Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chapter 10.5 The Careless Jesus

This new chapter is written by one of my great friends Tom Broyles. He is a great man of God who has a heart to share Jesus with all. Thank you Tom for being a part of this!

I was so honored when Pastor Eddie asked me to write a chapter in his blog. I have known Eddie for several years. He was a faithful mentor and friend through many challenging seasons of my high school career. Anyone who knows the guy knows he is a genuine lover- of God and people. So I first just want to say, thank you, Pastor Eddie, for allowing God to use you as a tool to shape my walk with Him. I have a deep respect for you.

I have heard it stated by various ministers, church leaders, and brothers and sisters in Christ, “There is a call to holiness upon this generation.” And I could not agree more with this statement. We live in an evil world plagued with distractions, temptations, and sin, and our world is waiting for a model of what heaven looks like. However, this is NOT a new problem facing this specific generation. So I believe a more accurate statement would be, “There is a call to holiness upon EVERY generation.” God does not show favoritism, and His invitation for us to be like Him or “To be holy as He is holy” (Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:16) is for everyone in the body of Christ. Father wants us to experience the joy and fullness of His holiness- His character and nature- and NO ONE is excluded from that invite! In this chapter we will be talking about the “Careless Jesus” or the Jesus who just doesn't really care how we live.. err..um.. is that right?

Over the past year of my life, but especially the last few months, I have had some of the most humbling encounters with the Lord. The more I encounter the Lord’s holiness- His character and nature- the more I find myself longing to experience more of Him. I am well aware of the fact that I have just scratched the surface of Father’s goodness, and I can’t seem to shake that desire inside for more! God says about Himself in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” I believe if there is anything we can underestimate or fail to understand as followers of Jesus, it is His goodness, His kindness, and His gentleness- all of which make up His holiness. His attributes are what separate Him from us. We aren't good like He is good. We aren't kind like He is kind. We aren't gentle like He is gentle. However, these attributes are the very thing which He has called and invited His body to live in and become.

The Lord deeply cares about how you live your life. If He didn't then He would not have called you to partake in His holiness. I enjoy reading in the New Testament how Jesus speaks to the disciples versus how He speaks to the Pharisees. I think Jesus would put anyone to shame when it comes to name-calling, and He definitely let the Pharisees have it on more than one occasion. But honestly, one of the biggest differences between the disciples and the Pharisees were that the disciples’ hearts were positioned to receive from Jesus, and the Pharisees’ hearts were not. If we are not living holy as he is holy, it is because we are not receiving from Him. And if we are not receiving from Him it is for one of two reasons- lack of seeking, or unbelief. God calls unto us, but we as His children must believe and respond to Him!

Don’t be fooled! The enemy loves to blow us around by waves of doctrine and teaching. It’s one of his favorite tactics. A common one I have seen that comes up around the topic of God’s grace and holiness is this idea- “God loves you and has abounding grace over you, but expects you to turn by your own strength from your evil behavior.” This type of teaching puts the focus back on self and back on works. It’s the mentality that as a believer, God expects me to do more. He expects me to be more. And He expects me to live up to a standard that I’m never sure I will attain. This is NOT the Gospel. The good news of Jesus is that He changes us so that we can have new life through Him!- “If the spirit who raised Christ from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His spirit living in you.” (Romans 8:11)He isn't searching for you to do more- because “apart from Him we can do nothing.” (John 15:5) He is not looking for your good works- “It’s by grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) He doesn't really care about a bowed head and closed eyes. He cares about a bowed heart- “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 55:10). If we say that our faith is in His abounding grace, yet we try to become like Him by our own will, then how is that a testimony to the grace of God? And if He has given us his spirit to put to death our flesh (Romans 8:13), then how could we possibly, once called into His fullness, perfect ourselves by our own will- our flesh? It is impossible. Jesus came so that we might have life right now, and living in the fullness of that life doesn't mean we are perfect, it means we are satisfied in His perfection because our hearts are yielded to His character and nature.

You were designed to commune with Father. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve had communion with God ‘s presence and were given a promise of eternal life. They were innocent like new born babies in the sense that they did not know right from wrong, all they knew was the presence of Father and His promise of life to them. It says in Genesis 3:8 that God walked beside them in the cool of the day. However, their promise of eternal life was based upon their obedience to God’s command, “You shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:17) And this truth of receiving eternal life through our obedience still stands today. However, our obedience is not to the first Adam who willfully disobeyed in the the Garden of Eden, but to the second who yielded His will in the Garden of Gethsemane. Likewise, the first Adam disobeyed God’s command by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the face of much temptation, but the second obeyed God’s command by dying on a tree and yielding his will to Father in the face of much persecution. Therefore, if the children of Israel who were born under the law, “Thou shalt not..” as the first Adam was and had a communion with Father that was so intense that it split the Red Sea in Half, caused Moses’ face to shine with glory, and anyone who opposed them to fall to their knees in submission (the list could go on), how much more and greater is our communion with Father being born under the law of grace through the second Adam, Jesus Christ!

Jesus came because He cares about the way you live your life. As humans we naturally live our lives contrary to the way God intended us to live. However, through personal, intimate communion with Father we can become holy as He is holy and live a life that is pleasing to Him. All of heaven bows before His throne and shouts, “Holy!” If we obey the work he has for us we can come in and find out what they mean. He has already paid the way. Do you want to go?

“And this is the work God has for you: believe in the one he has sent.”

-Jesus in John 6:29

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chapter 10.4 The Mean Jesus

Well now that we are done with "Materialistic Christianity" I want to talk about another kind of "Jesus" that plagues the body of Christ in America... The Mean Jesus. This "Jesus" is, in my mind at least, one of the worst versions ever! In this part of the miniseries I want to cover how we make God look bad by making His son be a mean unforgiving person. It really breaks my heart to see people turn away from God because of his followers but most of all because we make Jesus to be a bad guy who is just waiting to deny anyone access to a relationship with him.

Like always I would like to give a disclaimer right off the bat, see with most of the extremest there are spots of truth, see God does not like sin what so ever. I do believe he will judge sin and that there will be punishment for sin. I do know that Jesus did talk about hell a lot more than he did about heaven and finally that we must, as followers of Christ, become renewed in him and not live an unholy life. With all of that being said let us go into the subject at hand "The Mean Jesus".

So what is some of the characteristics of the "Mean Jesus"? Well he is full of hate and dislike toward many things. He loves his followers to spread the message of displeasure of this world. Most of all he only wants a relationship with you if you are willing to get yourself right before you come to Him. He is an all around unlikable guy. You know what is really funny about the "Mean Jesus" is that his followers think that they are safe from him but in reality if they come to find the real Jesus they are now on his hit list. See the people who believe in this kind of Jesus are not just the really loud out spoken ones they are the ones who secretly hate other people and claim it to be okay because God would too. The "Mean Jesus" people make God look bad by simply taking grace out of the equation. The reason that is a big problem is because grace is something that makes Christianity a very unique religion and without it our faith would amount to nothing.

I have brought up to separate kinds of ideas when it comes to the "Mean Jesus" now I want to talk about both of them. Now the first one we all know about cause we can see it all the time on the news. I will try and refrain from naming names but I believe most of you know what I am talking about. When ever a group of people say they are representing Christ and say things like, "God hates fags", or, "Thank God for dead soldiers", or the worst, "God hates you", those people are not speaking for God at all! If you preach a God that hates anyone you are not preaching the God of the Bible. Now I know that the old testament there was a lot of people God judged but nowhere did it say He did so because of his hate for the people. God judged them for their acts of sin. These kinds of people who preach the "Mean Jesus" can not tell the difference and just do a blanket statement of God hating everyone. This is far from the representation of the God of the Bible. God desperately wants a relationship with his people and did literally everything to make that happen so how can He hate them? The easy answer to that is, He doesn't! This kind of Jesus will not win souls nor help people come out of their sin. This "Mean Jesus", it seems like he wants them to be like that so He can judge them and send them to hell. The sad part is that when this Jesus is preached it makes no one want to hear about the real one. The last point on this part of the "Mean Jesus" is that while watching an interview with a former member of one of the churches that preach this way said, "I felt like God hated me", it gets no more sadder than that. Like I said earlier not even the people who follow the "Mean Jesus" is not safe, He rules with fear.

Now the other "Mean Jesus" is sorta of a secret agent. See he does not wave banners or protest He just sits in the hearts of people who claim to follow the real Jesus. This kind of "Mean Jesus" shows His ugly head when His followers are confronted with people they just dislike for one reason or another. This "Mean Jesus" shows up in racism, sexist, bigoted, class wars, and all around selfishness. The reason this "Mean Jesus" is hard to see is because he only comes out when the person who has Him in their heart is confronted with one of the people they dislike. I have a little of a personal story with this kind of "Mean Jesus". I used to go to church, very rarely, when I was a kid. I will leave the church nameless and the people involved that way too. I will just tell you that it was a white church and the other person involved was black. Now this black guy, who is a very close family friend, came to see my dad one day and found out he was at church so he decided to come see him there. Once my fathers friend got into the church he was asked to leave, my dad's friend did not make it any further than the front door. When he asked why he had to leave he was told, "this is not your kinds church and we do not want you here", and right then the "Mean Jesus" shows his ugly face. I do want to say that I do not believe that this was the feelings of the whole church but it was said by one of the ushers. My dad's friend did leave with out a fuss but even so that was very much unacceptable. This is not the Jesus who loved everyone and wanted everyone to come hear what he had to say about the Father. This is not the Jesus who freed a promiscuous woman from being stoned. No this is the "Mean Jesus" who says that if you do not fit in with us you must leave. There really is not to many other things that makes God look bad than making a relationship with him limited to certain people.

We must not stand for any of this in the body of Christ. We know that our God loves and wants people to love also. We can not simply watch people be turned away from the love of God because of this "Mean Jesus". We must teach the gospel and His love to all. We can not and will not back down from these kinds of people who love to share hate to everyone. This "Mean Jesus" does not really exist, except in peoples mind, and we should have no problem showing everyone this. We all are saved by grace through faith because of the love of God and we need to make sure everyone knows of this. He does not want you to have to clean yourself up before coming to Him, no He wants you just as you are so he can change you. God loves all of us and desires for us to come to Him as children asking for our fathers love and help. To sum it all up the "Mean Jesus" is a made up monster and has no power what so ever.

Then what can we do to solve this problem? Just stand up against all of this. So let me ask you, are you standing up? Can you tell when someone crosses the line into "Mean Jesus" preaching? Is there a little bit of "Mean Jesus" in your theology? Are we willing to be the louder voice for the real Jesus or just let these people have the platform to continue making God look bad?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chapter 10.3 The Magic Genie Jesus

So coming off the heels of the last chapter, thank you Kris for the truth you so eloquently said, I plan to keep the to idea of "Materialistic Christianity". We have talked about one side of this type of Christianity, "Prosperity Gospel", now we will be talking about the "Name it and claim it Gospel". Unlike the "Prosperity Gospel" the "Name it and claim it Gospel" is less about reaping and sowing, even though that is Biblical it is twisted and mainly preached in the "Prosperity Gospel", this teaching is about speaking your blessings into your hands. I do want to give a disclaimer with this because I do believe we have life and death in our tongues but when that is twisted to be about getting worldly goods it just crosses the line.

Let me start with saying that I do believe that we should speak life into situations and people. I will stand by the idea of praying and speaking life over ministries, people, bad situations, marriages, children, etc. I just believe that when we cross the line into trying to say that something will be ours and not pray for the will of God first it tries to put us on the thrown and take God off. We must not be wrapped up in things of this world and our wants above what God wants us to have. The "Materialistic Gospel" goes beyond just being healthy and wealthy it tries to hold a knife to God's throat by using his principles in an improper way. There are many principles in the word of God that when used properly will bring wholeness to ones life but when we make it more about what we want on earth than what God wants we twist His words to fit our desires.

I want to do the rest of this chapter a little different. I want to do a small list of why this makes God look bad instead of just paragraph after paragraph about this subject. So lets just look at this subject.

1) We are not entitled to anything at all. Everything we get from God is because of grace through Christ.

Yes we do have a new life in Christ but that does not mean getting stuff. Yes we can speak things into life for us but we should also first seek the Kingdom of God. We are not entitled to everything we want instead we are meant to live a life sold out for God. He does want us to have life and life more abundant but that does not equal stuff it equals a life that is in the fullness of God.

2) Are the gifts more important than the gift giver?

Why have we made this Christian life more about what God can give to us than what we can give to God? The reason this bothers me is because if we are only in this relationship with God is to get stuff than we are in it for the wrong reason.

3) How does any of that stuff bring glory to God?

I know that our God is the God with cattle on a thousand hills but if he put you in charge of it how would that bring him glory? I do believe that he does put people in charge of things and also blesses people but if all of his people are rich how exactly will that bring Him glory? Some may argue that if his people are rich than it would draw more people to Him but I remember a scripture that says that if we lift Him up, not if he lifts us up, that he will draw all men to him.

4) Faithful with little?

So you are naming stuff for God to give you huh? Well are you faithful with what you have now? How dare us treat what God has already given us as not enough. Was his son's death on the cross not enough? Was that open invitation to salvation just not enough? What more do we need for it to be enough? We sound like spoiled brats to God when we make His gifts already in our lives so trivial. He has blessed us more than we already deserve by sending His son to die for our sins.

5) A promise is a promise?

Yes he has promised us many things, some of them I have cover in earlier chapters, but why do we simply hold on to the promises we like? He not only promised us good times but also hard times. He said He would give us what we asked for but He also said that if we asked it out of selfish desires we would not receive those things.

6) Principles put in proper use.

Just because a principle is in the Bible does not mean we can just go use it how ever we want, and if we did we look no better than how the world treats the Bible. God's principles are in the Bible to help make us better not to give us things that we want. If we misuse His principles it is like telling our parents we want something and they have to give it to us simply because they are our parents. Yes God is Abba Father but would you look at your parents and tell them that they have to give you things just because they care about you. When we do that we sound like that teenage boy who tries to tell a girl that she will sleep with him if she loves him. When we hear that we all think that is sick but in a way are we not doing that to God?

7) As in Heaven?

What would look wonderful is if people would say, "Let my life on this earth look like what God sees my life look like in heaven". We should be more worried about what God wants us to have and not so much what we want to have. Christ prayed that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is in heaven but are we as concerned about this matter as we should be? Instead of us naming things here on earth for the "glory of God" shouldn't we be speaking the will of God, as it is done in heaven, over everything.

Those are just a few things that come to mind when I think about "Materialistic Christianity". We can not and must not be driven by worldly desires in any way. We are meant to be followers of Christ and lay our lives down for the glory of the Gospel. Some people may be rich followers of Christ and some may not but over all we must be followers. I will leave you with a quote from John Piper that I believe sums up the thought of following Christ rightly and not driven by worldly desires. John Piper said, "God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him". He must be what satisfies us and nothing else. He is our goal and should be the only thing that drives our lives and how we live. He should be everything to us and anything else He chooses to give us is literally just icing on the cake. 

I have no questions to ask because I believe I have posed enough of them to you throughout this chapter so go back and read them. Answer them honestly and see if you are being a "Biblical Christian" or a "Materialistic Christian".

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chapter 10.2 The Lottery Ticket Jesus

Materialistic Christianity a.k.a “The Prosperity Gospel” 

As I was asked by a very good friend, Eddie Barnes, to write a chapter for his blog on what is known as the “Prosperity” gospel, I thought long and hard about how to go about it. There are so many writings about this very subject, both in argument for and against it, so I wanted to go about it a little bit differently. Instead of doing a point-by-point, verse-by-verse, breakdown of this way of thinking, I actually want to talk about the danger of this belief, not from a theological level, but a philosophical one.

Why, you might ask? Well, at it’s core, the so-called “prosperity gospel” finds its deepest flaws in its philosophy of what God’s ultimate goal in a person’s life is, as well as how He measures
success. If you are looking for a Biblical breakdown on this matter, there are many articles you can read, either online or in book form. Now that the methodology of this treatise has been set, let us get started!

You may (or may not) have noticed that I have given the term “Materialistic Christianity” first billing in the title instead of it’s more common moniker, “The Prosperity Gospel”. This is for a few
reasons. First of all, I believe it is a more accurate name for the actual belief itself and what it produces. Secondly, to attach the term “gospel” to this belief is to give it a weighty legitimacy that it does not deserve, so “Materialistic Christianity” it is.

At the center of this belief is the use of the Greek term, εὐοδόω (yoo-od-o’-o), in the New Testament in verses such as 3 John 1:2. The term is actually the product of two words, εὖ (yoo), which means, “well done or to fare well,” and ὁδός (ho-dos), which means, literally, “the road or journey,” or metaphorically, “the way of thinking; the course of conduct.” εὐοδόω to the believer essentially meant that success or prosperity in life was measured by how well you accomplished your journey of life - Did you accomplish or fulfill all that you were called to be in this life?

For Paul, prospering meant that he had run his race fully (2 Tim. 4:7,8), with no bearing on how materially blessed he was. In fact, it was his belief that he was to be content whether he was poor or rich, full or hungry (Phil. 4:12). εὐοδόω can be summed up in this one phrase Jesus Himself used to end one of His parables: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Why is this distinction in the definition of this term so important? It simply comes down to this: the difference in philosophy between relief and freedom.

The danger of materialistic Christianity is that it makes the goal of Christ’s life in you to make your life better on this earth. It puts all of its eggs in the basket of THIS life - the temporal, flawed, corruptible one. It says that all of God’s promises are not just mine, they are mine RIGHT NOW. It is not God’s will for me to go through any adversity or material lack. So much of what you see from the proponents of such beliefs is not much different from the prodigal son, who demanded the fullness of his father’s inheritance and tried to make it his before it was his time. Materialistic Christianity is the church’s contribution to the development of the Entitlement Generation that exists today, the one that says, “It’s mine, and I want it right now!”

In the end, the flaw of Materialistic Christianity is that it puts the emphasis of Christ’s work as a means of relief instead of the power of freedom. We want Him to provide relief for us; when I don’t have money, He HAS TO give it to me. When I am sick, He HAS TO make me well. We become that child who begs his mother of father for the toy he wants, saying, “I NEED IT,” then breaking down into a fit in the middle of the store when he doesn't get it.

Materialistic Christianity breeds weak believers, ones who are embolden in their faith when things are well, but fall apart and cry out, “Why have you forsaken me!” when God should dare have the audacity to have them walk through the fire of adversity or tribulation for our own growth. Even worse, we will make immature, pleasure-based decisions, then “claim” our "inheritance” when we are forced to face the consequences!

God’s aim is not to give you relief; He wants you to be free! Materialistic Christianity teaches you that joy & peace comes when God removes all adversity from your life and blesses with money, wealth, and health in every area, but the true gospel teaches that joy & peace comes when those things no longer have mastery over you.

So what is real? Is true life about this temporal existence or the eternal one? Which is more real? Isn't it time we stop attempting to hold God hostage to an idea of “prosperity” that isn't actually prosperous?

Prosperity, εὐοδόω, in a believer’s life is not measured by what you can gain materially, but by how well you complete your journey. That is the TRUE philosophy of Biblical prosperity. THAT is the real Prosperity Gospel.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chapter 10.1: The American Jesus

So who is the "American Jesus"? Well that is a broad question. See, on this subject we will be looking at Jesus as a cultural figure and how we have tried to make him something he is not here in America. There are many subcultures within the idea of the "American Jesus" and we will be touching on many of them throughout this miniseries. The first part I will be talking about is how we have tried to fit Jesus into our culture instead of making our culture conform to Jesus.

Now, there are many people who say that at the birth of America our forefathers tried to make our country a Christian nation with God, Jesus, and the Bible being our bedrock of morals. I really do not plan to make an argument other wise I am just going to point out that just as much as we are a very different country from what we once were, we also have a very different culture than what our forefathers had dreamed for us. Even if we at one time were a "Christian nation" we are most definitely not one now. So here is my big problem with that, we can not simply say that what we do as a culture is anywhere close to lining up with the Bible let alone claim that Jesus is cool with this culture.

I do want to move on because I do not want to simply point out that as a whole country we are not Christian. What I do want to talk about is how we as Christians have tried to fit Jesus into our view point and call it Godly. I have a personal term for what goes on in American Christianity, someone else may have called it this too I just have not heard, but I call it "cultural Christianity". So what is "cultural Christianity"? Well to be honest, as a whole, it is religiosity, legalism, and at worst very much like the pharisees in the times of Jesus. We have made Jesus and the Bible simply a rule book to live by and not the Gospel and the truth. The flip side to this, in "cultural Christianity", is that if Jesus and the Bible are not the rule book, Jesus and the Bible are too harsh and we should take everything that was said as just a suggestion at best. So in this chapter I will be looking at both of them briefly and trying to shed some light on how both of these view points are making God look bad.

On the rougher side of the "American Jesus" people will be like, "If we do not like this or that than Jesus wouldn't either, so we are right". Now do not get me wrong there are things that the "world" is trying to say is right when it most definitely is not but I am not talking about that I am talking about things inside of the Body of Christ. "Cultural Christianity" has made God, Jesus, and the Bible something that it was never meant to be, a list of don'ts. Now again do not get me wrong there are a lot of things that we should not do but when we make it just about that we are really missing the message. See in "cultural Christianity" if you simply don't do a certain list of things, and that list will vary depending on who you follow, then praise the "American Jesus" you are a Christian. That could not be further from the truth though. Jesus did not die and raise again simply for you to not be able to do things. Jesus came so we could have life and life more abundant. When we make Christianity simply a list of don'ts and leave out what is desired for us to do than we make impotent and ignorant followers of Christ. I like how Jesus himself put it, "a form of Godliness with no power". If you follow the "American Jesus" then you will become someone who might not do bad things but also has no works to show that your faith even exists. It would be like telling someone if they simply eat right they will be healthy. That is not true either because if someone eats right but just lays around all day then they are really no more healthy than the person who may eat wrong but still goes to the gym to work out, neither person is truly healthy. Not only does this teaching raise up powerless Christians but it also raises up people who "know" what God does not want so much so that they will rally behind something that is not even Biblical. What I mean by that is twenty years ago there where people who would protest against biracial marriage, sadly there are still people who think that it is wrong, and what is worst is that these people thought they were doing the will of God. This kind of "cultural Christianity" will bring about people who do not know how to show the love and grace of Christ while at the same time thinking that they are justified by being that way. This kind of "American Jesus" will raise up radical, not in the good way, kind of followers that will be loud and think that they are talking for God all at the same time causing people to turn away from the true Jesus.

The other kind of "American Jesus" is the one who allows all kinds of sin in the name of love and peace. The people who follow this kind of Jesus are the ones who will change what the Bible says to fit it into the culture today. "American Jesus" will be okay with what ever is the hot topic subject that is at hand no matter if it is something that can be perfectly spelled out in the Bible as wrong. In this "cultural Christianity" Jesus changes his mind as much as we do. It is okay for whatever as long as the majority, sometimes the minority, says it is. This "American Jesus" has no back bone and all his words are either suggestions or at worst just not literal at all. This other part of "cultural Christianity" will say that everything is okay just to say that Jesus is love and would not have a problem with anything cause he loves everyone so much. Where this may be true to people coming to know Christ it is not true once someone has become a new creation in Him. The culture of this Jesus is that if it offends anyone it can not be God. God to this "cultural Christianity" has no hell or judgement. He is just a loving "sky daddy" who even if you have done wrong your punishment will only be for a little bit then you get to be with him forever. This contradicts what the Bible says about God being the perfect judge and that his judgement is final. This "cultural Christianity" will also not hold back on throwing stones at the other side and call them intolerant because they do not show love well enough to people.

So over all who is the "American Jesus"? Well he is a bipolar guy who either hates the culture today or is completely fine with it. He is either all judgement or all love. He either will send everyone, except the ones who stand up and shout about his "laws", to hell or everyone to heaven. Both of these "American Jesuses" are sold to people all over America and it makes me shutter to my core. Nether side has the fullness of the Gospel in mind when they try and paint Jesus in this way. As I have said before God is perfect love and perfect justice. Even though it may hurt peoples feelings hell is real and awaits people who do not call on the name of Jesus for salvation. On the flip side he does not take pleasure in doing this. Jesus is waiting, arms wide open, to bring anyone who calls on Him into relationship with Him. Yes there are rules to following Jesus but those are things that by the guiding of the Holy Spirit and the Bible we will find out are truth. There may be some gray areas in there but to become a new creation is to lay aside your culture and take hold of the culture of the Kingdom of God. We really make God look bad when we try to superimpose our own culture or world view on him instead of being transformed in our mind to the way He wants things done and the view He has for this world.

We as true followers of Christ can no longer sit on the fence when it comes to this subject. The "American Jesus" is not the one of the Bible. We can not just be silent when it comes to either side of this subject. We must stand up with boldness and love to these kinds of things while at the same time trying to reveal the truth of who Jesus really is. If you are wondering who the real Jesus is then like always go and study it for yourself. We have not "cornered the market" on Jesus or the Gospel. We must change our culture, first inside the body of Christ and then the world, to conform to what God says it should look like. We can only do this by preaching the fullness of the Gospel and not just with the parts that we like.

Like always let me ask you some questions. In what way have you tried to make Jesus American? Do you believe that Jesus would be pleased with the way the "Church of America" looks right now? In what way can we stand up against these things to hopefully bring about change?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chapter 10: Lets Look At Jesus

Okay so we have covered many things on a wide verity of subjects but now it is time to talk about the most important subject of all, JESUS CHRIST!!! This is a subject my brothers and I have touched on in many ways but now it is time to take a closer look at just Jesus. This chapter will not be broken down in to just two parts, oh no this chapter will be a ten part miniseries. Now I know that it can be much longer but I really just want to cover the many misconceptions of our Lord and savoir Jesus Christ. In this miniseries I will have help from many people all leading up to a super chapter with thoughts on Jesus from every coauthor that has written so far. So strap in, listen up, enjoy, and hopefully we all learn something during the next ten weeks.

This first part is not going to be like any of my other chapters because I plan to lay some ground work for the subjects we are going to touch on and that is all. I will let everyone know what the next ten weeks will hold and will try to give brief explanations of what will be talked about and why I feel lead to talk about these subjects. To be completely honest I am very excited to go into this subject matter and have been waiting on this from the start, if you do not already know I have planned out this blog all the way to the end of the year. God has laid on my heart everything from the start and there has been many nights that I have been woken up or not been able to sleep due to what God was telling me He wanted me to talk about. So with out further ado lets look at Jesus.

I will start by covering the idea of the "American Jesus". In that part we will look at how we as Americans have twisted Jesus into our culture. I am not talking about the early founders and their beliefs but instead how American cultural Christianity have made Jesus something he is not to fit our world view. The next part of this series will be "The Lottery Ticket Jesus". I have been promising to talk about the problems with the "prosperity gospel" for a while and now I will finally do it. I do not really have a problem with believing that God wants to take care of his children but when you cross the line into the idea of God being some kind of money pyramid scheme that is when I have to say something. I personally believe that we should want to know the gift giver more than the gifts that can be given and when it comes to this subject we look a lot like the practical son than anything else. The next part, "The Magic Genie Jesus", will tie into the same matter because along with the "prosperity gospel" there is the "name it and claim it" kind of people that make it seem that God is just some kind of magic genie that we can appeal to and then we can get what we want. If we scratch God's back he will have to scratch ours and well plainly that is not really how it works.

After the first three parts we will go back to the normal format of two sides of the same idea, just like all the chapters that have been posted so far. We will look at the "Mean Jesus" and the "Careless Jesus". We will be going over things like the Westboro Baptist and people who try to use Jesus as some kind of person who loves but also hates people if they do not agree with their theology. Then we will look at the idea of the "hyper-grace gospel" and how this teaching makes Jesus look like someone who is okay with sin somehow. The next two parts are going to be the "Non-charismatic Jesus" and the "Charismatic Jesus". We will be looking at a feud inside the church that has been going on since the start of the 1900's. We will look at both sides and see why fighting over this is Making God look bad.

The final two part split up of this series will be a little more controversial because we will be dealing with race. We will be looking at the "White Jesus" and the "Black Jesus". Now some people may think that this is bad but as a follower of Christ I think it is time to air out some of our problems with this. We will be looking at how we as people try to make Jesus fit into our own little personal ideas. We will look at the culture of these two things and how we try to call what we see as our own is right. Just as a side note Jesus was not white nor black but a Jew who was born and raised in the middle east. I am very much against racism. I think that the church being broken up due to race or culture because of race is something that really makes God look bad.

The last part, as I said in the start of this chapter, will be a mash up of everyone who has helped write so far. We will be taking a look at the "Real Jesus". We will be taking a paragraph or two to look at what the Bible says about Jesus. There may be some overlap but that would be great because then you will be able to see that when we focus on what the Bible has to say about Jesus we should be seeing the same things. This miniseries will be a challenging one but also hopefully fun and eye opening to all. Please be praying for all the authors that have agreed to help me and me also that we will seek God for what he wants to say on these matters. We only want to bring truth and not opinions when it comes to the matter of our Lord.

There everything is in a nutshell and I really hope everyone will check it out. Tell others about what is about to happen and give us your feed back. The only reason everyone and myself are doing this is to try to shed some light on the most important matter, Jesus Christ. I am not promising you any great revelation nor some truth that you might not already know but what I am promising is people willing to seek out the truth and bring it to you. I look forward to what is to come and hope you do to. Let me ask you just one thing.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chapter 9.5: Spirit and Truth: Spirit

       My brother Arthur Criste, who is a worship leader for God's House Maui, has helped me author the last part of this chapter. In this chapter we have covered worshiping God in the truth and now we will look at what it means to worship in spirit.

       John 4:23, Gal 5:13-22, Romans 8:1, and 12:1. These are the first few verses we will be looking at when it comes to what it means to worship God in the spirit. First thing we must be is filled with the spirit but what does that mean? Well, being filled with spirit means having the fruit of the spirit manifest. Which are all connected to pleasing and honoring our Father through worship and praise. This is powerful because being filled with His spirit will allow the truth to operate the way God intended it. The truth of course is the word of God. His truth is the breath which brings forth life and life more abundantly. The Bible says the truth shall set you free!!! The only way you can truly be set free is through Jesus Christ and His spirit. Which is why I believe Jesus, the son of God, is the only way to please the father. God desires to be worshiped by His spirit and truth. We can't please God just by our earthly desires because it will always be tainted and misguided by our own desires but we can do this through the Holy Spirit. That is why it says in John 4:24: God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

John 14:6 truth John 6:63: Spirit

       The Bible says the He is the way the Truth and it also says that He is the light. The Bible goes on to say God is spirit which is why I believe God desires us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. One of the ways His spirit is described is a movement of air or in other words a gentle blast of the wind. Simply put He is a breath of fresh air. We need the spirit of God like we need the very air we breathe. Just one breath of God that is all it takes. The Spirit of God will bring life, comfort, peace, power to break any chain, it brings love, it brings hope, and takes us into that place of pureness where you are stripped down to nothing but yet feel so much more fulfilled because of His spirit. These two things cannot be separated because it is a unit He didn't want us to separate. We can not have one without the other because to have the fullness of worship you will need to have both. When you try to separate the two and only operate in one or hold one above the other you are not tapping into the fullness of what God has in store for you. It is like if you took the peanut butter away from a peanut butter jelly sandwich, it is stills good when it is on its own but they are best when they are put together.
       So, if we desire to give God our best worship we should have the desire to worship Him the way he would liked to be worshiped. A way of looking at is like this: I'm happily married to a wonderful beautiful wife and she has a certain way that she would like to be loved. She desires that I do some house work like wash the dishes, fold the laundry, throw out the trash, and etc. She also desires that I communicate with her better, like having conversations about our day, what is coming up, and etc. So these are just a couple examples of the way my wife feels loved. If I would just ignore some of these things and hardly ever did them, would she feel like I do not truly love her? No, but she would probably think that I am not listening to her and therefore do not really truly care about the way she would like to be loved. When you are in a relationship you are not trying to get what you want from them. Instead think of how you can best please the other person, which is what really makes for successful relationships, if you are only thinking about yourself and what you can get out of the relationship it will not flourish into all what that relationship can be. I believe this is the same way with God. When it comes to worship and loving our Father He makes it very clear on how He would like to be loved and worshiped. He is such a loving father He designed worship in the easiest most fulfilling way possible. You won't only please Him but you will learn to draw closer and closer to Him. The more you do this naturally your whole life will reflect the fruit of the spirit and you will have more love, joy peace, kindness, gentleness, meekness, and self control. Then through the spirit God's truth will be able to function the way He intended it to function with no ulterior motives just purity and truth.
       So I propose this as we end, how are you worshiping our father? As I expressed early, is it what our Father Desires? Lets really dig deep into His word and dive into the depths of His heart to find what He desires. All He wants is your yes, but lets really give Him our all by studying His word, spending time with Him in prayer, filling yourself with His songs, and most of all living this life as a worshiper of Him. As Eddie mentioned in the last chapter, lets serve others be it at work, at school, at home, with our family, and our friends as if we were serving Jesus himself. How much more would we respect one another, how much more would we give the shirt off of our own back, and how much more would we spend time with people we feel we can't stand. Lets make a difference in this world by living a life of services to our God by being that servant to all as we would serve Him. Let us all die to our selfish desires and look to Him.
       I love you all my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us all link arms and represent Christ the way He intended us too. Lets not regard ourselves by race, culture, social status, denomination, church, or anything else society says instead lets be a people of who are lovers of God and His ways!!!! Being the most loving and encouraging people on this earth. We can only do all these things if we submit to the Holy Spirit which is the kind of worship the Father really desires.

       Thank you very much brother. We must not get side tracked by tradition, which we love to call the spirit, but instead submit to what God has said in His word and is saying now to our hearts. To worship God in the way He desires is simple; being lead by the spirit and submitting to the truth. When we do this we make God look good. When we do not and say that we are, we are making God look bad. Let us no longer take for granted the freedom given to us through the death and resurrection of Christ but rather take that freedom to worship God the way He intended us to.