Creation

Creation, Interrupted

Creation, interrupted.

I came up with this term myself.  If we look at the creation narrative in Genesis 1, 2, and 3, we see that God created the heavens and the earth.  God created the plants, animals, fish, and seas.  God created night and day and lastly God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden.  (Not in that order, but you get my point)  But what I mean by creation, interrupted is that the story was not over.  Most people would say, “Yes, of course we realize that the story was not over because through disobedience, sin entered creation.”  But the fact of the matter is that, Adam and Eve never got the finished product of creation, which was the tree of life.  Before, Adam and Eve could lay their hand on the tree of life, God banished them from the garden, as an act of mercy so that they would not forcibly eat and live forever in the state of sin.  But that is my exact point, the creation was interrupted.

I have used this example before but I think it fits.  Imagine being in an argument and the other person is not letting you get your point across and keeps interrupting you.  They cut you off every time you open your mouth to speak, never listening to your viewpoint.  And then as soon as they are done “proving their point”, they walk away.  You never are allowed the opportunity to finish the conversation.  I actually believe that this feeling of interruption, the feeling of not being able to complete something, and how it makes people angry, bitter, and disillusioned is exactly the state of humanity, as a result of being banished from the garden.  We could not finish or complete our story.  We were unable to see what eating from that tree would have done for us.

Now, whether the tree was literal, symbolic, metaphorical for our obedience to God is not the point.  Obedience to God is the point.  Through our obedience, we would have experienced the very completion of our story.  And the revealing aspect of who God actually was and is would have come to its eventual conclusion for the first humans.  If we know God as, Father, Son, and Spirit, then the Father, Son, and Spirit would have been revealed to us.  Father, Son, and Spirit were not New Testament revelations, but they are the hidden mystery before the time began.

Christ would have been revealed as would have the Spirit.  If the Word was God, and the Word created everything that is, then why would humanity not know their Creator?  The Spirit would have been the very life of God in the first humans, giving them the power of God in their lives and giving them their inheritance, which was life forever with God.  Creation, interrupted.

So, when I hear people go back to the original creation and say, “God created everything as good”, which the apostle Paul also references in 1 Timothy 4.4,

“For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.”  I think, “Yes, but creation was not over.”  Our inheritance is not going to be God’s creation, but God himself.  That we are going to live as “New Creation”, not disembodied beings, because of the resurrection of Christ but our bodies will take upon themselves the finished creation.  Creation, completed.

I know this may sound confusing, but I am going to continue to write about this because it is our story.  Humanity desires the tree of life to live forever because death is truly an enemy.  The cross of Christ took the death that sin created, and when Jesus cried out, “It is finished”, creation was completed.

There is nothing in the world I love to see or hear than a person’s testimony of their journey to Jesus!  It absolutely excites me to see someone begin the transformation into the image of the glorious son of God.  When we encounter Christ, literally every atom and molecule in our body cries out for its Creator and King!  There is no comparison known to humanity!  Yes, I overdid the exclamation points!!

Article  (Read here)

Galatians, Galatians, Galatians!

In America today, the more that I read what people supposedly say about God and the gospel, the more I say, “Something about what people some people say just does not seem right.”  People are so concerned about social issues that they make the gospel about a social cause or a political situation.  But the good news is Jesus himself.  That God in his infinite kindness and mercy did not let people wallow in the mire of their lives.  Good news means that apparently I was living some “Bad news.”  Wait, why didn’t someone tell me?  No one had to tell me because when Good News came to me, I distinctly knew the difference.  It was a if I had been eating rotten fruit and tasted the freshest piece of fruit ever.  No one needed to tell me the difference, I knew it.  As a matter of fact, I talked to the Holy Spirit immediately and had a conversation which continued all the way until the next morning.  Yes, God.Is.Real.

In our modern world, this gospel has been distorted.  It is not about “receiving God’s immense grace” but about taking Jesus into my self and fixing the world.  In an easy way to explain what I am talking about is that, some people are convincing others that eating rotten fruit is fine.  But if we know God or rather are “known by God” as Paul puts it in Galatians, we will desire to do the will of him who knows us and calls us.  Jesus said in the book of John that if we know him than we will desire to do his will. We will desire to glorify the one to whom gave his life for us.  We will allow God’s precious Holy Spirit to magnify Christ in our midst, in our lives, and in our world.  And by the way, our world is where we live, not somewhere out there.  If Jesus did not seek glory or seek to “change the world”, why do we?  In reality, thinking we are “changing” anything is a myth.  Lives are “changed” when they encounter Jesus and this happens usually in the same ways it happened in the stories of the gospels, where Jesus encountered someone and touched and healed them.  They received God’s grace and in turn, received the Lord himself.

Jesus is shown to hang out a lot in Bethany, which is about two miles from Jerusalem.  He was welcome there, so he went there a lot.  Wow!  Not too difficult to comprehend.  Jesus resides where he is welcome.  Jesus performs miracles where he is welcome and were he is received.  That is the story of Galatians.  Paul says that Jesus was welcome or “publicly manifest as crucified” to the Galatians and miracles were performed because the Galatians received the Holy Spirit, the very presence of Jesus into their assembly.

That is the story of Galatians.  In this book, Paul paints a sweeping picture of God’s immense grace and redemption in Christ Jesus.  Paul paints a short biographical picture of himself, as one who adamantly opposed the church and actively tried to destroy it.  Although he does not get into details how he accomplished the task of destroying the church, he does use the word, “violently” and violence as understood in the Greco-Roman world did not mean, “spiritual, verbal, or emotional” violence.  It meant physical violence.

But then Paul goes right back to saying in verses 15-16, 

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood…”

So here is the crux of what I am writing about.

Why did God wait so long to reveal Jesus to Paul?  If God had revealed Jesus to Paul earlier, then Paul would not have persecuted the church.  Paul would not have consented to throwing Christians in jails, prisons, or even killing them.  Paul would have served Christ, right?  Well, maybe not and here is why.

If God had revealed Jesus to Paul prior to Paul zealously applying the law to this situation, then Paul may have never know the immense grace of God.  And we can neither show nor make known anything which we ourselves do not know and experience. Paul recognized that the law in which he was applying was magnifying his own sin and not justifying him before God.  Paul could never have known that it was ONLY a sheer act of God’s grace in Christ Jesus which justified a human being.  And the fact of the matter is that Paul could not consult with flesh and blood (people) because Paul knew that this was a revelation of Jesus Christ.  And here is the most amazing aspect of it all.  Paul did not consult with anyone because the Spirit implanted the law of Christ Jesus upon his heart and Paul could attest to these same churches that they are saved by grace and trained by the same grace.  Paul truly knew that we as Christians grow in our faith by and through faith.  Faith is its own trainer.  It grows.

Paul is fairly angry about the Galatians abandoning this grace in favor of good news which tells people that they have to perform some action or work or service prior to knowing Christ.  Of course Paul would reject this.  While Paul was traveling to Damascus with order to beat the crap out of Christians, Jesus knocked him off his horse, showed himself visibly to him, and spoke audibly to him.

Please tell me what Paul did to “make” this happen.  Jesus showed himself to Paul out of grace.  Jesus then spoke to another believer to go lay their hands on Paul to receive the Holy Spirit.   Jesus even told this believer where Paul was located.  And for God’s sake, Paul could not even see.

PAUL DID NOTHING TO EARN OR DESERVE GOD’S GRACE!!

While we were sinners, while we were racist, sexist, misogynistic, bigots, Jesus died for us.  Jesus gave his life for us completely despite anything we had done.

What is Galatians?  It is a book which says, “Hey! Someone is tricking you!  Someone is teaching you that you can do something other than receive God’s grace.  Paul says, “You can neither rescue yourself, nor can you make yourself holy.”  It is a sheer act of God’s Holy Spirit, the law of the cross of Jesus Christ written upon your heart that changes your life.”

At the end of Galatians, Paul says, “The only thing I boast in is the cross of Jesus Christ.”  The most shameful act that Rome inflict upon someone else, Paul says is what we boast in.  Without the cross of Jesus, then sin does not become the enemy that it truly is.  It was sin that crucified Jesus and without Jesus taking this sin, we would never know God!

Boast in the cross!  Because Jesus has defeated our enemy and by defeating the great enemy of death, we can live as free people.

Top Ten Reasons I am a Christian…

church politics

#10–Jesus asks questions of the ones who had just asked him questions, then doesn’t give an answer, and walks away.

#9–Jesus calls the religious leaders “Sons of hell, hypocrites, white washed walls, outcasts, hypocrites, shallow, and hypocrites”, and then dies to prove he is a true religious leader.

#8–Herod asks Jesus to perform a miracle, Jesus stares him down and Herod laughs nervously.

#7–The soldier who was arresting Jesus has his ear cut off by Jesus’ followers, then Jesus rebukes his followers and heals the soldiers ear.

#6–When cornered by two groups of people, Jesus asks a question of one group which is the exact thing the other groups hates, then walks away.

#5–Jesus became for people what God had always desired, fellowship with them.

#4–Jesus never asks anything of us which he did not already accomplish and then gives us a Helper to accomplish it.

#3–With one word, Jesus…

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This was simply my response to an article from a consultant as to why churches in America are dying.  Here is the article, with my response at the bottom.  peace.

Dying Churches

My response:

I like Hauerwas but disagree with the statement that “the church in America is dying because God is punishing her for subordinating the radical witness of Jesus in America.” I think a better way to describe it might be Dallas Willard’s statement that “in some churches, God simply stands aside while we pursue our interests, our agenda’s, our lives.” Jesus is present where he is welcome, like in Bethany in Israel. Other times Jesus was present but was not received. In Bethany, Jesus was lavished upon and we see Jesus returning there over and over again because the people loved his presence with them. Miracles happened, people’s hearts were opened, and we can see genuine warmth and love in Bethany. I think Jesus traveling around in Israel should be seen as a “representation” of some our churches. In certain places, the people simply did not believe. As Stanley Hauerwas has said, “the church grows through witness and conversion”. When people do not know Jesus and experience his grace and forgiveness, this ignited a passion and we should ALL say, “Yes! That’s what this is about!” Just a thought. good article.

The problem with theology.  The word theology in its simplest form comes from the integration of two words: theo (meaning God) and logos: (meaning word).  Therefore the main thrust of theology is to bring God into words.  But what happens when the word becomes God?  I say this because if we truly believe in the incarnation of Jesus, meaning that God took the form of Jesus and lived, breathed, and dwelt among us, then how can people simply believe that we take Jesus (a person) and make this person simple into the form of theology?

Theology seems to be more concerned about proper thinking than it does about the human person and the way that we live as God’s people.  When Jesus encountered a person 2000 years ago and when he encounters a person today, I have yet to see any reaction that equals the reaction of complete and utter silence before the living God.  Theology as bringing God into words suddenly becomes null and void.  There are no words to describe the very presence of the risen Christ.  There are no words to describe the immense love which fills the human heart to overflowing.  And yet, I write this with words to describe an experience which must be devoid of words.  As I read the stories of Jesus, the ones to whom Jesus encounters over and over again, experience something which is indescribable, yet transforms their lives and compels them into an eternal life which exemplifies God’s forgiveness.

Theology must reflect the transformed life because words have so much power.  But what is more dangerous than words is a life which declares Jesus without a personal encounter with the living Christ.  I use the term “Christ” as the “anointed Lord”.  This is not to say that the process of Jesus becoming Lord in a person’s life does not take time.  Jesus can do whatever he chooses with whomever he chooses.  That is my exact point.  Jesus if Lord and if I am to declare this truth, then I must at some point know that his Lordship is greater than my words.

John Wesley.  I love John Wesley, but I just have to take a few moments and scratch my head at the United Methodist Church and other churches which stem from the Methodist movement of John Wesley.  Why am I scratching my head.  Because at some point, we must begin to acknowledge that John Wesley was completely finished in ministry prior to his baptism in the Holy Spirit.  And could we begin to to acknowledge what this event actually was.  It was the baptism in the Spirit, of which the entire New Testament demonstrates. In 1738, John Wesley went to a meeting in London and this is the event:

“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans.  About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

So John Wesley had the inner witness of the Spirit which he had been seeking.  John Wesley had desired to know but it took him to basically lose all assurance in his ability to gain or earn God’s blessing.  John Wesley had said prior to going to this meeting that he believed he was all but finished in ministry.  He had been kicked out of every church in London (also because the elites in London did not like hearing about sin), but John Wesley had no where else to go and then Aldersgate happened.  John Wesley said that after this event, he immediately began to forgive people that he had harbored bitterness toward.  He said that the confirmation in his life was that he was truly loved by God.

So, instead of preaching the gospel where this same Spirit is received with grace, we point people to John Wesley and his experience.  Instead, we should look at the example of John Wesley and desire it for ourselves.  John Wesley’s experience has no power to do anything for me today but demonstrate the reality of Jesus.  It is Jesus who transforms hearts through the revelation and witness of the Spirit.  John Wesley was baptized in the Holy Spirit.  John Wesley was a “Holy Ghost rollin’, tongues speakin’, casting out devils believin’, man of God!”  So, in essence, John Wesley was a Pentecostal and so was the Methodist movement.