Christianity

 

Only one time in the Gospels are we told that Jesus actually ‘marveled’ at the faith demonstrated by another person. That in itself is reason to pause, and ponder, what made the faith of the centurion so amazing? What was it about his faith, what did he know, what did he believe or how did he express it that Jesus stood still and paused for moment is utter amazement?

Was this person that Jesus marveled at a learned Pharisees that had memorized the five books of Moses, a Sadducees who could recite theology in his sleep? Nope it was a heathen, a Roman Centurion.

Luke 7:2-10 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

Jesus did not marvel at first

We see that Jesus has responded to the basic demonstration of faith, the centurion has expressed that he believes Jesus can, in some way, help his servant and so Jesus 
starts heading to the house. At this point Jesus is not marveling, he is just going. Most people that believe in God have little trouble believing that Jesus can heal the sick,
 but that kind of faith does not make Jesus marvel, something more is needed. Something more needs to be demonstrated that is beyond the norm, beyond 
‘simple belief’. As Jesus nears the house the Centurion sends another envoy to meet him and it’s this moment that really catches the imagination and wonder of Jesus.

I too am a man under authority

The entire reason that Jesus declared that this Roman centurion had the most impressive faith he had ever seen was because this centurion understood that the power 
that Jesus had flowed directly as a result of his submission to authority. He tells Jesus, I know you don’t have to be here, just say the word! I know how authority works 
so I know how your power and your words will work in this situation!

Notice he says I too… not I am, and therefore I understand, but I too. Not only did he understand authority because he was under it himself, under the authority of
 Rome, but he also recognized that Jesus also was under authority, the authority of the Father. So what is it about the understanding of authority that made this
 centurions faith so impressive?

I say ‘go’ and he goes, ‘come’ and he comes

The centurion went on to explain his understanding, experientially, of how authority works (and therefore how the authority of Jesus works). He explained that he 
tells servants and soldiers who are under him, to go and they go, to come and they come. This is profound! When someone is submitted to your authority, they obey 
your commands! If a man is your master you obey what he says. If a man is your commanding officer you obey what he says! But this whole point hinges on the fact 
that the centurion’s authority over his soldiers only exists because he himself is under authority.

You must be under authority to have authority

The soldiers obey the centurion because they know that ultimately, to disobey him is to disobey Rome. When he gives an order, it’s as though all of Rome is standing
 behind him in agreement. When Jesus gives an order to sickness or foul spirits, all of heaven stands behind him as power flows from the Father. When he says Go! 
Sickness goes! Sickness and evil spirits cannot resist the power and authority that Jesus unleashes when he speaks and it’s the understanding of this power, this 
authority, this structure and flow, that the centurion has that makes his faith something to marvel at indeed! He knows his own authority and he knows how to
 exercise it, he knows then that Jesus does not need to come to his house for he knows that Jesus authority is over all things! Now that's some faith!

The application

Jesus was impressed by two key statements;

(1) I tell this one go and he goes, and
(2) I tell another one come and he comes.

What amazes me is that these are the same two commands that Jesus gives those who would follow him and call him their Lord and obedience to them is the
 greatest expression of faith… trusting in his decisions and responding to his authority.

Come

The first thing Jesus says to his disciples is ‘come’. Every Christian has responded to this call, this command, to come to Jesus to be saved. This first command is the
 command of a Savior offering salvation. You cannot rely on you good deeds or your knowledge to be your savior, only Jesus can save you, only Jesus has the authority
 needed to redeem your life and rescue you, and me, from sin and death.

Go

The last thing Jesus says is ‘go and make disciples’. This is not just the command of Jesus your savior but of Jesus your Lord and it’s here that many stumble, it’s here
 that many struggle to accept the authority of Christ in and over their life. Everyone wants a savior, but not everyone wants a lord. Jesus wants to be both or none.
 This is why the flow of power is often hindered in a believers life because the flow of power is dependent on the flow of faith, which as we have seen, hinges on an
 acceptance and understanding of the authority of Jesus. The centurion understood and submitted himself to the authority structure that Jesus was operating under.
 We too, if we are to call Jesus Lord, must submit to and live under the authority structure that God has placed over us, namely, Christ. The truth is, everyone has a lord,
 something we submit to, something we honor above other things, something we trust in and disobedience to Jesus as Lord means we must be obeying something or
 someone else, often, ourselves. We want Jesus as a functional savior, we want the perks and benefits of salvation, but not the yoke of Christ’ lordship.

⇒The flow of power is dependent on the flow of faith

To disobey the command to Go is to disobey and disregard the authority of not only Jesus your Savior and Lord but of the one he is under, God the Father. Jesus said in
 John 14, if you love me, you will obey my commands. And Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith, for the most part, is practical
 obedience to the commands of Jesus. Come: Love God, Go: Love your neighbor & make disciples.

Coming to Jesus is just as important to Going for Jesus; both are acts of obedience and faith, both are acts of worship and submission. Once you have come, you must
 go, make disciples.

I am loved by God and a lover of God, I am Lovesick for God, therefore my worship is passionate.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,…” Luke 10:27

Let them praise his name with dancing, let them sing praises to him with drums and guitar! Psalm 149:3

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Zephaniah 3:14

Those three verses are inseparable to me.

worship_compare_1b

Which of the two groups of people above would you say are passionately worshiping God, passionately in love with God? If a non-believer walked in theses two services which one would they say, WOW, they really love God? WOW, They are passionately about Jesus? Which one do you think they would say, I want to know about the God they are worshiping? Which one would you say God is in a intimate relationship with them? Acts like their God is extravagant in His affections for them? Looks like their God is a consuming fire of passionate love for them? Jealous for the love and devotion of His people?

As for me, the answers to those questions are at the heart of why I had no interest in every church I walked into until I was 25, why had I a distorted understanding of God and church.

When it comes to love I am passionate, expressive and emotional and in scripture, we see God is too.

The Lord your God is in your midst, one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will rest in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:0

Is the way on the Left how you respond to a God that is rejoicing over you with LOUD signing? Not me. To God in your midst? Not me.

This is my story, my personal life experience.

I have walked into many churches like on the Left in my lifetime, that’s why I never liked going to church in my youth, my teens, up to my mid-twenties. I found the “worship” boring, and dead, and I did not understand a word of the songs in the hymnal’s, like “Would He devote that sacred Head” and “For their feete runne to euil”, I would think who talks like that to anyone, especially to God? And what the heck does that even mean? I would not talk to a girl like that, that I was in love with, was passionate about. So nether would I talk to God like that being in love with Him.

Add in the legalistic, harsh loveless sermons they preached, their God scared me, their God did not beckon me into a love relationship with Him. He was not someone who wanted a love relationship with me, or loved me. They way they worshiped showed He was not someone you sought to have a love relationship with. I would look around and everyone looked like that were mad, or depressed, or bored with God and well, constipated, and this was their worship of the God they say they loved, and who loves them!

One thing for sure I never linked the “joy of the Lord”, “God is love” to their worship. Their worship was not an expression of love for God, passion for God, or even God is love. I could not stand the worship time, or the sermons so I was never part of a church growing up. I really believed God was harsh, unemotional, unloving, very distant from man. He was just not someone you had a love relationship with, based on how the people were worshiping Him. They might have said the words “God is love”, “God loves you”, but their lack of a deep intimate personal love relationship with God being displayed in their worship, said otherwise, their worship did not match their words.

“At Calvary Chapel: I knew they loved God and God loved them, they were in a love relationship with God.”

Then God lead me to Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, the first time I was there and I was blown away by the worship, in awe, for the first time in my life I witnessed worship of God, people in love with God. Because I had been to football games, I had seen what people are like when they are passionate about someone or something, I had crushes on girls, I know how you act when you’re crazy about someone. And Jesus even tells us we are to love God even more than our loved ones. That first time I was at Calvary, I saw people who were passionately in love with God, crazy in love with Jesus, for the first time I saw people worship God with all their being and I was in awe. They not only looked happy but were ecstatic, full of uncontainable joy, I knew these people had an intimate personal relationship with God. I knew they loved God and God loved them, they were in a love relationship with God. I wanted to know their God, the one they were in love with. The songs were alive and personal from their heart to God, and in simple modern English that I could understand, words that connected to my heart. I was overwhelmed, and I want to know God like they did. to love God like they did. Know His love like they did. I wanted to know the God that they were so in love with, that stirred such passion in them. And so for the first time in my life, I became part of a church.

“I wanted to know the God those people were so in love with, so passionate about.”

Before Calvary Chapel I knew Jesus died for my sins, that He was my savor, but until Calvary Chapel I never knew, saw or experienced God was a God of love, and He wanted a love relationship with me, that I could have a passionate love relationship with Him.

It’s been many years since that day I walked into Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and I have grown in breadth and length and height and depth, in my relationship, and love of God, of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, so thus has my worship.

I am by nature a passionate person, affectionate and romantic when I am passionate about something or someone, it shows, so I worship with great passion, how can one not when worshiping the God of Creation, the God who came in the flesh to suffer and die for me. How can I not be excited, want to raise my hands to the one who was raised from the dead for me, jump with joy, dance with gladness, shout, cry, scream with arms wide open, proclaim my love to Him, be filled with joy and smile ear to ear. I must, everything in me cries out to Him, my love must be expressed with all my mind, strength, and body, and so I do. That’s me, how I roll, I cannot just sit in a pew unemotional, singing songs that are not from my heart.

Which group looks like God is inhabiting their praises like the bible says He will? For me it’s the ones on the Right, because that is how I express love.

 

worship_compare_2b

Psalm 16:11 says “in your presence there is fullness of joy” which group looks like their is in the presence of God, loos like there is fullness of joy? As for me the ones on the Right to me.

Who looks like they are gazing on the face of the One who sits on the throne? To me, in my experience as one who does, the people on the Right.

Who looks like they are worshiping, in love with the God who became a man, suffered and died to have a love relationship with them? The Right as to how I worship the One who died for me.

My choices are based on my life experience, and how I am wired for love and passion, and my personal encounters with God in worship. How God made me, wired me, how I express and perceive love.

The service on the Left screams Rituals vs. Relationship, what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for. Making Judaism all about a set of rituals and laws to follow, things to do rather than have a love relationship with God. King David understood what it was all about, about passionately pursuing the heart of God, but the Pharisees did not.

“if I am not going to get to worship God at the level everything in me screams to do and say, why even be there?”

As for me, if I cannot have the freedom to passionately worship and love God at the level my heart desires to, I don’t want to go there. I would rather just stay home, if I am not going to get to worship God at the level everything in me scream to do and say, pour out my heart to God, why even be there? So that is why I would not go to a church lie the ones in the Left photos, it’s just not me.

“like the rocks I would have to cry out praises to God, shout out the Name above every name”

To just sit there week after week unemotional, un-passionately, sing songs that say nothing of the love I feel for God, I would explode, like the rocks, I would have to cry out praises to God, shout out the Name above every name. Dance with joy before my Lord like King David (OK, not naked like he did). Not falling on my face before Him crying out Holy, Holy is the Lamb on the throne. Worship with total abandonment, be all in with all that I am, heart (Emotions & Affections), soul (Life), strength (Body, Actions) and mind (Thoughts) is unacceptable, I must worship God.

I’m just saying that is me, where I am in my relationship with God, the level of love I have and level of worship I desire to give God. I’m not attacking or condemn others who choose to worship like at that church, who choose be part of a church like that. I just want others to not try to talk me out of loving God like I do, talk me out of worshiping God with passion like I do. Or to attack and condemn me because I do, or the places I worship at like in the photos on the Right.

I will not go to a church like the ones in the photos on Left side, like the ones that kept me from God’s love, that is not a place for me, others can go where they want and I will go where I go. And I choose to go where I am free to worship God, love God with total abandonment, passion, to my heart’s content. Come before the throne of God and gaze upon His beauty and dance with joy before Him, and sing loud from my heart to Him who sits on the throne.

worship_compare_3b

I am like the guy on the Right when I worship, at the top of the page, I am all in, totally abandoned in my love and worship of God, and I will not give Him anything less.

The words to the song “You Won’t Relent” by Misty Edwards says it for me.

For there is love that is as strong as death
Jealousy, demanding as the grave
And many waters cannot quench this love

I don’t want to talk about You
Like You’re not in the room
I want to look right at You
I want to sing right to You

I seek to be in a group that looks like that is true for them. Who looks like God is in the room with them, who looks like they are looking God in the face and singing to Him.

I’ve tasted and seen, of the sweetness of the presence of Jesus, the moving of the Holy Spirit, and I want to stay there. Churches on the Left are why I never wanted to be part of a church, had a distant relationship with God, knew not of His love and was a periodical son tell I was 25. Churches on the Right are why I have a passionate love relationship with God, with His word, and so there I will stay.

If you like, want a church like the one on the Left, then be part of a church like that, just don’t expect me to, because I will not. And I do not care what others think, I worship for an audience of one, He who sits on the throne.

This is not open for debate, I will not love God less or less passionately than I do now and how I express it. I am unapologetic about this because I’ll never be sorry or apologetic for loving God and passionately worshiping Him.

 

Also read this post Early For Church, Never Just in Time

encounter-small

I attended the YWAM Together (YWAM is Youth With A Mission for you none YWAMers) here in Kansas City on Monday, its a week long conference that YWAM  holds every two years Monday was open to the public and it was awesome in so many ways. First gathering with YWAMers from all over the world, being a YWAMer, being with YWAM three years back in the late 80’s, it was like going home. There is a saying in YWAM, once a YWAMer always a YWAMer, I can testify it is true.

It was so great to hear YWAM stories, people sharing what God is doing all over the world, getting to share my stories with other, priceless.
Seeing and hearing the leaders speak, like Loren Cunningham, John Dawson, who was the leader of the base I was at when I was in YWAM, and many others.

 

To hear all the new technology that is being implemented to spread the gospel around the world.

 

To hear that by 2020 that the bible will be translated into every known language in the world, and YWAM will have a base in every country in the world, fulling the bible verse Mark 13:10 “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.”

 

When I was in YWAM I got to go on the Anastasis Hospital ship the largest of 3 ship they had at that time, today they have 8 ships, praise God.

 

Bottom line I miss YWAM.

 

ywam-together-2016-2

 

 

bourne_identity

What comes to mind when we think about ourselves is one of the most important things about us. In particular, what comes to your mind when we think about who we are in Christ is of greater importance.

I truly believe that most problems are traceable to uncertainty about our identity. We have forgotten who we are in Christ (2 Peter 1:9). When we forget our identity, like Jason Bourne, we should be relentless until we know it again.

We are often more drawn to what we can do for Jesus, rather than who we are in Jesus.

One reason we get so discouraged and frustrated in the Christian life is that we forget who we are. We forget that we are new creatures in Christ. We misplace the reality that by his blood, by his cross, and by his resurrection, we are new. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We need to know that we are not our former selves. We are not defined by our former sins — or our present ones. No, we are defined by being in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9–11). We are not ultimately defined by our ethnicity. We don’t find long-lasting and enduring significance in our accomplishments, intelligence, or appearance (Galatians 3:27–28). We find eternal value, meaning, worth, and hope in who Jesus says we are in him.
Who We Are in Jesus

Paul in his letter to the Galatians takes a buzz saw to legalism and all its nasty knots. He does this by reminding the Galatians of their identity in Christ, showing how the gospel and all of its gifts to us are better than anything else we could build or find for ourselves.

Here are six identities that are now ours through faith — six things God says about us. Like a light to our feet, and a lamp to our path, these truths from God’s word can lead us back to reality, to comfort, to hope, and to joy.
1. We are servants of Christ.

After we are saved by Jesus, we are enlisted into his service (Galatians 1:10). We are now called to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:18–20). We are called to spread his fame. We don’t live for the approval of men, but for the name of Christ. No Christian is insignificant. We are his servants.

When we evangelize, we are serving Christ. When we pray for a sick Christian, we are serving Christ. When we go to the homeless shelter, we are serving Christ. When we go to the pregnancy center and care for mothers, we are serving Christ.

Jesus says, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35–36). And the people say, “When did we do those things?” Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

2. We are crucified with Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

We have been crucified with Christ, by faith. We live with him, and he lives in us. No matter where we go, Christ is with us, alive in us, at work in us. We are never alone anymore.

And we are crucified to the world (Galatians 6:14). The world has nothing better to offer us than Jesus. We’ve died to the ways of the world, how the world runs. We follow Christ now. We operate from his example, his priorities, and his words.

3. We are children of God.

Not like Jesus, of course; we are not God. But we are children of God, like Jesus, in that we are a part of the family of God (Galatians 3:26). We have all of the perks of being one of his own. We are cared for by God, led by his Spirit. We aren’t strangers, we are family.

God doesn’t save us and then kick us out. He saves us and then adopts us (Galatians 4:4–7). In the gospel, the Father-Judge declares us not guilty, and then he turns to us and says, “I want you to come and live with me. Welcome home.”

We are at home with God. In the triune God, we have a Father, a Brother, and Helper.

4. We are heirs with Christ of everything.

As Jesus’ people, he gives us all that is his. We are heirs of the promise (Galatians 3:29). Whatever belongs to Jesus belongs to you and me. The universe belongs to Jesus, and now, it belongs to you and me. Jupiter belongs to you because of Jesus. The Hubble Telescope is itemizing your inheritance. “So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:21–23). We are Christ’s, and we are co-heirs with him (Romans 8:17).

So, it’s okay if you don’t have the best house in this world. Jesus has something better for you, in the city whose architect, community developer, and real estate mogul is God himself (Hebrews 11:10).

5. We are free.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). We’ve been set free from the hideous rule of sin and Satan. Christ himself set us free — not our works, not the church, not ourselves. Only Jesus.

Legalism is slavery. Trying to be saved by works and do-goodery is nothing but rusty chains. Jesus shattered those shackles, and now we can follow him and walk with him. We live freely under the reign of grace, the rule of Christ.

Pornography, wheat beer, dark chocolate, clearance sales, and social media followers no longer control us. Jesus set us free from living for and finding fulfillment in things that moth, rust, trends, and death will destroy.

6. We are led by the Spirit.

Our lives, our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions are no longer chained to the sinful flesh, no longer pushed around by the law, but we are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18). The Spirit uses the word of God to lead us. We no longer have to rely on our own thoughts and desires.

The Spirit brings about fruit in our lives as we abide in the vine of Christ, tended by the local church, and watered by the living and abiding word. The Spirit weans us off the works of the flesh, and makes us more like Christ (Galatians 5:18–24).

Born-Again Identity

God has made us these things in and through Christ. Even though we will be prone to forget what is true about us now, we have been born again into these identities. Live them. Love them. Let them be more than Bible knowledge. Let them be a shield of faith to extinguish all the awful, deceitful warheads of the evil one. Know yourself — hidden in Christ, raised from the dead, and made into someone new.

Because what comes to mind when we think about ourselves is one of the most important things about us

grace

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

There should be two amazing moments in our encounter with Jesus, the day we get saved and the day we fully comprehend the wonder of His grace. When John Newton penned those iconic words back in 1779 and realized that such a wretched man as him could be saved he experienced the tremendous life changing power of grace. Once saved however many Christians go on to struggle day after day as if grace, whilst sufficient to save us, is unable to preserve us in that place of victory and righteousness. I have a bad day and immediately feel condemned and unrighteous and far from God. Or my struggle may be with sin that overshadows my faith so I lose heart because, however hard I try, I never seem to overcome.

Romans 5:2 (ESV)
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The amazing thing about grace is that it doesn’t depend on how good we are but on how good Jesus is. The bible clearly informs us that God found nothing good in us and that even our best works could never be enough. Trying to be good didn’t save us; through grace we were made righteous – so living in daily victory is exactly the same. I can’t be good; I can’t be righteous, and all my righteous acts are likened to filthy rags. So what do I do? I simply reckon myself dead and I stop trying to be good, stop trying to be better and live everyday by faith. Paul says this life I now live I live by faith. God wants me to live everyday by faith believing that Jesus will live out His life through me. Christ in me the hope of Glory!

Romans 1:17 (ESV)
 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

I live believing that I can’t but He can – I’m weak but He’s strong – When I put Jesus at the center of my life and start believing that through His grace he I can do all things we release the power of grace to overcome sin and live a victorious life.

If only I could grasp this victory daily – how much more I would see how amazing is grace!

 

I am loved by God and a lover of God, I am Lovesick for God, therefore my worship is passionate.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,…” Luke 10:27

Let them praise his name with dancing, let them sing praises to him with drums and guitar! Psalm 149:3

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Zephaniah 3:14

Those three verses are inseparable to me.

worship_compare_1b

Which of the two groups of people above would you say are passionately worshiping God, passionately in love with God? If a non-believer walked in theses two services which one would they say, WOW, they really love God? WOW, They are passionately about Jesus? Which one do you think they would say, I want to know about the God they are worshiping? Which one would you say God is in a intimate relationship with them? Acts like their God is extravagant in His affections for them? Looks like their God is a consuming fire of passionate love for them? Is Jealous for the love and devotion of His people?

As for me, the answers to those questions are at the heart of why I had no interest in every church I walked into until I was 25, why had I a distorted understanding of God and church.

When it comes to love I am passionate, expressive and emotional and in scripture, we see God is too.

The Lord your God is in your midst, one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will rest in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:0

Is the way on the Left how you respond to a God that is rejoicing over you with LOUD signing? Not me. To God in your midst? Not me.

This is my story, my personal life experience.

I have walked into many churches like on the Left in my lifetime, that’s why I never liked going to church in my youth, my teens, up to my mid-twenties. I found the “worship” boring, and dead, and I did not understand a word of the songs in the hymnal’s, like “Would He devote that sacred Head” and “For their feete runne to euil”, I would think who talks like that to anyone, especially to God? And what the heck does that even mean? I would not talk to a girl like that, that I was in love with, was passionate about. So nether would I talk to God like that being in love with Him.

Add in the legalistic, harsh loveless sermons they preached, their God scared me, their God did not beckon me into a love relationship with Him. He was not someone who wanted a love relationship with me, or loved me. The way they worshiped showed me God was not someone you sought to have a love relationship with. I would look around and everyone looked like that were mad, or depressed, or bored with God and well, and this was their worship of the God they say they loved, and who loved them!

One thing for sure I never linked the “joy of the Lord”, “God is love” to their worship. Their worship was not an expression of love for God, passion for God, or even God is love. I could not stand the worship time, or the sermons so I was never part of a church growing up. I really believed God was harsh, unemotional, unloving, very distant from man. He was just not someone you had a love relationship with, based on how the people were worshiping Him. They might have said the words “God is love”, “God loves you”, but their lack of a deep intimate personal love relationship with God being displayed in their worship, said otherwise, their worship did not match their words.

“At Calvary Chapel: I knew they loved God and God loved them, they were in a love relationship with God.”

Then God lead me to Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, the first time I was there and I was blown away by the worship, in awe, for the first time in my life I witnessed worship of God, people in love with God. Because I had been to football games, I had seen what people are like when they are passionate about someone or something, I had crushes on girls, I know how you act when you’re crazy about someone. And Jesus even tells us we are to love God even more than our loved ones. That first time I was at Calvary, I saw people who were passionately in love with God, crazy in love with Jesus, for the first time I saw people worship God with all their being and I was in awe. They not only looked happy but were ecstatic, full of uncontainable joy. I could see they loved God, I saw people worshiping like God loved them, they were in a love relationship with God. I wanted to know their God, the one they were in love with. The songs were alive and personal from their heart to God, and in simple modern English that I could understand, words that connected to my heart. I was overwhelmed, and I want to know God like they did. to love God like they did. Know His love like they did. I wanted to know the God that they were so in love with, that stirred such passion in them. And so for the first time in my life, I became part of a church.

“I wanted to know the God those people were so in love with, so passionate about.”

Before Calvary Chapel I knew Jesus died for my sins, that He was my savor, but until Calvary Chapel I never knew, saw or experienced God was a God of love, and He wanted a love relationship with me, that I could have a passionate love relationship with Him.

It’s been many years since that day I walked into Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and I have grown in breadth and length and height and depth, in my relationship, and love of God, of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, so thus has my worship, but still I am not even at the level I want to be at.

I am by nature a passionate person, affectionate and romantic when I am passionate about something or someone, it shows, so I worship with great passion, how can one not when worshiping the God of Creation, the God who came in the flesh to suffer and die for me. How can I not be excited, want to raise my hands to the one who was raised from the dead for me, jump with joy, dance with gladness, shout, cry, scream with arms wide open, proclaim my love to Him, be filled with joy and smile ear to ear. I must, everything in me cries out to Him, my love must be expressed with all my mind, strength, and body, and so I do. That’s me, how I roll, I cannot just sit in a pew unemotional, singing songs that are not from my heart.

Which group looks like God is inhabiting their praises like the bible says He will? For me it’s the ones on the Right, because that is how I express love.

 

worship_compare_2b

Psalm 16:11 says “in your presence there is fullness of joy” which group looks like their is in the presence of God, loos like there is fullness of joy? As for me the ones on the Right to me.

Who looks like they are gazing on the face of the One who sits on the throne? To me, in my experience as one who does, the people on the Right.

Who looks like they are worshiping, in love with the God who became a man, suffered and died to have a love relationship with them? The Right as to how I worship the One who died for me.

My choices are based on my life experience, and how I am wired for love and passion, and my personal encounters with God in worship. How God made me, wired me, how I express and perceive love.

The service on the Left screams Rituals vs. Relationship, what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for. Making Judaism all about a set of rituals and laws to follow, things to do rather than have a love relationship with God. King David understood what it was all about, about passionately pursuing the heart of God, but the Pharisees did not.

“if I am not going to get to worship God at the level everything in me screams to do and say, why even be there?”

As for me, if I cannot have the freedom to passionately worship and love God at the level my heart desires to, I don’t want to go there. I would rather just stay home, if I am not going to get to worship God at the level everything in me scream to do and say, pour out my heart to God, why even be there? So that is why I would not go to a church like the ones in the Left photos, it’s just not me.

“like the rocks I would have to cry out praises to God, shout out the Name above every name”

To just sit there week after week unemotional, un-passionately, sing songs that say nothing of the love I feel for God, I would explode, like the rocks, I would have to cry out praises to God, shout out the Name above every name. Dance with joy before my Lord like King David (OK, not naked like he did). Not falling on my face before Him crying out Holy, Holy is the Lamb on the throne. Worship with total abandonment, be all in with all that I am, heart (Emotions & Affections), soul (Life), strength (Body, Actions) and mind (Thoughts) is unacceptable, I must worship God.

I’m just saying that is me, where I am in my relationship with God, the level of love I have and level of worship I desire to give God. I’m not attacking or condemn others who choose to worship like churches on the Left, who choose be part of a church like that. I choose to go where I am free to passionately worship God, love God with total abandonment to my heart’s content. Come before the throne of God and gaze upon His beauty and dance with joy before Him, and sing loud from my heart to Him who sits on the throne.

worship_compare_3b

I am like the guy on the Right when I worship, and at the top of the page, I am all in, totally abandoned in my love and worship of God, and I will not give Him anything less.

The words to the song “You Won’t Relent” by Misty Edwards says it for me.

For there is love that is as strong as death
Jealousy, demanding as the grave
And many waters cannot quench this love

I don’t want to talk about You
Like You’re not in the room
I want to look right at You
I want to sing right to You

I seek to be in a group that looks like that is true for them. Who looks like God is in the room with them, who looks like they are looking God in the face and singing to Him. Who look like they are in love with a God who is in love with them?

I’ve tasted and seen, of the sweetness of the presence of Jesus, the moving of the Holy Spirit, and I want to stay there. Churches on the Left are why I never wanted to be part of a church, had a distant relationship with God, knew not of His love and was a periodical son tell I was 25, and I will never be part of one. Churches on the Right are why I have a passionate love relationship with God, with His word, and so there I will stay.

If you like, want a church like the one on the Left, then be part of a church like that, just don’t expect me to, because I will not. And I do not care what others think, I worship for an audience of one, He who sits on the throne.

This is not open for debate, I will not love God less or less passionately than I do now and how I express it. I am unapologetic about this because I’ll never be sorry or apologetic for loving God and passionately worshiping Him.

 

Also read this post Early For Church, Never Just in Time

hands-in-praise

When people gather together and do not acknowledging the presence of the Holy Spirit, engage with the Holy Spirit, it’s basically a social group, participating in religious rituals, not a church. We desperately need the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that worked through Peter, Paul, Timothy, and Silas. That same Holy Spirit that birthed the church in Jerusalem, Philippi, Ephesus and all the other churches in the NT. The same Holy Spirit that Paul said would equip us with the spiritual gifts to be the church, for us to function as the church. The same Holy Spirit that would give us the power and gifts to serve one another. The same Holy Spirit that Jesus told the disciples to wait for that would fill them with power. That same Holy Spirit we are told not to grieve, and you are going to ignore when you gather, is that not grieving Him? We need the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we are doing things in the flesh according to our will. Trying to be something we cannot be without the power of the Holy Spirit, the church. If we could be the church without the Holy Spirit, without the power of the Holy Spirit, then Jesus would not have told the disciples to wait for Him.

I praise God that that with the exception of one time, I have always been in a church that does acknowledge and engage the Holy Spirit. Where we begin with the attitude of expectation of the Holy Spirit being there, showing up. Start by paying for the Holy Spirit to come, to show Himself in power, to move among us. To work through us, to speak to us, teach us, equip us. And ultimately lead us, and manifest Himself among us. In fact my current place of worship, we have the attitude we will not move till He comes and move us.

 

We sing:

Holy Spirit sent from heaven
The God of all glory is here
Rise up within me
Living Water, Spirit of God in me

You are welcome in this place
You are welcome in this place
God of power love and grace
Saturate my soul

After all the scriptures make it very clear we cannot follow Jesus, live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit in us, without His power. That we cannot even begin to love on another without the Holy Spirit in us producing the love. And yet so many think they can gather together and function as the church like scripture shows us without the Holy Spirit. How foolish is that!

 

Mission-Blues-Brothers

When it comes to “Fellowship”, I don’t need that to do American church. I don’t need fellowship to attend church on Sunday, to gather in a building with a bunch of people, face forward and hear some guy deliver a well-rehearsed message maybe or not about God, and go home, I can do that on my own.

I don’t need fellowship to just be a fan of Jesus, be a Sunday Christian, to live everyday just like the rest of the world, live for the same things as them, advance my career, make more money, get a bigger house, newer car, talk about politics, sports, and the kids soccer games. I can do that on my own, that’s easy.

But to stay on mission every day, I need people because I’m going to get distracted, I need co-labors in the mission to run the race with, I need prayer, encouragement in the work of the Lord. to run the race, preach the gospel to all the nations in the midst of persecution. To partake in the suffering of Christ, to die to self and life for Christ. For that, I need the fellowship of co-labors.

Fellowship does not begin with let’s have fellowship or let’s do community, where do you see that in the book of Acts, did Paul, Peter every say let’s get together and have fellowship? No, it begins with let’s follow Jesus, let go and make disciples. Let’s Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation, let’s partake in the sufferings of Christ, let’s run the race to win. That’s where you start.

If I just read the Scriptures, I wouldn’t even think so much about the gathering, Sunday church. You know – my first thought wouldn’t be, “Let’s have a gathering.” or “let’s get together and have fellowship”. Out of the Scriptures, I would think, “I’m on a mission” and I am to partner with others on that same mission.

When I read what Jesus has done for me, read His words, especially His last words to us in Matthew 28, how can my life response be anything other than I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and now I’ve got to go out and tell others about Jesus, and make disciples That’s what I would think, I need to go out there and just reach as many people as I can! I’m supposed to teach them to obey everything that Jesus commanded

That’s what I would get out of scripture, that I need to go out and start making disciples and to gather with people who are doing the same thing, partners in the gospel. This is what I am after.

And that pressure to always stay on that mission, to keep following Jesus, because the world and everyone in it would be beating me down, trying to stop me, I would actually need these brothers and sisters, co-laborers in my life. And I would tell them, don’t let me stop or even slow down, and I won’t let you slow down, we’ve got to stay on this mission together, that’s what we are here for.

So you see I Don’t Need Fellowship (to quote my co-laborer in Christ Francis Chan), or a fellowship group, a community group, to do American Church, But I do need those who are following Christ, living for the mission. to help me live on mission, to join with me in fulfilling the great commission as we call it, to take on the world preaching the gospel and making disciples. I need to gather with those who have “partnered in the gospel from the first day until now”, who are “co-workers in the gospel of Christ”. I need fellowship with those “who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together”, so that I might “run with endurance the race that is set before me”, to fight the good fight, and finish the race set before me. That kind of fellowship I do need.

i-am-angry

I read a blog post titled “Still an Angry Christian” and its first part “I am An Angry Christian”, by Cindy Brandt celebrating the gift of anger. And it was freeing to read, and it compelled me to write a similar post, being that I too am a Angry Christian, mad as hell might even be a more appropriate title for me.

Reading it has released me to surrender to the fact that its Okay for me to be angry, that I am right in being angry. That personal growth and spiritual maturity does not mean experiencing less episodes of anger, or even about managing anger better, but embracing it instead of fighting it. I am learning that as long as I care for those suffering and the injustice in this world, the mission of Jesus, biblical church, the word of God, my relationship with Jesus, the more anger is going to take up residence in my life, and I might as well get cozy with it.

Others have for so long told me I should not be angry, I should not express my anger, that Christians don’t do that, that Christians are to be filled with “the joy of the Lord” 27/7 regardless of what I am experiencing in life.

That as a Christian, I am to be nice: all the time, regardless of what people do to others, including myself. When things upset me, it is because I’m in the flesh and sinful, and not walking in the Spirit. A godly man never responds in anger, get angry at others or circumstances. Well Excuuuuse Me while I open the window, sick my head out and scream as loud as I can, I’m mad as hell, I am and not going to hide it any more!!!! I am a angry Christian!!!!!!

I hereby declare: I am an angry Christian.

I get angry when I hear about millions of young girls that are taken and turned into prostitutes for sex tourists, used to make internet porn.

I get angry when I hear over a billion people struggle with hunger, and 18 people die every minute from starvation, and most are children.

I get angry when people are hungry right now, have nothing to eat, especially children starving, many even in my own city and I can do nothing about it, and those who can, do nothing.

I get angry when Christians keep telling me to just attend a church, any church, (usually theirs), to just show up for an hour and go home, be satisfied with that and call that being part of a church.

I get angry when Christians tell me to stop being a passionate lover of God in my worship of Him and  come to their church and just sit quietly in the pew with folded hands and show no emotions. ( read more )

I get angry when Christians attack the worship music I worship God to, songs that express my love for God, remind me of Gods love for me, songs that speak from my heart.

I get angry when Christians tell me to stop being non-denominational, stop being charismatic, and join their denomination, join their non-charismatic church.

* I get angry when I want to follow Jesus and live on mission, Go preach the gospel, make disciples, gather with others that are devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. I want to be part of the body church and receive gifts to minister to the body, to pray for one another. And God will not let me, and yet everyone constantly hounds me, nags me to be part of the church, when I want to be, because God has blocked me from being part of the church in those ways.

But I don’t just get righteously angry.

* I get angry when other Christians tell me that I should not be depressed, sad, lonely, just because I do not have love and family, it’s wrong to want to have someone to love and be loved by, have children, when they do.

I get angry when other Christians tell me being single is “a gift from God”, that “Jesus is all I need (more)” when they are married with children (read my post on this).

I get angry when people point out that there are few people who choose to go through life never wanting to love or be loved by another person, and that I should choose be like them.

I get angry when God gives me a word, answers questions through His word and teaching from others, and people who claim to be Christians attack it, rip it to shreds, ultimately crap all over it. (read more).

I get angry when a pastor says from pulpit that singles should spend all their time serving God, yet their church only allows married people to be in ministry and leadership positions.

I get angry because I want to be part of a true biblical church and exercise my gifts for the body, have daily fellowship with others in Christ, but I cannot because there is no way being single at my age I can.

I get angry when I want to go and preach the gospel, feed the hungry, set the captives free, and God will not let me.

I get angry when people who God bless with love and family, say they are too busy, life to full of family things to serve God, and since I’m single that’s my job to do those things, not them. Have they never read “to whom much is given, much will be required” Luke 12:48. or  Luke 9:61-62.

And sometimes, I get angry for no good reason.

If you open your bible and read it, you will find it says to be slow in becoming angry, nowhere does it say never be angry at all. Jesus got angry, and often, even threw a fit of rage in the temple of all places ( that would be like in the middle of a church, full of people). All through out the bible God got angry at both His enemy’s and His people. Anger is part of God’s personality, and we are made in His image.

The problem is not my anger, that I am angry, the problem is the source of my angry, starving children in world of plenty, young girls being kidnaped and forced to be raped hundreds of times a day. People who say they are Christians, attack me for loving God to much, for being too passionate for God, for believing the bible and wanting to do what it says. Condemn me for wanting the church that is in the bible, for wanting my life and the church to be all about the mission of Christ, those are the problems, not my anger.

Anger channels passion, and is often a conduit of love. When God brewed in anger over God’s people in Scripture, it is often a reflection of God’s faithfulness with a people prone to wander. Love and anger are sometimes opposite sides of the same coin. They drive us to pursue justice in the face of suffering. Anger fuels commitment to lasting change.

Just as I want my anger to demand justice for others, that captives be set free, the oppressed be liberated, I need my own anger to demand just treatment for myself. Without anger, Stand up for the word of God and the mission of Jesus. I eventually learn to cope with words that minimize me, actions that diminish my gifts, my walk with God, and systems that marginalize me. My sweet, compliant spirit slowly whittles me down to a mere shadow of myself, one who goes with the flow, maintains harmony, and obeys without question. In doing so, I rob myself of the respect I deserve as a beloved child of God, and I rob my community the gift of my authentic self.

So I am an Angry Christian. Angry, because it is part and parcel of my humanity, part of being a Christian, part of being created in Gods image.

Also read:

Please Stop saying “All you need is Jesus” to singles

Stop Casting Your Pearls Before Swine

is-jesus-all-you-need

There are so many things that Christians say to others that really is callous, and cold-hearted, that does not help others at all, and for me the one that tops the list is for someone to say to me “All you need is Jesus”.  Say to anyone who is single, you don’t need love and family, “All you need is Jesus”. For someone to say, as if to brag, “All I need is Jesus”.

First off I have yet to hear one person say that to someone, that it is true about their life. Yes, Jesus is all we need as to salvation, it’s Jesus + Nothing = Everything. But when it comes to life, living life in America, functioning in life, everyone who says “All you need is Jesus” always has more than Just Jesus.

First, we are Not to go through life alone, After all God did say in the very beginning of creation,, back in Genesis 2:18  “It is not good from man to be alone” God said that of a man that all he had was God at the time, no wife, no children, no career, home, church or even one person to hang out with, all Adam has was God and God alone.. It was while man was in that state of him and God only, that God said, “It is not good from man to be alone”. Then after God said that, He created Adam a wife, then told them be as one and have lots and lots of children. God’s plan for man is to have more than Him for life on this earth, His created purpose included man getting a mate and having children, being a family just like the Godhead is.

Secondly we are not meant to be an inland., Josh McDowell said it well, “When it comes to my salvation, all I need is Jesus; after my salvation it’s, everything is Jesus plus the church… When people preach that all you need is Jesus, they cut you and I off from one of the greatest sources of healing, of sanctification which is the body of Christ. Don’t go it alone – you won’t make it.”

I have heard countless sermons lately about how important it is to be in a church, that it part of God’s design for Christians, we can’t go it alone.

The above two show us already that it’s at least Jesus + mate + children + church are to make up the life of a Christian.

With that said, what angers me the most is this: When someone says  “All you need is Jesus” and they are married, have 3 or 4 kids, lives in a very nice house, with two nice cars parked in the driveway. Has a great career, a job making a fat paycheck, has a fat 401K, holds a leadership position at their church, Jesus is not all they have, not all they have to be happy, fulfilled, content in life on this earth, they have Jesus + +  + + + + + +.

I feel that to say “Jesus is all I need” has become a Christian tagline, a statement to make to look super spiritual to others, and not a reality of their life.

I think it would be real hard to find one person in America that has a clue what it is to only have Jesus, to exist with nothing but Jesus. Or to be a happy, content, joyful, fulfilled person by having only Jesus and nothing else in their life. Everyone I hear who makes those claims is always married with children. Always have good jobs, nice houses and cars, some have lost position in their church of a ministry. Their lives are overflowing with blessings, their quiver is full, they lack no good thing, they have everything that pertains to life, they have a large box full of toys. So of course their happy, content, joyful and fulfilled, they have love family,  careers, home, cars, church, friends and everything else.

I say take away those things and let’s see if they still say that. And let’s see if the proudly proclaim “All you need is Jesus!”. See if after 5 years, 10 years, how about 25 years without those things if they say that, see if then they have a happy, fulfilling, purpose filled life.

What I am saying is a person cannot have multiple sources that give love, meaning, purpose, happiness, joy, life, and claim that only one is providing all that, that all the others are irrelevant.

I just wish people would stop proclaiming, “All I need is Jesus”, telling others “All you need is Jesus” when it’s not true of their own life, Jesus is not all they have. They cannot say their happiness, purpose, meaning and fulfilled life comes from Jesus alone, when their life is filled with love and family (mate and kids), career and good paying job, nice house, nice cars, fat bank account, part of a great church. They cannot separate themselves from those things and say they do not matter when they do matter.They cannot say Jesus is their source when their life overflowing with all of those other life-giving blessings, purpose giving things.

If you have a headache and you take two aspirins, pray and lay down for a half hour and get up and your headache is gone, you cannot claim all you need is prayer to cure a headache. You have to give credit to the aspirin and nap as well, not just to your prayer. Unless you prayed only, you can’t give it the credit, because aspirin and a nap, each will cure headaches. You cannot say All I need is prayer when your taking aspirin and a nap.

Only after you take the training wheels off you bike, can you truthfully say they have nothing to do with me being able to ride a bike, there not necessary.

I really believe people should not tell someone they do not need something in their life, if they have it in their life, do not tell someone they do not need a certain thing to be happy, unless you do not have it in your life and are happy. So, don’t tell people they do not need money to live a good life and be happy, when you have a fat paycheck and bank account, your not living without it, so don’t tell them to. If your married and have children, don’t tell singles they don’t need them, and should not want to have them. You’re not living without them, you were not willing to stay single so don’t tell them to.

Bottom line, Don’t tell people, especially single people that all they need is Jesus when you’re married, have children, great job, nice home, two cars and a place in a church, because Jesus is not all you have.