Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jesus Is Alive...

Jesus isn't in heaven b/c he went there when he died. We have this thought in our heads that death leads to heaven, which I suppose is true in some regards.

I've recently been hit with the thought that Jesus isn't dead. He is in heaven, but he isn't dead. He rose again. He is in heaven, alive and well. He ascended in life, he still lives.

I find myself all too often praying to the image of Jesus on the cross, the dead or dying Jesus. The problem is that he isn't dead or dying. He is alive and glorious.

I feel like the distinction is between defeated and victorious. If we pray to a defeated saviour, a saviour still hanging on the cross, then our prayers will be defeated, weak, and powerless.

If we pray to victorious saviour, a saviour who in his glory trampled all over anything that could be coming against us, then our prayers will be powerful and bold and will move mountains, because that is was Jesus did with his resurrection.

Death couldn't hold him down. God made a spectacle of evil with the cross.

Col 2:15 says:
"nailing it to the cross, He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him."

The Message puts it like this:
"He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets."

I put it like this:
"Jesus took a huge dump on all the false powers, the demons and their minions, triumphing over them on the cross, smearing the poop on their faces with the resurrection."

Sorry for the vulgar image, but something has to wake us up to the fact that Jesus rules and Satan drools.

Jesus put them to shame, not in a wimpy, meek, boring Jesus of the movies kind of way, but in a powerful, I rule the world and I'm taking it back for my people, so get the hell out of here kind of way.

Jesus is alive. He is not beaten down and broken. He is victorious, he uses demons as shovels to clean out horse stalls, he cleans toilet bowls with them.

He has utter and complete power over any evil. There is nothing they can do to stop him.

That is, aside from convincing Jesus' body, his action in this world, that none of this is true, that Jesus is still on the cross, that evil still has power.

I just got hit with this thought.

If the church, who is Jesus' body, still envisions Jesus on the cross, then where will his church be? All we will know to do is act like people who are still nailed to the cross.

The problem is that Jesus isn't still on the cross. He is victorious, all things are under his feet, subject to him. He rules the world with power.

If the church, who is Jesus' body, envisions Jesus as being over all things, then where will his church be?

Father, help us to repent of our low view of you and in turn of ourselves. Help us to live a life of victory, a life to destroying the works of the devil. Father, help us to realize that our ministry is the same as your ministry. We are to continue the works that you did on this earth, as if you never left.

All too often in the gospels, Jesus is described as preaching the gospel, follow by a list of these things: heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse leapers, cast out demons, feed the poor, free the captive.

How are we to do Jesus ministry, as listed above, while believing that we can't, that we are still nailed to the cross, that evil is triumphing and we can do nothing about it?

We can't. But what we can do it realize that is a lie, that Jesus won, that we share in his victory, and that is the ministry that we are called to.

Father, let us realize this. Renew our minds with your reality...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Diamond Washing

So the other day I was talking to a friend and I realized this great analogy for how sin affects us and how it affects our relationship with God. I thought I'd share, more to remind myself than anything...

So Abby and I are engaged (surprise if you didn't know!), therefore Abby has this amazing ring on her finger. A few weeks ago, we noticed that one of the prongs that holds the diamond in place was bent, so the diamond was a little loose. We took it into a jeweler asap to get it fixed.

It took a few days, but when we got it back, it was sooo sparkly. We walked out onto the street and looked at it shine, it honestly kind of hurt my eyes to look at it. When I asked the lady what they did to get it so shiny, she was like, "Oh, we just cleaned it. You should probably do it every day with a little toothbrush and some water."

Everyday? At that point we'd been engaged for at least 3 months and hadn't cleaned it once. No wonder we noticed such a huge difference. 3 months worth of dirt and oils and lotions had built up on the ring to the point of it hardly shining at all anymore. With a little soap and water, that thing bore a hole in my retina.

I would like to propose to you that when we become Christians, we all become like diamonds in the eyes of the Father. He has an incredibly high view of all his people, certainly higher in regard than we humans hold diamonds (which is saying a lot).

I would also like to propose to you that if we sin, we don't cease to be diamonds, we just got dirty. If we sin, we don't cease to be sons or daughters of God, we just need a little washing, a little bit of repentance.

Out nature does not change. We are still diamonds. A diamond does not cease to be a diamond just because it doesn't shine, nor does a son or daughter of the most high cease to be just because they make mistakes.

But it is contrary to a diamond's nature not to shine. That is what it lives for, to reflect the beauty of the sun's light, to draw the eye of all the people and bring glory to its creator. It is contrary to our nature to sin. We are not slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. We died and rose again through baptism, just as Jesus did on the cross. We are new creations, the old is gone, the new has come (not is going to come someday or at the resurrection, but HAS COME, now).

It is contrary to our nature not to shine like a diamond. Isa 61 says "Arise, shine for the glory of the the LORD is upon you." We were made to shine.

But if we sin, we get dirty. We get the oils of this fallen world on us and we can't let the light flow from us. If we go 3 months without being cleaned, we are as dull as that diamond before we took it into the jeweler's.

How are we cleaned? By the blood of Christ. By letting his blood wash away our dirt, our sin and shame. By letting Jesus in on our dirty little secrets and letting him make us shine again.

1 John 1:9 says:
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

I can't think of anything more freeing in my life than humbling myself before Jesus and letting him wash me clean.

"Jesus, I'm sorry that I sinned. I know it is not my nature, I know you didn't die on a cross in order for me to keep on sinning. It is not who I am, it is against the nature that you bought for me with your blood, it is not my lot in life. Jesus, break off these lies that tell me that sinning is the norm and that I am indebted to it. I am indebted to nothing but righteousness; that is the call on my life. Wash me from this sin and these lies that tell me otherwise. I have always been a diamond, my sin never changed that. Make me shine like one again."

Let us shine like the diamond that we are and always have been by realizing that we aren't enslaved to sin, but repenting quickly and whole heartedly if we do.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I can stop writing now....

So I have been trying to figure out how to say something in every blog post thus far, but can never quite find the words to express it.

Watch this video. It's 4 minutes long:


(It's called power forces a decision).

Bill Johnson says in 4 minutes that which I have been trying to say for nearly 4 months....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wisdom of the World...

So I thought I'd make a quick post about something I was reading this morning, more as a mental brainstorm for myself than anything.

In 1 Cor, it talks a lot about the wisdom of the world vs. the wisdom of God. The wisdom of the world is folly to God, and the wisdom of God is folly to the world.

I find myself all too often trying to live by the world's wisdom, but the world's rules, trying not to be the last kid picked in the proverbial game of kickball that is my life. Recently I have spent so much time trying to fit in to this world, compromising my beliefs so that I won't looked at like I'm crazy, when all along that is what I need most. That is what I'm called to. "If we're crazy, it's for God, but if we're sane, it's for you."

I want to be crazy in the eyes of the world, to be laughed at, to be the scum of the earth, because it is in dying that we live. We are meant to live in an upside down kingdom.

Honestly, I have very little problem saying that I believe in God, that's a rather normal thing. Most people do in some form or another. My problem is that I really, really, really believe in God, in his goodness and his desire to renew all of creation.

In 1 Cor, Paul says "For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles"

How is it wise to die? In the world's eyes, it's not. But it is the thing that sets us free.

A few verses later in 1 Cor, Paul says
"1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

There is so much in those verses to talk about, but I want to focus on the last part of the last verse for now.

Paul wants us to have faith in the power of God. The word power there is "dunimas". We get the word dynamite from the same root, and this word is in specific reference to miracles.

Paul wants us to have faith in the miraculous working of God. In the dynamite of Jesus.

Not in what the world tells us, because that is folly. Not in what our doctors learned in a textbook. Not in the scientific or the provable, but in the miracles of God. Not to say that doctors are bad, or that you shouldn't trust what they say, but we are called to have faith in God, not in doctors.

Doctors are trained to see what is scientifically possible in this world, believers are meant to see the impossible and make it happen.

I believe that God is good, that he is miraculous, and that we are meant to worship him for this. I believe that God wants to demonstrate his power today.

He wants us to have faith in his goodness, in his purpose, in his working in this world. He wants us to have faith in what he says, not what the world says about him or what he is capable of.

I would like to point out that Christian teaching can be just as worldly as anything else. Paul called the Jews' wisdom worldly, just like the Gentiles'.

The only wisdom I am to follow is that of God, and right smack in the middle of Paul's discourse on wisdom, he says he intended for the Corinthians to have faith not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.

Let us have faith in God, faith in his goodness, and faith in his miracles. Paul did...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grace Days

So I was just playing guitar, worshipping Jesus when I remembered what Graham Cooke (a prophetic guy in SoCal) said once:

"There are no good days or bad days, just days with Grace."

I always remembered him saying that, but never really got it until just now. I'll let you contemplate it and see if you can make the connect faster that I did...

(hint: read the post before this)

A Life Abandoned...

One morning a week or two ago, I began reading the book of Hebrews and didn't stop till it was over. I didn't plan to read it all in one sitting, but I ended up doing it anyways. I like to do this from time to time because I get insight out of the books that I wouldn't have otherwise, connecting themes and seeing natural progression of ideas throughout.

Among other this, the thing that struck me most about my reading of the book of Hebrews was the phrase "a sacrifice of praise" in Hebrews 13:15.

Essentially, the entire book of Hebrews is about Jesus being our sacrifice, our high priest. It's about how there is no more need for sacrifice, because Jesus was a perfect sacrifice. There is no more need for priests to offer sacrifices every day or week or month or year because the ultimate sacrifice has already taken place.

And on the same note, there is no need for Jesus to continuously offer himself, as the former priests continuously offered sacrifices. Jesus' sacrifice was once, and for all, to end all others. His works are complete, we are clean, his blood did the job, cleansing and renewing all.

The overwhelming message of this book is that Jesus' work on the cross is complete, there is no need for more sacrifice for sin. It is done, grace has taken over. We are free from sin and shame, not slaves to sin, but to righteous. Not Satan's whipping boys (or girls), but Jesus' victorious companion, and there is no need to offer another sacrifice for our sins.

There is a great son by Kristene Mueller which says:
"You keep bringing me sacrifices to easy your mind, but it is your heart that I want"

Now, at the end of the book, the writer says, "Now through him let us continuously offer up a sacrifice of praise to God."

The writer, after thoroughly showing that Jesus was the final sacrifice for sin, that there is no need for any more, calls us to continuously offer up a sacrifice of praise.

Continuously, in contrast to the continuous offering of bulls and goats, which had to power to take away sin.

Continuously, in contrast to the once and final sacrifice of Jesus, the only thing that has any power to take away sin.

We are to continuously offer up a sacrifice of praise.


Because it is the only sacrifice left for us to make. To live a life abandoned to Him, who bled and died, that his blood might be sprinkled over us, cleansing us for ever. When we receive such a great gift, there is only one thing we can do in return, to live a life of praise.

I think that a lot of us get that part, the praise part. It is the continuously part that hits me and I am writing this. Never ceasing, through the good and the bad, when we feel like it and when we don't. When the world seems to be crashing down, and when God is blessing you beyond compare. When we're tired and weak, and when we're happy and smiling.

In the psalms, David says, "I will praise you." Somebody pointed out to me that when David says that, he is in a spot where it isn't easy or convenient to praise God, that all his circumstances are looking down and there is no conceivable reason to praise God. David makes a sacrifice of praise, and by the end of the psalm, it is pouring out of his heart.

We must live a lifestyle of praise, continuously. "I will praise you" no matter what, even when I don't feel like it, even when it isn't convenient, even when I'm tired or grumpy. We must live a life so abandoned to God that it doesn't matter if we don't graduate and get a degree, it doesn't matter if we eat today, or if we get a raise or have a good job or drive a car at all.

We must live a life with out eyes set on heaven and Jesus, with our will so far abandoned to His that all that matters in a day is whether or not we encounter him in some way. Our circumstances can not define our heart of worship, our heart of worship must define our circumstances. We must live with a heavenly mindset, praising always, giving thanks always, acknowledging and seeking after God's heart and goodness always.

It is called a sacrifice of praise for a reason. If it were easy, it wouldn't be a sacrifice. But it is the only sacrifice acceptable to God, because it's your heart that he wants.