Extravaganza City

city-box-concept-8660460

It was an average day, like any other, until a pastor nearby me got an idea. “Let’s make a building that we can live in, eat in, drink in, and be self sufficient in.” Eventually, many people got onboard for it, and we decided to enter the building.

The strange thing about this building, however, was that it was so small that we had to be shrunk to fit into it. Once we got into it, everyone was very excited, and very thankful for it. It was like a city contained inside of a building.

Things started getting difficult in the city, so the pastor asked a friend of mine to start working with the project, but she declined, seeing that it was headed in a wrong direction.

The building had a food supply that was a red liquid drink. Everyone thrived on this drink until one day, someone spilled it and it then destroyed the city, spreading like wildfire. Now, it didn’t destroy it entirely, but it was much harder to live in because of that.

We thought about trying to leave the city, but we realized that since we had been shrunk, we were no longer fit for the world outside of the building we were in.

At one point, another pastor came in who would be able to bring us out of the building. Since he accessed the city via USB stick drive, he was able to bring people out. However, no one accepted his invitation.

Eventually, there were only about 3 people getting food/water for the people within the city because the other hundreds of people had lost motivation to get the drink themselves. All they had to do is get out of bed, and put out the bucket each morning to gather the drink that rained down, but so far it was me and two others that did this for everyone in the whole city. 

By this point, the whole city was dark and it was always night. Upon the spilling of the red drink, all had lost motivation to gather food but the 3 of us, and I then woke up.

There are many churches in the US today who are trying to build a self sufficient city of sorts. Many programs, meals often, everyone serving, these are all good things. However, this isn’t the application the dream here.

The red drink, Christ’s sufficient grace through His blood, is dealt with in different ways. Our spiritual food and water is gained and dispersed in a variety of ways and avenues through the church today. As it is written, “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). If this verse speaks about the physical act of communion, much more will judgment come upon us if we eat and drink of the spiritual grace of God, our spiritual food and drink, through Christ’s blood, in an unworthy manner.

Thus is where it starts. The larger church especially is not able to keep track of everyone in the church, and sin eats it up from the inside out. Paul sends many exhortations to keep track of people in the church. Regarding someone living in sexual immorality he says, “I have decided to hand over such a person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, in order that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

Eventually, the church gets caught up in numbers above hearts, and it becomes a business, not that it is not a business, but I am speaking regarding the focus of it. Inevitably, there arises sin in the church that cannot be kept track of, being there aren’t enough people keeping others accountable, and it slowly, or quickly, eats away at the church.

Unfortunately, the sad state of many mega churches today is that of this dream I had. It starts out good, with everyone serving, but then people aren’t equipped to go out into the world to live out their faith, neither are they kept track of or held accountably for living by the spirit and not by the flesh. Thus, were they to go out, they would soon be crushed by the outside world.

People are convinced that it is the pastors and those on staff who need to read Scripture, pray, and seek the Lord. They think all they have to do is show up and get fed spiritually, which works to an extent. Christ’s grace and spiritual food/water to us is certainly able to come to us through the church, but not through people feeding it to us. At anytime, Christ’s judgment, through His blood, will also come to various people in the church, may eventually destroy the church. Then no one has anywhere else to go.

In many mega churches, sadly, this is what ends up happening: A bunch of people come to get their spiritual water that the staff has been gathering for them all week, and then don’t do anything with it-they just continue to “lay in bed” spiritually.

People of God, Jesus is calling us to live out our faith and to gather our own spiritual food water. Is it not written in Exodus 16:18, “And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.”

So, if those of the Old Covenant were to gather their own physical food, much more should we be expected, as those who are empowered with a desire for the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, to gather our own spiritual food and water “by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:26), by communion with God through prayer and worship (John 4:13-14, 23-24), and by doing The Father’s will. As said, “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34).

Thus, our duty as spiritual food and drink gatherers is this: Read God’s Word, serve Him, pray  to and worship Him.

Upon writing this blog, I can tell the Holy Spirit is leading me into a literal interpretation as well. There are well known churches in the US that people reading this blog know about well, so I would rather not reveal these here. This may be somewhat of a prophesy against and for these churches, but I suppose only time can tell these things. In the dream however, the pastor of the mega church is one I know about, and the pastor who came to save us out of that city is another.

In the same way that the Lord’s judgment on Nineveh was spared upon repentance, so will His judgment be spared today if people repent. So I suppose that “Now that all has been heard, here is the final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Life as a brick wall

Often in the Christian walk, we are told ‘Don’t do this’ but rarely are we told what to do in its place.

Image

1. Sand vs Concrete

I like to think about it like a brick wall. When you decide to not do something, you’re taking out a brick from your wall, or life. Without replacing that brick with something better, you will undoubtedly fall back into that sin; if you don’t, you will not feel complete.

These bricks that we use on our own are weak ones, made of sand; they’re just filler and don’t have any strength to uphold us. They look good on the outside, but they often get crushed under the weight of other bricks and the sand falls when the wall is nudged. Then we have to replace them.

Image

2. A brick for a brick

We must seek out the power of Jesus to replace these bricks that we put in our lives with concrete ones that are unshakable.

-Instead of hungering for bacon, we are to hunger for more of God’s Word (John 4:31-34).

-Instead of lusting after women, we are to lust after knowing Jesus more (Matthew 5:28).

-Instead of thirsting for ‘strong drink’ (Proverbs 31:6), we are made to thirst for the living water that Jesus gives (John 4:14).

-Instead of seeking happiness, which is based on happenings, we are to seek the joy that only Christ can give in all circumstances, resting in the fact that while we endure tribulation, Christ has overcome the world (James 1:2-3, John 16:33).

-Instead of longing to hear words of the world, we must long to hear words from the Spirit through others.

-Instead of being caught up in the fantasy of video games, we must get caught up in the fantasy the God has laid out for us in the Bible and in our lives when we’ve dedicated out lives to Him (after all, there’s some crazy stuff that’s gonna happen and that already is happening!).

-Instead of praising idols, like our sports teams, we are to shift our praise to God for what He’s done for us through Jesus (John 4:23)(way better than what our sports teams have done for us!).

-Instead of serving mammon, we are called to serve God (Matthew 6:24, 4:10).

-Instead of seeking our will, we are called to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

-Instead of idolizing our family, we are to idolize Jesus (Matthew 10:37).

These are only a fraction of the bricks Jesus can provide for us when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior and let Him take control of our lives.

Image

3. Where do I start?!

Whenever we think about not doing something, we must first seek Jesus; rather than thinking about what not to do, let us think about what we can do through Jesus Christ alone. When we learn to replace the longings in our lives that are in the flesh with Jesus, there’s nothing He can’t do through us (Matthew 17:20-21).*

As we learn about God’s character and what He can do for us, our faith is strengthened as we believe He can be our refuge, comfort, strength, energy, provider, rock, and so much more. I invite you to read through God’s Word, including, but not limited to, many of the Psalms and a Gospel, to learn about all the things God promises He can do/be for us for we who have faith He is able.

Eat if from the master chef, not the new cook

Image

1. From the source

Think of the best chef in the world preparing the best dish. Of course, everyone wants to try it (who cares if it’s got a little meat 😉 Now what about your Dad trying to make the recipe on his own for the first time? Don’t get me wrong, Papa is a great chef, but not as good as the master chef. He wouldn’t be able to represent the dish as accurately as the master chef even if he was told the exact recipe as the master chef. So if given the choice, why would we eat the meal from Dad instead of the master chef?*

This is the common misconception of Christianity today. Even Jesus spoke against having sects in Christianity. Here’s the problem: These sects stem from us eating the bread of life from imitators of Christ. (Matthew 4:4) Many people in Christianity are imitators of certain disciples but not others: “Well I agree with Paul, not so much James.” But we end up building our life around the principles of imitators of Christ, not the source. We even base our life around our pastors, but they aren’t perfect either.

Image

2. Imitators of Christ

A lot of Bible studies I’ve been in like to focus on Paul’s writing. That’s good, but this is vanity and a grave misfortune; see, I had never read a Gospel and dissected it; I knew who Paul was in Jesus Christ before I knew who Jesus was. Now, Paul’s life is different from Jesus’, as it should be; and none of these disciples were perfect, like Jesus was. Debatably, Paul was somewhat of a people pleaser by nature (1 Corinthians 10:32-33), and he used it for the glory of God(1 Cor 9:20-22, Hebrews 12:14). But we should not strive to be just like Paul, although that was his calling.

God uses our sin for His glory; but Jesus didn’t care what people thought of Him from that standpoint-He was just doing His Father’s will. Jesus didn’t have any sin in His life to be used. Jesus calls us to say something to our brothers when they are doing something wrong, and that’s not people pleasing, that’s doing God’s will, regardless of whether or not they wanna hear it (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus Himself said He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword! He came to set a son against His Father and a daughter against her mother (Matthew 10:34-39).

Paul cooks the main dish well, and Jesus is the source of it and cooks it better since He’s perfect. If Paul had a copy of a gospel, I’m sure he would have sent that to everyone along with his letters to show people Jesus’ perfect life, but that’s just not how it was back then.

When we are comparing ourselves to others, even the disciples and pastors, we are comparing ourselves to sinful beings, rather than the perfect One. Think of it like music, when a passionate, skillful cellist compares himself with Yo Yo Ma, he feels quite obsolete and that he must practice more than if he is only comparing himself with his cello teacher.

Paul, amazing as he is through the Holy Spirit, uses his people pleasing for God’s glory and to spread the gospel. Chances are, most people using the excuse of people pleasing are not doing this with it. If you aren’t going to use people pleasing to spread the word, it’s much better to get up in (prideful) people’s faces, like Jesus, and ask tough questions, and say it like it is (Matthew 16:23). Certainly, Jesus only did this with the prideful, rather than the humble. See, all the disciples were different based on what they learned from Jesus; they didn’t want people to follow them, but rather, Jesus. Not saying Jesus wasn’t compassionate, but when something was out of line, He said something about it.

Image

3. Enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14)

Many people assume the easy way for Christianity, “Well, Paul says this to these people so I’m gonna do that because it still lets me do what I want.” Or “I like this pastor’s interpretation of the verse better.” Better to assume the hardest way “because narrow is the pathway and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:14) Jesus wants us to give it all up (Matthew 19:16-26). We must hand over the car keys to Jesus and sit in the passenger seat.

Rather than taking the scripture that’s the easiest to follow, lets raise the bar and take some of the hardest things Jesus said (ie Matthew 7:21-23) and have those be the new standard of our lives. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll tell you, we’ll become less focused on the world, and more focused on heaven and the will of our Father. For it is better to have pressure in this world, as Jesus did, knowing that we’ll soon be out of this world and in paradise. (John 16:33, Hebrews 12:2)

(PS: please comment below if you think this is theologically bogus-I’m not trying to do that; but rather, fixate our gaze even more on Jesus)

Not what you’re doing, what God’s doing

Image

1. The fleshly lived life: how interesting…

I’ve been having conversations with a friend of mine, she is a believer, but never tells me what God is doing in her life. She is still living in the flesh. I owe it to the fact that she hasn’t given her life completely over to Jesus (Matt 10:38-39), in fact, she hasn’t given over very much. She is very much a checklist Christian                                                                             ( https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/the-hindering-checklist ).

She often tells me what she has done throughout her day, but I’m not concerned with that (Matthew 16:26). What I want to know is what God’s doing in her life, because His agenda and the way He works is way more interesting than anything we do on our own by our flesh (Matthew 16:23). For the things which are done in the flesh have been done before (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

I have had a number of situations where God’s plan was different and much better than my own when I went against my fleshly desires and let His agenda rule over mine. I chose to go ‘about my Father’s business (Luke 2:49) and to be a brother with Christ.(Matthew 12:50)

Image

2. The bar intervention

I went to a bar to talk Theology with some friends. They do this every Tuesday night, whoever/whenever someone wants to come. The night that I went, I was the only one there. I left, a little ticked with God. Wasn’t I following His plan? I looked in my wallet and realized I had a coupon for a free drink at the place next door, so I went in. I sat next to the bar planning on reading my Bible alone, but God had a different plan. Suddenly, someone sat next to me and we got talking about Jesus, not my plan. So I shared the gospel with him and found out his beliefs. It turns out his parents were marriage counselors with Focus on the Family and he had turned from his parents’ faith to an all encompassing New Age belief. I encouraged him that liberal Christians exist in this world, especially in Boulder. See, Jesus didn’t come to bring world peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). As God through the Spirit painted the Gospel for him, I left in awe of God’s plan, it was way better than mine!

Image

3. Confession

In some ways, I hate to admit it, but I’ve gotten to the point where “I’m not interested in what you’re doing, just what God’s doing through you in the Spirit.” Chances are, the more you’re following Jesus and making Him Lord of your life, the more He’s working in your life; and even if He was working in your life more before, now you are guaranteed to be more aware of His presence and work because you know more of the characteristics of God; from the Bible and seeing Him work in your life through the Spirit (John 16:13-14). Everything you do on your own was built upon someone’s knowledge. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9, 2:12).

I personally have learned the most about God’s character by reading through the Psalms and Gospels, specifically Matthew and John. The book of Mark touches a lot on Jesus’ emotions. We discover His will through reading The Bible, God’s Word, and in Prayer and Fellowship.