Monday, June 27, 2011

If I Could Use Only Two Words

What might they be? Let me list some options.
More Please… Go Away… No Thanks… Can Do… Stay Put… Get Back… What’s That… Why Me… Not Now… Big Deal… Let’s Go… Shut Up… Good Job… Fair Well… Too Late… Be Good… Hold On… Fear Not… That’s Nice… Thank You… You’re Welcome… Excuse Me… I’m Sorry… Forgive Me… Help Me... (I deliberately didn’t choose Roger Daltrey’s two word combos from Tommy).

And the list could go on and on. It’s kind of fun, you should try it. But I came to the conclusion that the words I would use right now are: TURN BACK. That’s right, turn back. Because I believe in entropy and atrophy; I think we are way off course and headed in the wrong direction. Now I’m not talking about modern technological advances, although there are some drawbacks (new smart phones every six months for instance); no what I am talking about is something far more cosmos and Kingdom oriented.

You see I believe we started off in the Garden in a particular state of being, and I believe that is where we all ultimately want to be, despite our unwillingness to admit it. We laughingly talk about running around naked and unafraid in some beautiful paradise with our Father God, but that’s really what this thing all started out as being. Kids and their Dad, family, relationships, fearless-love, security, joy and tons of quality time in the lap of love.

Now call me crazy (some do so it’s okay… go ahead), but I really want to get back to that place; and I by God am going to. Seriously, only by God can I ever imagine getting back to that place, but by His grace and power alone will I. And you?

Let’s consider those two words (among many): TURN BACK. Are you ready to do a 180˚ turn? From where you are right now? Do you need to TURN BACK and see some real changes in your life?

Remember, it's only two words, but oh how important they very well may be.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Well Do You Anoint?

In my reading this morning I was directed to the passage of scripture in Luke chapter seven, where Jesus finds himself in the home of Simon the Pharisee. And while Jesus and the guests were reclining at the table, a woman whose past preceded her entered the room and began expressing something only the forgiven may understand. (Luke 7:36-50)

I ask you this day, I ask myself this day; How Well Do You Anoint?

Seriously, are you fully aware of the gravity of your sins forgiven? And the reason I ask is because, to the very degree that we understand our own personal and general depravity, assigned to all sons of Adam, will be the degree of our anointing or offering we present to the Lord. For each of us starts at zero. Sinners separated from God and destined to eternal punishment, without hope or sight for any future beyond the present; and that, not much in and of itself.

For when we are confronted with and accept the gravity of our depravity, we are on the road to higher living. We are on the road to redemption and relationship.

I would pose to you that one auspicious mark of the damned now forgiven is an unspeakable gratitude that expresses itself in first and foremost deep love and loyalty to Jesus, and secondly tender eyes toward those yet initiated into that baptism. For if and when a person has been saved by the Savior, there is a full awareness of the grandeur expressed in this said transaction. And therein lays the clearest indicator of salvation by grace through faith. Visible and expressible LOVE for Jesus and LOVE for others.

If we can but understand that we have been anointed with the special favor of God, His grace of forgiveness and reconciliation by faith alone, then we will learn and develop very quickly, the art and expression of anointing Christ and others well. We will be bearers of the love freely given to us, and thereby offer the same anointing to those around us, to include Jesus our Christ and Lord.

But IF WE HAVE NOT experienced this grace; we will be frugal in our expressions of love. We will find all sorts of reasons NOT to give grace or praise. We will NOT be found in the ranks of the once lost now found, but we will be found in the ranks of the self-justified. For unless one fully understands what one has been saved from, and saved for, love becomes currency by why which we pay those we think are deserving, and those that are NOT we offer no hand out or credit. They simply must earn it. And that is a damnable outlook.

May each of us who have been saved from much (and that be all of us), lavish our expressions of love to God and others in very clear cut and marked ways; for while we were at our most HELPLESS and VULNERABLE place, Jesus died FOR US. No credit checks, no waiting periods – simply grace and favor. And that my friend is what teaches us to anoint well.

So I ask you; How Well Do You Anoint?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why Messiah?

Yesterday I woke up from my nap (there is value in napping) and had the following thoughts percolating down into my heart. They were so pronounce that I further pursued them.

Right up front let me say this IS NOT a comprehensive effort at defining Messiah, because I’m not the scholar that many of you are. So these thoughts may be simple and almost sublime, but I believe they are true and from the Lord. Now whether they are just for me, or for all of us, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

So what is the most important question humanity must correctly answer? I know that’s ambitious, but the correct answer is eternally important. And I would suggest to you that a person’s ability to correctly answer Jesus’ question; “Who do you say I am?” should rank as the top mission for us to fulfill in this lost and dying world. As well as to the entire modern church.

Jesus asked His closest followers this very question, and yet throughout history since that question was posed and even today; people are still getting the answer wrong. And the reason I would say they’re not getting it right, is because at the core of the Messianic New Covenant is deliverance; but deliverance from what? Your answers vary, but the right and only answer is from sin. For Messiah alone could fulfill that calling.

As far back as Old Testament history, and even into the first century, many Jews took the wrong view of their need for Messiah. Please understand that the dream thoughts I had were not precipitated by previous study. And what I woke with was a deep and almost grievous sense that we today have little to NO CLUE as to our genuine need for Messiah. So I went looking, and low and behold, Unger confirmed it in his Bible Dictionary, published in 1957, by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

Unger states that Jews as a whole, based on faulted rabbinical teaching and expectations for their national restoration and glory, missed the core reason for Messiah. “…this same interpretation left out certain elements of greatest and governing importance. The doctrines of original sin, and of the sinfulness of man’s whole nature, were greatly reduced from their Scripture meaning, and practically omitted from the prevalent Jewish teaching.” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1957, p. 718, Jewish Views of the Messiah)

Please take note these quotes. NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!! Within the framework of our modern religious culture, specifically Western Christianity, we continue to see the same omissions of orthodox new covenant Christian doctrine. Ergo, the present dust up with Rob Bell’s book and the ongoing trend of NOT calling sin, SIN. And as further extensions of wrong rabbinical teachings, we can find a plethora of modern teachers telling us that SIN IS OUR problem, yet all the while ignoring the once and for all atonement of Messiah, and then following through with correct deliverance and restoration teaching (Galatians 6:1).

Further Unger states; “Consequently the deepest thought of the Messiahship, the salvation of the world from sin, was lacking. In keeping with this, the priestly office of the Messiah was also lost sight of. The prophetic office of the Messiah was also obscured. The all-absorbing ideas were those of kingship and deliverance. And these were chiefly of national significance. The restoration of national glory was the great hope of Israel. All else was subordinate to that.” (ibid. p.718 - emphasis mine)

Please again, stop and consider where we are as a nation. What are we most often concerned about; our national glory and the restoration of a powerful and prosperous nation? Also one can see the emerging global trends in this area of international desire. And rightly so, who would deny that national pride and prosperity are not a good thing, yet much like the first century and the days of Old Testament history, that desire and goal SHOULD NEVER EVER eclipse the actual and most grievous need within mankind – SIN. And only the true Messiah can deal a death blow to that eternal cancer.

For those of you familiar with restoration theology and ministry please don’t get me wrong. I am in no way falling back into old school sin based theology (Galatians 3:1-3), but what I am saying is far too many people are not looking for Messiah, but they are looking for something far less. They are looking for someone to lead them into a better economy. They are looking for someone to help them with their marriage and family. They are looking for freedom from various forms of addiction (sometimes). They are looking for a better life. And Messiah, can and will eventually touch many if not all of those needs (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18), but few are looking for the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

For in a Genuine Spirit led quest for the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God (the only one perfect and able to fulfill the complete Messianic mandate), one first and foremost must acknowledge that He alone can and will atone for sin. Which requires us to admit we are sinners and helpless to help ourselves.

Far too often our modern messianic hopes are not based on the core issue that saddles humanity (sin), but more often about self or societal improvement. If we refuse to come to the conclusion that we need a Savior, and not just another community organizer or better leader, we will NEVER find Genuine Christianity. And as a result, all of creation will continue being frustrated and confused, while waiting for the Sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:18-21).

Our problem today is we’ve never experience oppression, therefore even a political or military messiah seems irrelevant; let alone a Messiah who is anointed to alleviate the sin problem. The reason being, our modern culture, to include the church has rarely if ever confronted their need for a Savior, only someone to give them an easier ride in this life.

So Why Messiah? Because He alone can atone for our sins, and He alone then will bring deliverance to the captive and He alone will establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That’s why.

When Jesus told Peter that, the answer he gave to the eternal question, was sown into his heart by the Father, because simply put, flesh and blood CANNOT REVEAL that answer to the human heart, Jesus was conveying the one and only way for us to embrace salvation; and that is by our confession – led only and always by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, if and when some form of religious confession or pursuit of a better “Christian Life” is made known, unless the actual reason for Messiah’s being is broadcast into the heart of that person, by the Spirit alone, their experience IS NOT genuine. Sorry.

So my contention is this: We have many generations, especially here in America that actually DO NOT think they need a messiah, therefore they don’t call out to Messiah. They only want a better life, but not the complete removal of their sins, regardless of the life of comfort that may or may not follow.

So why Messiah? Because sin still separates humans from God and Jesus is the only Messiah. We must get this right, as many voices are now saying. Let all of us who have ears to hear, pay close attention to what the Spirit is speaking; one final time.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Follow the Money

Okay, this may be hard to express, but I’ll do my best. Following a nap this afternoon, I woke with the title for this blog routing through my mind. And please understand, money is not my god nor has it ever been, but something settled in on me as I reposed following my sleep.

My heart was filled with gratitude and grief and I considered what I did today. Now granted, God has blessed me with a wonderful hourly income when I do my trade work. And for that, I’m satisfied, but also shamed.

That’s right, shamed that I could used what God gave me through the linage of my father and mother, so as to turn a profit, yet eternally grateful that my Father graced me into a land that yields so much wealth. Thank you Lord, I’m not worthy to be born in this land.

As it stands, I Googled global wealth and income statistics. Lord, it’s dismal. Close to one quarter of the world lives on $2.00 US dollars per day. My coffee this morning was $3.75. How could I do this? How could I keep on with such disdain for the starving and the needy.

Wikipedia tells us that 6 million children die of starvation per year around the world. That’s freakin’ 17,000 kids each day dying for lack of food and water. Oh my God how can I ever complain that my $4.00 burger didn’t have enough mayo on it?

The weight that is upon my heart at this moment is this: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? I mean really? Someone once told me, that years ago, people would say you should earn your age. You know? If you’re 20 years old you should earn 20K etc. And I guess that’s a nice way of creating a friendly and hopeful ratio, but most of the world doesn’t live that way. As a matter of fact, many Americans don’t even keep up with that ratio.

But my point is this. How cheaply could you really live and still be satisfied? Granted, we are blessed and I would never steal nor socialize your hard earned wealth from you, but really, haven’t we had about enough of this bigger is better, more is meaningful philosophy?

I know I have. And over five years ago, my family and I set out on a course to be completely debt free, and we are, with the exception of a small mortgage under 90K. And we learned something during those years of frugality. We learned that we could make it on far, far less than we thought.

Oh please don’t miss understand me. If my personal goal in my trade work is to earn $400 per day, that’s fine, because in a full days work I suppose I’m worth the quality and expertise they receive. But, why is it that the same work 50 years ago may have garnered only, $20 dollars per day?

I’m not an economist, nor do I fully understand inflation, but this one thing I do understand. I need less than I have. Oh I may want what I have, but I truly NEED LESS than I have.

The question is can you, will you, and are you able to say the same thing? Oh not to put some guilt trip upon you, but are you living with such excess that you need a third car garage to keep all your junk?

Jesus told us that where our treasure is, that’s where our hearts WILL BE.

Follow the Money… Check your check book… what good is all your wealth? You can’t take it with you.

Follow the Money and it will lead you to your god.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Best Worship Song Set

One of the joys and burdens of my small church pastorate is not only do I teach and preach, but I also lead worship. A few years ago, we did have a rag tag Salvation Army type ensemble, but my hopes for clarity and anointing drove that rattle trap elsewhere. So within a week’s time I was thrown into creating sets of songs that our people could worship with.

Mind you, I’m not a musician, nor do I play one on TV, but I love to worship the Lord in song and lyric. So guess what? I became the music guy and the worship leader. I’m okay with that, to the extent that I’ve always lived and led from the heart, and to me, that’s what worship IS all about; my heart interfacing with God’s.

So, the first thing I did was create overhead transparencies to match a compact disc I burned with a series of songs in close key proximity. Then it evolved into DVD production. We got a video projector and I purchased Pinnacle Studio for my PC and started making worship DVD’s. The music and the lyrics were perfectly synced so no one individual was responsible for clicking the power point slides. Lord I hate it when the sound booth guy can’t seem to keep up with the next slide… especially on a new song.

Anyway, between myself and my son Andrew, we compiled a huge stack of DVD’s for use in our modest, but heart felt worship times. Now the problem with this method is twofold: 1) if the Spirit moves there’s little room for improvising under His guidance; and 2) the arduous task of selecting and creating the actual DVD; that’s about a 4 to 8 hour process. Assuming one is trying to listen to the Holy Ghost in the construction process.

No sympathy is warranted, but at please understand; the better or best worship leaders go where the money or fame resides. All of which is NOT the REMEDY church in Altoona, Iowa.

So here I am. Another Saturday afternoon, with my PC and all the CD’s I own loaded on the hard drive, trying to find a compilation of songs that are A) led from the Father’s heart and B) perfectly blended into a 22 minute set, so as to not offend the seeker, yet affordably touching to the believer. So what are you doing with your Saturday?

I am grateful for technology, but I’m resentful to some degree that the best artists and worshipers are on the dole when it comes to motivation for ministry. I mean really, is the REMEDY church that bad? Are the few that attend that worldly that they don’t deserve a worship leader who genuinely knows the path to His presence? Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but Lord I wish I had someone who was devoted and passionate to the cause and lifestyle of worship that wasn’t in it for the fame or money. It would lessen my load on a weekly basis.

Okay; enough of my whining. I’ve got to get these songs together.

So what IS God looking for in the heart of a worshiper? Maybe you could post a reply or head over to Facebook and let me know. I guess we “have not” because we “ask not”. Would that be right?

PS: I Googled best worship songs and the links led me to Wal-Mart.Com. Who’da thunk?