Christianity

Sometimes people think eschatology is just for the theologians and pastors, but that could not be further from the truth. The second coming of Jesus Christ should be at the forefront of every Christians mind, life.

I have learned that eschatology is important, because it actually affects your life more than you may think.

What you know and believe about the book of Revelation, or what you don’t know or believe will greatly affect the way you live day to day.

Here’s what I mean…..

When I as at Calvary Chapel in the 80’s the book of Revelation was the most studied and talked about book, Chuck preached about, talked about the return of Jesus a lot, so everyone had their thoughts and conversation set on Jesus’ return. We lived in anticipation of it, and desire for Jesus to come quickly. The result was everyone lived with with a eternal mindset, so everyone was about doing the will of the Father, living out the great commission, we where passionate about sharing the gospel and seeing people get saved. Maranatha was a word spoken by one and all, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! was the cry of our hearts, we desired, longed for His return, to be with Him.

If you believe that the next 10 –3 0 years is all you have on the earth to live (whether they end by death or the return of Jesus), you will live very differently than if you know that life is not mainly about this life, but about the age to come, that’s the way we lived back then at Calvary.

The Bible tells us that there is coming a day when heaven is coming to earth.

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.”
   
(Revelation 21:1-6 NKJV)

Most people avoid the book of Revelation, I love it, it’s a Revelation of Jesus Christ, it’s the most vivid presentation of He who is, events leading up to His 2nd coming,  it’s what every follower of Jesus hearts long for, because it’s what we were made for!

I began studying the book of Revelation again for a study group I was in, but more because as I mentioned earlier I believe that having a heart rooted in eternity, and the age to come dramatically affects my life on a day to day basis.

Here are some of the ways I feel it impacts my life dramatically whether I set my heart on the age to come or just on this life:

  • The only way I believe I will walk out my life with the correct priorities in life is if I have a revelation that everything I do in this age can carry on into the next and have eternal value.
  • The only way I can make the right choses for career, mate, how I spend my time is through the lens of what will pass away and what is eternal, that Jesus and His Kingdom is coming soon.
  • I will live a live looking for,  being prepared, ready for His return. (Luke 21:36)

“Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  (Matthew 24:42-44 ESV)

  • An eternal perspective will guard me from making the American dream my life pursuit, goal. If I know that this life is not to be where I set my heart, then I will not try to fill my life with things that will only pass away. I will spend my time and money differently.

    “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
(Colossians 3:1-4ESV)

  • I will have perspective for pain: I will know that this world has pain and disappointment, and that where I am going, there will be no more pain, sorrow, sadness or death. Therefore any pain I experience in this life I can use to propel me closer to the heart of Jesus, knowing that pain will not always be my portion and will come to an end.
  • It will cause me to set my heart on the great commission, make spreading the gospel the single most important thing in life, my life priority.
  • Maranatha! will be the cry of my heart, come Lord Jesus with fill my prayers, thoughts and desires. Everyday I will eagerly anticipate and look foreword to the return of Jesus.
  • Setting my heart on the age to come will prepare my heart to not fear persecution or death.
  • Setting my heart on the age to come will propel my heart to want to live a life poured out for Jesus and for the sake of His name, no matter what the cost.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  (Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV)

(This list is by no means exhaustive. )

All throughout the New Testament, you will find the centrality of this theme exhorting us to set our hearts and minds on things to come…

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth.” ( Col. 3: 1,2)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on this earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21)

I want to live a life on the earth that will have eternal significance. Our culture screams at us trying to convince us that we must store up as much as we can and live life to the fullest in this age. I want to fight against the deception that tries to dull my spirit and make me settle in for a life of comfort and ease.

I am asking the Lord to wake me up, to give me a greater revelation of eternity. I encourage you to find out for yourself what the Word says about eternity and the age to come, and talk to Jesus about what that means for how you should live your life today.

I want to go back to life, fellowship to be like it was at Calvary Chapel back then, all things centered on the second coming of Jesus, Maranatha being the cry of my heart and center of the conversations of Christians.

May we not forget that we are just pilgrims on this earth passing through, with a eternal mindset, and desire above all the return of Jesus.

pastor-chuck-smith

Chuck Smith passed on to heaven Thursday ( October 3, 2013) morning after his body gave out after a long struggle with cancer.

Chuck Smith was one of the key figures of the Jesus movement in the late 60s and early 70s. and was my pastor and mentor for 10 years. He is the most significant man of God in my life, God used him in so many ways in my life.

Time magazine ran a story on the phenomenon that was Calvary Chapel, a little inconspicuous church in the middle of booming Orange County, California, it began with the 25-member church Smith founded on a Costa Mesa lot in 1965.  He taught the bible very simply, verse by verse, and continually pointed to the Holy Spirit, rather than his own abilities as the unexplained explanation.  When asked him to share what the “method” or “secret” was, he said, “It’s the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  If you can explain what God is doing, then it probably isn’t God.”

From the pulpit, and in person, he emanated a disarming warmth. Calvary Chapel became famous as a sanctuary for a generation of counterculture refugees. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and a big, benevolent smile.

He didn’t care how worshipers dressed or how long they wore their facial hair. He welcomed hippies, dropouts and the drug-damaged. He allowed guitars to accompany worship songs. He became Papa Chuck to the thousands he baptized below the ocean cliffs of Corona del Mar (as many as 500 at a time, including myself).

Chuck Smith’s life was a legacy of faithful bible exposition.  Chuck taught very simply, but the presence of the Lord flowed from him, and you could sense the Holy Spirit speaking powerfully and giving thrust behind his very simple words when he spoke.  Chuck taught trough the bible verse by verse, cover to cover, starting over about every 3 years. It was while at Calvary, that I not only got in-depth teaching of the whole bible, teaching  that surpassed any seminary, it was there that God taught me how to study the bible under Chuck, that I still use to this day.

Calvary Chapel has recently been hailed by Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research as the biggest church planting phenomenon of the 20th century.  He added that it was largely an “unintentional” church planting movement.  In other words, it’s what happened naturally, organically, and spiritually.  It was as if the Spirit of God was directing young leaders to thrust out and plant, all of whom had no idea of what they were doing, but nonetheless, were entrusted by Chuck into the hands of God much like he, himself had been. Calvary planted  nearly 2000 churches, all where trained under Chuck. The process was, if you came on staff, the understanding was you where to be trained for three years, then expected to go and plant a church.

God through Chuck changed the world, the way church is done, worship, music. The emergence of Calvary Chapel paralleled — and helped to fuel what was called “The Jesus movement” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which embraced those the “traditional church” rejected, and that lead to the greatest number of salvations in Americas history.

Because of Chuck Non-denominational churches became the largest type of church in America

Modern worship songs came from Calvary. Before Calvary an organ, choir and hymnal where the only way to “worship” in a church. Or what I called dead worship, this is one of the two principal reasons I was not part of a church prior to Calvary.

Christian rock music started at Calvary.

The first time I walked into Calvary as a back sliding Christina living with my then fiancé Joan Cooper, and for the first time I witnessed a true biblical church. I saw for the first time true lovers of Jesus worshiping Him, I heard for the first time from a pulpit the word of God taught word by word. I was the same after that. He is the single most influential man of God in my life.

He will be missed.

When it comes to Calvinism, JD Greear’s short teaching here much of what he says sums up where I am at, but not 100%. I have been revisiting the Calvinism position on election. In this short (8 min) much of JD’s message  gave me clarity of where I am at. I do not claim to be a Calvinist, I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, I am in no mans, any theologian camp, I’m in Jesus’.

Like JD says, there are things that God calls secret, and that drive theologians crazy, things that God did not and will not tell us (read Job sometime). God says there are secret things, and he does not hold us responsible for them. What He does hold us responsible for are the things He has revealed. I find myself to busy trying to understand, apply, live out the things God has revealed, to try and figure out what God says is secret.

JD’s advice that gets a Big Amen from me is: Don’t cut off bible verses that don’t fit your theory, your theology, in order for it to work, expand your theory’s to match all of scripture. Believe what the bible teaches, sit humbly underneath it, and do what it says. That is open you bible believe it and do what it says.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, Not a Calvinist, nor a Arminian.

I was told to preach the gospel, to Go make disciples, baptize them, teach them to do all that Jesus commanded, and so I stay busy doing that.

Ask Anything Friday Nov 5 from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

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

I went to the book store Saturday and they had a book I have wanted to get on sell”Jesus + Nothing = Everything” by Tullian Tchividjian. Pastor Tchividjian is one of the pastors God has been using to speak to me. I hard his sermon series the book was based on, loved it, God has been giving me a deeper and wider understand of the gospel through Pastor Tullian.

The surprise of the day was there was another book on sell also, that caught my attention, called “ Not A Fan, by Kyle Idleman. I scanned through it and what I read caught my attention, I felt lead to  buy it to, but put it back. Well all night and Sunday I thought about the book, so I looked it up on the Web and found a host of reviews say how great it was, a must read. So I went back on Monday and bought it.

After reading just three chapters last night, I was blown a way, put on my knees, God was speaking to me with ever sentence it seemed. The writer is talking about things that have been on my heart. Answered questions I have been asking myself and God. God is using it to cut me to my sole, cannot wait to finish reading it. I can tell you for sure, this book is a must read for everyone who is, or thinks their Christian.

The book is about asking the question are you just a Fan of Jesus or are you a Follower of Jesus, the two are worlds apart. And Jesus does not want Fans, in fact He rejected people who just wanted to be fans,  He wants Followers only. And we must chose if we are going to just be a Fan, or a Follower of Jesus.

Here’s a look at the year 2010 in review show some of the persecution Christians have undergone in a few countries:

Iraq – In Iraq, Christians have been targeted specifically, and very little is done for their protection. The massive flight of Christians from this country and lack of security for them should have been seen as an early-warning sign that something was very wrong with the overall system.

Malaysia – This country enforced the world’s only religious affirmative action government program that benefits the majority over the minority, guaranteeing Muslims jobs and education over Christians.

Indonesia – Christians have been killed, and many churches have been shut down by local governments, particularly in the Bekasi region. The country also witnessed a steep increase in violence against Christians that was certainly connected to hard-line Islamists calling for violence against the Christian population.

Afghanistan – Christians were imprisoned for conversion, a charge punishable by death. Two Christians remain in jail. This reflects the growing momentum supporting hard-line Islamists and the increasing authority the Taliban is able to wield over Kabul. Christians became a pawn in the political chess game.

Egypt – Coptic Christian women have been abducted and forced to convert to Islam, their cases ignored and often met with aggression and humiliation by the police. A recent suicide bombing of an Alexandria church killed 21. It was in direct response to a call from Al Qaeda declaring all Christians in the Middle East as targets. Egypt has long been a country of double standards, hiding behind the glittering tourist image it presents to the West while it all but forces millions of its citizens (underclass Christians) to make their living sifting through garbage heaps.

India – Perhaps the most “diverse” country in the world, there has been precious little tolerance for Christians. 2010 witnessed hundreds of attacks against Christians, including government programs assuring jobs for underclass Hindus and Buddhists but not for Christians.

As we can see persecution is alive and well in the world, and this is just the tip of the isburg, and as we draw closer to the return of Jesus it will but only get worse.

Remember to pray for Christians who are being persecuted around the world.