YOU CAN’T HANDLE DEEPER!!

You don’t want deeper:
YOU CAN’T HANDLE DEEPER!

cropped-deep-water-1Can you hear Jack Nicholson in, “A Few Good Men,” screaming at Tom Cruise in the courtroom as you read that? No? Read it again, I’ll wait.

I bet you did that time.

“The church is a mile wide and half an inch deep.”

Does that sound familiar to you?

How many times have I heard someone say that the church in America needs to go deeper? Seriously, this is not new, I have heard this since 1977; the year I surrendered my life to Jesus.

Delirious the band had a song out a while back that began, “I want to go deeper, but I don’t know how to swim.”
What a great lyric, right?

What did Jesus tell us?

I hear people describe deep as theological and somewhat complicated, and yet it was my Jesus that said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt 29-30 NKJV

My yoke is easy and My burden is light? What is it that I am being told here? Jesus went out of his way, all the way from the throne room of God almighty as a matter of fact, to make things simple and uncomplicated.

My YOKE = my interpretation of Scripture

My BURDEN = my expectation of living it out.

It would be very much like Jesus saying today, “Hey, come learn from me where we will keep it simple stupid.” KISS.

Did Jesus say, “We need to go deeper?”

There are stories upon stories, interactions upon interactions, recorded even as primary sources in the Bible. These people were there, yet I cannot find one instance of Jesus “Going Deeper.” I cannot find one time that Jesus waxed theologically eloquent to be perceived as deep, intellectual, educated or even holier than thou. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus came 2,000 years ago and stood against the “Spiritually Elite” of the day, and we dive into the shallow end of the spiritual pool trying to make it “look deep” so we can become the very elite Jesus lined out? Trust me, I have met people that believe they are spiritually elite. Before you say “Not me,” take a good look at your attitude. What about your actions? I’m not ranting, I am challenging you just like I challenge me. We are so easy on ourselves and so hard on others aren’t we?

Jesus kept it simple and avoided “Deep;” Love God, love people as yourselves he said. It isn’t complicated but it can be hard.

Wrestle with it

So I’m wrestling with what it is that people are saying when they say we need to go deeper. I think it has to do with becoming more “Biblically literate.” I would be a big advocate of that. (But Sunday mornings are not for your Pastor to put you through Bible College because you don’t want to quit your job, sell everything and go yourself.) As people dive into their bibles, however, instead of taking Jesus’ yoke, people make up a new yoke all on their own because it fits the narrative they want to follow. They make their own Jesus and accessorize him like a Barbi Doll: God wants me happy, God wants me wealthy, God says my sin is ok. God is a Calvinist, God is an Armenianist. We have to be Jews to be Christians. It goes on and on.

Really, Prosperity?

It is very sad when people tell me “affluence is a sign, the proof, of the favor of God.” What a lie. Surely all good gifts come down from the father of lights. Truly I believe that. What of the Christians around the world that die every day at the hands of heathens andindex_barometer001pagans though? They die in poor, third world countries, martyred, are they hated of God? Prosperity is wonderful, but as an indicator of God’s favor it is a poor theological barometer. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are not Christians, are they more loved by God than me? Does not the enemy appear as an Angel of light? Doesn’t he exist to distract us and lead us astray? Wouldn’t he be most successful if he were to do that with sparkly, shiny baubles and prosperity?

Name Names

Honestly, I do not believe that most of the people crying out for a “Deeper Church” really know what they are asking for. Let’s wade in just a bit. Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28 to go into all the world and make disciples. Now let’s go deeper. Name the disciples that you have made since you personally have come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Name the people that you have poured into and drawn close to Christ with and then baptized or attended their baptism. See what I mean, if you cannot name names, then I am telling you that you can’t handle going deeper. Surely Jesus is still doing what he was doing when he commanded his actual disciples to make disciples. Right? Why would he take up residence in you just to stop doing the very thing he came to earth to do? No, no he wouldn’t.

Jesus commanded us to give a cup of cold water to those that need it. When was the last time you did that? Feed the hungry rather than explain to your children that they just givingneed to get jobs? Sound familiar? Give your cloak to someone who needs it? Sell everything you have and give to the poor then hit the road and tell people about Jesus? No?

Go and Do the Doing

You aren’t even serious about going deeper are you? (I have met some that are) But let’s just be serious here, you can’t handle deeper if you won’t even do the simple and obvious. To people that cry out against the church I say, it is time to get over your self, get off your pew, or chair, and show us you are serious. You want the church to go deeper? Jesus made going deeper doing the doing. Go do it. He didn’t make it about knowledge, but love, and love is a verb. Plant a church with the people you have led to the Lord.

Jesus said, we do. That is the Jesus definition of Deep

You want to go deeper? I really do think it is a good idea. Let’s try this, take time each day to read Jesus words in the Bible; you pick the version. Then, when you see that Jesus saysimg_8534to do something, make it a part of your prayer life and your serving life and your giving life to DO IT. Watch what happens when that begins to take place in the lives of the church.

 

ARE YOU EVEN CHRISTIAN?

ARE YOU EVEN CHRISTIAN?

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking a thought. It has been a thought of mine for quite a while and so I’m going to put it right here for you to wrestle with. You don’t have to agree with me, I’m ok with that. Civility says we can disagree and still be friends; it used to say that any way.

Noah was a man that that God came to and asked to build a boat, a very big boat. A boat that saved the world as we know it, if you believe the story; and I do. As you think about what God did in the life of Noah, whom he considered a righteous man at the time, it was a bit irrational to those around him. It had never rained upon the earth. There was no large body of water nearby that we are aware of. The very concept of a “boat” was new, weird, odd, unheralded, or crazy. 120 years worth of crazy depending upon how you understand the story. So God asked Noah to do something that from the outside was very, very “not rational.” Made no sense. It was a bad financial decision. The list could go on and on.

IRRATIONAL

What about a guy named Abram? Seriously. This guy, a pagan by any understanding of the story, was living his life and claims that God came to him and told him to up and move. The invitation was to come and follow me [God] and I will show you a land that I am going to give to you and your family, which is going to become a great nation and will bless all the nations of the earth. Wow. Not rational. Not rational you ask? No, not rational. At the time this guy is 75 years of age, his wife is 65 and they have no children what so ever. Abram’s wife had been barren, infertile, unblessed with children for 65 years. Where is this nation going to come from, and where did you say we were going?

NOT RATIONAL

These are the stories over and over again that show up in the Bible. The Bible that the Christian church claims as their manifesto, their sacred book, their direct word from God himself, this book is full of these stories to the point where it is the norm. It is super normal in the Bible that God asks people to do things they cannot do, things that make no sense, things that cost everything, things that will have the community around them making fun of them.

upside-downThe Kingdom of God Is not of this world. The Kingdom of God does not do things the way this world does them. In this world we think things through, make a plan, save up store up and then claw our way up to the top. This world is a “Me first and you get the leftovers” sort of society. Smart, godly, Christian, people will do the smart, financially fiscal thing that makes the most sense in today’s world. That’s what we teach. This is probably why we don’t see an awful lot of people going into missions. I’m not saying we don’t see some people making missions their life.

 

“If all you ever hear is your god telling you to do rational, reasonable things, you probably need an introduction to God and to the Bible.”

IRRATIONAL PRIORITIES

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that we are to make the Kingdom of God the main priority in our lives. Jesus says that if we seek that Kingdom first, all the things that pagans run after; clothes and food and homes and such will be provided by the king himself. The church, the real church, has been called to run after God and his mission. The Christians, the real Christians, have been called to bring the Kingdom of God to bear upon this world. God’s plan for my life is that I make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that I love the people that God loves without getting all entrenched in this world. My investments should reflect Kingdom values. My relationships should reflect Kingdom values. My entertainment choices: Movies, music, shows, should all reflect Kingdom values. If my goal is focused on saving, protecting, and or gaining for me and mine, then I’m fooling myself about even being a Christian. God only wants my heart, which gives him everything.

IRRATIONAL SAVIOR

Jesus made 120-180 gallons of wine out of water at a wedding once. Just because he said so.
Jesus spit on the ground and made mud to put on the blind man’s eyes. That’s how he healed him.
Jesus told a man to sell everything he had, give to the poor and then to come and follow Jesus.
Jesus told one of his followers to walk out across the lake on top of the water.
Jesus forgave a man’s sins and in doing so, healed the man.
Jesus didn’t condemn a naked woman caught in the bed of a married man, even though his “Law” said to stone her to death.
Jesus ate in the homes of sinners and drank their wine. People called him a drunkard.
Jesus cast out demons on a regular basis.
Jesus went to “church” weekly, as was his custom.
Jesus died for sins he never committed, for people that rejected him and didn’t care about him.
God raised Jesus from the dead.

 

IF YOU BELIEVE, WHY DON’T YOU STILL DO IT?

Do you believe these things really happened or are they just stories to you?

Think about it for a moment. Do you really, honestly, with all your heart, believe that Jesus did and said these things to you and I and the world of today?

Why doesn’t it compel you to do irrational things that make no sense to spiritually anemic, or spiritually dead people? Does Jesus live inside you? Why isn’t he doing through you what he did in your Bible?

“When you realize that God never seems to ask YOU to take a ridiculous RISK, you’ll realize that you aren’t following God at all.”

All Jesus asked us to do was change the world one person at a time. “Go into all the world” he said, “and make disciples.” Before he said that, he let us know that he was sending his Holy Spirit, the Counselor, to teach us all things AND to remind us of everything Jesus said to us.

We are not alone; he is with us IF we are surrendered to him. Love he said, love the people into the Kingdom of Heaven. “”Each one reach one,” it’s not political, it’s not economical, and I can promise you it is certainly not RATIONAL. Get out of your comfort zone, you cubicle, your hometown and the plan that you have FOR your life. RISK it all for the Kingdom of Heaven and watch what God does IN your life.

 

 

 

Do you REVEL or do you REPRESENT?

HOW LONG WILL YOU FALTER?

“How long will you falter between two options?” This was a question that Elijah asked the children of Israel when he confronted King Ahab on Mt Carmel.

Mt CarmelAhab was listening to his wife Jezebel, not God. As a result Elijah invited Jezebel’s Priests of Baal and Asherah to a show down. God revealed himself very powerfully and the people repented and came back to God … for a season at least. But the question is always a relevant one, “How long will you falter between two options?”

Another way is to ask, “Which SIDE of the fence are you going to live on?” you cannot live ON the fence. Jesus said it this was, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other!” (Rev 3:15)

ELIJAH was the guy, AHAB not so much

Elijah was a guy that was going to chase after God, he was going to represent God and he was going to be God’s man.
Ahab wasn’t that guy; He is referred to as a guy that did more to provoke God than any other King before him. How do you get to the place where you are the King and God who put you there isn’t your God anymore?

The Frog in the Pot

I believe it is the proverbial pot with the frog in it. The water is cool, feels good, and you are happy swimming in circles. The fire is lit under the pot and you turn up the Blog_BoilingFrogheat ever so slowly. As the water warms up the frog really does not notice it. It’s comfortable, it feels good, it’s fun, it’s all in innocence and being happy. Then the frog is dead.
He has been successfully cooked and is ready to be eaten.

HALLOWEEN

I think the Christians exuberance over Halloween is getting to be like that frog. There is a place to understand that we are not all celebrating Satan, or worshipping Satan because we went trick or treating, any more than any one who buys someone a present from Thanksgiving to December 25th is automatically worshipping Jesus. That is hands down some of the dumbest theology I have ever heard. You do not accidentally worship something or someone; intent has to be there. That is not to say candy-corn-pumpkinsyou don’t open yourself up unknowingly, but the idea of worship actually carries an inherent intent of the heart. I’m more concerned with the slow turning up the heat and the intentional willingness to participate in the macabre, and yet still call ourselves followers of The Way, The Truth and The Life. A little fear was fun, a little more is needed to scare you as you get used to it, and then it just grows and grows and suddenly you’re in places that make you wonder, what would Jesus really say about all of this? What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God and not get all caught up in the world? And when are Christians being ridiculous?

How Long will you …

Elijah was a guy that wanted to represent Heaven. Ahab was a guy that wanted to revel in the worship of Baal, Asherah and all of its immorality. As Christians, whom do you want to represent with your life and what is the best way to do that? I hear this question, “How long will you falter between two options?”

Haunted Houses

As we enter Halloween season, and people begin to anticipate trick or treating. The movie theaters line up their ghastliest movies, all demonic and “gorefest” infused. People begin to set up and advertise their haunted forests, and haunted houses, and Thriller2-500x323chaunted asylums, all trying to create an evil and scary atmosphere more “heart attack inducing” then their neighbor. Local cities are starting to traditionalize the Michael Jackson “Thriller”/ “Walking Dead” zombie walk. Our society is getting more interested and more interested in the occult and all it trappings.
And I have to ask, what is the Christians role to the community during these times?

Reflected in our churches?

This propensity to Halloween is reflected directly in our awareness of sin as well. The church “appears” to be lightening up on its willingness to call out sin. We want people to feel good about them selves so we smooth over the idea of preaching what might be mean, or hurtful, or even try to be more politically correct. When this happens we really have to stop and question our love for people. We don’t have to be mean, but we should decide if we are going to seek first his kingdom and righteousness or, if we are going to “have it all.” Are we going to live the truth and encourage people into a new life away from the world and the enemy? Is our walk going to equal our talk, or are we just going to get cooked like the frog in the pot?

This Halloween are we going to revel with the world or are we going to represent?

Hey Church, Get Over Yourself

feet of JesusHERE WE GO AGAIN

I heard someone pray the other day and it made me sad. They reached into 2 Chronicles 7:14. This is some of the worst theology that American Christianity pushes on people. This is usually pushed by people that lean to the “health wealth and prosperity gospel”, which is no gospel at all really. We are not Jews; we are Christians, read Matthew 24 and 25. This is what Jesus said.

This is the same problem I have with people surfing their spirituality on the “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord …” passage from Jeremiah 29. It’s just sad to see Christians grasping at a self absorbed spirituality that promises them everything, which is no spirituality at all.

 STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED

When a person begins studying scripture, seriously studying I mean, you learn that context is the most important aspect of study. In this case, God was speaking through his prophet to the nation of Israel, not to individuals. Before you go all wanky on me, here is the proof. Jesus actually said “Sell everything give to the poor and come and follow me.” Jesus said that. Most Christian people will write that off because it doesn’t apply to them. They will say that he said that to an individual man not to everyone. Then they turn right around and lay hold of the claims that were made to a nation as if God were telling them all of life and spirituality is all about them. So they prove that context is crucially important and then ignore it, why, because the OT passages don’t cost anything and promise everything. Greed, self-absorption, narcissism, call it what you want it is our sin nature.

 WHERE DOES THAT EVEN COME FROM?

As I listen to people quote these prosperity passages I hear them screaming for comfort and convenience not sacrifice and sacred living. (anyone that knows me knows that I do not think it is possible to be perfect, I’m not saying that. I’m saying live for Jesus by Jesus’ teachings) Somewhere down the line we have been fed a spiritual line of theological garbage, that following Jesus was going to make us rich and comfortable and free in this political world. I actually heard one guy say that prosperity was a sign of God’s favor, America is the new Israel because the Israelites rejected Jesus, and our nations historical prosperity was the evidence of that. Where does that even come from?

That would make most of the music industry stars, movies stars, drug dealers and what not the new religious leaders of the church? Again, that is some pathetic theology, but it is evidence that our sin nature, that nature that we are born with that says, “I want what I want, when I want it and how I want it and I want it now” is still alive, even in the church. The real church stands against that.

The problem is, that prior to Malachai God was dealing with Israel as a people group, a nation. He made promises to them as a nation that are in fact still in effect today, as a nation not as individuals. Gentile Christians (regardless of nationality) get included in, but we do not supplant Israel as Israel. We are grafted in as adopted sons and daughters.

No, when we surrendered our lives to Jesus we gave up our lives and our inalienable rights. We said, “No more me”, “Come God and live through me.” So it is imperative that we stop and ask ourselves what it is that we “signed up” for? The answer is, what did Jesus say?

What did Jesus say about how we are to live in relationship to those around us? What did Jesus say about how we are to love those around us, even our enemy?

What did Jesus say about how we are to give, seek, call down and present the kingdom of God to the world that He placed us in.

You see these are the things that make us Christians, when you obey my (Jesus’) commands. That’s what Jesus said anyway.

 NOT EVERYONE?

Jesus also said in Matthew 7:21-23 that there would be people that did religious things, spiritual things, churchy things in his name, but he will not be welcoming them into Heaven because he does not know them: no matter how much they throw his name around. He said “Only those who do the will of my father in heaven …” That means we have to be in communication with God daily, like he was. We should not just be doing good things, but we should be doing what God is asking of us today. What is God asking of you today?

carry-your-cross-and-follow-meJesus said in John 8:47 “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” When was the last time you heard from God? At the end of our lives we will look Jesus in the face and he will ask us what we did with what HE said, what did we do with the commands he gave us. To those who choose to bend his teachings and use it to find comfort and wealth, he will not welcome them, to those who let go of this world and followed his teachings, he will welcome them. He said so, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” What does that mean to you and I?
No, instead of quoting 2 Chronicles and Jeremiah 29, maybe we should be reading Jesus’ words to his followers in Matthew 24, and 25. No matter what, it is not going to get better, but worse. We live in a time when the love of most is growing cold. This is the latter age, Peter said so at Pentecost when he quoted Joel. (Acts 2, Joel 2)

I think that instead of getting everyone together, legislating morality and spirituality and praying, we should be doing what Jesus said and making disciples. Have you EVER made a disciple? Making disciples is the one thing that Jesus said to DO when he left. It is our last marching order so to speak. It is what the gifts of the Spirit, the organization of the local church, the compassion of ministry, preaching, teaching, baptizing and growing a church are supposed to be all about. He said so.

candleMaybe, just maybe, it is time to put down your comfort and convenience and pick up his cross: his teachings. So put down your rocks, you are not invited to condemn this world or the people in it. It is time to shine a little brighter by loving a little deeper. Take hold of the gift of the Spirit that is in you and make a difference in this world that is growing darker.

You who have ears to hear ………………