Why are you so surprised?

beggar's hand

In Acts chapter three Luke opens with Peter and John on their way up to the place of prayer. It is three in the afternoon and they go up they pass a beggar on the street. He is a crippled beggar. He was placed there every day by his friends. He was crippled from his birth and this was his everyday life. No fancy engineering made him a motorized wheel chair. He was hand carried everyday to this spot. It is awesome that he had friends, and that he had friends that would do that for him. Every day he sat there and needed a hand out and as Peter and John approached, this was just an ordinary day, they were just two guys heading up to the Temple, to the place of prayer. He launched into his spiel: “Hey buddy can you spare a dime?” “Hey man could you give a guy a hand up?” “Sir, could I bother you for some change, I’m so hungry?” Peter and John stopped, Peter called to the cripple, “Look at me” he said, and then, in the name of Jesus Christ, he healed the man instead of giving him what he was expecting. Changed the whole course of this man’s life! Of course this caused an uproar in the community, and with the newly healed man clinging to him physically, they entered the Temple gates. The crowd was growing and talking and jabbering and Peter shushed them all and spoke: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?”

 There’s the question

What a powerful question. “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?” I am so surprised to read Peter asking this question. What do you mean why does this surprise us? It’s AWESOME!!!!!! It’s fantastic, nobody did this yesterday, or the day before, but today this guy was healed and it is awesome. And yet, Peter is caught off guard and asks the question. I think Peter is at a place where this is pretty common. I wonder if like John (who wrote the book of John), Luke could say of the disciples,“[they] did many other things a well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Peter is used to this kind of thing. Jesus told them they would do what he did and even greater things than this, and he meant it. (John 14:12) So, to them these greater things were “normal.”

LAST WEEK

21 martyred

Last week 21 “Christians” were killed because of their faith. I do not know, nor do I judge, the truth of their faith, I take it at face value. In those parts of the world the word Christian can be as much a political term as it is a testimony. They were definitely killed it would appear. Facebook was in an uproar. I also posted the names of these men on my own site as means of recognizing and honoring their faith. As I watched all the people that say they themselves are Christians post their posts, some Christ centered most political, I wanted to post Peter’s question. “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?”

Jesus made a statement that told us of things that were to come.

Matthew 24:9-14 (NIV)

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

He also said in

Luke 21:16 (NIV)

16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

These days are unfolding upon us and even escalating around the globe. And it appears that we have been more interested in gaining a gospel of comfort, a gospel of convenience, a gospel of prosperity, rather than a gospel of sacrifice. We all want revival, but we want it on our terms, with more stuff and bigger houses and jobs and wealth. Jesus said the invitation was to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. That’s a hard teaching.

10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 

Many will reject Christ outright. His gospel isn’t comfortable. They will fall away because of the cost, and yet these 21 men stayed faithful until the end. Our lives are temporal upon this earth; it is not our home. We are renters, sent as ambassadors, to share the truth of our King, regardless of the cost to us. He is the Prince of Peace: of Peace the Bible says.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

These 21 sacrifices should not surprise a real Christian; our Lord said it would happen. It should make us sad, reflective, but God help us, it should cause us to consider their sacrifice and get to work. We are so busy fighting over the stupid stuff of life instead of sacrificing for the kingdom that the enemy doesn’t have to do much to thwart “christian” people from their mission.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

Hebrews 10:38-39 (NIV)

38 And,“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Will you live out your life for the kingdom so that this is the question you ask of the world : “Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

Will you live out your life for the kingdom so that this is the question you ask:

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

We should be busy enough that the world does this to us as well. What excuse do we have who know no persecution in this country, to be amassing wealth that will not go to heaven, at the expense of the people who could be: but for our invitation?

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50 Shades of “What the heck is going on?”

grey wall

Let me join the fracas

Let me join the fracas as if there isn’t enough noise out there already. I am astounded at the number of Christian people that are defending the writings, as well as the movie, “50 Shades of Grey.” “If you haven’t read it then you don’t get to talk about it”, I believe was how one FB post read. Well, I haven’t read it and I will share my opinions on it. There have been enough movie trailers and excerpts from the book posted on line as proof of it’s theme and purposes, that one does not have to read it to see what it is, and what it is about.

 What’s really going on?

The bigger picture as I see it is our comfortableness with immorality. Having been raised in an home where pornography was accessible and almost celebrated, I will be aware of it and have to stand against it the rest of my life. I cannot tell you how disturbed I was, when a trusted friend of mine forwarded an article that had a half naked picture of a movie actress, under the pretense of ranting about the horrible way Hollywood objectifies and demeans women through body types. Un-followed!!! Why did they think that was ok to post this so it would come across my feed? What about any children of their vast number of friends who may have been subject to it? Not cool!

 The struggle is real!

I’m no prude, anyone that was raised in my house will tell you that, but sexual sin, including nakedness, is the only sin that I can think of readily where God says to “flee.” Don’t stand and fight, don’t take up arms, don’t linger in the battle, FLEE! Run away, get far from it. As you skim through the Law of the Jews you will find verses that say, don’t get people drunk so that you can look upon their nakedness. (Habakkuk 2:15) I share that just to show how serious God is about it. Jesus said to look upon a woman to lust after her is to have already committed adultery with her. So we see again how serious God is. To be fair Jesus rendered everyone guilty when he was speaking on the judgmental spirit that comes from religious people pointing fingers. Same thing he did when he was dealing with the woman caught in the very act of adultery, first he made everyone guilty, then he invited the woman to leave her life of sin.

I guess I am a bit surprised at the whole group of men or women that will defend a movie, any movie, that has nudity in it and then turn right around and sit in my office telling me about the struggle they are having with porn. How many of you are watching Game of Thrones? What about Vikings? Nakedness, Biblically speaking, is porn. How do you weigh out your entertainment choices? If it’s a “fun” movie, or, “good book” (I guess we should include music in that as well) then it’s ok. Women scream about the objectification of their gender and where this particular book and movie are concerned turn right around and defend it. This particular book, at the least the excerpts that I read that were posted, were pure, scintillating, porn in prose. Every detail, every thought, painting as detailed a picture as possible. I have to say I was glad they were short posts. They are posted to give the reader an understanding of what the theme and story was going to be like. it’s interesting how many women will come crying about their man’s porn issues and yet …

 Mennonite reformationWhat about dying for the cause?

What about guarding our eyes? Psalm 101:3 What about cutting off our right hand if it is offending us? Matthew 5:30. I’m not suggesting that we go through life maimed, but Jesus was saying get radical!! Wasn’t it the radicals of the 1500’s that brought about a reformation? They stood against religious tyranny and shouted that they wanted to live out the words of Jesus even if it meant death. They wouldn’t be quiet even when they were being burned at the stake, quartered, hung, drowned, pieces of their flesh including their tongue and eyes were pulled from them with hot tongs, or they were tarred and burned alive. Today we’d be lucky to just get some of the church goers uncomfortable so we can get them to grow. We are more interested in splitting over women in leadership, worship wars and who’s allowed in to the church, then actually reaching the lost. When was the last time you invited someone to your church? Why aren’t you in a small group, or life group, or what ever your church calls them? Where do you serve on sunday morning? Here’s a biggie, Why don’t you tithe to your local church? (don’t tell me Jesus didn’t address it, he did. If not it would be the only thing he addressed where he “lowered the bar instead of raising it, and that just isn’t Jesus)

 BbileWhere is the church: are you in there, hello?

I think the church has become a little lax in it’s interactions with our culture. We may be a little more OF the world and not just IN it. Maybe it’s just apathy. I’m talking about actual Biblical issues, not preferences. I’ve seen what people do with preferences. I have actually had a religious man tell me that he didn’t care what the Bible said about alcohol, we have to preach that it is a sin. When he said he didn’t care what the Bible said he lost me. I do care. Same guy teaches people to kill their enemies even though Jesus said to love them. I sin, please don’t get me wrong. Don’t ever listen to a preacher that tells you he doesn’t, that man is liar. As God is my witness! The issue is when we set our lives up to live in sin. When we rationalize it to the public so that we can indulge our natural man. What ever happened to being ashamed of our sin? I am ashamed of my sin. It bothers me this sin that put Jesus on the cross. What ever happened to, “it was for my sins that he died?” Maybe what’s really happening is that Jesus isn’t as important to us as we want everyone to believe he is. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 wanted everyone to believe they were really holy and “ALLIN.” They wanted it so much that they lied to the church about the price of a piece of property they sold. They died of the Spirit that day. I have often wondered why God is so patient with me and yet they dropped on the spot! I have no answer, but God I am thankful.

but there is a fire growing

In the midst of all this crazy negativity about sin and culture I am meeting young people that show me God is up to something. They are concerned about their purity, their witness to those around them. I even hear them speak of pride issues. Wow. These are some class people. They are graduating college and then not entering the fields of study they have  degrees in. No, these young people are heading into ministry. As I relate to them they can’t stand the idea of not telling people about Jesus. They can’t stand not getting involved. They believe the message of the Cross and of Jesus at his ascension. They NEED to lead small groups, and disciple people on a regular basis. They can’t give or serve enough. These are people that will be changing the world. It is so exciting to interact with them. Our church is filling up with older people that have the same heart. These more mature believers are pouring into these young people and it is changing our town.

This FIRE is contagious. This Fire comes from people who are willing to come away from sin, sinful lifestyles, and are hungrier for the love of Jesus and his teachings then they are religious. It comes from being hungry enough to let go of preferences and wrong ideas of spirituality. It comes from letting go of preconceived notions about Jesus and choosing instead to determine what does the Bible say about what the Bible says. These are radicals. The world will be changed by radicals. You can be a radical and you can change the world!!

It is going to start with you and I confessing our sin and stepping away from what this world says is ok. Christians have to be the ones to lead the charge on purity, sexuality, honesty, justice and integrity. Listen, it is our job to introduce the world to Jesus and if we do not have any integrity in our walk, if there is no purity in our lifestyle, if no justice for the oppressed in our hearts, what do we have to offer a dying world? A drowning man cannot save a drowning man.

I want to SOAR this year and SOARING means leaving the common ground, going where the average doesn’t go and doing what the normal doesn’t do.