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All About “Me”?

Jesus died for “Me”

Of course, Jesus died in order to take away the sins of the world. The lies, theft, misuse of God’s name, all the times God was not put first in our lives.  Believe in the lordship of Jesus and be baptized, as the bible says, this may not be what your pastor has told you…(Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:31-33, etc)

Jesus died in order to give God glory

Now, here is the part we seem to have missed or forgotten. Everything, and I mean everything that happened on the cross, at the hands of Jesus, with the Israelites in Egypt, the walls of Jericho tumbling down, and Paul’s many journey’s witnessing to the Gentiles and beyond, everything was done to bring glory to God. God, the one and only. God the Creator. God, the only one who deserves it… (Jeremiah 9:23-24, Ps 96:1-9, I Chron 16:23-29, John 17, I Cor 10:31, etc)

Jesus died so that I could give God the glory20150116_124617

So, when we think of our salvation, or consider the idea of salvation if you are not saved from your sins, we must put these thoughts into context. The reason God wants us to be saved is more than the fact that he loves us, it’s that he also calls us to bring him glory! In all things we are to bring glory to God…(I Cor 10:31)

Give God the glory by Going and Making Disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

At the end of Matthew, Jesus proclaims the Great Commission as written above. Go and make disciples etc, right? Why? To give glory to God. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why? To give glory to God! Go and baptize, making disciples of all nations. Why? To give glory to God…Not because God simply loved “me”.

Summary

“Me”, “Me”, “Me” sounds like a line from The Matrix Trilogy when Agent Smith was duplicating himself.  If Jesus simply died for “me”, then when I am saved I am done! Yipee! I figured this salvation thing out!

I think God is disgusted with us.  The goal is to glorify God and our culture misses this fact. Read John Chapter 17 to get a feel for this concept, or do a little searching and you will find the concept of giving God all the glory pervades scripture. Jesus died for me so that I could bring glory to God through my salvation, to all nations. Going to church once a week for an hour doesn’t fulfill this command. Serving food in a homeless shelter once in a while doesn’t fulfill this command to go, go, go either, does it?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus clearly preached that the path to hell is wide but the path to eternal life is narrow and only a few will find it? (Matt 7:13-14).  Have you ever meditated on this scripture and wondered what it means?  Have you bought into a watered down version of Christianity?  Will you one day say “Lord, Lord”, but Jesus will say he never knew you? (Matt 7:22-23)

Next up: All nations doesn’t mean your town, your state or simply your nation. More on that in my next blog post!

Never Another…

I really enjoy reading Bob Kravitz’s column in the Indianapolis Star.  He has a nice balance of humor, relevance and reality.  I particularly liked his phrase from yesterday’s paper.

We’ll’ never see another one like him again.

Bob was referencing Peyton Manning and all the records he’s breaking (that most of us Colts fans are numb to by now).

This phrase hit me though.  “Never see another…”  I couldn’t help thinking about Jesus.  Some people believe he never existed, others believe he was just a man, or even a great preacher.  Jesus made claims and performed actions that we cannot ignore; many authors recorded the greatness of these claims and actions.

Never see another one…”  We won’t see Jesus as a baby in a feeding trough nor as a rabbi dying on a cross.

Never see another one like him…”  No, it’s clear that Jesus came and completed his calling, for He said, “It is finished.”  Jesus broke all the records and people have become numb to it 2000 years later.

Never see another one like him again.”  Here’s where Jesus was and is different.  We may not see Him the same way again, but He will come again and He will blow away all the numbness and every knee will bow to His Lordship.  Yes, Peyton Manning is one of a kind, but Jesus was far more, for He came and will come and He will come in Glory again.  All of us have a choice to make.  Learn about WHY this Jesus was so different and relevant.  Don’t dismiss this opportunity to seek, knock and open that door.  It is promised that if you take these steps, He will answer.

For further details seek out THIS POST

Blessings!

NOT Such a Strange Way

I’ve heard songs as well as Pastors note that “It was such a strange way to save the world.”  Of course, this is referring to the life, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Son.

I don’t think it was strange at all.  Here’s why.

Since God is all knowing, from God’s perspective he already knew what it was like to be human, to feel human, to deal with our humanness.  So, the first question could be,  “How could he become human if he was God?” or “Why did he need to become human?” Let’s look at these two questions.

1) How could God become human?  Well, I would think God could change in the same way that someone really talented and good at basketball could play with someone who is untalented and allow themselves to lose.  We hide or limit ourselves in order to play at the level we choose.  Of course, the basketball player is still talented and good, just like God is still God.

2) Why did God need to become human?  My opinion is that God knew that humans needed more thanhave to see it just information.  We needed to see.  Who would argue with that logic?  Have you ever said, “Show me the proof?” or “I’ll believe it when I see it!”

So, if we combine both of these questions we get something infinitely more logical.  If God truly wanted to experience his own creation and the current state of the human condition, and also at the same time be something that humans could see…he would have to limit himself in some manner AND become human.

This logic leads us to the next question.  “Why use this limited human state as a step to save the world?

3) Why do this?  Since God willingly limited himself (my viewpoint) and became Jesus (remember he was still fully God and now fully human), he could now be seen as a human who dealt with temptation and the rigors of life just as everyone did at that time.  His mind could truly grieve at how much sinful temptation gets thrown our way every day and be seen dealing with it.  On the cross, the crucifixion was so much more than physical pain.  Jesus knew from his own “human” experience that he would be taking on an unimaginable amount of punishment.  Jesus knew exactly how much temptation he had to deal with, and thus knew how much sin every human dealt with and succumbed to.  Not only did Jesus live a life unblemished without sin, he knew first hand how much sin was occurring everyday, past, present and future…

Can you now begin to see the incredible weight of punishment that Jesus (as God) could now fathom that he would be enduring?  I can’t fathom it.  It’s like trying to imagine what 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 is.  Um, it’s a lot.  But, Jesus wouldn’t have had any difficulty comprehending this order of magnitude.  He sweat blood and prayed for “this cup” of wrath to be taken away.  In the end, he was faithful and took the punishment we deserve, deserved and will deserve (past, present and future) out of love for us.

Some ask, “Why would God punish himself to save his creation?

4) Why would God punish himself?  Well, I contend many people have misinterpreted what God did.  God took on the punishment that we deserved, willingly.  He didn’t “just punish himself”!  Think of it like a parent choosing to willingly die for their children.  I know I would step in and sacrifice myself to save my child, my wife, probably even a stranger.  God knows the hairs on our head, he really knows us and loves us far more than the paltry level of love that we show toward others.  He died for us.

So, one last question, “Why the burial and resurrection?

5) Why the Burial and Resurrection?  Again, we are human, and I’ve shown that we need to see things.  It made sense for Jesus to come and live as a human (to show us he could live without sin), die (to take our punishment), as well as come back to life.  The “come back to life part” is all about showing us about the gift of salvation.  When our punishment is removed, we have defeated death.  The gift Jesus gave us, by taking on the well deserved punishment for our sins, was akin to the highest level of love we can imagine.

Gift of salvationIt was and is a gift…And like all gifts, it must be accepted or else you do not receive it.  The Bible is clear, repent and be baptized, every one of you.  Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit.  Believe and be baptized.  Too often we stop at “accept the gift” without studying what accepting the gift means.  Baptism is so important, and to simplify all this, for those who feel infant baptism is the way to go.  I ask two final questions.

6) Did you repent of your sin as a baby before you were baptized?

7) Did you believe Jesus took on all of your sin and died for you out of love when you were baptized?

If not, then why were you baptized?

In the end, Jesus’ actions, and act of love weren’t so strange.  What’s strange to me is how many of us fight so hard to ignore the gift, to ignore the Word of God and to choose to listen to the words of man.

May God bless you!

Welcome to the Game Show!

“Will the next contestant please come down!”

Hi contestant, please tell me about yourself!

CONTESTANT:  Well, I’m pretty normal.  I’ve messed up a few things in life,game show but I’m definitely a good person overall!  It’s not like I’ve ever killed anyone!  Eh?

That’s great contestant!  You just won the big prize!  Yep, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Contestant just won a free ticket to heaven!  God forgives you, lickety split, BINGO!  That’s it!  We all know God just forgives us all for no reason whatsoever!!!

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

What was that?  [POOF – Jeremiah appears]

Whaaat?!? Who are you, how did you get in here?

Looking around at all the excited people, Jeremiah (a prophet of God) simply opens his mouth and speaks.

I will discipline you but only with justice;

I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’

“This is what the LORD says:

” ‘Your wound is incurable,

your injury beyond healing.

There is no one to plead your cause

(From Jeremiah 30-11-13)

puff of smoke[Poof – Jeremiah disappears only to be replaced by Paul]

What is going on here!?!  What’s up with all the smoke and scratchy robes!?!  Mr. Contestant, are you involved in this?

CONTESTANT:  I have no idea!  Do I get my free ticket or what?  Why’s that guy saying I’m incurable and have no one to plead my cause?

Now, Paul steps forward after shaking himself off.  Paul proceeds to also speak.

Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

 ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’ (From Acts 13: 38-41)

[Poof – Paul disappears as well, only to be replaced by a cross]

Okay, enough of the interruptions!  Can we get someone to stop all the pyrotechnics?  Who’s going to get this splintery wood off my stage now????!!!!  If this mess isn’t cleaned up, I’ll give you all something to NOT believe!

CONTESTANT:  Look, there’s a note on the cross.  Maybe that’s my prize!

The contestant walks past the huffing announcer and picks up the paper.  It reads:

“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.  And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)  Also, please note the cross is heavy and it makes life a bit more difficult because you will be treated badly and you will also be mocked if you speak in my name.  Don’t worry though, this life is but a grain of sand in the beach of eternity.  Do not be deceived.  Do not be a scoffer.  Someone has told you what you need to hear, listen!    – Jesus

The cross disappears and the Contestant who was leaning on it, falls to his knees.  The light turns on in his head.  He no longer hears the announcer’s scoffs.

A Hard Days Work?

workSomething for every Christian (and non Christian) to think about.

A simple teaching from Matthew 20:1-16 that carries a deep challenge.

In this parable, an employer is hiring workers throughout the day.  At the end of the day, whether you worked 1 hour or 8 hours everyone got paid the same.  Those that had worked more “grumbled” about those getting paid the same for less work.  The employer reminds them that they agreed to work for the set amount of pay.

The employer then proclaims what I contend is the key to this parable.

Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?

The idea of being “generous” is often replaced with the self-centered idea that what is seen is “unfair”.  Isn’t that sad?  I’m confident we’ve all had these feelings at some time in our lives.  Let’s see, you’ve been playing a game all day and losing,  and a new guy comes in and wins right away.  Someone at work gets a promotion that you feel you deserved.  A family member you dislike becomes a Christian after living a life of molesting other family members.

poutingIf you happen to be in the “unfair” crowd, I challenge you to really think about where you stand with God.  Think where God sits in your life.  Under you? Or on the throne of your life?  If you are a non-believer, think why you have such a problem with generosity.  In the end, generosity from God is what is always available once you accept and understand the concept of the free gift of salvation…

Back to the parable, this parable is ALL about salvation.  Many people don’t think it would be fair for Osama Bin Laden or some other “evil” person to be allowed to be saved.   What these people fail to perceive is that God has made it clear the we are all evil and should not be allowed to be saved.  Disagree? Run down the list of the Ten Commandments and see if you’ve kept them all.  We don’t deserve God’s grace and generosity, yet, we are all offered the same “reward” no matter when we proclaim our faith.  Best of all, it’s free.

Think hard.  If you feel it’s unfair that a party animal who has lived the life of a “heathen” can become a Christian late in life and get the same reward, are you jealous because you “wish” you could have lived the life of a heathen and gotten away with it?  Are you self righteous and feel only people like you deserve salvation?

We should have the attitude of Christ and the angels in heaven who rejoice when anyone is saved!  And, for the non-believer, view things in a more positive, less self-centered point of view instead of, “It’s not fair!”.  Remember, whether you see it from God or from your boss, they have the right to say, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Salvation, Oh, How We Count the Ways.

signsA few years ago I decided to do a little “religion” research, specifically how a person attains salvation in various world religions and belief systems. I will say that my information below is condensed a bit so that you won’t be reading this e-mail for a week. Keep this statement in mind while reading, I find it rather interesting.

“Religion is man’s attempt of trying to reach God, while Jesus is God’s attempt of trying to reach man.”

Spiritualism Salvation:
Leaving the physical body does not change the condition of the spirit, which is the actual personality. It must learn to desire and to progress to higher and better conditions, just as we do on earth (SM, p. 182).
Each must work out his own salvation; each has an equal opportunity to do this when he shall have atoned for the wrongs and overcome the temptations and allurements to the sense gratification of earth life (SM, p. 184).

Mormonism Salvation:
The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: Faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; repentance; baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost (AF, 4).
Baptism is…the very gateway into the kingdom of heaven, an indispensable step in our salvation and exaltation (Bennett, Why I Am a Mormon, p. 124).  Mormons also believe that good works are necessary for salvation, it is not a “free” gift.

Eastern Mysticism Salvation:
The way of Yoga (meaning union) is that of concentration aided by body control, with the aim being “Union with the Divine.”
There is no supernatural intervention. We bear the whole responsibility for our actions. If we attain the clear vision of what we are, “the Divine or Inner Light, and the god within,” we need not go elsewhere. “All may say, at the moment of Awakening, ‘I am the Way’ ” (KC, p. 237).

Hinduism Salvation:
The final goal of salvation in Hinduism is escape from the endless round of birth, death, and rebirth. That can mean an eternal resting place for the individual personality in the arms of a loving, personal God, but it usually means the dissolving of all personality into the unimaginable abyss of Brahman.
Four yogas, or ways of reaching such salvation, are described: (I) jnana yoga, the way of knowledge, employs philosophy and the mind to comprehend the unreal nature of the universe; (2) bhakti yoga, the way of devotion or love, reaches salvation through ecstatic worship of a divine being; (3) karma yogo, the way of action, strives toward salvation by performing works without regard for personal gain; and (4) raja yoga, “the royal road,” makes use of meditative yoga techniques. Raja yoga is usually viewed as the highest way, but for the majority of people, who cannot become wandering monks, the other ways are considered valid.
Most Hindus consider that they have many incarnations ahead of them before they can find final salvation, although some sects believe that a gracious divinity will carry them along the way more quickly.

Islam Salvation:
Though a Muslim honors several prophets, Muhammad is considered the last prophet and his words and lifestyle are that person’s authority. To be a Muslim, one has to follow five religious duties:
1. Repeat a creed about Allah and Muhammad;
2. Recite certain prayers in Arabic five times a day;
3. Give to the needy;
4. One month each year, fast from food, drink, sex and smoking from sunrise to sunset;
Pilgrimage once in one’s lifetime to worship at a shrine in Mecca.

At death — based on one’s faithfulness to these duties — a Muslim hopes to enter Paradise, a place of sensual pleasure. If not, they will be eternally punished in hell.

The benefit of being a Muslim is that it matches many people’s expectations about religion and deity. Islam teaches that there is one supreme God, who is worshiped through disciplined religious rituals. He is seen as a powerful God vastly remote from humankind, who does what he pleases. Then after death a person is rewarded or punished according to their religious devotion.

Judaism Salvation:
One’s eternal existence in the hereafter is determined by moral behavior and attitudes.

Buddhism salvation:
Most Buddhists believe a person has hundreds or thousands of reincarnations, all bringing misery. And it is the desire for happiness that causes a person’s reincarnation. Therefore, the goal of a Buddhist is to purify one’s heart and to let go of all desires. A person must abandon all sensuous pleasures, all evil, all joy and all sorrow.
To do so, Buddhists are to follow a list of religious principles and intense meditation. When a Buddhist meditates it is not the same as praying or focusing on a god, it is more of a self-discipline. Through dedicated meditation a person may reach Nirvana — “the blowing out” of the flame of desire.

New Age Religion Salvation:
New Age promotes the development of the person’s own power or divinity. When referring to God, a follower of New Age is not talking about a transcendent, personal God who created the universe, but is referring to a higher consciousness within themselves. A person in New Age would see themselves as God, the cosmos, the universe. In fact, everything that the person sees, hears, feels or imagines is to be considered divine.
Highly eclectic, New Age presents itself as a collection of ancient spiritual traditions. It acknowledges many gods and goddesses, as in Hinduism. The Earth is viewed as the source of all spirituality, and has its own intelligence, emotions and deity. But superseding all is self. Self is the originator, controller and God of all. There is no reality outside of what the person determines.

Scientology Salvation:
Scientology addresses the spirit – not simply the body or mind – and believes that man is far more than a product of his environment, or his genes.
Scientology comprises a body of knowledge which extends from certain fundamental truths. Prime among these are:
Man is an immortal spiritual being.
His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.
His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized.
Scientology further holds man to be basically good, and that his spiritual salvation depends upon himself and his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.
Scientology is not a dogmatic religion in which one is asked to believe anything on faith. An individual discovers for himself that Scientology works by applying its principles and observing or experiencing the results.
The ultimate goal of Scientology is true spiritual enlightenment and freedom for the individual.

Christianity Salvation:
Jesus died for our sins meaning that the one lie, the small item we stole, or the times we have used God’s name in vain DO keep us out of heaven.  “Sins” isn’t just murder or something bad that someone else did. He was God in human form, sent here to save the world not condemn it. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. If you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was resurrected. If you confess this with your mouth, and if you believe this in your heart, you will be saved. If this is your belief, you will have eternal life after this life is over. A life with Jesus in your heart can only be truly enjoyed and accomplished if you have a relationship with Him. Going to church only on Sunday is not a relationship. A relationship is communicating each and every day with Jesus. Unlike most of the “religions” above, heaven is not attained by doing good works, goods works are a byproduct of living a life full of the spirit of Jesus Christ.

If any of these excerpts do not accurately describe your faith please leave a comment!

Take it, it’s FREE!

 My Dad and I took my son and Mom to an airshow east of Indianapolis today.  We were all noting how there were many, many people carrying bags of dog food around.  We were like, why are they all carrying these big heavy bags around?  Then, we saw it, there was a tent giving out free starter bags of their dog food.  As we passed I heard a man say, “There’s something about humans, if it’s free they have to take it….”  This made me immediately question him in my mind.  I immediately thought about salvation and how the free gift offered through faith in Jesus Christ does not follow this man’s idea.  Many, many humans refuse the free gift of salvation for any number of reasons.

One of these reasons is that a human feels they will have to change their lives drastically in order to live the life of a Christian.  Don’t you know someone that feels this way?  Haven’t you heard, “I couldn’t be a Christian because….I would have to quit….I wouldn’t be able to……(fill in the blank)”  Funny thing is that God addressed these thoughts very clearly and many have missed it.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  2 Cor 5:17

Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”  Luke 5:36-39

 These verses reflect that we become a new person with new desires when we are saved.  When we truly put our faith in Christ (different that just going to church), we won’t see things like we thought we would.  In my experience, I just simply didn’t want to speak foul language anymore or lie or take advantage of others.  There was no thinking about it or telling myself all the time, “I have to stop doing this or I will be a bad Christian….I have to follow these rules….”  I simply was changed.  It happened for me over a few years, some things faster, some at later times, but it was of no effort of mine to research and “try”, I just became convicted and knew I would do things differently from then on.

So…. that common misconception of having a “tough time” changing your life is simply a cop-out and a bit of ignorance.  You just need to trust the words of Jesus and Paul.  Life may still be difficult, but your life will change and it will begin to change exactly how God intends it the moment you truly believe.