Friday, April 24, 2015

Empires of Dirt

You know that Johnny cash cover of the Nine inch nails song, Hurt? There is that one line that stands out to me every time I hear it and it rings a little louder then all the rest

" you could have it, all My empire of dirt, I will let you down, I will make you hurt"

I had a conversation with a brother recently about the subject of vanity and ego. Perhaps I am not the man to be writing about this because I know sometimes I probably come across as egocentric. In myself I generally see that more as a long running joke than anything else because it is somewhat contrary to my efforts to be less of "me" and more godly. I fully acknowledge that there are days, sometimes weeks, Hell, even months where my efforts are less than emphatic... or... evident.
Pride is the drug that is killing the young, and apathy the old. Ego propels men to be hustlers for that money to get them rims and all those hunnys. ... I honestly didn't intend for that to rhyme, I just got half way through the sentence and went with it.  I digress.  

He said "The ego is there for a reason , yes i know money is vanity, but people tend to listen to successful people more than broke people, yes it can lead you astray from the word, unless you do everything through him, so I'm saying the confidence and all that i have is going to make me become successful, i want to speak in front of thousands of people and share the wisdom of the word. I'm saying all of that correlates with confidence and thats whats going to strongly impact my success, if its his will. my success will bring audiences."

"“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."- Matt 19:21
"it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."- Matt 19:2
"Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." - Matt 23:10-12

Hard work is great, and I already shared with my friend in previous conversations 1 Tim 6:7-11

" For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness."

However,  what was seeing him say is that you need ego and image to amass an audience so you can preach the gospel but that sounds strongly like compromising the gospels that teaches denial to self, instead  forsaking humility which is the thrust of the word in its entirety.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God" Micah 6:8

Be humble.  Focus fully on God and His ways... doing it his way will bring an audience without the conflicting message of hypocrisy.

Lets look at some of the greatest leaders of all time:

"Then Moses said to the LORD, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."

God made that guy a leader, in HIS way because he was humble.
"Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth."

Anyway back to me.

I can tell you first hand that Francis of Assisi  was right when he said "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." When I was younger I had this mindset, this Take the world by storm mindset that I was going to go out and just gather all the people and pack the churches... we were going to fill the churches and they they were going to hear some scriptures if we get them to the churches and once they hear those scriptures in church, that is what is going to save them. The more churches we fill, the more people get saved, the more our team wins.

I'll remind you that the definition of discernment is differentiating between right, and almost right.
This, was almost right. Because that plan of attack, and salvation for the globe.. in my mind.. It had a lot to do with me, and my strength and my power and what I was going to do for GOD and how holy I was going to be because of all the STUFF that I did for GOD and yeah that is for sure going to punch my heaven ticket... because it was for GOD.
... and it didn't work.
There was a fleshy-ness to my thinking. A carnality.

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.  I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,  for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?" -1 cor 3

When I was of this mindset I had maybe 1-2 people ever come to church with me and they didn't stay because it wasn't right. There was too much of my vanity in the process. Too much of my Ego. I was going to be a badass for Christ and I was going to help get everyone saved and then we were all going to chill in cool chairs like on a stage or something, Jesus and ME and then the crowd of people all looking at me up there in a giant chair that is smaller than Jesus' giant chair...

"“I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another,Nor My praise to graven images."

My empire is dirt.

God, by his mercy, showed me what was going on with me. He showed me that I needed to change and remove the ME
"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

The more I did this, The more I sought less of me, and more of him the more my friends and family could see Him changing my life. They began to hear the message. They began to come to church and they began to see less hypocrites lining the rows and more people genuinely serving one another and not trying to be better than everyone else.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." - Phil 2:3-4

So I'm starting to hear the sound of morning birds outside my window which means that I should probably get to bed.

I'll leave you with this, everyone is building an empire...

 "According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." 1 cor 3

... make sure you're not building on dirt. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Make You Better

Our lives have been comprised of choices and circumstances that have shaped our characters, leading us to right here. Each of us have made decisions and fought battles. Every one of us has reacted poorly to situations or triumphed when the moment came.

We're human.

We're the battle ground between light and darkness.

That is what is on my mind tonight...

Do you know what most unbelievers that I have invited to come to church with me have said?
"God will probably cause me to burst into flames the second I walk through the doors"

I've invited a lot of people to church over the years, ranging from Atheists to Zodiac astrologists. People tend to know that we've sinned, that much is inherent. We know that God exists even when sometimes we don't want to. We know something is broken, and we are guilty.
I've seen many of these people come to church. Some stayed for a few minutes, some stayed for a few years but not one of them ever burst into flames at the wrath of an angry God who could have just as easily had them slip in the shower to break their neck
People have problems, all people, and problems need to be solved.

I was sitting with my brother in our apartment one day as his feet were draped over the loveseat across from the couch. He was distressed and distraught and he stared up at the bumps on the ceiling with a semi-vacant glare. I asked him, " What's wrong? Talk to me about it" He sighed a deep breath and said " That's not how it works. Crap only rolls uphill"  He spoke of it behind a few closed doors to a pastor and he didn't seem to mind me overhearing on the phone what was going on, but he didn't want to tarnish a perception that He had it mostly together. That is what I took away from the exchange. Though we all sin, Though we all suffer, some feel a need to hide it to try and save face or pride or they aren't ready to fully confront it or whatever. I sat there and felt like there was a lesson that I had learned, but it wasn't the one that was being intended.
My brother has gotten past a lot of this in varying degrees as lessons come around and around.

There it is... do you see it? The connection between the two?

 A party that is afraid to set foot in a church because they believe that one must already have won the war against darkness to be be saved... and another that shows that he is not comfortable with the notion that he has sin for how it would appear to people he's deemed in his mind underlings.

Both situations present that the Church is a gallery where people are displayed like art. One thinking he's worthless, and the other afraid of being appraised. The first things that Adam and Eve did was hide because they were ashamed and naked. I've been in churches where people seem to talk about sin as if it were a disease in Africa that is plaguing some poor impoverished people that they should hold a bake sale to raise awareness for.

I don't think I could ever follow a pastor or a church leader that didn't struggle with sin. If they don't struggle with sin, Our Savior struggled with it and I KNOW they're not better than the best.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15

He fought sin and won.  He overcame darkness.  Some churches that I have been a part of do seem to have lost some of this... that a Ministry, is to spread the truth ... not that God hates darkness and you must save yourself from bondage and slavery before the Savior can free you from bondage and slavery...   But that God loves, and the Church loves and will be merciful and tolerant. The message that Sin can be beaten isn't accurately portrayed by a people that seems never acknowledge the battle. A doctor doesn't wait for the patient to die before he begins treatment.

I see it in Messianic circles occasionally. We're weird about sin. We generally hate it so much that we pretend that we're without it. We don't understand why other churches don't get our knowledge...  and it's probably because we don't look normal. We talk about sin as a christian disease, As an unsaved disease, instead of a terminal human condition. We'll hide any sense of transparency to curry favor and the illusion of holiness in order to be entrusted with positions of leadership so that people will know how spiritual we are... .... .. but nobody is getting saved.
Because they cannot relate.
unless they pretend to be something they're not.

In that regard, many unbelievers are more honest in their ignorance.

Can you imagine how short the bible would be without the mention of Sin on behalf of the righteous? How minimal the sacrifice of the Messiah would be if everyone pretended to have it all together.
" Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." - James 5

 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.
We can move in that power.
We can only show that Darkness can be overcome, if we admit that we have struggled against it.
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony..." - Rev 12