Thursday, May 26, 2011

the rapture, billboards, & dirty tampons...

So this past weekend, the Rapture was supposed to happen.  As in the return of Jesus.  Apparently, it didn't happen.  Many people involved with the individual who claimed this return, spent their money and in some cases, their life savings on advertising and trying to "reach the lost."  Or at least warn us that they knew something that the rest of us didn't know.

Monday on Facebook, I saw a "counter active" billboard posted that said something like, "Awkward" with a scripture verse stating that none of us knows when Jesus will come back.  Basically, this person was saying to those who had warned us all about the rapture, "I got it right & you got it wrong."  And apparently those people got it "so wrong" that the whole world knows about it.  I even heard secular sports talk radio mocking their predictions...

This past year, a Christian came out with a book about a popular topic.  The topic of heaven & hell & the after life and what that might look like.  This topic would be popular in a religious context or in a non-religious context.  This Christian was rebuked, slandered and "black balled" from many Christian societies.

Interesting.  Two individuals who claim to follow Christ.  Two "campaigns" extremely opposed and "condemned" by many Christian societies.  We have mocked them.  We have ridiculed their statements and predictions and in some instances, condemned one of them to hell!

Huh.  I don't remember Jesus ever doing this?  I remember a time when a woman had been caught in the act of adultery and was dragged in front of Jesus.  They all stood around her in a circle with rocks in their hands; ready to stone her.  Jesus said not to.  They were in essence saying, "Look Jesus, we are better than her!  We don't have any problems or issues.  We are perfect."  They didn't exactly say that; but by their actions they were saying it. 

The prophet Isaiah made this statements, "We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags..."  Not our sin, but our righteousness is like filthy rags.  Those things we use to brag about and build up our walks with God.  Our consistent prayer lives and quiet times; our offerings, our service to the homeless, church attendance, etc.  They are all righteous things; but when we use them to put others down and lift ourselves up - they are filthy rags.  From the research I've examined, the translation of "fifthly rags" is the equivalent to "dirty [used] tampons."  Enough said.  I don't need to elaborate.  So when I come to God and reflect to Him and society how this person or that person is off in their theology or their interpretation of God and then go on to condemn them to hell; in THAT moment, all my righteous deeds, are pretty much just like dirty used tampons - disgusting and good for nothing but to be thrown in the trash.

Trust me, I am the first in line to claim that in the words of Paul, "I am the chief of all sinners....and the least of the apostles."  But these recent current events in our world, have caused me to examine my heart.  How often do I stand in my secret prayer closet of my heart and proclaim like the man in one of Jesus' stories, "...I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector!" 
Does any of this mean that we turn an eye to sin or wickedness or false prophecy, etc.  No, it just means that we don't pick up and cast the first stone.  We may need to be like Jesus was to the woman caught in adultery:  Yes, you committed adultery.  But I don't condemn you.  I forgive you.  Go and don't sin any more in this area. 

Can you; can I; drop our stones and reach down and pull up those who get it wrong?  Those who misinterpret what it looks like to follow Jesus and lead them after Him with love and not judgement and condemnation?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

...desire is irrelevant. I am a machine...

"...desire is irrelevant.  I am a machine..."

Apparently this is a quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Terminator 3.  I haven't seen Terminator 3.  Actually, I didn't even know T3 existed!  I thought T2 was already pushing the envelope a bit....And apparently the ex-Governor was in an affair that his wife didn't know existed.  Well, maybe she did.  Maybe she didn't.  I think she did.  And apparently, unlike his statement in T3, desire IS relevant!

I am not here to kick Arnold & his wife.  I like Arnold.  God loves Arnold.  He was actually my Governor for 9 months of my life while I was a California resident.  However, there is a valuable lesson that we can learn form his life. 

The Bible says - "Be sure your sin will find you out..."  Arnold had a secret.  A hidden sin.  It probably started with a small thought.  A small plan.  A small idea.  A small lust.  Then it grew.  Though it was apparently "covered" for 10-11 years.  It eventually was discovered.  We all know about it.  The world knows about it.  He had a hidden sin.  No one knew of his affair.  It was a secret.  Covered.  Concealed.

Proverbs says, "Whoever covers over his sins does not prosper. Whoever confesses and abandons them receives compassion."  What would have been the result, if Arnold had a safe friend.  A place to share.  A place to confess and abandon his sins?  Had he a core group or friend where he could have said, "hey, I am having thoughts about this woman..."  His friends could have stepped in and rebuked him and helped him and maybe we would not be using him as an analogy today. 

What about me?  What about you?  Do you have any small secret sins?  Cheating on taxes?  Visiting web sites you know are not healthy?  Stealing pencils from work?  Small "white" lies - daily?  We have to expose these sins.  We have to confess and abandon them to others.  I am not suggesting you post it as your Facebook status.  That would be dumb.  But you need a friend or 2 that are safe.  That you can trust.  And you need to tell them.  Tell them about the thoughts you are having about the secretary at work.  Tell them about the inappropriate texts.  The inappropriate emails.  Tell them about the sodas you keep taking from the snack shack @ work.....whatever it is.  No matter how small the sin is in your eyes - you need to confess it.  You need to abandon it; because if you don't, your SIN WILL FIND YOU!  And it is a lot easier to deal with your sin in private with a small group of close friends than when things are full blown on a stage and the whole world is watching you try to escape from your sin...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

better than Jesus...

“It is better for you that I go away! You will be sad now, but your sadness will turn to joy. If I don’t go away you will be unable to receive my spirit. Don’t cling to me..." - Jesus

so there is 2 sides to this statement made by Jesus, prior to him leaving the earth.  if you had been following him around for the past 3 years or so, you are frustrated with him because he just spent all your time together talking about how he was "the way, the truth, and the life" and how we should all "cling" to him.  and "come follow him" etc...  and now he is saying, peace out...I gotta go...don't cling to me....?  and the other side of you is kind of curious to see what happens if he does leave.  this thought had to be in the mind of the disciples, "so Jesus, if you leave, it is better for me?  there is something in it for me?  ok - see ya later, you gotta go..."

according to scripture, Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit.  I won't go to deep into this.  I believe in a "three in one" God.  I love God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit.  but I am not going to try to explain the Holy Spirit....yet I want to compel us each to be open to the Holy Spirit moving in our lives.  i think many of us may have a "bad view" of the Holy Spirit, because our understanding of the Holy Spirit has been distorted by our experiences.  maybe we were a part of a church that used "the Spirit of God" as a way to control or manipulate people.  or maybe you were hurt by a spiritual leader who claimed to be "full of the Holy Ghost?"  Maybe you have seen too many main stream "moves of God" destroyed by broken marriages, sin, and deception?  whatever it is - we, myself included, shut down anything that may involve the Holy Spirit.  if that is so, I am wrong.  we are wrong.  we all in this day and age claim to be lovers of Jesus - but he said, "it is better if you don't cling to me" but rather allow my Holy Spirit to work in your life....

so where do we start?  I am not really sure, but Galatians 5 seems like a great place.  the writer refers to something called the "Fruit of the Spirit."  the idea that if God's Spirit is working in me fully - these things will be evident, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullnes, gentleness, and self control." 

the Bible says that when we give our lives to Christ, we are given his Spirit as a seal to keep us.  so if you follow Jesus, the Spirit of God is already living inside you.  i just encourage you to not hold anything back;  but to rather surrender yourself fully to the Holy Spirit, so that you can fully reflect the character and nature of God...

Monday, May 16, 2011

pop-tarts & porn...

here are some statistics for you:  43% of all Internet users view pornographic material; the U.S. spends $13.6 billion on porn; 85% of American pastors are "involved" with Internet porn...

no, this is not a talk about pornography.  it is a few thoughts on addictions.  most, if not all of us have addictions.  for some of us it is eating too many pop-tarts.  for others, it is pornography.  what is an addiction?  it is "the state of being enslaved to a habit."  sometimes those habits are sins (porn).  sometimes it is an unhealthy consumption of something good (pop-tarts).  but regardless of the habit, if it is unhealthy or it becomes unhealthy, it can pull us away from God, our family, our friends, responsibility, etc

when I was 18, I was addicted to sports.  i would come home from school and from 4pm - midnight I would watch football, basketball, sports center, etc.  maybe I would come out of seclusion to get food (my other addiction).  my grades suffered, my relationship with God suffered...all my relationships suffered.  when i recognized this, i had to destroy it.  so i fasted from sports for a while and killed the craving until i once again had a healthy balance. 

was sports a sin?  no.  was over indulgence?  yes.  it was my "god."  it had my time, my money, my focus, etc.  the God of the universe says to have no other gods except him.  so I had to fix that. 

what is your god?  who is your god?  you say Jesus?  ok, that is awesome.  but is there anything that gets more affection than him?  is there anything else that consumes your time, resources, emotions in an unhealthy way?  more than Jesus? 

don't make something up.  but if you say no, just continue to be on guard against the simplest of things...because even pop-tarts can become a god...