Steps to God

20 10 2005

I know you know the song, What if God was one of Us? by Joan Osborne. Well, He was one of us. Yet before we go there get this, the Bible says that sky and the unverse cannot even contain God (even though the Universe is still expanding). So you ever wonder just how big God is? Hmmm.

We also learn from Scripture that God became one of us by being born in a barn about 2,000 years ago in a place called Bethlehem (Hebrew for house of bread). Can you imagine that? the God who made the universe, more than that, who cannot even fit into the universe, becomes a helpless baby. Amazing, but nothing is too tough for God (yeah, I know about the creating a rock that He cannot lift jazz).

Hopefully you know the rest of the story, the baby grew up and became this wonderful man named Jesus, who healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, taught the poor, and was executed on something called a Cross. But the biographies of Jesus in the Bible are clear that Jesus did not stay dead, no, He rose again, because nothing can keep God dead.

Here is the thing, He died for you. Why did he need to die for you may ask? Because each one of us is a rebel who has decided to tell God that we want our own way and not His way. This is called sin. This rebellion leads us to hurting one another in all sorts of ways, and not being what God has intended us to be. Let me explain this by telling you a story. Back when I was growing up in Detroit, my oldest sister was looking at the back of a comic book. In those days, there would be all kinds of weird advertisements on the back of comic books. You could send off for x-ray glasses, invisible ink pens, and even for something called sea monkeys. My sister decided that she wanted to order some sea monkeys. I thought it was a pretty cool idea.

So after a few weeks go by, she gets the sea monkeys in the mail. However, days go by and I realize that I have never seen the sea monkeys. So of course I go to my sister and ask her what happened to the sea monkeys. To which she tells me that she flushed them down the toilet. I asked her why. She told me that she flushed them down the toilet because they did not turn out the way that she wanted them to. So she got rid of them.

God has the right to get rid of us too. We are His creation. Any creator has the right to destroy something he/she has created and to start all over again. So when we decided to rebel against God, He certainly could have destroyed us without even a thought. I mean, c’mon, He is bigger than the universe remember? What are we to Him? We must be nothing but dust to Him.

But this is the amazing thing, the Bible says that though we were His enemies, God sent His only Son (Jesus that is, this may sound weird, but God is 1 but 3, He is 1 God but 3 persons) to die for us. The Bible goes on to say that most people will not give their life in exchange for somone else, and hardly anyone would give his/her life to an enemy. But this is exactly what God has done for us.

All you have to do is say yes to Jesus and what He has done for you. You can do it now. If you sense God speaking to you, just pray this prayer: “Father, I believe that Jesus died for me and rose again for the dead, I need you in my life and want Jesus to take control of my life. Thank you and Amen.”

That is all you have to do to actually enter into eternal life and truly become a child of God. However, no one can live the Christian life in isolation, you need a community. Email me and I will try to coach you in how to get connected to a faith community wherever you may be.

Finally, we see in all of what God has done for us, that it is not we who make steps to God, but rather it is God who has ran down the steps to meet us right where we are.

Peace

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The Meaning of Shabbat (AKA, ‘Sabbath” for the Uninitiated)

19 10 2005

Shabbat is much more than a day of rest, it is a picture of Jesus’ Kingdom. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us this in chapters 3 and 4. He tells us that there, “remains a sabbath rest for the people of God”. So Shabbat is a metaphor for the soon coming Kingdom of Jesus, where we will at rest with Lord of Shabbat.

It is interesting that most of the holy days of Israel are on shabbat days, Passover and Pentecost are two of note (I will discuss the relationship of Pentecost to the Kingdom of Jesus in a later post).

Further, Jesus tells us in Mark that the we were not made for the Shabbat day, but rather, Shabbat was made for us. In this same passage, Jesus calls Himself the Lord of the Shabbat.

What is going on here? Jesus is saying that He is the Lord of the Shabbat, but Shabbat is for us? It is not for Him? Does this not fly in the face of the teachings of the OT. Isaiah 58 for example chastises Israel for “doing whatever you please on the Shabbat”. So how can the Shabbat truly be made for us? Maybe this will help, freedom is not about doing whatever you want do, that is actually bondage. For clearly Scripture teaches us that a self-directed life is a life of slavery to sin (Romans 3:10; 6:16; Gal. 5:13, 14).

So Shabbat rest is not about doing what you want, but being what you are. It is fundamentally about spending time, intimate time with the Abba and the Son.

Kingdom living is about being with the King, and being subject to Him. The fascinating thing though is that He counts us as royalty too. This is amazing to me.

So Shalom is about God setting things right, as they should be, Shabbat is about forgeting about time and losing your self in Father and the Son. It is an eternal Saturday spent with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.





Shalom II

9 10 2005

Shalom is more than peace,it is prosperity, blessing, justice, goodness, living in deep community, and more than anything else, it is basically life as God intended it should be. This is the stuff of the Kingdom. Shalom at its zenith was seen in Acts 2 and Acts 4, where God’s new church that was radically loving on one another in sacrifical ways, committing themselves to following the way of Jesus and preferring one another to themselves.

This is the kind of community I hunger to be a part of, but find difficult, not because it is not out there somewhere, but because there is something wrong with what is in me. I really think that when we truly become people of shalom, we will create these kind of communities wherever we are. So if I truly want to be live out shalom, I have to have shalom reign in me.





Emergent Yes and No

9 10 2005

For the last few weeks I have been hanging out at a blog called,EmegentNo. This blog is managed by three Five Point Calvinist women. They pretty much have dismissed the Postmodern/Emergent Church as lacking true fidelity to the Gospel and basically being too self-centered. I think that they may be right, but I also think that I and they are guilty of the same exact thing. I really don’t think that any of us are making too many sacrifices for the Gospel. Plus, I bet they are not all that concerned about the poor and racial reconciilation. I am pretty convinced that they only believe in half of the Gospel, which is completely devoid of a social component. They seem to only be concerned about getting people in Heaven. Which is funny because as Calvinists, they are supposed to believe tha the elect is going to be there no matter what anyway, so I don’t know why they are so anxious about Emergent.

Further, I do have some problems with the so called Emergent church. First, if it really is a move of God, why is it pretty much limited to white folks? Doesn’t God have a passion for everyone? Doesn’t God have a preference for poor folk? Plus, I don’t think that the revolution is going to be led by rich white Westernes (or rich black Westerners for that matter). I am tired of the West feeling like it has to be the one that leads all of the time. I really believe that it is time for the Global South, Asia, and Latin America to step up.

Plus, I do have problems with some in the Emergent church who seem to want to ‘redefine’ the truths of Scripture and the content of the Gospel message. I have real problems with that.

Yet having said all of this, to the extent that those in the pomo/emergent conversation are not trying to own the conversation, but are truly willing to listen intently and to follow the marginalized of this world, then I remain hopeful, with the caveat that they do not play fast and loose with the Gospel. But if they are just another group of white boys trying to be the leaders of a new paradigm by being hip and cool, then I must say that they are missing the point of the Cross and are just as bad as the Modern folk they are critiquing. However, I for one am rooting for them to get it right. I really hope that there are a bunch of young people out there who are serious about living out a real and true faith and are committed to following Jesus in real, sacrificial ways, and by being in authentic community. I just hope it is not only, or even mostly white people.