Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Arm is Asleep.

I have found myself in a number of conversations lately dealing with the "coming together" of the body of Christ.
What's that? You were unaware of it's being dismembered? Well, then you are in for a good read. Try to allow me some grace, and take what I write with a grain of salt... kosher salt (tongue in cheek), and everything will be fine.

I know of more than a few leaders in the church that are feeling an impression by the Holy Spirit to reach out to their Christian counterparts. I have felt the same pull, and have admittedly fought it a little because, well, I am a tad cynical. I don't embrace cynicism, by any means, but rather find myself with a grim outlook without even trying. I have my reasons; most of which can not be justified, so I will not even try. Lets just say that my cynicism has become the newest obstacle that our Lord is making me aware of, and it is difficult at times.
At any rate, back to the topic at hand.
There is a definite awakening of sorts happening within the church. The call is to become one with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ who do not believe the same way you, or I do. It is all-encompassing. Baptists are being called to befriend those who believe their salvation is hanging by a thread. Methodists are being called to walk beside Charismatics who despise the thought of a method, let alone a written down method. Presbyterians are being prompted to hold spiritual hands with the Four Square folks, and Messianics... well, Messianics are being called to get along with all of the above.
As it stands, the Body of our Messiah has one hand that depends on a creed being chanted at every service, another hand that refuses to eat pork, and an ear lobe that refuses be touched by either until they put nicer clothes on.
We are hundreds of detached body parts, claiming the same head.
The Head is calling His members to begin to realize that that the same blood runs through all of the parts.
That is the key issue in the struggle - the blood.
It is the blood of our Messiah that must bind us together. Like it or not, it already does; now it is up to us to merely recognize it, and act on it. We have no choice if we are to serve our Master as one. After all, it is His blood, so it is His call. His body, and He is calling us to act like a body that is not torn apart. Paul said this in Ephesians 4:46: One body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all.
Our problem is becoming very clear as I look at it through my ever-cynical eyes. I believe the problem lies mostly in maturity. How mature are we? Look at the statistics of divorce, bribery, pornography, adultery, the list goes on and on - look at how we deal with those issues, and it is easy to see that Christ's body smacks of immaturity.
Your marriage getting tough? Bail out - just like any teenager would. Need that money so bad that you are wiling to cheat on your taxes? No problem - cheat; every immature player on the field is willing to do so.
Have you heard about the church down the road? They are actually meeting on Saturday! Hmmmm, what is the most immature thing a person could do to rebut such a thing? Spread gossip and rumors, like any adolescent would, of course.
We have been fed a way of life through the media that allows for grown men to act like they are seventeen years old for their entire lives. We are taught to steer clear of any form of commitment unless it is to your cell phone provider - and even that contract is never read.
We are, most of us, grown men and women, yet we behave like children. Spoiled, undisciplined children, but children none the less. Unfortunately, our own children are growing up in this environment thinking it is normal… and the cycle continues when they grow up.

If my suspicions are correct, I think that our Head is beginning to wake His body up. We are all sort of like body parts that have fallen asleep, all numb, cold and motionless. To carry the analogy further, I think that the urge to become one, at the moment, is sort of like the arm that is asleep, and when it begins to have the blood flowing through it again it feels crazy tingly sensations – at first. When it really starts to get the blood flowing, there is a certain prickly, pins and needles sort of pain that arrives (I don’t think we are there yet), then, depending on how long the appendage has been asleep, there is an aching that sets in before the warm relief of full awakening.

We are starting to wake up. Our Master’s blood is beginning to arouse our senses. We have a couple of options at this stage. First, we could refuse to allow that blood to revive us. To see a good example of how this turns out, just wrap a tight rubber band around your cat’s tail and leave it. Give it about three weeks, and when you are using tongs to pick up a dead cat tail off of your kitchen floor, go back and read this again.

The second option is to help it out. Oneness can be encouraged just like the blood flowing into an arm that has fallen asleep. All you have to do is shake it up a little – move it around! Exercise those joints, and welcome the blood back in.

Do not read too deeply into this analogy – I am not implying that we are lacking the blood of Christ, or His presence in our lives. I am only saying that we have allowed just enough of it to sustain life; cold, sleepy, isolated life. Having said that, I am also not saying that we should walk hand in hand with sin. Sin is sin, and it has no place in this equation. We must not become one with that which is in blatant opposition to the Head of this body. If you are relying on “lost books of the bible” or special glasses of any sort for your salvation, then you have bigger problems than these (more on that at a later time).

The mature thing to do of course is to deal with the discomfort that is so amplified at the start, and keep pressing through. We really are one, like it or not. A child that is afraid of needles would just as soon die of Small Pox then to get the necessary shot to protect him from the disease. An adult knows that he must suffer a short-lived pain in order to be healthy. Our short lived pain is nothing more than treating each other like members of the same body, just like Paul told us to. And if you think about it, the pain is nothing more than our own immaturity having His light shone one it. It will only hurt for a moment, I’m sure. But like I was saying, sometimes that is what it takes in order to be healed…

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Flame of Freedom

As I write this, our newly elected president is on vacation after proclaiming that there would be "catastrophic consequences" for not signing the hastily formed "stimulus bill." Not only is he on vacation, but he is putting off the signing of the bill that was so important three days ago. How can that be? What are we to make of the things he told us leading up to the passing of such an anti-American, Socialistic stack of pig dung? What has become of it's importance? Why does he sit back in Chicago with his wife, on vacation, while the country is on the brink of implosion; knowingly leaving the bill unsigned?

The answer is simple; he knows, just as every thinking American knows, that there is no urgency in signing the bill. The bill has nothing to do with "stimulating" our economy. The bill is merely another desecration of the rights and tenants laid out in the Constitution of the United States, authored by nothing more than self seeking, base men with their own political gain in mind.

We, as a people have become so detached from what we once were, that the average American no longer feels the need to ask questions or demand answers from our appointed leaders. Those who were once representatives of the people have become the very form of government that drove us to separation from Brittan in the first place.

Once a people who would give our lives to secure freedom and liberty for generations yet to come, we have become a people willing to give up what we hold dear for that which looks and feels good now, never taking into consideration the consequences or repercussions imposed on even our own children.

We are living in a time where not only is good called evil and evil called good, but good is sought to be extinguished. The very rights that were paid for by the blood of our country's forefathers are being used to destroy the foundations on which they were built. The average American man has opted out of his responsibilities to his country, and his fellow man - each man his own country, all united under tyrants. Our leaders have taken on a superiority that was loathed by those who wrote the very Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Our Independence has been stolen and in a slow, and deliberate trade of hands, squashed - with our approval. We are at a time in our nations history where Independence must be reclaimed; this time from our own elected leaders. This time, from an evil and self seeking generation of anti-American sentiment. A disease that is perpetrated under the guise of a freedom that is given only by the United States . Free speech that is exclusive to America, yet is being used to corrode her foundations from within.

And we remain silent.

The government of yesterday warned us of the growing government of today. We were warned to keep it in check - to be watchful, lest the present condition become a reality. And still we remain silent, as it overshadows the decisions and rights of free men.

Be it pseudo-freedom or Socialism, communism or slavery, the want and need for freedom in a human being's life will remain subdued until he begins to lack it. And that lack of what we all know to be endowed by our Creator will then and only then ignite a spark of revolution. How much has to be taken away before man senses the strangling hold of complacency? How much do we have to forfeit before we realize that without liberty and justice there is no such thing as the happiness that we pursue? What do we need in today's American Man to rekindle the spark of freedom's flame? And what cost are we willing to pay for appeasement? Is life worth living when the very liberty we enjoy is ripped from the hands of our children, simply because we were not honorable enough to stand for what is right?

The next revolution in this God-blessed country that we so enjoy will either be the honor of the righteous who are willing to sacrifice what ever is necessary to see it's birth, or the snarling delight of our enemy who has overtaken us without a fight.

Our forefathers saw the times in which we find ourselves the most frightening and horrific possibility; we mock their advice and wisdom, and happily slide the rope over our own heads -gladly handing what is rightfully ours over on a silver platter; a platter that we purchased, to leaders whom we elected.

...to be continued.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Grace, Legalism, Dog's Tails and Sin in the Church

We have noticed a strange anomaly on The Word is Grace's podcast. Every title that contains the word “grace” or “Luke Skywalker” just seems to explode with downloads. The Luke Skywalker thing I can understand... but grace? What is the big deal about grace?
I have an idea. I think that something has gone seriously wrong with the idea of "grace" in the "church" today. We all know we need it, and we all know that God gives it… but do we really know what it is? Are we possibly seeking answers about grace because we have misused it, and the results of that misuse are overwhelmingly apparent and inescapable? Have the very things that we sought grace for come back to make our lives miserable? I would like to say that if you are misusing it… they will.

God will not be mocked, the scriptures say.

Grace is a strange concept to us; people throw everything from lies to adultery under its covering, and yet most have no concept of what it is. I am afraid that most people think that it is as if God were brushing the bad deed under the rug – no questions asked, no consequences paid. After all, He paid for all of that on the cross, didn’t He?

A friend of mine wrote a song that gives an excellent definition of grace: “It means unmerited favor… It’s getting what I don’t deserve because the father gave the Son.”

Unfortunately, the word grace has taken a dive, and now seems to mean, “what ever I do that is wrong is forgotten about… because Jesus died for it. It’s all under the blood, so don’t beat yourself up about it! Be who you are - He made you that way.” This is sort of true; He did die for our sins. He paid the ultimate price, so we would not have to. But is that what He intended for us to use His Grace for? So we could continue in sin because that is "who we are?" Here's a news flash: we are all "born that way." Every one of us is born into a life of sin. We are born that way - sinners. Isn't that why He gave us the gift of grace in the first place, for a way out?

Read this carefully: He intends for us to STOP doing the things that require grace because He died for those sins. Grace was never intended to be an excuse to do the very things that Jesus died for. We have cheapened grace in the church today – watered it down so much that now it is the word used to justify sinful behavior. Ouch! What was that awful sting!? How can a person in 2009 write the words “sinful behavior” with any seriousness? Do I really mean that? Who am I to say that any person has sinful behavior?

That is exactly my point.

That notion of “who does he think he is, or nobody can judge me” Has been fed to us on a silver platter for that last few decades, and we have become so “liberated” that any mention of sin or sinful behavior causes uproar. We have allowed so many horrific things to happen in the church that there is today no identifiable difference between the world and the body of Christ. No outrage, and certainly no relevant opposition. The very grace that was meant to save us has been twisted and contorted to such a degree that it is killing us.

I am not referring to God’s Grace, but rather the meaning we have attached to the word “grace.”

We have got it in our heads that God’s grace is so all-encompassing that it will cover every vice, addiction, perversion and malice that we can come up with. I would like to quote an old pastor friend of mine who once told me that there is a Greek word for that: Hogwash.

Not that His Grace won't cover those things, but that by His Grace, we can overcome those things - not waller in them.

Gods grace is as deep as it is wide; as never-ending as His love, and yet it is as shallow as our own intentions. Are you a Christian who is a thief? Paul said “stop steeling.”

Are you a believer who is a liar? Stop lying. Do you have an anger problem? Get help. Stop it.

God’s grace is big enough for all of our sins, BUT at some point, we as believers must stand up and realize that we are “no longer slaves to sin.” We must not lie down, and be the indigent, pathetic humans that we are, simply because we were born that way. That is unacceptable. We are called to be over comers. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world!

...And this can only be realized by His Grace.

The problem today is that we have chosen to be just like the world, rather than obey the One who is greater than the world. We have chosen to lie down and succumb to every craving because we think that God sweeps it under the rug, because that is who we are. We have turned His grace into a prescription for sin. Got a craving for porn? Call it art and indulge yourself – it is covered by the blood. Got a hankering for pot? Hey, God made it, so it must be OK – it’s covered. Marriage not working? That’s alright, God understands – you have needs, and she ain’t meeting them. Leaving your wife for the dude down the street? Surely God knows that we are living in different times, right? Those laws are for biblical times!

I have news for you: we are living in biblical times.

The great falling away is happening all around us, and it is a direct result of men and women stepping on the grace of God; trampling the very gift He gave us to fulfill their own lusts.

“Grace” that allows sin to dwell openly in the body of Christ is nothing short of an abomination. It is wrong.

God’s Grace of course is a good thing - real grace, that is.

His grace allows us to stand back up and shake off the guilt of a mistake. His Grace allows us to keep coming back to the Throne and ask for forgiveness – even though we don’t deserve it – and walk away knowing that His Grace is greater than the sin that drove us there in the first place.

God’s grace is so beyond measure that even though a brother sins against you 7 x 70 times, you can still draw upon it for the strength to forgive. His grace is so amazing that it is the gift that He gives to the humble, and the gift that enabled the humility of the humble in the first place. His Grace is sufficient for each of us, and it is free. Such a valuable thing, His Grace is… yet it is free! –...To us, that is.

To God however, it cost the life of His only Son.

That makes it the most valuable treasure on earth. How could we ever use it for anything but the catalyst for a closer walk with Him? How could we take that grace, and say that it is alright to kill babies, and have gay preachers? Did Christ die for nothing? Did He become sin so we could sin more?

Abraham Lincoln had a favorite saying, “If we call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does it have?” The answer came as a shock to most who heard it; “It matters not what we call the tail – it is still a tail.”

The same goes for sin today. It doesn’t matter what we call pornography, be it art or self expressionit is still pornography. Homosexuality is wrong, whether it is called genetic, or “just how I am.”

Theft is theft even when it is referred to as “massaging the numbers.”

Sinful behavior is still sinful behavior… even if it is accepted by the majority.