Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Not Living For Ourselves

At the root of all our failings and rebellion is selfishness. It is when we put what we want and what we think ahead of other people and our God. Why is it so hard to obey our God, to accept what he wants? Because our perspective is that God just wants us to be happy whereas God's perspective is summed up in "Say no to yourself, take up your cross and do what I have done".

Can we take a sludge hammer to this point and drive it home? Can we use this to underline the difference between the world and the Kingdom of God? The world loves. The world cares. The world has compassion. But all these things are still filtered through a self-centered heart. Only Jesus can save us from ourselves. Only Jesus can strip the selfishness away from us. Only Jesus can enable us to love without us getting in the way.

Apostle Paul wrote:

He died for the sake of all so that those who are alive should live not for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

So do we live for ourselves? Live for our family? Live for some noble theme? No, we live for Jesus and only Jesus. He defines everything we are, everything we do, everything we say, everything we think and feel. It is not about what we perceive as being how God created us but who we have become and been transformed into through and in Jesus.

This is why it is hard for us to have a conversation with a person without Jesus. It is very difficult to find any common ground to start the conversation. They reject everything that defines us. So the only way it can produce anything is if the conviction of the Spirit is in it. This means we need to be sensitive to the Spirit more now than ever before. We need to be directed by him and not by our own wisdom.

May things become clearer for us as the days get darker.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Choice Is Clear

Good day my friends, God is good all the time. You may not always feel like it but we don't go by our feelings, we live by the facts of the Word and our experience. Today may be difficult and I may have lots of questions but Jesus has proved himself faithful in the past and he will continue to prove to be faithful today. I know this because the Spirit of God testifies to my spirit of this truth. But what do people do who do not have the Spirit of God or who shut out the Spirit?

Those of us who live through Jesus scratch our heads and ask ourselves, why can't the world see it. In fact, we ask that about parts of the Church as well, because there are those who have the appearance of godliness but lack the power, which is the power that transforms and allows us to understand Yahweh, his revelation and his plan. This is what is written:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

So if people don't understand why you do what you do, you should know why. There are so many Scriptures that explain this that we should not be surprised when the world says good is bad and bad is good. Scripture says:

But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

However, Paul wasn't addressing struggles with the world, because it is obvious that the world is in rebellion to God, but he was addressing Christians who lacked the ability to understand. They had not progressed in their spiritual maturity, had not learned to rely on the Spirit and were still relying on the wisdom of the world:

Brothers and sisters, I couldn’t talk to you like spiritual people but like unspiritual people, like babies in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:1)

And again:

Now you are still not up to it because you are still unspiritual. When jealousy and fighting exist between you, aren’t you unspiritual and living by human standards? (3:3)

Certainly things are getting worse in the world but what is disheartening is the confusion it is causing in the Church. God is still God. Jesus is still Lord. The Holy Spirit is still the power of God in us. The Church is still the Body of Christ. The holy is still holy and the common is still common. Nothing has changed for us, just the lostness of the world is more clear, and gets clearer with each passing day. But in the Church it is also becoming clear to us who are controlled by the Spirit and who are controlled by the patterns of this world.

This fact should also be clear to us, Jesus told us we cannot have it both ways. We cannot be friends with the world and be friends with him:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:24)

James explained it with no uncertain terms:

You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world's friend becomes God's enemy. (James 4:4)

It used to be that people could fudge the lines but now the distinction is clear. And now for us the choice is clear. As Joshua told Israel, we have to make a clear decision concerning who we will serve. Will it be the Lord? Then let us serve him wholeheartedly, seeking his righteousness. If it be the world, then stop calling yourself Christian.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Is The Church Presenting The Reality Of Jesus?

Don't you ever get the feeling that we are getting it wrong? Don't you ever sit in Church and feel that we are being presented with a sanitized God? After all, this is the God who sacrificed his Son, killing him on the cross, so that we could be adopted as his children. It seems odd that this same God desires to give us everything we want and to spoil us with what we ask. Is he really interested in seeing us all wealthy, healthy and satisfied in this place? (There is a difference between satisfied and content) If that is how you see Father then you are not being presented with the true revelation of our God found in the Bible and understood through the Spirit.

There are two things going on in our life when we serve the Lord in this world. First, there is our service to him as we deal with people with compassion and grace while presenting them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our purpose is to make disciples. But while we are doing this, our wonderful God is also developing us, helping us grow and mature. He does this in the messiness of life and ministry.

Our Father has no desire to spoil us but he wants to bless us, equip us with what we need in our service to him. If we need a bicycle to get around to minister in our neighbourhood he will provide the means; if we need a multi-million dollar jet he will provide it. He tells us to ask. He will provide for where he has placed us. He will also lead us through the mess and ugliness of life in our development. The world is a messy and ugly place in comparison to his glory. We need to understand that these two things, his provision and our development,  are not contrary but have different purposes.

At the very foundation of our relationship is dependence. That is hard for us because from birth we have been taught to be independent, but when we come to Jesus we are taught to depend on him for everything. He isn't interested in what we have to offer. He wants us to empty ourselves and allow him to use us as he needs us, in whatever capacity, with the tool of a bicycle or a jet. Sometimes, he needs to lead us through difficult times in our training so we don't rely on ourselves but learn to turn to him in every situation. Paul the apostle wrote:

 Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be unaware of the troubles that we went through in Asia. We were weighed down with a load of suffering that was so far beyond our strength that we were afraid we might not survive. It certainly seemed to us as if we had gotten the death penalty. This was so that we would have confidence in God, who raises the dead, instead of ourselves. (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

I don't know about you but I have had periods in my life that felt like I was going to be destroyed. I had a choice in each incident to try to help myself (which was actually beyond my ability or anyone else's) or to turn to the Lord. I spent hours, days, weeks, in worship, reminding myself who my Lord is and what he promised. I washed myself in Scripture and soaked myself in worship. It felt like I was at the point of death but sustained me and eventually interceded and rescued me. In those moments I learned that my strength was not sufficient but my Lord's was. I need him for everything and I dare not try to serve him in my limited abilities.

Maybe that is hard for you to understand. Just keep in mind that you have been raised by your parents and society to be independent, so the thought of not relying on yourself can be foreign and frightening. But the only way we can serve our Lord is understanding our constant dependence on the Vine (Jesus). A branch cannot support itself, but from the sap we receive through the vine (Jesus) he is able to produce fruit through us. The fruit is not for the branch but for those who would eat from it.

Our life is a classroom and Father is the teacher, training and transforming us in the power of the Spirit to be like the Son, Jesus. So let us submit ourselves, learn our lessons and grow into the fullness of Jesus Christ. Doing this will mean that we never lose our joy or peace, when we realize that our God is in all the messiness of life. Never stop singing his praise. Trust. Obey. Lean.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Do We Hate Evil?

The Christian Church is all over the place with it's doctrine, finding it hard to hold any form of unity. We have taken the Holy Scriptures and twisted them to our own liking so much so that most Christians simply do what they feel is best, according to their own thinking. This is the reason we have many young Christians supporting the complete opposite of what is found in the Word of God. We are indeed heading into rough waters.

People who do not know any better are saying, "Jesus didn't say anything about this, that or the other thing, so it means it is okay with God". They fail to understand that Jesus is the Word and he taught with the Hebrew Scriptures as the foundation. In fact, he clarified some of these Scriptures and brought us to a deeper understanding of holiness. Without the Spirit you can make the Scriptures say whatever you want. With the Spirit, the Father's heart is clear. He hates evil:

Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

This is an amazing chapter that gives us an outline as to how our life should look by the transformation the Spirit is doing in us. These are not character traits that we can transform into by our effort, but by setting our eyes on Jesus he will do this good work in us, transforming us to be like him. But we must desire it and set our heart on it. Let's put a few of the things in this chapter in point form:

Love should be shown without pretending.
Hate evil, and hold on to what is good.
Love each other like the members of your family.
Be the best at showing honor to each other.
Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!
Be happy in your hope
stand your ground when you’re in trouble
devote yourselves to prayer
Contribute to the needs of God’s people
welcome strangers into your home
Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them.
Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying.
Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status.
Don’t think that you’re so smart.
Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.

It goes on but you probably see the point. What we consider to be the Christian walk today has been shaped by the precepts of this world instead of the character of Jesus. Now know this, supporting any form of anything Yahweh has declared to offend him is supporting evil and there are consequences:

Though they know God’s decision that those who persist in such practices deserve death, they not only keep doing these things but also approve others who practice them. (Romans 1:32)

We cannot mock God, he knows the motivation of our heart. He expects us to be open and truthful with him and to follow the example of the Son. It is not a free for all. To declare him as our God and to follow Jesus Christ brings with it responsibilities. We have the responsibility to resist evil, to grow in maturity, to demonstrated Jesus in us, to be holy and to love as he has loved us.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Selfishness Is Rebellion

The great rebellion against our Creator comes from a selfish nature that promotes my needs above everything else. Selfishness is at the core of all sin. Even after we accept Jesus we struggle against the desire to seek what is good for us, ahead of what is good for others. It causes fights in church, and leads us into wrong doctrine. Sometimes it gets so bad I wonder if we are even reading the same Scriptures. Do we not understand what Jesus was saying when he explained what it takes to be his disciple?

“All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

I hear a lot about crosses and following and very little about denying ourselves. In fact, it is the opposite. It is all about rights, self love, promoting self, protecting self. People believe because they feel it they have to act on it. There is so much confusion and lines being smudged because we don't know how to say no to ourselves, to step into our responsibilities and to live as Jesus lived.

The very foundation of our Christian beliefs is self-sacrificing love, putting other people ahead of ourselves, considering other people more important than ourselves. This is based on the fact that since we have Jesus we don't need anything else and that demonstrating the love of Jesus costs. It costs us our right to be hurt, our right for vengeful justice, our right to be right:

Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

It comes down to understanding what Jesus meant by "take up your cross daily". Why are you here? For yourself or for Jesus? Are you here to make a great life for yourself or to carry out the will of Father? Our life has a purpose here. Do you understand what it is? Consider Paul's view of his life:

I please everyone in everything I do. I don’t look out for my own advantage, but I look out for many people so that they can be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33)

Not a lot of place for self gratification or self love there. Paul lived so people could be saved. His desire was to be used by Jesus for the salvation of others. His desire, his interests, his comfort were not important. He was pliable according to the situation so he would have the opportunity to present Jesus. This is love, not to love ourselves but to pour out our lives to the benefit of those for whom our Lord laid down his life to save. Is there a more noble reason for us to live a self-less life in service to our King and the lost of this world?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Not Of This World

We are not of this earth. We need to remind ourselves of this constantly. We are not of this earth because when we were born again through Jesus, we were made as a new creation. We were changed. We were changed from a  creature of the dust to a creature of the Spirit. As such, we are governed by a different reality, a different set of laws; not something less than this world but something more.

Paul explained to the Corinthians:

So it is also written,The first human, Adam, became a living person, and the last Adam became a spirit that gives life. But the physical body comes first, not the spiritual one—the spiritual body comes afterward. The first human was from the earth made from dust; the second human is from heaven. The nature of the person made of dust is shared by people who are made of dust, and the nature of the heavenly person is shared by heavenly people. (1 Corinthians 15:45-48)

This is a serious matter and needs to be understood. It explains why so many followers of Jesus are being deceived to follow the patterns of this world instead of the precepts of the Kingdom. The Word warns:

See to it that nobody enslaves you with philosophy and foolish deception, which conform to human traditions and the way the world thinks and acts rather than Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Read that through a few times until it begins to sink in. Because many of us have not understood this we have allowed ourselves to be deceived. We have allowed ourselves to be enslaved with philosophies and foolish deception. Why would we allow anyone to convince us about things that are contrary to the Word of God? Many of us think we are living the Word but we are living according to the changing traditions of man.

There needs to be a great calling out to Jesus, a mass repentance, and a desiring for the truth of our God. Many who teach in Jesus name, in the opposite direction of the Word, don't even study the Word, are not possessed by the Spirit and so spread the teachings of demons.

I pray all of us will consider this, ask the Spirit to examine us and then respond to his conviction. Lord, help us in these final days to serve you in this world without being polluted by the world. Help us to remain faithful to you, your ways, your Spirit and the Father's will to the very last breath.

Monday, June 22, 2015

We Really Are Different

As a Christian sometimes it feels like we are shouting into the wind. Things that seem so clear to us appears to be lost on people. We forget that we are no longer what we were; we have been changed, made into a new creation. Our mind is transformed so we see from a different perspective. Our priorities are different but so is our ability to understand the will of Jesus. Those without the Spirit do not have the mind of Christ:

Spiritual people comprehend everything, but they themselves aren’t understood by anyone. (1 Corinthians 2:15)

So when we are talking about abortion, homosexuality, or any of the hot button issues of our day, we really don't have a common ground from which to talk. People without the Spirit honestly believe that they are logical in their argument. We should be able to understand this because it is from what we were before Jesus. Isaiah described what it is was without the Spirit of God:

Who has known the mind of the Lord, who will advise him?

Paul the apostle quoted this as he described it in 1 Corinthians 2:16 but he didn't leave it there. He let us know there is a difference since the Spirit now resides in us:

But we have the mind of Christ.

And that is why we see everything so different from our friends who are without Jesus.  They are arguing from the focal point of this world but everything we knew has been redefine by the cross, the empty grave, the ascended Lord and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. We can express the perspective of heaven to our friends but I see no point in arguing about it.

Jesus told us:

Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you. (Matthew 7:6)

We would save ourselves a lot of trouble if we could accept that without the Spirit of God, the world cannot understand the value of the pearls. Yahweh's logic seems like foolishness to them. In these end days the difference is going to become more pronounced. We need to expect this. Love them, but don't change to try to get them to understand. The enemy will try to trip you up with this by telling you that if you compromise a couple of things your friends may be saved. Instead, you may be lost. Leave it to the conviction of the Spirit. You stay faithful to Jesus.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

We Need The Spirit

The battle-lines are being drawn. Are you on the Lord's side? Scriptures say that many people will think they are okay only to be surprised on The Day that they have deceived themselves. Don't be deceived. Our God is not "whatever you want to do". There is a way to walk with Jesus, to be in fellowship with him; it is Yahweh's way, not what we think is best to do.

Let's give ourselves a good shake. It is better to be corrected in this place now then to find out we have been wrong and end up being judged with the world. We have been given the wisdom of Father and it is very different then the wisdom of the world. Too many of us are living according to this world, fooling ourselves into believing it is the way of Yahweh. The problem is with the Spirit.

There are too many of us who are walking around with a head knowledge but with no living connection with Jesus. It is by the Spirit we are joined with Jesus but too many of us have fallen for lies about the Spirit and so do not understand he is vital for life in Christ. In these final days we have to gain knowledge about the Spirit and act on it:

God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. Who knows a person’s depths except their own spirit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has known the depths of God except God’s Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10-11)

If you want to follow Jesus, do his will, be faithful to the end, you need the Spirit. If we are to live by the wisdom of Father, we need the Spirit. We cannot know our God without his Spirit teaching us and giving us understanding; also to convict us to do what is right. We listen to knowledge and confuse it for wisdom. So much of the world has crept into the pulpit because of the lovers of knowledge instead of the Lord:

We haven’t received the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God. These are the things we are talking about—not with words taught by human wisdom but with words taught by the Spirit—we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. (v. 12-14)

According to the wisdom of the world this truth can be disputed, but if we say that we follow Jesus then we accept the Word is truth and live accordingly, empowered by the Spirit. If we try to live through these days without the Spirit of God we will be confused and lost. We need to make the right decisions while there is still time.

"I want more of you Spirit." May this be our constant prayer as we desire to be more like Jesus.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Which Wisdom Is Directing Your Days?

Very little I say will make any sense to those who have not accepted Jesus Christ. It is the reason that much of what I write, teach and preach is misunderstood because they understand from one perspective and I from another. We don't have common ground. My real concern is not that non-Christians do not agree with me, but that a huge division is forming among believers, because some choose the wisdom of this world over the wisdom of our Father.

Each of us have to decide whether we are on the Lord's side or not. Do we believe what Jesus taught? Do we believe what he demonstrated? Do we believe the promises he gave? Or are we going to explain these things and interpret our actions according to the wisdom of this world? The difference is significant. It always has been.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

What we say is wisdom to people who are mature. It isn’t a wisdom that comes from the present day or from today’s leaders who are being reduced to nothing. (1 Corinthians 2:6)

Wisdom to people who are mature. The goal of every Christian should be to grow into the fullness of Jesus; to be mature in the Lord. Sometimes that wisdom comes through hard lessons that today we try to avoid. Sometimes it is wisdom gained by standing on the truth no matter the cost. Sometimes it comes by believing the revelations given through the Word of God. But it is certainly a different wisdom from the wisdom of this world.

If we are going to be strong Christians in these end days we need to start rejecting what many consider to be wisdom today. We need to reject it and submit ourselves to the wisdom of Yahweh. We need to make our desire for maturity to be key to how we see everything in our life. Remember what was written to the Ephesians:

God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.  As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part. (Ephesians 4:13b-16)

Making our mark in this world is not our goal. To carve out a comfortable life is not our goal. To live safe is not our goal. To grow up in Jesus is our goal. Wisdom, true wisdom is part of that maturity. It is time for us to understand the difference between the world and Jesus so that we can stand strong in Jesus in these final hours of the world as we know it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I've Got The Power

There are many things in the Church that need the Spirit's correction but none greater than the lack of power we are experiencing. We have tons of knowledge, maybe too much. We are top heavy with teachers but it requires power to be "doers" of the Word. In fact, there is an open attack from the Body on the parts of the Body that desire to operate by the power of Jesus. I think this is the greatest challenge we face, having the appearance of godliness without the power.

We are too dependent on our knowledge; far too dependent. We need some "Peter's" who learned to operate according to the Spirit, sometimes learning those lessons the hard way. Peter is an obvious example but often we overlook Paul because we consider him to be a learned man, which he was, but we fail to recognize that he set aside all of that when he answered Jesus' call.

Consider again what he wrote to the Corinthians:

My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. (1 Corinthians 2:4)

Why? Because the Corinthians loved the discussion of philosophies. Yahweh did not want Jesus to be another philosophy and he has no problem with making himself evident to people. The real problem lies with us, because most of us don't ask and have no expectation for Yahweh to manifest himself through us. We like to keep Christianity a safe philosophy, something that helps us cope with life in general. But if you really knew what Jesus said you would understand that Jesus will not accept this form of followers or worship. It is all or nothing.

The Church has become a safe place but there is nothing safe about true Christianity. It is a relationship that head dives into the dark, expecting to wind up in Father's arms. It is with the same trust and expectation as a three year old jumping off the top bunk into his father's arms. He has no fear because he knows that daddy is there for him.

The Spirit has been given to us so that Jesus can be glorified in us. How is he glorified? When we allow him to use the foolish things (us) to confound the wise (of this world). Paul put it in simple terms:

I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5)

If we are to have any impact in these last days filled with confusion and darkness, we must learn to operate in the Spirit of God. We need to become a people of power so that Jesus can be glorified in us. It will not be without resistance and persecution but we need to be willing to be his obedient servant's in these days and we can't do it without the power of the Spirit every moment of every day.

If you want to be a strong follower of Jesus in these last days, you need to take the time to discover more about the power of our God that is available to you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Leadership In The End Days

Our idea of leadership in the Church these days suck. I wish I could find a better word to use but it seems the most appropriate. Leadership is groomed to look handsome, tailored, well spoken, well presented, professional, confident, empowering, attractive. Spit and polish is how it seems and anyone who doesn't fit into that mould, regardless of anointing, is kicked to the curb. But such leaders in these last days are going to fail and the Lord is going to raise up his anointed to step forward in his power and strength, and who he has chosen may surprise all of us.

When we think of Paul the apostle we often think of a passionate, educated, confident man who God used greatly according to his ability. But that is not how Paul saw it. He saw himself as not deserving anything from Jesus, yet he never denied who he was in Jesus. He saw no strength in himself but ministered in the Lord's strength. He did not travel about with confidence in himself because his confidence was only found in Jesus.

This is how he described himself to the Corinthians:

I stood in front of you with weakness, fear, and a lot of shaking. (1 Corinthians 2:3)

This is the same leader/trainer/teacher who wrote:

I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Each of us have been called and given tasks in the Body of Christ. Each of us have received power to enable us to do those things. It is not about our ability, personality, strength and confidence; it is about us living in Jesus. In order for Jesus to be glorified in us during these days ahead, we need to learn what it is to live in Jesus. Don't deny his work in you just because you don't look or feel the part. It is according to his will:

All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person. (1 Corinthians 12:11)

For far too long we have allowed the educated, talented and "beautiful" people to take us (the Church) off track. We have allowed the managers and marketers to take the place of the Holy Spirit. We have set aside our purpose of making disciples for the more glorious and incorrect task of building mini kingdoms. If we as individuals are to survive the days ahead, we need to cast off every pattern of this world and learn to live by the Spirit of God, according to his will and strength:

Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. (Romans 2:2)

We must prepare ourselves for the days ahead. Get intimate with Jesus.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jesus And Only Jesus

Do you want to be a strong Christian? Most of us do but then again most of us don't do anything about it. We know what we want to be but we don't like what it takes to get there. It is true physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Most of us consider ourselves Christian even if we have no idea what that means. If we knew what it meant many would drop the title. In these finals days of life as we know it on this planet, we need to understand  what it is to be a Christian and decide if that is what we want to be. If we do, then we need to grab a hold of it with both hands and give ourselves completely to Jesus.

Do you know that Jesus said that if we put our hand to the plow and then become double minded. looking back, wishing we could go back, we are not worthy of him. He said many things like this to make it clear that to follow him is to give everything or gain nothing. Remember these words:

"All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

There is no half way with Jesus but that is how most of us live: half-heartedly.

When Paul preached in Corinth, he described his approach this way:

I had made up my mind not to think about anything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and to preach him as crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Not double, triple or quadruple minded like us but single minded. Paul set aside everything else he knew so he could concentrate only on Jesus. Why was Paul used so much by Jesus? Because he had such a great skill set, such intelligence, such knowledge? Paul said he set aside all he had been to pursue Jesus. No, it wasn't Paul's skills or intelligence but his availability and singleness of mind. He had one purpose, to make disciples and see the Kingdom increase.

In these last days we need to throw off everything that has caused us to be double minded. We can't give the enemy even a small crack of opportunity to distract and separate us. We need to see our purpose to glorify Jesus with our lives, to make disciples, and to be available for his directions. And then pour all our selves into this purpose.

But knowing what we need to do and actually doing it are two different things. There are a lot of pleasures in this world that seem very innocent, not sinful at all. But are they beneficial? Do they bring us closer to Jesus? Do they add to the Kingdom? Or are they a root cause for our double mindedness?

Do we really want to follow Jesus in these final days? I hope we do because things are about to get even more confusing. If we haven't hidden ourselves in Jesus we are going to be lost. But things need to change in us. We need to ask for more of the Spirit, to surrender anything that is not a benefit to our growth and the growth of others and give 100% to the mission at hand.

"I made up my mind..."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Getting Ready For The End

It has been a long time since I have sat down at my computer to write a blog. Life got away on me and certain disciplines were let go for the sake of survival. With the Lord's help I am now attempting to claim back those disciplines. As any writer will tell you, what they write is more for themselves than for their readers. I need this blog.

We are in the final hours of this world as we know it and my ongoing concern is our spiritual preparation. Are we closer to Jesus today than at any point in our life? I am seeing a lot of things going on to distract the followers of Jesus so we are not getting the spiritual nourishment that we need in these times. We are being forced into battles that are not important. We are wasting energy in the wrong areas. The enemy has distracted us with fake battles so we are not seeing what is really coming.

Part of our problem in the Church is our professionalism. For some reason we have always sought recognition from the world. We are looking for them to tell us that we are authentic and important. Yet, after our best efforts, we are facing a world that is becoming more hostile than ever and the words that make my skin crawl as those we hear from Church leadership: "We have to be relevant to our society."

No we don't.

How can we expect a world lost in darkness to understand our relevance when we are in direct opposition to what they want? We are not here to fight against them, but to fight for them. We fight for them by representing Jesus Christ, by speaking the truth and by interceding for them. If we try to professionalize the warriors of this battle, we are taking the battle from where the Lord is to where the world is, and we cannot fight at the level of the world.

Over the next few days I want us to consider what we read in 1 Corinthians 2. Today, consider this:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I didn’t come preaching God’s secrets to you like I was an expert in speech or wisdom. (v. 1)

Jesus Christ did not create clergy in the Body. He set up trainers to help us grow into the fullness of Jesus but he did not set up anyone to mediate for us. Jesus is our mediator. We did not set up a group of professionals who would present the revelation of Jesus through teh wisdom of this world. He set up a new nation, the royal priesthood, which is comprised of all believers.

According to 1 Corinthians 12 Jesus set up the Church as a body, with every member possessing the gifts he determined to give us, so that we could function spiritually together. He wants to be glorified through us and that isn't going to happen if we are preaching the wisdom of this world. He uses the foolish things of this world (that's you and me) to confound the wise. But the Church rejects the annointed of God in order to lift up the professionals for acceptability.

Some would argue that Paul was an educated man. That is true. I am not saying that Jesus does not use the learned, the intelligent, the wise but also realize that Paul set aside everything he had been, considered it foolishness and became educated in the Spirit. Our goal is not acceptability in the world but usefulness to our Lord.

You do not need to be an expert to be used by Jesus. You do not need a head full of knowledge. You are not eliminated from ministry because of your lack of ability. All Jesus requires from you is your love, trust, obedience and availability.