Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas

 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 

        Allow this verse to resonate within you, allow it to pour out its blessings from within you and may you see all the wonderful light it is shedding within you.
        This verse has moved me beyond tears, it resides in my very soul and is what I think about when we celebrate Christmas.  We always point out a few things about Christmas such as the birth of Jesus, the Christmas tree, the manger, gifts, and family.  None of which are celebrated at the correct time of year, if we understand that the conception of Jesus was given by the Spirit during this time of year then we know that the festival of tents is probably the more accurate birth-time for Jesus.  
        The physical representation is always looked at when seeking the meaning of Christmas.  I want to turn to a different avenue that I believe is correct and is spiritual.   The statement from above is from Isaiah 9:6,  let's take it a phrase at a time.  

For unto us a child is born, 

           We think of Christ born in a manger and that is exactly what has happened.  you are the manger, the lowly place, the rotten side stable where this new birth has taken place.  Within you a child is conceived not of sinful flesh, but of an eternal spirit.  A new light has dawned within your soul and is now a very part of you.  You are the lowly manger in which this child is born, Jesus the Christ, in you.

To us a son is given: 

           Christmas is a time of giving gifts, and this gift is from the father and deep within you is the Christmas tree or the tree of life.  On its branches are gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control which are fruits or gifts of the spirit.  There is deep within a gift of the son who is sufficient to our weaknesses.  Sufficient means adequate, nothing more nothing less, exactly what we need, and all knowing for eternal life.  A son is given, a gift of grace, and undeserved favor.  do you understand the sufficient gift that exist in you is enough to meet your needs.  This gift is what your kings and tyrants that exist within you will bow down to and they will pay homage to this great gift of a king.  
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:

        The government of what (a question asked by Walter C. Lanyon)?  is so appropriate and this is where the tears shed for me.  Governments give a lair of control over you.  This has nothing to do with Washington, D.C., or state in which you reside, but one thing, your life.  The Government of your life is to be upon his shoulders.  This child born in you as a gift is bearing your life on his shoulders.  Life is found, but where?  upon his shoulders, the onus of you trying to figure out this spiritual journey is on his shoulders, his life is found in you and your life is bound by him in union. This is why we shouldn't worry one moment further about our spiritual growth because it is your Father in heaven who gives good gifts and reveals himself to us and grows us at the right time.

and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

        In the book of Philippians chapter 2 we see the verse that talks about every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  God's promise to Abraham's seed was that he would make his name great.  This child born in us the lowly manger is called wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, and the prince of peace all existing in you.  What's true of Christ is true of you!

        As I reflect on this verse and all the time I've wasted on the physical, this breeds in me the joyful peace of the season knowing that I am in Christ and he has made in me the union life of the everlasting.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, 

Jason
Monday, December 5, 2011

FBC OLOH

FBC OLOH:

This past weekend Johnny Taylor and I traveled to Lake Forest Ranch in Macon, MS, and spoke to the students of FBC Oloh.

Marked by many factors, this past five months prepared us to go and teach to this group of students about the often taught often forgot subject of "No Condemnation."

Friday Night:  Session 1 "No Condemnation"

        Based from Romans 8:1, a verse that just says it, "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  This application to the life of a condemned Christian is the most freeing message they can receive.  The Gospel is not about condemnation, it is about intimacy with God.  Intimacy with God leads us into action...we often throw out comments such as, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the word of God."  This statement boast so much truth; however, we often "hear" but we rarely respond.
        the woman caught in adultery (John 8) brought before Jesus in the synagogue was guilty, so are we!  Jesus could have stoned her and would have been completely just in doing so, yet because of his righteousness that fulfilled the law He asks her, "where are your accusers?"  is there anyone here to condemn you?  He pulls her out from under neath the banner of condemnation and sets her under the banner of "love."  Song of Solomon 2:4, "he brought me to the his banqueting house and his banner over me was love."  Just says it.
        I told the students Friday Night that they had permission to not and try to fix themselves because they would never be able to fix the problem on their own.  I certainly showed up with this idea of not being able to fix them and it freed me to relax and just teach.

Saturday Morning:  "Life as it relates to Law and Torah"

        I shared my journey to ultimate life in Christ and it wasn't a 7 step process or a formula but it was about how God ambushed me rescued me from a false Christian Identity based on my works for his acceptance.  I was given life based on His works not mine, that freed me and messed up all my theology up to that point in life... I'm not sure what god I was serving but it was not the creator of the universe.  The god I served fit nicely in the shape of my box and looked an awful lot like me...!  I make a terrible god.   When I found that I didn't love God first, but that He loved and pursued me with reckless abandon and began to live loved, it ruined me.  Living Love allowed me to pursue him with reckless abandon just as he was pursuing me...His pursuit of me caused me to pursue him!  I discovered that this journey meets up with a symptom that I cannot repair and it is "dependency."  Living in grace, Living loved, and pursuing God causes dependency.  I began to hear the word of God and doing the word of God (James 1:22) yet, this doing was not about works it was about dependency.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness Romans 4:5.  Now that just says it!  What did God reveal to during this time of growing and currently revealing to me to this day...

"Law and Torah"

the difference in these two words freed me to read the bible from a way of life and not a demand.

Law in the Greek is Nomos  which gives a judicial view of living...the law then carries out the purpose of condemnation, judgment, and death.   This view of Law makes sin increasingly sinful, because that is what we are "sinful."

Torah in the Hebrew is translated in to Nomos in Greek but does not mean the same thing, the idea behind the torah is "teaching or instruction a way of living."  Torah was not meant for condemnation, judgment, and death but for life.  Torah can condemn, judge, and produce death because it contains the in it a holy and just standard given by God that makes sin increasingly sinful. The Torah is a covenant promise of life in a person.

When we think of Law we think of the Ten Commandments, the ten commandments was not a law but a marriage covenant over the people of Israel who then once it was received rejected its standard to intimacy. Just like the Israelites of the time we too have decided that it is better for us to have someone go in our place and come and tell us what God says...!  That's not what he wants from us, he wants us to come through the blood of Jesus and live our lives in his presence, the scriptures say, be holy for I am holy... that is we have to go through Christ to live holy.  

Saturday Night "Law is Christ"

        Jesus is for us the graceful revelation of the Torah, he is the fulfillment of these scriptures.  John 1:1 gives us the revelation of this word... what do we call the word?  Scriptures right, what is the torah made of?  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  These are the Torah, but these scriptures are not merely words on paper, they point to a person.  You cannot have a relationship with words, the scriptures are shadows of a real person who we call our savior, Jesus Christ.  
      Colossians 2:17 says that these are the shadows of the things to come but the substance belongs to christ...(just says it).   John 5:39-40  says that you search the scriptures for knowledge...however, it is not in the scriptures that eternal life exist, but he tells them you refuse to come to me for life...

The point of all this, Jesus is the Law, Jesus is the Torah.  Matthew 5:17-18.... says that Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it therefore becomes the law on our behalf and meets its righteous demands for us.

The importance of finding our life in Christ is essential to living not condemned by the law.

Sunday Morning.  "God hasn't Changed"

simplicity is the key to understanding that you are not condemned, the question is do you believe?

The Shema says, "Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one from Deuteronomy 6:4...

Hear is a simple request, listen to notice of my voice.  Israel is the loved bride of Christ... The Lord our God, is Elohim (plural) giving us the concept of this triune God who is a Father who loves us, The spirit who reveals to us, and the Son who took our place to rescue us.  The Lord is one, (James 1:17) in whom there is no variation.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us... (John 1:14)

The weekend was exciting not because we did anything to fix, but gave the freedom to allow God to fix... we just need to live in his grace, experience his love, and be dependent on his life.

have a great day,

Jason
Monday, October 31, 2011

coffee and conversations

I love coffee.  I love conversations.  I miss conversations that last over an hour.  Where have dreams wondered off too?  I am insinuating of course on the idea that conversations with God is possible.  Maybe even while you are enjoying a cup of coffee.  In my heart I want to believe that such dreams are being lived out by people all over the planet.

I know God is not a distant form or a figure illuminating from a heaven out of reach.  God is near, even hear.  Place your hand up to your face at the crest of your nose, intimacy is in your space.  Coffee    is not a life saver, but my life has been saved over a cup of coffee.  Conversations do not taste good always, but spew a sweet aroma over the lips and hears of those participating.

I am delighted, terrified, and ready to start the future....moving forward and pacing out of dependence and far from security.  Money  does not drive the influence of God or how I'm to live.  Wealth is not for God to be assured of using you, wealth is the found treasure of Him.

I look forward to retreating and speaking of the dulcet scriptures that breathe life into our beings and take our breaths away at its fulfillment.  No condemnation, God has not changed, and the law is graceful...

the enrichment found in these simple truths of our approach to God will open the highway of intimacy, revelation, and knowledge of and with God.    Make me quiet so you can speak, allow me to listen so I can live.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Gospel: A Set and Divine Foundation from the Beginning


The Gospel: A Set and Divine Foundation from the Beginning

       This time of year as set forth in me a joy unspeakable, not out of duty, not out of a set arraignment, but for the joy of knowing God.  I recently saw the birth of my twins and began to wonder if these two would be my last-born children here on earth.  I know that God sent Jesus as His only begotten son (John 3:16) through the seed of the Spirit in the womb of a woman.  I automatically began to pray over these newborn bundles of joy and wondered what life would be like for them in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.  One thought set in my mind was “The Gospel.”  These children of mine are children of the seed of flesh and destined for death.  It’s a tragic truth that we do not think about when you are just trying to get them home from the hospital.
       This time of year has also been set aside as a remembrance or a turning back to the beginning.  The Jews celebrate this time of renewal through Rosh Hashanah.  The portions are beginning again and a time of repentance is before us.  As a believer in Jesus as Messiah the festivals celebrated are duly a remembrance and a time set for the day of return.  The word teshuvah is exactly this statement of returning.  In the garden, we see an amazing action performed before verdict is given that goes unnoticed by many, if not most believers and is a tragic miss that is left void in our lives.  I believe this tragic misfortune that goes unnoticed is the root cause of the feeling of “duty” that we place on self to be loved and accepted by God.
        In the garden we see that Satan temps Eve and subsequently entices Adam to take part in the occasion.
Gen 3:6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Gen 3:7  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Gen 3:8  And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

        We notice that the first reaction to taking part in sin is revealing, they knew that their eyes were opened, holy smokes batman we have just broken the one rule that God set up for us.  The absence of life reveals our nakedness it shows us the things we do not like about ourselves.  Truth will reveal the hidden details, and it is in this that we try to cover up and hide. 

        Notice Adam and Eve’s response is to cover up what has been revealed, they make it their task to cover up what has been made wrong.  This is such a testament to our way of thinking, it is much easier for us to correct the wrong ourselves; however, it does not lead to life.  Your work will never lead to life; it cannot, will not, and has never been able to save you.  Even if the intentions of the heart are for good, you will never be able to save yourself or someone else.  You may be on the mission field in the middle of a jungle out of duty, instead of life, and it will never be your means of salvation or fulfillment of the void in life. 

        God shows up in the midst of the garden, noticed they heard the sound of God walking in the garden.  This reminds me of being alone in a room and hearing the sound of footsteps rustling on the sidewalk.  The anticipation of the sound always leads to the stress of the unknown.  Yet this approach was not one of decimation, but of relationship.  This is the approach we miss when we read the garden account, we forget that a relationship has been established and now we see how God brings forth the gospel even in the garden.

        God does something that we miss, we miss and forget the purpose of why we are sons and daughters.  He questions the means by which they sin, He tells of the enmity between woman and the snake, and then he performs a sacrifice.   At this point in the garden, no judgment has been given.  God provides “garments of skin” and thus, provides the first sacrifice we see in scripture.  This sacrifice came before judgment, the blood spilled before a word uttered in punishment, and his compassion shown before they were removed from the garden.   A relationship was established gloriously before he gives the terms of how life will be outside of the comfort of the garden.  Man had fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).   Yet, in the midst of falling short,  redemption was already on His mind.  God rescued them, redeemed them, and then He sent them in the world to live in dependence upon Him and not of themselves. 

        The Gospel was shown in Adam and Eve admitting their faults; Jesus preached “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  We must realize that God has provided for us a sacrifice in the form of being clothed in Righteousness.  God being the Gospel clothed Adam and Eve in the righteousness that he provided through the sacrifice he made on their behalf.   We see judgment show up in Genesis 4:5 when Cain offered his sacrifice of the fruits of the field.  The fruits of His labor! 

        The Gospel in the garden before they were moved out of it was the sacrifice of the animal that clothed their nakedness.  The question is not what are you doing to clothe yourself; the question is have you accepted the robes of righteousness through Christ at the finished work of the cross?  You see God preceded your sin by offering Christ on our behalf, pouring out His judgment on the only one who lived righteously.  Being clothed in righteousness is having your works exposed for what they are, nakedness.  The Gospel exposes and sheds light on our self-effort, no matter what that self-effort looks like. 

       I was exposed in college through my efforts to perform every kind of ministry opportunity available, yet it did not cure the ailment of self.  I tried and tried to make it happen, the mission field was my acts of righteousness, my tracts of faith, and my alter building to attempt to sacrifice those sins and never live in them again.  In such things, there is no life.  We can be called to any form of ministry in and out of country, and if there is no life in the calling then there is no power behind it.   We can gather in small groups and pray to our hearts content, yet if it is without life, there is no power. 

        Are you living out of duty? Or out of life? Are you exposed by the righteousness of God?  Have you heard is voice? Have you heard His footsteps?  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for they shall be called sons of God (Matt 5:9).   Righteousness is out for you and it will chase after, pursue, and hunt you down until you fall into its fate, being clothed.  God does that!   The Gospel is God, The Gospel is being Clothed, The Gospel is infinite, and The Gospel is for those who hear.

         Seeing my children born into the world in frailty and nakedness exposed them for what they are, dependent.  Adam and Eve experienced it and so do we.  
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Law, Grace, and Christ


        The Law

        Wait! The Law is not bad, the law is not wrong, and the law is holy, just, and righteous.  The law at the same time makes my skin crawl.  Judiciously, the law is perfect.  The written law is good about pointing out my no goodness.  The written law is a tutor, i.e., someone to guide me, stay in line, and point me to Christ.  The Law Moses received on Mt. Sinai was given on tablets of stone.  Tablets of stone or tablets of hearts is used in reference to man to describe the type of heart man obtains.  Such as, the different hearts are two:  One being a heart of stone and the other a heart of flesh.  These two pictures are given in means of describing the law.  If you have a heart of stone, then the law to you is lifeless.  If you have a heart of flesh, then the law to you is life.  If the law is not bad, and the law is not wrong, then why do we teach the law as bad and wrong?  I think it’s a matter of the spirit, by the spirit we have clarity in revelation and clarity in truth.  We subject ourselves to teaching of others and do not look into the heart to find the spirit's interpretation.
        Moving forward, the law is a loose Greek interpretation of the word "torah" in Hebrew, which means "teaching."  The Greeks give the interpretation of the word "nomas" which means "law" the word is legalized lawyer talk.  This was not God's intention for the "commands" or "mitzvoth."  Torah or teaching then is a way of living life and thus being called a heart of flesh and living.  The Law as we know it will never be understood unless you see its intent through the eyes of Grace and the life of Christ.

Grace

        Take a deep breath, this taste good!  Grace is God's undeserved favor a gift that you cannot earn, work, or achieve by action.  Soak this in for a moment; if you cannot earn something from God, then His gift to you is free.  What is so hard about grace?  Grace doesn't leave room for improvement, because you cannot improve on perfection.  Grace is perfect, it will leave no stone unturned in your life and it will never be taken from you once received.   Notice I wrote, received.  God's unconditional love is fueled by His unending vat of grace.  John Mark Macmillan's lyric in the song "He loves Us” sings "...if grace is an ocean, we're all sinking...”  The Law doesn't mix with grace, or does it? Or is the law grace?  The law was received by Moses from God on tablets of stone, yet Moses by grace saw God face to face and lived.  The spoken commands over the people of Israel from Sinai were not a set of rules and regulations for an enslaved people, but a way of life for a bride.  
        This marriage picture displayed at Sinai, takes an imperfect bride and gives them a means of living by which perfection is obtained through dependency.  We in our culture today love the stories of the damsel in distress that are rescued by their hero, and thus live their life in the safe arms of a husband.  This is not a new way of seeing our union with God; the Sinai picture is this rescuing of a people who were less than perfect and creates a perfect marriage.  This giving of a perfect union is a gift of God, thus making a perfect grace.  Grace open's the eyes of the blind and makes the poor rich; it feeds the hungry and gives drink to the parched.  Do you see the picture of grace in the law yet?  O.k. let's take it to the next step and wake up the senses about the law and grace by looking to Christ.



Christ

        Resting yet?  The Law is the heart of stone and Grace is the heart of flesh.  The fact that Christ is from divine seed shows us that He is born with a heart of flesh yet lived under this marriage covenant that we call the law.  Christ is the means by which we faulty, marred, and skewed humans have this resting place when it comes to living up to the standard of the law that seems impossible to live.  Christ, according to Paul in the scripture, fulfilled the law.  I don't know about you, but that is really good news, that really taste good, and that gives me a hope for the future.  The written law is a tutor that points us to Christ.  Christ is the new law, written on hearts of flesh which is given by a husband to a bride as a gift.  This gift is "life,” a life of knowing and a life of seeing, gazing, and believing.  Christ fulfills every detail of the written law and is our divine access to God.  This introduces us on a small level the depth that we will be diving into as we begin this study of James.
Thursday, June 2, 2011

FLEECING, FLEXING, AND FLIPPING OFF

 To whomever takes in this reading, I implore you to read and think about the implications of how we walk in this life and live in and under the smile of the Messiah.  I write this in response to losing a gentleman in our community suddenly and tragically.  In remembering those folks we have had close ties with in the past and present, it is good to remember, it is good to grieve, and it is good to walk through the disgusting measure of loss.  Fleecing, Flexing, and Flipping Off is about relationships as it involves the Sovereignty of God.

FLEECING

        By definition according to Websters, fleecing is to strip of money or property by fraud or extortion; to charge excessively from for goods or services.   Literally, fleecing is to shear or remove from.  By implication, to cover with.  This past week our little community of people lost a what in my flesh would be considered a good and decent man.  A tragic death occurred in the midst of him visiting his mother for Memorial Day weekend.  When looking at the world around us, we are being fleeced by people all the time; having goods stolen from us at a ridiculous rate.  If you have driven up to a gas pump in the past 6 months, then you have experienced this fleecing.  The gentleman who passed away has been fleeced from us.   God chose to remove him.  We use the word fleecing a majority of the time in a negative since, however, I would like to use it in means of describing to you a relationship with God that goes to the point of removal.  God's sovereignty fleeces us, it removes our dependence on self and by implication covers us with his muscles and provides for us a rest in the most troubling of times.  Sovereignty means supreme power or authority, and we under God's supreme power are fleeced of self.  This fleecing is the most difficult to accept or taste because this fleecing requires us to be removed of any control.  I don't know about you, but that just scares me because I like control.  When it comes to spiritual living, my control or what I think is control is useless.  God is fleecing us of independence and His sovereignty brings us to our dependence.

FLEXING

         By definition according to Websters, flexing is being bent, shaped differently, and contracted.  When I think of flexing, I think of muscles.  Body Building, Arnold ("Get to the choppa") type guys come to mind.  I've never looked at flexing when it comes to spiritual thinking.  Dave Busby was big on using the metaphor of relying upon "His Muscles!"  The term flexing can also be used in the negative way to describe God, I've heard God is flexing His muscles when it comes to bad weather, natural disasters,  and going through a rough patch in life.  In the light of sovereignty, flexing is best described as being shaped differently.  God bends, shapes, and molds us into manifesting Him in our mortal flesh.  In the case of losing a friend, God flexed His muscles by transforming him from the flesh life to the spiritual life.  When God chooses to take a life home, His sovereign choice was to have him home.  During these times families are flexed, bent to grief, mourning, and questions.  In an odd way, God is the one flexing towards  dependence and bringing you to the end of self.  When God flexes us it is for His good purpose and we benefit from being shaped into the workmanship of Christ.  We are created in Christ to be shaped and molded to manifest him in our mortal flesh.  To borrow a quote from Busby, we rely on "his muscles" to endure "his flexing."

FLIPPING OFF

         By definition according to Webster s, (yes, flipping off is found in webster s), turning up the middle finger in a course gesture.  In the midst of being fleeced and flexed our response is nothing short of flipping off.   If you are offended by the comment of flipping off, then you find a better description of what you feel on the inside when you are stripped of those things you hold dear in your heart.  In the midst of being fleeced and flexed, honesty is the response that is required.  I find it funny that we have this idea in our minds that God doesn't see those things we often feel when things do not go our way.  In loss or tragedy our response is often in grief, flipping off, questioning, and ticked that we had no control over the loss.  I'm no less a victim of this response, but in the midst of grief God screaming is ok, why?  Because God can handle your honesty.  God can handle your flipped off response, because he is large enough to handle this response in the midst of the most horrendous occasion.   strangely enough, when we try to answer the unanswerable questions about God and we mess it all up, we feel like flipping off.   You can flip off all that you want, but God's sovereignty will still remain.  God's fleecing will remain to cover you, God's flexing will remain to bend and shape you, and God in the midst of this fleecing and flexing can handle your flipping off by the measure of honesty that is spewing forth from you.

Fleecing, flexing, and flipping off are components of grieving, learning, and growing.  When we look at these in the midst of relationships, we see the benefit being fleeced, flexed, and flipped.
Friday, May 27, 2011

Jesus, Yeshua, and Politicians

        This title strikes me as hilarious because in a manner of speaking this title represents all we know of God with Skin.  In my finite words, I'm writing about the church.  These certain points of view cover a wide variety of people, all of which have influenced me and my path to knowing God.  Again, I write these articles to make you aware of the need to know God in relationships. So as you read Jesus, Yeshua, and Politicians think about what your view point is and how it influences your relationship with God.

Jesus
       
       
        Jesus, What's in the name?  What is so renowned about Jesus?  At the name of Jesus people swear, claim, sway, wage war, unite, argue, have conversations, congregate, and disassociate.  What is the draw that men would write up their own rules in how to know and have relationship with Him.   Did Jesus mean for us to write our way to him?  Religion has fueled our passion for knowing God for so long that we have forgotten to seek him outside of the walls of a steeple house. 
         Jesus, unfortunately, tasted and saw all the different ways that man tried to get to His Father.   The funny thing is this, Jesus said that the only way to His Father was through Him.  If you need a reference, its in the Bible, John 14:6.  Jesus' statement is a lesson on how we approach God in a relationship.  The funny thing is, a by-law does not have to be passed to understand it, although man has even skewed that simple statement in the Bible that just says it.
        The Christian view point of Jesus puts emphasis on what we "do", instead of "being."  Somehow, the same Bible is read, yet the point of view ends up being different.  Why? Man is really  good at reading scripture through their own veils and filters.  Try and read the Bible unfiltered with no presuppositions to influence you.  Read with the conviction that you want to learn about God and not about what supports your religion. 
        Christianity is largely based on view points of man instead of looking at what God says about Himself and you.  Is the Jesus of scripture that you serve a liar?  Jesus makes it clear that He is the pathway to God.  Knowing God is eternal life according to John 17:3, this is Jesus praying in the garden before his subsequent arrest.  The message to Christians is this, repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  Tozer said, "God Himself is here waiting on our response to His presence (p.50)."  It's interesting that we view Jesus as a middle class white collared american, friends, that is not Jesus and that is not who he is.  If you begin to study scripture, then you must face the reality that Jesus Christ is a Jew and lived as a Jew, and followed the Jewish customs.  What, then, do you do with your view of Jesus at this point?


Yeshua

        Yeshua, now what's in this name?  Talk about a controversy in order!  Jews all over the world still do not believe in your middle class white american Jesus.  The man the Pharisee's arrested was, according to them, a blaspheming Jew who happened to be a good teacher, who read in the synagogues and followed the Jewish customs set up by God and revealed to Moshe (Moses).   Could you in fact be in love with a Jew?  Well, let's end the drama quickly!  Yes, if you call your self a believer of Jesus Christ, then you are in fact in love with a Jew.  Why did God choose to send Jesus as a Jew?  Well, from the beginning, before the foundation of the earth God set aside for Himself a bride, a people of choosing known as the Jews. 
        Yeshua is the Hebrew name that we know as Jesus, its meaning is significant.  You see Yeshua means salvation.  I look to a certain verse in scripture to point to this meaning, Exodus 14:13 says, and Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid.  Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.  For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever."  The key phrase is "see the salvation of the Lord," or "see the yeshua of the Lord,"  or "see the (deliverance, victory, prosperity: health, help) of the Lord,".  
        I met a Lady  (who calls herself a messianic christian) who radically challenged me about two years ago to read the first five books of scripture and allow the first five books of scripture to fuel the whole understanding of the Bible.  Two years previous of meeting this sweet lady, I begin to study Jesus' Hebrew roots.   What I have discovered on this four year journey is a depth and intimacy with God beyond what I ever expected.  What am I saying?  Do all Christians have it wrong?  No, I believe we have a skewed view point of we place our faith and trust in.  This view point that Jesus is just for American Christians is misguided and wrong.
         I used to be scared of the term "messianic" because I thought it was just "messy."  Messianic simply means that for a Jew who believes in Jesus as Messiah is Messianic.  Or like my friend a Messianic Christian is a kingdom minded lady who has found her life in Christ and chooses to live in the Hebrew lifestyle and festivals, honoring the true sabbath (friday evening to saturday evening), and praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
         I'm not challenging you to convert, I'm challenging you to discover, because I believe when you discover the Jewish Jesus, you will discover what scripture is all about.  Yeshua says of himself about the Torah, these are they that speak of me.  What do you say?  How do you see? What have you learned?  I think a change in point of view is good and allows you to find exactly where you are rooted and grounded.

Politicians

        Politicians, Just saying the word causes me to throw up in my mouth.  Jesus was no politician, he was not out to  see how many people he could get to show up at the synagogue, and he was not out to promote a false picture of self.  Our picture of God is the most important thing about us.  Why?  Because, what comes to mind on the first thought of God is what you worship about God.  We have this idea that Jesus is a politician hoping to get our vote so that he can be lord of our lives.  Jesus was not out to gain a vote, he was out for your life.  God does not base his acceptance of you based on votes.  Jesus is not a democrat or a republican, He is not a congressman or representative, He is not what you picture in your mind. 
          Politicians are confound by boxes, they have a mantra of finitude, they place what they believe should happen in a box and say this is the answer.  Jesus never lived by boxes, Jesus had the hand of one whom He rested in, His Father.  Funny, that Politicians rest in policy and Jesus in His Father.  This is a picture of how we are to view God.  Politicians are not sons and daughters of policy, but of people.  We live as if we are sons and daughters of policies, and not sons and daughters of God.  God doesn't hoard mounds of policies over you, He longs for relationship with His sons and daughters.  In Christ, we are sons and daughters, just like he was a son.  Therefore, 1 John 4:17 states, as he is, so are we in this world...  The scripture doesn't say, as the policies goes, so are we in this world...
        Politicians are not all bad, just need to realize that dependency is the way out of problems.  Jesus, Yeshua, and Politicians are together in this article because we need a change in our view points.  The change in view points come only through the revealing of God and knowing Him.  Remove the filters that skew the view of the Father, your Father in Heaven and live as sons and daughters in His kingdom which reigns forever more.
Friday, May 13, 2011

Youth Ministry, Boxes, and Wrath

Youth Ministry, Boxes, and Wrath

Greetings and salutations to our friends and family in ministry.  Often in my experience with youth ministry I walk away with serious questions of sanity.  Looking to most people for advice, they would say, "Yes, Jason, you are crazy!" I have been listening to God with the intention of following His desire for my life for over 15 years.  I'm just now experiencing  some of the deep truths of who He is to the fullest.  Why now?  Well, that is what Youth Ministry, Boxes, and Wrath is all about, experiencing God, knowing God, and enjoying God.  Read with an open mind and give me your thoughts on how you experience, know, and enjoy God.

Youth Ministry

        You do not wake up in the mornings and wish youth ministry on any one.  Youth in general are very confused, ego-centric, and vain.  Youth are confused, ego-centric, and vain largely due to the fact that they have no identity.  Identity in my opinion is the single greatest lesson that a youth can learn between the ages of 13-19.  The teenage years develops youth into what they will be for the rest of their lives.
        At the age of 13, I was a confused, overweight teenager with bad acne.  My body raged with the fury of a fire that is not easily extinguished.  I was searching for an identity but was not sure where to find it or how to follow it.  I begin to experience music and placed much of my identity in music.  The mixture of music and puberty was a strange brew, I learned a lot about my sexual nature through music.  Jon Bon Jovi is not exactly the model of sexuality in our society but for a young teenager who was discovering himself it was a place to experience the fury.
         What does it mean to experience something?  According to Webster's, experience in the verb form is to undergo through a period of time.  When do we experience something?  We experience something as we undergo it.  We may not fully understand it, but the reality is God is to be experienced.  I believe students have the ability to experience God, even in the midst of raging hormones.  Even in the midst of being ego-centric and vain, God is experienced.  We've done a great job as parents of painting a minimal picture of God for youth.  Youth have such a small picture of God because we have created a small God, its our fault.   Youth Ministers, Pastors, and Parents all play a roll in painting a picture of God.  
          The argument I experience largely in this area is that we are finite and cannot paint an accurate picture of God.  The answer to that argument is yes, we are finite, but we can experience God.  We have the faculties to experience God. 1 John 1:1 tells us that we can experience God, even now.  I ache over the condition of our students, because they believe in God yet, they believe that they can't experience God.  I experienced music through the sense of hearing.  This was just one use of the senses God created us with.  We can experience God through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.  Spiritually speaking, we can experience God to the fullest through a relationship in intimacy even as a youth.

Boxes

         As a youth, I had a point of view of God that fit my confused, ego-centric and vain values.  God was a mere spiritual Santa Claus, a mean drill sergeant who expected the me to go way and far above my ability.  How does a youth maintain such a picture of God in the midst of a hormonal rage fury in their teenage years?  Youth gain their prospective from their parents (or lack thereof), teachers, youth ministers, pastors, and secular society.  The finite argument plays into this point of view.
         Sadly, youth, as a result, create a God shaped box that fits what they have learned.  Youth take what little they know of God and begin forming their ideology based on what God is in their mind.  Most of the time, youth picture God based on relationships they have formed.  God can be really awesome, really nice, really mean, really huber cool, or really not even real.  Boxes are made to hold stuff.  Boxes are not fit to contain something that cannot be contained.  Try to over fill a box and see what happens, it completely falls apart.  Boxes can be decorative, plain, and bothersome.  We store in boxes the things we do not want to deal with on a daily basis and we place them in attics, garages, storing units, and closets by creating space for us to live.  
          Youth create God shaped boxes to make themselves feel better about God and His presence.  Youth create what they see and not what they know.  If you meet a youth who has a relationship with God, then you will see a youth who does not have a box.  Boxes are not for knowing, God is.  Jesus praying in the garden before his arrest is praying in John 17:3 "and this is eternal life, that they may know You..."  As current leaders of today's youth we must create a generation of knowers of God, not just rules and regulations, but a intimate knowing of and not just about God.
          My goal is to rid students of their God shaped boxes and live their lives out of the box with God as their life.  Many people are sad that today's church is fading.  My response to this line of thinking is that we have created this fade by not pointing our students to a relationship with God.  If you want students to worship God and glorify God, then point them to knowing God and you will see the results.  The results is that God will be their life.    Boxes hold memories and stuff we don't want, is that how we want a generation of students to see God?

Wrath

        Wrath defined is violent vengeful anger, retributory punishment for sin or crime.  The God of wrath, is wrath?  Is this really a part of who God is?  If you do not know about God's wrath, then you have not encountered His life.  Wrath to a youth is the scariest term they can associate with God and does not fill their God shaped box.  In the minds of youth, God is not wrath.  Show me a youth who has acknowledged God's wrath and I will show you a youth that is enjoying God and living life to the fullest.  
        We have been faced with this idea in the rising emergent church of a God who does not send anyone to hell, especially Ghandi.  We have been questioned on how we know these things about God, well scripture (you know that book that God revealed to man to write so that we may have a way of knowing and understanding Him) if you read it, tells us that hell is real and that God's violent vengeful anger and punishment for sin is wrath.  We deserve God's wrath because of sin.  Youth need to know that we are subject to vengeful anger and punishment of God.  Youth need to know that wrath is God's just punishment for their sin.  No one is left out of this wrath even Jesus.  
        How does wrath and enjoyment go together?  If a youth is faced with wrath, then he/she is faced with death.  Death, spiritually speaking brings life.  Death is a sign that you are at the end of self.  Sin equals death, we all deserve it.  When you are faced with death you are at the end of self, Paul made an outrageous claim in Galatians 2:20 by stating, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me..." This outrageous claim says that Paul was represented on the cross, thus facing God's wrath.  How?  Sin is not a singular concept when facing the masses, it is plural.  However, when talking about Sin as a whole it is singular.  God's wrath is poured out on Sin and that covers the masses.  Your sin and my sin is represented on that cross, thus we can claim with Paul this outrageous statement, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live..."
        The joy of wrath is knowing that you are not under it!  How are we considered not under wrath?  Youth need to know that they are not objects of wrath in Christ Jesus.  Why do we teach that they are subject to God's punishment when we teach that the cross was the punishment?  A youth who is identified in Christ knows that they are sons and daughters of The Father and live as such.  1 John 4:17,  "love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world."  Romans 8:1, there is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  Wow, youth need to know this, youth need to bite into that cookie and taste how good it is.  This is the cookie of wrath because in Christ Jesus we have been saved from God's wrath.
        Wrath is a precursor to enjoyment because when we realize that Jesus has taken our place and faced the wrath on our behalf, we will know that we have been shown mercy and live life experiencing, knowing, and enjoying God.
Friday, May 6, 2011

Chris Tomlin, KVNE, and Shofar's

Chris Tomlin, KVNE, and Shofar's

Ok, most of the time I write about 3 elements in my blogs about life.  These elements usually link to one another in some form based on the content written.  Today, I wanted to set up this blog by saying the distinction in this blog leads to one ultimate end.  That end is God.  So what does Chris Tomlin, KVNE, and shofar's have in common?  What is the link between these three?  All three are linked by one night, with three different purposes as their end.  Take a moment and read, see if this links to your heart and I would love to hear your response!

Chris Tomlin

If you do not know who Chris Tomlin is, then you are sheltered in a hole against your will.  Chris Tomlin has been a part of ever major Christian worship song in the church at one point or another.  Chris' songs include "How Great is Our God," "Forever," "Holy is the Lord," "Jesus, Messiah," and my daughter's personal favorite is "Our God is Straighter (Greater to you and me, but she is 3)." 

Chris Tomlin grew up in Grand Saline, TX, it's a hole in the wall.  On Chris Tomlin's Birthday, he was paraded through the streets and Main St is now Chris Tomlin BLVD.  Chris gives a free concert at the high school football field in which 3,000 people show up to sing.  The concert was really good by the way, it was typical of how good he is in leading worship.   

Chris Tomlin in his being had to feel deep within a little sheepish about this pomp and circumstance, and it was pomp and circumstance.   I will give Chris Tomlin props for one thing, he did tell the crowd that all this stuff was cool, but it held to purpose on the why we were gathered on that football field.   It had nothing to do with Chris Tomlin BlVD, I'm not sure that KVNE grasped that concept.  

KVNE

KVNE is a local christian radio station out of Tyler, TX.   KVNE is not bad in itself, the radio station provides good quality programming to the local community and the East TX area.   KVNE produces good cheesy christian music, including Chris Tomlin.  Most of what I know about today's Christian music is that the music is soft on God.  It paints a picture of God that all expectations of God is based on our works.  One of things that God freed me from was the ability to have to listen to Christian Music and KVNE.  I, for the most part, cannot stand to listen to KVNE and its programming because it is a bowl full of Velveeta.  I'm not a velveeta fan when it comes to christian music.  Chris is not velveeta, nor is his music.  KVNE was there in full grandeur.  

The evening was a huge plug for them in their ratings!  KVNE gained major exposure for themselves including taking about a 1/3 section of the bleachers for themselves which they filled in a minimal bases.  About 50 seats were available for citizens who could not afford to sit down at a normal paid event, was forced to stand at the fence because it was reserved!  My angst is not against Christian music, but the publicity of the music and its nasty business.

Shofar's

A shofar is a ram horn that is featured in scripture as a means of presenting and praising the coming of the Lord.  My first time to hear a shofar blast (and it's a blast, not just blown, a blast and it's very loud) was in a charismatic church in Mobile, AL, who sheltered homeless people.  The sound of the shofar is piercing, it will strike to the very chord and center of a person when one hears its blast.  

In the midst of the pre-show for Chris at the football field, there was a buzz in the crowd in the anticipation of Chris coming out on stage and playing music.  There were about 1500 people on the field itself, including my church group and we were having a chat when we were interrupted by KVNE.  

KVNE had their moment in the spotlight, to tell everyone of how great Chris Tomlin is and how incredible their radio is in this east Texas area.  A young lady stood up on stage from KVNE and said "Wow, by you all being here tonight, you must really love Chris Tomlin and ..."  at this point from behind us in the open part of the field, there we blast from two shofar's which totally drowned out the praising of Tomlin.

Two young men in yamaca's were dancing and blasting the shofar's in the middle of her speech.  Many people thought, "how rude to blast the shofar in the middle of KVNE's speech."  

I must confess that it startled me at first, because when scriptures read at the trumpet sound will be the coming of the Lord.  I thought that Jesus was coming back and it was time to go.  The blast was so loud that it overtook the sound system which was enormous in stature.  

Who were these men so rudely interrupting this introduction speech about Chris?  I'm not sure, they may have been two men from a local messianic fellowship or they could have been angels with a common purpose.  

What common purpose could these guys have in blasting the sound of the Shofar?  The blast lasted about a minute and a half.  Long enough for Chris to enter the stage and notice the parting of the crowd because all attention was not on Chris at that moment, it was on the blast.  The crowd upon hearing the horn all turned and it was as if the red sea was parting an opening shown down the middle towards the stage.   

A man asked afterwards, "why are you two blowing those horns?"
the response was simple, yet so profound, "to prepare the way for Hashem!"  

in Hebrew the meaning of Hashem is "The Name."  We know it written as YHVH, it is the name of God which is not spoken so that they will not blaspheme His name. 
Hashem, folks showed up at the blast of the Shofar and became the center of attention.  Not a parade, not a street name, and not a radio station can stand in the way of the weight of glory felt on the field that day.  It was subtle, most people did not recognize that the shofar is the instrument used in preparing the coming of the Hashem (The Lord, Adonai, in the greek Kurios).  The hair on my neck stood, tears began to fill my eyes, and at the sound of the shofar we began worshipping God... and the concert hadn't even started.

The point of Chris Tomlin, KVNE, and Shofar's is this:  That we should all be ready for God's presence and not pomp and circumstance.  The stage is and will always be God's.  The beautiful part about worshipping God is not that it comes as a requirement of stature, but as a result of relationship.  Thus, it is a glorious lifestyle.

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