Tag: religion

The Church and God’s Will: G2M or MITM?

Historical Truth 1 – Old Testament G2M

A good while back the Israelites had neither kings, nor judges.  This was God’s will.  He set it up this way.  They followed God directly in cooperation with Moses. The cloud moved, they moved.  The role of Moses was not one of ‘king’, nor leader, but perhaps if you had to slap a title on him it would be ‘prophet’ – delivering God’s messages as an obedient mail man.  He was a normal man, not without sin.  It was not Moses who brought them out of Egypt, it was God – and God made sure this point wouldn’t be confused by means of wild and terrible acts against their oppressors.  This relationship, was God-to-Man (or G2M for the sake of creating an acronym).  He was a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire by night.  God said move left, and the people moved left.  God said move right, and the people moved right.  God said “jump” and the people said “how high?” – kind of.

However, when Moses went to the mountain to speak to God, he stopped to tie his shoe and took a bit longer than expected and the people, losing their G2M mouthpiece for longer than they wanted, ended up making a golden calf to worship – a heinous and adulterous breach in their relationship with God.  It proved that having a man-in-the-middle (MITM) was an unnatural relationship and doomed to fail.

Following Moses,  the Israelites set up more leaders (kings/ judges) because they preferred a MITM relationship rather than G2M.  The end result of this choice was a total degradation and ultimately the complete abandonment of the God who delivered them.

There was a restoration, of sorts, in Nehemiah but it was never as G2M as it was with Moses.  There was always a MITM.

Historical Truth 2 – New Testament G2M
The book of Acts was not only a restoration of this G2M relationship, but the fullness thereof where God’s own Spirit was poured into man and ‘the people’ went wherever God’s Spirit instructed.  Jesus had ripped the veil, the holy place of God was accessible to all men, and the MITM relationship was fully, officially, and legally ended.  God had taken up residence inside his newly restored earthly tabernacle – the body of believers.

As you read the book of Acts, you see that they acted as one body, and did acts of God on the earth – without priests, pastors, kings, or judges. Everyone was G2M when the Spirit poured out on the believers in Acts 2, but at some point, it went MITM and then the church went bad – real bad.

My Opinion (Read at Own Risk)

MITM is not the will of God, nor can anyone spiritually grow in this secular, man-made environment. It is a recipe for stunted spiritual growth at best, but spiritual degradation at worst (I’ve seen this too much to track it).

I reason that if you were to remove the Pastor, the Priest, or the (insert your one-man-show church position) that many of the churches would cease to prevail at that moment. They would either go to another establishment that had a strong leader, or they would leave the church completely.

But it’s happening anyway.

People are tired of hearing ‘about God’.  They want to know God, or not bother.

And thank God!

Imagine going every week to a travel agency where they pumped up a trip to a nice resort.  They showed you nice pictures, they showed videos, they walked you through slide presentations, they showed how awesome it was in this place. You went week after week diligently because you badly wanted to go.  But no one showed you how to go.  How horrible would that be?  How long would you keep going to torture yourself?  The reality never happens.

Same deal in many churches.  How long will go you and hear about transformed lives: miracles, signs, wonders, love, joy, giving, dying to self, blah, blah, blah, and blah… but not get a chance to live it? The reality never happens.

But worse than all of this is the fact that most sincere believers I know just want to *know God*.  We want God to be the ruler of our hearts and lives.  We want to be holy, pure, and with a clean conscience before God and man.  We want to walk with Him, talk with Him and experience the fullness of His plan for our life.  We want to love God and love others – but all we have is a well-composed 3-point sermon (and some coffee and cookies afterwards for ‘fellowship’).

Thank God the people are tiring of it because God was tired of it the day it started.

It’s time for a G2M relationship.

I’m done with MITM.

Tags : , ,

The Real Jesus of the Bible

I’ve been a professing disciple of Jesus for about 20 years.  Prior to meeting Jesus personally, I had seen an Anglican version of Him.  It was a ritualistic cookie cutter machine of religious gymnastics.  I realized I didn’t have what it took to become good at this sport so I left.  When I really met Jesus it was through a group who preached that I had to be ‘born again’ to be saved.  Now this was different.  This had something that stirred my very soul.  This had some truth that my soul knew was right.  And so I got born again according to the playbook of many other folks who got born again.  Anyway, enough of my background.  I mention it only to say that I’ve seen the very ritualistic form of religion as well as the more evangelical form of it.  And here’s the part that’s going to ruffle some feathers and backstroke some cats (just made that up):

The Jesus preached to me since my birth is *not* the Jesus I see in the Bible.

And now let me make this a bit more personal for you:

The Jesus you think you know may be a form of dead religious gymnastics, not Jesus the God-Person-Saviour-Christ of the Bible.

or, let me put it a bit more cool-jazz style (start slow trumpet in dark urban alley):

Whatever religious ‘thing’ you’re doing, might actually be *preventing* you from truly knowing our Heavenly Father.

It’s time to take a step back and evaluate where we really are in our relationship with our Heavenly Father and I’m going to help ignite the process by showing some things about Jesus in the Bible that might surprise you.

Jesus Never Fits the Religious Gynmastic Programs

 

1. Jesus pardoned sins while walking the earth

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. (Mark 2:5)

Everyone knows that Jesus healed people.  This is exciting and fine.  But Jesus, in front of the ‘church of his day’ (the synagogue) declared that He had the power of God when he forgave the man his sins.  Shocking would have been an understatement for anyone standing nearby – much more shocking, if you think about it, than the fact the paralysed man stood up and walked.  The healing was merely proof of his former shocking words.  How many times has your church preached this part of Jesus?

Jesus spent time with sinners

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? (Mark 2: 16)

It would have been considered extremely poor religious behaviour for Jesus to be spending time with the unclean heathen.  But for this reason did Jesus come – to heal the sick.  Healing the sick offended the religious folks.  This Jesus was offending them.

Disciples of Jesus didn’t fast

And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? (Mark 2:18)

The Pharisees fasted.  Even the disciples of John the baptist fasted.  Anyone who was part of any religious team fasted!  But not Jesus’ team.  They walked to a different beat.  This Jesus simply didn’t feel the need to fit in with what was going on.  This Jesus knew who He was and didn’t derive his identity from approval of religious teams and their coaches and their board of directors.

Jesus worked on the Sabbath

And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? (Mark 2:23-24)

According to their rules and regulations, one wasn’t supposed to work on the Sabbath.  And here is Jesus ‘breaking the rules’.  Or…. was He?  Is it possible for the one who made the game and its rules to break the rules?  Jesus was declaring that He was not part of the religious game but instead the Maker of the game.  Surely, this rocked their religious boat.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched [it] out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (Mark 3:5)

The religious teams considered an act of healing to be ‘work’.  They were so addicted to the comfort of their religious systems that they were unable to even desire to see a man with a withered hand healed.  Their desire to see the cold rules of the law followed to a tee was stronger than the desire to see a suffering person’s pain and burden healed.

The above five events pulled from the Gospel of Mark really require us to sit back and take a look at our own lives.   Pretend just for a moment that you are part of a synagogue of Jesus time.  Let’s pretend that the ‘synagogue’ is called a ‘church’ for fun (it’s just a name of a gathering after all…).

You find out that a certain miracle-worker named Jesus has showed up to town and really offending the churches.  Some are calling him a blasphemer, some are calling him a heretic and a cult leader.  This Sunday he and his crew show up to your church meeting and walk in.  In the middle of the well-planned sermon Jesus puts his hand up and asks why 80% of the males in the group are in bondage to pornography.

An uncomfortable silence follows and the males squirm in their chairs.

Then Jesus asks why there is over a 50% divorce rate amongst you.

Further awkward silence.

Then he asks why there are those participating in holy communion who have wicked lives behind the scene.

Now here is the question I want you to really think about.  If the above were to happen today, do you think the Shepherds and the Sheep of your group would:

a) repent in bitter sorrow and weep over their condition or

b) kick this preacher out the back door for rudely speaking out of turn and mucking up their flow

I want you to think about this.  Really.

But it doesn’t stop there.  The Jesus that I see in my Bible also said this:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Matthew 10:34-35)

He also said this:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

And the list goes on.

I hope that I’m mistaken, but I’m guessing that the Jesus above doesn’t match up with the Jesus being preached to you. And that’s why you are in permanent bondage and your life is dark and dreary.  Don’t think I haven’t been there before nor think that I’m fully out of the religious forest.

But great news, folks.  Jesus is not a religious cross-fit program.  He is a Person – and the most amazing, loving, forgiving, life-changing, freedom-providing One I have ever met.

Do not accept spiritual mediocrity.

Do not accept a program to substitute a relationship.

Do not accept a ‘form of godliness’ and deny the power of God.

Decide today that you will *know* your Heavenly Father by knowing His Word yourself.

Turn off the TV.

Turn off the news.

Turn off your cell phone.

Bow the knee.

Our Saviour has come.

He awaits at the door.

He is knocking.

Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Was Martin Luther King Junior a Christian?

This post has been toned down a level as it has been suggested that I was being  ‘judgemental’ and ‘not theologically trained enough’.  Fair enough.  I judged that MLK’s theology was totally off base and I have not been to seminary.  So that is probably true.  But, I’ll change the tone so that this post is in more of a ‘you decide’ style instead of me dumping my random thoughts and opinions:

There are many images and audio recordings of Martin Luther King Junior standing behind a pulpit and ‘preaching’ to crowds of believers.  For me, these images led me to believe that he was at least a “Bible believing Christian”.  Based on a heavy conversation I had with a friend, it is necessary also for me to define more clearly what exactly that means.  A ‘Bible believing Christian’ to me, means someone who believes the Bible. All of it.  But, for the sake of the ‘theologians’ out there, I’ll tame it down one level to ‘someone who adheres to the very basic tenets of the faith’.  And what are those tenets?  They are written in the front of most Bibles on a page called ‘the Apostles Creed’.  Instead of using space here for those who already know them, please feel free to click this link to see the full list of what a ‘Bible believing Christian’ would believe.

For my own list of reasons, and because of a few small events that occurred to me in my life, I went to www.duckduckgo.com and searched ‘Was Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian” and came immediately upon this old-school, html text-based article full of outdated links.  Please note that one of the key outdated links I have figured out and updated, which is the link to his Stanford University articles.  If you go to the link in the article it will give you a dead page.  Then if you try to search it seems to only take you to paid Amazon publications (no surprise) but the free, original, raw source articles seem to be at the following location:

Martin Luther King Junior’s Original Stanford University Documents

From his writing was this quote:

“Others doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominant in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is oppose to theological adaptation to social and cultural change. He sees a progressive scientific age as a retrogressive spiritual age. Amid change all around he was {is} willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.”

King also tries to explain away the garden of Eden, the virgin birth and other critical tenets of faith that leads to eternal salvation.

Based on these findings, I was forced to ask myself these questions:

  • was MLK a Christian?
  • can someone who does not believe in the virgin birth truly be a believer?
  • can someone who doesn’t firmly believe in the substitutionary plan of salvation through the blood of Jesus be a disciple of Christ?
  • Is it possible for a man to appear as a preacher, sound like a preacher, even act like a preacher, not be a servant of God and a brother?

Obviously, I too am very thankful that some great changes occurred as the result of his social work (I personally believe strongly that a believer must fight for justice, peace, a better environment and more), but nothing saddens me more than to think that MLK may not have know Jesus as his personal Saviour before he was shot.  And before he was shot, this was a quote from his last ‘sermon’, taken from our source article with appropriate emphasis added by the author:

Did King repent and change before he died? The following was spoken the night before he died. The speech is entitled, “I See The Promised Land” and was delivered April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He had not abandoned his heretical notions:

“As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, ‘Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?’– I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I WOULD MOVE ON BY GREECE, AND TAKE MY MIND TO MOUNT OLYMPUS. AND I WOULD SEE PLATO, ARISTOTLE, SOCRATES, EURIPIDES AND ARISTOPHANES ASSEMBLED AROUND THE PARTHENON AS THEY DISCUSSED THE GREAT AND ETERNAL ISSUES OF REALITY.”

Based on this excerpt the possibility of Martin Luther King being deceived by the love of the world seems very real.

This world and all of its fancy philosophies and deep philosophical ideas will never, ever, take away from the core tenets of our faith, upon which my life, and hopefully yours too, is built which include but are not limited to the apostles creed and:

  • Jesus replacing you and I on the cross and shedding His blood for us
  • salvation by faith alone, not by works
  • etc

Martin Luther King Jr., to my surprise, may have built his foundation on sand.

The take-away lesson from this discovery is that we cannot be sure of another man’s salvation, but we can absolute be sure of our own.  MLK’s sudden ending by the small pointed tip of a bullet is also a stark reminder that we must all be ready to die at any time.

My hope is that by reading this you would come to know Jesus and that all of us would be able to ‘die well’ when our time comes.

Oh! Right! One more thing..  If you have a comment…. that’s what the ‘comment box’ below is for.  Please!  I will publish all comments as long as it’s not spam. I’m also very open to adjusting my posts if you have suggestions.  🙂

Tags : , , , , ,