Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Talking about the Holy

Without confusing the issue I will lay it out flat. I am a Christian. I don't seek to follow a brand of Christianity, that being said from my perspective the celebration churches, as I call them - charismatic/pentecostal, have a better stance on some of the doctrines related to God the Spirit than some of the denominations that have been around longer, at least in practice if not in writing. Now I realize that sounds like a contradiction and is almost offensive to me to say so undoubtedly would be offensive to other people but it does go with the general course. Churches start out passionately, really desiring nothing more than to seek after and serve God. Call Him the Father, Jesus, Lord, the Spirit, all names for one God which is in three parts but that threeness far too often over shadows the oneness.
I am a Charismatic. I don't like stogy and boring worship. I don't like churches that don't allow for God to be active in at least their sunday services. Historically my stance has always been that I can go to any church regardless of the denomination. On a small scale that's still true but for a prolonged period of time, it would be difficult which is not to say that I wouldn't go to a church where I dislike some elements and am in favor of others. That sort of makes me typical for this age though. Just looking for a church that fits what I want and I have a great disdain for the typical so I will work on that.
I don't need to go to a church where everybody is freaking out and it's a wild mess. I don't think it's biblical. But I equally dislike where the atmosphere in a church is so oppressive that on a subconscious level everyone in attendance feels no need or desire to worship how they desire. Stand, sit, kneel, raise hands, dance, cry, shout, wave a flag, be silent in awe of God. And that last one is the one that we miss out on. We so want what we want that we lose sight of how awesome God is.
I'm guilty of it too. Talking about, thinking about, praying to the one true deity and forgetting about what He did. GOD BECAME A MAN! DIED FOR SINFUL ONES LIKE US! ARE YOU SERIOUS. We talk about it like we don't even care. My opinion, so few have actually experienced God that we don't know how glorious He is so of course we won't get out of our comfort zones to praise Him, give Him everything. We have emotional highs, false mountain tops but never allow for God to move. We have liturgy and hold it to such a sacred standard that to stray from it would drive half the congregation out if it happened more then once. Well fine, let them go. This order of service, liturgy for the "protestants," who don't really protest much anymore, is biblical in that it provides a guideline for the service, but it should only be a guideline.
How many times have you gone to a service where you get a bulletin but once the service starts rolling the pastor will get up on stage and say that the time will be taken in intercession and ministry from God. If He actually wants to be around us then why do we deny Him? He, the infinite, every present and so fantastically awesome God wants to be with us, BUT WE SHUT THE DOOR ON HIM. We all want what we want and wouldn't take anything offered to us for that to change. No level of sanctification, no level of increased passion, no blessings and giftings could ever get us to want to change. 
So we shut the door on the one who would come. The third person of the Trinity, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus, the one that Jesus said it would be better for us if He were here. I love Jesus, I want to honor Him for all my days and have had the opportunity to know my own sick depravity but really He said that it would be better for us to have the Pneuma. Everybody loves Jesus but few want that guy. Because occasionally things may get a little weird. He may actually stretch you a little bit. Oh what a tragedy that would be, for the "church" to actually get stretched.
Now, don't get it twisted, the Spirit doesn't glorify Himself. He is the witness to Christ. He is the equiper for us and we far to seldom allow Him in. So shut up, stop justifying and listen to God for a few minutes, He might just say something.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Psalm 81

1 Sing for joy to God our strength;
   shout aloud to the God of Jacob! 2 Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
   play the melodious harp and lyre.
 3 Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
   and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival; 4 this is a decree for Israel,
   an ordinance of the God of Jacob. 5 When God went out against Egypt,
   he established it as a statute for Joseph.
   I heard an unknown voice say:
 6 “I removed the burden from their shoulders;
   their hands were set free from the basket. 7 In your distress you called and I rescued you,
   I answered you out of a thundercloud;
   I tested you at the waters of Meribah.[c] 8 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
   if you would only listen to me, Israel! 9 You shall have no foreign god among you;
   you shall not worship any god other than me. 10 I am the LORD your God,
   who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
 11 “But my people would not listen to me;
   Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
   to follow their own devices.
 13 “If my people would only listen to me,
   if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
   and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
   and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
   with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

a pathetic perfection etc.

1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of anideal type
2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement
3. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose
4. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings
5. accurate, exact, or correct in every detail
6. thorough; complete
7. pure or unmixed
8. unqualified; absolute
9. expert; accomplished; proficient.
10. unmitigated; out-and-out; of an extreme degree

*Courtesy of Dictionary.com. There were a few more definitions but I thought that this sufficed. Examples are also available on the website if you want them.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hows IT going?

One of the guys that is living in our apartment this summer is a french guy named Nathan who is here trying to learn English. Well last night he was talking with one of the other guys and made the comment that we use the word get very often. "Get up" "Get out" "Get in" It wasn't the sort of comment that someone who is nationalized would make but was right on. Well it got me thinking about some other very American sayings. From my perspective, the most ridiculous one is "hows it going?" Like when you ask it people do know how to answer, or at least people usually do answer. But really what does "it" actually mean? Most of the time I would guess people mean how is life going but really "it" becomes a subjective word with no clear meaning or value. I kind of feel like Bill Clinton making a foolish statement but really it's kind of valid right? And no, I am not an English teacher or even an English buff but I just find it funny how we have this inherent knowledge about something that kind of means nothing.
Well there's the ramblings for now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

hard choice, right choice?

In my personal time lately God has really been wanting me to strip off some of the things which were slowing me down and distracting me from His perfect plans. The two that have been resolved in the last couple of weeks are with relationships and in the area of theft. For the last two + years I had been a member of a free dating site. Myself and some friends from bible school signed up because we were bored and I never shut it down. Well over this last year it kind of became my loop hole of getting dates but not really having any serious relationships with woman. There was a couple weeks near the end of the school year where I disabled my account but didn't have the courage/desire to delete it completely. I logged back in one day and my account was active again, nothing was really lost by it. Well after about a week and a half of summer vacation God was really laying it on me to remove it from my life. Not because I was doing anything sinful but just because it was such a distraction, which I guess is a sin of idolatry but yeah I deleted it completely and it honestly has been a lot easier this last week and a half.
Well kind of in the same time frame I had gotten hooked up with some software which allowed me to rip movie files. A nice little trick which I have had a great deal of use from especially this year. I totaled up over 100 movie files, most of which I would just rent from Redbox and rip overnight. Not technically "stealing" since I payed something but it's not my property and I don't need the shades of compromise in my life. Well I deleted every one of the files from my computer and external hard drive, permanently.
These weren't easy decisions for me because they are linked to things that have been and are close to my heart but I want nothing more than God's best in my life and as hard as it may be for me sometimes I must make the sacrifices that will honor Him first of all. I don't know what will be next, but I am fairly certain that there will be a next and I await it so that I may grow all the more into a man and the man that God wants me to be.

Monday, May 23, 2011

what is going on?

It's safe to say that these are some crazy days that we live in. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornados, famines, economies crashing, more predictions of the end of days. Has this stuff happened through all of time? I would say yes but because of the limited recorded information it is impossible to prove. The question that is really stirring in me at this point is whether these are the beginning of the birth pangs that are discussed through the New Testament? I can't really say either way, because either yes or no the future only holds worse things then these. I am not normally given to much fear of things and really don't know what I am scared of, but if these days are the beginning or just a foreshadow, well that scares me a little bit. Not for my own sake, my eternity is secure with Christ and I rest in that but for all the people that are blind and unaware of what is coming. 
We talk about these things with a half hearted blindness ourselves. Our scientific determinations have allowed us to "know" why things happen and ignore the fact that God is in control of it. A question that may come next to me is whether I understand that by inference I am saying that God kills people, well yes I do understand that. We live in with such a New Testament line of thought, you know grace and love that we forget about the stories from the Old Testament of God's wrath and judgment. Tangent time - to say that somehow God changed between the testaments is so foolish. The same characteristics are there on either side of Matthew but all the thin skinned "Christians" can't imagine God judging people. Well wake up! He has always shown grace and love but can't compromise Himself by allowing the unrighteous to enter His presence, think about the temple. God's heart for people is so crazy that He has no problem wiping out hundreds, thousands, millions of people to protect and awaken people to the reality of His majesty. 
The example that is really resonating with me right now is the story from Numbers 26:10. God protected His people from those who wanted to do them harm. Does He always do this, no but He didn't always do it back then but He will at times. I can't grasp that kind of love and righteousness but find it fascinating and encouraging that God does and will stand up for Himself and His people.
Going back to the original point, what is going on, I don't know and that's ok but God knows and has it all layed out for the best. If you believe that God is the same today as He was in the Bible then with that comes the reality that sometimes people will die and God will have allowed it to happen and even made it happen on occasion. Disagree if you want, but then you are disagreeing with the words that base your faith and that is a slippery slope to be on.

More like falling in Love

People that know me know that I am a big time music fan and this is one of my favorite songs right now. Just read through and really think about the lyrics. I know when I actually process the lyrics to some of these songs I get wrecked and maybe it will be the same for you.
Give me rules, I will break them
Show me lines, I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet

Its gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
Its like I'm falling, Ohhhh
Its like I'm falling in love

Give me words, I'll misuse them
Obligations, I'll missplace them
Cuz all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free

Its gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
Its like I'm falling 
Its like I'm falling in love

Love, Love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me

Its gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
Its like I'm falling, Ohhhh
Its like I'm falling 

Its gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
Its like I'm falling, Ohhhh
Its like I'm falling 
In love
I'm falling in love

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Refresher course

So a reality that I have become familiar with over the last few years is the power of the spoken word. I first started scratching into it last summer as I began to think about and seek after our Christ given authority. It is one thing to understand that we have authority as a principle but to really use it and understand it takes a lot more time and effort. It is important that we begin to grasp just how much weight our words really carry. 
It has become more clear to me this year that words spoken about, to and over a person at any time can affect them through the rest of their lives. I have heard examples of people who had things spoken over them before they were even born which weren't dealt with until they were in their career years, late 20's+. 
Because of that weight it becomes all the more important to watch what we say. Simple jokes can be curses that weigh upon people years and words of encouragement can change a persons day, week, month and much further depending upon other circumstances. 
This principle was refreshed in my thinking last night at work. A coworker, allen, that I have only worked with a handful of times but have seen at Chi Alpha some times was there as I was getting there. He was outside the store talking to one of the other employees. I was a little early in arriving so I decided to see what they were talking about and stall before going in. It turned out they were talking about some differences in principle that they had with each other. Very shortly there after they concluded what they were talking about. I talked to Allen for a couple of minutes about things and just tried to encourage him that God is able and likes to use the simple vessels for His glory. He wanted to finish up what he was doing and I needed to clock in so I went inside. 
Fast forward about an hour and he comes up to me as he is walking through the store. He tells me that he remembered why I looked so familiar to him before. He told me that a few years ago I had been working with him one day during which he cursed. At that time I would have recognized him from Chi Alpha and I called him out on the situation. I didn't say anything strikingly profound but through God's working in it he was lead to repent and turned his life toward God. 
I am glad that I can't claim any of the credit for the turn around in his life and am humbled to know that God used a simple rebuke to change a life. I am not very good at it yet, but every lesson on the power of what I say is more valuable than I grasp in these days. For me I know that it is a never ending process of growth but cherish it dearly. 

An Anthology of sorts

So this has kind of been a crazy week for and I haven't taken the time to blog about any of it yet so I am going to lay it all down in this one.

Disclaimer: I will be saying somethings in here that aren't normal discussion but I want it to be clear that I don't disagree with the institutions in principle but as with many other things I just see areas in which these ministries could be improved.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Walk this way

So it is a hard reality to grasp, this whole walking by faith deal. I feel like I kind of keep harping on the same point of how pathetically terrible the typical America christian really is but that's because it needs to get harped on until things change!
We are so rusted over by the value that we have placed on money, medicine, buildings, etc. But walking by faith will help us shed this rust and really learn who God is. I'll be honest, it's not going to be easy to start going in a direction that can so often be over looked and will not look good. Sort of like a narrow road and small gate which doesn't look appealing at all but in reality is the only direct way to the achievement of all that God has in mind for us.
It's easy to get confused about the direction, I have many times, but even in the "mistakes" God is still in control. I don't like church words but the Omni's are actually true about God.
Omnipotent - almighty or infinite in power
Omniscient - having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, orunderstanding; perceiving all things.
I may be wrong, but by believing that those are true of God yet not believing that He has our paths set is kind of a contradiction. Add in His Mercy and Faithfulness and the blend is pretty awesome. That's a pretty basic statement, but think about it, God - the unchanging one - is all the characteristics that we talk about Him as all at once, PERFECTLY! I don't claim to be amongst the worlds smartest minds, but I definitely don't get how that works but I love it! It also very much encourages me, like a kick in the pants, to walk after Him in the way that He has instructed us to. 
What are those instructions? Well Jesus boiled the ten down to 2. 
Matthew 22:36 “[Jesus], which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
How does that look for us though? I admit that I don't have the first one very well practiced yet but I am seeking after God for it. To be sure these are both rare things even in our "Christian" sub-culture, but it would look like the first church as recorded in Acts. I struggle mightily with loving God that way. But there isn't wiggle room in those words, all.
I am getting better with the second. I still don't see it a great deal in the world that we live in because we want to have our securities - a nice bank account, an even nicer car, a beautiful house with all the best furnishings, health insurance. Basically we get as much stuff as we can so that we can depend on God as little as possible and even when we have all that stuff we refuse to share/share so meagerly that it's almost a slap in the face of the provider.
I am not there, but one day I would love to be known as one who loves his neighbors as Himself. I give away as much as I keep/use for myself. I don't want to have anything if it means someone else has to miss out on something. This doesn't even make sense to me as I think about it, but that is how I have always operated. I can be generous to a fault but I walk it out and know that God won't leave me lacking for what I need. My wants aren't His concern, thought He often provides for them anyway, but He will always take care of what I need and it will work out in the best imaginable way.
So I walk, often feeling blind but trusting Him. Things will work out for the best that way. Don't like it, well thats not my problem because I am following God.

Wake UP!

So a question has come to my mind, where are our priorities these days? I hear a lot of things about a “recession” in the economy. I don’t want to come across as completely cold and uncaring because for some, for many the recession has created a legitimate struggle financially. But I wonder, how many of the people who have been “devastated” financial are really only whining because of they have to avoid a few luxuries.
I just heard a commercial on the radio for a laser procedure to remove toe fungus which only discolors the nail. We claim to be in such a tight financial stretch but people are still spending money on this crap?! Are you serious?! It’s ridiculous. We are so comfortable with the lives that we live that having to give up some of it makes people piss and moan constantly. I don’t like giving up the comforts afforded me in the age, but for me it really comes to where my priorities are.
I would possibly say that that lesson is the one that is most prominently working on me still from this past school year. It really doesn’t matter what I want because by trusting God, actually trusting Him with everything, I will receive way better stuff across the board than I could ever get through my own labors. The struggle comes in surrendering without expecting to receive even while knowing that God will honor every sacrifice of worship to Him. And it must not be misstated; the praise and worship from the sacrifices must go toward Him. That’s a black and white statement, either for Him alone or for an idol and probably for most the idol would be an image of God, but just like in all the religions of the world it would be an image that can be grasped by our minds. That makes us no better than the religious leaders of Jesus day.
We need to reevaluate. To get back to what the Bible – Jesus says and let Him, in the form of the Spirit actually minister to us. What an honor that is, that God wants to minister to US! Let go of the fears, doubts, doctrines, and ideas that really shut the door on the work of the Spirit amongst us. If…when it happens and as it continues happening revival will roll across this country like wind across wheat fields.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A mighty word, a mighty God

So as a little bit of back story to this post, a couple of months ago I was assigned to read a chapter from the book "Boy meets Girl" for one of our relationship POCs. Well I really enjoyed the chapter that I read, it just had a refreshing dose of honesty. Since I got so many books for free from BPI I kind of got spoiled and didn't want to buy the book. Fast forward to clean out week and I discovered that I had both BMG and his earlier book "I kissed dating goodbye." I figured that I would start reading IKDG and read chapter 2 yesterday on the plane. Well at the end of the chapter was a section that really almost made cry because of the honesty and truth of it.
"I think that's the story of our generation's pursuit of fulfillment in relationships. We wished for intimacy without obligation. we wished for sex with no strings attached. we wished for the pleasure of love with none of the work, none of the vows, none of the sacrifice
And we got it.
But the results aren't what we hoped for. And we're left feeling emptier than before. The intimacy is superficial. The sex leaves us dissatisfied and hungry for something real, something true.
Where is true joy? It's found in God's  brand of love - love founded on faithfulness, love rooted in commitment
The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment."

So I added the emphatic elements but how honest is that. We all thing things of the world while still "following Christ." For me it wasn't about relationships until the last couple of years, but it was about having anything that would fill the hole in me that only the Holy Spirit was able to fill. It doesn't have to be this way, we don't have to compromise and I would be one to say that the believing ones don't compromise.

Luke 9:57 - 62
"As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Another also said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."

I generally really dislike the cliche verses of us churched up people, because well, everyone has heard them and can quote them, but I think that they are very rarely actually thought about and so much less effective then they could and should be. For example, it is easy to talk about stewardship, a very biblical principle that needs to be practiced to be done well, but I think that sometimes stewardship is the excuse people use for holding onto treasures and never having to trust God in the financial arena. Another example that I hear about a lot is how we should be involved in the political process because of our Christian values. I kind of hate that though, aside from the fact that it uses Christ for leverage in the see - saw of earthly crap, because really a lot of the same people who talk about political involvement won't go for more then a few minutes before they are bashing the God appointed leaders that they don't like. Hypocritical BS.
I don't want to compromise, but I do. God is working on me about though. To be really 100% surrendered to Him. Surrender, as in war, where we have lost the battle but don't want to die, we are stripped of everything we have and made apart of the conquerors army. The alternative is to hold onto stubbornness, *hand raised - I am guilty* and suffer, then die. I fear that a lot of people who have made the mental assent of Christ as Lord will be judged as not knowing Him when the time comes for their judgment. Repentance is the solution, repentance, meaning surrendering and never looking or going back to the old way.

This went a long way from where I intended it, but God was stirring stuff up so I figured I would let the typing continue for His purpose to be fulfilled.