Christianity Tag

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

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.

It seems every church, every person that calls them selves a Christian has their own definition of what it is to “follow Jesus” to be a “follower of Christ”. Their are a multitude of books, countless sermons on the subject, each with their own opinion of what it means.

Recently The Lord took me to Matthew 4:19 where Jesus says “And He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.

When I think about these words, “Follow Me,” and being Jesus is clearly and absolutely worthy of far more than church attendance and casual association.

We are talking about the Savior King of the universe and the Righteous Judge of all, God in the flesh saying, “Follow Me.” Just let it soak in, the thought alone is Mind-boggling when you realize Who’s speaking here. God. And when He speaks you don’t just memorize it.

When Jesus comes to you and says, “Follow Me,” this is not a minor thing, there’s no potential for a casual response here. It’s either turn and run or bow and worship. You ether say No or Yes Lord!

So one can establish right off the bat that following Jesus is far more than church attendance, casual association, simply being a fan of Jesus. Imagine yourself standing before Jesus and Him saying to you “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. How would your life change from that moment on.

As you know if somebody gets hit by a Simi Truck they look different. How much more when a person comes face-to-face with the God of the universe in the flesh, the Savior King of the nations and the Righteous Judge of all peoples Who is sovereign over everything in the world, when you meet Him…….you look different. Everything changes, you do not go on with life as it was, with the same goals, worldly ambitions, desires, purpose, lifestyle or even identity. Everything changes!

I go from doing what I want to do with my life, pursing what I want to do and be, to doing what Jesus says I am to do.

Jesus did not say follow me and ______________, you fill in the blank what that means, with what you want to do. No, He tells us what following Him means, what follows the word “and”. I don’t need to read commentaries, read volumes of books, ask Google to know what it is to be a follower, Jesus tells me here.

Jesus says, “I’m going to make you a fisher of men.” In other words, Jesus says, “I’m going to do a transforming work in your life that will enable you to spread My gospel all over the world. Your life is going to be spent for My purpose, being a fisher of men, that’s what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus.

Every follower of Jesus is to be a fisher of men according to Jesus in this passage.

And like I said in my last post, I want to be simple guy, be black and white, an authentic follower of Jesus. Just pick up my bible daily, read it, believe it, believe its for me, for today, and do it. That simple, that black and white.

So I pick up my bible, read Matthew 4:19 and Bingo, Jesus defines following Him, or maybe more precise, the result of being a follower perhaps. If we are following Him, He will make us fishers of men. Going back to my last post on Matthew 28:19-20 about “Go, make disciples”, put the two verses together it’s quite clear Jesus is saying if you are following Him,  you’re a fisher of men, you will be making disciples.

So according to Jesus, what does it look like to be a follower of Jesus, you are a fisher of men, you are making disciples. That’s your new identity, purpose, and lifestyle.

Again like I said before if I just start with scripture, say here’s what it says, then I would get up every morning and say this is my job today, to let Jesus make me a fisher of men, and go do it, go make disciples.

It’s just black and white stuff, if I just started with scripture, pick up the bible and read it, and believe it, say here’s what I would do. I would be a fisher of men, that would define who I am and I’d start making disciples!

According to Jesus’ own words, if someone ask what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus, I would answer, if you’re a following Jesus, your a fisher of men, busy making disciples. Is there more to it than that, Yes, but this is where you start, this is the core of what following Jesus is, to be a fisher of men, to Go make disciples.

See Jesus Says – Go make disciples.

When I was a kid we played a game called Simon Says, I doubt kids today even know it since it not played on a smart phone. How you play it is if the person who’s “it” says, Simon says pat your head, or jump on one leg, or bark like a dog, you have do it, because Simon said to, or your out. That’s what the game is about, if Simon says do something, no matter what it is, you have to do it because you must obey Simon’s commands.

It’s very simple game, but it’s so weird how in the church, Jesus Says is a totally different game. If Jesus says to do something you don’t have to do it, you just have to memorize it, talk about it, have bible studies about it, and that’s it, you don’t have to actually do it.

It doesn’t make any sense, Jesus tells us to Go and make disciples, but yet how many people in the churches are actually making disciples? They’ve memorized the verse, so what, is that what Jesus asked us to do, memorized His commands? Do bible studies on what it would be like to do it?

If you told your daughter or son to go clean their room, they wouldn’t come back to you two hours latter and go, I’ve memorize what you said. You said “go clean your room”…….. and I can say it in Greek too. And my friends are going to come over and where going to have a study on what it would look like if I clean my room. Tomorrow I’m going to start a discussion group on the theology of what you said, theorize as to if you really meant “I” should do it, what exactly you meant by clean, and and is descriptive of prescriptive.

Your kids know better than that, and so why do we think we’re  going to come before The Judge one day, before the one we say is our Lord. Stand before Jesus and quote everything that He said, talk about how much you know, and Jesus will say “well done good and faithful servant”? Really!

Note the key word in His statement is “done“, its a action, a verb, meaning you have completed a task you where given to do. The only way you can hear well done is if you do what Jesus said to do.

It’s just black and white stuff, if I just started with scripture, pick up the bible and read it, and believe it, here’s what I would do. I’d start making disciples!

I would Not just memorize it, do a bible study on what it would be like to do it, read two dozen books on the theology of it, argue whether or not it was for then only or for today, or is it’s descriptive or prescriptive. That’s not what I would do, I would say, Yes Lord Jesus and start making disciples.

If I just start with scripture, say here’s what it says, then I would get up every morning and say this is my job today, to make disciples of Jesus, and go do it.

I would just Go and make disciples……… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus has commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20)

And when you combined that with Jesus saying:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23

Jesus’ very words to us are if you love Me you will do as I say, and He said, Go and make disciples. So ether we love and obey, or don’t and make excuses. that’s are only two choices.

I want to be simple guy, be black and white, an authentic follower of Jesus. Just pick up my bible daily, read it, believe it, believe its for me, for today, and do it. That simple, that black and white.

See part two: Jesus Says, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

In Joel 2:31 he prophesy’s “The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” which is part of one of the most famous prophecy about the End Times, the second coming of Jesus. Peter quotes the prophet Joel in Acts 2:17-21 referring to the out poring of the Holy Spirit on the believers.

One can read that and wonder what does he mean “the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon turn to blood”, well here is what could be a possible answer to that.

Sun turned to darkness = moon directly between the Earth and sun in a total solar eclipse.

Moon turned to blood = Earth directly between the sun and moon, Earth’s shadow falling on the moon in a total lunar eclipse.

“During the next two years NASA tables shows we will have what astronomers call a Tetrad phenomenon – a string of four partial lunar eclipses where the moon will appear blood red on certain Jewish Holy Days. This has only happened three times in history and – every time – the blood moons signaled huge events that affected “God’s Chosen People. we have coming four blood moons on 4/15/2014, 10/8/2014, 4/4/2015, and 9/28/2015, but the added significance is that the total solar eclipse on 3/20/2015 is on the biblical calendar of Nisan 1. Nisan 1 begins the New Year according to the Bible, it is the first month in the biblical calendar.

The last three times this phenomenon occurred were right around seminal moments in Jewish history.  For example, when it happened in 1493 and 1494 Jews were expelled from Spain. The blood moons in 1949 and 1950 came right after the nation of Israel was assembled, giving the Jews a homeland for the first time in thousands of years.  And in 1967 and 1968 it was linked to the Six-Day War.

All that to say over the last 500 years, these lunar events all falling on holy days were an announcement of a time of tears and tribulation that ended in tremendous national triumph for the Jewish people.”

Some like to blow off Joel’s prophecy as being fulfilled at the destruction of the temple, I have two problems with that theory, one it says

“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.”

you can make a case that this was fulfilled at Pentecost, in part, which is what Peter was doing in Act 2, but not fully.

Second these things proceed “the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” and if you know scripture you know this refers to the coming day of judgement at the end, or more to the point the second coming of Jesus. It’s used 17 times is scripture, the last time in Revelation 16:14,  and that is why I believe Joel’s prophecy is still waiting to be fulfilled.   But that’s me, based on what I see in God’s word.

Not saying that the coming 4 red moons and eclipse are in fact is what Joel was prophesying about, I’m not foolish enough to run about claiming that, (unless of course God where to tell me to). Nor say it’s a sign Jesus is coming back this month, or next year, because there are many more scriptures that must be fulfilled first. But also, I’m not foolish enough to disregard Jesus’ very words in Matthew 24:36-46. To be on look for the signs of His return, to be ready, be prepared, to not be caught off guard to it ether. I see this as more of a sign on the road to the rapture, to His return, To be alert and be ready for it is coming.

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.

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.