Thursday, August 30, 2007

Top Ten Reasons You Know Your Pastor Isn't Called

OK, over at Pyro a commentor mused about writing a top ten list about when you know your pastor isn’t called. You know, just to lighten up for a minute. None of you know this but my mother was a stand up comedienne. So sometimes I just can’t help it.

10. He doesn’t agree with you
9. He cheats at golf
8. He thinks “Pyromaniacs” is a disco group
7. He thinks Thomas Nelson wrote the Bible
6. She doesn’t wear enough makeup
5. He wears too much makeup
4. He thinks Plato is the original Greek
3. He has “applause” lights on the front of the pulpit
2. He thinks the movie “The Godfather” denied the Trinity
1. He insists on including eunuchs in his altar calls.
Revival is when the Holy Spirit awakens the church and breaths new life into her. There is a new vison of God Almighty and the Lord Jesus, and repentance becomes our daily bread. The grace of God becomes tangible and we cannot help but seek the face of the Savior. The issues of this life become unimporatnt and our hearts are broken and desire to be filled with Him in all His fullness. A supernatural love for the brethren is a river that overflows from the banks of His love, and we become captured by His presence even in our everyday lives. And nothing can be planned or manipulated, the Spirit of God like a mighty wind blows anywhere and everywhere He wills. Man can only unfurl his poor sails and catch the powerful gusts of God's power and in obedience to those divine gales the Lord Jesus is glorified both in heaven and on earth.

Have you ever read or heard of some of the great revivals, where the Spirit of God so moved upon His people that all concern about anything else ceased and the body of Christ sought the face of Christ as one? Whole towns were transformed by God’s power and repentance spread through the church like wildfire. Secret sins were exposed, marriages were healed, worship became life, and the world was transfixed at the demonstration of the Spirit as it moved through God’s people.

Some of the most pronounced sinners would come unexpectedly into a church service and were brought to their knees before the preacher could even begin the message. Entire congregations would sink before the pews and cry out unashamedly for God to cleanse them and save them from hell. Work places would close on weekdays as the owners met the Living Christ, and people would actually run to the church house. Lights would burn in the windows of houses as entire families would be crying out to God.

Prayer meetings were observed every night and the taverns were closed many times for good. Diminutive preachers with very little speaking skills would be so anointed of the Spirit that in the middle of the seemingly insignificant sermon the pastor and his wife would stand and loudly confess they had grown cold on God and they were begging Him for a fresh awakening in their own lives. It was not uncommon for strangers to enter the city and see people on their faces in the park, confessing their sins and interceding for entire towns, and without knowing why they were drawn to go join them, some who would not be saved until that night.

In one of the revivals in Wales the Spirit of God so transformed the coal miners that when they descended into the mines, and when they commanded the little ponies to pull the wagons, the ponies would not even move. It wasn’t until later they discovered that the ponies did not recognize those commands because of the absence of swear words. On rare occasions a violent man would come to do the preacher harm and be struck dead in front of the congregation which led to wholesale conversions.

Do you not thirst for God to move among us today in that fashion? Do you ever get tired of the fighting and bickering among us and do you not long to experience a flood of God's Spirit that will strip us of us? What would the newspapers report if they saw the body of Christ consumed with prayer, consumed with the Word, consumed with repentance, consumed with worship and shining the love of Christ in their lives and on their lips? And what would the worldly media think when they saw such a surrender, such a love, and such power that was manifested in the church that services were held nightly and the place was packed? Revival, oh yes, revival. The greatest hindrance to revival is not sin or unbelief, and it isn’t worldliness or hedonism, and it isn’t even prayerlessness or complacency. The greatest hindrance to revival is that the church doesn’t even realize we need it more than we need the breath we breathe.

Watch this VIDEO and let God speak to your heart.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

To Be Like Jesus

I Jn.4:17 - Herein is our love made perfect, that may have boldness in the day of Judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

To be like Jesus, or in reality allow Him to manifest His life through the prism of our visible lives. A daunting task that can never be fully accomplished this side of heaven, and it is a journey rather than a destination. Just when I am focusing on showing mercy I find I am not boldly speaking truth. Just when I am speaking boldly about sin I find I have neglected grace. Just when I am exhibiting a complete grace I find I have neglected to warn and rebuke. Do you see what I mean, emulating the life of Jesus is multifaceted and quite comprehensive and the danger is always that when we believe we are, we may not be. Did you hear that? Sometimes when we believe we are exhibiting the life of the Lord Jesus is when we are most vulnerable to deception.

If you have it all dissected and figured out then you need not go any further in this post because I struggle with all the many elements of the Person of Christ as revealed throughout Scripture and most visible in the gospels. Let me provide some tangible examples. Bordering the back yard in our previous home was a house in which two gay men lived. OK, no matter how you want to verbally and Biblically frame it they were lost and their lifestyle was sinful. Yes, yes, just as sinful as two heterosexuals living together but that is not my focus here. People like this are usually used as doctrinal footballs as some desire to soften the language while others want brimstone, so let us just agree they are lost and in sin.

So how would Jesus feel and interact with these people? Don’t be fooled into thinking that the body of Christ will generally agree in how to approach and view these two men, there is significant disagreement in both orthodoxy and orthopraxy in this matter. Should we invite them over for dinner and sit at the table with our children? Or should we take them out for dinner so as to avoid bringing them into our home? And if we are invited into their home for dinner should we go and if so can we bring our children? If I have a barbecue in my back yard and invite my Christian friends can I invite them? How about a pool party?

Before I go any further let us all not attempt to hide behind the “Jesus loves them and wants them saved” curtain, because so often we have found refuge in that statement without addressing how this same Jesus wants to use us to effect that result. And if they indeed accept an invitation to a pool party, and during the water volleyball game they are having such fun with everyone that they peck each other a couple of times on the lips, should I immediately ask them to leave? Should I at least show some outward disapproval or roll my eyes to my fellow believers so everyone will know my stand? Should I quickly shepherd my children out of the pool and inside the house?

And then the all important question that solves the problem, “What would Jesus do?”. Now if the answer to that question varies significantly throughout the body of Christ, then I have some other questions that have some direct implications. If we cannot agree on how Jesus would interact with this lost world and the most well documented sinners, do we all know a different Jesus? And if we cannot agree on the life of Jesus in this world, how can we ever manifest Him to this dark and needy world? And I’ve just used the homosexual example to frame the discussion, so let me put it this way. The gay issue runs the gamut from Phelps to gay preachers, and most of us would disapprove of both extremes, but that still absolves us from attempting to emulate what Jesus really would do in the midst of these issues, and others, and the people they represent.

Now have been given the ministry of reconciliation, and that ministry has its beginning, its existence, and its destination at the cross. To befriend people, or feed people, or to take up causes for the oppressed become irrelevant if indeed redemption is defined simply by acts of kindness, for if redemption could be found in the compassionate acts of man then Christ would never had to come. And if people could see Jesus in the compassionate acts of man then the gospel message would become irrelevant. One side seems to amplify the ministry to the different earthly plights of people while the other side wants to downplay the important element those earthly ministries can play in opening the hearts of people to the message of the gospel.

When Jesus came to earth He came to seek and to save that which was lost. We as believers can never see people as poor first and lost second, our mission is to spread the message of redemption while showing compassion to the least of these among us by any means at our disposal. This is why our commission is to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The apostles did not lose their lives because they fed the poor, they were martyred over preaching Jesus. The accusation was that these men had turned the entire city upside down with their doctrine, not their food bank. How unruly we humans are, even we who follow Jesus. Even if the Spirit wants to challenge us to do more humanitarian deeds throughout the world, some take that and systematically reduce the urgency of the message. And some even go further, somehow attempting to actually intertwine the message of the cross with a world changing outreach that brings God’s kingdom to the earth through humanitarian efforts. And they seem to teach that these two things are one in the same. They are not.

You may have your gay neighbors over every day for dinner and love them and show them sacrificial hospitality, but if you never share the message of the cross they will die in their sins, not just homosexual sins, and they will be lost forever. Doesn’t that put into perspective the difference between works of compassion and the gospel message? And if the gospel message must be shared to everyone before their death then which works of compassion should we not engage in? How far must we remain away from sinners so as to appear righteous? They called our Lord a “Friend of sinners” and must we never be misrepresented as such? But all the while we must remain ever vigilant about becoming cause oriented and leaving the gospel which is our eternal cause.

Humanitarian efforts and personal outreaches to others must always be the means but not the end purpose, Christ and His offer of salvation must always be our calling. Some demean that thought process as “head hunting”, but in reality we are “heart hunting”. This is no game, this is the business of eternity. Keep your ears open and your ax sharpened, these are dark days. The deception doesn’t come in like a tsunami, it creeps in like a burglar. Some of the conduits that are carrying the deception are brothers who name Christ and are in Him, but some have been fooled into a change of focus that has resulted in a change of substance. The gospel will still be there but it will not be center stage. And in some instances it will be repacked with the deeds of man and not the deed of the Son of God. That is the deception that is upon us. But there also is a deception among those who would never succumb to that type of change. They like me still believe only the Word can change and regenerate a sinful heart and only believing on Christ can save. But some have been deceived into thinking that they can stem the overall tide of apostasy in the church.

They cannot, no one can. But some have so envisioned themselves in that light that they can justify any unchristian behavior within the context of their mission. Harshness and meanness are now accepted and even demeaning humor and mocking are accepted by Christ they say because their mission is just. An “end justifies the means” mindset now sweeps that wing of the evangelical world, and in an attempt to reclaim and protect the message they have neglected to reflect the Messenger, Christ and His Spirit. Many point to the scourging of the Temple, but few want to heal the Roman Soldier’s ear in Gethsemane’s Garden. They plaster the flannel board with Jesus’ words of rebuke to the Pharisees, but where is the portrayal of Jesus as He washes the feet of Judas? They put on the whole armor of God but ignore the command to be clothed with humility. Some are so consumed with confronting evil that they have returned evil for evil.

And with all the confusion we are left with the original premise and question of this post, just what does being like Jesus look like today? Can we as His followers love and reach out to homosexuals while still believing what God says about their sin? Can we mobilize efforts to feed the hungry without neglecting the gospel message? Can we strongly object to the doctrinal slide while still attempting to reflect Christ? Is it possible to reprove and rebuke while being clothed with humility ourselves? And when we see the darkness of sin all around us can our eyes still see our own sin illuminated by the Spirit of God? So you ask me, "What is it exactly to be like Jesus?".

"You know, I thought I knew yesterday, but today I am not quite so sure. I'll be sure again tomorrow."

Being like Jesus cannot be captured by a single perspective, and just when we think we have it surrounded we will discover that being like the Master is an ever sharpening journey of humility and change. The message must never change and He Himself is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But we must continually change to allow Him to more brightly shine through a vessel that has a tendency to block His light and shine our own.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We Must Say What We Believe

“We need to adjust our presentation of the gospel. We cannot dismiss the fact that God hates sin and punishes sinners with eternal torment. How can we begin a gospel presentation by telling people on their way to hell that God has a wonderful plan for their lives?” It is true that God has a wonderful plan for their lives—but it is that they would repent and trust the Savior, and receive the righteousness of Christ.”- John MacArthur

The re-examination of the gospel presentation is a continuing process that is a combination of evaluating the common understandings and the sincere and uncompromising desire to include all the vital components of the saving message. Of what use is preaching the gospel if it either cannot be understood or equally that it is incomplete or deficient? A hundred section bridge is not a bridge with only ninety-nine sections, and the bridge with all one hundred sections is of no use if it cannot be found. So the suggestion that we should always communicate the gospel in truth and completeness and with the core spiritual components that makes it eternal and trans-cultural is imperative.

But as one of my constant observations I must again take issue with the last sentence as it is presented in a reformed context.This theology is what it is and those who espouse it cannot run from it, neither should we allow them to. When Dr. MacArthur states that “It is true that God has a wonderful plan for their lives - but it is that they would repent and trust the Savior, and receive the righteousness of Christ” he is overstating and actually misrepresenting his own theology. How can he encourage believers to present the gospel to sinners and inform them that God’s plan is for them to trust Christ, as it were, when that statement just may be a lie if the sinner to whom they are witnessing is not included in the redemptive plan of God?So while it is true that many of the formula gospel presentations are ineffectively pragmatic and remove much of the Biblical completeness in the message, the essence of the gospel presentation in the reformed (et. al.) persuasion must be tailored to accurately reflect what they believe. They cannot assure the person of any plan that God has for them, in fact, it just might be that God’s plan is hell for the individual with whom they are sharing Christ. You cannot have it all ways and if you embrace some form of Calvinism you should not be offended by remaining consistent with your theology, you should desire to be as consistent as possible in what you communicate to saint and sinner alike.

Now a Christian who believes Christ died for every man and that salvation has been made available to all sinners can with a clear conscience share the good news that Christ died for their sins and offers them eternal life in Him. But if a Christian believes that Christ only died for a few, would it not be Biblically honest and in the interest of full disclosure to communicate that fact to the sinner himself? Why not? If that sinner is predestined to be saved it cannot alter his conversion, and it would surely give a more Biblical view of salvation and even help to prevent false professions of faith based on the assumption that the person is assured of being chosen. The presentation of John 3:16 must include a defining of the word “world” in order not to mislead the person and again encourage a false understanding that Christ died for everyone in the entire world, no, this sinner must understand that he may or may not be a candidate for salvation lest he make a false profession based upon faulty assumptions and not the direct drawing of the Spirit which is reserved for only the pre-elected and not the desire/will of the listener. The sinner may desire to trust Christ but how can he be sure that this feeling is the Spirit and not his own counterfeit will which would give him a tragic sense of security when if fact he was still lost.

My contention is that in order to insure the most authentic conversion experiences, which I believe is the thrust of Dr. MacArthur’s point, we all must present the gospel truth in the most clear and complete way. For me that means I can with all confidence and Biblical authority offer everyone the gift of eternal life through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But for men like John MacArthur this should mean that their message must include a caveat of caution that includes the truth that Christ only died for the limited elect, not so the sinner can better discern if the Spirit is drawing him, no, the sinner’s place is only reactionary to the Spirit’s will, but the message should be accurately and completely presented for God’s glory and Biblical consistency. No?

Now the amazing thing is that the gospel presentations of the reformed group never seem to make a clear revelation of the limited scope of redemption and the cross of Christ. Why not? Well, you say, it doesn’t really matter in the presentation, we are supposed to preach the same to all creatures and God will do the work. If that is true, then why does it matter at all and why does everyone make such an important issue of it if that truth doesn’t even need to be told to lost sinners to whom it affects most directly? And what would be the most effective way to avoid shallow and fleshly professions of faith than informing the lost person of the limited scope of Christ’s death? Doesn’t the Scripture exhort people to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith? And doesn’t that Scripture by implication warn of false conversions? So are we saying that we can only warn of false conversions after the false conversion is made? And are we saying that the witness to sinners must be limited in truth, and that informing a sinner that he may not be chosen is for some reason unwise.

And in Dr. MacArthur’s theology the completeness of the message is uneventful in the salvation of souls, the Spirit will save who God wills to be saved not predicated on the completeness of the gospel presentation, hence the obvious truth that many are saved under a free will message. But the reformed group would stress, and correctly so, that we should endeavor to most completely and accurately communicate the truth of salvation’s gospel because of God’s glory and the sacredness of His Word. And that brings us back to the original point, if I am reformed, and part of my understanding of the gospel scope is its limitations, should I not make that clear for God’s glory?

Therefore, a reformed believer can never and should never tell a sinner that God’s will for his life is to believe the gospel and be saved. That perhaps is a misspeak by Dr. MacArthur, but he should immediately see the incongruous nature of such a statement and abandon any further implications in the future. And he should not be offended when it is pointed out to him, he should embrace it because, after all, he desires to present God’s truth as he believes it, right? And what offense could anyone take by being exhorted to make clear that which you believe? The discussion of those beliefs is for another time, but since we are all avidly examining everyone’s gospel presentation we all need to let our own words come under the scrutiny of what we believe. It’s only right.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Rom.12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be ye not conformed: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Two very powerful verses of exhortation from the Spirit of God. These verses are discipleship in nature and process in application. What I mean is that there is no quick shortcut to transformation into Christlikeness, first in our minds and then revealed in our lives. The process is a sacrifice and there are many believers who have gone some distance on that road only to grow weary of either the distance or the difficulty and they have pitched their discipleship tent on the side of the road and been content with how far they have come but ignoring how far they have to go.

The operative word in verse two is “transformed” or transformation which comes from the original word metamorphosis. It indicates a change at the most substantive level, a change from the inside that manifests itself on the outside. This is no shallow or surface accommodation, no, this is deep spiritual surgery that is sometimes painful, but always a work of faith in the Holy Spirit. No man can conform to the Son of God through the flesh, some have tried but theirs is a mirage, a worthless shell that is devoid of life and only fools the carnal man, never God Himself and most times not even the person himself. This kind of transformation changes the very fiber of our spiritual beings, its process follows the statement of John the Baptist, “He must increase but I must decrease”.

This journey must begin with a deep desire that will withstand attack and weariness and even discouragement, and it must overcome the inevitable failures and use them as lessons rather than excuses. And in a very real sense the destination has less to do with our own transformation than it does with the Transformer Himself. He, the Lord Jesus, is our Finisher and we must not only keep our eyes upon Him, we must draw the strength for each step of the journey from the Destination. A man will confront any obstacles and endure any sacrifices to reach his lover if his love is deep enough to empower his desire with action. So is our journey of transformation if indeed our love for our Lord is sufficient enough to re-energize us along the way.

So what happens when we get tired and discouraged? Where do we go when we have fallen and not only disappointed our Lord, but have disappointed ourselves and we begin to tell ourselves it is too hard, let me be content with not going back but going forward is not within me? These are the tests that come with doing business in deep waters, they separate those who will find particles of contented accomplishment from baby steps but never embrace the demanding reward of pleasing Him through strides of sacrifice. Does the test only reinvigorate the determination that God’s Spirit has made available to us, or does it allow the flesh to focus our eyes on our pitiful selves and not on our Glorious Savior? This is our choice, will we surrender to ourselves or to our Master?

Now like a man that has fasted for so long he no longer feels hungry but his strength is so weak that he must force feed himself, when we have reached the end of strength we must go to the Spiritual fountain of the Word. We may not feel hungry at the time and we may have lost our thirst for God’s voice through His wonderful Word, but we must drink nonetheless. The Word guides, the Word directs, the Word feeds, the Word strengthens, and the Word of the Living God transforms us from glory to glory, step by step, and the Word gives birth to the faith that will carry us forward. The Lord will not share His glory with another, so He will not bless the efforts of the flesh, but He will move quickly to reward the crucified desires of a committed heart that follows hard after Him and His will. Our Lord is not willing that anyone of His children fall and give up, but He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. And when those diligent seekers stumble and grow faint, the Lord rewards their journey with a renewed strength that can never be attributed to the crafty designs of man, but only to the wings of the eagles of God’s Spirit.

So again we come to transformation. Notice the Scripture indicates the process is through the renewing of our minds. This is no head knowledge and many times compiling Biblical knowledge without surrendering to that knowledge can lead to a bondage of misunderstanding that deceives us into stagnation and tells us that we have arrived by our knowledge and the comparison of ourselves to the journey of others. Anyone can read God’s Word and anyone can understand doctrine, but not anyone can allow the painful process of that Word having Lordship over our entire being, that my friends is the journey to which we are called. Just the basics of what the Word declares are enough of a challenge to last a lifetime. Who can love their enemies in the way that mirrors the cross without a constant maintenance of our spirits? Who among us can die to ourselves without a magnificent battle complete with self justification, self deception, past thoughts, unforgiveness, time restrictions, the cares of this world, and the relentless pressure of the flesh?

Is our desire to be transformed into being conformed to the likeness of Christ so deep, so transfixed, so determined that we will bring our minds into submission to the dictates of the Word through the Spirit? One of the greatest deceptive enemies of that journey is our good intentions. We have so often become blind to what the Spirit is communicating to us about the next step in our journey because we are busy speaking, writing, living, thinking, and generally going about our business that we have not only failed to hear His voice, we have neglected to ask Him to speak to us. Our minds have been bent to accommodate our flesh personally and it resists any future scenario that might require sacrifice and spiritual pain. The only remedy is God’s Word.

And even among those believers who do read God’s Word, we have been deceived into a habit of reading the Word as a purely doctrinal book that substantiates our view of Biblical truth, but we have lost the process of opening the eyes of our hearts as we read the Word and let it search our spirits to see if there be not only any uncleanness, but where the Spirit desires to transform another area of our hearts and lives. And so many times our understanding of doctrinal truth can only be seen on paper, and not in the visible revelation of our lives. Our minds have become so used to seeing and understanding what we’ve always thought that we are stagnated in the most important aspect of our lives as Christians, namely our journey to be like Christ through the obedience of faith. We accept most forms of judgment and defend them as discernment. Our attitudes have no resemblance to I Corinthians chapter 13 and yet with that we are content. We defend the uncovering of a brother’s sin that has already been uncovered by the world with no regard or defense of compassion. Our prayer lives are in disarray and yet we claim to embrace all the necessary doctrines that make us Biblical. Can we not see that our minds need a significant correction that alters our thinking by the totality of the Word and not just the narrow and comfortable avenues in which we now live? Succinctly, we need to again pursue transformation personally.

So if we are desirous to be obedient to Him and surrender again to His will for us, we will have to forfeit much of the time we have given ourselves to inspect the lives of others. Wow, that right there may free up hours of prayer and Word time! How can the Spirit do surgery on us when we are constantly attempting to do surgery on others? And if we are honest, while we stand over the operating table ready to open up others, we should soon realize that we do not have the expertise, authority, or surgical tools necessary to open up anybody, much less transform them. We have succumbed to the lie that most of the surgery that God desired to perform on us was accomplished in the first two or three years after our conversion. That just might be one of the greatest deceptions ever perpetrated on the body of Christ.

So I ask us, have we redefined the journey that leads through a sacrificial but rewarding thoroughfare that presses toward Him? Do we hear and experience the convicting power of the Spirit that reflects before our own eyes just how far short we have fallen personally? And with that loving knowledge, do we voluntarily submit to the chastening and correcting power of the Spirit for His glory? To regain the core of Romans 12:1-2 just might require a major shift in our Spiritual focus and devotion to Him and His will. It will be difficult and it will necessitate a considerable change of understanding concerning the process of His will in our personal lives, but without controversy it will glorify the One with Whom we have to do.

To be transformed into the image of Christ is our reasonable service considering what He alone has accomplished for us.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

God is Light

I Jn.1:5 - This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and DECLARE unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
Matt.5:16 - Let your light shine so shine before men, that they may SEE your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven

Everything we understand by sight, which is most of what we understand, is understood via light. In the scientific community we have come to define light as electro-magnetic waves that contain information and carry it to decoding collectors within the human brain. Every image, every picture, every imagination, every written word, and every object comes to us in the form of light. Without light we would be…uh…blind.

When astronomers gaze through a telescope they are looking through a machine so to speak that collects light and pieces it together for the human eye and digested by the human brain into understandable information. In essence light is a conduit for truth, transmitting an accurate likeness of the object or events being reflected, but in the final analysis only as truthful as is accurately interpreted by the human brain. Even when analyzed by computers the data must ultimately be seen, comprehended, and put into perspective via the light from the screen, through the retina, and dissected and communicated to the understanding, all beginning with light. So when the Spirit depicts God Himself as Light, He is attempting to help us understand the infinite through the lens of our finite human retina empowered by the infinite wisdom of the Spirit. In application, it is God who communicates truth and God who is Truth.

Light represents truth in the Scripture, and since God is complete truth, the Scriptures also declare that God is light. Just what is light and what are the qualities that define light? They must mean something or God would not have revealed Himself as light.

Light contains many colors within it, although light appears colorless.

And so is truth, pure and uncolored by the creations of the flesh or even the subjective perceptions that come with personal experience. Truth can only remain untarnished and pure when it is understood and communicated through an impartial interpreter that seeks only to present what has been given without subjective analysis. To break it down further, what God reveals to us can only be understood in its naked and uncontaminated essence when it is understood and communicated in the absolute, even if the absolute contains some variations in application. Any human subjectivism, no matter how well intentioned, compromise God’s truth and begin a process of deterioration that devalues the original intent and understanding.

So God communicated His pristine truth through the fallen writings of men while still preserving the core and immutable eternality of His truth and ultimately of His character. How could God accomplish this through fallen men and their imperfect methods of communication, namely writing? It is a magnificent mystery that gives all the glory to God and His Spirit and presents man as poor channels, mostly unaware, but used of the Spirit as the lips of Almighty God. The Word of Truth comes forth through the pen of liars and remains the truth of God. The process can only be understood by faith, surely not the microscope of the understanding of the flesh, sometimes referred to as science falsely so-called.

So everyone of us has imperfections and subjective perceptions that can be used to alter the perfect light of truth that has been communicated to our spirits by the Holy Spirit. Like a personal game of “gossip”, the Spirit speaks truth to us and after this truth has made the rounds within the subjectivity of our brains it can come forth as something much different than what God desired to communicate. Even when we self righteously rely on our good intentions we can be fooled by our own fallen heart and imperfect interpretive process.

Light that goes through a prism comes out changed.

When light was sent through a prism it was discovered that light could be dissected into different colors. These colors were inherent within the colorless beam but they were there nonetheless. And so are many corresponding truths and applications inherent within each separate precept of God’s truth. Every truth that comes from the Father is interconnected with the entirety of the Word, God’s unabridged truth. No truth can be culled out to stand alone and form a complete theology, every morsel of truth must be compared and pieced together with the entirety of God’s revealed truth in order to present and understand the accurate completeness of God Himself and His truth.

Now just as a prism divides the different colors within light, so often do the prisms of our personal prejudices divide the different colors of a certain truth, only to exhibit a section of that particular truth framed in the limited understanding that has been winnowed by our particular human experience. So many times we have been guilty of gleaning a particular facet of a truth and proclaimed that facet as the whole, while refusing to allow any further illumination because of fear and prideful intransigence. And perhaps no single human has ever seen all the colors of any particular truth and with God’s wisdom we all can benefit from the Spirit filled prisms of other believers. And so we run the risk of presenting the elephant as a trunk and resisting the rest of the multi-faceted animal.

This of course does not mean that we should receive every believer’s interpretation of God’s light and truth, on the contrary we must be circumspect in our approach. Remember, even the interpretations that emanate from the mind of others must again pass through your own prism. Every believer is responsible for his receiving and understanding of God’s revealed truth, and to rely on the prism of others is not only dangerous, it is rejecting an element of God’s truth itself.

We all must have the confidence that God’s Word is absolutely true but that no man can have any personal and exclusive interpretation. And our entire pursuit of the fullness of God’s truth must be saturated with humility and a constant recognition of our own fallibility. And even with the understanding that comes through the illumination of God’s Spirit, we must be gracious and humble conduits that neither shy away from speaking the truth nor drawing attention to us in any way.

Light that comes close to a large object is bent by gravity.

Einstein theorized that light would bend when passing by a strong gravitational field created by a large object. That was proven by observing the position of stars during a solar eclipse. The same can be said for the light that carries God’s truth. When that truth comes too close to the gravitational pull of the will of man, it will appear as truth but will in reality be altered. How often has God’s truth found itself being bent by man’s interpretation and being presented either incorrectly or incomplete? Are we not so prone to leap upon a truth, package it within our own understanding, and use it to confront others before actually fully reflecting it in our own lives? How effective would be our witness of God’s truth be if it was projected in conjunction with a living example?

Like the bending of light by a gravitational force, God’s truth can enter our spirits and appear modified when it is communicated by and through us due to the pull of our pride, flesh, and well intentioned subjectivity. And like a masterpiece being presented in a flawed frame, so can a communication of God’s truth become ineffective when framed in the flesh of man. Only to the degree the Spirit can eclipse our personal agendas can the Spirit use us as clear transmitters of His glorious truth. It sounds so easy and yet it takes a crucifixion of whatever is us dying to whatever is Him alone.

So God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. And the Lord Jesus Himself commanded us to remove the hindrance of our own individual baskets and let His light shine through us to a world in desperate need of seeing and understanding light, God’s illuminating truth. This world needs to hear and see God’s life changing truth spoken and lived through humble, earthen vessels that are constantly aware of who they are, Who He is, and the temptation to get in the way of the perfect light. Is it not noteworthy that there are millions of followers of God’s truth whose lives should be so incandescent that the darkness would be impacted before the eyes of even the doubters?

The world sees much too much of us and not nearly enough of Him. Let His light shine through us and in that…He is glorified.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Seeking Compassion

More and more I see the evangelical world slipping into a cold, hard, and compassionless dialogue that deals with doctrine as if we were handling stone tablets with which to beat each other over the heads. Truth is a bullet rather than a bandage and theology is a scolding rather than a beckoning. I will tell these three true stories and it is my prayer that God will soften our hearts toward Him and each other.

I worked as a cook in the Brown Derby restaurant in Clearwater, Florida while finishing Bible college. To say I was busy would be an understatement, and in my first two years of marriage my wife had two children and my mother-in-law came to live with us after a painful divorce. Because of my size (6’4” 260) the other cooks affectionately called me “Gorilla”. I witnessed to every single co-worker and had the joy of seeing some come to Christ.

There was one eighteen year old kid whose name was Jeff. Jeff was a wild man and reminded me of my “pre-Christ” self. He was loud and funny and he was what people called a party animal. He would always tell of his drunken escapades and he and I became friends at work. He knew I was a Christian and I witnessed to him to no interest.

One night at church the pastor preached about having a burden for someone’s salvation, and during the message the Lord laid this kid Jeff on my heart. All during the message I kept thinking of Jeff and I wondered if he was working that night. At the close of the service I knelt at the altar and asked God to use me to show Christ’s love to Jeff. I drove to the restaurant and entered the kitchen and there was Jeff. He was being loud and happy and when he saw me he hollered “Hey, it’s Gorilla”. I walked over to him and said “Hey Jeff, how’s it going?”.
“Great”, he said. I asked him if I could speak with him for a minute and he said “Sure”. I looked into his eyes and told him that God had laid him upon my heart. I related some of my testimony to him and the smile fled from his face and he began to look at the floor. I told him about Jesus and who He was and that He loved him and wanted to give him a new life as well as eternal life.

At the end I said, “Jeff, don’t you think you are in need of Christ, personally?”.
Jeff looked up at me and said, “Gorilla, I know what you’re saying is true. My mother has been praying for me for years now, she sings in the choir at Calvary Baptist Church. But I’m not ready yet, I cannot change right now. But I appreciate what you said.”. I prayed for him and said good-bye.

One week later Jeff was killed in a motorcycle accident.


Years ago I was an assistant to a pastor. One of my ministries was being a part of the administration of the Christian high school that was associated with the church. I interacted with students and parents alike and in that capacity you get attached to the kids. There were two particular girls, sisters, one a fourth grader and the older a freshman in high school. Their grandmother worked in the elementary school and they were two wonderful girls.

Their mother was a drug addict that had deteriorated into letting the grandmother and grandfather take the girls. These girls prayed for their mother to come to Christ and come home to be their mother again. I can remember many tearful times of prayer together. One day the pastor came into my office and closed the door. He informed me that the girls’ mother no longer wanted anything to do with them, and that she had legally given the grandparents adoptive custody. The pastor knew I had been close to those girls and he wanted me to inform them of their mother’s decision.

Now I cannot describe the emotion I felt as I prepared to look into two sets of dark brown eyes and tell these precious girls their mother had abandoned them. What words are adequate for times like those? How do I break their hearts while my own heart breaks for them? How do we deal with the absolute cruelty of such a circumstance?

So I called them and their grandmother into my office and with stammering lips I told them with as much compassion as I could that the mother they had prayed for had not only rejected Christ, she had rejected them. With tears streaming down their faces we prayed and asked God to comfort them in a time of unspeakable pain. They of course were devastated and so was I.
I drove home afterward and sat on my bed and wept before the Lord. I do not know what happened to those girls but every once in a while my mind brings me back to that day.

I will never forget that experience.


We had prayed for many years that God would protect our children. As our only daughter went into her senior year of high school we began to discuss and pray for the college she would attend. After some discussion, she decided to attend a major Christian university about 1000 miles away. We were overjoyed and prayed that God would move in her life and call her to whatever pleased Him.

So off she went. One year, two years, and three years. There was only her senior year left and we were so proud to think she would soon graduate. It had been a financial sacrifice but it was well worth it. My wife was obsessive about planning a graduation party and all of us were joyfully planning her return for good.

One Sunday afternoon the father of my business partner who were both my friends and brothers in Christ called me to meet with them in my Sunday School room. The company had been going through some tough times and I thought they wanted to discuss business matters. As we sat down I suddenly sensed this was no ordinary business meeting, something else was on their mind.

The father told me there was no easy way to tell me this, but my daughter was seven months pregnant. To say I was devastated was an understatement and I wept uncontrollably with my head upon the desk. What had happened and how was I going to tell my wife and my mother-in-law and my two sons? I was absolutely broken before the Lord and I felt totally humiliated. For months my heart was so heavy I thought that I would never laugh again.

Beside watching my mother die I have never felt such pain.
I have shared these three stories for a reason. While we sometimes play such doctrinal badminton we can lose sight that there are people in pain who are need of our compassion, surely not our judgment. It is beneath the One whose name we bear to engage in such compassionless banter without ever considering the human suffering all around us. It is beneficial to sharpen iron with iron, and to learn from Biblical exchanges, but it is unchristian to never stop and gaze at even our enemies and imagine that all of us at one time or another are related by the human condition this side of heaven.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Our venom must turn to salve, our caustic tone to beseeching, our condescension to compassion. Does your heart ever break over the plight, both now and eternally, for the multitudes? Do we see men as objects rather than fathers, brothers, grandfathers, and the recipients of the common pain we all have felt? Let us resist the temptation to engage in vitriolic attacks against even the ones who attack us in that way. The Lord Jesus lived in compassion and substantiated it all at Golgotha.
If the cross doesn’t speak to you of compassion, well then,
what will…

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Revival We Need
Is.44:3 - I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.
Is.64:1 - Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down...

The western church is in desperate need of a sweeping revival that will transform us at the very core. Have we not been entrapped by the hedonism of our culture, and are we not lethargic on many levels concerning Christ and His glorious gospel? Do we not spend more time feeding our dogs than in the prayer closet and does our concern center more on who will win the Super Bowl than on who will win the lost? Isn’t our Bible study consumed with how God can help me rather than the Person of Christ and His calling on my life? Isn’t the church of Jesus Christ fragmented into many theological groups that measure success in buildings and people rather than the approval of a Holy Lord and His call to a cross bearing discipleship?

Where are the tears for the lost and where is the bold and self sacrificing witness of Jesus Christ that cares neither for the applause of men or the monetary remuneration? Where are the all night prayer vigils waiting and begging God for the only power that can spread the gospel light, His power manifested through us by the Holy Spirit Himself? Why aren’t the church doors open at night burning the midnight oil with believers on their faces, repenting and beseeching God to empty us and fill us with the Holy Spirit so we may minister to a lost world with the power of Christ? Why do souls die and we sleep?

We metaphorically resemble the tribe of Judah, still mouthing the things of God but continuing to be carried away into Babylon. And now fully entrenched in Babylon, enamored by its glitz and glitter, and having made friends with the world, we are deaf to the beckoning of the Spirit crying for us to return unto Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple and the walls. We are like Samson, we do not even realize that our power is now gone because we are Spiritually blind. Can we not beg God as Samson did that God would bring a revival that would transform the church one last time before the Bridegroom returns?

Have we lost the reality of eternity, and do we now just espouse a doctrinal view of hell without the corresponding lifestyle that substantiates that which we claim to believe? And if we believe that prayer is the only piece of omnipotence God has granted us, why do we not cry day and night for anything and everything? Is it because we are content with the machinations and strategies of men and so we have shuffled off the antiquated ideas about intercessory prayer and the ancient stories of God’s power through dramatic revivals? Is there no thirst to see God Himself move through His church in such a way as to render the explanations of men as nothing? Where is the Lord God of Elijah, and where are the movements of the Spirit that have changed whole towns and even affected entire countries in the church age?

Talk is cheap and dialogue plenteous, but the power of Almighty God remains rare. We all are in need of revival, not the kind that advertises the talents of man, but that which calls for God seeking prayer. Is God done with sending His power, is He done with hearing sacrificial prayer? God forbid, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It does not matter what our Calvinist friends may say about revival not being for today, and it does not matter what the new evangelicals say about revival being no more than a history lesson, the same God that spread revival fires throughout New England in the 1700’s and the 1800’s is the same God that desires to find a crucified people through which to send that same power today. The same God who filled Evan Roberts and set Wales on fire with the Spirit is willing today to duplicate that manifestation of Who He is. The same God who heard the prayers of two old and Godly women and sent revival to the Isle of Lewis in the 1950’s will hear the cry of His people today.

Is there not a cause, and isn’t the majesty of Christ worth seeking His face to use us in an unusual way to bring the salvation that was purchased on Calvary to a world that now lies in the grips of the Evil One? There will be no revival until God’s people see the need and we will never see our condition without a supernatural move of prayer. Not just “polly want a cracker” prayers that focus on our wants, but searching prayer, prayer that begs God to do Spiritual surgery on our innermost beings and transform our desires until they are one with His.

Today’s church has implemented every activity and man made organization in order to keep and attract people into their local assembly, but is no one thirsty for more than that? God promised He would send water to those who are thirsty, but still we seem content without His stream of Spiritual power that not only reaches those outside His body, but transforms the conduits as well. The revival we need must be of such supernatural power that it breaks up the incredible fallow ground that has been allowed to petrify over decades. The world sees a group of people that gather on Sunday morning, only to return to their neighborhoods and fit into a well rounded western lifestyle. They do not see urgency, they do not see the early morning light of prayer, they do not see the late night watches, and they surely do not see a sacrificial life that denies itself the accoutrements of a lifestyle that reveals a love for this present world.

And so we remain, dry and powerless, making technological strides, counting more heads, and yet without a movement of the Spirit that those who are without must confront. Only a remnant of the Babylonian Jews returned to Jerusalem because they had gotten comfortable in the Babylonian culture. They had made friends, they had established businesses, they had raised children that only knew Babylon, and because of these things they could not hear the Spirit’s call for revival. Until we get alone with God, repent of our lethargy, and open our ears we will not hear the call of God to seek His face until He rains His power down upon us.

We continue to live in Babylon and claim we live in Canaan.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Grace - so Misunderstood
The Lord has had me on a journey of humility. I surely cannot claim to be an "A" student, and with every new step I see my own pride. Yesterday a magazine which sometimes prints my writings sent me copies of its new issue which contained a post I made back in April. As I read it I was again overwhelmed by my own sin and the majesty of God's grace. Here it is again, I urge you to read it in the Spirit and step into a room with such glory that your eyes may fill with the joyful tears of a sinner who recognizes just a taste of God's grace. And even with that limited taste, I am undone.


Grace...So Misunderstood. Jn.1:16 - And of His fulness have all we received grace for grace. The common and general definition that has been used to satisfy and sometimes placate the masses is that grace is “unmerited favor”. Although in a surface and most shallow sense that description does touch the absolute fringe of the gift of grace but in so many ways it misleads and falls painfully short of even challenging the heart to allow the Spirit to bring us deeper than just a toe testing understanding of God’s amazing grace. Let us dissect these two words and see if they pass the Biblical smell test when gazing at grace, while embracing a desire to honor God with our description because in the final analysis only the revelation of the Spirit can even give us a glimpse, everything else is nothing more than cerebral gymnastics usually designed to bring convenient closure so we can add it to our theological dictionary.

Unmerited. That seems so humble and yet it abandons the core of who we really are. It appears so antiseptic as the word attempts to remove all our good works as the reason for God’s gift of grace, but again this word fails to filet our inner man and lay it wide open for public inspection and, yes, humiliation about the depravity and absolute rebellious nature of every single cell of our being. We not only refused to make any attempt to gain God’s favor but we made every single possible attempt to discredit Him and our very driving purpose was to blaspheme His Lordship and His Holiness openly and finally and daily declare ourselves as “god” of our own existence. We were His declared enemy and our lives were a magnificent expression of our hate and disgust toward our Loving Creator.

So the word “unmerited” is a comfortable effort that only tells half of the story, the more pleasant side that we can more easily embrace and teach. Let me share a disturbing illustration that I hope will rearrange the theological furniture of our hearts and force us to re-examine the very nature of God’s grace. In the country of Uganda there is a civil war, we don’t hear much about it in America because they don’t have oil and they also are not white (sorry but let’s be honest). One of the uniquenesses of this war is that the rebels capture and kidnap children and teach them to maim and kill their enemies. They equip some with razors and the children, some as young as 6, are trained and forced to cut off ears, lips, and other parts of people’s bodies or else they themselves will be killed. Now this forces millions of children in Uganda to hide and constantly move in groups to avoid being captured. It is common for a group of one thousand children from age 3 to age 16 to huddle overnight in an abandoned building only to rise before daylight and move again in a relentless effort to escape the ruthless rebels. Not a story but a reality.

Let's say you wanted to help the children and so you organized a group to go over to Uganda. You collected food and clothing and you took money with which to build strong buildings to protect these children. So you went and helped feed and clothe and protect these children and with that you felt good. Now these children did not deserve your help based upon anything they had done before but due to your sense of compassion you desired to help them. They had received unmerited favor from your hand. Now as you got off the plane you immediately saw what these rebels had done. People all over were horribly maimed and there were mass graveyards marking their victims, and they presently were still engaged in enslaving children to carry out their violent acts.

So you unloaded the cargo with all the materials that you had brought to help and minister, and instead of the helpless children you took them to the rebels and gave them to those killers and child abusers. All the Africans watched in confounded horror and unbelief as they saw these rebels being showered with these wonderful gifts. No one could explain it. Why? Because, brothers and sisters, they were witnessing an earthly representation of the grace of God. And the spiritual reality of the grace of God is impossible to fully understand in the natural and when it is reflected in such an illustration as this, we finally are awakened to the fact that we have been fooled into believing a shallow and self serving understanding of the glory of God’s grace.

Favor. Let us examine what that word means when it comes from God Himself. We sometimes get this idea that God’s favor is something akin to letting someone butt in line ahead of you or waving a car to pull out in front of you. Or we think it correlates to giving someone a promotion who really doesn’t deserve it. It is those carnal understandings that rob us of the glorious and eternal nature of God’s favor of which there are an infinite number of components. Just a dust particle of God’s favor would be beyond what anyone could fully absorb or comprehend, but God has not given us a dust particle of His favor.

Open the ears of your understanding, you will not be able to completely fathom the truth of this, but God has given us His complete and perfect favor that contains no limits and holds no restraints either in blessing or time. One more step, please, because God has actually bestowed upon us all of His available favor which of course is eternally infinite. Now you must remove your shoes for this final step crosses the threshold of unimaginable glory. God has granted unto us….the same favor….that He has shown….His own Son.

You can breathe now. My poor mind and my poorer pen can never do justice to that revelation, but as a theological woodpecker I can only peck and peck at it attempting to go further into God’s heart all the while realizing that this side of heaven I will only see small chips that in themselves leave me broken and spilled out before Him Who is the Author and Finisher of all of it. And one day I will know even as I am known which is a colossal act of favor in itself, and on that day I will see Him from Whose face the heavens have fled away. And as I, in my new favored body, fall to my knees in immobilized worship, I will then fully realize what grace actually was.

What will we do, what can we do, when we come to terms with the fullness of the truths we now believe in part but then fully face to face? How will we feel and act when the grace that we so lightly defined on earth now reverberates throughout heaven and to the glory of God and we alone, we alone, have been the recipients? As I write this I am beginning to weep as I am overwhelmed at the prospect of seeing the Author of this grace and being granted the eternal privilege of glorifying Him who purchased it all for me. I am at the end of words, if you are a believing follower of the Risen Incarnation of Grace then you will understand.

In Revelation 7:17 the Word describes the Lamb in the midst of the throne and wiping away all our tears as He leads us to the living fountains of water. In the very next verse, after our tears have been wiped away, the Word says there was silence in heaven for one half hour.
I have wondered if that silence represents the first time we see clearly the Lamb of Grace and we are rendered speechless. All of heaven glorifies the Risen Christ with the silence of a holy and speechless worship.

Unbelievable, Jesus in Whom is all of God’s amazing grace.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Incarnate God - III

Before I begin let me say that to limit the humanity of Christ to His body is not heresy. It may not be correct, but it surely isn’t the same as those who would deny His deity. That is major league heresy.

Let us examine some of the implications of what we have assumed to be true. If Jesus had a created spirit, a created person, then He was susceptible to sin just as Adam had been. And we know that God does not struggle with sin and neither does He feel temptation. So if Jesus struggled internally with sin, where did that struggle come from? It comes from imperfection, a potential for rebellion against God. Now do we really believe that Jesus had a potential for rebellion against the Father, or even Himself as it were? I know this is very thought provoking and not totally in accord with what we’ve always assumed, but I am not questioning the deity of Jesus, I’m putting forth the premise that He was ALL God inside a sinless, human body. I also am not claiming to have fasted for two years and finally came out of a cave with a solid revelation, no, I am drawn to study the Savior again in the light of what the Scriptures show us He is. That in and of itself is worth the price of admission. What precipitated this study was the emphasis that some emergent have placed of the humanity of Christ to become more identified with us.

I will begin now to quote New Testament Scriptures that I believe shed some light on this subject. I do not deny the deity of Christ, I exalt it. This particular discussion does not deal with heresy as would a discussion about whether Jesus was divine this discussion concerns the issue about the humanity of Jesus. Was it just his body or did Jesus have a human nature? I pray that this will drive us all to the Scriptures, and that will benefit all of us.

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”
- Colossians 2:9

This is a great Scripture that reveals that God, Elohim, was dwelling in the body that people recognized as Joshua (Jesus). Jesus said “Everyone who sees Me has seen the Father”. He never hinted at any human nature or person, He only identified Himself as the I AM.

I Tim. 1:17 - Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, [be] honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This description of Jesus again not only emphasizes His deity, it along with other Scriptures presents Him as God exclusively. The Word was invisible, only the body could be seen. “And we beheld Him…”.

Please be patient with me, this will be a long study in which I hope all of you who feel led will participate. Controversy is not my goal, truth is. Those of you who really know me will recognize my motives and I invite opinions that are different, I am not the Pope but just a servant seeking Him.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Incarnate God - II

Now in this part I want us to see the fallacy of some of the assumptions we’ve been taught as truth. I have heard many teachers quote the verse that says Jesus was touched by all our infirmities as a proof that Jesus was fully human. Think about that, they are saying (as did I also) that in order for Jesus to identify and understand us He had to become a human. So were we saying that the Creator of all humanity, He that knows all from beginning to end, couldn’t understand us until He became us? Did He lust after women? Oh no we say, then how could He identify with we who have lusted?

It’s because HE WAS GOD. Jesus didn’t have to become human to know everything about us, He knew all before we were created. It is we who have humanized our Lord, not the Scriptures. He was Emmanuel, God with us, not God and man with us. If indeed Jesus had a human nature then He was a man, a perfect man, who would die and go to heaven. So in heaven you would have Jesus the Lord of Lords and Jesus the saint singing praises to His counterpart. Do you see how incongruous this is? We have been made partakers of the divine nature, not the sinless human nature. Can you not see how we have maligned the Lord Jesus in the past. The body was contolled by the divine.

Which human body walked on water? Peter needed His power, but Jesus' body was controlled by Jesus, the Son of God. How could His body walk through a crowd invisible if it was just like yours and mine? That sacred, sinless body was at the mercy and direction of the Creator God who inhabited it, but there never was a human competitor within that chosen vessel.

I have only scratched the surface of this subject and I will be posting all the verses that deal with it. I have so much more to share but as you an see this is deep waters. Maybe this will enlighten the Lord Jesus in the truthful light of His earthly majesty. I hope this encourages all of us to run the Word with hunger to find more about our Lord and Savior. I believe this will elevate the Lord Jesus more than we dreamed possible. Let all the angels worship Him, God of God, very God of very God, and the King of Kings forever.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Who dwelt among us? A sinless man? A super human? No, the Word, the divine Son of the Living God wrapped in a sinless body.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Incarnate God
Before reading this first installment I urge you to put on your Biblical wading shoes. This post deals with the essence of Who Jesus was when He came to this world to complete His mission.

Never assume or believe that the humanity that God traveled in was exactly like our own, it was not. Jesus was human insomuch as was the body that was prepared for Him was human. That body was not connected to Adam since Jesus was born of a virgin, and His nature was eternally divine with no hint of Adamic humanity. Inside that human body was God the Son, and that nature affected that same body. His ability to walk through crowds unnoticed was certainly not reflective of our human body, and the Scriptures declare that only His own will would allow that body to die.

When God made Adam he was without sin, but capable of rebellion and disobedience. But God cannot be tempted, and God the Son and His power meshed with His chosen body and it was unlike Adam’s body, even before Adam sinned. Jesus was incapable of sin and incapable of being tempted from the inside, only the outside. Jesus was no super human, He was God dwelling temporarily in human likeness. His body was a necessary three dimensional conduit through which He would begin and finish His mission. To say the Jesus was all human and all divine is true on some level, but it creates the wrong impression that Jesus went in and out of humanity and that there was a separation in His humanity and His divinity. His humanity was His body, He had no human nature. His divinity was actually who He was.

There are movements afoot to bring Jesus down into being a human as we are, but without sin. They teach that Jesus had some form of struggle against the temptations of the flesh, which assumes that Jesus had human flesh which of course He did not. When Adam was created, the key word is created, he was made from the dust of the earth with his nature fully human. But Jesus was not created, He came through the portal of a virgin’s womb having been transported by the Holy Spirit. He never had a human nature, just a human body. Paul says that the first Adam was from the earth but the last Adam was from heaven. The human part of Christ was his body, not his nature. Inside that sinless body was Elohim, God Himself. There were not two natures coexisting together, no, He was God inside the flesh.

So Jesus was never internally tempted, He was God and therefore incapable of feeling temptation. He could be tempted by outside forces but never internally. God cannot be tempted and so Jesus never felt our temptations. The devil and the world could try and tempt Him, but to no avail. It was never possible.

When was the last time you meditated on the incarnation? How many times have you heard that ”Jesus was 100% human and 100% God? The Bible makes no such claim, that is an attempt to explain the incarnate mystery. Jesus was God moving in the “likeness of sinful flesh” but he was fully divine. His body experienced the normal functions given to Adam, but Jesus was never drawn to sin. Had Jesus had a human nature like Adam before he fell, then Jesus could have fallen.

I am going to stop here and let us digest some of this. To be honest, I am swimming myself in uncharted waters. I will post again on this subject and I welcome input.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Jesus Freaks

Jesus freaks, out in the street
Handin’ tickets out for God.

I can remember seeing what people called “Jesus Freaks” in the 60’s and 70’s. Now some were on a hippie type ride that just used Jesus’ name, but many are still followers of that same Jesus today. The Rez band, Keith Green, and others were just beginning to bring a non-establishment wave to the church. Many of these people were not welcome in the traditional churches, and they of course were pulpit fodder for many.

But watching these believers express their love for the Savior in a unconventional and unashamed way was interesting to many of us who at that time did not know the Lord. Now as I ponder that phenomenon I often wonder if their detachment from many of the things of this world was closer to a supernatural life of a Christ follower than exists in so much of the western evangelical lifestyles, including mine. Throwing caution to the wind and immune to criticism they began a journey of seeking the face of Jesus with a cultural abandonment that is so attractive to me.

What is our calling as believing followers of the Messiah? Are we just called to be nice as we are willfully embedded in the debt ridden rat race, or is our calling one of a deeper separation from the things of this present world? Moses left the riches of Egypt because he heard the higher calling of God, and eventually he led the Children of Israel away from Egypt altogether. Oh, but how we love Egypt today. Bigger everything and consumed with entertainment, we have left the prayer closet and elongated seasons of worship to enjoy the leeks and garlic. Our Spiritual lives march to the convenient beat of our western lifestyles, being pushed and pulled by schedules and the allurement of the hedonistic culture, while our devotional life is basically a drive through window.

The freedom of the Jesus Freak mindset is today castigated as an anomaly, but in reality they had something else that has long since diminished within the body of Christ - community. The fatherless and the struggling widows are to a great degree overlooked within the church, and while the first disciples sold all and distributed, the latter day disciples horde up money for a comfortable retirement. Does it not seem logical that the world resists our message because our lives mirror their own? And many of those Freaks loved each other with an demonstable acceptance that was attractive to the dwellers in this dark world.

Maybe it is just me but I sometimes envy those who have given all and have no worries concerning this life and their only focus is upon Him and His Spirit. I truly believe that when we stand before Him to whom we owe everything we will as Spurgeon observed “count ourselves a thousand fools to have ever been captured by this world”. Let us seek to cast off this worldly bondwoman and seek to be the chaste bride of the Living Son of God.

I might have short hair, I might own my own house, I might not wear hippie clothing, and I might not belong to a Christian commune, but I am a Jesus Freak. I am looking to be released from the cares of this world and seek nothing but Him. So if you see me standing by the side of the road holding a large sign that says “Prepare Today, I am Coming - Jesus” you can roll down the window and holler out “Jesus Freak” at me and I will wave a wave of brotherhood.

By the way, when I have held my sign on the highway I am called many things except Jesus Freak.