Friday, December 22, 2006

Kill the Old Man!

Jesus screwed up my life. Don't get me wrong, I love my Lord but when I signed on for this 'following' Jesus stuff, I was under the impression that everything would be problems, always full of joy and a place in heaven. No one told me about the things Jesus said like "In this world you will have trouble." or "the world will hate you on account of me." When I chose to follow Jesus (and it is a choice)God gave me a new nature - a nature that wants to please the one who died for me. But I still have this old nature - the old man (pictured above, who desires to kick Jesus off the throne of my life.

If I were to stop here, you could conclude that Christians are nutty (In fact, the Bible says that we would be seen as fools and peculiar), but in reality, I believe we are the most sane of all people. Christians don't minimize that the world is messed up and some of the mess is due to we followers of Jesus. We also do not minimize the grace and power of our Lord. By the way, those things that Jesus said above, let me finish them.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:23

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Luke 6:22

I've realized that Jesus loves me too much to let me live in the status quo. He is the one who can take a struggling sinner like me out of a messed up world, pour grace into my life and transform me.

My prayer: Jesus, screw me up more!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Losing My Life

Many of us structure our lives in ways that cover up how broken we really are. We live another life that is not ours to cover up our brokenness. In essence, we do not want to face our "real selves" because we might not like what we see. We promote how educated we are knowing, underneath, that it does not satisfy. We tell others how wonderful our lives are when inside we know there is some trouble. We exude confidence and pride when that little voice in the back or of head says “They really don’t like you” or “You’re not that great and they will find out.” So we flee to addictions or try to escape ourselves....somehow...someway. The other option is to get bitter and blame someone or something else for our issues. If all else fails we hide never understanding that living in that very brokenness has the power to free us.
We forget the things that Jesus said like

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3 NIV

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 NIV

We don't really get it. We don't get that God sees the real us. It's the person he's in love with. God loves the broken who cry out to Him knowing that He holds the glue.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Christian Bones

The fact is that Jesus got angry. If, however, you read the gospels closely, he didn't get angry at the same things we get angry at. Our anger is usually directed toward people or things that make our lives difficult or uncomfortable. It seems that it is all about not being uncomfortable but that isn't very spiritual so we call it righteous anger instead. Christians love to judge "sinners" when Jesus never did it in the way we do
(For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17).
I may be wrong, but I cannot find one instance when Jesus was angry at sinners. So who was he angry with? ...Religious people! He was angry with people like me. People who were professional clergy or those who claimed to have it all together spiritually. Jesus was offended at religious behavior that only touched the outside of a person and did not enter into the deep places of the soul. Jesus is and has always been about transformation of human lives in the inside. Jesus is not interested in 'behavior modification' without inward change. He was angry at "pastors" who were satisfied in seeing little real change in the people God entrusted to them.
Jesus said “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." Matthew 23:27
Whitewashed tombs look nice and impress people but are still tombs.

Unfortunately, many evangelical churches do just that. We help make sure people look good on the outside (The last thing we need is more hypocrites), while on the inside our people cry out to experience Jesus in the deepest part of their lives. It is sad. It is scary because I wonder if Jesus came to me today...would he be angry?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Let Me Be Blunt

The title says it all. Let me be blunt. It saddens me to see people just playing Christian. It saddens me for a number of reasons. First of all, it means people are not living up to their potential in Christ. It means that Christians who "play church" will become bitter because they never have the chance to experience the real Jesus in their lives. It means that the world has another reason to point the finger and say "See, Christianity doesn't work."

The Scriptures are clear that my job as a pastor is to "prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up..." (Ephesians 4:12) or in my vernacular - to help people to stop playing church and be the church. The last thing I want to spend my life doing is to lead a bunch of people who are satisfied gathering to sing some cool songs on Sunday and live status-quo lives the rest of the week.

I want to be used of God to transform ordinary people into radical, and I mean really radical, followers of Jesus. Maybe I'm nuts. Maybe I'm shooting too high. Maybe I'm out of touch...or maybe it's the other way around.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

High Performance

There are a whole bunch of high performance Christians in our churches today...and that is not a good thing. When I think about high performance, a dragster comes to mind. Those vehicles are sleek, they shine, people get impressed just by looking at them. When they start to move, there is smoke and fire and off they go. And boy do they go ... but for how long? A short distance and then they are done. Those sleek vehicles are not very good for a long race. They don’t have the inner capacity for the long haul. Unfortunately, the same is true for many believers. they look good on the outside, the do the right Christian things. Other Christians may be really impressed with their ‘service for the Kingdom,’ but they burn out and we all wonder what happened?

I think the problem is (and this is from personal experience) that we really don’t believe God loves us just like we are. So we have to perform to get His (or His people’s) approval. If we sacrifice, serve more, or have a regular quiet time maybe, just maybe God will like us more. If we shine up our outsides and burn ourselves out for Him, He will be pleased.

He is not pleased with you any more than he already is. God is love. That does not change.

Remember grace? Grace by which you were saved? Remember understanding that He loves you despite your sin? Remember He forgave you? Nothing has changed. If you are performing for God or for his people in order to impress them (By the way, you may be doing this without even knowing it...You will need to search your soul) Then JUST STOP IT!

Jesus wants us to be more like a well maintained Yugo than like a high performance dragster. Love motivates the service and the ‘doing’ not because we ‘have to.’ High Performance Christians tend to be miserable but High Grace Christians last because they rest in the never ending abundance of God’s grace. Jesus would like you to be around for the long journey knowing all the while He’s right there with you under the hood.

Poor Confused Me

Have you noticed that in many churches, people have no idea who they really are? Most people are living someone else's life. They are living their lives according to the desires or dictates of someone else because they want to be accepted. Or they are living according to some learned behavior from their family of origin that goes against who they really are in Christ. Because of this we have church full of miserable christians.

The reason we become miserable is because we forget about grace. We certainly understand about grace when it comes to saving grace - that we can be saved no by what we do but simply by trusting Christ. That is, He excepts us even though we are totally unworthy.

The problem is that when we become saved we then forget and try to please God and others by our performance. In our churches we teach that to be a "Good Christian" you must read the Bible, go to church, pray, evangelize, fast and the like. I want you to notice that those things are things we 'do' and can quickly degenerate into things we are supposed to do...perform to please God or serve so our brothers and sisters will like us. Whatever happened to just being with God. To sit in His grace and know that we are loved no matter if we perform or not. We serve because we understand God's love not so we can get God to love us more. I know we understand this in our heads, but maybe in our actions and thoughts, we show we believe something different.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Cry for Help

My leadership team and I spoke to a person today that was struggling Here's the problem. This person loves Jesus and is faithful in all the things we teach people to do to keep spititually sharp. This person reads the Bible, prays, worships, etc. but yet struggles with everyday decisions. It isn't that this person has any diagnosed mental disorders, but simple has had a hard life and hasn't much training in the area of life skill. This person is crying for help, but no amount of Bible reading, worship or small group attendance will help. Healing and freedom is needed and the pathway for this person looks a lot more like psychology that discipleship. That scares my evangelical friends for they feel that Jesus is the answer to all problems......

I believe that too, but if Jesus is Lord of all is He not Lord of our minds and emotions, of our pasts and all the crap we learned. Maybe healing is found more in the presence of Jesus rather than in doing 'Christian things.'

Peyter Scazzero touched on these things in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church. Its a good read and will open up your mind to the untouched vastness of what discipleship is meant to be.
You can get it at Amazon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Just Some Initial Rambling

Okay. I've started a blog. This is just some stuff I've started typing to see how this baby works. What I really want to write about is the sad state of discipleship in most American churches - including my own. I don't think the discipleship models we 'use' in evangelical circles are what Jesus had in mind. The question is...what did He have in mind. I'll throw out some ideas and you comment/complain/call me heretic. That's the idea. In His Grip I am.

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