemnation, we ought to believe it.


The cleverest of lies,  we are tempted to believe we live two lives, a sacred one where we worship on Sunday, pray occasionally during the week, and a secular one where we earn a living, whisk away time with our hobbies, and live mostly for ourselves. It’s time we pay attention lest we drift from the truth that we have just one life to live while on this earth; and we are called to live (all of) it set aside for God.  We are spiritual beings with a temporary earthly body, not physical beings with some spiritual aspect.


What lies are you believing these days that have caused you to drift from what you know to be truth? Today’s the day to renounce those lies and the control they attempt to have on you. Keep your eyes and mind guarded by God’s Word and promises, lest you find yourself drifting away.


“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Hebrews 2:1