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.

 

 

 

I’M NOT TRYING TO TEACH YOU NOT TO SIN

There are just a lot of broken, messed up people around me IN THIS WORLD and it is crazy. I watch the news and I’m telling you it almost depresses me into going to Walmart the first Saturday of the month. At 9 am. I’m not kidding.

 CHLORINE BLEACH?

I just saw a story on the news that a 12 year old tried to poison her mama with chlorine bleach because her iPhone was taken away. I mean seriously? Are you kidding me? If I tried a stunt like that growing up you wouldn’t know me. You wouldn’t have to waste anymore of your time reading this because it wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be here.

 I’ll kill you and tell God you died.

If my dad said anything that I remembered, and I tried not to remember much as a youth, he told me “So help me, I’ll kill you and tell God you died.” You know I knew growing up that he meant it. It was just that kind of upbringing.

RugerThere was always a gun hanging on his bedpost, a Ruger 44 magnum Super Blackhawk. As a child I knew how it worked. I knew that if I touched it I better be shooting it. I’m not a real big fan of handguns, but I’m not trying to take away your constitutional rights so relax, I’m just not into handguns. I’m really not interested in hanging one that is always loaded in a place where a 4-6 year old could pull it out and shoot it, like the bedpost. That’s just straight up irresponsible parenting and bad handgun ownership.

 It is our NATURE to SIN

The reason there is so much sickness in the world and so much hurt and pain in the world, is because there is so much sin in the world. The Bible says that every one in the world that has ever existed or will ever exist is a sinner. I’m not sure how that makes you feel, but you are a sinner. I know that because I am a filthy rotten sinner who gave his sin to Jesus. As sinners, guess what we do best? We sin. We just can’t seem to stop. It’s like it’s in our nature. Wait, it is our nature.

 I, ME, MINE

My wife and I have 5 children. Five, cinco, Funf, yup, 5. We didn’t have them all at once, they came one at a time except for the last two; they came as a matched set. As babies they are born into the world they are born with a very self-centered nature and that is ok. They cry when they want to be held, they cry when they want to be fed, they cry when they want to be changed. Shoot, they even cry when they want to go to sleep but refuse to. And what’s up with that any way? If you want to go to sleep little baby go to sleep. Stop crying about it and sleep.

Babies are supposed to act like that that. It ok for a baby to be self-centered, it’s how they communicate to us until they have words. The problem is they are supposed to grow out of it. Have you grown out of it? There is nothing worse than a 33 year old that still acts like a 3 month old. But the bottom line is, that self-centeredness IS our human nature: that is sin.

Sin: I want, what I want, when I want it, and how I want it and I want it NOW!!! HA, that pretty much describes our whole culture.

nail-i10

The answer to selfishness is a savior, Jesus. As our Savior he has taken all the sin, of all the world, for all time, even the future, and has borne it so we do not have to be punished for it. EVER! I love him for that. It makes me want to be good. I love him so much for what he did that I want to live like he did. Alas I fail. I sin. (You should know that I’m a pastor and I sin. You should not go to a church where the pastor does not sin: he’s a liar)

You should know that I’m a pastor and I sin.
You should not go to a church where the pastor does not sin:
he’s a liar

As a pastor I am not trying to teach people not to sin, but I think a lot of people and pastors are trying to do that. To me that is the craziest thing is the world. It would be like trying to teach elephants to fly because you really want a bird. It isn’t going to happen.

 YOU ARE A SINNER

Before you go all Charles Manson on me, (see how I avoided using a derisive Government employee parcel delivery illustration?) I mean that Jesus died for my sins so I could live in HIS victory, not create a victory of my own. My human nature says I am going to sin. I’m not giving you permission to sin; I’m just saying why does it surprise you that, after surrendering to Jesus you still do? You are a sinner whose sin has been paid for, not try not to sin.

baby walkingI liken this to a baby that is learning to walk. They pull themselves up on the table. And stand there with their little fat legs bouncing up and down and happy as a lark. They grin and smile and babble. Then you, the parent, start coaxing them to let go. “You can do it,” you say. They get courageous and let go and take a step and you snatch them up and praise them, and encourage them, and it is awesome. Then you set them down and tell them to walk to you. They take one step, two steps: you are so proud that this clearly is the smartest baby in the world, has walked earlier than any other baby in the history of the world, and even Moses who was “no ordinary child” wasn’t this cool. Then your little messiah falls down. As a parent you don’t grab them up and beat them and scream that you told them to walk. You hold them, comfort them, and encourage them to try again.

That is a great picture of God the Father encouraging you to live a sinless life. He knows you’re going to fall again. Want me to show you how I know that? Look at these verses:

1 John 1:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

1 John 2:1 (NIV)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

We will sin. The odds are in my favor and I would bet the house on it. I know that some of you will take exception to this like I know you are a sinner. But the truth is, my goal as a pastor is to teach you to get back up. Like the illustration of the baby, if I can teach you to get back up, and teach you to focus on Jesus and the doing of the things he told us to do, you will have a serendipitously wonderful life. You will straight up be surprised at it.

 God wants to own your sin

What has you down? What sin is it that makes you think God hates you? “For God so loved the world …” the Bible says, that he sent his son to love you to death. On Easter. At Calvary.
Get back up you can do this. God loves you.