Christian life

orphans and widows

What does God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: ________________________

How would you finish that sentence? How you answer that statement will define not only your life, but how you live out your life before God. How you prioritize everything in your life.

We don’t have to guess how to complete that sentence, you don’t have to fill in the blank, James in his letter to the churches, that includes us today, in chapter 1 verse 27 gives us the complete sentence.

“What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this:

to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.

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Francis Chan, my favorite pastor and David Platt, (in my top 10)  have been teaming up on a new venture to help followers of Jesus to fulfill the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, ….” (Matt. 28:18-20).

You can see their new Multiply Website with resources to help us make disciples.

The free and downloadable Multiply Material will be contain a 24-session discipleship experience where one person helps another understand what it means to follow Jesus, study Scripture, and be the church.

And there will be a Multiply Gathering that is a free, once-a-year webcast with Chan and Platt, where followers of Christ can gather and encourage one another in the disciple-making process.

You can register for the Free gathering here. The first two online events in 2012 will be on Friday, November 9 (7-10 PM, CST), and Saturday, November 10 (6-9 PM, PST).

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Writing about the fallen state of the visible church is not my favorite subject, but others keep bringing it up and this is what the Lord has been showing me.

Regarding fellowship at church, as to going to church for “fellowship” let me define it as I see it in scripture, and what burns in my heart.

To go to church to have 5 to 10 min conversations with people once a week is no way biblical fellowship, that I see in scripture anyway, nor is that what my heart longs for. That’s the same level, depth of relationship I have with the check out girl at the Wal-Mart I shop at. Same as the girl behind the counter when I go to Chipotle. In fact in a way I have more fellowship with them because I see them more than once a week for 10 min.

The fellowship I seek at a gathering of the church, and see in scripture is deep, is wide and 7 days a week (Acts 2:40-46). And as for me I do not go to have conversation about worldly and, trivial things. I don’t want to hear about what cute things their  kids did, the new car they bought, what they did at work, what they think of the president. And I most certainly don’t go to be a target from someone’s networking to make sales for their job or the business they own, or someone trying to sell a house to me. How does gathering with a group of people talking about worldly and, trivial things further me in my walk with Christ, equip me for the work of Christ? It doesn’t.

I go to fellowship in Jesus, about Jesus, with followers of Jesus, to make much about Jesus, I want to hear about what God’s teaching them from the word that day, week, what they got out of their daily bible study. What God is doing through them, their part in the the mission, how God is fulfilling the great commission and Matthew 25:31-46 through them. I want to hear what God is saying to them in their prayers, a word they got from the Lord for the body. I want to Pray for one another, and I don’t mean for things like a promotion or raise at work, a better deal on a new house, but praying things like Ephesians 1:17-23 for each other.

I want to hear about their relationship with Jesus, hear what their part is in the mission is, not their pursuit of money and worldly things.

Yes there is a place and time for chit chat about the other things of life, about the kids and work, but the gathering of the church is not the place or time, no where in scripture do we see that.

When I meet someone for the first time at a gathering I don’t want to be asked, “What do you do for a living?”, “Where do you work?” , I want to be asked “How are you fulfilling the mission?”, “What are your Spiritual gifts?”, “What did God say to you in prayer this morning?”, “What did God say to you in your study of the word this morning, this week?” As you can see those questions can only come from someone who is walking with Jesus, can answer the same questions. They must be a person of prayer, one studying the bible, and living on mission,  a person walking in the light as 1 John 1:7 says.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:7-8, NKJV).

This verse leads me to see that  fellowship of the saints is defined by our walking in the light as Jesus did.

So then, if we as individuals are walking in the light of the Father as Jesus did, then we are also His sons as Jesus is and it is out of this fellowship with the Father that we also have fellowship with one another. Think how rich that fellowship would be if all were in tune with the Spirit of God as we should be. One person’s light, passion would be illuminating and kindling the other person’s, until all were brightly shining and freely moving under the anointing of the Spirit, and engaged in the mission.

I want to gather with those who are “walking in the Light”, I can only have the kind of fellowship I seek, that I see in scripture in the first church if the others are truly  following Jesus. How can I talking with them about their part in the mission if their not in mission. Talk about the word of God, if they are not diligently studying it daily. Get a word from God from them when they are not intimate with God, a person of prayer, spend time every day before the face of God on behalf of others. I can’t.

Read my 3 part post on

I’m Tired of Church in America

I’m Tired of Church in America Part 2

I’m Tired of Church in America Part 3

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How do I fix my eyes on Jesus, how do I behold His glory, gaze at Jesus? The bible,  community of Jesus, i.e. church, where we can make much to do about Jesus, talk about Jesus, the gospel, celebrate with one another who Jesus is and what He has done. Sing to Him and about Him to one another. This gathering, what we call the church should be where I can go and get all that, it is to be a profound boost to the soul, our spirit for the rest of the week.

I Love to set around with good brothers in Christ, have good food, good drink and just talk about Jesus, How God is moving in this, works in that. Dig into the word, and dig deep into the gospel.  That helps me fix my eyes on Jesus, keeps me on mission.

I want to be around people who talk about Jesus, I want to read about Jesus, think about Jesus, talk about Jesus, listen to things that point me to Jesus. I do Not want my conversation at a gathering of the body to be focused on worldly things, the cares of this world. Jesus said Don’t be like the gentiles in Mt. 6:31-32, don’t be concerned with the things they are.

That why when I gather with the body I do not want to talk about politics, work, money, material things. I want to talk about Jesus, the gospel, God, living for Jesus. I want to discuss Jesus, the gospel, Not how to make more money, or be the target for someone’s networking to make sales. I gather with the body to be in the presence of Jesus, and glorify Him, not ignore Him.

When I was at Calvary Chapel, what seems a lifetime ago, there was a group of us that went out for dinner after the Sunday and Thursday night services , with bibles in hand we had dinner while digging into the word, discussing the study we just heard. We would get into the nuts and bolts of life with Jesus. We where there sometimes tell one or two o’clock in the morning. Loved it, that’s where real fellowship in Jesus happens. That’s what a gathering should look like.

For me a gathering of the church must be like this, a place I can go and have fellowship with Jesus in the company of others doing the same thing. Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) if that is true, the reason we gather, then how can not every conversation be about Him?

Somebody point me to a gathering of believes that are madly in love with Jesus, are following Him, where all they do when they gather is talk about Jesus, the gospel, and I’m in.

I’m Tired of Church in America Part 2

I’m Tired of Church in America

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As one who is is passionate about a face to face relationship with God, through Jesus, who desires real relationships with other such passionate followers of Jesus. Who are actively living on mission with Jesus, spending their days preaching the gospel, making disciples, and fulfilling Matthew 25:31-46. Those who are truly seeking to “know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified”. Who are joining Jesus in his suffering for the cause of the gospel, to reach the lost. I seek to gather with such people, for the purpose of encouraging and equipping each other for the work. To pray with and for each other. To fall on my face, dance and shout before the living God of Israel in worship together. That’s a gathering of the church that I desire to be part of, seek.

I thought I was alone in my desires to gather with that kind of body, to read the bible and look at a church and see what I read, that looks like and is doing what I reading (especially Acts chapter 2). Then a follower of Christ whom had become my fave pastor for about 6 years, stated seeking the same thing, preaching the same stuff that was in my heart, he also is tired of what we pass off in America as church. Then in 2010 he left his church because he could no longer do church American style. His name, Francis Chan, he is my hero, we are on the same page, of the same heart, and I believe same leading of God. We both want to open the bible, read what it says and do it, live, just do it. And what the bible says about church, we want to have a church that is doing just that, that looks like that, what we read in scripture. Now others have joined us in our passion for real church, like David Platt (read his book Radical) whom is among a growing list of others join us in our quest.

I seek to gather with those whom are “suffering for the sake of Christ” and “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” they live their lives striving to fulfill the great commission, in making disciples, setting free the captives, feeding the hungry.

Gather with those who “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus”. Follower of Jesus are in an army, that is at war, and I want to gather with my fellow warriors, not those who in words alone claim they are, but who are actually living it out, daily. I what to live on mission and be surrounded by those whom are also doing so, also sharing in the suffering for the gospel sake, for Jesus.

I do not desire to gather with people to eat donuts and hear them talk about how much money they make, what they did at work that week. The new car or house they just bought or want. Politics, what this party did vs that party, or about who’s in office or should be, the cares of this world (that we are told not to get entangled with, 2 Timothy 2:4) . I want to talk about Jesus, the gospel, souls that where saved that week, the naked that where clothed and those need to be clothed, how they feed the hungry. How they are fulfilling the great commission and Matthew 25, and how can we this week.

I do not want to hear cute sermonettes, I want to hear the word of God taught Word by Word, in light of the gospel, that I am reminded of the gospel, and equipped for good works. Be reenergized after doing battle with the world proclaiming the gospel. Come in weary from my labors for Christ and be sent back out reenergized  that I might go back into the battle, go and tell the world what Jesus has done. I don’t what to be giving good coffee and a great guest experience. I want to gather with those that they and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, and in proclaiming the gospel and making disciples, and actual living it out daily.

I want to Pray with those who prayers are about being strengthened to carry out our work, for our brothers in chains for Christ around the world, that the captives in human trafficking be set free,  the needs of the poor, this sick, the starving billions. And not for the best parking place at the mall, a bigger paycheck to waste on themselves, a even bigger house, more expensive car.

I want to gather with the followers of Jesus who desire to “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”. not be entertained for an hour.

Like the saying goes “water seeks its own level”, so I  seek a true biblical church of witch the body is living at the level of life with Jesus that I want. That is “Going”, that are giving food, giving drink, taking in, clothing, visiting and going to. I no longer want to be brought down to the low level that the American church is at. I read the bible, the book of Acts and see what the church was doing, what the disciples where doing and say that’s what I want, the level I want to live at. So I seek a church at that level, and not just a hand full, or a few.

I do not need or want the American church, what I need and desire is to gather with my co-labors in the gospel, God’s coworkers in the gospel of Christ, as the Apostle Paul says.

Read Part 1 here

Four minutes of awe-inspiring illustration of eternity by Francis Chan my favorite pastor. If you really get his message it will change your perspective about life and what it is really about, what matters most.

Does making lost of money really matter? No. Does having a successfully career really matter? No. Big houses, expensive cars, fine clothes, lots of material things? No. Which political parties your in, who’s president? No.  In light of eternity none of those things matters one bit, has any effect on the next billion years.

We should ask ourselves is what I am doing right now, spending my time, my life for, matter in regards to my eternity, and the eternity of those around me?

img_3321 Shortly after God showed me though the book ‘ Not A Fan ’ that I was not only right in my choice to be a follower of Christ and not be a fan of Jesus. But also showed me to stand on my view on church, what church is to be and what I look for in one and not to compromise on that.

Idleman pointed out in his book that most church in America today are set up to cater to Fans of Jesus and not for followers of Jesus. The thought that came into my head was “Fan Clubs”, that they are, places where fans come to be fans of Jesus. Places where you Never have to make the commitment to follow Jesus. The sermons are tailored for fans, not followers. The services are set up to accommodate fans not followers, for entertainment not worship, for membership in a club, not discipleship,  for inward focus not outward movement. They are set up for weekend Christians, a place where you come to admire at best Jesus for a hour or two, then go on with your life. They are not where you go to become equipped to follower Christ but to be encouraged as a fan.

So I am sticking to my pursuit of biblical church, a gathering of Followers of Christ. Standing by my favorite pastor Francis Chan and his same view of church, “give me what I see in the bible, noting less will do”.

So what do I seek in a church, just that can I open the book of Acts read chapters 1 and 2 and then look at the church and see the same thing? Can I read the bible and every description of church in it and visit a church and say that’s it. If not, its not for me, and I refuse to settle for anything less.

I will not be part of a church that is a Fan Club, for Fans of Jesus, I will only be part of a biblical church, one that mirrors what I read in scriptures. I am not about planting Fan Clubs, but rather Churches that are gatherings of Followers of Jesus.

I am not a Fan of Jesus therefore I am not looking to join or start a Fan Club. I am a Follower of Jesus therefore I am all about biblical Church, that is a gathering of Followers of Jesus Christ.

NotAFan2 Just when I was starting to doubt my life choices in my relationship and walk with God do to my life situation. Beginning to think I was wrong for choosing to live by scripture like “Seek first the kingdom of Heaven”  and “Do not worry about what your life, what you eat, nor about the body, what you will put on it…. Seek the kingdom of And and these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12:22-31

Thinking I had made the mistake of choosing to spend my life seeking after God, ministry over the things of this world, over career, money and pleasures. Just when I was praying to God telling Him that apparently I was wrong in my life choice, that I should have spent my life pursing career, money and pleasures just like everyone else. That apparently everyone else is right, you spend you life making money, advancing your career, not seeking God, not doing ministry. Boom, He lead me to buy and read the book ‘Not A Fan’ by Kyle Idleman.

The main theme of the book is, When it comes to Jesus, are you a fan or a follower? Many claim to be followers of Jesus. They point to their church attendance, tithing, Christian language, etc., as proof. However, most would be surprised to find that when their lives are compared to Jesus’ own words defining a follower, they are really nothing more than enthusiastic admirers at best. Being a follower of Jesus is a 27/7 commitment that will interfere with your life. And define your life, who you are, what you do, hour by hour.

To sum up what God did with this book was show me I was right in my life choice, to put God first, and to live for Him and not for the things of this world. That all the others are the ones who are wrong, they are only mire fans of Jesus, not followers of Him.

I do not want to be a fan of Jesus, a distant admirer of Jesus, just some who confessed Christ, said some prayer years ago, attends a “church” and thinks that’s being a Christian, that that’s following Jesus.

I want to be a follower of Jesus, and according to Jesus own words of who is a true follower of Him.

There is a difference between a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus. Just read the bible and compare what it says to how you live your life? Does it look like Jesus’ life, do His words describing a follower of Him match your life? Look a Paul, does your life look like His?

The question for us is not do I have a successful career, big house, nice car, lots of money. But rather, does Jesus know me, Do I know Him, intimately? Am I following Him as He described following Him?

So all of those around me who live as fans of Jesus, I say No thanks, I choose to be a Follower of Jesus, on His terms and by His definition of a Follower of Jesus.

This is a powerful message that truly made me look at my life, a Very challenging message about the depth of our love for people, and had me asking myself am I loving as Christ loved me.  In this message Francis Chan talks about how we as the church are called to love, and to be that reflection of Christ, imitate His life .

The biggest challenge for was a story he told about a pastor that someone told him about saying that spending time with him was as close to spending the day with Jesus, following Jesus around. That put me on my knees. Asking myself, At the end of the day, would people ever think that spending a day with me is  like walking with Jesus, as close as they could get to walking with Him?

But does my life look anything like his? Can I say like Paul, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ?” Do I look like Jesus? Do I love like Jesus? Those are the questions I have for myself after this message.

I want to be like that man, that others would say, spending the day with Dennis is as close as you can get to seeing the life of Jesus in action.

God spoke to my in so many ways, this message fit right in with the book “Not A Fan” that I am reading and some other messages I have heard the last couple of weeks.

You can watch the message here.

Or Download mp3 here: Francis Chan, Think Hard, Stay Humble