RELIGIONLESS CHRISTIANITY

I have taken up readings by and about Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) once again.

He was a Lutheran pastor who gave his life in resistance to the Nazi Reich of the 30’s and 40’s. And what he observed in Germany was a piety that pushed God away from the center of a person’s life. In this way God was safer.

This marginalization of God was done by language, ceremonies, and even church sacraments. One could be a Nazi and still give allegiance to God through the label of ‘Christian’ and even go so far from the center to have a ‘God blessed baptism’ without the effects. (It reminds me of a scene from ‘The Godfather’.) The same people who received the church sacraments could be the same persons who were anti-Semitic and executed their own citizens for the security of the Reich.

It’s hard to imagine how the German Nationalists could live with themselves. The reason perhaps is that they pushed God to the periphery of their lives, A God to whom they were only accountable for their religious observances and not their day to day lives.

We do and have done the same in America, myself included. We use our religious labels like ‘born again’ or ‘evangelical’ as ways of aligning ourselves with the God of religion. We get baptized, carry large study Bibles and join churches as a means of attaining an acceptable righteousness with God.

But what truly matters is very little of any of this. What matters is Christ, not religion. Christ is the understanding of Bonhoeffer was the epitome of ‘giving ones life for another’. In Philippians 2 Paul writes that we are to have the attitude, the mindset, the character of Jesus who ‘gave up power’ and his equality with God to become a servant to humanity even to the point of dying on the cross. That’s the center where Jesus lives and to where he calls us. In the vocation of salvation, to which we are called, we are to be a people who are for ‘all the others’ not just the few who belong to ‘our group’. Jesus didn’t die for only the Jews. He died for everyone, for all people. He was/is the Lamb of God who takes away ‘the sin of the world’. (John 1)

So if I am called to be Jesus’ disciples whom do I get to exclude in the name of nationalism, politics, the economy or even safety. Jesus did not call us to be ‘safe’ in this world. Rather he said we should carry a cross and deny ourselves, which is the only real way to discover who we really are.

‘Religion’ keeps us thinking that this is what we have really done. I Tithe. Wow, what a burden, a cross to bear. Jesus said that the very people who tithed were the same ones who neglected weightier matters of just and mercy.

Here’s the Message Version of Luke 11:42 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.

And now one of our states has a ‘good Christian’ man running for the U.S. Senate. His past is questionable with several allegations of sexual abuse. He has been compared with Joseph the carpenter who married a young virgin, Mary and bore a son, Jesus. So what’s the problem? And it was 40 years ago. It’s not relevant, some say. And he’s good for the country, a quality that outweighs any past behavior.

See what Bonhoeffer means by pushing God to the peripheral even while using God to condone our own character.

Remember Paul in 1Cor. 13 writing that we can ‘do’ or ‘perform’ all the right acceptable and seemingly moral behaviors but with love it counts, in the salvation vocation to which we are called, for nothing.

God did not send his Son to only save our personal souls to go to heaven when we die but to establish once and for certain His Kingdom, the beachhead for a reconciling of earth and heaven. In Luke 4 Jesus tells about his own presence on earth.

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
to set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”– Message Version

We are called to follow Jesus in the center of all life, loving others, those on the fringe of life, needing to know the love and blessing of God for everyone. We are called to be the light of the world- the whole world.

And as Jesus taught, ‘not even the powers of hell can stop that kind of church’.

We are the bride, getting ready for the Bridegroom to meet us, to feast with us and to restore this creation to a new heaven and new earth. That cannot happen with God on the periphery of our lives. We are not looking for a Christian State but rather the state of Christians to make Christ the center.

And listen- I’m no pillar of virtue when it comes to all the above. I have performed many religious acts and ceremonies that I have thought appeased God and even after 60 years of being ‘a Christian’ I need Christ more than ever at the CENTER, the center of all I am and do. Thanks be to God for his grace in all of that.

Maranatha

 

 

 

 

WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?

Forget the tweets and twitters. Never mind the election scandals. And fear not the terror that stalks by day or night. There is only one power and authority that is holding this earth and we its inhabitants together. That power is love. And love has a name. Jesus.

In Colossians 2:10 we read that Christ is the head over every power and authority and holds everything together. (Colossians 1:17)

No matter how it appears the Kingdom of God has arrived in fullness in Christ at his death and resurrection. It’s for all of us. It’s for you folks who even do not believe this. It’s not fake news. It has the highest reliability. It’s news that can be trusted. Listen we’ve had it, most of us, with the current news real or not. We need some good news and here it is. No matter who you are or what you have been or the doubts you have about the world or yourself you can know for certain that you are part of this Kingdom family that God has set up on this earth. God’s grace makes that possible and each step of faith brings us into his realm, where he and no other authority rule.

It’s not escapism. In fact living with Christ will place us solidly in the realm of love in this world. Heaven begins here. God’s influence is here.

Christ’s reign is not a dictatorial power but rather a strong disarming influence over the whole creation. It was love that held Jesus to the cross to remove the blindness of sin from the world so that more and more people would come under the sway of his heart changing love.

Even at this moment, in ways I don’t fully understand Christ is in the process of reconciling this world, this creation back to God. The towers of Babel are falling. Empires are tumbling. The stranded arks are finding dry land. The covenant that was made with Abraham is being fulfilled. Those who have sat in darkness are finally having light shine on them.

Death, terror and heartache abound but these are not the final words for this world. God won’t allow that for his beloved creation. Yes, suffering must be addressed but in the light of Christ not in a faithless void. No earthly power has the final say. No, the final words are from Jesus who tells us to fear not because the Father has given us the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Five hundred years ago Martin Luther by the grace of God stood against the earthly powers to proclaim the realm and reality of Christ. He lived amidst danger, emperors, threats and plagues. But give a look to some of the words he wrote from his famous hymn, ‘A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD’.

‘And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.’

DON’T WORRY! IT MIGHT NOT BE YOUR JOB.

I am writing for the anxious Christians who think they MUST evangelize, share their faith with all the people they meet. It’s not the responsibility of every Christian to make converts or even disciples for that matter. In general, believers are not told to go into the world and convince people to ‘accept Christ’ as if they fear for the souls of each person in their families, circles of friends or workplace.

But that’s what we are often made to think. How many books are there on ‘evangelism’, not sharing God’s love which is always a good thing, but rather trying to convince people to believe the same as we do.

If you read the New Testament, outside the Gospels, you will not find any explicit commands to evangelize anyone. You will however discover encouragement, commands, direction and even warnings about developing a Christ centered character, developing a lifestyle of love and forgiveness. And believe me, forgiveness is a lot harder than evangelism. You will learn how to love God, worship God and show God’s grace to those around you.

Paul, the Apostle, was certainly an evangelist but if you read his words to the churches and individuals he is most always writing about building up the body of Christ, the community of faith and developing a character whose chief quality is love.

In the Gospels let’s look at the words of Jesus. He called 12 disciples among others to be apostles and he directed them (Matthew 28) to go into the world and ‘make disciples’ which is more extensive and intensive than ‘converts’. This was a special assignment. On another occasion he sent 70 people to announce that God’s Kingdom had indeed come. He sent them as units of two to announce his coming, to prepare the towns and villages for he himself to come and preach. I am not sure how this translates into people going door to door, two by two, to win converts to a particular religion but that’s another matter.

See Jesus made disciples out of those who wanted to follow him. He was the premier evangelist but he does not declare that every follower needs to be a ‘soul winner’.

Billy Graham has been an evangelist. That’s his calling. But it’s not for everyone. We, individually, have been encouraged to be ready to give anyone an answer for how and why we believe in Christ and to do that with gentleness. (1Peter 3:15). Paul writes to the Ephesians church that ‘evangelism’ is a special gift given to some. One of those ‘some’ may be indeed one of us. But in general what we are commanded is to ‘have the mind of Christ’. We are to have the character of Christ, which will lead to loving others, even praying for one another and sharing Christ’s love with others. That will come in an almost natural way as we live with Christ day to day.

But don’t let anyone tell you that you HAVE to be an evangelist. You can I are called to be followers of Christ in word and deed. We are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth wherever and to whomever God leads us. Listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying.

Where Are the Forks?

I find that I often have the same difficulty Paul experienced when he writes in Romans 7 that the good he wants to do he doesn’t do and the bad that he doesn’t want to do is what he often does.

He goes on to say that it is the sin within him that is causing this problem. This is not to say as the comedian Flip Wilson once remarked, “the Devil made me do it.” No, Paul has something more serious in mind. It’s Paul’s own willingness to sin that is the problem. It’s his own ego, his territory that is getting in the way. Once you have set the boundaries on your particular territory you have created a playground for sinful behavior, selfish behavior that may evidence itself in anger, jealousy, pride and worry.

Paul is writing that the only way out of this dilemma is through Christ and the formation of Christ within us. See Galatians 4:19.

Paul even comments at the end of chapter 7, ‘but in the sinful nature I am a slave to the law of sin.’ Or as the Message paraphrase has it, ‘ but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.’ (Vs. 25)

What I prefer to say is that all territory belongs to Christ. I have no King but Christ. I cannot let me ego dictate to me what is right and wrong. All I want is Christ in me and then I can do what Christ would do in my body.

Now last night is an example. I was getting ready for dinner with my wife and noticed there were no forks in the drawer where day by day I would normally find forks. So I mentioned it and my wife said that all the silverware happened to be in the dishwasher. The understanding I got from that, after 45 years of marriage, was that it might be a good think if I, for once, took care of that little issue. Yeah, I got annoyed, thinking that maybe she could have asked me nicely to unload the dishwasher. See, I have my territorial issues. Don’t make inferences about my ineptness when it comes to helping out around the house.

So there I was, wanting to do good but not able. The good, in this case, was just having a nice attitude about the whole thing. Now I could say that some ugly demon was living his life in me but no, that’s not the case. I am my worst demon sometimes. Another word perhaps is ‘selfish’. So I have to enlarge my territory by making it all belong to Christ and then nothing can take me from God’s love not even subtle inferences about my responsibilities.

 

 

For Skeptics and Believers: What draws me to Christianity

At the outset I admit, without being trite, that it’s Jesus who attracts me to the Christian faith. The most attractive quality of Jesus is the way he shows us the character of God that is loving, and forgiving. God, through Jesus, has told me I am loved and God has told that nothing can separate me from God’s love. Not even my own stupidity, negligence or sin. God in Christ pursues me until he brings me back into God’s wonderful embrace. This is for me the essence of Christianity in my being and worked out through my life and the community of faithful believers.

It’s difficult to imagine that Jesus is just an imaginary figure created to satisfy the human need for a god or a crutch in life’s hard times. The character of Jesus is not the sort you would, on your own, invent. I will admit that the church has been guilty over the years of producing a version of Christ that takes the form of power but those powers are hard pressed to find the Jesus they affirm from the scriptures of the New Testament particularly the Gospels.

There we find Jesus, the wisest and most loving teacher who ever lived, instructing his followers to ‘love one another’, to ‘love their enemies and bless those who curse them.’ In Christ we discover a religious master who seeks all who feel lost and left out and find themselves as society’s outcasts. His harshest condemnations are reserved for the proud, the self-confident and judgmental.

Jesus taught his followers to engage the world through ‘weakness’ not ‘strength’. He said they should take up a cross and be willing to die for one another and that behind such ‘foolish’ talk was the love of the Father, God. That kind of teaching goes against the grain of our ego but aligns itself with the Creator. And Jesus not only teaches these principles. He lives them, taking upon him, servant-hood even to the point of death.

I am currently watching all the political posturing of the possible candidates for the office of President and all I witness is self-aggrandizement, judgementalism, pride and power. Maybe I need to look harder and elsewhere.

A skeptical view of Christianity usually addresses the failures of the church, the institutional and individual sins and while it could be made abundantly clear that the church has done more good on this earth than any other institution let’s admit that the church has had its share of failure and sin.

Skepticism does have its place for they wonder if the church didn’t invent this Jesus within the pages of history of the course of the first few centuries C.E. And skeptics do well to question Jesus role today especially in matters of evil, suffering and injustice. These are valid queries into Christianity as long as those asking are willing to do the appropriate searching into the person and work of Jesus. And those of us willing to believe them must be willing to bear a healthy investigation.

To dismiss Christianity because of perceived contradictions in the Bible is not sufficient because most skeptics have seldom read the Bible. And contradictions that might be found are to my mind evidence of the veracity of the witness accounts. Eyewitness accounts rarely find total congruence. We would be even more suspicious if they did.

I think a bigger problem is that Christianity has been around for 2000 years and has been put up on our mental if not physical shelves to be disregarded and a dust collector at best. Many people have simply not tried to place their confidence in everything Jesus did or said. And we are part of a society, which is pretty self-absorbed whereby life, the way we decide to live it, is just fine. THAT would be a religion created in our own image, a religion that we take off the shelf every once in a while, blow the dust off and look for the self-help section.

But not so with Jesus. In every aspect of life Jesus claims Lordship and he calls for our devotion not because he is an egomaniacal dictator but because as God he knows what’s best for his creation.

People say that Christianity is a ‘weak’ religion. I say that dying to self takes more ‘guts’ than to live by any other code. And what is so incredibly reassuring about it is that we don’t have to go it alone.

Grace and Peace

george

Christ at the Center

Bonhoeffer has a book by this title and I tag along to him by saying that everything in this creation has come through Christ. Christ is the victim and the victor and he calls us to be his followers. Those folks in South Carolina, centered in Christ, have found the ability to grieve and grief deeply while they witness to God’s love in Christ through forgiveness. Few of us can understand their grief but those of us who do know it realize it that there is anger and sadness in the midst of anything else we are feeling. We are not naive but at the same time we are not unfaithful. We know the weakness of God in Christ and we know the defeat of death through Christ. Those families and faithful ones in Christ through their forgiveness and their celebration of life know weakness and strength.
The church is to experience both. We are to live with Christ and we are to die with Christ knowing all the while that we are in Christ and Christ in us and not even Satan and all his legions can stop God’s children from marching forward.
I pray that the light of AME Zion churches and those who stand with them will know that God’s grace is always sufficient as well as ultimately victorious.
P.S. Hopefully through it all our nation and we as individual believers will be sufficiently humble to hear God.

How Do Believers Really Know? By Spiritual Insight.

 

INSIGHT: the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing. (Online dictionary)

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (ESV):

And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor
the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

How can we know that God is real, that the Bible is true and that we are loved and saved by grace through faith in Christ? How do we know all this and more? How do we know what we are thinking? We know because we know our own thoughts. I know far better than anyone what I am going to do in the next hour. And God knows what God is thinking and what God is doing. Just like the spirit of humans know what humans are thinking, so the spirit of God knows what God is thinking and God has given to us that spirit, His Spirit. There is a spiritual man and a natural man as we see in verse 14. The natural man (person) can’t see or imagine more than his or her world or devices but the spiritual person has the spirit of God. One of the most brilliant scholars in history, John Calvin, wrote these words:

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spoke. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence, which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it. (Commentary on 2 Timothy 3)

Look how Paul prays for the saints in Ephesus in chapter one:

17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Can we imagine living with that kind of knowledge and insight, inside of us, knowing the love of the Father, the rule of Christ and the hope we have?  This is spiritual insight revealed by God’s Spirit within us. It’s God’s spirit that opens our eyes and gives us wisdom.

Is it not true that little children know what their parents are thinking because within these little minds has been formed the love and desire of their moms and dads? How much more shall we, the children of God, know what God is thinking about us and for his creation.

This awareness, insight and knowledge all begin at the cross of Christ. That’s where Paul starts when he says that the cross was central to his life and teaching. We need to bow, kneel before that cross where Christ gave his life for us. That cross to the world represents weakness, defeat and failure. That’s how the world sees it because the world has its eyes blinded by the powers of darkness but the spiritual person sees, in the weakness, the power of God at work. In love and forgiveness the world was changed.

If you are reading this and have any sense of the reality of God then know that comes from God himself by his Spirit. This is truly insight. Thirst for it and for the Christ who makes it possible to us. Let us place our confidence in this Christ so that when he calls us to follow him we will know what it means for our life and our future.

And all of this is made possible by God’s grace operating in the sphere of prayer, obedience, scripture reading, and other spiritual disciplines that create an inviting avenue for God’s spirit.

 

Classic

I love the word, ‘classic’. It doesn’t just mean ‘old’. it means ‘fine’. It means that something or even someone is of the highest quality, outstanding or valuable. Like classic music, a classic car (my little 66 v.w. beetle convertible). A movie can be considered classic. A person is sometimes thought of as ‘classy’.

So it got me to thinking about and then discovering a book entitle CLASSIC CHRISTIANITY by Thomas Oden. Think about it. The faith that has been delivered to us is classic. It’s incredible,fine, valuable, outstanding and one of a kind classic.

Jude 1 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.(NKJV)

Wow, have we strayed away from that classic christian message or what? We have got church folks like myself living too materially with too many thoughts that don’t often align with the words and actions of Jesus. We have got ourselves liberal christians who somehow think they know better than that classic faith has taught us. So they diminish the authority of the Bible with inclusive, tolerant, universal interpretations and language that basically say it doesn’t matter how you believe or live your life as long as you are basically a good person fighting injustices here and there.

The faith that was once delivered to us through God’s revelation most particularly in Jesus has been through the wringer of philosophies and theologies that have all but pressed out the original Jesus and his powerful message of love, tough love that it is. Some church folk are even afraid to share the Gospel with people thinking that all people are somehow saved without God’s word. And then Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and we look down on the immigrant folks coming from the south. Now we are even claiming we must stop them because the terrorists are part of their company.

No, we need the classic christianity that was believed by the early church fathers…ok, some mothers too. That was a faith worth literally dying for. Read some of the accounts of people like Polycarp.

Whereas once churches were communities that gathered together now they are mega- institutions that have problems of finance and property that Jesus never intended. We need classic christianity. We need class Jesus, the one who was born in most humble estate of a VIRGIN….no matter what liberals say.  The one who gave up all for everything and died to take on himself the condemnation that was due to us all …..no matter what the liberals say. And he rose bodily from the dead, not just in a fairy tale or in our minds as…..

And while i am at it Jesus nowhere instructs his followers to go and bomb our enemies. No where! We cannot justify it in the name of security or terrorism threat no matter what Sean Hannity may say. I want what Jesus says and teaches and if I have to die for that faith I should be willing. I may be scared to death but death is not the end. Jesus said not to fear those who can only kill the body but rather fear him who can kill the body and send the soul to hell. OOPS.

The earliest Christians lived a faith that we now can term classic in the best sense. Let us strive to live that message, the one that is so clear in the Bible. Remember that song, ‘Give me that old-time religion’- well that’s what we need. A wonderful traditional, evangelical, classic teaching handed down to us in the first century.

I think I will get that book CLASSIC CHRISTIANITY…..and I hope this post I am writing doesn’t mean I have to give my classic VW away. Besides it was a gift from my wife.

Blessings to all.

 

 

IN CHRIST ALONE

So within a certain denominational church in these parts a group of ‘experts’ working on a new hymnal have decided NOT TO INCLUDE a particularly beautiful hymn entitled IN CHRIST alone. The reason they give is that line of the lyrics speaks about Christ dying to satisfy the ‘wrath’ of God. They don’t like that kind of theology.

They indicated that there might be ways the wrath of God is satisfied but not by the cross of Christ, not by Christ’s death.

Well, that’s their opinion and they are entitled to it but why not place a hymn in the book that gives an expression that many Christians believe is Biblical.

John Calvin in his Institutes of Christian Religion writes:

“Therefore, [God] loved us even when we practiced enmity toward him and committed wickedness. Thus in a marvelous and divine way he loved us even when he hated us. For he hated us for what we were that he had not made; yet because our wickedness had not entirely consumed his handiwork, he knew how, at the same time, to hate in each one of us what we had made, and to love what he had made.”

Can we not understand the wrath of God and the love of God can exist together and that God gave his own Son so that the justice of his wrath would be satisfied in his loving act through the cross?
― H. Richard Niebuhr in his book The Kingdom of God in America commented on liberal Christian theology getting to the point where the result would be:

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

It seems that a significant portion of the aforementioned denomination would rather believe in the Christ who came to show us love by his birth and his teachings and suffering in life for justice but not the Christ who was sent by God (God in the flesh) to satisfy divine justice for the forgiveness of sin. It is a slippery slope the end of which ends in a full humanistic picture of Jesus as a nice guy, who taught good morals and then died. Happens to lots of nice people.

I for one would rather know the God revealed in the Bible say in Romans 5:

8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.…

Think of yourself for a human example….when you have wrath (severe punishing anger) against someone how do you get justice? If you forgive them it will cost you yourself. You will have to die to yourself. Something of you dies (like your ego) in order to make things right. Try it out. You will see.

No, I am part of the aforementioned denomination and find their grievous error of omission to be so like much of what is wrong with such a liberal ‘enlightened’ theology. Give me a break and let some of us who hold to more evangelical, reformed, traditional theology and reading of the Scripture have some of our views expressed in a hymnal that must have a few other songs that express different views.

Keith Getty and Stuart Townend wrote the hymn. Give it a listen if you haven’t already. Even if it is not in the aforementioned hymnal it will be a classic.

It seems that THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS STILL A STUMBLING BLOCK.

 

 

GOD IS MY HELP

Isaiah 50

The Lord GOD is my help,therefore I am not disgraced;I have set my face like flint,knowing that I shall not be put to shame. vs. 7

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD I SHALL NOT WANT  Psalm 23

If I am at all conscious of God’s sovereignty and grace I pray to realize that I have no need for all my ego defenses or selfish desires because the Lord is all I need. Some translate that first verse of Psalm 23 as ‘the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything that I need.’

Truly God is good and gracious.

There is nothing anyone can do or say to me that can disgrace me or put me to shame. Look at the Passion of Christ in this Holy Week.  See how they tormented him, spit on him and tried their best to shame him but he well knew that his Father’s acceptance and love was all that he needed. Eternity belonged to him. The Kingdom was his and no one could take it away from him.

Why then these petty thoughts of mine about what people think of me or if I am being treated fairly? Why defensive about my rights? God is my help. I have no need of anything else do I?

I need to pray daily that the Christ who gave up everything might live in me with the same love that he knew from the Father.

My Lord is guiding every step I take. And even when I wander he is beside me and he will bring me back into his fold. What else do I need or need to know.  When Christians are mocked they sometimes become argumentative or defensive or even intimidated but I don’t need that. Jesus, it is said, never really made any argument or defense on his own behalf.  He knew he could call twelve legions of angels to help him.  He knew that the Kingdom he inaugurated on earth was his Father’s kingdom and there was no need for anything else.

Why must I attempt to build my own Kingdom at times and wall it off from those who might hurt me in some way? I have no need of my own castle. I belong to the Kingdom of God. That is the Kingdom I want to seek more than anything else.

God loves me….and everyone of you, more than we can understand. This week  is Passion Week, Holy Week and the celebration of Christ’s ultimate victory in which you and I stand forever. Offer your own prayer, or read the stories from the Gospels of his passion and ask that you and I may be able to say to our Father, no matter the circumstances, “Thy will be done.” Amen.