Saturday, February 28, 2015

SOMETHING GOOD IS GOING ON IN THE CHURCH WORLD!

I give significant attention to church and her surroundings.  What's working?  What isn't?  Who's being blessed?  Who's being run off?  What should we keep that is of God?  What should we discard because it was once a method that served well; but now has bottle-necked growth and maturity?

Basically, people want to know God.  This trend is rising.  And we will want to remember that church isn't god.  But because so many (both in and out of it) believe it is god, abundant confusion and distraction is presented.  Rather than us seeking God that He would keep us moving forward in life, we have reversed the course by trying to keep the church going.

Yet, something seems to be stirring within our complex society; something good and hopeful and life-giving.

It seems the church is awakening to the truth that we have cluttered our own lives (and others) with a repetitious dogma and boring routine while missing the ultra-simplistic nature of Jesus.  There seems to be a breakthrough so significant that it seems as if this is divinely coordinated by God Himself.

For one, the Sunday morning Show Time is being very challenged in a good way.  I don't mean to speak disparagingly; only to point out that for many church members Sunday mornings are a time to show up without realizing that Mondays  and all other days of the week are equally significant to the kingdom style.

To report for Sunday morning duty only has created a community habit that did not come from scriptures.  If not yet, soon we will increasingly note serious discipleship trends where the churches are gathered day in and day out to learn from the simple lifestyle of which Jesus intended.

Remember, Jesus was in constant hot water with the church leaders because he found their abundant thirst for rules to be offensive to the sinner who deeply desired some sort of news that they, too, could be included in authentic life from above.  He stood up for us.  We must applaud him in thanksgiving.

There is a hunger for more meaningful relationship with God within the church.  And such will most naturally spill over with strong attraction to those observing for these, too, are seeking a life of greater meaning.

Too, somewhat of a pruning seems to be arising.  I don't know if it is social gluttony or political disarray or extremist threat, but our lavish appetite for the flesh is gradually being replaced by a genuine hunger for the Spirit.  Self-determination doesn't seem to be in play as much as a calm spiritual calling.

Denominational walls are coming down; not in the name of care-less liberalism, but under the banner of care-full Jesus.  Church leadership of arrogance is yielding to discipleship of humility.  The indifferent are becoming curious.  Individualism is yielding to serving one another as community.

Something good is going on in the church world!  It's exciting.  It's meaningful.  And it's attractive; drawing us to the One who died for all.


Friday, February 27, 2015

SERIOUS CHRISTIANITY

Urgghh!  There's so much to life.  Communications come at us and go from us at the speed of can't-keep-up.  Debt pesters so many.  Aches and pains, others.  Concerns are in constant pursuit of our awake time.

And, then there's God.

What does He have to offer?  Where does He fit in with our maze of hurried boredom and worried waiting?  Is this faith stuff legit?  Or, is it a convenient cover-up which merely communicates that believers don't know how to do life either?

For certain, those who observe us from a distance don't seem to be buying our bark. Why is that?  And, is there anything we can do about it?

The answer is an absolute yes.

There is a trait of Jesus which profoundly advantaged his reach.  He was humble.  He humbled himself on the cross.  He learned to be obedient by the training of the things where he suffered.  He uttered no threats during his torture.  Getting even was never in his heart.  Converting the enemy was.

This, dear one, is serious Christianity.

Humility is the focal point.  Churches, however, have taken on many facets other than this one.  Arrogance, competition, insensitivity; these would begin a staggering list of why our influence has diminished.

Serious Christianity, as did Jesus himself, will take the blame for others' sins.  We will not blame nor will we label.  We will absorb.

Churches are known for programs, for architecture, for doctrinal stances, and/or for evangelistic zeal.  We are not known for that trait of Jesus that is of utmost seriousness; our humility.

So what shall we do?

May we go to work by first admitting this is a glaring problem in Christian circles.  How could we reverse this negative perception which is quite strong up and down our streets; whether we choose to believe it?  It would seem the posture would be simple.

While we yearn to grow in the Spirit of Christ, may we have steady, perpetual awareness that we have neither arrived nor conquered all there is know about the Bible.  Neither have we mastered His call for our walk.  And, surely any attitudes of doctrinal superiority are, in themselves, glaring error.

Serious Christianity is humble in both belief and in practice.

Yes, this system takes stands and carries weighty conviction.  But none of these have a road to walk on until we soberly see the need to begin the trek by humbling ourselves as least in the kingdom.  From this mode, we begin a healthy venture of seriously reaching to our neighbors.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

FAITH NEEDED IN THE PRESENT TENSE

Christians are having to fight for air.  Not because of opponents, but because of faulty doctrine, many are just trying to survive their own dull faith.  Why?

Why is this gigantic belief system walking with such visible limp?  Has faith finished its course and followers of God must now seek alternative steroidal support?  Or, have we created a man-made belief system that has subtly shut the corridors down to reduced travel.

I believe it is the latter.  And here's why.

The central Christian doctrine of wholeheartedly living a life in Jesus in present tense has been subverted into a life-after-death insurance policy for souls.  Hell-less has been the highest motivator.  Heaven-full would come in second.  Living a current life with interactive relationship with the Trinity has gone unconsidered by some of the most influential among Christian movements.

I am saying that in my earlier experience with the church that far too many were a part of it simply to keep from going to Hell.  Compassion?  Not.  Unity?  Not close. Evangelism? Non-existent among these I describe.  Heaven was okay; but only because Hell was to be avoided at all costs.

This thinking kills faith because faith is for the moment; the right now of where we live.  And if we are merely crossing our fingers in hopes that we avoid Hell when we die, the basic calling is to sit, wait, and see how it goes once dead.

Faith, however, calls present life into a new realm.  What makes faith come alive is to discover that God's calling is not for us to avoid eternal damnation; but to make us disciples to spread the powerful hope of the resurrected Jesus to the four corners of the world.  What makes faith come alive is when we begin to realize we have more than an eternal destiny.  We have a mission.

We are raised at baptism to walk a new life; not to wait it out til last breath.  We are urged to realize our citizenship is in heaven....now; not someday remotely out there. Faith comes alive when we dare to leave the security of our on control by yielding to His Holy Spirit leadership.

Pews are not shelves for bodies to sit in hopes of hearing their names called from the Book of Life after it's all over.  No.  Christians are God's army called to active duty.  We have burdened neighbors to encourage, heart-broken families to embrace, and enemies who hate-our-guts to love.

We have work to do and faith works!

The very command to love God and to love others is faith come alive.  If we groom a church-people to focus inwardly on their life-after-death mode, then we will have trained a people to be dead-while-alive indifferent.

What makes faith come alive?  Hearing the call of God and the need of others with no respects for ourselves; this will change the world where we live....in the present tense.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

GOING THROUGH LIFE CRIPPLED BY INSECURITY

People.

Do you ever think it is really hard to be people?

We surely do lead lives of paradoxicality.  On the one hand we are self-absorbed; perpetually weighing most matters with the grid of how this affects me.  And, then on the other hand, we hide in a room full of people just hoping we go undetected.  Bless me; but don't look at me.  Life is about me.  Yet, I don't want to draw attention to my insistent obsession.

Me first.  But don't see me.  I want what I want.  But I don't want you to notice me wanting what I want.  

I want to be used by God.  But I don't want to be vulnerably placed in a position where I might fail.  So, it will be best if I keep my dreams for the kingdom to myself. That way, no one gets hurt...and I am safe from criticism.

From the extremes of social status, and any other status, a multitude live in what I label as public hiding.  While these are present in body, they are not available for interaction because their number one mode is self-protection.  Supportive?  Yes, as long as one can get by with being in the game in center court; but have the body posture that we are really on the sidelines.

I get insecurity.

I am a lead professional in insecuritilistic combat.  Fear has been my mentor.  I have been obedient to his constant and threatening beckoning.  It took the Spirit of God to cause this jail cell door to fly open.  So, I understand many of you for we are all so similar.

Of course this is my opinion, but I think all people live in hiding.  Even the most outgoing must be in control of the corridors we travel for it is of utmost importance to never look caught off-guard nor unprepared. Thus, these tread the repeated road of personal security as we appear to have the world by the tail.  In reality we don't.  These merely make sure our walk has the appearance of out-going effectiveness.

Man is crippled by fear.  God is insistent on faith.  Faith will take us places.  Man is bored with going nowhere (Ironic, don't you think?).  God is not boring.  His trek is not boring.  And believe me when I say, He will take us places.

I cheer you on.  Do not continually pass the plate of opportunity to someone else because you feel inadequate.  No one is adequate.  Hear me say factually, NO ONE IS ADEQUATE.  Adequacy is a kingdom secret; a powerful glory of God.

Not that we are adequate to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God (II Cor. 3:5).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

WHY THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23).

Initial glance gives us a most natural insight of welcome to each of these traits.  Who wouldn't want to possess these?  Who would reject these qualities?  No one.  Each is effective for every moment.

Yet, this Galatians text isn't just about labeling fruit.  

It is of utmost importance to note the Fruit Bearer; the Holy Spirit.  And, the location of this Spirit fruit being born?  Within or from a believer.  This is major.

Christians find ourselves in places of pressure.  Discouragement pushes us to do many things; lash out, unload, or maybe give up and quit.  It is within such uncomfortable moments that we need to be more than we can be from a Source who is more than we are.  Enter the Holy Spirit.

What the Spirit does for a believer in Jesus is He helps us hold on when we feel like we are about to cave.  He works from within us to see that what comes out of us does not resemble our moody, hateful dispositions; but rather the spirit of our Leader, Jesus.

The fruit is of the/from the Spirit; not from our recycled determination to behave better.  He, the Spirit of Jesus, allows a sweetness to issue from his disciples that would be of the nature of him; not of us.

These are not fruits; plural.  This is the fruit of the Spirit.  He will bear each of these in us when we can't muster another ounce of a try-harder-to-be-good attitude.  

Our job is two-fold.  Believe Him and let Him.

Every kingdom laborer is in need of Holy Spirit fruit because we are each pressed and distressed beyond cope-ability.  However, due to this promise of His fruit within us, we have a new hope; not about others first, but about ourselves and what we can endure to see that others are drawn to him.

To be like Jesus is more than a song.  It is a system; that of the Holy Spirit of God who would love to display the Son as coming from within us that we might have a tendency to look more like him.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

THE DISTRACTING PURSUIT OF RELIGIOUS STANCES

To balk at the truthfulness that God is real is not the only tactic which would please dark forces.  There is a fundamental need for all to know the way, the truth, and the life which is to be possessed by and in Jesus.  Yet, Jesus doesn't seem to have the church spotlight.

No, we minor in Jesus while majoring in wandering pursuit of distractions. Distractions can be truths which would be valuable to discern, for sure.  But if their goal is within themselves and not to know Jesus better...then there you have it.  This only serves as another religious creation of man to keep others from pondering the Lamb of God.

I'm not innocent in this matter.  I've had my series of disgruntlementations which chewed up my time when Jesus received my mere name-dropping; so to speak. Therefore, this post serves as a warning or at the very least a reminder that it is religion's nature to get caught up in distractions under the guise of truth.  When all is said and done, it will still have been a distraction.

What version of the Bible is the accepted version?  That was a hot-button topic at the time of my conversion.  There were opinions and sides and bold claims of right and wrong, black and white conversations in abundance.  Jesus truly seemed secondary.

Our stance on the authority of elders was a big one to me.  My opinions were mighty. Simultaneously, I was preaching Church of Christ and not Jesus Christ.  Distraction kept me from seeing a major flaw about myself while I was correcting those (my assumption) weaker folk.

Could a woman teach a Bible class in a building; but not on a bus?  We argued this one and caused resentment along the way.  Really?  Women could teach if the property was standing still; but not if rolling on wheels?  Distracting pursuit?  Possibly?

Fast forward today.  Have you ever heard of the term worship wars?  Really?  A people so possessed by the Holy Spirit of God that we would actually divide over worship styles?  The answer is yes.

Women's role is a current fad of front-burner issues that I believe is yet another distracting pursuit.  The reason is that in the clamor I don't see or hear any battle for Jesus to be dominant.  Stances are the issue.

In each of the above, along with a host of other doctrinal segments, there is important insight to be gained.  In every case, these matter.  Yet, we must awaken to our perpetual thirst for majoring in minors compared to knowing our Lord.

Some like me have been consistently off at this point.  Spiritual equilibrium must be regained by singular pursuit of Jesus; wherein all other matters will find wholesome resolution.  The world did not want to know in the '40s whether it was best to take communion with one cup or individual cups; and it still does not want to know.

Who will save us from our perverse selves?  Jesus would be of utmost importance.  As we learn more of and from him, we will surely be found to have gained spiritual wisdom regarding the assorted issues which continually serve as significant distractions.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

THE STRAIN TO KNOW GOD

If God is everywhere, why can't He be found by so many who are searching?

This is a dominant thread of my heart.  It is strange, really, how much I root for the person(s) who are seeking the truth as to the reality of God.  This urge within society to find the Living God is serious, sobering, and significant.

The homeless want Him.  The celebrities want Him.  The foreigners want Him.  The industrious want Him.  The distracted want Him.  I want to be a part of the solution. These people matter.  I was once one of these of whom I write.

To begin, I think it would be wise that we realize man's mind and heart have been seeded with doubt while we slept (so to speak).  In utmost simplicity, we live with a vague hope-so that at our personal last breath on earth there will actually be a new kind of breath lift us skyward.  Oh how we want this to be more than religious theory.

What happens is, then, that multitudes over multiple centuries have devised ideas, theologies, doctrines, and practices in hopes of making the next life a successful transition.  Faith becomes/is much more than an evangelistic step to being saved.  It is where authentic certainty meets determined hope; not as hope-so, but as fact.

Within our 21st century nature is embedded a subtle superiority that educated man can deal with the question of the eternal God with a casual nod.  We tend to deem our personal understanding on any matter as the right perspective.  This trend is so strong among us that it is simply assumed that our views regarding God are correct; even if given no real research or attention.

So, as one small man writing this article, I think I have the answer?  Partially; but accurately, yes.  Partially, because I am in kindergarten as a theologian with little hope of making it to first grade in all there is to know about God.  Accurately, in that while I don't have all of the answers I have utmost confidence (literally) in the one who does.

It is Jesus where I place all of my egg-trust into the hope-basket.  His is the only way I can, after decades of search and research, conclude that there is a next life and how we obtain it.  His I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me of John 14:6 is to be awarded the winning bid.

Jesus is the only one who traded places with us; II Cor. 5:21.  He became our messes that we could stand before God robed in his goodnesses.  He is the only religious leader who came back from the dead; historical proof from multiple witnesses including the redating of our calendars upon his birth.

Be encouraged, you!  You who possess a glimmer of wonder as to whether this stuff is true!  I believe that I don't have fifty good answers per thousand good religious questions.  Yet, Jesus is the only one who loved us enough to actually be executed only to rise from the dead.  Even much of the world still believes him and I cheer you on in your search.

I think you have ample reason to believe him.  Give him a fair shot.  Endure the strain to know God...and then enjoy the surprise that He will...find you!