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Why Choose Jesus: Reason #1

The House

Many people choose Jesus over all possible choices of religious leaders for emotional reasons: “spiritual sensations” or they “always knew” it was true. That’s great! Burning in the bosom or Slain in the Spirit it doesn’t matter, it is an experience. Some have prayers answered so this confirms their belief that they hold as truth.

However many adherents to other religious say similar thing. Feelings are a bad indicator of truth. Imagine getting in the Space Shuttle and the engineers saying “I have goose bumps! I’m sure it will be fine!” Ridiculous?

Some of the reasons we have given for trusting Jesus sound ludicrous to others. Actually, they sound ridiculous to most of us. You might think yourself persecuted because they ridicule your reasons for believing, but maybe your reasoning is ridiculous. It isn’t surprising they would feel this way when you don’t have a sound reason. Outsiders simply find…

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Superficial Grace

The House

ImageGrace, forgiveness and long suffering have depths to be plumbed. I know each of us to some degree have been on both sides of these forces. We have given them and received them. Each has an appreciation for these to various degrees.

Suffering in relationships helps us grow to value grace. But many of us wisely avoid relationships that exact forgiveness from us or require our humble confession. Relationships can be painful and natural to avoid. I do not like doing regrettable things and it can hurt deeply to be abused. Keeping a distance from people and avoiding organizational obligations is therefore necessary to insulate us from complications.

Keep relationships short in duration and shallow in depth. Avoid sticky subjects. Stick to safe people. Evade others’ complicated lives. Minister by appointment with a start and end time. And avoid giving your phone number and address to needy people. Do not…

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Troubles and Trials Almost Over

laborIt’s like a ghost. You can see the image at a distance. You pursue it and once you are where you thought it resided, it vanishes. Life is like this, following and chasing a phantasm. You pursue happiness but once you have what you want, that happiness you thought was there, evaporates.

This isn’t to say pursuits with godly purposes aren’t worthy. It is actually necessary in faith and love. But man, this can really kick your butt.

I heard a song on a jazz and blues station. One part said “Troubles and trials almost over.” It is true, I keep reminding myself to chase a different vision. Not to abandon godly visions for this world but recognize the larger pursuit and what part the other plays in the process.

Troubles and trials are almost over. That is it. I really won’t be here that much longer. Moreover, this is where I work. It is not my home. It is in vain to build the life you might imagine or fantasize about here. It is but a vapor. Everything leaves you empty distraught and cynical. But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if it was just a reminder to us that there is nothing good in this world and everything will rob and rape you. Therefore, we will trust. We will hope in Him. We will look to him as our pleasure and hope.

The grind matters. It kills all passion for this world, people, events, possessions, and desires. It is a laughing image as you fall and struggle, it mocks you. But; if we see it in its proper light, it is really our helper. It makes us long for a different place. This is not our home. This is not our family. This is not our dream. Here we are taught to hope for something higher. We are changed to pursue something greater. Our purpose is greater than happiness. Our home is not here, here is not our pleasure, here is not our joy, here is not our family. It is there.

Troubles and trials are almost over and for those of faith who are trained to hate this world, they will see God. These will put their feet on the couch of heaven…no more bullshit!

Family verses Kingdom

family22Everyone wants a good family and a comfortable life. This is ordinary and I expect estimable. However Jesus has a little different angle on family. Jesus is calling us to trade the dream for the Kingdom.

I think you can live for one of two objectives in life, for pleasure or for purpose. This is in tune with what I’ve heard said from a preacher “When preaching you have a choice between entertaining or challenging.”

The church is a great place to build a family. I think with the constant reinforcement of positive values from the scriptures and an environment that supports this is important. These with a family life style exhibited at the direction of parents is essential. This will provide an opportunity for the greatest pleasure in life and the best possible family you could develop. Awesome!

However we need family to find its place in the hierarchy of God’s values. How does the family fit and where on His priorities?

Let’s look at three scriptures: Matt 6:33, Mark 10:29-30, and 1 Tim 5:8. In short Mark says to seek first His Kingdom and God will provide for you, the second says those who leave family for the gospel will gain eternal life and persecution, and the last in 1 Tim says provide for your family. Now how do we make these mesh? Kingdom first, leave family, and provide for your family.

Your family isn’t first but the Kingdom is. That means you put family behind the Kingdom while still providing for them. So what does that look like?

I don’t know what would be better than using your family to achieve the ends of advancing the Kingdom. Do what you need to do to provide for your family. Does this mean that you get everything the culture and Disney deem for your family? Of course not, you give them what they need. They need love, food, shelter, education and direction and most importantly Kingdom values.

Use kid’s sports and activities for the Kingdom. Use family events for advancing the gospel, prompt children to adopt careers for the purpose of extending God’s mercy. Go to work to have something to give to the poor and show the work place His Kingdom in your life.

In the church it normally looks like each is using God to advance their kingdom and pleasure. There is no salvation in this. This is self-serving and God sees right through it. You see it too, and that is why many call church the bless me club.

We gain a lot of blessing form adhering to God’s principles of living. But this blessing has a purpose. It is blessing of the dying world around us. It is your pleasure or His Kingdom, choose this day whom you will serve.

 

Discipline in the Body: Use the Knife

The House

Much that needs to be done in the Church is difficult due to it’s structure. The church as organized has difficulty keeping purity. We have minimized the inherent cost of following Jesus to a prayer thus creating the “Virtual Christian.”
There are 224 million Christians in the US. Wow! if this were actual we would live in a type of utopia. But we don’t! In the Church we don’t even have an ideal body and this in a supposed group of Christians. Makes you think huh?
With the church so disconnected it is hard to sort through the people determining who should be helped or removed. The affect on the church and the culture is apparent. How do we know? We said they would ” know us by our love” yet we aren’t. We are known almost universally as hypocrites. Many of us are not personally responsible for this negative…

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I Do Not Preach Faith in Jesus, Why?

The House

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” These are the words of Christ. Luke 11:28

The traditional approach to preaching the Gospel is to gin up faith in Jesus. This faith is expressed through a creedal prayer. You know the sinners prayer. Through this they are forgiven for sin and granted eternal life through the sacrificial death of Jesus.

Jesus constantly preached believe in me or you shall perish. Others have preached the same. But to conclude this is gospel preaching simply causes problems and wasn’t the way of John the Baptist and Jesus. The Kingdom is the context.

The context of telling listeners to believe in Jesus was what John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples preached: the Kingdom of God. They described the way of the Kingdom and its likenesses. Then at various times they would comment on believing…

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Give it and You’’ll Get it: Get it?

jesusWhen we read the scripture, forgive and you’ll be forgiven, we see that being forgiven is contingent on forgiving others, right? It is true but it is more profound. We read in the scripture, give and it shall be given to you. Very true, but there is much more to be gleaned here.

I have experienced, forgiving others and giving grace, something much better. I have discovered a profound truth. You can see it in this story. You can read into the contrasting stories of Judas and Peter. One committed suicide in his sin and the other turned for grace and forgiveness. I contend that Judas, unlike Peter was neither abundant in giving grace nor liberal in forgiving others. On the other hand Peter was generous in both regards. I believe this due to the revelation I have received.

As I have ministered to others in the pastoral role and as a friend to the reprobate, I have been forced to be abundant in forgiveness and generous with grace. This isn’t because I’m such a great Christian but it is a matter of necessity when serving. When dealing with the addict or felon you recognize change comes slow and it is arduous for both the minister and the burdened (The truth is change is hard for everyone…I seldom even see “normal” folk up to the task…)

They fall and go back, they struggle and stumble, they lose courage. It is the process of change for them. Only forgiveness and grace can help one struggle and survive and eventually overcome. This is the womb of new birth. It gives the opportunity for true change and redemption.

Over the years, as I have given these the warmth and life of grace, which I have been eager to do, I have gained so much. I did it in faith in Christ that these might have the victory and the satisfaction of a repentant life style. I can see that, as a mere fallen creature, have an abundant capacity to give grace through Christ. This faith permits grace and mercy. Because of this, I can see more clearly something that I was previously unaware.

At first it was a fog and then an image in the fog and now more clearly, I can see the his body and the detail of him reserved for the few. Who are these few? Only those who have been generous and persistent in longsuffering through faith can see this. This revelation from Christ is for those abundant in apportioning that which has been given to them freely, without limit by our Savior: this grace and forgiveness.

As a neophyte in Christ, I had trouble receiving forgiveness from Jesus. I would berate myself for my failures and sin. Yet, I didn’t know it then, It was part of the process, I don’t judge myself for it. It was all I could do, having given so little forgiveness and grace to that point in my life, I couldn’t receive the gift without strain and sweat. Through this process, leading me to where I have arrived, I can now easily receive His grace and forgiveness. In my current state, in this vision, in my current struggles, I can smile and say thanks. It isn’t the antinomian abuse of grace or a license to sin, but a recognition that, if I can give so freely, then God can give even more. He is more willing than me. He gives much more in quality, quantity and sincerity. So cool! I so need it…

Yes…forgive…forgive to be forgiven. This is right. Those who give, more will be given. This is how his system works. But there is something more permitted tot the few, something else is coming for you, a special gift from your Jesus. Those who give more deeply and more regularly without prejudice, will know their Savior. These can more freely receive and their cup runneth over!