Monday, November 16, 2009

Who We Really Are

Have you ever been misunderstood? Maybe if we really knew who we are, other people would truly know us also.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

God and Dog

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Imagine No Legalism!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lens-Foisters - Our Vison, Your Eyes!


Lens-Foisters. Where the World sees through our eyes!

The Lens-Foisters Difference


Maybe you wonder what sets Lens-Foisters apart from the rest? It's pretty simple, really - our unwavering, never-ending commitment to a narrow point of view and a sense of dissatisfaction with those who see the Bible as actively promoting relationship rather then religion. Our stores are conveniently located in the foyer of your churches, denominational colleges and seminaries.

We now have outlets in house churches and home Bible studies! We have proudly prescribed lenses for the vast majority of todays Christian leaders. We stand ready to cater to your paradigm needs. Whether it's recycled methods of the inquisition or just a simple shunning, our lenses will help you see clearly what must be done. Simply put, we love our power. And we'll do whatever it takes to make sure you become totally dependent on the Lens-Foisters experience from start to finish. Remember our motto is, "Our paradigms never shift!"

How our lens work.

We have spent centuries developing special lens coatings so that no matter what you look at or read while wearing our lenses it all fits into the paradigm we developed hundreds of years ago! You never need to fear a new idea, a lingering doubt or the possibility that you might be wrong about something. With our lenses your views, opinions and beliefs will never be challenged. Just imagine, you can go your whole lifetime and not once have to change your beliefs (well our beliefs)! While wearing our lenses you can be sure that no supernatural entity can influence your thoughts or trouble your mind!

Remember that even though our lenses work best for reading, we also have special coatings that allow you see acts of power mongering and arrogance as "tough love". Those lenses automatically filter out the poor and the needy. They let you focus on the important things such as consolidating power, increasing financial prosperity and building your legacy.

Introducing the incredible iGlasses!

Be sure to check out our exciting new line called iGlasses, these incredible new lenses are directly linked to an internet database in which you can report any deviation to orthodox doctrine that you see, in real time!! For the first time, new agers, emergents, Buddhist sympathizers, grace wasters and universalists can be tracked and reported just by glaring at the offender through these amazing lenses! Not only are the offenders logged into the celestial database but you will get scripture references and appropriately worded denunciations visually displayed on the lenses special heads up display!

But wait, there is more!

If you act today we will also include your very own, imitation gold plated, plastic Doctrine Police Badge! You can be the first on your block to kick down your neighbors doors and demand their heretical belief statements! Imagine the power and authority you will feel as you put people in their places!

badge


This is unbelievable, but wait there is more!!


If you buy a pair within the next 30 days we will automatically include the guilt by association coating! Our system is linked into twitter, facebook and myspace. We have already identified every known heretic and if the person you are viewing through our lenses has ever emailed, messaged, texted, commented or has a friend who is a friend of one of these offenders your lenses will start to glow so that you know that they are eligible for rebuking! You can confidently put your Doctrine Police badge to use with this special coating!

You won't believe this, But wait there is more!


If you act within the hour you will receive our incredibly powerful Gaydar coating!
We know how hard it is, from the upper rows of the third balcony of your megachurch, to spot which member of the worship team is limp wristed or just slightly overly flamboyant. So we have developed this special coating so that such an abomination cannot slip by you! Our testing has made sure we don't confuse the average metrosexual with the true homosexual. When the Gaydar coating is activated it glows pink and displays verses from Leviticus on the advanced heads up display. The soon to be announced Gaydar Nextgen coating will eliminate the false activations caused by pastors who wear pink shirts or female singers who have very short hair due to chemotherapy.

Don't wait, this is a limited time offer. This offer is not valid in Salt Lake City, Mecca or Dallas Theological Seminary.

Of course our real claim to fame is how our lenses filter the Bible. Here are some examples (they work well with all Bible versions, but we find that they are most effective with the King James version):

Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye say ye have superior moral values, and if ye obey some of the laws of Moses some of the time.

Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
Romans 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
Romans 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness by Jesus and the acts of billions and billions of acts of people believing, confessing and repenting there resulted justification of life to all men (if at the end of their lives the requests for forgiveness equal or exceed the number of sins committed).

19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One and billions and billions of other men and women doing even more billions and billions of acts of believing, receiving and repenting the many will be made righteous (if at the end of their lives the requests for forgiveness equal or exceed the number of sins committed).

Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is better off then those who think they are saved by grace.


Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
Matt 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
Matt 7:1 "Judge others or people will think you are hiding something"


Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
John 12: 31 Sometime in the early 21st century is the judgment of this world: Then shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw a few men unto me.
33 This he said, has nothing to do with the death he should die.

Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is of this world: since my kingdom is of this world, then so shall my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but someday..in the far distant future is my kingdom but not now.

Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
Matt 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
Matt 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from when you appeared outwardly to attain high morals:
35 For I was an hungered and ye rebuked the heretics: I was thirsty, and ye stoned the effeminate: I was a stranger, and ye shunned the non-Sabbath observers:
36 In my robe, and ye judged your neighbor: I was sick, and ye called those who love others warm and fuzzy spiritual babies: I was in prison, and ye disciplined your brethren.

Without Lens-Foister Lenses:
Heb 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

With Lens-Foister Lenses:
Heb 8:12 For I will not be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more but I want you to keep a detailed track of them for me and you can do that best by buying and using Lens-Foisters new iGlasses!


So you can clearly see that it would almost be impossible to live a lifestyle of judgment, condemnation and self-righteousness without the Lens-Foisters family of products to protect your paradigm. Call us today, your peace of mind depends on it!

(Thanks to Dena for coining the term Lens-Foisters in her blog)
http://shalomdena.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It is time for me to confess

I have denied it ever since I was a kid, but I can no longer live like this. At 55 it is time to be open and honest about it. When I became a Christian at age 16, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then I was just realizing, I am still that way. I know I am. And I just reached a place where I cannot take it anymore — when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, "Just end this."

To be guilty of something that the Bible calls an abomination 4 times in 3 consecutive verses surely must make me the worst of the worse. I really don't know if I was born this way or perhaps something just makes me choose this thing. Maybe it is rooted in some need to rebel against God.

If people really knew who I was, that what I have done is an abomination, I would never be accepted.

Even though I rarely engage in it (I mostly try to tamp down the desire), I know in my heart what I really am. It is like I have two identities, one which people see and find acceptable and one which is a terrible abomination before the God who never changes, the one who says that not one jot or title shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled.

Despite being happily married for over 30 years and having children and grandchildren there were occasions in which I faltered. I thought I hid it well. I didn’t know people could see what I was going through, the darkness and the struggle. After I confessed my abomination to my family, my daughter said she was afraid to walk in my bedroom or kitchen because she was afraid she’d find me — that I’d done something to myself. And I didn’t even know they’d picked it up.

My family’s reaction took time, but the bottom line was they loved me and they still love me … it’s been an amazing journey of acceptance on their part … I was offered support and love from each member of my family, including my wife.

So now I must confess not only to my family but to all, all those who have read my blog posts and thought I was a citizen in good standing in the Kingdom of God. Though I may be an abomination in God's sight I pray for your forgiveness and understanding.

I am guilty of a quadruple abomination. Leviticus 11:10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcasses in abomination.

12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

I admit it! I love lobster and crab and clams and oysters. I have even eaten sea urchin! I have dined at the temple of the Red Lobster (more then once)!

I am guilty of the sin that has two more abominations in Leviticus then even homosexuality! Oh that my sin were just one abomination less! Perhaps then I could find some minor role to fulfill in religion.

If only something has changed between God and man. If only we were not bound to law, if only there was such a thing as a new covenant or grace! If only the law had been fulfilled!

Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

O joy of joys, the law of Moses is fulfilled! There is a new covenant, the old is passed away. Pass the butter and let the shell cracking commence!

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

After we have mastered loving one another perhaps we will have time to worry about lesser things. Lets give it a couple hundred years or so first though.

Comments:

Ashley L - Those who defend, promote and live the lobster eating lifestyles have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Many claim it's genetic or natural, so they expect others to accept this "alternative" lifestyle. But the truth is that God calls lobster eating sin, and with his help you always have a choice of whether or not to live in your sin

Angel H - God's rules are black and white. There is no gray area. My heart breaks for you, and you will be in my continuous prayers.

George T - Of course God loves the lobster eater that is not the question or the issue at hand. The issue is, is lobster eating behavior a sin? According to the Bible it is a sin. The lobster eater must also apply biblical truth to his life and remain pure and not eat lobster- according to the Bible. These are God's standards and not ours. We don't make the "rules", we just apply them to our lives. It is arrogant to thing we know better than a loving AND just God.

Sandra R - I have been listening to you since I was a young girl. You are an incredibly talented man. I'm sad to hear about how you struggled with lobster eating for so long. I love you, but I don't love your lobster eating lifestyle-the Bible clearly states lobster eating is a sin. I can't judge you, NONE of us can-we all deal with sinful urges on a daily basis. The best I could do is lift you up in prayer. Please cancel our buffet plans for next Sunday with your family.




Special thanks to Christianity Today for its article on Ray Boltz.

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2008/09/ray_boltz_comes.html

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grace Debate

The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss




Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
“We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!”
And, whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They’d hike right on past them without even talking.

When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
Could a Plain Belly get in the game? Not at all.
You only could play if your bellies had stars
And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.

When the Star Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches
They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.
They kept them away. Never let them come near.
And that’s how they treated them year after year.

Then ONE day, it seems while the Plain-Belly Sneetches
Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars,
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!

“My friends”, he announced in a voice clear and clean,
“My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I’ve heard of Your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that, I’m the Fix-It-Up Chappie.

I’ve come here to help you.
I have what you need.
And my prices are low. And I work with great speed.
And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!”

Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.
And he said, “You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch?
My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!”

“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!”
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared.
And it klonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked.
And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!
When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start,
“We’re still the best Sneetches and they are the worst.
But now, how in the world will we know”, they all frowned,
“If which kind is what, or the other way round?”

Then up came McBean with a very sly wink.
And he said, “Things are not quite as bad as you think.
So you don’t know who’s who. That is perfectly true.
But come with me, friends. Do you know what I’ll do?
I’ll make you, again, the best Sneetches on the beaches.
And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches.”

“Belly stars are no longer in style”, said McBean.
“What you need is a trip through my Star-Off Machine.
This wondrous contraption will take OFF your stars
so you won’t look like Sneetches that have them on thars.”
And that handy machine working very precisely
Removed all the stars from their tummies quite nicely.

Then, with snoots in the air, they paraded about.
And they opened their beaks and they let out a shout,
“We know who is who! Now there Isn’t a doubt.
The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!”

Then, of course, those with stars got all frightfully mad.
To be wearing a star was frightfully bad.
Then, of course, old Sylvester McMonkey McBean
invited THEM into his Star-Off Machine.

Then, of course from THEN on, as you probably guess,
Things really got into a horrible mess.

All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.
Off again! On again! In again! Out again!
Through the machines they raced round and about again,

Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept paying money.
They kept running through until the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one
Was what one or what one was who.

Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
“They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!”

But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.


--------------------------------------------------------------
There are currently over 40,000 "Christian" denominations, each of which lay claim to the right way, the real truth, the included ones, the true "church". I pray that someday we will learn that is far more about what our Father, Son and Spirit believe about us rather then what we believe about them that determines our inclusion into their embrace. Perhaps then we will become as enlightened as Sneetches, perhaps then I would not be judged as emergent or new age simply because I used the word "enlightened".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cracked Pots



A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

The Lesson to Learn?!
Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. May we try to show just a little of the grace we have been given with others that cross our paths.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Source of Harmony

I thought this was interesting. Remember Bobby McFerrin of "Don't Worry Be Happy" fame? Seems like there is a universal commonality to a song within us. I think it comes from the One who made us.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Are you a tree hugger?

Here in the Pacific Northwest it is not at all uncommon for members of certain environmental groups to either chain themselves to a tree or actually take up residence in a tree to prevent its harvest. These people will sometimes remain in contact with a tree for weeks and months, their life purpose becomes protection of that tree. We seem to have an equal abundance of both trees and tree huggers.

Spiritually speaking we have had this condition since the creation of the Garden of Eden. A very great number of people desperately cling to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil while forsaking the tree of life. Too many people are hugging the wrong one, desperately trying to live their lives based on what they determine to be good or bad, right or wrong. The problem is that being right is never enough, this tree only produces death.

When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of death they were excluded from the garden not as punishment but as a precaution. Just as that first bite caused their spirits to die, further "nourishment" from that tree could have only brought more destruction. Humans are unable to digest fruit from that tree, not in Adams time nor in ours. It would cause them endless distress, brokenness and finally the death of their spirits. God did not separate them from the garden to isolate Himself and protect His garden, He separated them from something that as humans would destroy them. That separation was the first step in their reconciliation, and the restoration of all their generations. It was an act of love!

Nourishment from that tree was fatal, and still is. Only on our best days, with the fullest information can we discern good thing from a evil thing, a good situation from a bad situation, a good intention from a bad intention. As humans we do not have the attribute of omniscience. We do not see the whole picture, we do not hear the whole story. We experience the present, but filter it through the events of the past. We react to a situation while fearing its effect for the future. We will, more often then not, react wrongly, perceive wrongly and judge wrongly.

It is only when we remove ourselves from the diet of the wrong tree and begin to live by the tree of life that we experience life, that we begin to gain strength and that we know true joy.

We need to stand guard against making the Bible our modern day tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was never intended for that purpose, it was always meant to guide us to the Tree of Life who is a person, Jesus.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All in Heaven?

I was asked this recently:

Okay then do you feel that all people will be in Heaven or am I still misunderstanding you?

I mean surely you don't think that all people are going to Heaven. Not in the predestination type of belief but rather in the way that I mentioned once before that people are out there that I believe will never accept what Jesus has done for them and thus will not enter unto the gates of Heaven.

Maybe I am missing your points but thanks for the responses.


This is how I responded:

1. I don't believe the Father, Son and Spirit ever intended "it" to be about avoiding hell or attaining heaven. Jesus said eternal life is knowing Him and His Father (John 17:3). I don't do (or not do) things to escape torment or gain heavenly bling, nor do I counsel others to let that be their motivation. I do constantly seek to understand that He loves me and that I can best love him by loving others in tangible ways. When I fail at that, and I do often, He reminds me that even in my failure He still loves me.

I believe much of the NT writings that referred to death, destruction, saved, perishing, etc. had to do with the imminent destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, which even to this time was one of the most destructive events in human history. I believe it is in error to assume every such term had only to do with some event multiple millennia the future.

2. Just as it is His desire and will that all be saved (1 Tim 2:3-6), so it is mine. I would think that every "Christian" would want every man, woman and child to know that the Father, Son and Spirit love them unconditionally. Do I think that will happen during every ones physical life? No. Do I think that ultimately everyone will come to know His love and respond? I hope so. Do I think that some, like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son will pout and bellyache, perhaps for eons. Yes. Do I believe His mercy endures forever. Yes.

3. I think there is room for debate, without resorting to labeling each other as heretical, regarding the nature and purpose of both hell and heaven.

4. I understand those that take a primarily literal interpretation of every scripture will find it difficult to accept other methods of Biblical interpretation but there is not much I can do about that.

5. Do I believe people must "accept" Jesus? I believe people must come to the knowledge that He accepts them and loves them in order to live life in the power of that love, instead of thinking they are separated from Him.

6. Do I believe people must repent? Yes, but not so God will change His mind about them or their "destiny" but change their mind about how God unconditionally loves them so that they can live in the knowledge of His indwelling.

7. I believe Col 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
And Eph 1: 3-10 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.


8. I believe by writing what I just wrote many here will conclude that I am a radical heretic of the worst kind and should be burnt at the stake. What I believe does not really matter, how I love others does.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

The 10 Promises Video

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ruler or Baker?

One of the meanings of "lord" is bread keeper, loaf kneader, .i.e. baker, or bread maker. I think this ties in nicely with Jesus proclaiming himself to be the "bread of life". Since He said "I no longer call you slaves (servants) but I now call you friends", perhaps this meaning should have more significance to us than the definition that typically associates with ruler or master.

Maybe He is with us to feed us and to nourish us, not to command us.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grace: A license to sin?

By Mike Feazell

Reprint from Christian Odyssey
Used with permission from Grace Communion International

It is a constant wonder how we guardians of the true faith can become so adept at gumming up the greatest news in the universe. We hold in trust the Good News of all good news—God gives free grace to sinners for Christ’s sake—and then we break our necks to hide it behind a great wall of rules, regulations and laws.

“You must not take grace too far or you will turn it into license to sin!” we admonish one another, as though lack of license has ever stopped anybody from sinning.

Hasn’t anyone noticed? We are all sinners, for crying out loud, even all we religious, God-fearing, church-going Christians. Always have been, always will be, in this life. It is only by God’s pure and unfettered grace, as demonstrated once for all through Jesus Christ, that we are made something else—righteous—and not by avoiding sin, but by trusting him.

It seems that our vigilant efforts to prevent anyone from “turning grace into license to sin” has resulted, ironically, in our managing to turn sin into a barrier to accepting grace.

The church disguises its moralistic hook with gospel bait, reels in the unwary catch and plops him or her into the hot greasy frying pan of salvation by works.

The church promises grace, then delivers condemnation. The church headlines the gospel, then preaches hellfire. The church disguises its moralistic hook with gospel bait, reels in the unwary catch and plops him or her into the hot greasy frying pan of salvation by works.

Consider how the gospel is plowed under by the relentless glacier of denominational “rightness,” doctrinal “exactness” and behavioral “standards.” Christian church against Christian church, warring over phraseology, terminology, dress codes, political stands, seating arrangements, music styles, architecture…the list seems endless.

We all seem to have at least a mild case of the “our-way-is-God’s-way-die-you-heretic” virus.

Certainly, right doctrine is important. But surely we need look no farther than the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed for those doctrinal “issues” that really matter. Yet, many Christian churches still refuse Communion to fellow believers who don’t belong to the “right” denominational brand name or haven’t jumped through all the required theological hoops.

The underlying message of religious behaviorism, “Behave right (according to our particular standards), or go straight to hell,” buries the gospel under layer after layer of religious hair-splitting, nit-picking and measurement-taking.

That isn’t the gospel. It’s religion. It holds out salvation like some phantom carrot-and-stick reached only through a lifetime of unquantifiable good deeds. It is a soul-sapping lie against the truth of God.

Jesus did not bring some “new and better” brand of religion. He brought the gospel, which is good news for sinners, which we all are.

For the sake of Christ, God has thrown away all the report cards, homework records and detention notes in the world and given everybody a 4.0 GPA and a gold-plated invitation to eternal life.

Only some of us, it seems, “don’t want no charity.” We’d rather feel like we have been—or through discipline and devotion have become—the right and proper sort of person upon whom God could appropriately bestow eternal life.

We have been good Christians, and we don’t want to be lumped in with a bunch of immoral losers who do nothing more than put their trust in the Christ we have worked so hard for so long to imitate and obey. (We thank you, O God, that we are not like the rest of people—greedy, dishonest, adulterous or, for that matter, like this embezzler.)

Suppose we take up a challenge: give up the charade. Drop the legalism and the fear tactics. Quit pretending to be worthy and righteous, admit we are hopeless sinners without anything to our credit, and put our trust in Jesus Christ, for whose sake God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).

And drop the nonsense about how that would mean we could “just go out and sin all we want since we’re already forgiven.” Nobody who trusts God wants to sin. When you trust God to love you and forgive you, you want to be like Jesus; you don’t want to sin. But when we do sin, in spite of the fact that we don’t want to, we have an advocate with the Father, 1 John 2:1-2 tells us (and he tells us that so we won’t sin, not so that we will, verse 1 says).

It’s like Paul told Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

It’s grace that teaches us to say no to ungodliness. It’s grace that makes us eager to do what is good. Knowing we’re already forgiven and accepted does not lead us into the devil’s workshop, but into deeper fellowship with our Lord and Savior.

The gospel really is that simple. It really is good news.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A little chat to clear things up

This is a transcript of a recent conversation. This is not intended to be a complete theological treatise, it is a fictional representation of how I believe Jesus might respond to some questions.

Me: It really is amazing to finally to get to talk directly with you, face to face. I have so many questions I really don’t know where to begin. What shall I call you?

Jesus: Jesus is fine. I don’t really care what people call me. My mother called me Yeshua. Sometimes when she was mad she called me other names.

I remember this one time when I wandered off at temple. When she caught up with me she was in a real tizzy. She grabbed me by the ear and drug me all the way home. Joseph, my dad, just laughed but that only made her madder. Do you believe it, I got grounded!

Me: You are kidding? The Son of God got grounded?

Jesus: Well she calmed down after a bit when I told her I was, “about my Fathers business.” That line got me out of a lot of trouble when I was a kid.

Me: So you called Joseph your “Dad” and called God your “Father”?

Jesus: Yes, that seemed to work out best at the time. It’s pretty much like you do today I think. Father is me and I am Him and the Spirit is in us and I am in you. Kind of blows your mind doesn’t it?

Me: Yes, the concept of the “Trinity” and union has been hard to comprehend so most people don’t even think about it.

Jesus: They were actually two of our best ideas. But like most of our ideas some self-righteous, religious type people managed to create a lot of confusion and chaos out of them. We love them anyway but they sure put a lot of people through the wringer with their beliefs.

Me: You sound a bit critical of religion?

Jesus: Hey, religion was not our idea. For us it has always been about relationship, with each other and all that I created.

Me: So you are saying that dressing a certain way or behaving a certain way or participating in religious rituals or believing certain things are not necessary to get close to you or gain your favor?

Jesus: Exactly, but you look so serious when you do that stuff, it is kind of cute. We usually get a pretty good kick out of it.

Me: But what about the 10 commandments, the “Golden Rule”? What about repentance and confession? What about going to church? What about not drinking, not smoking and not dancing? What about lust and pornography and fornicating?

Jesus: You know why Baptists are so against pre-marital sex?

Me: No.

Jesus: They are afraid it might lead to dancing! Love that joke, wrote it myself.

Me: Very funny, but you didn’t answer my question.

Jesus: I am sorry. I forget that you guys are always so serious about “spiritual” things. I had really hoped you had gotten past that a couple thousand years ago.

Ok, here it is, one more time. Listen up, I am only going to say this a few trillion more times, I love you man!

Me: Just love? What about justice? What about holiness? What about sin?

Jesus: I took care of it.

Me: What do mean you took care of it?

Jesus: We, Father, Spirit and I, planned it all before time even began. You think we were surprised by Adams disobedience and unbelief? This has always been Plan A, to involve ourselves into your existence and let you know we love you. Always have and always will. Did you actually think we expected you to be perfect before we could love you? King David will get a real charge out of that idea.

Me: Well maybe not perfect, but surely those who are trying should get more credit then those who do not.

Jesus: You remember when I jumped on my disciples because they tried to prevent some kids from being near me?

Me: Yes, I read that in the Bible.

Jesus: Why do you think I said my Kingdom will be made up of children such as these?

Me: Because children are innocent, pure, and trusting?

Jesus: Well they are that, but they are also selfish, noisy, fickle, messy, largely ignorant and much more prone to play rather then work. They exhibit all the stuff that I put into them when I created them. So do you.

Me: But don’t we have to believe in you? Don’t we have to believe correct things about what the Bible teaches?

Jesus: You have to trust me to live in the power of my love, but whether you believe in me or not, whether you trust me or not, I still love you.

I think you can trust me when you realize that I have already forgiven you, already believe in you, already chose you and already received you into Our embrace.

Me: But your Book, your Word has all those rules and regulations?

Jesus: Unless people use those words to love each other better they are missing the point entirely. They might as well be reading a dictionary. You can’t really think we inspired those words so that it would cause people to separate themselves from each other do you?

Me: Well, no, but a lot of people say they understand the Bible perfectly and that we should think and act like they do in order to gain your favor.

Jesus: I get a rash when people think they know Our mind and what they say about us does not reflect our unconditional love for all of you.

Look, it is not about striving for perfection, it is about love, and you can best love me by loving each other. And others can best know My love by the love that you show them.

Me: Don’t we at least have to go to church?

Jesus: Church is not something you go to, it is something you are. Don’t get me wrong, going to a meeting house with others who trust me is fine, just do not get so obligated there that you miss opportunities to love outside of those walls. Showing love to those who do not trust me yet will bring you enormous joy.

Me: You make it sound so easy.

Jesus: When people can grasp that it is much more about what we have already done for you, in you and to you then they will find the true peace and love we want to share with them.

Me: But what about our free will? How can you do things for us, to us and in us without violating our free will? Don’t we have to “receive” you or accept you and your gifts? Don’t we have to make you our personal Lord and Savior? Aren’t you standing at the door knocking, waiting for us to let you in?

Jesus: That’s a good one, personal Lord and Savior, that kills me. Wait until Brother Paul hears that one. I was kind of under the impression that Father, Sprit and I were ALREADY THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE. DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT WITHOUT MY INDWELLING PRESENCE WITHIN YOU THAT YOU WOULD EVEN EXIST? IS NOT MY VERY BREATH THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE?

Sorry for shouting, I just think I already earned the title of the Savior of the World.

Me: Please forgive me

Jesus: I already did, long time ago. That’s exactly my point. Why do you find it so easy to believe that we “violated” your free will to condemn you, but so hard to believe we will not “violate” your free will to redeem you?

Why is it so hard for you to trust that I was more successful at my mission then Adam was in his failure?

Besides once you can see Us for who we really are and not the false image and misguided caricature that religion has made us into you will be able to trust in Us.

Not all gifts have to be “received” to be beneficial. Suppose I went to your bank or mortgage company and paid off your house. I do not need your permission to do that. My gift was applied to your account. Your debt has been paid without any action at all on your part. In fact you didn't even know it happened until you sent in a payment and it was returned along with the deed. You may continue to send in house payments but that would just be silly and unnecessary.

My gifts for you are like that.

Me: So you are saying everyone is saved? Everyone is going to Heaven? No one is going to hell?

Jesus: Shouldn't you at least hope I succeeded in what I came to earth to do?

I am saying it has never been all about attaining rewards or avoiding punishment, it is about life. Life with me, life with us and life with each other. You are wasting your time thinking the goal is somewhere out there, up there or at some time in the future. Quit living in the past or waiting for the future, live now! I am here with you now. I have always been with you. We will always be with you, even when you choose to ignore us. We have always been for you. We will always love you.

Me: What about judgment day?


Jesus: Did I not already pay the price? Did I not already conquer sin and death? Our justice is not about revenge; our justice is about restoration and reconciliation. Our justice is about making things right, not getting even.

Our justice is not waiting for some “big day”, we are always just. Unlike you, we can see end result of our actions. What you may perceive as unjust or unfair in the present may well change over time. Trust us.

Me: Is everything I thought about Christianity wrong?

Jesus: First of all, I never intended to start a religion. That was some mans idea, and not a very good one at that.

Secondly, anything you think you know about the Father, Spirit and I that does not reflect our unconditional love and affection for you is wrong.

Thirdly, RELAX! We always have your best interests at heart, quit worrying about things that you cannot possible comprehend in this lifetime.

Me: That is really good news!

Jesus: Exactly!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Problem with Spiritual Formulas

One of the problems with applying Biblical text as spiritual formulas is that Jesus often said contradictory things. We often miss the principal behind the point.

For example:

Formula 1: If you want to catch fish go far out into the deep water.

Luke 5:4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."

Formula 2: If you want to catch fish, fish in the shallow water near shore.

John 21:5 He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6 He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.

Here we have two opposing formulas to catch fish. To be successful in "fishing" it is not about applying one of the above formulas, it is about understanding that Jesus knows where the fish (and people) are. The underlying principal is: go to where the fish are, not where they are not.

Many "Christian" speakers and writers have made vast fortunes and garnered enormous attention by proclaiming various spiritual formulas for obtaining salvation, being physically healed or gaining financial security. Entire denominations have been built around the application of a single verse of scripture and the exercise of some "formula" it seems to contain. They claim by doing or not doing something you can either gain God's favor or avoid His wrath.

Jesus did not come to teach us a method, a process or a formula to somehow evoke God into action in our lives. He came to infect our lives with His unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness. What both the "world" and religion have in common is that they both try to convince us that until we "do something" we are not included and not worthy of the love and favor of God. They both say that until we participate in some program to improve ourselves we will be outside, lost and excluded. They of course have such a program all wrapped up in bows and ribbons.

Jesus offers no program, no rules set in stone and no requirements to earn His favor. He simply asks us if we know that He loves us and if we do we should love others as He loves us. I know some will find verses that say to do this or don't do that but the bottom line is: Are we living in the knowledge of His unconditional love and are we sharing that with others?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Nature of Children (regardless of age)

Jesus got a bit ticked at His disciples once because they tried to prevent some children from "bothering" Him as He went about His important business. What the disciples failed to understand was that His relationship with the children was His important business! Whenever anyone tried to come between Him and the people He was trying to minister to Jesus got a bit angry with them.

Matt 19:13-15 One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: "Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these." After laying hands on them, he left.

Matt 18:3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Why would Jesus want to be around children and why did He say "God's kingdom is made up of people like these"? While there are many wonderful things about the nature of children there are also some things that are not so wonderful.


Writers, preachers and theologians most often refer to the innocence, trust and openness of children in explaining these passages. I think they completely miss the point that Jesus was trying to make.

Jesus spent His time, bestowed His compassion on and loved being with outcasts, underdogs, misfits and miscreants! I think He used children as the example of the population of His kingdom because kids are messy, noisy, unlearned, more interested in play than work, prone to make bad decisions, self-centered and not above lying to avoid punishment. They are real, not religious.

In another passage Jesus says, My little children, I will not leave you orphans (John 13). This time He was addressing adults, the very adults who had spent more then three years with Him in close contact. They ate, slept, traveled, bathed, cried, prayed, played and ministered together with Jesus for over 1000 days. These were the inside guys, the core group, the major players, the big kahunas, but Jesus called them "little children". If these men, who we so revere as the fathers of Christianity were "little children" in Jesus eyes then are not the rest of mere infants?

We put so much stock into our theological theories, our doctrinal foundations, our perfect Sunday School attendance badges, our correct Biblical interpretation that we forget that in His eyes we are not even potty trained yet.

Brennan Manning says it like this (paraphrased): Jesus only asks us one question, Do you believe that I love you?

God comes to us and says I have a word for you, I know your whole life story, I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty, and degraded love that has darkened your paths

Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship, and My word is this, I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are and not as you should be, because you are never going to be as you should be.


Always remember we are His little children, we belong to Him!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Fish Story

This is an excerpt from a blog of my friend Bert Gary.

(click on the title go to his blog)

Remember Jonah and the giant fish (The Old Testament Book of Jonah)? This story is a perfect example of the scandal of God’s mercy. Jonah despised God’s mercy and wanted nothing to do with it!


Jonah is in Galilee, Israel. God tells him to go northeast to preach in Nineveh. It’s an Assyrian city in what is today Mosul, Iraq. Jonah without a word goes southwest to Joppa and boards a ship headed to Tarshish, the location of which is uncertain, but might be a reference to a region in faraway Spain! That’s as far as you can go via the Mediterranean Sea, and obviously it’s in the opposite direction that God instructed. Exactly where Jonah was headed is not necessary to get the point. God said go this way. He went the other.


Jonah tells the crew of his ship that the terrible storm they are experiencing is his fault. He’d disobeyed God and they should throw him overboard. He is guilty and deserves to die without mercy. This is Jonah’s way of showing God how judgment is supposed to work! If you’re guilty of disobeying God, God should show no mercy to you. It’s as if Jonah’s saying, See, God? Here’s how you’re supposed to do your job. I’m guilty. I should be destroyed. Nineveh’s guilty. It should be destroyed. Jonah is giving God an object lesson on how to be God! And Jonah sees no room for mercy. He wants the punishment he deserves, and he’d rather die than offer Nineveh a chance.


God, however, shows mercy to disobedient, arrogant Jonah by sending a big fish to rescue him. And God leaves him in the fish three days to give him a chance to think about this mercy business.


After the fish spits him on the beach Jonah heads for Nineveh. When he gets there he preaches a halfhearted sermon to only a fraction of the city. But against all odds the pitiful sermon he preached works. Nineveh listens and responds. And Jonah is fit to be tied:


Jonah 4:1-3 [T]his was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry.

2 He prayed to the LORD and said, "O LORD! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.

3 And now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." (italics mine)


But God shoots back at Jonah:


Jonah 4:4 And the LORD said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"


Anger is an appropriate and normal human emotion. Jesus himself got angry. (Mark 3:5) God’s not telling Jonah that anger is wrong. God is asking Jonah if he really thinks he has a right to be mad about this situation. Does he have a right to be angry that God is merciful? But Jonah doesn’t answer the question. He ignores God and the implication of what he has asked.


Instead, Jonah goes outside the city and makes a shelter to protect himself from the scorching desert heat. He sits himself down to watch God destroy Nineveh, as God should have done in the first place! He finds the idea of God’s mercy absolutely incomprehensible. Jonah never expected his pitiful unenthusiastic sermon to work. He never thought they’d listen or change. They deserve to die, and Jonah has a front row seat for the show! It’s a sit-in. It’s a protest. He is going to sit there until the God of the universe starts to act like the condemning god Jonah had created in his own mind. He wants fire and brimstone to rain down on those people. The god of his imagining would not and could not show mercy to Assyrians. They are enemies. They are evil. And Nineveh is the nerve center of the beast. If God is God, he must destroy them. Jonah sits and waits for God to repent (change his mind--metanoia) and do “the right thing”!


God, however, throws Jonah a curve ball—an object lesson of his own. He makes a shady bush grow up over Jonah to further protect him from the heat. Jonah thinks, now that’s more like it. God should reward good people (like me). And he should punish the evil people (like the Ninevites). If only Jonah had binoculars to see them suffer up close! Jonah watches in anticipation of “the show.” But God doesn’t destroy the city. Instead, God destroys the bush!


Now Jonah is really mad. He tells God again just to let him die. He can’t stand living in a universe where Assyrians get mercy, innocent bushes get smited, and God’s messengers get toasted in the blistering heat. God speaks to Jonah again about his outrage. Listen to this exchange. With it the Book of Jonah abruptly ends:


Jonah 4:9-11 But God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?"

And he said, "Yes, angry enough to die."


10 Then the LORD said, "You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?"


God is scandalously merciful, says the Book of Jonah. The End.


Luke records Jesus saying, “. . . [God] is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” Then Jesus continues by telling you and me (and Jonah!) to be like that too. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35b-36) Be scandalously merciful.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Joan chats with God

From Evan Almighty.




God: I love that story, Noah and the Ark, you know how people miss the point of that story? They think it is about God's wrath and anger. They love it when God gets angry.

Joan: What is the story about then, the ark?

God: Well, I think it is a love story, about believing in each other. The animals showed up in pairs, they stood by each other, side by side, just like Noah and his family.

--------

God: If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage does God them the courage or the opportunity to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be close do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings or does He give them opportunities to love each other?

I've got to run, a lot of people to serve. Enjoy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What is a "watered down" Gospel

Whenever I hear that phrase it is usually followed by a lecture condemning those who present a truly loving and merciful Father, Son and Spirit. The lecture warns of dire consequences to those who dare step outside the bounds of the modern day practice of evangelical orthodoxy.

I agree that nothing has been more destructive to mankind then the distortion of the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul often warned those who would dare to teach a gospel other then the gospel of Grace and Peace with God. He endured torture for daring to proclaim this good news.

So what is a watered down Gospel?

Jesus is the Gospel, Jesus Himself is the good news, His life, death and resurrection is the good news.

A watered down gospel is one in which there is more bad news then good news.

A watered down gospel is one in which religion, rules and ritual are more important then relationship.

A watered down gospel is one in which the work of Christ is less effective then the work of Adam.

A watered down gospel is one in which judgment triumphs over mercy.

A watered down gospel is one in which grace is only thought to be given to those who deserve it.

A watered down gospel is one in which His love is less powerful then our ignorance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Because of His love no one is ordinary

I thought I would do something different, instead of just talking about His gifts to us why not show you?

Get your Kleenex ready and see what I believe are some of His amazing gifts, grace and love to some special people. To Jesus we are all special people!

I promise that watching these will bring you joy so skip that old sitcom rerun you were about to watch and let your heart soar.


She dreamed a dream.....


Angels at the end of a rainbow


Something big and wonderful shined through young Jason McElwain on a basketball court



A Father and son



An example of grace


Jesus never fails.


She believes in His love

Monday, April 13, 2009

Christ for us and Christ in Us

We seem to spend so much of our time this time of year pondering what Jesus did for us and that is a great amount indeed. He created us and He sustains our every breath. He came to earth to be one of us, to die for us, to live again for us and to go be with the Father for us. We diligently read the Bible to study what He did for others throughout history. We spend so much time thinking about what He has done for us we sometimes forget what He is doing in us.

His spiritual presence within us can (and should) be as real and tangible as His physical presence was to Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, Philip, Bartholomew; Thomas, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas.

They merely walked beside Him, He walks within us! His Spirit lives within us to guide us and inspire us. Until we can realize the great truth that the Creator of the Universe has taken up residence within each of us, until that awareness is part of our constant personal consciousness we will only know about Him. His indwelling is not just an interesting theological proposition, it is real. The living Person Jesus, who is the Savior of the world, lives in me and you!

Yes we can find Him in history, we can find Him in the pages of the Bible but we can also find Him when we look in a mirror.

Col 1:26-29 This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What does it mean to be "Christian"?

A recent study has determined that there are now over 39,000 "Christian" denominations! That means there are probably over 39,000 "official" definitions of what it means to "act" like a Christian.

Phillip Gulley wrote in "What if the Church were Christian":

Sometimes when someone does something I don't agree with, I'll say, "They're not acting very Christian." What I really mean to say is they're not acting like I think a Christian should act. But they might be acting in a manner consistent with their understanding of Christianity. I don't get to define what Christianity should mean to them. We each get to do that for ourselves.

No one can say "you must believe this or you must believe that". We are free. The beliefs we choose have a profound effect on our lives. They can make the difference between a rich, full life that is wide and expansive and welcoming, or a mean, narrow life that is closed off and harsh and judgmental.

James Fowler said in his article, What it means to be a Christian:

There is much confusion among the general public, as well as the religious community, concerning what it means to be a "Christian."

Does it mean assenting to a particular belief-system?
Does it mean consenting to a prescribed morality pattern?
Does it mean changing and improving one's behavior?
Does it mean joining a church organization?
Does it mean practicing regular rituals of worship?

There is no physical or psychological procedure or formula that one must follow precisely in order to become a Christian. It is not effected by the physical procedures of walking down an aisle in response to an invitation, or holding up one's hand, or repeating a pre-worded "confession of faith," or being baptized with water, though those may be engaged in to indicate or accompany one's response to Jesus Christ. Neither do the psychological responses of mental assent to historical and theological tenets, or the subjective experiences of human emotions constitute the means and manner of responding to Christ.

Everything necessary for being and behaving as the Christian one has become is inherent within and derived from the One with whom we have spiritually identified and united, Jesus Christ. Being and living as a Christian is not a religious exercise of conformity to the example of the historic life of Jesus Christ, striving to be Christ-like. Attempts to pattern one's behavior after that of Jesus amount to nothing more than self-serving attempts to "parrot" or "ape" the behavior-pattern of another. The Christian life is not an imitation of Jesus, but the manifestation of His life and character. [His life through us]

Living the Christian life is not comprised of going through the motions of repetitive religious rituals. Nor is it the legalistic keeping of behavioral rules and regulations in conformity to an ethical morality. Ecclesiastical involvement is not the essence of Christian living either; not church attendance, participating in religious programs, or tithing ten-percent of one's income.

Being and behaving as a Christian is enabled and empowered by the grace of God in the dynamic of the life of Jesus Christ in the Christian. In His departing promise Jesus explained, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8). "God's grace is given according to the working of His power" (Eph. 3:7), providing "all sufficiency in everything" (II Cor. 9:8). Therefore, consistent with our becoming a Christian, it is not what we do to behave and live as a Christian, but the recognition of the sufficiency of the life of Jesus Christ within us. "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6).

===================================================================

Being a "Christian" is not about rules, rituals or religion. It is about a person, Jesus. It is about a relationship with Him. It is knowing that He is part of you and loves you no matter what you do or don't do.

It is not about receiving Him, but knowing that He has received us. It is not about believing in Him, but knowing He believes in us. It is not about asking for forgiveness, but knowing He has already forgiven us. It is simply living in the truth that the Father, Son and Spirit love us. .

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Othodoxy of Sheep

Orthodoxy comes from the Greek word orthodoxos and means "to have the right opinion". Sheep orthodoxy is simple; stay together, don't wander off, do what we do.

Often times our Christian brothers and sisters are kind of like a flock of sheep on a large green pasture, they see themselves as safe in the pasture and anyone not huddled in their tightly packed flock could be in potential danger. In fact anyone who wanders a bit from the flock causes some deep in the flock to start baa'ing about them getting too far away, close to being "outside", close to danger. They think it is their job to guide the flock, when in fact, that responsibility belongs to the Shepherd.

They also don't see that the pasture is so large there are other flocks that they don't even see who are sharing the same pasture, under the watchful eye of the same Shepherd.

When they huddle in fear, afraid to move, to explore their freedom in the immense pasture, they start eating grass that is fouled in their own waste.

It is when they come to understand that the Shepherd is always with them, no matter where they go, they can enjoy the fellowship of other flocks and maybe even share some grass with the goats.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Clerics Stunned, All printed Bibles Vanish!

Pastors, ministers and priests worldwide have reported what seems to be the simultaneious global dissappearance of every single Bible. When first noticed by Papel staffers they assumed it was just some sort of Prostestant prank, but it soon became apparent that the disappearance was global in nature. It appears that Voltaire was right, he predicted, "Another century and there will not be a Bible on earth!"

Suspicion quickly fell upon the ACLU who have longed sought to ban the Bible from schools and other public venues. ACLU president Susan Herman said, "Since that books dissaperance our donations have dropped off sharply, this is getting serious."

Donald Waite is pastor of Bible For Today, an Independent Baptist Church in Collingswood, New Jersey, a leading spokesman for the authority of the King James Version of the Bible. Waite is the author of numerous books explaining that the King James Version has been, and continues to be, the only accurate English translation of the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and preserved original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Words of God for the English-speaking people. Waite remarked, "Whateth I don'teth understandeth is whyeth Eugene Peterson's "The Message" is also missingeth?"

Critics of the popular novel "The Shack" (over 7 million copies in print) by Paul Young have quickly mounted a massive public awareness campaign to ensure that parishoners will not substitute the novel for "Gods Word". Michael Youssef, a leading critic of "The Shack" says, "The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God's words."

Popular on-line Bible resources like Biblegateway.com and net.bible.org are no longer available. Many religious and theological based online discussion forums have reported that useage is down over 50%. Forum members count heavily on cutting and pasting from online Bibles in a method of debate called "proof texting". Bible publishers had hoped to quickly reverse "cut and paste" from forums in order to reprint most versions but even these fragmented "proof texts" have been deleted. While member participation is significantly down, forum administrators report it has allowed remaining participants to have discussions without so much argument.

Many Christians believed the Bible to be the Word of God. Its disappearance has led to a crisis of faith for them. "We have had the proverbial rug pulled out from under us", said members of the Open Bible Church in Portland, Oregon. "If we don't have the Word of God how are we supposed to know what to do?" one anonymous "believer" remarked. While they seem to give some credence to experience based revelation, they feel that it would lead to confusion and division within the global "body" of the Church. One opinionated member stated, "Who knows what people would come up with if people could just believe whatever they thought God told them!"

Researching through internet blogs this reporter found a somewhat alternative view. There are some who saw the Bible as written, inspired, words about God but espouse that people can know and get guidance from the Spirit of Jesus who they claim "indwells" them. These independent followers say that the Bible did not say that "in the beginning was the word and the word became Book." They see Gods Word as a Person, Jesus.

Messers Gulley and James Mulholland said in their book,If Grace is True, said "I used to believe the Bible was the ultimate source of authority. In so doing, I elevated the Scripture to a status equal with God. It eventually occurred to me that my ultimate allegiance belonged, not to the Bible, but to the One of whom it testified. When I lifted up the Bible as my ultimate authority, I made my leather-bound, gold-engraved Bible into a paper calf."

Darrin Hufford,from a web site called "Freebelievers.com" said this, "I believe that just as the Israelites prostituted themselves after the golden Ephod, modern day Christians do the exact same with the Bible. We have prostituted ourselves after the Bible and there is no doubt in my mind that it has become a thorn and a snare to almost every Christian in America. In fact I think many Christians have actually traded God for the Bible. Many others have even come to the point where they think God IS the Bible!"

Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) was a French philosopher, Law professor, sociologist and theologian said this, "We are not to make the Torah into God Himself, nor the Bible into a "paper pope." The Bible is only the result of the Word of God. We can experience the return of the Word of God in the here and now, the perpetual return of the actual, living, indisputable Word of God [Jesus], we should never think of the Bible as any sort of talisman or oracle constantly at our disposal that we need only open and read to be in relation to the Word of God [Jesus] and God Himself.

Bible publishers, televangelists and many fundamentalist groups are reportedly seeking "stimulus" support as a result of lost revenues.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pollywogs and People

An excerpt from "Mr. God this is Anna" by Flynn
... 'Mister God made everything, didn't he?'

There was no point in saying anything that I didn't really know. I said 'Yes'.

'Even the dirt and the stars and the animals and the people and the trees and everything, and the pollywogs?' The pollywogs were those little creatures that we had seen under the microscope.

I said, 'Yes, he made everything.'

She nodded her agreement. 'Does Mister God love us truly?'

'Sure thing', I said. 'Mister God loves everything.'

'Oh', she said. 'Well then, why does he let things get hurt and dead?' Her voice sounded as if she
felt she had betrayed a sacred trust, but the question had been thought and it had to be spoken.

'I don't know', I replied. 'There's a great many things about Mister God that we don't know about.'

'Well then,' she continued, 'if we don't know many things about Mister God, how do we know he loves us?'

I could see this was going to be one of those times, but thank goodness she didn't an answer to her question for she hurried on: 'Them pollywogs, I could love them till I bust, but they wouldn't know, would they? I'm million times bigger than they are and Mister God is millions times bigger than me, so how do I know what Mister God does?'

She was silent for a little while. Later I thought that at this moment she was taking her last look at babyhood. Then she went on:

'Fynn, Mister God doesn't love us.' She hesitated. 'He doesn't really, you know, only people can love. I love Bossy, but Bossy don't love me. I love the pollywogs, but they don't love me. I love you, Fynn, and you love me, don't you?'

I tightened my arm about her.

'You love me because we are people. I love Mister God truly, but he don't love me.'

It sounded like a death-knell. 'Damn and blast', I thought. 'Why does this have to happen to people" Now she's lost everything.' But I was wrong. She had got both feet planted firmly on the next stepping-stone.

'No', she went on, 'no, he don't love me, not like you do, it's different, it's millions of times bigger.'

I must have made some movement or noise for she levered herself upright and sat on her haunches and giggled. Then she launched herself at me and undid my little pang of hurt, cut out the useless spark of jealousy with the delicate sureness of a surgeon.

'Fynn, you can love better than any of the people that ever was, and so can I, can't I? But Mister God is different. You see, Fynn, people can only love outside and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so it's different. Mister God aint like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.'

It seemed to me to reduce itself to the fact that we were like God because of some similarities but God was not like us because of our difference. Her inner fires had refined her ideas, and like some alchemist she had turned lead into gold. Gone were all the human definitions of God, like Goodness, Mercy, Love and Justice, for these were merely props to describe the indescribable.

'You see, Fynn, Mister God is different from us because he can finish things and we can't. I can't finish loving you because I shall be dead millions of years before I can finish, but Mister God can finish loving you, and so it's not the same kind of love, is it? Even Mister Jether's love is not the same as Mister God's because he only came here to make us remember.'

'There's another way Mister God is different.' We obviously hadn't finished yet. 'Mister God can know things and people from the inside too. We only know them from the outside, don't we? So you see, Fynn, people can't talk about Mister God from the outside; you can only talk about Mister God from the inside of him.'

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Without getting into all the theology and resultant proof texting I think God (Father, Son & Spirit) sees all of humanity as His children. He created us, sustains us, knows the best and worst about us and yet loves us "a million times bigger" then we earthly parents love our children and grandchildren.

For some reason we cling to the work Adam did to cause us to think we are repulsive to Him and ignore the work that Jesus accomplished to demonstrate how much the Father loves us. We don the filthy diapers of religion, systems, programs, piety and self-righteousness to hide our nakedness because we think we are too unlovable and unacceptable to live in the affection of the Father, Son and Spirit. We are so wrong.

He created us to love us, not to demonstrate His superior morality, purity and power. In a thousand ways He reaches out to us showing us His tender affections and mostly we flee from His ministrations.

We fall for the same deception that befell our originating parents. It was not so much their disobedience or unbelief, but the wrong belief of underestimating His love for them (us). We, our theology, our "churches", and in our minds, simply cannot comprehend such an amazing love so we reject it or minimize it or add terms and conditions. We turn His pure and unconditional love for us into rules, rituals and religion.

Often we hear that God never changes, but proponents of a God who is angry and bent on punishment pick a time somewhere in the OT when it appears that God was smiting and spreading pestilence, that they say is the God who never changes. I say the God who never changes is the one spoken of in Eph 1.

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

Like Anna I believe He planned from before creation to love us and finish us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The one thing Jesus wanted us to really know

John 16:27-31
27No, the Father himself loves you
28
I came from the Father and entered the world;
31"You believe at last!", Jesus said.

This passage reflects the epiphany the disciples had just before the crucifixion. For the first time they believed that not only that Jesus came from the Father, but that both the Father and Son loved them (and everyone else). Perhaps for the first time in the history of man a small group of people actually understood what is true of the Father, Son and Spirit.

Jesus's remark 'you believe at last!", seems to be said with a great sense of relief, He knew they finally got it! Until that instant in time no one understood what Jesus thought was most important to know about His Father, that He loves us and that He is for us.

He also knew that they would almost as immediately not "get it" and that the Holy Spirit would help them (and us) to know what was so important to Jesus. We are still "not getting it" today. Religious systems, organizations, programs and processes all get in the way of knowing the simple truth about our Father. The imperative message that Jesus thought was so important for us to know and live daily in the knowledge of is that His Father loves us all.

Steve McVey - What If

This is from Steve McVey's blog, Personal Reflections From My Own Grace Walk

http://gracewalkministries.blogspot.com/2009/03/what-if.html

Please check out his blog and web page. He has written a wonderful series of books on the Grace.

What if we've got it all wrong about God in the modern church world? What if He is nothing like we've imagined Him to be? What if the most basic understandings we have about His nature, His personality and His approach to us completely misses the point?

What if God the Father didn't didn't send Jesus the Son to come alone to earth so that the Father could vent His anger over sin against the Son instead of us, but instead so that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit could together come to deal a death blow against sin in order to free us from its grip before it caused us to waste away into eternal nothingness?

What if the work of Jesus on the cross wasn't to change God's mind about you, but to change your mind about God?

What if God isn't nearly as concerned about what you're doing or not doing as He is about how you see and understand Him?

What if God is smiling as He looks at you right now and you could never do anything to wipe that smile off His face?

What if the coming of Jesus wasn't God's reaction to Adam's sin, but was carrying out a plan that had been made long before Adam was even created?

What if the primary characteristic of who God is has nothing to do with being a judge, but has everything to do with being a gentle, loving, Father?

What if you could never cause God to become angry or even disappoint Him?

What if you didn't need more faith, but only need to depend on Jesus to express His faith on your behalf?

What if you were the child God always wanted?

What if fulfilling God's plan for your life didn't depend on you at all?

What if God loved Muslims and atheists and homosexuals as much as He loves you?

What if you were a part of the inner circle of love shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

What if?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Does God want me to grow a beard?

Is our standing before God really dependent on what many people think is important?


Some questions for God

Does God want me to grow a beard?


Do I need to wear a hat?
Can I eat a dirty rat?

Do I need to grow a long beard?
Do You have a need to be feared?

Do I have to be a prude
Or can I sun bathe in the nude?

Can I cut my long hair
Or will that block my prayer?

Can I curl my nice tresses
What about very short dresses?

Does it matter what I wear
Or if when mad I start to swear?

Do I have to bend and bow,
Can I kill a holy cow?

May I eat a tasty fig
And how about a big fat pig?

On the Sabbath I need my rest,
Will that mean that I'm not blessed?

Does it matter if I chew or spit?
Does that matter, even a whit?

Can I drink a couple of beers?
Will that bring You to tears?

Which church is right, which church is wrong?
Do I sign my name and then belong?

Does what I do or what I say,
Change Your mind and make You sway?

Will You love me if I cheat,
Does it matter what I eat?

Is love just for Adam and Eve or
Is there no room for John and Steve?

Is Your love unconditional or
Are there rules and terms additional?

If You made rules that we can't obey,
Then why is it that we must pay?

Did Jesus come to find lost fools,
Or just to make some harder rules?

Is their really only one "rule"
To love others like You do?

I think You knew that we would fail,
That we are weak and very frail.


If Jesus died for me while I sinned
Why do others in hell do end?

Do You love everyone or only some,
Are the rest of us just merely scum?

Did You plan from before the start
To make us Yours and never part?


It is all about what I decide
Or about the One who died?

Religion tells us to search and work
Then we will earn the really big perk.

Or is it more about knowing whats true
That loving us is what You do?

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Good News about the Good News

Most of us have been taught that all humans are born sinners, that our hearts are evil and deceitful, that unless we pray the "sinners prayer", are baptized, expend great effort at not "sinning" (which everyone will fail at), and seek forgiveness and repent continually we will be sent to "hell". We are told God loves us but then must live like He is just looking for a chance to zap us.

These three authors present that teaching for our examination and then show us how very wrong it is.

Derek Flood - Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor
http://www.sharktacos.com/God/cross_intro.shtml

Satisfaction-Doctrine. You may not be familiar with the terms "Penal Substitution" or "Satisfaction-Doctrine", but you surely know the basic theology behind it. It is a theology that can sound shockingly legalistic and cruel (and it is):

You have broken the law because it is impossible to keep it, and so you must have broken it. And because you cannot keep this impossible to keep law you will be charged with death because "the penalty for sin is death" and those are just the rules. God must have blood because the law requires it; there must be a penalty paid. The only payment that would have been enough is sacrificing someone who was the "perfect law-keeper", someone who could live a perfect life without sin. So God decided to kill his own Son on the cross to appease his legal need for blood. Now that Jesus has been sacrificed God is no longer mad at us for not doing what we can't do anyway, so we can now come and live with him forever - as long as we are grateful to him for his "mercy" to us.

That does not sound much like Good News does it? Read the "rest of the story" at his website. Derek goes on to point out that this is not what the early church believed. Check out the link.

Bert Gary
http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=84945367&blogId=453045885

What these teachers want you to believe is that God's default setting is hell, and it's up to you to change God's mind about you. To them, salvation doesn't change you. It changes God! You are being saved by your own effort from a God who doesn't like you and has evil plans for you for all eternity. This "gospel" is founded on fear and death, and the author of it is supposedly God? This is depraved!

Not much good news yet, keep reading. Bert's blog has several articles that give fresh light to some fundamental traditional beliefs.


John Lynch - Room of Grace
http://www.nyu.edu/clubs/navigators/audio/room_of_grace.mp3

There is someone watching and your value is on how much you do right and how little you do wrong. And he is constantly writing down the wrong that you have done for future reference to bring up again to you. And if you are naughty, no soup for you, only coal. And he is going to find you out. And this omniscient, controlling, legalist is coming to town. You better watch out, You better fear this guy, you better stop your crying and sniveling. You better not pout, you better put on a good face. You better act like your somebody different then who you happen to be, no matter how you feel you better put on a good show. So doggone it just be better then who you are for goodness sake. Don't be a whiner, fix your self, try harder. You better do more, don't have so many problems, watch over you shoulder, keep up appearances, get better in a hurry and if you can't act then act like you are, because you are constantly on trial. If you want good things to happen in your life you better figure out how to keep this guy pleased.


Its like we hear God going, " oh no, no, no, no. He is going to pray the prayer, don't let him pray the prayer. I don't like him, no, no, no. Oh nooo, he prayed the prayer. Shoot, doggone it, all right your in. Because of Christ, I love you now, but I don't like you. And when you get to heaven they will be no padding in the arm rests on your chair, I'm telling you that right now. Stay out of my way, you bug me. Had to pray your little prayer didn't you?


John really captures the essence of Good News in the rest of this profound message. Be sure to hear the whole message at the link provided, you will never forget it.


The truth is that the Good News of Jesus Christ is that we are all loved unconditionally, that it is not what we do but what He (Jesus) has already done for us. It is not that we accept Him, it is that He has already accepted us. it is not that we believe in Him, but that He believes in us. It is not that we become "good" in order to earn His love, it is that we can become "good" when we understand how much He loves and accepts us just as we are. It is not that we ease our shame by seeking forgiveness, it is understanding that we have already been forgiven and that shame was never even a part of it. It is not that as if by magic when we say the Jesus incantation prayer we become children of God, it is that we were adopted into His family (the Trinity) even before creation!

We do not need to believe in order to gain His favor, but we do need to understand that we are loved by Him in order to live in the power of that love. When we truly begin to understand that He loves us we move from erroneously thinking we are rejected by Him to close relationship with Him. It is then that we can see and live the abundant life He has given each of us.

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