Thursday, November 4, 2010

Twisted Love

Ask 10 people what real love is and most likely you will get 10 different answers. When it comes to honest to goodness displays of love one should simply be able to turn to our 'churches' and see. Right? Well one would think so, but that's not always the case. In fact one would have to look hard to find a loving church as defined by God's meaning of love. Love is a small word yet it huge in it's scope and it's application. Unfortunately many within our churches and in Christianity as a whole we have accepted a rather narrow definition of love. In the book So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore by Jake Colsen (Wayne Jacobsen & Dave Coleman), he says;

“… our definitions of love get twisted when institutional priorities take over …. The problem with church as you know it, is that it has become nothing more than mutual accommodation of self-need. Everybody needs something out of it. Some need to lead. Some need to be led. Some want to teach, others are happy to be the audience. Rather than become an authentic demonstration of God’s life and love in the world, it ends up being a group of people who have to protect their turf.”

Very strong words about 'love' being twisted by the very group who are called to portray the love of God. But then again, maybe church 'folk' should only love those who agree with them, like the same color paint and carpet, like the same programs, look the same, dress the same, smell the same, and worship the same and they should reject, verbally assassinate, and look down upon those who do not. I mean surely God would never have me love someone who is not just like me and does not see life as I do. God would never ask me to really love a person, even if they are Christian, who cusses, drinks, or is divorced would He? And what about those who vote different than I do or choose to live out their lives differently than I do. That would be sin, right!? WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Those examples may sound absurd, but it is happening all the time in our churches! One would have to be blind not to see it! Spiritually blinded that is!

The truth of the matter is that we have been called to love all people. For many in our churches love has become nothing more than showing acceptance to those who 'agree' with us and rejecting those who do not. That is a 'twisted' view of God's love. Yes, God has called us to love ALL people, but NO, He has not called us to agree with all people. I find it amazing that couples, families, and even friends can have disagreements and even heated discussions (nice for arguments) and still LOVE each other. When this takes place in the institution we call 'the church' love is tossed aside or at the least, twisted. How many arguments and dissentions have come about because a program was started, nixed, or changed? How many Christians have allowed hatred to come into their hearts all because music in a worship service stepped up and became relevant and contemporary? How many 'church' goers have allowed resentment to take over because they were not reconized for teaching or giving? On and on it goes. I simply say WHAT!!!!???  It is a sad fact that buildings, denominations, programs, and worship styles have become the focus of what it means to be 'Christian'.  This has led many to feel obligated to protect their 'turf' all at the cost of love. Programs, denominations, style, buildings, hymn books, and computers will all pass - souls shall live forever. We do not need to agree with everyone, BUT we need to love ALL people God's Way, not some twisted way!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Destruction of God’s People

As I have studied Scripture and observed the people in whom Scripture deals with, I feel the need to write on the subject of the ‘Destruction of God’s People’. It is of prime importance that we understand truth apart from fiction. Truth frees and liberates while fiction puffs up and hinders freedom and can actually destroy God’s people. The fact of the matter is that in the time we live in, it would seem that so many Christians who claim to be such are in spiritual, emotional, and intellectual bondage today. It’s no wonder that the ‘church’ has so many problems; it’s filled with believers who are spiritually bound.
Notice in 1st Thessalonians 2:18; “For we wanted to come to you -- I, Paul, more than once -- and yet Satan hindered us.”  That word ‘hindered’ means to strike against, to ‘loudly’ come up against.” Paul described Satan as a maker of malicious racket; one who seeks to noisily strike against believers! Why would he want to do this, one might ask. Of course he wants to harm all believers, but that’s not the scope of all he seeks to do. Satan’s ultimate goal is to halt any forward movement of the Work of God - specifically in the area of understanding and fulfilling the Word of God He knows that any forward movement for God is a move against him! Satan desires to draw us away from God in order that he can poison minds and cause division among the people of God! Disregard of the Word of God goes back to the garden. Remember that Satan tricked Eve into disregarding God’s Word! Satan’s greatest blow to us today is to hinder us from truly knowing and living God’s Word! Paul’s desire was to go and teach the Thessalonians the Word of God, but Satan noisily and maliciously fought against him! It is the same today, when Satan sees God moving in the lives of a group of believers in such a way that those same believers are set on fire by God through His Word, Satan rises up and does all he can to avert their attention away from what God is doing and what He hopes to do! I feel the main way Satan does this is by enlisting backslidden and immature Christians to make his noise! Those believers who are carnal minded, focused on selfish and worldly things. Those who for lack of maturity and lack of submission to the Lord are enlisted by Satan himself to derail any and all moves of God. These ‘racket makers’ are simply pawns in the hands of Satan! Unknowingly enlisted pawns, but enlisted pawns indeed! Remember when Peter rebuked the Lord? Jesus looked at Peter and said; “Get behind me Satan!” Here is the Apostle Peter, in a weak moment, a carnal moment that unknowingly was pulled into Satan’s web of deceit! Peter became a ‘pawn’ in the very hands of Satan to thwart what God was doing in the life of Jesus. Now just think about that for a moment. If even Peter can be deceived and enlisted, we all are vulnerable! The fact remains that in a moment of carnality Satan enlisted Peter to ‘mouth off’ to the Lord! He used Peter to attack and hinder the Lord! Be not fooled, believers in Christ can and actually do become pawns of Satan! Satan is the author of unruly and idle chatter, complaining and confusion, backbiting and tale bearing. God certainly is not! Now please understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing. My wife disagrees with me more than anyone on the planet, but I love her and she loves me. We can disagree without getting personal and can do so without running the other down in public. It would be wrong in so many ways for me to get out in public and run my wife down by saying ugly things about her. By doing so, I would be harming her and also harming myself. It would be counter productive for a healthy marriage and our marriage could be destroyed by such hateful behavior. It’s the same in the body of Christ.

The body of Christ is a family and when Satan enlists believers, destruction will assuredly take place. The first and most important thing that will be destroyed will be relationships. Satan will use jealousy, bitterness, and even misunderstandings to destroy close, intimate, and deep relationships. God’s greatest desire for His family is that we be intimate with each other building strong bonds within the family of God seeking to grow closer to each other and ultimately to God. Satan seeks to destroy that and keep it from happening. By infiltrating the hearts of carnal and immature believers, Satan launches an attack against the people God and actually hinders a move of God. When Satan is successful, God is not the One who loses, we are! Jesus said in John 13:35; “they shall know you are My disciples by the love you have for one another”. We are not called to agree with each other; we are called to love one another.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bait & Switch Article by Wayne Jacobsen

I thought this article very thought provoking and wanted to share. Permission granted to share.
It is my desire to get the people of God thinking and not just following behind a Pied Piper of religious jargon and the traditions of men. For too long people in the name of 'Christianity' and 'church' have been led astray into the vast and dense wilderness of false religion and fake righteousness weighed down by the yoke of a distorted Christianity. Men and women who truly love Jesus have been mislead and have either been enslaved in it's tight stranglehold or have been discouraged and fallen from the faith. It's time for the sleeping giant to awaken and see what has taken place all in the name of our Savior! Jesus came to set us free and it seems that the very people whom He has set free has succombed to chains again. These chains though are shiny and pretty and attractive. They are called by many names today - 'Christian', 'Church', 'Baptist', 'Methodist', 'Catholic', etc.,.
May God give us understanding and sound wisdom to see and hear what He is saying to His people today!
Bait & Switch
by Wayne Jacobsen

Trading the Vibrant Life of Jesus for a Ritualistic Religion Called Christianity.

I saw the sign a year ago in Georgia: Live Free for Three Months. It was a developer's marketing strategy for a declining housing market. When I saw it, however, I wasn't thinking about houses. I thought about Christianity and how we invite people to live free in Christ and then soon after saddle them with all the obligations of being a "good Christian". We generally don't even let them have three months.

When the early believers were first called Christians, we don't know if it was a complement or a mockery. We do know that they didn't invent the term for themselves. The culture called them "little christs" because they had found so much identity in following Jesus. Whatever spawned the term, those early believers adopted it for themselves and for 2,000 years it has been the dominant identifier for those who claim to follow Christ. But that might be changing.

Recent surveys show even believers are becoming uncomfortable with the term. At least in the United States it is increasingly used not for people who reflect the passion of Jesus in a broken world, but for adherents of a religion that has been built on a distortion of the life and teaching of Jesus, not necessarily it's reality. The results can be confusing.

"Are you a Christian?" I used to love it when someone on a plane asked me that question. "Absolutely," I'd answer, proud to be on the side of all that's good and right in the world. But over the last fifteen years, answering that question has become far more difficult. Much of what has been done in recent years in the name of Christianity embarrasses me and disfigures the God I love. Some of it even horrifies me.

So now when I'm asked the question today, I hedge a bit. "It depends on what you mean by 'Christian'," I often respond. If they are asking whether or not I am a faithful adherent of the religion called Christianity, I have to confess that I'm not. I'm not even trying to be. But if they are asking me if I am a passionate follower of Jesus, the answer would be an enthusiastic yes.

In a few short years those realities have diverged significantly. Perhaps there has not been a time since the Middle Ages, where what it means to be a good Christian and what it means to thrive in a relationship with God, couldn't be more at odds. You can do everything required of a 'good Christian' in our day and still miss out on what it means to know him and be involved in a meaningful relationship with him that transforms you to love as he loved.

How many people endure repetitive rituals certain that doing so endears them to God? How many embrace a slate of ethical rules or doctrinal propositions thinking that doing so ensures God's blessings? Jesus offered us a vibrant life of relationship with his Father, and we ended up creating a religion that often disarms that very Gospel of its glory.

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Mark 7:6-7) These words are as true for us today as when Jesus voiced them to the religious captives in his. His warnings in Matthew 23 about the pitfalls of religion, are more applicable in our day than they were in his. When is the last time you heard a sermon from that text? Read it. You'll know why.
Something Is Broken

For the last few months I've done numerous radio interviews for people concerned about what's being called the collapse of Christianity. Newsweek did a cover article in April about the collapse of Christianity's influence in America and that fewer people identify themselves as Christian or are a committed part of a local congregation.
There's a lot of handwringing going on about those statistics, most of them blaming the culture. But the problems in religion itself have never been greater. Conservative Christianity aligned itself with a political agenda and a party that turned out to be as corrupt as it blamed the other party for being. More and more believers I know are embarrassed at the anger and arrogance of many so-called leaders who speak to the press on behalf of Christianity. So it's no wonder to me that last year 4000 churches closed in America, 1700 pastors left the ministry each month and another 1300 pastors were terminated by their church, many without cause, and over 3500 people per day left their church last year.

Clearly we have a problem that cannot be blamed on the secularization of our culture. The kingdom is no longer a pearl of great price, and knowing Jesus is no longer the fruit of our religious activities. And people who are beginning to see that, are often marginalized as rebellious or unsubmitted for simply wanting what Jesus promised them.

Many people giving up on local institutions are not doing so because they've rejected Jesus, but finding that the culture of Christianity is actually diminishing their faith not enhancing it. In an email I got the other day, from a frustrated pastor trying to help people follow Jesus, and is just coming to realize that his own job may be at odds with his greatest passion. "Church has become a hindrance to building relationships and loving others."

He's not alone. Many of us came to faith enamored by the life and teachings of Jesus. We were promised a relationship with God but were handed a religion of doctrines we had to believe, rituals we had to observe, obligations we had to meet and a standard of morality to adopt. While most of those were true enough, many found that their attempts to follow them did not produce either the life of Jesus it promised, nor the reality of true, caring communities of faith.

We have traded the simple power of the Gospel for a religion based on human effort. We were invited to relationship and ended up with a host of irrelevant dogma and burdensome obligations. Fortunately people from all over the world are waking up to a fresh hunger to shed the dictates of religion and embrace the wonder and power of a love-filled relationship with the living God.
Was Christianity Ever Meant to Be a Religion?

I guess all of this begs the question, did Jesus intend to start a religion called Christianity, or did we do this to ourselves? I suspect the latter. I am wholeheartedly convinced that he came to end all religions, not by lashing out against them, but by filling up in the human spirit what religion promises to fill but never can. Religion seeks to manipulate human effort to earn God's approval, when such approval can never be earned.

Abraham, a Jewish man, lead the tour portion of a trip to Israel I was on fifteen years ago. Some of those on the tour had been rude to his faith as they tried to "help" him embrace Jesus as the Messiah. On the last morning, I found him alone by the bus and had the chance to ask him if he'd been offended by some of the remarks.

He smiled. He told me he'd been guiding tours for 30 years and someone is always trying to convert him to their faith--Christians, Reformed Jews, Muslims and Mormons. Then he asked me, "Do you know why it makes no difference to me?"

I shook my head. He led me out to the street and pointed at a building, "Do you see that synagogue with the star of David? That's our building. The one over there with the cross on it is yours. Further down, do you see the dome? That's theirs. On the surface they may look different, but underneath they are all basically the same. You would think that if one of us was serving the Living God, it would look differently."

I still remember how much his words impacted me. Religion is the same all over the world. It is a prescribed set of doctrine, rules, rituals, and ethics. It celebrates sacred space, exalts holy-men as gurus and tries to muscle its way into the culture. For 2000 years many have practiced Christianity as a religion, essentially no different than the others, except in who it claims to follow. But if one of us was serving a Living God, wouldn't it look very different?

When we cram the life of God into a box, we rob it of its life and power and only distinguish it from other religions by claiming a more truthful doctrine. Could that be why Jesus didn't teach his disciples how to gain a following or build institutions. He didn't teach them how to meet on Sunday mornings at 10:00 with a worship band and a leader to lecture the others. He didn't give them a prescribed set of behaviors that people were suppose to follow as the means to serve God.

No, he invited them into his Father's house, and a reality of relationship with his Father that would transform them and opened the way for them to share that love with others. That you can't put into a religion and trying to only chokes out any hope of relationship. Putting creed and doctrine above a growing friendship with him supplants the reality he offered us, no matter how correct our doctrine or moral our ethics.

Don't get me wrong. Truth is vital, as is righteousness, but without love they are also empty. Learning to live as a beloved child is far more transforming than the greatest principle you can follow. The life of Christian community isn't found by sharing religion together, but by embracing a journey of growing relationship with him that transforms us by his grace and power.

Losing Your Religion

What does this mean for us? Should we stop calling ourselves Christian or judge those who do? Should we come up with a new term to franchise so we could separate the ones who live it relationally from the ones who are caught up in religion? If we did, we'd only be making the same mistakes that have diminished our life in Jesus over the centuries.

The truth is that Christianity as a religion is a dangerous disfigurement of the God of the Bible. But not all who call themselves Christians live religiously. Given all the excesses and failures of Christianity, I am delightfully grateful that the Gospel of Jesus is still relatively intact inside its doctrine. Unfortunately it only lets new believers live free for so long before burdening them with religious obligations.

And I meet many believers and leaders who have a profound faith and are seeking healthy ways to communicate that journey with others. I rejoice in that, as I do the amount of compassionate aid that such groups share with the world in need. But too many people miss out on the life Jesus offered them by practicing it as a religion instead of growing to know him.

Ultimately the transformation from practicing religion to living inside a relationship with God is not an institutional battle; it is a personal one. We could tear apart all of our religious institutions today and nothing would change. I've been in many a house church filled with people who see the institutional church as the problem and are oblivious to the fact that they've just moved their religion into a home, where close fellowship only makes it more oppressive.


  • When God is a distant concept to you instead of a real presence.
  • When you find yourself following another man, woman, or a set of principles instead of following Jesus.
  • When fear of eternity, not measuring up, or falling into error drives your actions.
  • When you find yourself in empty rituals that do not connect you in a real way to him.
  • When you are burdened by the expectations of others and feel guilty when you can't do enough.
  • When you look at others who struggle with contempt instead of compassion.
  • When the approval of others means more to you than remaining in the reality of his love.
  • When you hesitate to be honest about your doubts or struggles because others will judge you.
  • When you think of holiness as an unachievable duty, rather than aglorious invitation.
  • When you think righteousness depends on your efforts instead of his grace working in you.
  • When following him is more about obligation than affection.
  • When correcting someone's doctrine is more important than loving them.
  • When God seems more present on Sunday morning, than he does on Monday.

If you have only known Christianity to be a set of doctrines, rules and rituals, I have great news. Jesus came and died to open up access between you and his Father. Religion supplants that, distracting us with discipline, commitment and hard work that never yields the fruit it promises. If you've been worn out by religion, don't think you're alone. Others are just pretending, afraid they are the only ones, too. Life is only found in him.

Switching Back

There's something about our flesh that craves the illusion of safety that religion affords. Anyone of us can find our heart easily turned toward following rules instead of engaging him. When we recognize that happening, we can simply turn our hearts back to him and choose to move away from the religious traps and connect once again with God as our Father.


Living the Gospel means we live in his love. We come to know the Father's love for us and then sharing that love with him, and with others he puts in our path. (John 13:34-35). No other motive will suffice; no other is necessary. This is where the journey begins and this is the only place it can continue.

Returning to our first love isn't as difficult as we like to make it. For me it just means finding a quiet place and talking to God. When you find yourself caught in religion, tell him you're tired of chasing a religion that isn't working and you want to know him as he really is. Then, wake up each day with a similar prayer on your heart. Watch how he makes himself known to you in the simple reality of living each day. Follow the nudges he puts on your heart instead of the obligations and rituals. Find others who are on this journey and find ways to share the reality of a growing relationship and help guard our hearts about following into empty religious practices.


If you've been steeped in religion for a long time, you'll find yourself going through a very disorienting time. One woman I met called it a Pharisectomy, which is simply having your inner Pharisee removed. You might feel guilty, lonely, lost, or fearful in the process. Your former religious friends may feel threatened that you're no longer doing the things they do. But in time you'll find yourself sliding into the reality of relationship with him that is as increasingly real, transformative and engaging.


Among It, Not of It

So let's not go to war with religion, railing against its failures fighting against its dictates. Instead let's do what Jesus did--let's live beyond it. Let's find a reality of freedom and authenticity in him that can walk alongside anyone with patience and gentleness. Religion is what people crave when they haven't found life in him. Taking their religion away won't fix that. The only thing that will is helping them see a reality of relationship with God that makes all our religious activity unnecessary and unattractive. Jesus could be in religious settings and not be captured by them. He could care about a Pharisee as much as a prostitute.


Live among religion if he asks you to, loving toward those mired in it but you never have to be of it. The Gospel opens the door for us to re-engage the transcendent God, to know him as our Abba and to walk with him through the twists and turns of life, sharing his affection with others.


Live in the reality of that relationship and you'll find it quite naturally finding expression through you as you love and treat others the same way God treats you. People who refuse to live to fear, conform to ritual or put doctrine above love will find themselves having ample opportunity to help others on this journey as well. A dear friend wrote me recently who was feeling a bit swamped by all the people seeking out his help these days, "You didn't say anything about being safe is like hanging up a "counseling available" shingle."


We live in a great day. The emptiness of tradition is being seen for what it is and people are hungering for the reality of relationship. Live there each day and there's no telling where that will take you or who you'll end up walking alongside as Jesus becomes your life.

Then you can live free, not just for a few days or even three months. He came to set you free eternally!


Friday, April 2, 2010

It Wasn't Friday!

Sometimes what we hold as fact just isn't truth. Sometimes traditions are based upon false premises. Sometimes we are just wrong. There is clear, concrete evidence in the scriptures that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, not Friday!
Think about it for a moment! How could Jesus have been in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights if He died on a Friday afternoon and rose before sunrise on a Sunday? This always used to bother me for I could and still can only come up with one day and two nights (Friday nighttime, Saturday daytime, and Saturday nighttime). 
The Old Testament lamb was killed between 3 and 6 PM on the afternoon of the 14th of Abib/Nisan and prepared, because the 15th was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was an annual Sabbath observance (the first and last days of Unleavened Bread were annual Sabbaths in addition to the normal weekly Sabbaths). A clear search of the scriptures is important, not because it affects a person's salvation, but because it answers the questions whether Jesus kept His Word, AND whether the Bible is really true or not. So many want to take away from the validity and the reliability of God's Word, so a clear understanding of this subject will help us prove that God's Word is true!
"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord's Passover. Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation ; you shall not do any laborious work. But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work." Leviticus 23:5-8
The above text confirms that the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are annual Sabbaths, to be observed as a day of rest in addition to the weekly Sabbaths. These days would occur on the 15th and 21st of Abib/Nisan. The Passover meal was an important religious observance in which to remember that the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their houses kept them alive when the angel of death 'passed over', and that God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The Passover is a perpetual observance to celebrate passing from death to life. These ancient events foretold the blood of Jesus being spilled for our sins, and our passage from death to eternal life, by the everlasting covenant of the blood of Jesus. They also foretold that Jesus would die as the national Passover Lamb, exactly on the 14th of Abib/Nisan and that the day following was an annual Sabbath.
What follows is an examination of the biblical record, in which Jesus was killed on the 14th of Nisan in the afternoon, and the next day was the annual Sabbath, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This annual Sabbath did not fall on the weekly Sabbath, in the year that Jesus died.
"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish; so shall the Son of Man be THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:38-40

Jesus Himself tells of the extent of His stay in the heart of the earth (study that verse for a good while and see that He is talking more than just about being in the grave!!!).

"The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, for THAT SABBATH WAS A HIGH DAY, asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away."

OK, did you see that? This Sabbath was a HIGH Sabbath! It was not just an ordinary, weekly Sabbath, but instead the ANNUAL or YEARLY Sabbath!

Understand that the Jewish day started at 6PM in the evening. For instance, if it is 6PM Monday night in our world, then it would be the beginning of Tuesday for the Jew.

The Passover meal was actually the meal preceding the Annual Sabbath, the HIGH Sabbath day. Jesus was crucified Wednesday and placed in the grave before 6PM Wednesday evening, (Jewish Thursday/Annual Sabbath), in accordance with the Jewish Law.

He was not there when the Mary's arrived at the tomb at 'twilight' (that is before daylight!) before 6AM Sunday morning. He was gone!!!

Once the preceding about an Annual Sabbath is understood it can easily be seen that Jesus was crucified and buried on Wednesday and remained in the grave till sometime prior to Sunday morning - 3 Days and 3 Nights!(Remember, the Jewish day started at 6PM! To put it in understandable terms - by 6PM Wednesday evening, which would be the Jews 'Thursday', Jesus was in the tomb, 1 Day, Friday - 2nd Day - Saturday 3rd Day!

This must be for if Jesus died on Friday, he would have been considered in the grave for a very short period of time that no one in their right mind could come to a 3 Days and 3 Nights conclusion as the Bible specifically says.

OK this was the shortened version but I hope it suffices. I know that some will never see it other than Friday and that is OK for them! Everyone has a right to be wrong. :)

Proper Conclusion: Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, not Friday!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Violent Men ~ Rebels For God!

Matthew 11:12 says; “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”

I don’t think we grasp the enormity of this verse today! Let me explain by quoting John Eldridge…
“How many of you know that God meant something when he meant man! John said that God made the masculine heart, set it within every man, and thereby gave him an invitation; Come, and live out what I meant you to be! He said that in the heart of every man, God gave him a battle to fight, and adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”
How many of you know that the world is totally against this! In the past 40 years or more, men have succumbed to the lie that feminism and Oprah have preached. Masculinity has been stripped down to nothing but a weakness to be mocked, ridiculed, and laughed at. From sitcoms in Hollywierd, to our very own communities, churches, and families we can see that men just aren’t what God meant when He meant man!

If this isn’t bad enough, these very lies have crept into our churches, into Christianity! How many times have we been told that we are created in the image of God and that we are to be Christ in the world we live in and in the same breath be told to be nice and non-confrontational and polite and well basically weak. Maybe not out right told be ‘weak’, but it’s surely implied! Christianity has taken on a new meaning and that meaning has nothing to do with Jesus or God or violence or passion or anything that is powerful and confrontational! If that is what being a Christian is, Jesus certainly was not Christian! The fact is that our churches have successfully taken the ‘wildness’ and the ‘passion’ out of real Christianity and replaced it with impotent religion! One doesn’t have to go far to hear about people in our churches ‘whining and complaining’ about things like; ‘the music is too loud, too contemporary, too long, too short, too ‘musical’, or the pastor didn’t come see me when I was sick (uh – if you are sick, no one wants to see you – that’s how other’s get sick!), or ‘it’s too cold or too hot in the sanctuary, or the preaching went too long, or blah blah blah, waaaaaa… And I am talking about grown men doing this, not grannies, even though grannies can do a lot of griping too! Grown men who have succumbed to the lie and wouldn’t know passion or wildness or anything about the real Jesus if it bit ‘em on their backside! They hide helplessly behind an institution called ‘the church’ never embracing anything that might cause them to live a life of adventure and excitement. They’ve been weighed down by religion and strangled by the traditions of man. Men created in the image of Holy and Wild God yet never, ever seeing that image for what it truly is!

Created in the image of God. How many of you know that God was a Warrior? When you look around at men in the church what do you see? Do you see any warriors? Any who even look like they would pick up a sword and wage war for God? (There are many who would wage war and fight about by-laws and whether or not to have services on Sunday night or other stupid man-made tradition!)

I love what C.S. Lewis said of Jesus; “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe, but He’s good.”

The image of a warrior God! Why do boys want to attack something? Why do they whack and hit things? From a baseball to a 10 point buck, God has placed within boys and men a warrior’s heart, His heart! Why does a Veteran well up inside when he sees the flag or hears the national anthem? Why is it we get so excited when Wallace addresses his fellow Scots prior to battle in Braveheart? Why is it that we feel the rage in the heart of Benjamin Martin in The Patriot when he fights and kills the enemy? It’s because God has given us a warrior’s heart! That’s why!

But then again, the toll has been taken and so many men don’t even know that they have been given a warrior’s heart! The sad thing is that Christianity doesn’t even miss it! Men, we have been lied to for so long that we have accepted the lie that Christian men are to be nice and polite and well, “Christian”. Guys, I am here to tell you that is so far from the truth! Life needs us to be fierce, our families need us to be fierce, our wives and children need us to be fierce – and fiercely devoted! The ‘nice guy’ mentality is promoted in churches all over today. We are told to be nice like Jesus was, stay in line, and mind our manners. How many young boys grow up and never become the warrior God has called them to become all because they were taught that Jesus was a nice guy who never rocked the boat or caused any problems. Have we ever read the Bible??? Jesus didn't 'stay in line'! Jesus rocked the boat, called people names, turned tables upside down, raised His voice at people, and at times got angry. Jesus was not crucified for being nice, He was killed for being a rebel with a warrior’s heart who did what was right instead of being nice and trying to please everyone.

This flies in the face of modern Christianity and especially churches that are ‘run’ by egotistical, self righteous goobs who hide behind the traditions of men, you know … traditions such as by-laws, ‘we’ve never done it that way’, and majority rule. Jesus never hid behind anything and always stood for what was right even when it was not popular.

The fact is God created men to be warriors who were filled with passion and wildness and life! Don’t you think it’s time we embrace that once again? Man I do!

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Word on Marriage

Marriage is not a wedding! It's not a contract! It's a covenant between two people, hopefully included in that covenant, is God. A marriage covenant is a promise of a man and a woman committing themselves to one another for a lifetime. It's truly a special thing. Marriage was designed to be broken only by death of one in the marriage. No this is not a license to kill your spouse! I also know that divorce occurs and at times it is honestly justified in the eyes of God. Even so, marriages were meant to last for a lifetime.

Many people possess a Wal-mart mentality about marriages. If you don't like your spouse, you can simply return him or her and get another. In the words of John Stossel, 'give me a break'! This is ridiculous. Marriages may be made in heaven, but they will experience some hell on earth. Even so, commitment to one another in love can conquer all!

One must ask the question then; "Why all the divorces?" Right or wrong, there are many reasons that people get divorced. From the big stuff like adultery to the little stuff like arguing over finances. OK, finances are not little, but compared to adultery they are.

If guys and gals would only understand that they are not perfect, nor is their mate. Marriage is a wonderful gift, but it is also one of the hardest things we shall undertake in this world. Think about it; two different people who have faults, opinions, differing personalities, desires, likes, dislikes, and on and on it goes come together and marry each other. When the cutesy and the newness wear off, those things come to the surface. What used to go unnoticed or overlooked is now front and center. From these come disagreements, arguments, hurt feelings, and fights! If not dealt with properly these will escalate and harmful words and/or actions will ensue. When marriages takes this turn they are in deep trouble. What happens at this point varies. Sometimes divorce occurs immediately, while many will stay together, but instead of living in harmony, they live emotionally separated. Two people living with each other but not really living as married people. Infidelity occurs in many of these situations. While some take part in sexual infidelity, or adultery, others will commit emotional or social infidelity. This occurs when a husband, a wife, or both pull away from the other spouse and invest that time with another person or group of people. It happens all the time. A wife who withholds affection or who may not be getting affection from her husband will pour her life into her children, church, or job. A husband who is not investing in his wife or is missing her attention will pour his time and energy into time with friends or work. This should not be!

One of the greatest books on marriage was written by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs'. Love and Respect deals with biblical principles of a healthy and happy marriage. It brings out the fact that a wife has one driving need - to feel loved. When that need is met, she is happy. A husband has one driving need - to feel respected. When that need is met, he is happy. When either of these needs is not met, things will get crazy and problems will ensue opening the door for infidelity in one form or another.

Husbands, your greatest responsibility is your wife! Do you cherish her? Do you honor her? Do you selfLESSly love her? If not, you are only hurting yourself! Wives are God's gift to us in spite of ourselves! She must be #1 in your life AND she must know that she is!

Wives, your greatest responsibility is your husband! Do you cherish him? Do you honor him? Do you selfLESSly respect him? If not, you are only hurting yourself! Husbands are gifts to you as well! He must #1 in your life AND he must know that he is!

Marriage is a gift to be enjoyed and shared with your spouse! Now let's get busy with some lovin' and respectin'!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Outside Part 2

2 Corinthians 6:17 - "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you."
This is not necessarily a quote from Isaiah 52:11 but it is similar. In Isaiah 52 God was calling for His people to separate themselves from idolatrous people as well as from idolatry.

Verse 14 also says; " Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?"

Paul is calling on Christians to do basically the same thing as Isaiah was urging the Israelites to do. Paul is imploring these Corinthian believers to make sure they are not yoked ('connected to; bound together with; linked to') certain people. Now it has often been understood that in verse 14 Paul is strictly forbidding the believers not to associate with the lost. Of course this is ridiculous for Jesus Himself said that believers are called to go to the lost, to spend time with them, to get to know them, and develop relationships with them, with the hopes of introducing Christ to them. If we are not to associate with them, then how can we reach them? The Apostle Paul wrote earlier in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one.” It becomes obvious in this passage that Paul did want believers to associate with lost people. He wanted the believers to reach the lost for Christ!

Another implication is that believers should not be married to non-believers. This just so happens to be true, yet one cannot stop with just this observation. What about business deals, joint ventures, and the like? Surely this encompasses these doesn't it? Sure it does, but the main point of all of this is the warning of 'yoking up with an unbeliever'!

An unbeliever is someone who simply does not believe. It could also be translated as one who does not have or produce faith. The Greek word in this verse is 'apistos' which comes from the Greek word 'pistos' for 'faith' and the prefix 'a' prior to that indicating opposite of, without, or void of what follows. In other words, 'apistos' could be translated 'without faith' 'faithless' or even 'unfaithful'. So this verse could also be translated as "do not be bound together with the unfaithful". This verse now opens up so much more than just seeing these unbelievers as representing just lost people. Remember the Israelites under Moses? These all who came out of Egypt were 'saved'. They were God's chosen people! Throughout their wilderness journey, they were 'unfaithful' to God. They just would not believe Him. God's people who had been delivered out of Egypt had a very hard time believing God and obeying Him after their deliverance. They were unfaithful children of God! Notice Exodus 17:2-7; "Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink " And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?" But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me." Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us, or not?"

Also notice Psalm 95:7-11. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, "When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. "For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. "Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

The text that is under consideration, 2 Corinthians 6:17, must then be understood that God is telling His followers, to 'come out from among those who are unfaithful', no matter if those who are unfaithful are lost or if they are Christian! Think about it. Would God want a committed follower to be yoked up with a carnal believer? Absolutely not! It would seem that this is most likely what Paul was thinking about when he wrote this epistle. Remember his harsh rebuke 1 Corinthians 5 of the person who was sleeping with his father's wife? Later in that same chapter in verse 13, Paul said; "REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES!” Clearly Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, wanted faithful believers to be separated from unfaithful believers!

Paul goes on to contrast the actions of faithful with the unfaithful - 'what fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness; what communion does light have with darkness; what bond does Christ have with Belial (wicked, worthless); and again what does a believer have with an unbeliever, or what does the 'faithful have with the unfaithful'? Paul is very concerned with the fact that even believers can cause others believers to fall into and walk in sin and passionately warns against 'cohabitating' with sinning believers.

It is unmistakable in real life that Christians can be characterized by each of these descriptions. Whether it is those rare moments when we let our guard down or when we actually embrace them in habitual ways these certainly can be manifested in our lives. Certainly Christians can be unrighteous in actions, walk in darkness, and be unfaithful in life. To believe otherwise would be foolish. With this in mind, it is obvious that Paul is not suggesting that we separate from believers who sin and mess up at times for all do that, but rather unbelieving Christians who embrace sinful actions and attitudes and walk in them. Paul says, DO NOT BE A PART OF THEM! SEPARATE YOUSELVES FROM THEM! COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM!

He then says, "DO NOT TOUCH THAT WHICH IS UNCLEAN"! Unrighteousness, darkness, wickedness, and unfaithfulness are all unclean and Paul says NOT to touch, have nothing to do with them at all! Paul went further than saying not to do these things, he said 'don't even touch them! In other words, Paul commands the Corinthians to have nothing at all to do with those things! Pretty obvious!

Paul is very clear - Separate from those who are unfaithful and make sure not to do not do any of the things they do! Period!

With that in mind, then it becomes clear that disciples of Jesus Christ, followers of the Lord are to...

Come Out from among...

Unfaithful people

Unfaithful fellowships

Unfaithful churches

Unfaithful denominations

Unfaithful organizations

Unfaithful Anything that embraces sin and rebellion against God or His Word

It should also be noted that in Revelation 3 interestingly Jesus Himself was found outside the Laodicean church knocking on the door. Jesus found Himself outside of that which He created - His church. For many, it appears that Jesus is walking up to a local fellowship and knocking on the door of the building where some believers are meeting. This simply cannot be what is being portrayed here at all. The term 'church' refers to the body of Christ and not the building in which it may be meeting. Jesus is knocking, seeking to get the attention of the body of Christ from outside of it. More specifically He was attempting to wake up individuals within the body. "If any 'man' hear my voice..." Do you see it? Jesus was on the outside! Jesus was outside the church! The reason He was outside was for the same reason we have just seen above - the church had embraced unrighteousness, darkness, wickedness, and unfaithfulness. Jesus would not have anything to do with any of that stuff so He 'came out' and separated Himself from it.


We must remember that the Word of God is not saying that we separate ourselves from out of the world, but rather separate ourselves within the world. We are to be a separate people in the world who do not participate in the deeds of darkness, but rather expose them and live separate from them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An Outsider

Needtobreathe's song, 'The Outsiders' caused me to really think a little deeper than normal. I love to think and even though I am no C.S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tokien I had a rush of emotions as an epiphany hit me. Or maybe it was the rush of acid reflux. Either way I begin to meditate upon this song. A few lines say; "We are the outsiders, oh we are the outsiders ... On the outside, you're free to roam, On the outside we found it home, On the outside there's more to see, On the outside we choose to be.."

I begin to think about that and how that many would take it that this song is talking about being saved and being on the outside of the lost world. Being on outside of 'lostness' or on the outside of the world that rejects Jesus, Christianity, etc.
But then I began to be reminded of what 2 Corinthians 6:17 says. It says; "Come out from their midst and be separate from them and do not touch what is unclean". As I have read this verse in the past, I quickly would say that the Apostle Paul is talking about being separated from the world, from that which is lost and not of God. That's cool and all, but then that 'epiphany' hit me and I thought that God also wants us to separate from all that is unclean, including religion, religious institutions, and yes religious people. Hmmm... O yea, remembering that Jesus is not a religion nor is He a building or denomination but rather He is a Person who happens to be God!

I then begin seeing that just as the song speaks of being on the outside, that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are justified by God's very Word to separate ourselves from even those who call themselves Christian, the church, and God's people. O NO! It can't be! Sure it can! One only needs to see the latter part of the verse mentioned earlier; "DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN". What is unclean? That which is sinful, wrong, and rebellion against God and His Word. So, if a fellow believer is willingly and openly rebelling against God and refusing to be obedient, then the follower has every authority to separate himself from the rebellious believer.
The same would go with a local fellowship (church) or even a denomination. If a fellowship or a denomination openly rebels against God, the faithful follower must separate himself from it or be guilty by association or by enabling the rebellion. If we remain in that which is wrong, then we actually condone the very thing which is wrong.

So with that in mind, we must exclude ourselves. We must depart! We must leave the 'inside' and head outside! In this case following the Lord must be done as an 'outsider' of the church. It has to be! There is no way to follow Jesus if we are tolerating sinfulness or rebellion. This in no way calls for perfection at all, but rather for a desire to be right and obedient to the Lord. We are all sinners and we all mess up every day, but living in open rebellion is unacceptable. Friends have parted ways, marriages have dissolved, and believers have departed fellowships/churches. On the surface one could argue that friends, marriages, and churches should work their problems out and stay together. Well that's admirable, but when open rebellion and an unwillingness to forsake the rebellion, the follower who desires to be right with God cannot stay in that situation.

Jesus Himself is actually the first 'outsider'. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus is standing at the door of the church knocking. Jesus was 'outside' the church. The Laodocean church was a church filled with people who were lukewarm, just existing. Jesus showed His disapproval by being 'outside' knocking on the door. He offered to come to anyone in the church who desired to open up to Him.

Unfortunately many churches today keep believers from growing and experiencing the wonderful life God has offered. Churches have been guilty of throwing cold water on the people of God and have kept them from enjoying the greatest gift in the world. Jesus came to give us abundant life and all the joys that go with it yet it seems that so few are living that life. What's up? What's wrong? What's going on?

Remember the line in the song? "On the outside we're free to roam, On the outside we found it home, On the outside there's more to see, On the outside we choose to be ..." That excites me and not only does it excite me, I have experienced it! In the past 5 months, I have been on the outside and it has been totally awesome and extremely life changing! The chains have been broken and I have been set free to roam, and see, and choose, and take hold of the mighty Hand of God in fresh and new ways! I have the freedom to follow, the freedom to enjoy, and the freedom to see so much more than I ever have. I am an outsider and I must say that the outside is so much better than being on the inside of those walls of tradition and institutionalism. Freedom is so cool! I love being an outsider! I have found that I am more like Jesus as an outsider. We've been having a good time being out here.