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).

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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. .

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