Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Just a Few Thoughts

I find myself sometime feeling “burned out” because of the stuff that I read on the internet - the accusations against Christians, Jesus and God. I know God said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” (God can take care of Himself and doesn’t need my help) and I find myself, not wanting to go into defensive mode (because personally I don’t want to defend the “Church” or religion because a lot of time it is wrong, which is what happens most of the time when people take on the unbelieving crowd), but rather I’m saddened because of the people that say “No, God,” don’t know what they are doing. It’s sadder still if they do know.

I’m saddened by the lack of understanding inside and outside the church. Jesus wasn’t about political power. He wasn’t about worldly power. As a Christian we are expected to take sides in political races. If you don’t, you’re considered a ‘bad’ Christians…Hello, I don’t know what the difference between a bad and a good Christian is? “There is none good, no not one.” Worldly power is temporary.

Scripture tells us that God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” so why should we? I heard an old Jewish proverb about when the Jews crossed the Red Sea. After the sea crashed around the pursuing Egyptians, the Jews were rejoicing and dancing. God rebuked them and told them not to do that because, didn’t His people understand that God loved the Egyptians too.

Those in the church seem to rejoice that God will ‘take care of the sinner’ – if you know what I mean. They rejoice in the calamity that befalls others that aren’t acting ‘right.’ We don’t seem to understand what it means to ‘love your enemies.’ Shoot, the church doesn’t even know how to love each other.

I do understand that there are those outside of the church that are trying to destroy it. I also know there are those inside the church that are trying to destroy it. “He who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar.” Hmmm.

I don’t believe Jesus died on the cross so we can start competing religions. He died on the cross to make us acceptable to the Father. I Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those that believe it is the power of God.”

These are just a few thoughts I thought I would throw out there. So much goes through my head, but I don’t have mega amounts of time.

Blessings and Grace all,

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Well done, because you forwarded emails?

Do you ever get those emails that say, “If you love Jesus you’ll send this to a gazillion people, and if you don’t you’re a heathen dog that deserves to spend your time at a raging lake of fire?”

Neither do I, but I do get emails that claim, “You must not love Jesus if you don’t email this to all your friends,” or words to that effect. Most of them have stuff in them I wouldn’t mind passing on to friends because they have good stories in them, then I get to the bottom and the inevitable ‘guilt trip’ is passed on trying to get you to pass the story on. Some of the time, I’ll edit the ‘guilt trip’ part out then pass on the email. But, a lot of the time, I don’t pass it on at all. “Why not?” you may ask.

When we face Jesus on that day, is he going to say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” because I sat at my computer and passed on emails or because I got out and did something that has a loving affect on someone’s life? Is He more concerned that I followed the rules of the ‘church’ or that I loved those around me? Is it more loving to send out an email declaring, “Look at me, I love Jesus, because I forwarded this email,” or because I was willing to say, “Hi,” to someone that is new to our fellowship no matter what they look like?

Love will protect the innocent. Love will do what it can, not because it’s part of ‘religion’ or the ‘rules.’ Love will do, just because it is a part of who Jesus is, and if Jesus is dwelling within you, it becomes a part of who you are.

Romans 8. The flesh vs the Spirit. Doing things because they are part of my ‘religion’ is trying to do it in the ‘flesh.’ Doing it because it is a part of who you’ve become, not to make brownie points, or prove anything about how ‘spiritual’ you are, is walking in the Spirit.

Love follows Jesus, because Jesus is Love. Everything gets back to Jesus.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

This is the Question

John 21:20-23

Eric Hoffer once said, "A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business."

“If I have him tarry ‘til I come, what is that to you?” Jesus asked Peter.

Lately I’ve had conversations with people about what other people are doing. They’re not doing this, or they are doing that…They should be doing this, or they shouldn’t be doing that. I’m guilty as everyone else.

I’ve been learning lately that it doesn’t matter what the other guy is doing…what am I doing?

Remember the speck and the plank?

When we spend time comparing ourselves with others, we end up either feeling inferior or superior, neither of which God wants from us. We are his children, his workmanship, created for good works. We are saved by His Grace through faith, not by works lest any man should boast.
But we are not to browbeat ourselves into thinking we are not good enough. To be truthful, none of us is good enough. That’s why Jesus died on the Cross for us.

Problem with comparing yourself is you.

There is a line from a movie called “School 4 Scoundrels” that asks the question, “How many of you own self help books?” After the students raise their hands, the teacher responds, “Well they won’t help, because ‘self’ sucks.”

I don’t know what God has planned for you. I don’t know what direction God is taking you in. All I can do is encourage you to seek Jesus first and go where He leads.

We all fail miserably in some way or another. That’s why Jesus died on the cross.

I was told a story once about DL Moody, who wanted to meet Charles Spurgeon. When Moody got to England from America, he went to Spurgeon’s house. Spurgeon opened the door smoking a cigar. Moody looked at him and said, “How can you, a man of God, be smoking that?” Spurgeon responded, “How can you, a man of God,” pokes Moody who was rather portly in the gut, “be a glutton.”

Pride is one of God’s greatest pet peeves. Why? Because most of us don’t recognize it. We believe others to be bad, but compared to what? God? Yes. Ourselves? No. We are no better. We are all sinners in need of a savior.

Sin is sin. All of us fall short. If we focus on Loving God, and loving our neighbor…this is what we are to do. We love our neighbor by sharing Jesus in our own simple ways.

It’s easier to sit on the sidelines and talk about how wrong others are, instead of getting involved in the battle and showing and sharing how right Jesus is. To love or not to love, that is the question. To share Jesus or not.

When we lose sight of Jesus, we lose sight of the most meaningful thing in our lives. If people are not behaving the way we think they should, are we willing to love them anyway? If someone is being self righteous, are we willing to love them anyway? Are we willing to love those around us? This is truly the question.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

More Stuff That I Was Thinking About

I was thinking about our relationship with Christ - who we are in Him. Youth in the church are taught to be a part of a youth group – other like-minded believers. Then they are thrust out into the world – college, jobs, or other things.

The world is littered with ‘religious’ kids who threw off their parents ‘religion’ to experience life apart from ‘religion.’ There are those who have shaken off Christianity, because they don’t think it ‘works.’ They consider it just another ‘religion’ among all the other ‘religions.’ They haven’t experienced a relationship with Jesus.

Why is that? Are we grounding our youth in Christ or just teaching them the rules and regulations of our religion/faith? Are we sharing Jesus with them in more than just our facts and traditions? Is Jesus a living reality to them or is He just a figure from history?

I think sometimes the adults running the show aren’t even aware of what they believe? We concern ourselves with the organizational elements of our ‘faith’ instead of our relationship with Christ. Our ‘religion’ becomes a ‘business’ and we are more concerned with using people that will make our ‘business’ more profitable. We don’t disciple people into a deeper relationship with Christ. We teach them the rules and regulations of our ‘organization’ so they don’t embarrass the ‘ministry.’ Instead of teaching our young people how to be real in the eyes of God, we teach them how to ‘act’ in the eyes of man.

I’ve talked with some who have shed tears because those they are teaching just don’t seem to understand or ‘get it,’ the relationship with Christ, that love the Father has for His children. They grieve over the realization of how much others miss because of a lack of a relationship with Jesus. We are taught the theology of Jesus, but we miss the awesome, wonderful, sweet reality of Jesus.

I sometimes wonder when talking to people who are supposed to be the church (living stones) why they are more interested in the organization of an institution rather than the reality of Christ. Why are they stuck on the rules and regulations rather than the love that the Father has for His children, and the Grace that He has so freely bestowed upon us through His Son, Jesus? I would rather talk about how Great Jesus was, is and evermore shall be, rather than how much the ‘ministry’ is making, or how big our ‘church’ building is, or how much more ‘righteous’ we are than they are.

I've been looking at things more from the Jesus "The Reality" rather than Jesus "the theology." It's no longer stories to learn from but Jesus to see - His character, His grace, His mercy, His love, His forgiveness. You can see the history behind that and see how religion reacts as opposed to how God in human form reacts. Too many years I've spent looking at the nice stories instead of the reality of Jesus and how He wants so much to be close to us. We are told in scriptures to "Draw near to me and I will draw near to you." I sometime wonder if we miss the point of Christ because we focus on what lesson can we learn about how we should act, instead of learning of the character of Christ. We look for lessons instead of looking for Christ. There is a subtle shift towards learning how I should behave or how this applies to me, instead of drawing closer to Jesus. As John once said, "He must increase and I must decrease." We leave behind our first love because we think we need to ‘prove’ our love.

Jesus said, “Love God, love your neighbor. On these two laws hang all the law and the prophets.” He also said, “They will know that the Father has sent Me, by the love you have, one for another.”

James said, “If you love, you do well.”

Let us drawn near to Jesus and we will learn of Love.

Blessings and Grace,

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Random Thoughts from a Scattered Mind

Luke 14:26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

Where does this statement fall into the Love thy neighbor category? It seems harsh. But, if you take into consideration the Whole council of God, it seems logical.

The first commandment is this “Love God with all your heart, mind, body and spirit.” What the world may perceive as ‘hatred’ for dad, mom, sis, bro, etc is an all encompassing love for God. All others take 2nd place to the One who was, is and is to come.

But I sometimes wonder. I listen to people. The Word of God, Christ Himself, takes second place to our feelings and wants. Christ is not in our hearts. Everything else is in our hearts. Everything else takes precedence over Jesus. What’s convenient is more important than what is Truth. Not looking like a fundamentalist is more important than Truth. Heck, even religion can be more important to people than Jesus.

Ray Comfort once quoted someone, I’m not sure who, but he said, “The fool has more questions than the wise man has time to answer.” I’ve met people that just ask questions. It doesn’t matter if you have a valid answer, or any answer. They will always have questions. People question Christ because of “all the evidence for evolution.” What evidence? The “evidence” has either been forgeries, or can be explained in the light of creation. There comes a time when you have to stop and say, “This is what I believe. This is what I put my faith in.” You either trust in the Word of God, or you don’t. Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been trying to cast doubt upon the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

I saw an article the other day where the Vatican has declared that we must trust science over the Word of God, because, they say, if you don’t, you risk becoming a “fundamentalist.” Gasp! Besides, they continue, there is proof for evolution. Oh yeah. Who says? Scientists? Didn't scientists convince the church that the earth was flat, contrary to what the Word of God says? And now Christians are refered to mockingly as "flat earthers." I wonder what the Vatican would say to the Institute for Creation Research scientists. I wonder what the Vatican would say to the Intelligent Design scientists.

This came on the heals of the Catholic church saying that you can’t trust everything you read in the Word of God. If that’s true, why trust any of it? Why trust them for that matter?

A friend told me of a conversation he had with another Christian. They both were looking up at the stars and one asked, “Do you think there is life out there?” My friend responded, “I just don’t know.” Valid answer. Then it came to my mind that a better response to a question like that is, “I don’t know, but how does that help me to love you better?” If we find out there is life on other planets, how does that help us to feed the poor? How does that help us to visit the widows and orphans? How does that help us to clothe the naked?” I don’t mean to set up rules. Love needs no rules. Love just does.

Why do we as a people think of the less important things, new car, new boat, bigger house, and miss the important things? We assuage our guilt for not being around by buying things for our kids. As was once said, “That which we strive to attain, we strive to maintain.” So a new car, house, boat, or stuff requires more time at work, less time at home. Sometimes our kids just want us to take time and pick them up and throw them in the air.

The world looks at a small house, an old car, no Xbox, no large screen tv, no sauna or pool and think this person isn’t very successful. Even some in the ‘church’ are falling prey to the “healthy, wealthy and wise” doctrine, while ignoring the Word of God that states, “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him?” James 2:5 Hmmm… “…them that love Him.”

Love God first and above all. All else will fall into place. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness…”