TWO THINGS: 2

“So how are things going for you?”

Some form of that question is asked on any given day as we pass people, come to work, show up at the coffee shop; it is a greeting that suggests familiarity, pretends some sort of compassion and empathy, but is lived out in apathy. What if you actually answered it for yourself today?
It the midst of life, Jeremiah, the prophet, TELLS us how things are going rather than asking us how they are going. (Well he does for Israel thousands of years ago any way.)

Jeremiah that prophet

Jeremiah is just not a happy guy. He is a downer. You just want to say, “Come on man, say something encouraging!” I’m reading Jeremiah right now and it has the same appeal as reading the actual contents on the side of a tube of Preparation H. Just a lot of scientific words I don’t know, and lacking in encouragement; right now at least. As I’m beginning this book I find myself with Facebook open in front of me and I’m reading Jeremiah 2 at the same time. There is a lot of looking from screen to page, from screen to page over and over. Not because I need to see what is happening in the digital social construct we call our world, but because there is so much correlation between what I am seeing and what Jeremiah is saying.

Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Jolly Rancher

It is some pretty relevant scripture right there. Our souls would do well to take time to ponder this. Think of “pondering” like putting a Jolly Rancher in your mouth and just swirling it around and around. (it may be true that I have a raspberry Jolly Rancher in my mouth at this moment; don’t judge me) Explore the reality of your relationship to God in heaven for a while and your relationship to this passage. Fight against the human machine and the social extreme by grabbing the brake and giving it a YANK!! Slow down today for a moment. Let’s just be with God and hear this word from yesteryear.

TWO THINGS: #1

There are two things that God needed to tell Israel about. The first one is that they have forsaken God. There is a lot of this world that is attacking your heart and your desires as you go through life: things, attention, popularity, fame, love, sex, and a whole host of material possessions. God is calling us to not allow anything to take his place of priority in our lives. Clearly the Israelites had decided that the other “gods” (that are actually not gods at all); gods of various immoral worship practices; sexual as well as infanticide would be more fun. God is calling them out for walking away from him. He is GOD and he will not be ignored, cast aside or get off the throne. So, God allowed them to receive the consequences of not remaining under his protection. People talk about where is God when things go south, or go wrong, and the answer is always the same: You rejected God and pushed him away, now you are reaping the consequences of this choice.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What about you? Are you confessing being a theological Christian or Christ -follower, yet you are living like a practical Atheist? You read what Jesus said but you don’t do what Jesus said unless you like it. Don’t rise up in angst or feigned umbrage, (there’s a word for ya! It means, “offence or annoyance”) you know this happens all the time. For some reason we are “selling” Jesus like he is a club, or a group to join, when truly he is God to whom we surrender. God is not a Sunday morning checklist item. He is not a daily Bible reading chore to fulfill. He is not a good work that will earn you a right standing “in the end.” God is our father: he is a relationship to rejoice in above all others. He wants to walk with you. It does start in the Bible but it continues on as we learn to walk in the Spirit. But be honest, there are a lot of people that claim to follow Jesus, but they live in rejection of his teachings because the teachings don’t make personal sense to them. So they rationalize a whole new God that cannot be supported without serious hermeneutical calisthenics: TWISTING OF THE SCRIPTURES. Doing what Jesus said to do is costly and doesn’t always, or often, make sense; do it anyway. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” Is 55:8.

TWO THINGS #2

The second thing is that Israel is digging it’s own cisterns. (a cistern is an underground tank or reservoir for storing rainwater) God contrasts cisterns with a spring of constant cisternconsistent fresh water. What God offers in our relationship to him is good, it is fresh and it is eternal. Cistern water is stored water. It can get algae in it. It can become stagnant and putrid. Spring water is always being refreshed, it is moving through. God wants what is best for us. God is good, God is love, God gives eternal life. But we are a people that want what we want for some of the dumbest reasons at times. Even Israel in her early days rejected God being their leader for a King so they could be like every other nation around them. We want to be like everyone else. We want to keep up with the Joneses. We want more than everyone else so we can be impressive and important. We want to be a people that can “do it ourselves.” We want to brag about what we have accomplished. We want to leave out God and his part in our lives; he won’t stand for that though. The world we live in says, “Look what I did,” and even when we become Christians, we tend to revert to “Ok I got this God thanks, leave me alone now, I’ll do it myself.” But we are dependent upon God even when we don’t know it. We don’t make the sun run its course. We don’t keep the world spinning on its precarious axis of 23 degrees. We do not determine how much rain will fall and where or when it will fall. We don’t create the droughts. As humans we cannot even tell people where existence came from. The fool has said in his heart there is no God.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Back to the same question, “What about you?” Are you living your life on your terms, by your own created, rationalized, standards, or are you in a living relationship with God? In Matthew 7 Jesus said not all who say Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Those people did good, religious, and spiritually powerful things, but apparently it wasn’t what God was telling them to do, it was what they wanted to do. They were digging their own cisterns and asking God to bless it.

We serve a God that still speaks today. Through the Bible, through circumstances, through other people, through music, through prayer and through community: God wants us to listen and obey.

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God, What happened in Florida?

You might want to buckle up for this one. It’s worth the read, it’s a little longer than usual, but then ask yourself, “Where do I fit in?”

Go Social Media

I saw a meme on FB the other day that said,

IMG_1357

 

“We need preachers that will preach that Hell is still hot, Heaven is real, that sin is still wrong, that the Bible is God’s word and Jesus is the only way of Salvation, Amen.”

Another one says,

“Share if you think we need to put prayer, or God, or the Bible, back in School.”

All of this implying that, God in School curriculum, or prayer in school, or Preachers preaching someone’s idea of “The right Christianity,” can solve this problem, as a Pastor for the last almost 25 years, nothing could be further from the truth. I haven’t seen this kind of really poor understanding of theology from people that claim to be Christians in quite a while. But hey, social media gives us this platform to screw up Jesus’ teachings and call it truth; and you wonder why things are the way they are.

Florida is evidence of a problem

What happened in Florida last week was a horrifically evil event that did not happen without forethought and some serious planning. It would “appear” that the government was in fact told of this individual, his words, and ideologies, his social media posts, and to some degree, his intent, and he slipped right through the cracks. This is not a gun problem. I’m not a big raging fan of guns and I’m not raging against people having guns. I finished 12 years of school in the public school system and then a couple in the college level; guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Should people have access to this kind of gun? I don’t care. I won’t own one myself. But that’s not the point of this post.

Oh the ignorance of people

I’m interested in the question, “How did our world, our country, our state, our community, come to this kind of place?”

I do not believe the awful things happening to our children or in our nation is because,

“We need preachers that will preach that Hell is still hot, Heaven is real, that sin is still wrong, that the Bible is God’s word and Jesus is the only way of Salvation, Amen.”

This just strikes me as ignorant: just plain, straight up, hillbilly ignorant. Just because a person preaches that something is sin doesn’t stop the people that claim to follow God from doing it. If that were the case, divorce would simply stop, adult people (not even talking about high schoolers: ADULTS) would stop having sex before they are married, would actually tithe to their local church, would serve in the children’s area, would raise their children IN CHURCH instead of chasing every traveling league and teaching their children to skip church, but don’t skip the team. The church would be diversified instead of segregated: FROM BOTH SIDES not just one. People would realize that women should make as much as men if they do the same job with the same level of productivity. (This can go on and on and on.) Preachers preach that Porn is wrong but church folks like it. Preachers preach that “50 Shades of Grey,” “Game of Thrones” and such, isn’t healthy for Christian people and they get emails about not judging. Hahaha are you kidding me? “Preachers need to preach that Hell is real?” REALLY?

The people posting these memes cheat on their taxes, lie to their spouses, ignore their children, and look down their noses at people that are a different color than they are. People posting these memes don’t share their faith, or the love of God in Jesus with their neighbors, or their co-workers and you want me to believe that the preacher isn’t doing their “real” job?

What are you actually teaching your children?

People that teach their little children to hate people they are mad with post these memes; they have no sense of local church loyalty or accountability at all. Preachers say something they need to hear, they cut and run. Preachers won’t let them do what ever they want; they cut and run. Preachers say something they disagree with; they cut and run. Preachers hold them accountable for their sin, i.e. creating division, sowing discord, immorality, lack of compassion or not getting involved in ministry, they cut and run.

Tell me again the preacher isn’t preaching the right message and I will show you a NATION of people that barely know who lives next door. I will show you a nation of people that underpay teachers and EXPECT them to raise their little bundles of sunshine. I will show you a nation that will do more to protect the drug dealer than the police officer sent to arrest him. I will show you a nation of people joyfully led around by the nose by entertainers, and corrupt politicians, and media moguls instead of their supposed “Christian Values.”

What did Jesus do? Then what should you do?

We live in a world of sinners according to what the Bible says. And Like Paul, I have not lost sight of the fact that I am the worst. But these same people do not have to believe what I believe and I do not believe that shoving my belief system down their throats is what Jesus said to do. The Gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ is and always will be, an invitation, not a HAMMER! People said “No” to Jesus all the time and he didn’t cuss them, meme them to death, slander them, or ignore them, he loved them, served them and then died for them while they were yet sinners. He wasn’t trying to create a “Christian Nation” at all. He didn’t get involved in the affairs of local politics. He even went so far as to say “Father, forgive these men that just did this to me because they don’t even know what they are doing.” Live your life like this and you will change the world.

The problem isn’t that Preachers aren’t preaching right, the problem from my perspective is that Christian people want to be in the “FUN Church Club” but don’t want to DO what Jesus said to DO. You solve that one problem, just that one problem, and you will turn this nation upside down for the good. You want God in charge? Then get off your own throne and put him in charge of you first. When was the last time you had some new people into your home for dinner? Just asking.

Finally, you want prayer back in school? You want reading the Bible back in school? I don’t. I don’t want a non-Christian, atheist, pagan, or apathetic humans or even nominal Christians, leading my grandchildren in prayer, and interpreting the Bible for them. That is the parent’s job. You want your children following the teachings of Jesus? Then teach them at home with some small modicum of integrity and example instead of twisting the scripture to fit your idolatry.

Well now, that’s pretty heavy stuff, but it is the stuff pastors and preachers put up with everyday of the week. The solutions to the horrors of our lives is never simple, never easy, and never cheap enough to simply put on a meme. LifeWay says in their poll, 250 pastors quit each month. I wonder why? I’m not writing this because I’m perfect or even sinless. I wish I could get through one day without having to go to Jesus and confess and ask forgiveness; I need my savior. But, I love that I get to lead a group of people that want to be like Jesus, want to love, and serve, and get involved on a personal, one-to-one level, I love that. They put their rocks down, we have no right to stone people, we have been called to love them and stick to the truth, and introduce them to Jesus of the Bible.

You want to solve this “Problem,” (pick one problem to focus on) then stop talking about who should do it and you be the one to go do it. Yeah, it’s like that.

Today is EIGHT

I woke up to a reminder from a friend today: today marks 8 years. Nine years ago I was struggling in a continuing conversation with God. Eight years ago today we launched the first Sunday morning service of the Vineyard Community Church Richmond.

I had moved to Kentucky from western Oklahoma and was here to help a friend and do a job. My calling is to be a light and to bring the light. My initial understanding was that we would spend 3 years bi-eight-isgreatvocationally building a church up; I was sent to assist and assist is what I did. I stayed on for six years and then began to understand that something had changed; I needed to get out of the way. The problem is I had fallen in love with central Kentucky, but I knew I was called to do more than be bi-vocational, but I didn’t know what God had in mind. I began to dream, think, and envision what a move out of state would look like. I questioned going back to Oklahoma, Ohio where I met Jesus, or some place new. God what do you want?

God said “COME FOLLOW ME”

What do you want Lord? I don’t hear too many Christians asking that question any more. “What do you want me to do Father?” “Where do you want me to live God?” “Whom do you want me to minister to Jesus?” I hear people dreaming about a call to ministry but itquestion dice usually begins with gathering together a financial guarantee, they aren’t willing to sell out, move out, and totally trust God because he said, “Go.” They want safety nets and promised salaries bigger than most staff members have in their present churches.

I began to pray. I was very aware that I had not heard from God at all, so I leaned into Elizabeth Elliot’s teaching, “when God isn’t telling you something new, then do whole heartedly that last thing he told you to do.” (something like that) Whole heartedly has always been the way I get involved, I don’t think God created me to watch life go by, I want to live it and I want to live it fully, whole heartedly, enthusiastically, and squeeze every drop of blessing and experience and relationship that I can out of it. I want to live it as more than a conqueror: hupernikeao, Roamns 8:28, I want to live life and live it to it’s fullest; a vehemently abundant life; perissos John 10:10

Art, falconry, Scuba diving, motorcycling, traveling, guitar, poetry, coffee, friends, preaching, leadership, loving, ministering, I find myself whole heartedly diving right in. The Vineyard Community Church of Richmond Kentucky has been no different. From the 20130806_113643.jpgmoment that the Pastor of the Lexington Vineyard contacted me we have been ALLIN. We knew that we were planting a church; it was exciting to meet with people willing to roll the dice and follow the vision.

With 16 years of ministry experience, 5 children, two sons in law, and one grand child, we leveraged everything we could: savings, 401k, what ever we had, to see this thing born.

With one vision

It was exciting, it was fresh, it was loud, it was in the community and God had given us a vision that we would not be deterred from. Admittedly I certainly did not do everything right, I’m just not that smart. It is also clear from conversations that there were a significant number of people that had a lot of differing ideas, or agenda as to what was going to happen; what they personally wanted to happen; I don’t think that is unusual.

Sometimes I haven’t done it right

There have been bumps, valleys, struggles and pain from the get go. There has been joy, salvations, baptisms, healings, and celebrations carrying us along in the Spirit. We have seen God move in wonderful ways and we have cried together because it’s not all Rose_Thorns_2759sunshine and roses. We have seen persons come and we have seen persons go, we pray God continue to be near to them.

I haven’t always done it right no doubt, I have had to ask forgiveness and apologize at times, but then, that’s why Jesus died, so I could get back up and press on. I will always strive to say what needs to be said, corporately or personally, because I’m not smart enough to be scared, nor am I savvy enough to be quiet. I will refuse to compromise anything that might harm these sheep. I will refuse to be a hired shepherd: I have been called as a brother and joint heir with the great shepherd. I will not be perfect but I know that I will be held accountable to caring for the sheep of this fold. It is a very serious matter in my soul. So I live ferocious to attacks.

Stick to the plan

As a church we will continue to press into the vision. When God calls me home or away, the vision can change, until then we stick to the plan:

Chase God with a reckless abandonment,
Love everyone that walks through the door
and try to stay out of God’s way.

DSC_0115Today we are eight years old. WE are eight years old. A lot of people have placed their signature and DNA into this ekklesia to make it what it is today. Whether it was my boss that gave me a job knowing that someone more focused could do it better, the pastor I left that blessed us, or the people that came and went, this church, this gathering of sheep, is marked forever by them all. We are who we are because people cared, loved, served, gave, believed, followed, sacrificed and grew in their own relationships to God. God bless you all.

All the faces, all the people, all the circumstances

So today I reminisce on all the faces, all the people, all the circumstances (good and bad) and thank God that all of these have brought us to where we are today. Still loving, still serving, still caring, still outreaching, stillPulse 2 reaching out, still growing, still chasing Jesus and still seeing lives changed as hurting people seek an audience and an opportunity with a living God.

Happy Birthday to you VCCR, you are growing up into such a beautiful mature Church, God bless and be with you. Until the trumpet sounds and we all are caught up together, or until we all meet together in Heaven to remember, I pray that we will always be found seeking the heart of God, loving this community and more besides, and that our impact will always be bigger than our number.

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 ………………