The God Delusion – Riding the Curtails.

As I continue this wonderful journey of diving deeply into the writings of a man, who on the surface hates all that is religion I am met with a deeper understanding of why on an intellectual level, people hate religion as a whole. You don’t have to read but several pages into The God Delusion and you can find the premise behind the entirety of the work.   Mr. Dawkings, in the preface presents his ultimate point, and something that we as Christians should consider.

Indoctrination of our children with religiosity, rather than grace is a grave mistake.

Richard would probably refute this as the premise to his work, and in some sense that is fine.  His goal is to scientifically disprove the probability of a God and mine is to simply learn from his work.   I’m sure that there are some that are reading this article and stopping at this point, with scripture flying through their well-trained brains to refute my point.

[6] Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

[6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

[14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV)

[19] For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19 ESV)

As you can see, the bible is very clear about the role of parents in the education of their children in the ways of the Lord.

I would humbly offer that the way of the Lord is grace.  It’s not the tribal language, nor the traditions of your particular church.  It’s assuredly not the ways of Christendom that have long failed in the desperate attempt to moralize and control society.  Grace, given through faith, as a gift, undeserved, is the root in which the life of the Christian steams.

This is not to say that traditions are worthless, or inherently wrong.  I personally believe that understanding the history of the Church is important, but it should not be the central teaching of parents to their children.  Instead, the traditions that are taught should point to the giver of grace, the one that walked out grace through every minute of His life, Jesus.  Central to all teaching, must be Jesus or we simply indoctrinate our children with religious idols, which will ultimately lead to destruction.

Dawkings’ point is very clear, and regrettably true.  As a Church, we have failed in many cases to articulate the doctrine of grace in words that children understand.  Admittedly, this is difficult to do especially after I offer that we should allow our children intellectually explore the world around them.  I present this idea, with the caveat that the community of believers that is influential on the child can open discuss the ideas and wonders of not only science, but of other religions as well.  We teach our children to engage the world, offering and understanding the prospective of grace.

The implications of the “Greats” in the bible ring so crystal clear here, it’s almost easy to miss.  When Jesus says,

[37] And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

He’s giving us the teaching for our children.  Mr. Dawkings has no need to make his continued point that “religion” indoctrinates children and is the cause of so much strife in the world (more to come on that) if the generations of children where discipled, rather than indoctrinated.  If well-taught grace is the cornerstone of all teaching it should drive the Great Commission, out of love, not fear or religious duty.

[16] Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. [17] And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. [18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

In essence, we are fulfilling the Great Commission by teaching our children grace.  We stop allowing our children to ride on our faith, but rather explore the deeper truths that will in time be revealed to them through the Holy Spirit.

We as Christians need to stop pretending as if we are God and we have the ability to change the hearts of anyone, especially our children.  We need to model grace and teach the truths of the faith with razor sharp accuracy and undeniable meekness.

 

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

clouds

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Cor 10:31)

As I sit on a plane headed to Denver to spend sometime with my family, I ran right across this verse. lt was not particularly what “I” planned to contemplate as I’m in the middle of some theological writings, but alas l keep coming back to with a yearning heart.

What are the implications in our daily lives if we take this verse literally? (I read this as a prescription)

The first implication that immediately jumps out at me is the fact that my life is not my own. We can see this weaved in and out of the NT, the idea of complete sacrifice to God, our lives. Paul points out that your life is not your own, but to be used to preach the Gospel.
(1 Cor 10:31)

Has the gospel gripped you to the point that you will do whatever it takes (short of sin) to spread the good news?

What situations do you find yourself in, where you don’t glorify God? What about when you do?  What in the circumstance changes?

Do you feel like you glorify God in your daily life? If not, are you trying to earn God’s favor or are you worshiping?

Just some thoughts at 10,000 ft. in a tuna can.

The God Delusion – What we can learn from Richard Dawkins

I know that I haven’t been writing a lot on this little bit of web space that I can call my own. It’s a habit that I would like to cultivate again, but it seems that the myriad of life events has taken my focus off of blogging and into the culture as I know it. It’s not a bad place to be, but there is something to putting thoughts on paper and sharing them with the culture of the web that is unique in a sense and allows for deeper introspection.

As I sit down to write a sort of introduction to a series of writing, I’m pressed to pray for the hurt and the sufferings of the people that I would call my family. Death, sickness, abuse, complacency and a host of other griefs continually plague society, causing pain both physical and emotional. My prayer is that we as Christians are pressed deeper into the gospel as we joyfully engage life’s events, whether its in a time of suffering or abundance.

Father,

We know that you are the great I AM, the immutable definition of love.

You are the giver of grace and the faith that justifies and sanctifies,
and we at times forget our place in this fallen world.

Father, forgive us of our trespasses, our feeble attempts to be you.

Break us free from the bondage of slavery that is our flesh, and shower your grace upon us.

Focus our eyes on our Redeemer and Hope, the Guide through the valley’s and the mountains.

Let us not forget that we are never alone, that the great Shepard is always watching, feeding and tending to His flock.

We are but children to the Father, dependent in all aspects of our lives.

Glorify yourself through us Lord, providing the strength that we need in times of desperation and the strength that we need in times blessing.

Point our hearts towards the Gate, who is the Provider and the ultimate Comforter.

Amen

 

Interacting with Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” 

As I was sitting, looking through my Amazon account for the next piece of literature that I might consume, I stumbled across this book placed interestingly enough in the “religion” section.  It’s an interesting experience when you come across a piece of literature that is diametrically opposed to your beliefs and you have the strongest of sensations to engage it.  Admittedly, there was a part of me that wanted to interact with the material to develop an argument, a counter point to Mr. Dawkins work.  Briefly, I imagined writing a book, similar to the point/counter-point literature that has fueled much of the academic work  throughout history.  My mind quickly snapped back into whatever reality I was in and refocused on the why I would read this particular book.  After some prayer and thought, here is why I will engage this text. 

  1. We live in a world that largely hates God and/or the idea of God. Dawkins articulates a world view that is pervasive. It benefits the missionary to know. 
  2. It’s a challenging read, to know deeply that God is real and to wrap your mind around the other side.  Christians tend to run to dogmatic, programmatic language when faced with difficult conversation.  Shortly, it strengthens our faith. 
  3. It forces me to not rely on my personal theologically linguistic constructs as a means to discuss the topic of God with an atheist.  How can I discuss the doctrine of atonement with someone who thinks God is a “mystic child abuser.” 
  4. It opens up conversation with atheists.  Especially, the well read ones.  
  5. It teaches Church history from a different view point.   Obviously, the Church missed the mark during the time of Christendom.  Dawkins, is quick to discuss how “religion” has been a driving point for much of the bloodshed in history. (I will flesh this out later, as I think the issue is deeper than that.)

So my prayer as I start this journey is that my biases are placed on the cross and that the Holy Spirit works deeply within my heart to show me what he has for me.  It will be an interesting journey, considering I’ve already started to repent of the pride that is being sanctified in my heart.  

The Rise of Pseudo Intellectualism Pt. 1

Lets just put this on the table, clearly displayed.  I have a unique understanding of intellectualism and Christianity.  To date, I strive to understand and maintain an open mind towards secular studies of science, psychology and sociology.  I love reading, understanding what drives social interests and where society is ‘at.’  I’ve played the part of the ‘intellectual’ debating sciences, religion and of course sports.  I can hear the reader now, “That’s great Adam, but why do we care?”  It’s not about me, that just a baseline card to start on before laying out the rest of the article.

I’ve been on a Facebook sabbatical, because at this point Facebook has become more of prayer request board than any sort of communication device, at least from my people.  We use it to promote lots things but in reality my peeps from years past just keep my prayer list full.  They don’t know it, I read the things that they write, the pics they post and the events they go to and I know what is going on.  I used to live that life.  I know where they are and it burns inside of me.  I know the emptiness that they feel and I understand that need to fill the emptiness with some sort of intellectual bolstering.  I want desperately for everyone to see the real Jesus.  Not the pastors and the churches that get all sorts of media attention.

Some people might or have called me a bit of an extremest about doctrine and theology.  I already admitted that I love reading and learning and I have some set beliefs on doctrine, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t change.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not open to understanding why people are drawn to certain churches or pastors.  Here is where I start having an issue.  The media, specifically the liberal media loves to point out churches that have some ‘wack’ thought processes or massive issues deeply in them.  Generally, the mega churches and of course the Catholics.  After they post an article or run a story about “the church believes,” the outpour of prayer requests starts coming in.  Hundreds of people start commenting falsities about Christianity and seemingly are fine rolling around with false conclusions about God and the church.

I blame the ego of men in the Church

That’s right.  I don’t blame Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Wordsworth, or Darwin (who was a theist). They played a prominent part in the downfall of the Christian influence and opened up doors for communication that the Church couldn’t handle.  They provided a solid foundation for intellectualism and Pantheism.  The response of the church?  Well let’s see what we have running around in the very loosely based Christianity umbrella.  Mega church pastors that are rolling around in 14 million dollar houses, claiming anything but Jesus.  Anyone who is actively proclaiming the Word of Faith movement is actively participating in pantheism.  It’s not just the word of faith movement, the Catholics are continuing a tradition of hiding sin within the confines of the Vatican and allowing priests to continue to minister the word of God after having sexual relations with children.  It’s sad, and it’s damaging to the very fabric of the testimony of the church.  If you think that’s harsh and it hurts to read, I hope that you understand it comes out of a love for Jesus and his bride.  In our extended church family we had to deal with infidelity within the staff of the church.  Leaders, sinning and they are going to continue until they are dead, they are blinded by their own personal idolotry.

The Truth

Men are going to continue to sin.  Sanctification should be happening and the leaders of the church have to address sin.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23 ESV)

Does that make the church irrelevant in today’s society?  In some sense it actually makes the church more relevant, because the church can teach what Christianity is all about.  Grace.  Far too long, the church has made laws and constitutions to hold their congregations back from the moral underlying of society.  The church can call on grace, call on Jesus to help repair those whom are broken with the understanding that all have sinned, not just the outsiders of the building.  This is not to say that we as Christians shouldn’t strive towards Jesus, never taking out eyes off of the cross, but it’s relieving to know that you don’t have to be perfect.  That the church can release itself from some of the dogmatic rulesets that have been self imposed.  We as Christians should engage the world as Christians, as humans that have sinned, will sin and want deeply for the Holy Spirit to continue to press out our natural state.

This kills much of the sounding board for pseudo intellectualism and secular reasoning.  The church shouldn’t feel the need to combat science with theology.  Science has continued and will continue to edify the great word of God.  We don’t have to create a societal divide based on what we know as truth and the process that continues to prove the truth.  Jesus called us to arms, commissioned us to speak boldly all that we have been taught.  Our mission shouldn’t be to win the intellectual skirmish, but the war for souls.

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

So how do you win the war on ideology, intellectualism and pantheism?

Jesus

I believe and will continue to attempt to walk out how to walk out some extremely hard truths for people to believe.  Charles Darwin once said,

“I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men”

Why would we expect the cultures that we are in to blindly follow anyones lead?  Jesus called us to teach His truth, to speak about His life, death and resurrection.   Imagine if the presentation of the Gospel would have been something that Charles himself had been taught.  Imagine if we put our ego’s down, pride being much of the root of sin, and walked out what Jesus called us to walk out.  Christianity as a moralistic ruleset is dead.  It started out as dead and is dead.  Christianity as a lifestyle, Jesus as a savior and an understanding that moral codes and laws bring death.  I’m with Mark Driscoll on this.

It’s time for a call to Resurgence.

Loving Reactions to Modesty: Asking Not Telling

Modesty: Asking Not Telling

Jesus plus anything is busted

You can find Emily’s article here.

I was trolling twitter today and I found someone retweeting a blog post from the wonderful Emily Maynard which caught my attention.  The Portland loving Emily has be wrestling with this idea of modesty and what women wear.  Automatically, men are jacked in this converstation.  A) Women rolling around in seductive clothing biologically and spiritually sends us spinning and B) the legalists come out screaming Romans 14:13. 

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Unfortunately, the exegesis of that particular passage starts out with some judgement.  This isn’t to say that the stumbling block shouldn’t be ignored, but rather to discuss this matter from both points of view.

Emily points out a perceived root of the Modesty Rule as a legalistic approach to controlling women:

I often hear the critique that my energy should be redirected to only the “legalistic” appropriation of these rules or that “modesty is important as long as it’s not legalistic” but I’m calling foul. There’s no such thing as a non-legalistic approach to Modesty Rules, and that’s not the point. Applications vary, but the root of the Modesty Rules is controlling women.

This is where I would cordially and lovingly disagree.  Modesty at the root is not a control mechanism for the control of women, or is it a coup out for dudes not being responsible for their active response to the Gospel.  Let’s dive into this argument on a biblical level and see if we can’t find the root of the Modesty Conundrum. 

When we look at the exegesis of Romans 14:13 we are going to find that Paul is speaking out to his brothers in Rome.  It is vastly important to look at one chapter back in Romans.  Here we find Paul dropping any legalism arguments by pressing the new covenant (read Gospel) into the situation.

10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.  (Romans 13:10-14 ESV)

Let’s break that down, quickly.  The Great Commandment reads:

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40, ESV)

On the fly lets roll this out into a nice fitting package.  Romans 14:13 calls us not to pass judgement and to not cause our brothers to stumble.  We do this because we love them, which is what the Great Commandment commands to do.   Love your neighbor (not just brother or sister in Christ) like you love yourself.  Romans 13 tells us that love is fulfillment of the Law, which presents the Gospel perfectly.  Jesus’ substitutionary death was the perfect sacrifice for our sins, legally fulfilling God’s requirement for the wages of sin, because he loved.  It’s the Gospel to love our neighbors and dressing modestly shows a level of commitment you have to the family.  Truly loving your brothers should drive you to wanting them to succeed in growing and maturing as a Christian.  Here’s the kicker Romans 14:10-12

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

The Holy Spirit will roll deep in your heart and make changes as He sees fit.  You ultimately are responsible for the choices that you make.  Grace covers all, Jesus’ blood is sufficient.  It’s not a control mechanism at all.  It’s a sign of love.  Let’s continue….

1 Timothy 2:9 points out that women should wear (adorn) respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.

9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

1 Peter 3:3-4 points to the key to this whole discussion.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

If we can agree that our lives are paid for by the blood of Jesus and that they are no longer ours, it should be evident that we should strive to glorify God in everything that we do.  What we wear, what we say, how we act are all encompassing in the Great Commandment.

This post is already rolling a bit long, Emily if you would like, I’d be more than happy to lace out men’s responsibilities in the Modesty Rule in a similar manner that I have here.

 

Generational Thoughts

I see a generation rising up to take their place,
With selfless faith, with selfless faith,
I see a near revival, stirring as we pray and seek,
We’re on our knees, we’re on our knees.


Have loved me

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you

Hosanna, hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna, hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

Boom. It hit me like a MAC truck. The Holy Spirit hit me like Ed Reed from 15 yards out. I don’t pray for a generation rising up to take their place… I don’t know if I press the generation to seek and pray for a near revival, and I’m not sure if we as a Church could honestly say that we do either. I would say that we press good programming, fun activities and Gospel connections that draw on Mommy and Daddy’s faith. Daddy is ultimately responsible for his child’s growth but what am I doing as a youth leader to press that personal faith and growth in the students and parents I engage? 

These are my thoughts as I worshiped the one true God.  The Creator of all, the King of Kings, the Father.  What am I going to do with the ministry that you have entrusted me with.  Am I going to get on my knees and pray for this generation?  A generation that needs more prayer and more intercession.  A generation that needs MEN to boldly proclaim the gospel to their offspring and not shy away from spirituality like it’s some effeminate quality that ranks right up with going to the mall.  Than it came again, Ed Reed style… A deep feeling like we as a Church don’t ask the right questions.  Tim (the Lead pastor) starts his blow up about asking the right questions.  Not forcing my contextualization, allowing them to teach me what they need.

So I prayed and much like Isaiah in Isaiah 6 it hit me:

Isaiah’s Vision of the Lord

1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11T hen I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.
Go and speak the Gospel.  Speak the words of God and trust that it won’t return void.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa 55:10-11 ESV)
I went in to the cell group with one strategy.  Speak the Word to the teenagers and let them tell me how that effects their lives.  Let them do the talking and carrying the converstation.  Help lead the converstation when needed, but let them work out the life applications with guidance.  In short, I listened.  It’s an interesting lesson to learn and that is to listen.  Contextualizing only works if you have the right context.
If you aren’t in your missional community living life, you have no idea what to context too.  You have to live the life, learn the customs and roll deep with the trash of other peoples lives.  Jesus did it, it’s biblical and it’s what we are called to do.  This experience doesn’t just lend itself to teenagers, those dudes you are discipling once a week for an hour probably need you to engage, listen and teach the Gospel as it relates to them.
Pray for resurgence, pray for generational change, pray bigger than you can imagine because God is infinite and good.

Lip Service

Lip Service

Father we come to the table to ask forgiveness,
Our hearts are wicked, and our necks full of stiffness.

We call out your name as if we love you,
Talking about how Your the way and Your the one we turn too.
We read your Word and pray to Your Son,
Without truly recognizing that Your the only one
I pray that throughout the day,
That my actions, words, and worship
Bring glory to the one whom came down to live and pay

Father forgive me when I stumble,
And I’m left broken and astray
My flesh is weak and commanding
So many idols do I pray
But I come to you in repentance
Knowing that my heart services it’s master and it has so much to say.

Father forgive my lip service to you,
Each and every living day.

Total Depravity and Fellowship

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize just how relient we are on Christ.  It’s so apparent when something doesn’t go right, or life gets stressed beyond where we are comfortable.   This is where we find ourselves in complete depravity, needing everything from the Creator. If we look deeply in the words that Paul wrote to the Corinthians we see that he found great joy in feeling completely in need.

This week in the Basic Series, we talked about fellowship which ultimately comes down to the interpersonal relationship that we have with Jesus.  It seems counterintuitive to think that an ‘internal’ relationship is directly responsible for our external ‘fellowship’, but through the scriptures I think that we can see how it directly plays out.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for  my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Fellowship is about relationship, and relationships are built around trust.  Trust is built off of mutual vulnerability, allowing others to see and feel our depravity.  It’s incredibly scary and it causes us to pull back.  But God.  His power is made perfect in our weakness, as we see above.  He wants us to recognize that it’s not in the fellowship that we as a group are made strong, it’s in Him.  See the relationship with Jesus works different than the relationship or fellowship that you have with your friends or even with the Church.  God himself came down in human form, vulnerable to sin and capable of death.  His resurrection defeated death and sin, so we can rest him him.  There doesn’t have to be mutual vulnerability because like the song, His love never fails.  Fellowship will fail, friendship will fail, but God…. our love fails,

“For  God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not  perish but have eternal life.    For  God did not send his Son into the world  to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because  God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that  God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love,  not that we have loved God  but that he loved us and sent his Son to be  the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and  his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:8-13)

Paul can, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that  the power of Christ may rest upon me.” because he knew that God’s grace and sovereignty never fails.  His love never fails.  If we continue to breakdown how these passages lace back into our vertical relationship with Christ we see that God is love, and

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For  we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but  when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For  now we see in a mirror dimly, but  then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as  I have been fully known.  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

The greatest gift from God is love.  The power of Christ is love.  Without the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot love even one person.  We can’t love ourselves, we can’t love our kids, we can’t love our friends, we cannot love.  You can’t have fellowship, and you definitely can’t have true communion without the power of the Holy Spirit.

The passage in James continues to reenforce this point.

Count it all joy, my brothers,  when you meet trials  of various kinds, for you know that  the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be  perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Count it all joy, my brothers (community), when you meet trials of various kinds (depravity), for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (love).  And let steadfastness (love) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Depravity looks ugly and it is.  We are all capable of murder, but it’s God’s grace and continuing sanctification working through us that provides us with a glimpse of what it’s like to love.  Through that insight we can start and work towards loving each other in community.  True fellowship.  It’s through his gospel that we find love, the words of his scripture and a interpretation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

So my challenge today is that we focus on our interpersonal relationship with Jesus.  We work towards a greater communion with Him so that we can have a greater communion with His bride.

Facebook Prayer

poorprayer

I think the more appropriate prayer looks something like this:

Dear God,

Thank you for all that you have done for my family, friends and loved ones. Please continue to give them the boldness to spread the gospel wherever you would have them go. Father, I pray that you will continue to purify them through the refiners fire so that they can look more like your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you for your promise to always be with them thank you for continuing to bless them with the grace and mercy that they don’t deserve.

O and as for the blessings, thank you Father for blessing us with more of You.

We ask this in Your Son’s almighty name,

Amen.

There has been some questions to why I would repost a prayer that looks significantly different than the image that that was reposted.  Comparing the prayers I think that you will find that the prayer I wrote really focuses on thanking God for all that he has done and asks him for more talent to complete the tasks that Jesus set forth before ascending back into heaven.  Matthew records that Jesus commands us to, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

 

The Great Commission

 

Now the eleven disciples  went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of  all nations,  baptizing them  in    the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them  to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

 

The first part of the prayer focuses on the Great Commision and asking Jesus to continue to provide boldness to teach all that Jesus commanded.  I think that one of the best examples of boldness that we see in the bible is Stephen in Acts, proclaiming the Gospel to the Jewish leaders knowing that he was possibly signing his death warrant.

 

Yet the Most High does not dwell  in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,  “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?” “You stiff-necked people,  uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.  As your fathers did, so do you.  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of  the Righteous One,  whom you have now betrayed and murdered,  you who received the law  as delivered by angels and  did not keep it.”  Now when they heard these things  they were enraged, and they  ground their teeth at him.  But he,  full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw  the glory of God, and Jesus standing  at the right hand of God.  And he said, “Behold, I see  the heavens opened, and  the Son of Man standing  at the right hand of God.”  But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together  at him.  Then  they cast him out of the city and  stoned him. And  the witnesses laid down their garments  at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And as they were stoning Stephen,  he called out, “Lord Jesus,  receive my spirit.”  And  falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice,  “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this,  he fell asleep. Acts 7:48-50

 

For my family and friends, I want that kind of boldness.  The boldness that makes a difference, the boldness to do what Jesus commanded.  I know that this idea looks different from what has been taught before but it’s what Jesus wants.  We find out more about what that boldness and life looks like in Luke 9.

 

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

 

And he said to all,  “If anyone would come after me, let him  deny himself and  take up his cross  daily and follow me.    For  whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.    For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?    For  whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed  when he comes in  his glory and the glory of the Father and of  the holy angels.    But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not  taste death  until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-27)

 

and

 

The Cost of Following Jesus

 

As they were going  along the road,  someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him,  “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”    To another he said,  “Follow me.”  But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  And Jesus  said to him,  “Leave  the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and  proclaim the kingdom of God.”    Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord,  but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him,  “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

 

Obviously, the scripture points out that the cost of following Jesus is high.  You actually have to give up certain amenities (read everything) in order to make that commitment.  Thats a far cry from the prayers that read something like, “God, I want, I want, I want, I want….”.  The cost of following Jesus looks more like, “Jesus, here is what I have and it’s yours.”  And the real kicker to this whole idea is that “In the beginning God, created…. “ so all that you have is not yours anyway.

 

The main point here is that it’s not what you can give, it’s what has been given to you.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of being crushed on the cross.

 

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

He was crushed so that we can live, he died to save us from ourselves and our selfish desires.

 

The prayer doesn’t get any easier from here.  It reads “Father, I pray that you will continue to purify them through the refiners fire so that they can look more like your Son Jesus Christ.”

 

But  who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For  he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.  He will sit  as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring  offerings in righteousness to the  Lord . (Malachi 3:2-3)

 

I pray that my friends and family go through the trials and the tribulations and have been set forth for them before the beginning of time.  I pray that they go through them so that they can be refined, so that they can continue to become more like Jesus.  I pray that they walk through them pressing deep in the gospel and trusting that Jesus will be with them through the entire journey, that they will glorify the one who deserves all glory.  Psalms 23 reads:

 

The  Lord  is my  shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green  pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He  restores my soul. He  leads me in  paths of righteousness for his  name’s sake. Even though I  walk through the valley of  the shadow of death, I will  fear no evil, for  you are with me; your  rod and your staff, they comfort me. You  prepare a table before me in  the presence of my enemies; you  anoint my head with oil; my  cup overflows. Surely  goodness and mercy  shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall  dwell  in the house of the  Lord forever.

 

Jesus didn’t say that it would be easy, He didn’t say you would get everything that you want.  He said that he loves you.  We see the Jesus, all man, all divine weeping for he loved his people so much.

 

Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, “See  how he loved him!” (John 11:35-36)

 

We see at the end of The Great Commision that Jesus will be with us always, to the end of the age.  He’s with us now, the one who loves the world and loves you.

 

Paul lays out so clearly in Romans that grace is a gift from God.  We can’t work our way to heaven.  Jesus is the only way.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for  many.  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For  the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought  justification.  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness  reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as one trespass  led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness  leads to justification and life for  all men.  (Romans 5:15-18)


My prayer reads a little different from most that you will read on Facebook.  It’s deeper, it’s very real.  When I pray for my friends in family, I pray for a deeper relationship with Jesus, whatever the cost.  I know that regardless of what that looks like, the joy and happiness, the freedom and family is worth it.  Its worth it because I love them enough to show them Jesus.  I love them enough to trust that the Holy Spirit will change hearts that need to be changed and continue to provide the guidance that Jesus promised.  Thats why I pray the way that I pray. 

This Weeks Teachings

Each week for The Crux Student Ministry I lay out some going deep questions for our “cell family” or small group teaching.  This week is based on the Fellowship portion of Francis Chan’s Basic series.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Acts 4:32–35

 All the believers were one in heart and mind.

This passage is loaded with Christ’s vision of the church.  All the believers were one in heart and mind… Do we as a group have a gospel centered life?  What does that look like?  How can we center our lives around Jesus and what he said.  How much easier would our life be without the drama of selfish desires?  How much weight do you put in the things of this world and how does it effect your relationship with the Church?  You know, the people we do life with…. or do we?

 

No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

This passage started out discussing Christ’s vision of the church, that all the believers were one in heart and mind.  The scripture then goes on to talk about our possessions and the things that we have.  Do you think that the scripture is pointing us to something greater than our earthly possessions?  What would you be more willing to give at this point, your TV or your talents and time?  If the Holy Spirit truly empowers us to do all, then why as a family is it so hard to share our talents?  Is it a pride issue?  Are our talents and time our most prized possessions?

 

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

The Church is suppose to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with power.  Do our daily testimonies look powerful?  Do we act out our testimonies daily?  Do people see us differently?  It’s said that the, “us against the world” mentality is the most dangerous and bonding mentality there is.  As a Church, do we say, “it’s us against the things of this world?” How do you think that would play out in our daily walk and testimonies? Isn’t that the mentality that Christ calls us too?

 

And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.

Honestly, what are your needs?  If we as a Church don’t know each others needs, than how can there be “no needy persons among them?”  How vulnerable does it make you to lay out all of your needs?  Would that force you to rely on Jesus for strength?  Would that build a more intimate relationship with the Church?  Wouldn’t that really focus our lives on the cross?  How much more real would that make the Church?

 

I’m talking real, as in, in your face, true life on life family.  You take the pretenses and the judgement and throw it out the window and trust that the people around you are walking in grace and therefore there is nothing that can’t be brought to the table.  I’m talking about family.  How do we get our fellowship to look more like that?