Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flavius Josephus

I checked out The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus to get more insight into Jesus' world and to catch a few mentions of Him.

I found this today:

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

His Workmanship

For a while now I have understood the theory that our love for Christ is our motivation for godly living. In fact, I have to give up fear and embrace the assurance that the Gospel of Christ offers me. Fear is not the God-designed way of obedience, because, "fear involves punishment, and whoever fears is not made perfect in love." Outwardly, I can change due to fear, but inwardly nothing will ever change. The heart will remain dead and grow even colder over time. Trusting in oppression is folly.

Guys, I can't cause myself to love God. I have to have revelations of His love to me, personally. I can't thrive from mere comprehension of theory or someone elses revelations.

I feel like God is bringing me back to the place I was meant to be and He is showing me how real holiness and love come about.

God, I am totally dependent on You. You said that You love me and that You, Yourself would work in me to will and to do. You said that I am Your workmanship, so now I change my mind about working up obedience through constant anxiety and fear, and am willing to recognize, with humility, that it is only You. I can do absolutely nothing apart from the love of Christ abiding in me. My fruit is only for a season, Lord, but Your fruit is said to abide. Love never fails. Fear and condemnation eventually make the heart cold and distant. But love -- love endures forever. True love can never fail, because true love is from You.

I have understood for some time now that it is the love of Christ that controls us, but now I want the real, living love of Christ to control me rather than the theory of it.

I'm letting go and trusting You as I always should have. I cannot change one thing about myself. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also do good who are accustomed to evil."

Love covers a multitude of sins. Father, in the history of Israel I have seen how long man's commitments last under fear of condemnation. Though they were threatened with even the worst consequences from You, they could not change one thing about themselves. Time and time again they failed. But where they failed, You will succeed.

You will become in me, rivers of Living Water.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Whole New World

To me, this is the perfect description of the grace awakening. Suddenly the cloud distorting God's face is removed and you see things from a heavenly view point.

Unity in Christ

God gave me an amazing sense of freedom tonight as I met with two of my dear brothers in Christ, Don and Tony. God gave me the freedom to pray without trying to impress men and I was able to talk to just Him.

There is something different about praying with others, the same way there is something different about reading the Bible with others. There is intimacy and connection there as we are all communing with our Father. Though we obviously disagree on some things, we all have a common faith in Christ. Jesus unites us. His Blood has cleansed us and made us family.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lazy Days

Today is a very lazy day and I feel fat. I woke up, finished off my snickerdoodles that were sent to me from our dear sister, Jessica. Then mom began tenderizing a big piece of steak taken from a roast we bought two days ago, and cooked it for our breakfast. She's trying to get me fat, I swear. I acquiesced to eat it only because I didn't want her labor in tenderizing to be in vain. I'm still feeling the effects of it.

Right now it feels like I have much to do and no energy to do it with. I haven't felt like doing anything. (Perhaps due to the fact I've had cake for breakfast {and sometimes lunch} since my birthday?) I've been studying here and there for my math test on the 31st and have finished fractions. I'm hoping that knowing fractions will be enough to get me a passing grade, but I will keep on studying until the test.

Mom has fallen asleep watching that show "A Haunting" on Discovery. Such rubbish. Before I was a Christian, I was fascinated with those shows on ghosts and that sort of thing. But after becoming a Christian, I didn't notice it, but I lost all interest in ghosts and whatnot. It was like death had lost it's power and it's mystery over my life. The idea of humans staying on earth after death, reliving the same event over and over after they die is just absurd to me. Anyway, I wish she wouldn't fill her head with nonsense like that.

That's it. I just felt like writing a little.

...Hey, I am picking up my neighbor's CB through my headphones. Weird.

Friday, October 16, 2009

600th Post

Watching The Polar Express has made me think of the first year I was a Christian. I was so in love with God, and I wanted Him, craved Him and sought Him, but could never quite get Him. He was always just out of reach due to my lukewarm performance. I thought that if I would just learn to get this Christian life down consistently, I would have Him. I thought that if I just faithfully, zealously, and with my whole heart, read my bible every day, prayed everyday and loved people enough, I would have that closeness with Him.

Sin was ever in my consciousness. I was afraid to hang around unbelievers for fear that I might get caught up in the moment and act like I used to. I tried so hard to get away from temptation, but the more zealously I tried, the more the desire rose up, despite my scrambling to keep it suppressed. The problem with that was that eventually, my flesh would tire of acting holy and would want to indulge in it's passions that were made stronger through the law I was putting myself under.

Go back and read my older blog posts in 2007. I'm sure there were times I masked it, but don't be fooled; the ever-present anxiety and dread always loomed. I would search and search for grace and grace alone, but every time I took hold of it, it pulled away from me. Or rather, something pulled me away from it. You see, whenever I was taught grace, the law followed soon afterward, thus shattering my hopes of a life where I was freely given a totally, unconditional peace with this God that I so longed for.

And then I did it. I actually did it. I sat at my computer, logged onto this blog, took a moment, and got brutally honest with myself, with no-holds-barred introspection. I didn't sugar coat one damn thing. Read here if you don't believe me. And then I did what I had previously considered rebellion. I jumped without warning. There was no thinking, I just did it. I refused to go any further in the direction I had been heading, which had been circles. I could go back to that time and honestly repeat the Scripture as so:

"...And Matthew believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."

I did it! I got crazy enough to actually believe what God had told me and had been telling me. I embraced grace and grace alone, without one hint of law or fine print added.

It was all down-hill from there, right? Ah, I wish. But don't let that discourage you from leaping into the arms of Jesus. It is most definitely worth it.

But what I really had in mind when I sat down to write out this particular post was that after all of that, I still find myself wanting to go back to how it was before. To that place between dream and reality. The, "darkness before dawn" so-to-speak. It's not that it wasn't without it's good times. I really had some fond moments in trying to get to know God.

I guess being so introspective and fearful had given me a great awareness of God in the world, and now being free from condemnation and fear, I long for something to give me that same awareness of His Being. Am I making sense? Perhaps someone can relate, and if not, at least I believe God tried to get something across to me tonight in watching The Polar Express.

The kid, at the beginning of the movie, was hesitant about climbing aboard the free ride to the best place on earth for a kid: The North Pole.

As I watched that particular scene, I felt like God was trying to tell me that I'm being silly. He was apparently telling me how ridiculous it is to be in a place where you desire to behold the train with wonder, dreaming of what it would be like to go to the North Pole, more than you desire to actually BOARD the train and EXPERIENCE the North Pole.

Van Halen - Dreams

I watched this video over and over when I experienced my grace awakening. It was when I abandoned everything and decided to stand naked before God, helpless, with nothing to offer but the Blood of Jesus. I remember e-mailing Joel very soon afterward and asking him, "Is it really this easy?" To which he replied, "Yep. It really is this easy."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lee Strobel - The Case For Creator

It's a little lengthy, but if you're interested how science actually disproves Darwinism and proves Creationism, then check it out.

Who Then Can Be Saved?

Blessings for Obedience:

"Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall you be in your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out."

"And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them."

So, with words like these in the Old Covenant, what would be a natural thought towards someone who was rich inside the Jewish nation? Would you not think that they are rich and prosperous because of their obedience to God's commandments? Of course you would.

Yet Jesus begins to preach something radically different and seemingly contrary to the words God had previously spoken to Israel under the Law of Moses:

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."

Again, I ask you, what do you think the Jews thought of rich people in Jesus' day, being under a Covenant where you were blessed for your obedience to God's commandments? You would think rich people are the dedicated of the dedicated, the committed of the committed, the obedient of the obedient.

But read these words from the Gospel of Luke:

Jesus: "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

Jews: Those who heard it were exceedingly astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus: But He said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

Seether - Remedy

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Walk By The Spirit

All these sermons on rules, principles and behavior change are killing us! Jesus' voice is being drowned out by what men are telling us to do. We are setting aside intimacy with the Holy Spirit living in us, so we can listen to men tell us how to live, what to do, what's right and what's wrong.

This is utter nonsense! Stop listening to what men tell you so that you can learn to hear the gentle whisper of the Spirit! God has made His home in your very body. Talk about closeness! Talk about intimacy!

In the physical way that a man and woman have intimacy, that one comes inside another, and they are made into one body, so Jesus, by the Spirit has come into us and we have become one spirit with Him.

We are blinding ourselves from the realness of His Spirit living in us by insisting that we listen to men and follow their teachings, their ways of managing sin, their strategies, their techniques.

"They made kings, but not through Me. They set up princes, but I knew it not." (Hosea 8:4)

People have devoted their lives to setting up ministries, telling people how they ought to live rather than pointing them to the One who dwells in them. You can not live up to man's expectations. Their rules are heavy and burdensome and give you no provision for living up to the expectations they give to you, save the advice of, "Just try harder!"

I tell you, Jesus does not expect righteousness to come from you, which is precisely why He died for you. He died so that He could give you His righteousness instead. So let go of the ever-present anxiety and feelings of inadequecy. Of course you're inadequate! What did you expect? Don't you remember how you were saved to begin with? You were inadequate! You could not attain righteousness by the law and God turned the light on and revealed grace to you.

So rest in His gift and give up the circus act of guilt and false humility so that you can learn to hear His voice! As Joseph Prince rightly said, "God's voice is not on the frequency of condemnation." Nor is it on the frequency of what most would call, "conviction". Conviction is for the guilty, and you my friend are no longer guilty! You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Well, I guess there is conviction, but it is not of your sin. It is of your righteousness in Christ.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Christ In You

Do you ever feel the desire to love people, to walk in love and to live a holy life yet you're tired of trying because you know you can't, and you're tired of hearing people tell you how to do it? Even tired of hearing teachers who understand the message of Christ in you telling you how to work it out?

I am.

I want to love, but I can't. I don't know how this works and I don't want you to tell me right now. It's me and Jesus. I don't follow men, their strategies or what they say. I have listened to all the sermons. I know all the theology; all the grace jargon. Now I want the experience, and to have the experience, I have to be free to make stupid choices (over and 0ver) and learn from them. I have to be absolutely free to fall and get hurt. I have to be absolutely free to be immature. In order to learn to walk upright, I must by necessity be free from any and all condemnation. If I am not, then I will weep and mourn over and over for my sin instead of learning to live from Christ, who is my very life.

You see, I have always been one who needs to learn for himself. I have to figure this out myself...I can't let men make rules for me. This has GOT to be real. This has GOT to issue from MY intimacy with God and not someone else having intimacy with Him for me and then teach me what He taught them.

Jesus looked at Peter and said, "You follow ME". We tend to interpret that as though following Jesus would be more burdensome than following a man. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke and learn from Me."

How interesting...I just took notice of Malcolm Smith's voice in the sermon I am listening to as I type this and he said the same thing I just did: "You can't live by what people tell you to do. You have to learn to live from the Christ in YOU."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Know God

You can only grow in God's grace BY God's grace. Only God is able to move us onto maturity from works and law. Not that it isn't important for us to continue to soak in the truths of the New Covenant and what the sacrifice of Jesus changed about our relatioship with God.

If you're wondering whether or not you will ever make it out of that legalistic mindset that still has traces of Old Covenant imprinted on it, just continue to seek God's grace and seek truth. Growth comes without us knowing it until we stop to realize that we're actually doing it! We're maturing and growing in grace, learning to walk free from condemnation and fear!

Peter walked upright on the water only as long as his eyes were fixed on his Jesus. The storm was raging around him, but he wasn't conscious of it, therefore it didn't cause him to stumble and fall. He was God-conscious with his eyes set perfectly on the Author and Perfector of his faith.

Setting your eyes on Jesus alone will keep you from being tossed around by every wind of doctrine. But when a very strong wind comes and averts your gaze from Christ, and puts it back onto yourself and your own abilities, let's get real -- you can't do it. It is physically impossible to walk on water. "It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is of no avail."

It is only when we observe and gaze at the face of God in Christ Jesus when we experience growth and are matured into the people God has planned for us to be. Knowing God transforms us, contrary to the popular belief that getting busy for God is what transforms us. You cannot perfect yourself by the flesh, Galatians tells us.

Jesus told Martha, who was distracted with trying to serve Him, that only one thing was needed, and her sister, Mary chose it. Mary chose to sit at His feet and listen to His teaching while Martha was distracted from Him with much serving.

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

"When we see Him we'll be like Him. For we shall see Him as He is."

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed from one degree of glory to another."

To know God is to love Him. You cannot know Him and not love Him. Which is why John says that no one who hates his brother has the love of God abiding in him. Does the Scripture say that we love because we dedicate our lives to serving Him? No, but rather it says, "We love because He first loved us."

Paul speaks of unbelievers as those who are, "alienated in their minds" and "hostile in their understanding, doing evil deeds." They don't know Him. The god of this world has blinded their eyes so that they cannot see. (Ephesians 4:18-19)

Just get to know Him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Daughtry - What About Now

My friend, Jordan told me about this song and said he had heard God speak to him through it. I stopped to listen to it and thought it had a great message, very relevant to the doubts he is going through. I believe Jesus did indeed use this song to speak to him.

God uses our struggles with sins, our struggles with doubts, and all our trials in life to get what is inside, outside. It may not feel like it, but God is making you all that you were meant to be. Even though we don't understand what is going on, God is involved in our lives (for our good) and He will in no way leave us. He swore by an oath. He swore by Himself.

Malcolm Smith described God's oath as God saying, "May God strike God dead" if He does not remain faithful to His covenant of grace with us that is because of Jesus.

"Your sins are forgiven for His namesake."