Monthly Archives: March 2004

Have You Ever Seen Jesus?

A mature brother in Christ recently asked, “Have you ever seen Jesus?” at a gathering of a local house church. He looked around the room while we all searched in our minds for the ‘right’ answer. Was he talking about physically seeing Jesus or seeing Him in a dream? Quick thing fast. Was the man asking about seeing Jesus through His creation or the works of His people? It was one of those moments where you could sense the tension. Had it been a game show many of the people would have probably shouted ‘Pass’ hoping that the next quetion would be easier.

Was the man’s question directed at seeing in the spirit or the flesh? What’s the difference? Affraid of making a mistake, I just kept my hand on my lap. I didn’t want to lie. But I couldn’t honestly remember having seen a visible image of Jesus other than a few Bible-inspired visions, God’s creation and His people. If we walk by faith, does it really matter what we see? Jesus said that those who did not see Him yet believed would receive a blessing. Oh, oh, I want a blessing. Pick me! Pick me!

I didn’t want to seem religous and raise my hand out of peer pressure. But I also didn’t want to seem unspiritual because I know that I know that Jesus Christ is real. He loves me with the best kind of love. Jesus is my God, Lord and Savior. Why am I even worried about getting the ‘right’ answer? Who is grading the test? If God is reviewing the scantron bubble sheet of my life, I can’t fake him out. God knows the truth. He can see right through me. God remembers my past better than I do.

Ok God. You win. I surrender. Help! Give me the answer. Ok, will you at least give me a chance for extra credit?

Jesus looks at me with eyes of love and says, “Look not at what is seen but what is unseen. You are saved by grace through faith, which is not of your own work. Rest in my merciful arms. Behold I make all things new – including the eyes of your heart to see me.”

1 Timothy 1:16

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

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Mine, Mine, Mine!

The words ‘my’ and ‘mine’ are commmon to hear coming from the lips of a Christian. I say these words all of the time. But I wonder if we can ever really make those claims. You may think I’m trying to get super spiritual here. But stop and think about what those words mean.

When we say, ‘This is my house or my kids,’ we are staking claim to ownership. And if a Christian has yielded everything in their life to God, he no longer possess any rights. Christians have pledged everything to the cause of the King. This truth has profound implications for a person’s everyday life.

What if somebody does something that causes you to have to change your schedule and take some of ‘your’ time? It’s real easy to get upset and frustrated. We feel completely justified in being upset at the person’s audacity to infringe on ‘our’ rights. What if you lose your job and have to sell your house? This would crush many people. I don’t know how I would respond. I would like to think that I could walk away with no long-term bitterness toward God. But I just don’t know.

The person who owns nothing is not held captive by anything. He could lose everything of worldly value and feel completely content. This person realizes that in Christ, he posses all things in One. Abraham was a very wealthy man, but nothing owned him. He even showed his willingness to part with the thing on this earth he loved the most – his son Isaac.

In order to gain Christ, you must be willing to trade everything else including your wealth, your family, your time, your reputation, your rights, your body, your ministry and your very life. This may seem like a lot. But in the end, God is giving us the better end of the deal.

Stopping to Listen

Prayer has been primarily a one-way conversation to me. I take time out of ‘my’ day to stop and tell God what’s going on with me and what I want. But I am starting to see that there is a crucial element of my prayer life that is missing. God gave people two ears and only one mouth for a reason. While studying silence and contemplative prayer techniques, I have been convicted that I don’t stop and just listen enough when it comes to my focused time with God.

God has a lot to say, and when He speaks, things get done. By the very words of God, the entire universe was created. Yet listening in complete silence can be so hard. First, you play mind games with yourself because you wonder what you should be listening for. Doubt creeps in your head. You begin to question if you’re actually hearing from God or if you’re just falling prey to your overactive imagination.

Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. God is speaking. Am I truly listening?

Same Old Lies in New Costumes

“We need less reformation and more transformation…The lie often comes in a new form that looks like enlightenment. We all say, ‘This is it,’ and we jump on the bandwagon.” – excerpted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

Looking for the next big thing has been quite the trend in modern Christianity. Fads come and go. Yet the foundation of the Gospel remains very simple. People need a savior. People want to be loved and accepted. God has made a way for us to partake of His divine life. Jesus made all things new on the cross. People are designed to live in oneness with God and other Christians. Love covers a multitude of sins, and we are to love one another as Jesus has loved us.

These truths are very simple yet profoundly radical. Instead of chasing ministry fads and looking for quick fixes, may the Church should focus on getting to know God and loving other people. By holding fast to these key disciplines, true believers will find their unique rhythm and voice. Why go for the same old lie in new clothes when you can have the real thing? All it takes is to make the spaces in life so that you can connect with God and other people.

Why Does the Modern Church Fail to Impact the World?

Quoted from Next Reformation.com “But if we are defined by a weekly event.. if we take our cues for the meaning of priesthood, worship, vocation and more from that event, it is no wonder that discipleship, mission, and shared priesthood have ceased to be lived out. It is no wonder, in turn, that believers are bored, are not formed spiritually, and have virtually no impact on the world around them. And it is little wonder that evangelical Christianity is on the decline.

“In our contemporary times, consumerism is built into the Church because people are consumerist. Structures reflect and enforce what already exists in people.

“This is part of the reason I am for smallness and simplicity. In larger structures, it is too easy to disown the problem. We may hear, ‘It’s the system, it’s not us,’ or we may ‘forget’ deny the existence of problems because of our immersion in programs and tasks. The larger our structures, and the more complex, the less we are face to face with one another, the less likely we are to experience the kind of intimacy that allows the loving confrontation and ‘holding the feet to the fire’ that enables true transformation.”

While there certainly are pockets of people being affected by the Church all over the world, there is plenty of spiritual death within modern ‘Christianity’ too. Ultimately, if the Church misses the mark, the failure belongs to us not God. The book of Revelation identifies what it takes to defeat the powers of this world.

Revelation 12:10-11

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto the death.

How many of us are really willing to live out that last part? Loving not our lives unto death is a tall order for people who complain every time a little hardship comes our way. Honestly, I’m not there yet. But I want to get there. We can’t reach where we want to be without the Church learning to become crucified ones. Only the power of God can transform a hard-hearted people.

What does the Church need to really impact the world around it? The Church needs to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourself. We need more of Jesus and death to self. The body must become one in Christ – grounded in truth and living by the Spirit. I shake my head and wonder, ‘Is this ever possible.’ Then I look up and know that with God all things are possible!

It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me!

Yesterday, I saw a cap while on a plane coming back from Orlando. The cap had embroidered on the back, “It’s a pirate’s life for me.” I’m guessing that the cap had something to do with Disney’s the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Anyway, the cap prompted me to think about what it means to live like a pirate.

Pirates spent most of their lives stealing loot, drinking rum, harassing others, and living by their own codes. They killed and hurt others when it served their purposes. They lived for themselves without caring how their actions impacted others. They made their own laws and only feared getting caught.

The gallows were the only thing that would make a pirate squirm. Whether or not this is really an accurate description of how most pirates truly lived, this is typically what we think of when the legend of pirates comes to mind.

The pirate’s life has been glorified by books, movies, plays and culture. Pirates claimed to live free to follow their own desires. Always on the run, each day brought a new adventure.

Is the idealized view of pirates a lie? Where these men truly free? Or did their lives cause them to be bond by invisible chains, which weighed down their souls?

The pirate’s life may seem glorious at first, but it leads to death. The skull and crossbones resemble the spiritual death of those who live for nothing greater than their own desires. There is a lesson for people to learn today from the life of a pirate: Those who live for today will lose out on the eternal treasure of tomorrow.

Doing the Work of God

After Jesus fed the crowd with five loaves of bread and two fish, the people questioned Jesus about His power source. They wanted to know how they could do the works of God.

Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

Wow! It really is quite simple. Our primary work is to believe upon the saving work of Jesus Christ. You may be thinking, ‘Yeah, so what! Everybody who is a Christian knows that.’ But as I look around at my life and the ministries that I am aware of, I see lots of man-made striving apart from faith.

I find the above verse to be a strong consolation to me. I am not God, and I never will be. I am not meant to take the worries of everything I see on my back. These things belong to God. As an intercessor and strong perceiver, I see lots of stuff that I would rather not see. But the entire reason that I see is so that I can pray.

When I feel too overwhelmed, I am obviously not praying enough or giving things up to God. I want to believe. Oh, God, help me with my unbelief.