Christian life Tag

 

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.

ywam-togther-kc-2016-2

Having YWAM Together 2016 here in KC the last week was such a blessing, God amazingly continued a conversion we have been having the last month, so many things on my heart and my prayers, speakers addressed.

It was so great to be back among YWAMers, got to see my old base leader John Dawson, and hear Loren Cunningham. Hear what God is doing through YWAM today in the earth like Ending Bible Poverty, being reminded the goal that the bible will be translated into every known language by 2020.

God moved powerfully in the worship and faith-stirring messages.

I believe God was talking to me a bout what I have been crying out to Him for the past two weeks, to walk with Him like Enoch did, as Elijah did. God seemed to be speaking to me through the example of the lifestyle of and message that Todd White gave. What it is like to be a man who walks with God, someone who imitates Paul as he imitated Jesus.

I have been praying that I need my prayer list answered, so I can move on to going and doing, be so busy going and doing that I have a new prayer list and that is what Todd does, lives a life busy doing, joining God in doing.

The day after the event ended, most of the YWAM leadership and attendees still in town came to Forerunner Christian Fellowship, George Otis spoke at the first service. He also was speaking to something I had been praying about the last month. That we need to have stories about fresh encounters with God, with what He is doing to tell others about. He articulated very well what I have been trying to tell God I need. I need stories like I had when I was in  YWAM, stories of what my God is doing, the sick healed, the blind see, the dead raised. Testimony of my prayers being answered. Stories of God moving, salvation, people being delivered. First-hand stories weekly, daily, so that no matter who I walk with, set down next to when the conversation starts I have a steady stream of fist hand stories that is what my God has done, is doing.

Action take away, I need to find where God is, what He is doing, where He is moving, no matter where in the world that is, and get involved with Him in what He is doing, get busy going and doing. So that I have stories, so I can begin to talk about once again the things I see and I encounter God doing. Not hearsay, but first-hand stories, not what I hear about, what someone else is doing, but like when I was in YWAM, hands-on participation in what God is doing.

Fell in love with an incredible worshiper of God, Lindy Conant, she was on the YWAM worship team that lead most of the worship. Her worship was so passionate, she is so passionate for Jesus, I could have worship all day and night with her. Talk about someone to worship and pray with, do ministry with, she’s my heart’s desire. People with that kind of passion for God, obsession with Jesus and the message, that’s the kind I want to do life with, live life with.

 

lindy-conantAbove photo Lindy Conant is on Right

Loved hearing all the YWAM stories, and being in a room with over 80 nations represented.

ywam-together-kc-passports

And that I miss YWAM, the mission, the people, being part of God doing amazing things, I was also saddened by thinking about all I have missed out on, the things I could have joined God in what He was doing. How I could have had a life spent for Him on the mission field. That I would go back into YWAM in a heartbeat if it were possible. It is so true what they say once a YWAMer, always a YWAMer.

todd_white_ywam_together

More takeaway from the YWAM Together gathering here in Kansas City on Monday.

The most impactive thing for me was Todd White, he ruined me, I want, I need to live like him. The lifestyle he has been living the last 12 years since he was saved, is how I want to live my life. The stories he shared, the way to live, lifestyle Christianity as he calls it, is my heart’s desire. He shares Jesus, the gospel, the love of God with every person he meets, his coworkers at his jobs in the past, people he meets everywhere he goes every day.

I don’t know how true all his stories are, don’t even care if they are embellished or not, to make for a good show on stage. Don’t know about all of his teachings, don’t care if his teachings1 is not 100% Orthodox in everything like the non essentials. What I do know is his lifestyle2 is real, dozens of people get healed 2   get saved2 while he goes about his everyday life, verified by others. What I do know is he wakes up every morning with the intent to live for God on the mission, he sees every place he plants his feet as his mission field. To share Jesus with every person he meets, everywhere he goes, at work, school, grocery stores, malls, gas stations, everywhere,  and the results are real. He boldly tells everyone about Jesus. And that’s what I am talking about, what I want to imitate. (That is why they had him at the event, to inspire everyone there to live boldly for Jesus, not teach.)

( 1 Mark 6:38-40 says “John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39  “Do not stop him; for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is for us.” , 2Matthew 7: 20 “So then, by their fruit you will recognize them”)

I want to live like that, old school Christianity I call it, the way we lived back in the 70’s and 80’s, everyone carried their bible everywhere they went and talked about Jesus with everyone, everywhere. That is how I want to live.

I just had started praying three days before telling God that I want to be busy living life with Him, doing, joining Him in what He is doing every day, Going and doing.

I want to be busy Going and Doing with Him.

It all really started last week with me praying every day now that I want to “Walk with God” like Enoch did. To be living life with God, abiding, waking moment by moment with God like Elijah did.

In my men’s group last week we covered 2 Peter chapter 1, and in 2 Peter 1:5-6 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge” the Hebrew, the Jewish mindset, “knowledge” means participatorily adherence, actively involved, join in action, to Jews the Hebrew word for knowledge actually implies unity with. So to have knowledge of God means to have unity with Him, to participate with Him, join Him by doing what He says, keeping His commandments, joining Him in what He is doing.

So I have been seeking the answer to how do I walk with God as Enoch did, how do I join God, come in unity with God, join in what He is doing. And well it seems that God is answering me, live like Todd White, live like he described he does, how he was encouraging us to live.

Add in I have been praying for months now that I want my life to look like, feel like I live in the New Testament, live in the book of Acts, like I just stepped into the bible. Living like Todd would defiantly put me on the road to my life looking and feeling like I do. Conditional on God being involved with me like He is with Todd, that is I have the same results Todd has had, which would match what we read in the book of Acts.

It’s about being in love with Jesus in the public, when your in love with Jesus, you actual get to display Him everywhere you go.

 

yes_green

 “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”  2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV

I think the ratio of No’s to Yes’ in our lives is like 100 to 1. And No, has no energy, not doing something is an emptiness and carries no weight. It creates a vacuum that waits to be filled by something. Something in us is searching for fulfillment and to give it a No, does not fill the need, the void. And like the bored child that is relentless saying are we there yet, can I have…., can I do…. until they get Yes, something to fill the void in them. And we find ourselves saying if I told you once I told you a hundred times, No.

The leader of my Wednesday men’s group shared something that caused me to be aware that in my own life, I spend a lot of time saying No to things. There are things I don’t want think about, so I have to say No to them…things I don’t want to feel…things I don’t want to say or do, see or hear…all requiring a No. A day spent in such wrestling is exhausting in the stream of one No after another. It is also frequently a path to failure, the same issues come back, again and again, requiring No again and again. No has no energy and it places the will in a position of weakness. The will was created to will something, not nothing.

The Apostle Paul’s observation that the promises of God are Yes, just might be the key to the daily struggle. The absence of sin isn’t the same thing as righteousness. Righteousness is a fullness and a presence of God-likeness. Sin itself is an emptiness, lacking God-likeness, the character of non-being. The spiritual life is fulfilled in righteousness – true rightness of being – living in the image of God.

A simple way of living this reality is to say Yes. If I do not want to do one thing, then what I do is say Yes to something good? If I do not want to think about certain things, then I say Yes to the thoughts I do want instead. I don’t fight the bad, the unwanted, I embrace, accept the good ones, the godly ones.

For example, if I do not what lustful thoughts, I don’t say No them, I say Yes to……

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

“I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”  Psalm 77:12

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Psalm 119:15

So instead with struggling to say No a hundred times a day to lust, leaving a void in me hungry to be filled, I’ll be to busy with Yes to God, being filled with God’s righteousness, and have no room for lust.

Anything I do not want to do, example, Instead of No to gossiping, I say Yes to……

‘Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)

‘Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)

‘Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)

‘Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)

‘Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)

‘Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

‘Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)

‘Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8

‘Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)

So instead with struggling to say No to gossiping,  I’ll be to busy with, filled with loving others, building them up not tearing them down.

Instead of No to hearing, seeing, and so forth,  I say Yes to God, to the word of God, the things of God.

And there is another step beyond. It is possible to say Yes repeatedly throughout the day. The simple phrase, “I say Yes to God,” carries a great deal of power. I want to make it a frequent confession in my day. That I say Yes to God. I say Yes to His word.

Then my life will be filled with life giving Yes’ and not empty, lifeless No’s.

My goal is to keep myself so busy saying Yes to God, the things of God, then there will be less and less room in my life for things that require a No. At the very least I figure I will reverse the ratio of No’s to Yes’, I’ll be saying a hundred Yes’ to every No. My day will be filled with positive God-likeness and not the emptiness and void of the No’s.

Ultimately it comes down to Saying Yes to….

“Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49

“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, and your neighbor as yourself.” And that requires a lot of Yes’.

 

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!

 

 

As for me, the cross is at the center of my faith, belief and theology, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the foundation to how I read, study and understand Scripture .

Without the cross and the resurrection, there is no Gospel, the Apostle Paul sums it up like this, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor 15:14 ESV), “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 ESV).

What Jesus accomplished on the cross and through His resurrection is central to everything to my life and faith for me. The death and resurrection of Jesus are not only central to Scripture and the Gospel, but are also central to learning who God is, what God is like, and how we are supposed to live our lives as followers of Jesus.

I believe that the key to learning scripture, about the Christian life is to see everything through the lens of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection.

I am still learning about the infinite ramifications of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and will continue to so all my life, and will continue to be surprised by new revelation and understanding till that which is perfect comes back, Jesus, or I stand before Him in heaven. Because I have only just began comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the gospel.

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.

 

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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.

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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

God never ceases to amaze me, two weeks ago while reading my bible a voice in my head said, go to Bethel Church website, I dismissed it, it repeated it, only louder, and kept getting louder until I gave in pickup my phone and went to their website. The voice said click on the sermons tab, I did and looked down at the list of sermons wondering why I was there, I do not listen to their sermons, worship yes, all the time.

Then my eyes spotted a name I know, and the voice said, listen to that one. I started it and was speared in the heart. The message spoke loudly to me, I was all about me, as if it was written for me. It was as if some was reading my mail and answered back. I was a hard message to hear, in fact it took me three days to get trough it,  taking notes, praying, thinking about what I heard.

It turned out the guest speaker gave three different messages that morning, they has so much to give the that church. And the voice (obviously God) told me to listen to the second message they did. And it hit me like a sledgehammer between the eyes, it hurt, cut me to core, it took me five days to get through it.

Those two messages have cause tremendous change in me, attitude change, change in my prayer life, thought life, almost every area of my being is being effected. My head is still spinning.

And to top it off and the Friday night service, Mike’s teaching was a continuation of those first two messages, it was not that the first two have wrecked me, turned me inside out, sent me into a total system reboot.

Saturday I took my notes from all three messages and its as if one person wrote them, as if it was one message, a seamless message given by two different people in three different sermons, weeks apart. And it was written for me, I mean custom for me, like a tailored suit it fit me.

God was the author, the Holy Spirit lead me to the first two, and had Mike finish it on Friday, only God can pull that off.

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.