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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Renewed Passion

Below is nothing more than simple musings late last night. Enjoy!



Current theology teaches that Christ may be "received " without creating any special love for Him in the receiver. The man is "saved " , but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and is encouraged to be content with little . This faulty theology is creating a generation that is lukewarm with no desire to grow. If we wish to see a change in this generation we must begin with a reformation of fundamental biblical doctrine. The free gift that God gives is not merely salvation for this is just the entrance gate to the blessed life which God gives so graciously in His son. God's desire for man is not for him to simply stop upon the guarantee of eternal life-- as this is the current ongoing with my generation-- but His desire is for man kind to emerge himself into the abundant life that comes through knowledge of Him. True change in this generation will come when we appropriate the gift that is already inside of us and dive into God's being. This means that cheap devotion and quick bible readings will never completely deliver us to the place that we need to be. It will only be through a constant and intentional strive for the divine that will give us life. As we see in John 15 there is a positive outcome for those who choose to abide in Christ And a grave one for this who ignore this calling. It is most obvious,then , that God has much greater plans for our lives than what we are experiencing now; we are selling ourselves short for a cheap copy of the divine life that is already ours in Christ!
It reminds me of a story that I had heard quite some time ago.one day A very ambitious man came to the decision that he was going to trek the amazon river on foot- from west to east, from coast to coast. And so, without further thought he embarked on this journey with little preparation. He knew the dangers that lay ahead but he cared not for he knew the potential glory and reward that could come from this journey. And so he walked. And continued to walk until days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. By this time in the man's treacherous journey all provesions previously stored had come to end. The soles on his shoes were worn ,leaving his feet bare and covered in cuts and sores. The shirt on his back had long since disappeared leaving his back expose to the blistering sun of South America . But despite his grave condition he pressed forward towards his goal knowing that the finite pain and torment that he suffered then would not compare to the infinite reward he would soon receive. After what seemed like an eternity of walking and pain, he could finally see the blue, inviting ocean in the horizon. He began to run with no shame towards that sea. But the years of turmoil, malnutrition and pain soon began to manifest themselves on the final stretch of his journey. His legs gave out just as quickly he had began to ram and he fell crippled to the earth. This ,however ,would not stop him for he had walked too long to give up now. He stretched out his frail arm and grabbed whatever soil and dirt he managed to get his hand around and then slowly pulled himself forward. He continued in this meticulous manner for a few minutes until he could go no farther. He simply stopped breathing. Little did he know that he had died just yards from his final destination.
This story gives an unrivaled image of the spiritual journey that we as Christians have embarked on. We toil and squirm and strive for the end yet we die just yards before the our home. This ,however ,was never God's intention. God promised rest and peace in His love yet so many Christians live their life never experiencing such bliss. This is where we must realize that we have simply been missing the big picture. It is extremely difficult to articulate this any further. Simply put is that God desires much more than what we have settled for. I truly believe that this generation, that MY generation can come to a place of truly experiencing this Divine life, but like i have said previously: this will take extreme intentionality and devotion to the life style of Christ. This will seem to some as impossible-- how can one ever live like Christ? But maybe this is the exact mentality that placed us in this position. We must not forget that ALL things are possible with Christ who gives us strength and this includes living the godly life that God has called us to.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Heaven. On Earth.

Often times i find myself thinking about death and leaving this world that is not my home.  i think of walking through the pearly white gates, seeing the streets of gold, and singing praise to my Lord and Savior-in his company.  It is such a beautiful picture.  Revelation 21:1-6 are the verses that i cling to for these promises:
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

This is such a beautiful picture.  It almost brings tears to my eye.  Thinking of the day where all is made new.  Where pain is non-existent and where crying has no place.  Where God Himself reaches out His holy hand to wipe the tears from my eye.  A place where God, my Father, holds me, loves me, and embraces me.  A place where there is no more death nor mourning.  A place that is new.    Just imagine that day.

The idea of longing for that day to come is also seen in Philippians 1:21 where Paul talks about how good it will be to die and be immediately with God.  It is also preached in time after time in church.  Sermons often go along the lines of  " Yes, we suffer here on earth.  Yes, sinners make our life difficult here.  Yes, it hurts sometimes to be here. But just wait for that day!  Where the tables turn and it is us who go to Paradise while the wicked get what is deserved: Gods wrath. "  I can not tell you how many times i have heard something like that! 

This past month ,though, i have realized something about my type of thinking and the thinking of individuals and churches who think in that way.  We are missing the point.  That plain and simple.  And that has gotten me thinking... for how long have we been doing this?   Missing the big picture.

And like i said, i am guilty of this as well, if not the most guilty of it!  So then, what is the point that we are missing?  What is this "picture" that we are overlooking when we think about--and live for-- the end?  The answer is found in the fact that God did not create us to die.  It seems obvious, of course, but it has some profound truth to it.  The way that we preach it now puts it this way:
              
God created man for fellowship with Him.  This was broken in the garden thus breaking that fellowship.  This paved the way for the age of law-- man doing things to restore the fellowship.  After that God saw that it was not working and sent His son as the ultimate sacrifice.  This is now how we get our fellowship with Him, but it is not until we die, and then go to heaven, that we will truly have fellowship with Him.  In other words our life comes after death. 
This is how the modern church seems to be preaching the Gospel.  Living with the end in mind.  Now let me say, this idea is not necessarily false-- but i believe it is missing a very important fact:  we have life now in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus did not want us to wait to receive eternal life!  No, eternal life starts upon the moment one believes.  This "life" that we talk about after death is only a small portion of the picture.  Jesus came so that we may have life--and life now. here on earth. before we die. apart from heaven, but in Christ. 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full"
John 10:10b

 As we see in the Lord's prayer God wants His will to be the same on earth as it is in heaven-- He wants us to have the same life here on earth that we will in heaven.  Heaven on earth in a sense.

"Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever"

The whole prayer is about God bringing heaven to earth.  now. before death.  God is always and constantly completing the good work He started in us (Phil. 1:6) and this good work is conforming us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28.)  When we see this we realize that everything is working together for this-- as i have mentioned in other posts-- and that even God's wrath has a purpose:to push us into the right direction, to melt the imperfections, to separate the corruptible from the eternal.  Lastly as we read Philippians 1:21 and the surrounding text we see that yes, Paul wishes to go to heaven and be with Christ but he sees being here on earth as more beneficial.  This is it.  This is the big picture.

Yes, God uses great images of heaven to motivate us but that is not to distract us from the task at hand: having fellowship with Christ here. now. on this earth.  Striving to be like Christ here.now. on this earth.  Doing good works here. now. on this earth.  Striving to make earth a place that fears God here. now. on this earth.  Let there be heaven, on earth. Amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Fine Line of Grace

Before i go on let me clearly state one thing: we are saved by grace and by grace alone.  " for it is by grace we are saved, through faith, not by works so that no man can boast." Our salvation rests upon nothing that we have done, nothing that we are doing, and nothing that we are yet to do.  Our salvation is solely by the Grace of God.  Yes, this is what i believe.
        This article may be a risky one.  It has the potential to strike controversy and conversation--but that is ok.  It is the Christians responsibility to question the strength of his own faith and to ask to difficult questions.  With that said i would like to ask a question:  have we, the church, bestowed too much grace?  And what is the current definition of grace? It seems to have changed from the original, biblical meaning.
        The reason i ask is this:  it seems as if the church has become more tolerant and accepting of sin.  Homosexuality has not only been allowed into the church but pastors and church leaders now find it acceptable for themselves to be gay.  Pornography, divorce, adultery, and so on has gone without condemnation or even acknowledgement that these are, in fact sins.  Pride, lust, and a haughty spirit is now found in almost every christian simply because of the status of being an "elect christian."  You get the picture.  Sin no longer carries the same weight as it used to in biblical times. 
       Now, let me clarify.  I am not saying that the church is to close its doors to those who are gay, to those who divorce, to those who sleep with someone other than their spouse, to those who are prideful,ect.  No, this is by no means what i am saying.  The church is for the sick, not the healthy.  These people are welcome, and should be invited into the church.  The problem begins after they enter the church.  Like i said, the church is for the sick but not so the sick can stay sick.  The church is for the sick so that they can get healthy.  If we do not preach against such sins how are those who are committing them to get healthy?  If a doctor does not preform a needed operation he has failed at doing his job.  The same concept applies to the church. 
     Grace used to be the idea that although one commits sin, and still commits sin, he is given the same benefits as one who commits no sin.  The only thing is that sin was still not an acceptable thing.  Nowadays it seems as if grace has simply come to mean tolerance.  Acceptance of the sinner and the sin.  This is not how it is supposed to be.  There are still consequences for our sins-- even if we are secure in our eternal salvation. 
"
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences"
        -2nd Corinthians 5:10-11

One day all will appear before God and He will ask us about the things that we have done--good and bad.  Now lets be honest, even being in the presence of God, as a lowly human sinner, is going to be terrifying.  Now if we add God asking us about our past sins i have no doubt that my whole body is going to quake in fear.  Not because i am nervous that God is going to condem me to hell but because i know of the terror that God is holding back from me.  I know the things that God could do but His grace is allowing me to be saved from such things. 
     In verse 11 we find the churches responsiblity:  to persuade men against the sin that they are commiting and pray that God will give them a holy conviction.
     Lastley, "love covers a multide of sins."  Yes, sin is a wrong doing --not against us though-- it is against God.  The church is called to love everyone .  Love does not keep track of wrong doings.  Therefore we are to love sinners and embrace them.  They are not offending us with their sins and we are to extend all love to them no matter what sin they are commiting.  Imagine a church that knows nothing but love and grace yet preaches the truth.  It is the way in which God intends it to be.  Let us pray for a revival in the church and a repentence of all sins! Amen.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Revival.

It's my dream. My every thought.  My hope. It's revival. 

Let's be honest.  Everyone of us wishes to see revival.  Everyone of us wants to see a people group return to the first love of Jesus Christ that they had so long ago.  It is something that is wired inside of us and something that touches us when it does happen.  But the question is: how do we get revival?  How do we get a church back on fire? How do we have a secular high school seek the will of God?  How do we have a country return to the morals and love for Christ that it once had?  These are the questions that always seem to daunt me.  They follow me everywhere and i can never seem to get them answered.  But during my time in Africa God taught me a thing or two about revival. 
      While i was in Kenya i noticed that seemingly everybody in church was on fire.  And not just a small fire, i'm talking a blazing inferno.  They are quick to strike up a biblical discussion.  They are quick to drop to their knees in prayer upon the Spirit's beckoning.  They are quick to go and seek the will of God.  It is truly incredible to see such a large people group still have their fire for Christianity.   As i sat down to think about this i asked God to show me why it is like that there in Kenya, but not here in the states.  The answer i received was very profound.  These people were born into poverty.  They have absolutely nothing.  The majority earn less than a dollar a day. They live in paper boxes, they don't have shoes.  They don't have clean water.  The list goes on , as you can imagine.  Now most would view this as a curse.  Most people (at least here in the states) would see this kind of poverty and never wish it upon anybody.  But God showed me otherwise. 
       Even the people that live in these conditions ( that's over 85% of the world!) do not view this kind of living as ideal. Almost all of them have a desire to go to America.  The thing is, they do not see the blessing that it is to have nothing.  God showed me that because these people have nothing they are then forced to relay on something other than themselves.  They must seek God for their help on a daily bases. 
      In America things are a little bit different.  We have money, and shelter, and food, and water, and everything else we need.  Even the poorest of poor in America have twenty fold of that some of the Kenyans do.  Some may see this as a good thing.  But upon my return i realized that this is not as much as a blessing as it is made out to be!  We have forgotten as to where all the things we have came from!  We have forgotten how we got to where we are now as a nation.  The reason that America is a super power now is because when our founding fathers came over, they had nothing.  But they sought n everything and for all of their strength.  But as time progressed this "story" was forgotten and now we find ourselves here, in a nation that has walked away from God.
      I believe this is our first step to revival:  remember where we came from.  We must not relay on our own understanding but in all of our ways acknowledge God.  That is our first step.
     I do, however, there is more work to be done.  One chapter that has really spoken volumes to me this summer is Leviticus 16.  God first spoke to me with this chapter during SMI this year. 
The way i look at this chapter is from the last verse first.  But before skipping to verse 34 the reader must first understand that in the previous 33 verses God lays out a list of things that Aaron must do before He will use Aaron to bring atonement to Israel.  Ok, verse 34:
            “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

      God wanted to use Aaron to do HUGE things.  And i firmly believe that God wishes for each and everyone of us in this to bring about revival.  But, one must notice that Aaron had to do a list of things before God could use him.  The same goes for us.  Now, i am not saying that we must go kill a goat and sprinkle the blood over temple.  Ya, that probably wouldn't go over so well, culturally speaking. But we can still learn from verses such as verse 11.  Aaron was first to make atonement for himself and then his family before moving onto bigger things.  The same principle applies to us.  We must first make ourselves right before the Lord before moving onto bigger things.  Before community revival is to be achieved individual revial must take place.  If we want to see revival on a big scale we must focus on the small scale i.e. ourselves.  We must return to the First Love.  After that we must focus on our family and bringing about revival in our family.  It is a building process.  This is the key to revival.
     We, the individual, must come clean before the Lord.  We must confess our sins.  We must remember where we came from. We must personally revive.  Then we can move onto bigger things.  This should be our prayer.

IM BACK

wow! long time, no post!  It has been such a busy summer that i have found little to no free time to post on the blog.  But i must offer an apology: i said that my complete African journey would be up here in "the following weeks after my return"  but as it is not hard to see, there has been absolutely no posts in almost a month.  But no worries!  I am to return to my regular blog posts asap!  (inluding one tonight)  I am afraid though that my whole summer will not be able to be described in the way that i wish to describe it.  I will certainly try my best!  Thank you to all my readers!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

African Adventures

over the next few days i will be posting my journal entrys and adding to them explaining what God has done on this trip.  It has been such a blessing to be able to go.  Stay tuned for more updates! God bless!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lost in Words

Last night i noticed something very disturbing about myself:  When i get upset i throw myself into biblical studies.  Most people would say that this is a good thing but last night God showed me differently.  When i throw myself into scripture in this way i study no longer to know God, but to understand Him.  In my attempts to count the stars i lose who i am, what i was, and what we had. 
       This is dangerous on a lot of levels.  First of all no man can ever understand God or the way in which He works.  There is a fine line that one must not cross when studying God and theology.  Theology should be studied so one can come to know God better.  Intimately and personally.  One should study theology as a man studies the woman he loves: The way she walks, talks, acts, and looks.  The danger comes when one loses sight of the love that he holds for Christ and is thrust into studying for his own desires.  He then studies to understand so that he may profit.  His studies are for his understanding and not for his relationship.  This is seen in Romans 1:
"21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. "   Man thought he had become wise in his view of God... and if you read on in Romans 1 you will see the outcome:  God gave them over to their wisdom which meant that they fell deeper and deeper into sin. 
      It is human nature for a man to want to understand.  As a young boy i would take apart computers, electronics, and even my kids meal toys to try and figure out what is going on inside.  After that i would attempt to put them back together but i never was able to.  But when we apply this desire for understanding to God it leads us into a troubling place. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  Man, who is systemic, has tried to break down, take apart, and understand God.  This has led to unbelief.  Anything man could not take apart, anything he could not understand, anything he could not hold was deemed as non-existent.  And because of this man  became his own god.  He created things that he could no longer control, like the atomic bomb and nuclear warfare.  He set his own idea of a moral slandered such as abortion and homosexuality.  He "purified" the ideas such as removing the ten commandments and separating church and state.  He became God....
 
      This is the danger i am faced with.  when i seek to understand and not to grow these will be my(our) consequences.  We as a the body of Christ must return to seeking after God and not understanding Him.  We are not designed for such things... 
         More and more lately i see this taking root.  within the Christian realm Christians argue doctrine, theology and beliefs.  This not only tears the church apart but it turns our focus onto the laws and this is the exact thing that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for.   It is no longer love that people hold but it is the law and this is the direct result of studying to understand.  If the body of Christ is to function in love we must rid ourselves of this disease and start fresh.  We must learn to love God and then love people.  With this the law was fulfilled and with this our duty will be fulfilled.