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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