Monday, July 30, 2007
I used to get afraid when I read in Revelation that it's the cowards and unbelieving who go into the lake of fire. I always thought it meant being timid, afraid to witness, afraid to do whatever for Jesus. But now I see it refers to lack of trust in the gospel by adding to it. And when you add to it, you take away from it. Adding to the gospel, takes away from it. It also quenches the Spirit. Because the Spirit can only operate in grace, because we cannot deserve it. You want to be close to God? Then receive the pure gospel of grace. You want to feel His presence? You want His joy? Surrender to grace. If not, then keep trying harder to recharge your spiritual battery. You will just keep sinking deeper and deeper into the quick sand of religion the more you struggle. "Whoever would save his life will lose it."
It's a load of BS that you're recognized as a Christian today by reading the Bible, how much you tithe, bless your food, or because you don't smoke, drink or cuss or whatever have you. What a ridiculous concept. It glories in self and subtracts from the cross. It doesn't have to be the Ten Commandments to be law. It can be any have to's in order to gain spiritual growth or salvation or drawing closer to God. That says Christ didn't do enough. Let's quit being so blind and open our hands to grace and see if you don't have a renewed love for God.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Paul doesn't say we're able to be free from sin because we find balance. He says the only thing that can cause you to have freedom is to live in pure grace. It is a shame we have to describe the gospel as the gospel of grace. The gospel itself should mean grace. We should not have to clarify ourselves. But now we do because law has saturated the church. People hang the Ten Commandments up like there is power in them. We even memorize them. But why? Yes, they are good and holy. But through us, they only inflame sin. Get law out of your head and put Jesus in it! If we live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit. As you received Him, so walk in Him! From faith to faith, beginning and ending with faith. Defeat is the key to victory. Self quenches the Spirit. We need to die in order to live. Amazing isn't it? But it's the hardest thing in the world. It makes absolutely no sense to me if I try and rationalize it. The rational conclusion of this to the flesh is "That will just make me lazy". I say good! You could use some rest! Take some time to know God. You can't give love freely unless you receive it freely. Grace is grace. Grace is a scandal! We need to get over it! Quit worrying so much about fruit and start focusing on Jesus.
And if you automatically say "Then we can just do whatever we want!" Paul confronted the same idea in the verse directly below it. Paul, I think is saying "how can you when you're a new creation?" "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" How can we who are no longer sinners, but saints still live in sin!? Sure, we can choose to gratify the desires of the flesh. But we are not the flesh anymore. We are in the Spirit. (Romans 8:9)
I am not saying I've perfected this in the least. I'm just a baby to all of this. I do tend to have fears that I will preach it but not live it. I pray that isn't the case.
Monday, July 23, 2007
How much more clear can you get? Yet I still didn't see it!! I couldn't see because I was in the darkness of self-righteousness and faithlessness in the gospel. I dare you to believe that God loves you even when you sin. I'm not talking licentiousness. I'm talking grace. He clearly says it through His apostle Paul. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!! God never hid from Adam, Adam hid from God! We are not condemned anymore. No one is. All we need do is come to the light, without fear that our deeds will be exposed, because Christ cleanses us from all our sin. There is no more consciousness of sin. (Easy to say, difficult to live by)
I get irritated with the idea that the law drives us to salvation, yet after salvation, we pick the law back up and try to obey it. Why? Is Christ not enough? Do we no longer need His Spirit?
Are you joking? Your body still sins! How can you do good when you're evil? I reject this idea because I used it and only saw myself fall deeper and deeper into condemnation. I liked to use the idea that, since I love God now, I'm able to keep His commandments. But the problem was that I wasn't able to love God because I was still living under law and not grace. I could see Him nothing more than a drill sergeant, or the principle in the Breakfast Club. I had heard about the always abounding steadfast love of God, but I wasn't seeing it. I heard about the immeasurable riches of God's love and grace, but I could certainly measure it. It wasn't very big. I didn't and still do not have the capacity to love God if He doesn't first love me.
I've tried abstaining from tv, computers, and video games in order to spend time and grow with God. I sincerely wanted to love Him more, but the more I tried to list His rules and obey them, the more I found out I couldn't even bring myself to like Him anymore. Why? I was constantly trying to measure up to the One you cannot measure up to! I was subtly adding law to grace in order to find closeness to God. I was scared to death. I was worried that had I ever been and tortured and threatened to die for Jesus that I might not be able to do it. And I probably couldn't have. I didn't even like God anymore. That raging love and faith in Him I first had, had somehow been quenched.
I tried motivating myself to keep His law. I tried more prayer time, more Bible reading, more giving, having good behavior, etc. It was not working. I couldn't even stay consistent for more than a few days with only this little list. I knew something was very wrong. I was terrified of Jesus returning. I just knew I was the wicked and lazy servant. I just knew I didn't have what it takes to be saved. I would go to sleep anxious every night about my salvation, and wondering if I would ever find my love for my Father again. Everyday was a constant fight to battle condemnation. I would cry and pray to God "What do you want from me?", and I begged Him to take away my timidity so I could witness for Him and be more active in my church. I wanted freedom to live for God, but I wasn't getting any.
This only came from that seemingly great theory that one must balance law with grace. Try it and see for yourself.
We're allergic to the Law. What you need is not more law and more abstaining from things. We need more Jesus. We need His grace and truth. Jesus gave law to the self-righteous. He really magnified the law all throughout the New Testament. It's funny Jesus liked hanging more around whores, drunks, gluttons and greedy people who loved money, rather than the guys who were trying so hard to please God. But their motive was evil, bearing worthless fruit, which is self-righteousness. Jesus called sinners His friends and ate with them. But to the people who abstained, prayed, read the scriptures, and kept all the law, Jesus yelled nothing but condemnation to them. But the sinners flocked to Him. Obviously He wasn't selling them law, because every street corner sold law. Every religion in the world requires laws to live by. Jesus wanted to give with all His soul. He wanted to fill our jars to the brim, overflowing, completely for free.
Are you scared you don't love Jesus anymore? Then bask in His love. Take the risk of trusting in Him completely. Abstaining from music, certain books, movies, tv shows, and food cannot help you love God more. Only receiving Him will do. I tried abstaining from things. It doesn't work. We're to be graciously given all things. You don't pay for God's gifts. A man in the book of Acts tried that. You see how severely he was rebuked for insulting the Spirit of grace. This rebuke isn't just meant for people who think they can pay with money. It is also for people who think they can earn God's acceptance by their turning from a few big sins and striving to keep the law.
What an amazing God we have. Glory indeed fills the highest place. What can separate us now? No one can undo the cross of Christ.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
I am definitely growing in grace. And it freakin hurts. I am not at all joking. This is the most faith I've had to exercise in order to not fall back into self-effort, re-dedication, what would Jesus do muzzles.
My first reaction when I see myself sin is to want to try harder to stop. But I realize that isn't the issue. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but like Watchman Nee explained, a sinner isn't someone who just commits sinful acts. Committing a sinful act is only evidence the person is a sinner already. Paul Anderson-Walsh put it beautifully with the analogy of muzzling a dog who wants to bite a mail man. Putting a muzzle on the dog will stop the dog from biting the mailman, but if you take the muzzle off, the dog will still bite him. The law, fear, and condemnation is the religious muzzle. I'm so damn sick of people preaching "you gotta do this, you gotta do that! God's gonna get you!" I'm all for that teaching toward the self-righteous, but for believers in Christ Jesus, it has no place what-so-ever.
I'm sick of the country preachers preaching hell fire and brimstone to people who don't have the problem of being self-righteous. Perhaps they should listen to their own teaching and decide what in the hell they are going to believe. Is it you who pleases God, or is it Jesus? Are you willing to gamble your eternal destiny on your faithfulness? How do these hypocrites sleep at night? I am not saying I am perfect. I am saying I am imperfect.
It is my understanding (from experience) that a sinner is not drawn to church by flashy law keeping and good manners. A sinner is drawn to grace and truth. Why? Because most likely, if he has any sense at all, by looking at the ten commandments he knows he's a sinner. He doesn't need a muzzle to control him, he needs to be born again! We have preached and preached about hell, and sinners. I'm sure they understand that now. Where is the grace? I'm not talking about that coward attitude of well, grace is good, but you also need some control. Are you afraid of losing control? I know I am. I don't like letting myself go. I have to do it daily. It's called dying. I I don't trust myself in the least bit. So then I entrust myself to God. "Did I not tell you, that if you believe you will see the glory of God?"
What part of "Whoever would save his life will lose it" do we not understand? Quit trying! As my friend Sheryl pointed out to me, "You won't fall from grace, but rather you will fall into it".
Do not set aside the grace of God for one second and say, "but". But nothin'! I've tried the but's! And they don't work. Those buts do not inspire me. They do not create life in me. You know what makes me alive? When I see how broken and sinful I am and I hear God's grace say "I accept you and love you just as I love my Son, Jesus."
The more I think about this idea of condemning unbelievers, the more ridiculous it sounds. Christ died for the sins of the whole world. The world is not condemned by God anymore! It was never God who hid from man, but man from God! You can't condemn those whom God has not condemned! And if you do, you condemn yourself. As Paul Anderson-Walsh pointed out, "What God has cleansed you must not call common".
Instead urge the world into the banquet of God's grace where they will eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood. And they no longer need a muzzle. They now posses Life.
Why is it such a chore to preach the gospel now? Because its all contradiction! We lure them in with grace, but under it, there is a hook. The hook of legalism and the ridiculous idea that we are able to please God with our efforts or else we lose the grace that we did nothing to earn. Jesus told His disciples to catch men with the truth of the net. Not rods, hooks, and lures.
The net is here if you want in it. There is no gimmicks, and no games. It is a net.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
"Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
It spoke to me quite softly. The past few days I've just been anxious to be sanctified and get to work for God. (For the wrong reasons might I add)
I've just been getting anxious and nervous with my sinfulness and flesh patterns lately. The moment tension picks up, we feel compelled to run back to the law. Grace is scary. It takes faith.
God is amazing and beautiful. I love the way He speaks to us. He's so funny. He's so infinite, almighty and a consuming fire. Yet He is so gentle and loving with us. I love the book of Jonah. God is just like this huge lover ready to love and be head over heals for anyone who wants Him. He follows Jonah around irritating Him with His love. Jonah gets angry at Him for His indiscriminate, and ridiculous love. It's like Jonah is yelling "I told you to quit loving so damn much!"
Our Father is just so ready and excited to love anyone. It doesn't matter how much they hate Him, how far away they may seem. He is going to agape your head off.
A sinners nature is sin. What does a sinner do? He devises new ways to sin. He meditates on the pleasures of sinning. He explores it and goes deeper and deeper, thinking of the vilest thing that will please Him. (don't get freaked out, lol)
God's nature is agape. What does God do then? He devises new ways to love. He meditates on the pleasure of loving. He explores Himself and loves more and more extravagantly, thinking of the purest, kindest, most lavish way to give Himself to others for His and their pleasure. My proof of this theory is Christ crucified. He thought of the most excruciating way to love and lavishly pour out Himself for the most unworthy beings. We have one amazing God, who allows us to call Him daddy.
I give up Calvinism and trying to figure God out. I don't want to understand Him. I can't...I just want to stare at Him for eternity, wondering at Him, hopelessly in love with Him. Absolutely infatuated and obsessed with Him. I don't want good works. I don't want anything but Him.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
It's not just hard for me to overcome these things, it's impossible. But of course, with God, all things are possible.
I'm praying for freedom from my selfishness and laziness.
I know most people preach this is as willful sin like immoral sins. But has not Christ taken away the sin of the whole world? Are sins still the issue? I thought Jesus said in John that the issue now is unbelief in Him? So, how much will someone be punished for rejecting the blood of God's very own Son? I thought this was talking about believers, because the author clearly says they have been sanctified. But I now understand that Jesus took on Himself literally the sins of the entire human race. The only thing separating people from God is their own unbelief that God has given us life in His Son. So we need not condemn sinners or unbelievers, because they are NOT condemned. Jesus says they have a judge. Unbelievers judge themselves. Jesus didn't come to condemn anyone, but to save. He has nothing against anyone. He already took away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
It's right in front of our faces, yet we still don't see. The amazing goodness of the good news is incredible. It's better than we ever imagined.
The terrible wonder of God's agape...The lavish, unlimited measure of His grace. Who can know how deep or how high His agape goes?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
There are so many things I get hung up on, but lately it's been the issue of trust and fearing to rest. I'm not so much fearful of the if I do nothing, then nothing will happen scenario, but I'm sure that is part of it. But the thought troubling me is the question of my sincerity and the fear of my own laziness and selfishness.
I've lost my focus and I feel a bit foggy headed. I've had my mind on bearing fruit, rather than Jesus and being in union with Him through His abundance of loving grace. I've got this nagging thought that I will never change or I might prove myself to be like Judas. Insincere or just plain evil.
The reasons for these thoughts probably stem from existing sin. Mainly, my anger toward my mom. I'm keeping my eyes on Jesus, trying to trust Him to be my life, but I still sin. I still get angry and I'm no where close to agape. So then the thoughts come in...maybe I don't have the Spirit. Then how do I get the Spirit if not freely? So I immediately discard that thought. So then I think about the times when I get so excited about grace, I get ahead of myself and let my attention wander off. And sometimes I'm afraid that maybe I simply romanticize about faith, grace and agape, but I will never be a doer of the Word. I feel I will always be learning but never experiencing, thus proving myself to have never genuinely believed. I think maybe I'm just over-analyzing everything.
The root of the situation is simply my eyes are on myself and what I can do to earn God's love, rather than the finished work of Christ. I see myself getting anxious at the passage about the separation of the sheep and the goats. I'm afraid my fruit will never mature I guess. I'm not exactly sure what I'm fearful of. Sometimes I just get these sinking feelings in my heart for no reason at all. It's like an unspoken whisper that I hear inside myself, if that makes any sense at all. It's very weird. But this unspoken voice causes me to become afraid, discouraged or depressed.
It's really very irritating. I'll be dusting my TV or something and the voice will say "You love the world too much". It's always something to dishearten me. Something to question my identity. Something to cause me to doubt and fall into despair and discouragement. Its that school counselor type voice..You know the whole "You need to get your act together, buckle down and try hard". Which has always been something I just can't do. I've always been more rebellious than most people when it came to that..Something would rise up in me and cause me to be lazy toward the command. I would be discouraged because I knew my inconsistency. I knew in myself I could never reach commitment.
The same thing has happened in my walk with God. I've got to unlearn this lie that it's my commitment to God, rather than His commitment to me. I've never had the ability to discipline myself as others have I guess...So it was easier for me to come to grace I think? I've always been very irritable and angry toward anyone who told me I had to do something or else, and then I would be frustrated with myself because I didn't want to obey it.
Friday, July 13, 2007
But now I'm feeling very ashamed and down right evil because I'm very over-analytical of what people in my church say. I'm always on guard, afraid someone is going to say something to cause me to feel condemned again. But it's my own ignorance and stupidity to do that.
I love my church, but my fear causes me to shy away from some people because I dissect every word they say. I feel I don't deserve God's mercy. I just see myself as evil and selfish. My fear causes anger toward people who have done nothing to me but love me. Then I read 1st John and it talks about how people who hate their brothers are in the darkness and blinded by the darkness.
Then I also fear that I just don't believe enough or something. Like I didn't believe the gospel the right way, so it will not profit me because I'm just evil and selfish.
I didn't ask her for permission, but I don't think she will mind. =)
"You know, I think grace is something that has to be lived out through the pores of your skin...Like something that touches you so deep from within and the effect of it, is that others get touched by it because it was meant to be infectious."
I pray this would be true in myself and every believer.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I scored as a "Harmonious". The passive, self-condemning, co-dependent, and procrastination hits the nail right on the head with my flesh traits. I also always related very well to John, Mary, and Moses. I'm very relationship motivated. I can relate to Johns need for close relationship, Mary's desire to receive, and Moses' timidity.
- (Virtue - Love)
Flesh Type & Traits (Over-bearing)
- Low Self Esteem
- Misses Details
What I Want
- Trust (Confidence)
- John, Moses, Mary, Barnabas, Stephen
Likely Spiritual Gift(s)
- Why or why not?
Measures Results By
- Did everyone win?
Leadership Style (Technique)
Works Best (Relationally)
- Carefully with Others
Most Easily Recruited By
- Meet each person's needs
Attitude Toward Meetings
Attitude Toward Authority
- Respond to those they respect
Deals With Reality By
I Will Respond To
- People who take time to know me individually
- People who will respond to my personal concerns
- Needs and hurts, giving freely of myself and my resources
- Genuine initiative from other people
What I Want From You
- Trust and relationships
- Dependability and supportiveness
- Dependable leadership
- Adequate time for decision-making
I had always heard the passage in Luke 14 where Jesus tells people they must count the cost of discipleship. This is another passage that used to drag me down, but I could never understand why Jesus would say count the cost of following Him, if not following Him meant eternal separation from God in hell. If that be the case, then obviously there is no counting to be done. Also, some have tried, but there is no way you can reconcile this with the gospel of grace. The gospel is completely unleavened.
So what is Jesus talking about? It's so plain, but we skim right over it because we automatically think we must do something for God. But grace, like Watchman Nee said means "God doing something for us, not us doing something for God."
So if you look closer at it, through the eyes of grace you can see that Jesus is telling everyone they cannot pay the cost, so they must trust in Him, because only He can pay it. "So therefore if any one of you does not renounce all that he has, cannot be My disciple."
Jesus never said dedicate. He said deny...Get out of the way.
Which reminds me of the parable of the foolish virgins. The foolish virgins took no oil, and their lamps burned out.
Some people live under the idea they must do something for God, and either end up running away from God or finally surrendering to God's grace. The foolish ones to me, are those who keep saying they can do it if only they try harder. But Jesus said you must die if you are to live. Take the leap of faith to dig deep into the grace of the gospel and learn. Take the risk of grace..I will tell you from my experience, it can get very hard and confusing. I experienced it today. There are days when I just feel nothing and can do nothing. I feel very tired, confused, and unsure about everything.
I feel like the most wretched person on the planet today. The devil will be quick to point out ALL your flaws to try and get you to run back to law and self-reliance.
"Those who hold the gospel in an honest and good heart bear fruit with patience."
Monday, July 9, 2007
I used to think this lawlessness was sin. But now I realize that thing that makes love grow cold, in my experience is law. The idea that the gospel is grace balanced with works is a subtle heresy that appears innocent and well meaning can turn into a dislike for God and can steal someones joy in an instant. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. If you stray at all from grace, you have fallen from it. I don't mean you have lost your salvation, I simply mean you've fallen from grace. Once you introduce works into grace, it is no longer grace, just as Paul said. So why do people teach this seemingly innocent doctrine? My guess is misinterpreting scripture and the pressure to perform.
A lot of people say today "Faith produces works." I agree with that 100%. What I don't agree with is saying faith is works. Faith for the Christian, can be either. Some Christians can show their faith in Christ by being still and waiting. Others show their faith in Him by their love. The love comes from faith. Faith comes from accepting God's grace.
What I'm saying is, the church today doesn't even give people time to grow in God's grace and love. We think the core issue is works, when works are nothing more than an expression of their love for God. Works are not more important than getting to know God and being with Him. Works are the fruit of that. We do not experience spiritual growth by good works. We experience growth through building on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Apart from grace, there is no other fertile soil. The hearers in the good soil, hold the gospel in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience. They rest in the fact that good works are not the issue. Receiving God's love and grace is the issue. The life of God being received in us by faith is the issue. You cannot mingle grace and works. You cannot force fruitfulness. We all, I think, show our faith at first by resting, digging our roots deep into the gospel of grace. We take time to establish our hearts in His unconditional love. And the fruit comes when God has appointed it to come. You cannot rush the process. We wait on the Lord for our strength, resting in the fact that even if fruit never came, it wouldn't matter because Jesus has done it all. But life will come as we abide in that Life. It will not come by force.
I'll say this...if fruit means good works, then why are there going to be many in that day who say to Jesus "Lord, Lord", but will not enter the kingdom of heaven? These guys had what we think is fruit. They had good works. But it's obvious these guys never do the will of the Father. What is the will of the Father? To trust in the one whom He has sent.
But what is fruit? Fruit comes out from branches, but the fruits life source is the vine. These "good works" are the kind of fruit you see in the middle of a dining room table. You know, the ones made of plastic. The classic man made fruit. If fruit doesn't originate from the life of the vine, it is no fruit at all. So the only conclusion is that we go to the vine if we would bear fruit for God. In other words, don't focus on fruit, focus on the Vine. Absorb His life into yourself.
Remember Cain? He probably worked hard in his garden, in the heat, to produce his offering for God. But Abel waited for his lamb to be born. That lamb was not made by Abel's hand, but God's. You see, God does not need anything from us. He could preach the gospel to everyone in the world simultaneously, feed all the poor, heal all the sick, and clothe all the naked. So He obviously desires something deeper than a life dedicated to Him. He wants people to love Him and trust Him. We do that by first receiving His love and His grace. "We love Him because He first loved us." But if you don't get around to resting in that love and accepting it even when you're not busy, you will never be able to receive His love, so then you will not be able to love Him. Then you will never have any love to give anyone else. How stupid is it to live a life independent from God or say "He helps me". God does it all or He doesn't do it. He is not a helper; He is Life Himself.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Then, driving with Ronnie, I nearly wrecked his car twice. When I got home, I really felt it from the devil. I felt terrible and wanted to kick myself. I still feel the after effects. It's tension because I despise acting irresponsible stupid. But I can't let the condemnation come in, because I'm under grace. So there is no drill sergeant, shame motivated behavior modification. There is no self-improvement. I just have to learn to trust God's Spirit. It makes no sense. But I guess the Spirit is foolish to the natural mind, huh? Kind of like the people in the book of Hebrews who got nervous and wanted to run back to the law. But we serve in the newness of the Spirit, not the oldness of the letter.
I really wanted to kick myself tonight because I felt the accusations big time.
"How can you be a Christian when you do such things?" "God won't change you. He wants you to get your act together and get back to work."
"Who is he to condemn? It is Christ who died."
I guess the worry inside me is that I won't change if I don't change myself.
When Neo takes the red pill to go deeper into the "rabbit hole", he is unplugged and now in reality. And when he wakes up, he says to Morpheus, "Why do my eyes hurt?", and Morpheus, looking at him says, "Because you've never used them before".
That is sort of how I feel. God is completely different from what I imagined. I had no idea. And it was all right in front of me. I'm learning how to see now. I've barely opened my eyes and need to be fed milk at the moment. A whole year of my life, I thought I knew everything and had my foundations. The reason I wasn't moving was because I was building my foundation on Jesus AND works. Or Jesus balanced with something else. Grace and "our part". What a crock. If you really think about what the word grace means, it makes absolutely no sense to say grace is balanced with works. The offense of the cross is the message of extreme love and grace. Yet people reject this truth...WHY!? It's good news!! Because we're afraid. We can't surrender the control we think we have. We fear entrusting ourselves to the Spirit. We fear letting go and resting in Jesus' words, "It is finished!". We secretly fear He doesn't accept us because we sin. I'm not being soft on sin, I'm being soft on sinners.
I love Paul Anderson-Walsh's words of muzzling a dog so he can't bite. But that doesn't stop the dog from wanting to bite, but the dog still desires to bite. In the same way, we clean to outside of the cup and forget the inside. Obeying the law is washing the outside of the cup. How can we speak good, when we are evil? Instead, wash the inside of the cup that the outside may be clean also. Don't work to bear fruit, but bask in God's gospel and trust in Him. He is the one who gives life. The flesh profits nothing.
We haven't even begun to realize the immeasurable love our Father has for us in Jesus Christ.
At the end of the Matrix, Neo says this:
I know you're out there...I can feel you now. I know that
you're afraid. You're afraid of us, you're afraid of
change...I don't know the future...I didn't come here to
tell you how this is going to end, I came here to tell you
how this is going to begin. Now, I'm going to hang up
this phone, and I'm going to show these people what you
don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world
without you...a world without rules and controls, without
borders or boundaries. A world...where anything is
.....Where we go from there....Is a choice I leave to you.
Our Fathers Word clearly says at the beginning of Jude "To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept by Jesus" Beloved. Imagine if you're crossing the road with your child. Are you at all going to loosen your grip on your son or daughter even though he or she may want to break away and run for it? Would you rely on your child's grip on you or your grip on your child?
How do these people sleep at night who do not believe in eternal salvation? You have the potential to spend eternity in hell. (or so you think) Or do you flatter yourself with how faithful to God you think you are?
God says He is the perfect Father. What perfect Father doesn't protect His child? And if God is the Almighty, and He is. So who then can separate us from the love of God in Christ? You're kept by God and God alone. What is the point of grace if you can lose it?
There are plenty of other places where the Holy Spirit talks of God's protection for us.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
I was checking out Paul Anderson-Walsh's blog and found one very encouraging to me...
Beyond doubt the single greatest difficulty in accepting grace unconditionally is coming to terms with the fact that grace accepts unconditionally. It is interesting how much latitude that we are prepared to grant to ourselves and correspondingly how little we sometimes afford one another. To rephrase Oscar Wilde “Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend; it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s excesses.” What is excusable le when I do it is often inexcusable when done by others.
I have recently been party to some robust and lively discussions in our Forum, which if anything has helped me to see that the truth is that all of this religious lava and vitriol that we encounter when we set forth our message amongst the religious folk is really nothing more than an offended sense of justice brought about by a perverted definition of God’s justice and a complete misunderstanding of unconditional love and acceptance. I don’t like all this “God loves you just as you are but loves you too much to leave you as you are” nonsense because hanging in the air like cheap perfume is the unmistakable stench of legalism that says that you’re saved by grace but now that you’re in this church you’re gonna be conformed into OUR image and likeness. So not only have we re-made God in our image we also remake others in our image of what God likes. So that’s all very dreary indeed.
It seems odd to me that certain sections of the Christian community almost delight in the hope that one day God is apparently going to come and toss a whole bunch of people into the Lake of Fire. [Oh and if my maths are right that will be about 90% of all persons that have ever lived on this planet! – and that seems like breaking the omelet to make a few eggs to me – but what do I know?] I think old Bertram Russell may have spoken from the Throne Room when hew said that “The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented hell.” Not that I think we invented hell or anything anymore that we invented God – both are real but I am pretty sure that we have a distorted view of both
It is sad when one thinks that it is Christians that put Russell off of Christianity. We managed to do the same thing to Ghandi, who having experienced rejection first hand by the church here in England looked elsewhere to satisfy his spiritual thirst. Yet in spite of which he did at least manage to see that Jesus Christ belongs not only to Christianity but to the entire world, to all races and people. I think that’s my point, the hallmark of any Grace Community needs to be acceptance. The brand of un-accepting fundamentalism that some folks call Christianity is not very helpful is it and doesn’t remotely reflect the heart of God.
Q: “Well does that mean that anything goes down at your place?”
A: “Umm well no not really it just means that they don’t get ejected from the Celestial Big Brother House and those of us who are spiritual [i.e. not Elder Bothers] restore those who are behaving as those they were not.
I personally am of the view that people don’t go to hell if they live an “inappropriate” lifestyle any more than people go to heaven if they don’t. The Hotel Hades is for those who were too stupid or cynical to accept the al expenses paid free holiday of an eternal lifetime in the Son.
Now that’s not to say that we preach a Sinner’s Charter, we don’t. What we do say is that you will never be punished FOR your sins but you’ll very likely be punished BY them. Sin has forever been dealt with by God – it is wholly and permanently irrelevant as far as our relationship with God is concerned. The problem with sin is that it self-harms and harms others. However, the moment that you start talking about God punishing you or others for sin or about Him withholding forgiveness etc you introduce fear into grace and both pervert the gospel and prevent restoration. The Gospel of Grace is not law-less it is law-free.
People write to me from time to time about certain “ethical” situations in the hope that I will offer them a doctrinal opinion but I always send them away disappointed as I don’t happen to believe in so-called Christian ethics as I greatly suspect that it is just legalism by the back-door.
The church is supposed to be a spirit led group of people who are enjoined into the circuitous process of becoming who we already are. We teach about identity … that’s the key to be able to discover who you really are. For my part, I can say that real me is Christ as me and that drives my behaviors/attitudes, I simply allow him to express His nature through me. I have learnt over the years that to do anything else, be it of either the self-righteous or unrighteous variety is sin. So it’s a moments like these when I am pressed for a verdict I find myself kneeling down and begin writing in the sand. I usually find that the oldest leave first and then I withdraw too and then when there’s just you and Jesus left; you’ll hear him saying “Neither do I condemn you.
I sometimes slip into the old self, forgetting I'm not that person anymore. I always end up saying "crap...Father, help with with such and such." Then telling God "I don't freakin' like doing this. It's shallow and causes my joy to disappear, yet I keep on doing it."
Or sometimes I will get like the Hebrews and start to get anxious about all the things I'm not doing that I believe I should be doing. You should really stop by my house during the day, I'm very talented at irritating myself. It's quite a show. lol
Anyway...I just felt like writing that to remind myself of the truth. Writing helps with that, as does praying.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Jesus told the people to sit down and it makes the point that only the people sitting were to be fed. I've heard this as "Jesus gave the bread to the obedient", but I see at as Jesus giving to the people who are sitting and simply receiving from Him.
The apostles, the minds of men, wanted to send the people away if they couldn't feed themselves. Jesus told them "You GIVE them something to eat". Jesus wasn't interested in having the people work for their food, but He wanted to give it to them freely. In fact, these guys wouldn't have eaten at all if they didn't first sit down, and take a load off to receive the food.
It is an insult to the Spirit of grace to add any works or any "we have to do our part" to the gospel of grace. You received it freely, so give it freely. If you didn't receive it freely, you didn't receive it. Why do we say we accepted grace by faith apart from works, yet our religious activity denies it. He only gives to those who sit down and accept it. The work of the Holy Spirit is not someone struggling to keep the commandments ourselves. The Pharisees could have done that. If Jesus was about keeping commandments and re-dedicating oneself, I don't think the Pharisees would have been bothered much by Him. That kind of lifestyle sounds right up their alley. The offense of the cross is grace apart from works. It is scary to the religious mind because it is too much freedom. We can't have that much freedom! We need balance with the law! - Remember Jesus' words? "A little leaven leavens the whole lump".
Reminds me a lot of Gandalf's words if you have ever seen Lord of the Rings. The scene where Frodo yells at Gandalf to take the ring. Gandalf rebukes Frodo and tells him, "Understand, Frodo. I would use this ring from a desire to do good...But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine".
Using any kind of law as a means of behavior modification will not work, or will seem work only for a time and then comes re-dedication. This is what you call cleaning the outside of the cup. Only the Spirit can regenerate a mans heart and make the inside clean that the outside may be clean also. As Jesus said, we think in the Bible we have the words of eternal life, but they are the words which speak of Jesus, but if we aren't willing to come to Him to have that life, then we have no life at all. It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The Spirit cannot work if we are not willing to deny ourselves and give up trying to save ourselves. Rest in Jesus' finished work.
I get so angry at distrust in the gospel of grace, to think it would lead to lawlessness. Repentance isn't turning away from sin or else people would be sinless. Repentance, as the church loves to say today, involves actually turning away from sin. But no one ever successfully repents from every single sin, so obviously, repentance is more than "turning away from sin". It is an issue dealing with the heart. It is a heart that has opened to God. It is a realization that God isn't who I thought He was. He is a God of grace and truth, not religious activity. Either make the tree good and it's fruit good, or make the tree bad and it's fruit bad. You can't be good when you are evil. We are God's workmanship, not our own. We need do nothing but trust. Only when we do this will true life come out of us.
Sins aren't what sends us to hell anymore. The sins of the world are forgiven.
Jesus said the sin which condemns people now is unbelief in Him. "Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me."
"Do not be deceived, neither fornicators nor idolaters...." Sinners do not inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some us. But we were washed. We were sanctified. We were justified in the name of Jesus Christ. So apparently, sin is no longer what separates us from God. We ought to quit condemning non-believers, because they are not condemned anymore. Jesus said Himself He will not accuse anyone to the Father. He did not come to condemn the world. Rather, people who do not trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ condemn themselves. There is no more hostility. "Everything is now ready."
Awesome video, Joel. Thanks for posting it up! =)
Van Halen -Dreams
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I know it's all lies though, so it's not that big a deal. But if I don't quickly fight it with the gospel and God's truth, it grows and grows. It can wear someone down if they aren't careful. The devil will start telling you all these lies that you will never be fruitful, or this happened because you aren't trying hard enough, you aren't having enough faith, etc. But then God's grace speaks to to me and reminds me that Abraham waited over 20 years for his son. People who hold the gospel in an honest and good heart bear fruit with patience. We are God's workmanship and He is able to change me in anyway He wants. He is my Creator and my Father and I am in His hands and He tells me His grace is sufficient for me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
Then you're filled with thanksgiving and if you could, you would latch your arms around Him and never let go and never quit saying thank you. What mother or father loves their children based on their behavior? How much more does the perfect Father love us even when we're misbehaving?
Heres one fruit of the Spirit being born in me though; Patience. Patience in bearing fruit.
Let the Creator, your Father fix you. It is His job to fix His broken creation. And He does this in ways we don't expect or understand. Just keep the love of Jesus in your heart. Trust Him, and out of your heart will flow rivers of living water.
"Some folks think the only way we'll obey God is if there's a threat of destruction hanging over our heads. But that's not only a wrong motivation for serving Him, it's a warped view of God's heart towards us.
During the first half of construction, 26 men died building the Golden Gate Bridge. So an elaborate safety net was fashioned. Fatalities decreased to zero and work increased by 25 percent! A safe work environment makes for better workers, and being secure of your standing before God can make you a better Christian.
Some folks think the only way we'll obey God is if there's a threat of destruction hanging over our heads. But that's not only a wrong motivation for serving Him, it's a warped view of God's heart towards us. He loves us and wants our love in return. He wants our obedience to be based on love, not threats.
God has given us eternal life—His life—and that makes us safe and secure. Knowing this can make all the difference in how we live as Believers."
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I am currently listening to yet another sermon by Paul Anderson-Walsh called "A second experience of grace."
In this, he just said "producing fruit is works, bearing fruit is grace." He also points out in Colossians that Paul wrote that the gospel bears fruit "since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. The truth is what sets us free and causes us to bear fruit. So if we aren't naturally bearing fruit, the obvious conclusion is that lies have come into the gospel. It is all together grace, it is all together free.
I also noticed a few verses down, Paul encourages people to bear fruit in every good work. So then a good work is not good fruit. Therefore, you cannot produce good fruit by doing good works. Good fruit comes from the Spirit and not the pitiful effort of the flesh trying to be holy. A fruitful work is one that comes from the Spirit. One cannot force these things, but only learn to trust in Christ and abide in Him.
The classic example of this is Abraham sleeping with his servant to have a baby and not patiently waiting for the promise. Remember in the parable of the four soils, Jesus says the seed on the good soil bears fruit with patience. Fruit definitely does not come overnight, although I, and everyone else would love that. First you need truth. You need the full gospel message in truth and you cannot add or subtract anything from it. This is the seed. Any other seed will not do, because there is no other seed. No other foundation can be laid but Christ Jesus. Grace is the only soil that will produce good fruit.
Monday, July 2, 2007
I lost my temper with my mom a few times today and I wanted to despise myself for it and work myself up with shame, guilt, and determination to re-committing myself not to get angry the next time.
The main reason I hated myself was because I misrepresented Jesus. I wanted to tell myself I am a lazy, spoiled human being with everything being handed to me. That I'm ungrateful for Jesus' sacrifice. He did so much and I do so little. I wanted to count out all my flaws again. Grace does not allow this. It does not allow shame based behavior modification, but forcing yourself to accept the fact God loves you in your imperfection. This will set you free if you let it. There is no way this inspires lawlessness. I can't stand being in sin because I am a new creature in Jesus with a righteous nature. I hesitated typing that, but it's true.
Grace is a lot of freedom, joy, and tension.
I have had a difficult time getting my mind focused on Christ again. The feelings of fatigue are finally wearing off, so I'm able to do what I need to do during the day. I have my mind set on God's grace and love. I reject any ideas of "But you have to...", I will let God guide me into what He has for me and I will not force anything. I've tried forcing things by using shame and self-discipline techniques. The reality is, I'm human. Some guys are able to be robotic drill sergeants commanding themselves into action. Apparently I'm not wired that way. When someone gives me a rule to follow, It is like forcing a negative to be a positive.
"The flesh is hostile toward God and does not submit to His law, indeed it CANNOT."
I've had drill sergeants all my life with school, cleaning my room, etc. They always shook up something inside of me to rebel and have hatred toward whatever they told me I needed to do. I can't bring myself to like or love someone who is demanding that I do something, because the very nature of my flesh is to rebel against it. Paul said the same thing. "When the commandment not to covet came in, it produced in me all kinds of covetousness."
It is like forcing two magnets together. If they don't go together at first our mind says "push harder!", but that isn't the point. We must accept that our flesh will sin and quit trying to abstain from it. I'm not saying go out and sin. I'm saying the way to overcome sin isn't by trying harder. It's by the Spirit. "But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." We do this by accepting God's extravagant grace and love without cost. Jesus says if you don't receive the kingdom of God like a child, you won't enter it. We need to learn to accept grace and quit whipping ourselves into obedience and quit whipping others into it as well. Becoming a drill sergeant is the worlds way to medicate a behavior problem. God wants to get to the root of the problem. The heart.