Saturday, March 31, 2012

Vagabond.

This started out as a post where I was writing what I see when I look in the mirror.
That is a view that changes from day to day.

I find in it interesting the systems that I see in humanity.

How we need definition.
He need praise, and support. It is vital that we have encouragement and love to succeed.
Many of our achievements are based from the pursuit of these thing, or achieved because of them.

Ideally the believer looks to God for their identity, support, encouragement and love.

Many do a good job of holding to that position.

Others... have troubles.

They start looking at God, for who they are, and then they begin to ask questions like " how am I doing" to other God followers. I have had mixed reviews of the results of that one.

I'm not perfect. I know that may surprise a lot of you, mostly those on facebook whom I almost daily leave a gift of sarcastic quips.

Now  I could sit here and tell you ab out the man I used to be. I used to be so strong, and I used to be so very smart. I used to be fearless and dedicated. I would never give up, and I could tell you the stories about how I was....

...and how I  am not.

In my walk with God I have made a few mistakes here and there. I have said the occasional thing that I didn't mean and there was never anything that couldn't be repaired.

Until there was. There was one sin. One moment of weakness that showed me how strong I thought I was, I wasn't. A sin of definition in the eyes of many.

Suddenly I didn't see myself walking so right with my God. My identity within him seemed to tailspin. This was accentuated by the hands of many in the church I thought as righteous men... Godly men, men I looked to as role models... recoiling their hands.

I tripped up, slipped out, fell down.... and in the darkness, I was alone.

You want to be defined by God alone, but at the same time the enemy can twist the scriptures. Thats how he tempted jesus you know. He used to truth improperly.

As I sat there in the dark...
People chastised me for not being the man that I used to be.

"Where is the fighter that never gives up" they said.
and I told them that he was broken. That he was left for dead. 

As I wrestled back and forth with definition in the dark I was hearing the words of priests asking me if I was a wolf, while their eyes said I was a curse.


I turned to the church so I wouldn't be the monster that I assumed all men become without God.
The hopeless few. Those with hardened hearts, lacking love or compassion.  When the church forged a weapon from it, and killed my with my own mistake...

I bled. I bled for a really long time. 

I bled alone in the darkness, and the darkness became great.




It almost killed me. 



It stripped me down to nothing. As I was alone in the darkness wrestling with the the cost of continuing life, and the pain I would leave others in death it occurred to me that God was innocent.  God wasn't the one that hurt me. Man did. I did. The church helped a great deal.

I've spent the last several months putting pieces back together, and stitching wounds.
I've been focusing on God for identity.

Its funny in a sick way, how when you are looking forward to God, and Just trying to walk with him, you can see SO MANY PEOPLE in the peripheral vision. A lot of them trying to get your attention to tell you how they think their advice would greater benefit your life. 

Trying to stand isn't easy when you do it alone.

Trying to stand is even harder when people are kicking your shins.




We all need love. Most when we fail. 

You'd think as people we would understand. I don't think we love like God. We've got a million reasons why we don't love the ones that need it. And as one that needs it, it breaks my heart.


I'm still working on being put back together. I am not weak, but I am not strong either.
My heart is to do something of meaning. Something that matters.

I am trying to get order. First internally and then externally. I've been living off of the grace of God and that kindness of a friend from highschool for the past several months. 


There is a song that I have been listening to over and over every chance I get. There is a part in it that speaks to me, loudly.



"And in one little moment, it all implodes.This isn't everything you are.  Breathe deeply in the silence, no sudden moves. This isn't everything you are. There is joy not far from here, I know there is. This isn't everything you are. "
"Don't keel over now, Don't keel over. Don't keel over now"

I started this post out about what I see when I look in the mirror.
I thank God that I don't see loved ones, telling me that because I am not doing things their way that I am worth less. I don't see a vagabond, though they aren't shy in telling me I am as such. my heart breaks as  the sounds hit my ears, because they don't understand and I can't tell them. 

When I look in the mirror I see a man that is clinging to life and God as best he can.

and I see brokenness.


This isn't everything that I am.
This ISN'T everything that I am.
I am so much more.

This isn't everything you are. 

Twinzies.

Sometimes I have nights where I sit here looking at the white screen and I know that I can't sleep because there is something on my heart that I have to get on "paper"'

This is one of those nights where I have to write something and I just don't know what.

I had a long conversation with a  friend of mine today about various things, and one of the things they brought up was the fact that they read and appreciated my most titled Non-consensual evangelism.

He shared about how he has an atheist friend who has this mentality that he has to always prove how smart he is. He prides himself on his intellect and how he feels that he is doing the world a service by saving them from their fairy tale illusions of a real god.  He touts his beliefs not for the sake of the education of a person but for the reward that he reaps in the self justification.

Then it struck me how many people in the church are exactly the same way.  I know I touched on it in the post, but I found it interesting the parallel.

I have this christian friend who has this mentality that he has to always prove how wrong everyone else is. He prides himself on his knowledge of the scriptures and how he feels that he is saving the world by forcing the word on people and shattering their lies. He touts his beliefs, not for the sake of the perishing, but for the boasting of his works in the kingdom of God.


Person one, and person two might as well be the same person because they have the same kind of spirit. They love to argue to prove how smart they are. They love to rant about how religion has it wrong and how science  disproved an age old claim of faith. They love to rant about how science has it wrong and religion has upheld things that science has backtracked over.


Here is the kicker on that...


An atheist in a sense puts himself in a position of God by denying a higher power or any need to submit to one.

This christian puts them self in a position like God, by not loving as Christ loved, not loving enemies, and championed their will for God, instead of what God has willed for them.


Atheist says I am the captain of my own destiny.
 This christian says, Only God is above me. ....which is contrast to humility.


I wonder if this is what it means to be a tare amongst the wheat.
To have a form of godliness but a denial of the power.

I think the whole us, them, mentality is one of the current snares of modern day protestant theology.

Who do you serve?
Do you serve God?
Or do you serve yourself in the name of God?

Christ said the greatest amongst you is the least. That is the quiet one whom is serving others. Loving others. Forgiving others. That is what I think. 




Friday, March 30, 2012

Food and the Anti-Christ Pt 3


This is part 3 of 4 on the study of  Food and the Anti-Christ.
If you missed parts one  and two they can be found here... Link to part 1   and here.... Link to part 2

Again, I want to clarify that this his how I see the scriptures making sense to me.
Read it, pray about it, and if God leads you, take it to heart. If not, keep calm and carry on.

Alright. Most people know Paul.  Paul was a super zealous murder who killed followers of Jesus because he saw them as blasphemers. After he repented and spent the following 3 years learning how his doctrine wasn't lining up with the truth, Paul started writing letters to everyone.

Paul wrote a lot of letters.

Now most people have a major heart for the writings of Paul. They consider him super righteous. Extra godly. Paul is righteous and Godly. I dunno how much more or less than anyone else in scripture ( except Jesus, he wins, and Maybe John the baptist, because Jesus said he came in number 2. Or possibly elijah.... you know what it doesn't matter)

In this post I am going to be drawing some parallels for context, building off of the last two posts in this series. In this post The main bodies that I am going to be drawing off are Romans 14 and passages of Danial that I believe shed light on Paul's words for clarifications.




Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.  One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.


- Romans. 14



This is a passage that many believers take  to the interpretation that Paul is saying that we, as believers are now free to eat whatever we want, and that nobody is to hold us to any standard in regards to any specific day or about eating.



I'm going to break down what I believe Paul to be saying here in a second but I want to shed some light on something. In scripture, there is a passage that defines the characteristics of the Anti-Christ.This is Danial chapter 7 and speaking of the Anti Christ, and not to alarm anyone it says this:

He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 26 But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.


The Most High is God. The highest one, to my understanding is Jesus.  So, the one who is in opposition to the Most high and Jesus is speaking out against them, and trying to change God's law and the appointed times that God set forth.

Paul make a reference to this passage
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3 )
 

God didn't speak out against himself and change his word. Jesus didn't speak out and change Gods word.

And when I read this passage in Romans, I really don't believe that Paul was saying to don't worry about eating the things that God said not to eat.  God gave his Law for the benefit of man, to live like Jesus. Jesus saved us through his grace and he calls us to repentance, and repentance is to turn from sin. Now what is sin you ask?

1 John 3:4 
Everyone who practices sin, practices Lawlessness. Sin is Lawlessness.

 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3 )
 


I don't believe that Paul is the Anti-christ. I do not believe that he is teaching the practice of the Anti-christ. I don't beleive that Paul was speaking out contrary to God's word. So it beckons the question, What do I think Paul is really saying in Romans 14?

IN the highlighted context Paul talks about the weak in the faith eating only veggies, and the rest eating whatever ( I think whatever was in the guidelines of what God has said is food)

Consider the following passage from Daniel chapter 1

8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, 10 and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” 11 But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

 14 So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. 16 So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables.
 17 As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of  visions and dreams.


18 Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service. 20 As for every matter of  wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.



You got Danny boy here and he says that he wants to go vegan. He doesn't want the kings food, He wants to go healthy choice. Because of his heart and desire to be set apart, God gives him and his crew a blessing of wisdom and knowledge. God made them smarter.  Now, this wasn't because they were eating veggies, this is because they wanted to be set apart from all the others unto God.

Paul writes about a believer who is weak in the faith eating only vegetables. Now this is speculation on my part, but maybe they were looking at this passage and seeing some special benefit, some sort of Godly edge, being holier based on what you eat.
I can see how those people would be called weaker in the faith because they are looking at the word of God with a man's perspective, thinking that there is some sort of formula that based on their own works and choices they can obtain special wisdom and intellect or see visions.Paul says to accept this guy, but don't pass judgement on him. Perhaps their is something to be said for wanting the things of God.

But to everyone else, chowing down on cheese burgers, which God's word has no problem with... There isn't a conflict. It doesn't make you less holy. You are eating and giving thanks for his provision, and in obedience eating the things that he said were acceptable.
Paul says in the passage, who are you judge the servant of another?
That really sounds like he is talking about the passage in Danial, where you had two kinds of servants.

" One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind."


One day above another for what???

I have heard that people think that this passage is talking about things like keeping the Sabbath or something.  Some have said I keep it Monday, instead of Saturday. I can write an entire post on the sabbath ( or 70) but I just wanted to touch on it briefly in this context.

God's word states that the sabbath is an appointed time. God's appointed time. It is the fourth commandment and it is the longest one for some reason. God put it in place as a time for him and His People. He tells us that we should set it apart as holy.

Now, If we read what Paul is saying, " One person regards one day, and another regards every day alike" How does that fit into what God commanded when he stated that the Sabbath was to be Set apart? God tells us how to care for it, and how delightful it is. How we cease from our control and going our own way. We relinquish our authority.How are you setting aside the sabbath as holy and set apart if you are treating every day the same?

I've gotta ask how we can do all that, while changing the appointed time of God?

Think about it.

Building on the precepts outlined in the last two posts, Paul states that we are saved by faith and that faith results in keeping Gods commands.

 Romans 3:28-31
 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.
 31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

 We are still saying that man is justified by faith, Jew and Gentile alike, not the law. Both Jew and Gentile are justified by faith.  Because we are justified by faith, does that mean we stop keeping the commands of God? May it never be. No, Because we are saved by faith in Jesus, We establish the commands of God.  We live them

If we are establishing the Law of God as a response to faith, doesn't that mean that we are keeping what God has said in regards to what isn't food, and keeping the 4th commandment?

In the next post I will touch on Colossians 2. and wrap up this behemoth of a post.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Food and the Anti-Christ pt.2.

This is the second of a four part series.
The first post should be right below this one, and If I remember when this posts ...well, posts, I will include a link here  Link

but will probably forget (no really, I remembered Go me!!!)

After reading about the passage in mark, and Jesus rebuking people for setting aside the commands of God... Many people then ask about Peter and his vision. HE had this vision from God where God lowered a sheet down and on the sheet there was all these animals... You know what, I'm just gonna post it so we can walk through it together. ( or you can read it yourself in Acts 10)

GIANT CHUNK OF SCRIPTURE WARNING ( you don't want to read it, skip ahead to the part where it says, start reading here again)(...why  does a big chunk of scripture need a warning?)

1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; 6 he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants, 8 and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
 9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he *saw the sky opened up, and an  object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.
 17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate; 18 and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. 19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” 21 Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” 22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” 23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging


START READING AGAIN

Alright, lets break this down

We have an Italian man, very very righteous because Italians are awesome, and God gives us favor... er.... uh.....

So, we have an Italian man. Not a Jew, but an Italian man Praying to God and serving him.
This man has a vision, and the message was: Call Pete.

Now in verse 10 God is using Peter's heart to show him something not about food, but about righteousness. God is getting to the point with Peter, because Pete had a habit of refusing to eat with Gentiles because he deemed them unclean. We know that this issue came up for peter at least one other place in scripture because Paul tells us that he got in petes face about this in Galations 2:11-13

I can see how a person can look at this part about all these creatures and think that they are food.  I understand how at  a casual glance that it would look like that. In my previous post, I posted the scriptures where God defined what is clean and what is not, in regards to food.
I believe that peter was there for that part in Mark where Jesus kept rebuking men for not following the commands of God. If that part was God changing his mind and now making everything food, I think that peter would have heard it. If that were the case, perhaps he wouldn't have hesitated to chow down on some creepy crawlers. ( the thought of that turns my guts by the way)  But he protest. He reminds God of what his word says. It's interesting that Peter never killed and ate anything. He could have eaten a deer which is by God's standard food. Food wasn't the point here, the heart was the point.

Now the parallel here to Mark is interesting.  In both of these passages, we are seeing someone call something God has said is clean, not clean.  Peter had this holier than you attitude that he got sucked into, and he started setting aside the commands of God for the sake of his own traditions... in this case, not eating with gentiles... and considering them unclean. (peter had a habit of not eating with gentiles, so God uses food to make the connection for him)

This is emphasized in verse 17, after God snatching his weird animal slumber party blanket back into heaven. Peter was perplexed by the vision.  He was confused by the vision. Peter knew that the word of God says not to eat certain things because they aren't food. HE knew that God won't go against his own scripture.

So he was confused and trying to understand the meaning... when the Spirit of God showed him, Lucky for him. The gents show up and ask peter for a house call. He invites them in to hear the story on how they were sent.

MOAR SCRIPTURE YAY!!! (no really, get excited, it's good stuff)

  And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.27 As he talked with him, he entered and *found many people assembled. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.


So Pete comes into a sold out stadium here. He's rocking a packed house and Speaks saying I'm nothing special... why am I here?
 Then he says " you know how its unlawful for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner"
When he says it is unlawful... He's not speaking about God's law. Not the commands of God.
He's talking about the traditions set in place. Then he states clearly the meaning of the vision.
That even though the Jews make that separation, God doesn't.  It wasn't a seminar about how God showed him that SPAM is some how edible. He states clearly the meaning. We're one in the Messiah.

 That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.”  30 Cornelius said, “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, 31 and he *said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
Gentiles Hear Good News
 34 Opening his mouth, Peter said:    “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel,preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 You know of (Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 40God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”





Again Peter states that its about not calling the Gentiles unclean. God didn't call them unclean, men did. Just like in Mark. God didn't call bread unclean, Men did. Everyone who believes in his name receives forgiveness of sins.  Everyone. YEAH BUDDY!!!

Go on, get excited. I'll wait..


... go on.

ok.

Then what happens next:

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. 


Nothing about animals. Nothing about eating spiders or owls. God said it was gross.
All of this passage is about the fact that God likes Italians just as much as Jews. God loves all the races, because when they are his people, they are HIS PEOPLE. HIS PEOPLE are cleaned.
HIS PEOPLE have had their sins forgiven. His PEOPLE, all of them, of Jewish decent by birth or not, had the spirit of God poured out on them.

Peter had been guilty of putting down God's people based on race. Pete had a touch of the racism.

After all of that, what was next for Peter?
Did he go out an proclaim that God changed his mind about eating shrimp cocktail?

Chapter 11. The retelling of the events to his crew.

1 Now the apostles andthe brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, 6 and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ 10 This happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. 11 And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings.These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; 14 and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 And as I began to speak,the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” 

Having heard the entire story they didn't  get up and say "God has Made  ham food now."
They Glorified God, and quieted the grumblings that said that a man of Stature, a Jew, isn't to associate with a lowlife commoner unclean Gentile.  They Praised God for the life of the gentiles.


God spoke to Peter in a language that would make the loudest point. 


Turkey bacon is better anyway.

in the next Blog, I will talk about Romans 14, Paul, Daniel and the Anti-Christ.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Food and the Anti-Christ. pt .1


In this one I am going heavy on the scriptures. So if the bible bores you and you don't want to look stuff up in bible gateway to check my work, you may want to pass on this one.  This is a study where I lay some things out for the consideration of God's people. Now I don't claim to be scholar of any sort. In fact I have often touted that I am just some jerk with a bible and a belief.
Read it. Think about it. Pray about it.... and if you believe that it is wrong, then go as the Lord our God may lead you.  If you wish to discuss this, in honesty and humility, I will be more than happy to indulge discussion. For sake of digestibility (heh because it is about food) I have broken this into a 4 part blog.

Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.

This post is mostly about food.

Recently I have been out and about with friends who are believers at various eateries and they notices when I say that I don't eat certain things. Pretty much every time I say no bacon, I get a look like I have some how betrayed my country as an American or I am looked on with bewilderment. "You don't eat bacon?" they ask. " I do not. Nor do I eat pork or shellfish or owl or snake and what not"   From that point some curious few will ask why, and I will explain what brought me to my convictions from the scriptures. Others, however, often appear to have a preconceived notion of why I don't do something and some how see it as me not having knowledge of what the bible says and how we have liberty to eat what ever it is that we want.

Sometimes they'll say, "We're under grace, what you are talking about is being under the law" and much like Vizzini from the princess bride, I do not think that means what they think it means.

Let me ask this question:  Why do you obey God?

Do you follow God to be saved
or
Do you follow God because you are saved

When God saved me I was steeped in sin. A various cocktail of it, and I was chugging away. He took a hold of me and cleaned me up. HE said walk with me. Live this way. I'm going to help you, and when you fall, my grace and mercy will cover you while you get back up and keep walking.

There is an entire long long long blog on how the Law teaches us how to live like Jesus, but that will be written at a later date. I now want to get back to my point.

There are pretty much 4 spots that the believer goes to to show from a biblical text How they believe that it doesn't matter what you eat... period. I understand how that might look like that if you isolate certain texts. I will be happy to provide the texts here, and I will show why I do not think they mean we commonly think that they do. I will also provide the proof texts for harmony of scripture ( that I believe fits. )

The four passages are
Mark 7 ( Jesus made all foods clean)
Acts 10 ( peters vision of all the animals)
Romans 14 ( one weaker eats, and let no man regard you about days)
Colossians 2 ( let no one judge about food or sabbath) 

In this first Post, I am going to talk about this passage in mark, as I promised in a previous post I would discuss that.

This is the text as it reads in the NASB on bible gateway.  I am going to take the liberty of underlining a few points of emphasis.

1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes *asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” 6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
   ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
7 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.
   8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
 9 He was also saying to them, You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.
 14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]  17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He *said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”




Ok, So what is going on here?

Jesus rebuked people for setting aside of the commands of God for their own way.
He then goes on to rebuke them for setting aside the commands of God.
After that, there is more rebukes for setting aside the commands of God.

From just that, I would think that we are not to set asides the commands of God right? He really seemed to drive that point home.


Then he starts talking about the heart.

"Your heart is far from me. "

he gives an example of how they set aside the command to honor your mother and father, for sake of their own tradition.... because he rebuked them.


Now he goes into this discussion about how it isn't what goes into you that defiles you, it is what comes out of your heart.

In another post I touched on the sin in the garden, and how every sin since then has really been the same sin in differing subtexts. The sin of disobedience.
God said don't eat of this tree.  They ate anyway. It wasn't the fruit that killed them ( in my opinion) it was the choice to do something contrary to what God had commanded.

Here, the Pharisees come to Jesus and his crew with a sense of self-righteousness, and pride. They say, Do the things that we are doing, and their actions were equating traditions as being on equal or greater par than what what God had set for the standard.  That is kinda a really big deal, to equate your words and ways and wisdom as being equivalent to the creator of the universe. But they were... and they wanted people to follow their ways as equal.
Jesus points out how this is what is defiling them. Rejecting God's way for theirs.

Now, let me touch on that parenthetical part about Jesus making all foods clean. There are a few points I want to make on this. First, is that that part is commentary by the translator, and is not in fact, scripture. The King James version ( old school) doesn't have that part where they added to the word of God. ( I read a scripture about doing that, and long story short, we shouldn't do that. )

Why does that matter? I'm glad you asked, in your mind... don't pretend like you didn't.

In today's age there are tons of things that we eat and assume they are food. We can see from scripture that God wants our hearts, and he wants them completely right?  He wants involvement in our lives. He cares about our money. He cares about our modesty in how we dress. He cares about us being set apart to him right?  I believe that he cares about what we are eating.

take a look at this passage: ( warning GIANT CHUNK OF SCRIPTURE ... Its leviticus 11, if you wanna read it later, Just jump down to the big bold letters that say START READING HERE AGAIN)

Leviticus 11.
1 The LORD spoke again to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth. 3 Whatever divides a hoof, thus making split hoofs, and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat. 4 Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these, among those which chew the cud, or among those which divide the hoof: the camel, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you. 5 Likewise, the shaphan, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you; 6 the]rabbit also, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you; 7 and the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you. 8 You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.

( interjection here... Isn't intresting that when Jesus cast out the Demons, not only did they go into pigs that are not to be eaten... but those pigs ran into the ocean and drown themselves thus making so nobody had to touch their dead pig guts)

 9 ‘These you may eat, whatever is in the water: all that have fins and scales, those in the water, in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. 10 But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you, 11 and they shall be abhorrent to you; you may not eat of their flesh, and their carcasses you shall detest. 12 Whatever in the water does not have fins and scales is abhorrent to you. (even the floating bodies of demon pigs)


It keeps going on like that for the rest of the chapter.... so, if you want to read it, please do.



START READING HERE AGAIN



So, from God's mouth he tells us that there are things that ARE food, and there are things that AREN'T food. Somethings are DETESTABLE. The book of Isaiah is a book of prophecy and one in particular caught my eye about what is coming, right before God makes the New heaven and New earth ( which I think CNN would have covered had that happened yet... I could be wrong, they are a little shade on the T.V. )

15 For behold, the LORD will come in fire  And His chariots like the whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury, , And His rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For the LORD will execute judgment by fire
And by His sword on all flesh,
And those slain by the LORD will be many.
17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center,
Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice,
Will come to an end altogether,” declares the LORD
.



So What about Jesus back in Mark 7. Is he teaching people not to listen to God's word in Leviticus 11?  I do not believe that Jesus was a hypocrite. I really don't. I don't think he rebuked not keeping the commands of God and then didn't follow the commands of God.
I really don't think that he asked us to live like him, the way he does what the father does... and then doesn't do as the father.  I just don't think that is how it went
Is Jesus telling us to act like those whom are to be destroyed by God for ... well.. to put it plainly... setting aside the commands of God, and going their own way.  being sanctified to things they chose instead of God

This is what it means to sanctify :

To give social or moral sanction to.
To set apart for sacred use; consecrate.
To make productive of holiness or spiritual blessing.

Do we have the authority to change what God has said? I personally don't think we do.
Do we have the authority to say what is clean and unclean? What is holy and what is not holy?


I honestly don't think that we do.

I do not believe that God screwed up and then sent his son to fix it.God knows what he is doing better than I do.I can't break his command and still be in submission to that very command.

I could be wrong. I have been wrong in my view of scripture before... and I doubt that was the last time. I'm so grateful for Jesus grace and mercy when I am, and I rely on it as He is molding me into His image.

I wrote all this not to scare anyone, I don't want you to freak out and think that I am saying that you are going to hell for eating bacon... because nowhere in this post do I believe I said anything like that.

In the next post I will be addressing Peter's vision regarding food, so bear with me. After that I will get to Paul.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Apathists.

I've been a part of three sets of faiths thus far in my life. They have all ascribed to the God of the Bible so that never changed too much, really the separation is in the details. I started in apathy. I believed that there was God. not just any God, but I have always believed in the christian God. I believed, but as  many Christians, I didn't know much about him or really care to. Life was life, and I didn't have much of a drive to investigate the need of God, or who He is.  As time went on and my world shook, and cracked, broke and crumbled down bit by bit.

I don't know... I'm pretty sure none of that had to do with what I was thinking about.

I was thinking about love.

All the facets that pertain to such a vast and formless idea.
Love is something sought after and coveted by every single person ( and probably animal) that has graced God's (relatively) green earth.

I was going somewhere in that into. After apathy I transitioned into full blown Christianity. There I sought out God.
Who was this author of love. Who was this one who placed the longing for it into man? What does love look like.
I spent a long time on that subject. What does it mean to love God, and what does it mean to love each other?
And what about things like Grace, and Mercy. These were the most exemplary tools of love that I could fathom. In my days as an apathist  I saw a lot of ugliness. A lot of it perpetuated by my own selfish fallen nature. This mercy and grace in regards to how God loves us was revolutionary to who I was. It was so... not petty. It was too good. It was ... better than fresh baked cookies, or clean laundry... better than puppies and sunshine. This stuff is real.  God loves a broken people.

I should stop now, because the rest of the words that I throw down on the page will all be pointing back to that point.

I think there is a huge deficiency of love in this world.
I think that we as a people ( I'm referring in greatest part to believers here )  suck at the loving part. I think we suck at loving God, and I know we suck a tremendous deal at loving others. We definitely do not love them as we love ourselves ( on a greater scale ) As a Christian, I knew that much of the thrust of Christianity was to love like Jesus. Love like the savior... love because you were loved.  Reach people because he reached out for you. Sacrifice because you were sacrificed for.  That was the message.  That was the mission.
A lot of the people do this.

why would someone leave that place?

I started really reading and trying to understand the bible. I know that isn't a popular concept beyond the guidelines of  pastoral sheltering.  It is their job to study the bible. They get paid to do it. They should know it through and through right. We pay them to help us not get our doctrine out of line. They help keep us within the guides of faith, because lets face it... the bible is a weapon and in untrained hands, a person can hurt themselves with it.

But...   who is making sure that these guys are teaching the right things?  Who is reading their bibles enough to really provide checks and balances in the scriptures? Who is making sure that doctrine is lining up with the biblical text? I had questions about why we did things or didn't do things This caused me to scour the scriptures. This lit a fire under me to know the word of God. And I did. This lead me to the Messianic movement.

The greater collective of the Messianic movement is a group of "Former" Christians, who really began to study the bible and felt a sense of betrayal when the doctrine that they had been fed was not as biblically sound as they once believed. These people ascribe to the belief that once you are saved, as a response to salvation, a person should follow as many of the commands of God as they are able to. They say this because they want to stop sinning.
That is a noble and worthy aspiration, as we are commanded to be holy.
I wonder though if to rid ourselves of sin is the right motive for adherence to the commands of God. What is the focus of the Torah? Isn't it to point to the messiah? What did the Messiah do ( aside from die for the sins of all men). He loved. He loved people and He loved God.We are called to do this same thing.  This is a command that is touted and repeated throughout Messianic communities and congregations pretty much weekly.

Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.

I hate to sound like a pessimist... I really really do... but, I have to say in all honesty, standing in the Messianic movement, we suck the most at this. I find that such a curious thing. In our haste to surrender everything from system that we came from because of broken doctrine, have we thrown out love too? I mean, sure we talk a big game about love one another... but what is love without sacrifice? I've said it before and I presume that my voice comes across as a needy child... but I see something greatly missing.

God loves a broken people.  Why is that so difficult for us? It would appear that as we started following commands, and purging sin from our lives... we see the sin and " paganism" in everything and we just " can't" love those people. Not in those places. not as they are. Our actions speak the loudest when they say, Clean everything that you are, and become perfect, and then I will love you.  Personally I don't see that as a representation of the love of God. I sin. I'm not even going to try and pretend that I don't. If any of you reading this are really honest with yourselves, i think you will come to that same conclusion.  What was I like before God found me, and started cleaning me up and changing my life through his spirit? I was an ugly hearted good for nothing petty manipulative angry beast steeped in greed and malice. God spoke into my life and he said, walk with me.

Walk with me.

He didn't say, when you get your crap together, then meet me at the destination. He said come with me. He loved me as I am. he accepted me. he loved me. he probably looked forward to where i am now and saw how much of who I was is now dead, and as he looks forward to the future sees how much of who I am now will be gone.

So why can't we as believers see that in people? Why is it that we have such a difficult time loving broken people?
We're broken. I think that if we are honest, we'll admit that too. IS it because we get so hung up trying to pretend that we are not broken? That we don't sin? Are we  consumed with the appearance of holiness and the illusion that we have it together?  Why? Are we selling a faith?

Are we selling a lie?

Sure faith is rewarding. Absolutely it is life more abundantly. Yet it is also a life that guarantees suffering and strife.
I wonder honestly how many of us are still secret apathists, when it comes to the application of God's love.
Are we afraid to be vulnerable? To share with a brother your burdens and your shortcomings, in a sense, is to allow them knowledge of your shame. Maybe that is something. We don't trust each other. how can we love those outside the church, when we have difficulty trusting those within it? When we have difficulty loving those in it?


I feel like I see stuff that, I assume everyone else sees but they don't want to talk about.
If out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, then is the silent mouth a stingy heart? is it lacking? Is it lacking love, is it lacking care?

Are we too silent?

Are we too silent on behalf of others?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Losers

It is four o'clock on a Wednesday morning and I am sitting here listening to Enya on my ipod thinking about the subject matter of this post. After playing far more Tetris Battle on facebook than I would ever really like to admit to the public, I thought that I should get these thoughts down because ideas never keep until morning.

How perfect an intro that  is on a post about being a loser. 

Tonight  ( or yesterday ) I was at a bible study with a riotous crowd of two ( myself included) and "the group" compiled some things that I have had rolling around in the back of my mind for a little bit. ( thanks Scott)

We're funny people in the church in the sense that we're called out of the world, but still we struggle to fit the world within our theology or philosophy or faith.  In my head I see a pyramid, as best as I can describe it, that represents who we want to be.  At the bottom you have all your blue collar drones slinging burgers or washing windows and the higher up you go, the more you seem to have it all together. Up near the top you got your suits in the penthouse that drive cars that have hood ornaments that cost more than a black market kidney. Everyone on the bottom wants to be up higher. They want the image. The money. The status.

They want to have it all together.


Then we come into faith.  We are called out of the world to be set apart. We call on God for salvation and then what?

More often than not, we keep that mindset that we had about the world. We want to play the game of holiness. At the bottom of the pyramid here are the people with all kinds of problems in their life. Maybe new Christians and what not. These guys make up the lower rung and the higher you go up the pyramid you get to the veteran church goer that has things together. Faith to this guy seems like a reflex. Then at the top is the pastor. This guy is a spiritual power house who has all the answers.  in our minds we think this guy just prays and read the bible all day and he has the spiritual Bat Signal to God. We want to be this guy because everyone comes to him for advice. They wanna spend time with him so that they might catch holy... Or that if maybe this guy sees how good we are, we can feel better about ourselves.


I laughed out loud at several points when I wrote that paragraph. I laughed because I used to think that stuff. I didn't see it for what it was at the time, but in retrospection this is it in its simplest form.  We hate being on the bottom rung because bottom rung guys are all grunts. Nobody want to be the grunt. Grunts are losers.

Now I've been in the church for a while and I tell you the only reason I could see all this is because I did it all wrong. I wanted to be on top and I fought to get there and I boasted about how much better I could do it and blah blah blah blaaaah blah. When I got into a position of authority, God showed me something. Something so basic. Something so simple.

What it means to lead, is to lose everything for those that follow. 

I used to see it, again like a pyramid... where you had the church at the bottom, then the staff, then the pastor and above the pastor is God.

Its actually backwards.  It's God, then the pastor, and then the staff, and then the church.
You lead from the bottom. It isn't glamorous. It isn't glorious. It isn't the fancy suits.
It isn't about being in command, its about taking orders.  It is about helping people out of there afflictions, or laying down and suffering with them if you can't. Helping to carry another's burden.  It wasn't until I saw this  that I finally REALLY understood the scripture that says
"who ever seeks to save his life will lose it, who ever loses his life for my sake will gain it"

If we are pushing our way up that pyramid because we want more comfort... then we are all focused on us, Not him, and certainly not his kingdom.

It wasn't until this moment that I realized the shepherding metaphors were speaking of this.

The shepheard that looks after his flock doesn't get out in front and say " All right, everyone, eyes here. I got this. look at me. I am now going to walk. Everyone walk like me. Single file. Lets go. "

He leads from behind them, stepping in the crap. 

When I thought I had it all together is when I realize how proud I was. How off I was.  I realized how much I needed to lose.  I'm still daily trying to process what I need to leave behind, and go out and serve.

We have a tendency to look at the people in the bible like they are super heroes of faith. Like these guys are famous because they never sinned. They all have sparking resumes and you should trust them all with your daughters. We want to be remembered like that. Immortalized in some sort of legend where some courageous act of faith took place, or there was an astounding miracle because of how good we are or how much holier we appear. We look at these people and we think to ourselves that we have to hide our sins so that we might measure up to them.... the irony is that we don't read their stories and see that we're right there with them.

Look at David. The guy is rolling the A list celeb. status in his day as people are singing about how he's killed hundreds of thousands.  Then God takes him on a jungle safari so that he doesn't die at the hands of a jealous king who wants to be top dawg. David refuses to take him on. Yadda yadda yadda, Then there is balance to the force, God makes Dave klng, and he goes for the women (granted it was one woman, but the point stands). Later His son thinks he's got it all together. That he's the man now. Figures Who better to be king that himself. Gotta be top of that pyramid. That didn't end well for him. Spoiler alert... Absolom died.

I can't help but think about how Jesus said " The greatest amongst you is the least."

Then there is Paul. Think about this guy. He's all Harvard of Hebrew school, top of his game. Hebrew of Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin. Hasn't done a single thing against the Law of God or the oral traditions....  .... ... except for the part where he was murdering people.
.... approvingly.  If that doesn't sound like C.E.O. Material I don't know what does.
So God Mag lights his eyes  and he's blind. He comes to the knowledge that even though he's got it all together, he doesn't really have squat. He decides to become a loser and spends the the next three years learning how all those people he's been killing for his belief of them violating God's commands, was really a major misnomer on his part.*  He gives up his life and starts serving. He loses himself.
Samson. Big dog, forgets God, remembers God and loses his life for him. Loser.

Abraham, Loser.

Moses. Loser.

We want huge things in our lives... but we try and make it happen.
We want miracles, but for all the wrong reasons. We ask for them not for His Glory and purpose... We ask for them so that we can run and tell all our church friends about it.
Not all the time, but a lot of the time.
We want God to move, and do something mighty , but we refuse to let him do it. We don't want to tarnish our image. We don't want others to think we aren't cool. We don't want to look crazy. we don't want to look hyper spiritual. We don't want to this. we don't want to that. We don't want.
We.

We are the problem. not part of the solution.


Lose the image you are going for.
Lose the pride.
Lose the fear.
Lose the greed.
Lose the iron grip you have on steering your life
Lose it all....

... and Gain a better understanding of God.
... and Gain a greater love for your fellow man.
... and Gain humility.
... and Gain a refreshing perspective.
....and Gain a sense of identity in God.


Be a loser.





*This part make me think of the I. R. S. for some reason, but seeing as how its now 5 in the morning, i didn't feel like retooling the joke.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Non-Consensual Evangelism

In this post, it isn't my objective to offend anyone with the comparison that I am about to make, but it is my hope to raise awareness of subject that every believer should take to heart.
The comparison is in no way meant to diminish the trauma or anguish one has experienced.
Reader discretion is advised.
-


I'm sitting here and I am trying to think of how to say what I feel like I need to say. I have the message in mind but it isn't something that I can say carelessly. What I really want is for believers to see is the gravity of their actions of the eternal spectrum, and not take it lightly.
If you know me you know that evangelism and being there for people is a significant part of my life. In the life of the believer we are called to share our faith. We are called to let people know the good news that there is redemption from sin and we can have new life, abundantly.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently about the subject of faith. He was telling me about a guy at his job who was so... lets say zealous, to get other people to know about his faith that he wouldn't let up on it. He would push it on people. He wouldn't listen to what they had to say because as they were speaking he was too busy trying to talk over them in order to push his faith harder upon them.

I see this as very wrong.

In a lot of churches we have this mentality that we have to go out and save the world. We pride ourselves on what we do for the kingdom.  "I went out to the street corner with a bull horn and yelled a message to 500 people about how evil they are and how they are going to hell, then 2 came up our of fear and wanted to know how to escape it."

The kingdom of God is built upon relationships.


Take a moment and think about this comparison.

The first command given to man is to be fruitful and multiply. God tells Adam to go "have relations" with his wife.  This is a good and righteous thing.
We know that when two people are married, That there is that intimacy. There is that relationship.  After they have gotten to know each other and spent time together, THEN they into a covenant, that they both have agreed to.


What is the opposite of this?

Rape. It's defined as :
"the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse."

Rape is such an ugly word, with such a horrible definition, that I almost didn't write this post. However I am compelled for the sake of the kingdom to continue. You may be asking what rape has to do with evangelism and I am working to make that point. AS you go out to share your faith, keep in mind that you have a relationship with God. Through his seeking you, you sought him, you connected and you accepted him, thus you walk together.

He didn't force himself on anyone.
when you are sharing your faith, your heart needs to be treating the event like a courtship. Communicating together. Listening to each other. Facing burdens together. Celebrating together.  In this action you will show who ever you are ministering to, what the Savior is in you.  You show them love.  You show them love by showing them how to love.  Just as God did you.  The goal is to share the relationship you have with God, with them, so that they might know the joy and peace of God in their life.

If you goal is anything other than that... Don't even open your mouth.

If we are going out to "evangelize" to make us feel good. TO make us feel like we are bring something to the kingdom. So that we may boast that we saved someone. That we led them to Christ, ... then how much of what we know of the Gospel is really based off of our selfishness instead of  serving GOD?

So often we go out and we run into a person, or maybe we have known them for years, and we push Jesus on them. We tell them how wrong their life is, without ever knowing them.  We tell them how filthy we they are, by our actions. instead of looking at them like people, we objectify them as a means for our own personal gratification.  We force our beliefs on them, and in doing this we do not giving a good demonstration of  God.Check your heart before you do anything "for" God. Look in Matt 7:21-23

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’



Where does that leave the recipient? It leaves them hurt, and broken. Feeling even more distant from God. It leaves them feeling angry. They didn't see His compassion. They only saw your thirst to appear righteous.

It's like rape.

God is big enough to help some people get past it. Sometimes some people heal and forgive.
but they all remember how they felt.  How you made them feel.

If you want to share the word of God with someone, and they don't want it, then shut up. No means no. Do not push.
Pray, and serve them. Be an example of righteous living. Deal with them with compassion and mercy. Be gracious toward them. You aren't going to change their mind. Only God can change their heart. Your job is to be obedient.

When you learn to serve, you learn to be less selfish. When you serve, people listen. People listen because they can see you care. When people know that you care more than anything, then they will be open to hearing what you have to say.

I write all this in wisdom, having failed at this so many times.  I write this in hopes that you can learn from my failures. That you may examine your heart and how you approach people.

Even if you have a genuine love for people, make sure you aren't going about the wrong way.
The wrong way for the right reasons can still be destructive. Pray about it first. Pray pray pray.

remember when the disciples were fishing, doing everything in their power to catch something, anything... and not getting anywhere. It wasn't until they listened to the Messiah and followed what he instructed that they cast their nets on the other side and pulled up the haul.

There isn't anything wrong with sharing faith. We must share our faith in order to grow. We just have got to be sure that when we initiate, they are open to receive it.


Pray then do.
More God, less you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hope and Anguish.

I once saw an add for a pastoral position posted inside a church, that the church I was attending was using while our regular meeting place was otherwise occupied. The note on the wall stated the qualifications that they were looking for was someone with sales experience.

I've always found the notion of selling faith as undesirable. To me, it has always seem manipulative or something. It's like caring more about moving product then it is about the customer. I  have a friend that once made mention about getting into ministry, and the pastor at the time told him that he couldn't until he lost a lot of weight.

I was unaware of the scriptures that state that there was a certain weight prerequisite for ministry.
Modeling, yes. Sales, sure.. some times.  Bringing the good news of a risen Savor to those who are perishing, No.

Who is this Jesus that these people are selling?

I never saw him in a board room or being carried carried off on the shoulders of the team after throwing the winning pass or shooting a 3 pointer at the buzzer.  He didn't dress in Armani suits or drive a range rover.  The Guy I know wasn't after your money, he is after your heart.

He rebuked people for being as white washed tombs, because they had it all together on the outside but inside... they were lacking. Things like compassion. Service. Sacrifice. The elements of love that produce fruit by the spirit.

My Messiah, My Savior, The man that the bible calls Jesus...  scripture says he is the man of sorrows.

He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him.
our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.


How bittersweet. I find it both terrible, sad, and refreshing. I am so grateful that he knows what it feels like to be alone. He knows what it is like to be rejected. To be abandoned by the ones closest to him when he needed them the most. My heart breaks for that, but it also rejoices.

There is hope in the anguish.  We have hope on behalf of his anguish. 

As a representative of faith, proclaiming the risen Messiah, this Savior who suffered and was called an outcast...The guy who didn't fit the image... The man who looked very unremarkable..
AS ambassadors on his behalf..

Why is it that we aren't going to the hurting and the lost and showing that there is one that understands their brokenness because he felt it. There is one that understands.
No, instead, we slick back our hair and demand that man take upon our image. We say walk this way, talk this way, act this way act this  way and then... Then people will see how Godly you are.


I look at this paradigm and I honestly sometimes wonder ... how many of them are closer to God that we in the church.





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Friday, March 16, 2012

Family Business

Take a moment and picture this.

There is a daughter who comes home late. There is her father sitting in the living room waiting for her. They have had the discussions and the conversations a million times about curfew and all of the rules of the house.  The father is frustrated because he knows that out there in the dark there are things that will harm his baby girl.
The girl is grounded by her father breaking what he had set in place in order to protect her.  She look at the rules as stupid and arbitrary. She thinks that her father is trying to impede upon her he freedom and liberty to do what she wants. Her father wants his daughter to stay alive, and be healthy and wise. She gets angry and talks about how unjust it is. How she should be allowed to do what ever it is that she wants. Dad is so unfair. Now she is grounded for two weeks.


Is the father really unfair in asking his kid to listen and follow his instructions?Is it really love and looking out for her well being if he decided to say " you know what, lets have no rules or order at all"? I don't think that would be love. I don't think that would be in the kids best interest.
He just wants her to be alive and safe because he loves and cares for her. Who wouldn't  want that for their child.


Lets say that daughter comes back a little late on that same curfew and sees her dad there and says " dad, I know I broke the rules, I am sorry I feel awful about it. Say the dad says,"Yes you've violated my rules, but I am going to cut you some slack. I am going to forgive you and maybe not ground you this time, but please don't let it happen again"



This parallel is us, and God.

God gave us the house rules.  He gave us his commands. HE has given them because he knows that the darkness is death and his path is the path of righteousness and liberty. Anyone who has walked the line of faith for a period of time knows that sin is only pleasurable for a season. After that, it is an anchor to the soul that feels like such a burden.

We, the people of faith, are that rebellious daughter that looks at the words set up by authority and instead of seeing it as a blessing... we make our excuses talking about how those rules impose on our freedom, when in reality they are freedom.
I'm talking about the Law of God.  We look at it as this huge impossible burden to us that is a hindrance to the thought that we should be able to do whatever feels good or what ever WE think is right.

We are called to know and follow what he has set in place. God didn't remove the rules because their was something wrong with them. He didn't change the plan all of the sudden because what he had said was to difficult. He say listed and obey to what I have set before you and you will live.

We whine like its too hard, like a teenager complaining to their parents.  God's word says his commandments are not too hard. Jesus says they are not burdensome. Where is our hang up?
What parent doesn't want what is best for their child?

God tells us in his word specific things about how to dress, like a father who wouldn't let his daughter leave the house like wearing a specific outfit. God tells us what is food and what is not, like a parent tells their child what is healthy and what is not. God tells us how to love and respect him, like a loving parent would. God's commands tell us how we are to treat one another, like a parent teaches their kid to share and to help people in need thus developing character. We are a reflection of Him, and are called to abide in our fathers house.

Again, it comes right back to the heart.

IS out heart totally about how unfair dad is and how we don't want to do what he says because I'm me and I'm a grown up and I know better and HE should treat ME a certain way, because I know what is good and what is not and who does he think HE is....

OR is our heart different. A heart that says My father knows what is best. My father knows what is good for me and what is not. My father has my best interest in mind. My father has a plan for me. I want to grow up and be like him. I want to follow in his footsteps. I hope that I can be a good example to the family name, and when people look at me they might say something like

"You're just like your dad" .


What a humble blessing that would be in this context.