The God We Should Worship

What separates Islam from Christianity is the core belief that Jesus is God and that salvation can only come through Him.

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.                 –Psalm 40:4

There has been much discussion about whether Muslims worship the same God as Christians. The most peculiar part of the discussion has been the lack of scripture used by those in support of the claim that Muslims do in deed worship the same God. Most have even failed to support the very basic tenants of Christianity. These prideful, well-meaning individuals have lapsed into falsehood. So let us begin with the very core of Christian doctrine, Jesus. For the Christian everything  begins and ends with Jesus. Jesus said this in the the Gospel of John, You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40) 

Jesus was stating that eternal  life comes through him. He later claimed in John 10 that He and God are one. (John 10:30) Muslims do not believe this, they believe that Jesus was a prophet and therefore could not grant the forgiveness of sins. It is this unbelief in the incarnate Christ that separates Muslims from Christians. Jesus argued against this unbelief when he said, “He who rejects me rejects the One who sent me.”(Luke 10:16) This means that if you reject that Jesus is God then you are rejecting God and his love for you and you are rejecting the purpose of why Jesus came.

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

The Muslim rejects Christ as the Savior of the world and is repulsed by what the cross represents. They do not even believe that Jesus died on the cross. (Surah 4:157-158 Qur’an) They “worship” a God made in their own image, this is what God refers to as an idol. Muslims deny the Holy Trinity of  God and they deny the Deity of Jesus. The scripture says,

And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9)

The follower of Christ is drawn to the cross of Jesus with tear filled repentance and worships God for what he has done. (John 3:16) We recognize that it is nothing we could do but it is all about what Jesus did on the cross. This is why Paul said in 1Corinthians that we are to preach Christ crucified. In the end it is all about love, the love God has for us and the love Christ showed for us on the cross. It is about a love that we can’t repay, it is a love that binds the broken hearted and saves the lost. It is the love for what Jesus did on the cross that causes us to surrender to God and with a deep gratitude we worship Him, as our God. It is this love that heals our soul. Let me leave you with these words from the mouth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world…

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 
and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 
and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:44-47
Read vs 52 and ask yourself, who did they worship?)

The Spread of Lawlessness (Part 2)

Today we can alter our DNA and bodies through chips, A.I. and DNA genetic mutations. Is humanity dooming its future by playing God?

“Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:1-4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The fires have dispersed and your prayers have been a blessing to my family and the city that we live in. Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.  In a previous blog post, we asked the question, “Why is there sin in the world?” Please read, The Spread of Lawlessness (Part 1),to catch up. Most pastors and teachers are afraid to even cover this passage out of fear of sounding like a lunatic. Augustine of Hippo dismissed this passage as well as many others; to be interpreted as allegoric. So lets be clear, I believe the Bible is true and it is inspired by God. The Gnostic influences of a mostly heretical Augustine must be dismissed and scripture must be used to interpret scripture. One must also take into account historical reference to also bring clarity to the passage. In part one, we stated that the first reason for why there is sin in the world is because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve.

The second reason for why there is sin in the world is because of the sins that the “sons of God” (the Watchers) committed against humanity.

This is a real story that must be taken literally, so let us take a deep breath and begin. Scripture states that the sons of God (angels) took  wives of their choosing. This both went against the design and will of God. These angels were granted the ability to think for themselves. The book of Daniel mentions them three times in the fourth chapter (4:13,17,23). He referred to them as the watchers. There are good ones and bad ones. In Daniel 4:17, these watchers made a decision and passed a sentence (a ruling or judgement) against Nebuchadnezzar. From this passage the watchers were empowered and given authority from heaven. Angels who lived in obedience to God did not marry. Jesus made this clear in the following passage:

Matthew 22:30 (NKJV) 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

Jesus did not say they can’t, He is saying that they don’t. There is a difference. The ones that don’t; are loyal and obedient to God in heaven. Jesus is also making it clear that eternal beings have no need to procreate. Procreation is for the purpose of extending a race that can die off.

Luke 20:34-36 (NASB) 34 Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

The sin of the watchers was sexual corruption. They did force their ways upon the daughters of humanity and bore them children. This evil act corrupted the DNA of man as a defiant act against God. This act was to distort what God had made in His image. Peter makes mention that this was a sin and emphasizes it with a comparison to Sodom and Gomorrah. In Part 1, we learned that sin mutated the world, man and all of creation. It separated us from God. The lawless act of the watchers was to alter our image into their own twisted image. This eventually would destroy man, the planet and all of God’s creation.

2 Peter 2:4 (NKJV) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast themdown to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

These two cities were known for their delight in raping unsuspecting strangers and visitors. Now Genesis does use the word,”marry,” this does imply some consent on the part of some. The transgressions led to a world of darkness, that God had to deal with. Jude also confirms the sin as sexual in verses 6-7.

Jude 6-7 (NKJV) And the angels who did not keep their a]”>[a]proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

So why does this matter?

We are made in the image of God. The fallen angels were polluting our DNA with an image that is not of God. A hybrid of man and fallen angel. These hybrids were called Nephilim. How was God supposed to send a Messiah into a world full of hybrids? These hybrids were not His creation, but an abomination. Read this phrase again, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” This implies that if God did not react to this abomination, salvation for humanity would not come. It also implies that the Holy Spirit could not reside in us. Jesus came to die for man, to reconcile man back to God. Our souls, when we die, go to be with God.

2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

This is why God told Noah that He was going to destroy the world by a flood. He had to remove the Nephilim from humanities blood line. Humanity needed to remainin the image of God, so that when Christ died, His blood would purify us from the virus of sin. cleansing us from all unrighteousness that separates us from God. This is why we need Gods forgiveness.

According to Jude the watchers were put in everlasting chains for the Day of judgement. The humans who do evil go to the lake of fire. So what happened to the Nephilim? Many second temple era Jews and followers of Christ believed that these Nephilim are now the demons who torment us on the earth. This view comes from the historical book of Enoch, but does have some basis in the Bible. According to the Book of Enoch, when the Nephilim died in the flood they were cursed to roam the earth and torment man kind until the day of Judgement. (Enoch 15:8-11) We do have to give some credibility to the Book of Enoch since both Peter and Jude both reference it and Jude even quotes from it. There are also some early church fathers who thought Enoch should have been part of the cannon of scripture.

There are also hints to the credibility of Enoch’s claim in the Bible. In Mathew 8:28-34 there is an interesting account of Jesus dealing with demons. These demons recognized Jesus as the Son of the Most High God, and they reminded Him that it was not their time to be sent to hell. Many people falsely think that the angels, who rebelled against God and that left with Lucifer, are demons. This is not the case, as Paul points out in Ephesians.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Paul separates them into two groups the ones who rule this dark world (Principalities could mean nations and powers could mean rulers of nations.) and the spiritual hosts (The word hosts often refers to angels.) of wickedness in the heavenly places. Angels have their  proper domain (Jude verse 6) and demons have theirs on the earth. Could the legend of Hercules be true? Could Hercules who was half man and half “god” actually have been a Nephilim? Many Scholars such as Dr. Michael S Heiser argue this point in his books, The Unseen realm and Reversing Hermon. Many of the “gods” were fallen angles or Nephilim. Genesis six actually refers to them as “mighty men” and as “men of renown”. Many people worshiped them as gods. This is why so many early church Christians and the disciples gave legitimacy to the book of Enoch. Which then makes sense when you read:

1 Corinthians 10:20-21  (NKJV) 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.

Later, Paul warns Timothy in the last days some will even follow these demons and be taught by them.

1 Timothy 4:1 (NASB) But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

So to sum this up, the second reason why there is sin in the world is because of the sexual sin of the angels and the blending of their seed, causing further corruption of all creation. The Nephilim could then be the demons that torment and tempt us into doing sin. To this day, the goal of the demonic realm is to corrupt the image of God. They are still trying to convince humanity to alter our image away from God’s. This is what God meant in Genisis when he told them that He would put enmity between his seed (Satan) and her Seed (Jesus Christ). The Nephilim are the seed of the fallen watchers and Christ is the promised Seed of God, the Restoration. Jesus made an interesting observation and prophecy about the last days, when He said:

Matthew 24:37-39 (NKJV) 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Did Jesus provide a warning us, that in the last days we would try to alter our image away from God, just as in the days of Noah? Would we try to bring back the Nephilim? Was he referring to the marriage of the fallen angles and the daughters of man? Today scientists want to alter our DNA, modify us into our image (or the watchers), removing God from the equation. Could this be a mechanism in regard to the mark of the beast? Could man be made into a new image one in which God could not reside in? Could we be removing the temple of our bodies that Christ dwells within? Read this quote below, as a christian it disturbed me greatly.

Evolving Ourselves—Redesigning the Future of Humanity byJuan Enriquez—Managing Director, Excel Venture Management “In just 150 years, the human species has changed. We have redesigned our world and our bodies while at the same time becoming an ever more domesticated and smarter species, one that lives far longer. Alongside nature, we are now the fundamental driver of what lives and dies. Darwin’s natural selection no longer holds true in a world where little remains natural and free of the hand of man. There is now a second, parallel, large-scale determinant of evolution, one driven by two new rules: unnatural selection and nonrandom mutation. The future of humanity depends on the geographic choices we make to design our places and the genetic choices to design ourselves and how these two sciences intersect.”

NOTE: I’m learning that increased access to peered review studies of the ancient texts… especially those found in Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) are further insightful of the thoughts, concerns and understandings of the Second Temple Jews, and the emerging followers of Christ. I would love your feedback, so please leave a comment.

The Spread of Lawlessness (Part 1)

Humanists believe they can achieve their own morality and perfect man with out the need of God. They Never realize that a virus festers inside us all preventing perfection.

Recently a friend of mine asked, “What is sin and why is it so bad?” Simply put, sin is rebellion against God, a virus that infects all of mankind and mutates all of creation. The Bible says, Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4)

This brief explanation does not do the subject justice nor does it answer the bigger question of, “Why is there sin in the world?” If you asked a Jew, living in the time of Jesus, this question he would give you three reasons. In order to please my wife, who reminds me that everyone has short attention spans, I will attempt to answer this question in three short posts. I really don’t want to nauseate you with theology but all three of these reasons will help you grasp a better understanding of Sin grace and of end times eschatology.  For extra reading I recommend the book by Dr. Michael S. Heiser, “Reversing Herman”.

The first reason for why there is sin in the world, is because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:15-17 New King James Version (NKJV) 15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

It is pretty simple, they only had to live with two rules in order to please God. Tend and keep the Garden and do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What a life! Be a conservationist and don’t let the knowledge of good and evil out into the world. Sounds pretty good to me, although I might have just chopped down that one tree. Then something bad happens, Satan enters the Garden. Now the first thing Satan does is to create doubt about what God said. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”(Genesis 3:1) Satan still does that today. Think about all of the doubt questions you may have had. Is the Bible really true? Does God really exist? Does God really love you? Why would God care about you? Is Bible prophecy real?

2 Peter 1:19 New American Standard Bible (NASB) So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

What happens next is that Satan manipulates the situation in order to bring the curse of sin into the world. Adam and Eve both eat of the tree and become afraid and ashamed. Their guilt was so bad that they even tried to hide from God. Think about this for a moment. How many times has guilt, shame and fear controlled parts of your life. Satan uses this to control us. I wrote a post on this, it was the most read and shared post I have ever written. Destroying the Message of Guilt and Shame.

The problem that faced God was that Adam and Eve brought not only sin into the world but the curse (or virus) that came with it. When you read the Genesis 3, there are two things that you must pay attention to. (1) God is not bringing the curse on man, but is telling them that it is the consequence of their actions. In other words, because you exposed yourself to the disease, you now get the disease and its symptoms. God did not curse Mankind. Mankind cursed itself because it chose to believe the devil over God. (2) The virus of sin infects all of creation and mutates it. What was good is now corrupted by mutations. Animals, plants, soil, water, humanity and the planet are all affected by these mutations. God did not create the Black Widow spider, sin mutated it from its original purpose into its current scary state. It is why we have weeds in our soil, plagues and pestilence and other nasty thing. (Oh and let us not forget dirty diapers, they have to be part of the curse. Yes our newborn is doing great, but man does he fill the diaper pail, but I digress…)

Anyways, this is what Paul meant when he wrote:

Romans 8:22-23 New King James Version (NKJV) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

It is because of this virus that all of mankind was cursed. This death spread to all..

Romans 5:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—

God promised Adam and Eve a hope to restore them from sin and the curse of its mutations.

Romans 15:4 New American Standard Bible (NASB) For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

That hope is Jesus.

John 20:31 New American Standard Bible (NASB) But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

It is clear that God loves His creation and Satan hates it. Satan is the greatest environmental terrorist in history. He needed to bring sin into the world to destroy God’s creation. The good news is that God loves us and kept his promise to Adam and Eve by sending Jesus into the world. In the next post we will look at the second reason there is sin in the world. Keep the faith and remember redemption from lawlessness is a #proofofyourfaith.

Why are we failing Millennial’s?

We need to disciple. Millenials want authentic mentoring that pours out your life into theirs. It denies selfish agendas, gives love & anchors their life to a living Christ.

It continues to baffle me when I hear that churches do not understand why they can’t reach young millennial’s. They continue to disregard them by listing their flaws but fail to see their real potential. This is not love. Love is viewing people as God does. God see’s the potential in us all. Young people today are wanting to be apart of a real movement of change. They want to do something that will change the world. God wants to change the world. Millennial’s desire transparency and truthfulness. God calls us to live a life of righteousness that reveals Christ and His truth. This generation wants to have deep, meaningful relationships. God is relational. So what seems to be the problem? These ideals are great! The problem is not millennial’s, the problem lies with the abandonment of Biblical principles.

Churches have abandoned discipleship. Discipleship is the process of reproducing the life of Christ that is in you, into the life of someone else. It teaches self denial and the reproduction of the fathers love to others.

Luke 9:23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

One reason the world laughs at us is because of our hypocrisy. We love to quote scriptures but we fail to follow them. Many Christians condone behavior that God is against. We claim to love God, but relish in disobedience to His commandments. The biggest argument against the Church is that we love to sin to much. The world looks at our hypocrisy and laughs. We must deny the lusts of the world. This is not just sexual lusts, but any area that leads to selfishness. Our selfishness leads to our own deception; in which we cling to worldly things instead of Christ. We must deny ourselves, follow Jesus and prepare to die. When we truly live in Christ it leads to selfless love for others. This love changes the world.

John 13:34-35 New King James Version (NKJV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The second way we fail millennial’s is that we do not reproduce the love of Christ in others. The best way to influence and inspire is to genuinely love and care for the person that you are trying to reach. Find the common ground, demonstrate your love for them and shine Christ brightly. True love puts aside an agenda and invests time and energy necessary to cultivate an authentic relationship. To demonstrate Christ’s love, it requires a soft and gentle approach that meets the person where they are in life. This requires the Christian to remove all judgmental attitudes. Jesus always had compassion and reached people specifically to their needs and understanding. To truly love someone; you must be patient with them. After all, hasn’t God been patient with you? Discipleship is a #proofofyourfaith.

Defining the Worship of God.

Do you know what it means to Worship God? Does your behavior, life, exemplify your worship of God?

A while back, I blogged about.  The God We Should Worship. It brought up a discussion with a friend, who asked, “Do we know what worship even is?” Many worship leaders don’t even understand what the purpose is. A pastor told me that in his search for a worship leader they had hundreds of applicants who could not define the purpose of worship.

Praise and worship are more than singing, they bring the follower of Christ to a place of reflection on their life in Christ, His  blood stained sacrifice and His resurrection. Simply put, it points us to the cross of Jesus. It directs us heavenly into the throne room of God. Worship and praise focus us on the awesomeness of God, His Love for us and His redemption of mankind from their sins. It overwhelms us with the knowledge of God’s love for us. The worshiper elevates God’s greatness above their own-self, acknowledging the glory of the creator. Their worship points to Christ and the truth of His Word. Christ centered worship enters us into the presence of God with heartfelt gratitude for what He has done. It is full of thanksgiving and humbles us with a contrite spirit. Scripturally sound worship, penetrates our soul with the word of truth, shedding us of the strife of life.

Godly worship empowers us in our walk with Christ, transforming us through the holy spirit. It engages us to act with love to those around us and finally it provides trust in God’s sovereign will for our lives. It testifies to God’s greatness.

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things,things planned long ago. (Isaiah 25:1)

Worship guides us: In the recognition that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Praise gives thanks for those gifts bestowed upon us by God.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.” (Psalm 16:2)

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)

Worship guides us:  In the recognition of our sin and of Christ’s perfect act of redemption on the cross. Praise gives thanks for the Fathers Grace and His plan of salvation.

When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:21-28)

Worship leads us: To the knowledge of total surrender to God’s sovereign will and grace. Praise provides a heart of gratitude that all things work out for His will. Worship is about surrendering your will to God, letting him speak to you and allowing Him to alter your thoughts, emotions and mindset. Worship can move us into His presence changing our lives forever. Surrendered worship fills you with more love, compassion and grace for others. It waters the fruits of your spirit, transforming you into  a new creation, removing the guilt, shame and condemnation.

Then Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord;
My horn is exalted in the Lord,
My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
“There is no one holy like the Lord,
Indeed, there is no one besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God. 
Boast no more so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
And with Him actions are weighed. (1Samuel 2:1-3)

 Worship shepherds us: it cultivates behavior that attests or testifies to the saving power and eternal hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Praise showers God for His enduring love that He has for us.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:15-16)

Worship is not about you!
It is a sad commentary, but worship for some is about being entertained. Worship needs to draw us to a place of righteousness. It is directed towards God for all that He has done for us.

In the end, worship can never be a performance, something you’re pretending or putting on. It’s got to be an overflow of your heart….. Worship is about getting personal with God, drawing close to God.  –Matt Redman

Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12: 29-31)

In the same way, that we should love God; we should also worship Him. With all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. True worship is bound in the Christ centered love that we give to Him, who first loved us, and the active love we show to others.

Consider Jesus. Know Jesus. Learn what kind of Person it is you say you trust and love and worship. Soak in the shadow of Jesus. Saturate your soul with the ways of Jesus. Watch Him. Listen to Him. Stand in awe of Him. Let Him overwhelm you with the way He is.  –John Piper

Worship and praise are not just to be done in a church building. Do them in your home, in the quiet places; where your soul can soar heavenward as sweet incense to God. Sincere, Godly, worship and praise are a proof of your faith.

Share with me your thoughts,

God Bless,

Stephan

Destroying the Message of Guilt and Shame

“I know that there are also people who aren’t malicious, but are simply lacking in empathy. I know that there are some people who mean well, but are unfortunately clueless and oblivious.”- October 13, 2015
Rebecca Prewett, Rape Survivor

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭

The other day, I met a woman who asked me why I was so positive. (My kids would laugh at this statement.) The compliment was nice to hear, because it meant she was seeing Jesus in me. I used the opportunity to share Jesus with her. Our conversation led me to understand that her belief in God was tied to her belief in the church. She began to share some of the pain she had been through in her life. She had endured a cheating husband, which led to a toxic marriage. She was raised Catholic and felt that she needed to forgive and keep trying. The more she tried, the more he cheated and bullied her. The guilt of failure made her stay in a one-sided marriage. Finally the pain was to unbearable and she divorced him.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭‬‬

When I asked if she was still attending church, She looked down to the ground and with sadness said, “I cant handle the way I am judged by the Church. Guilt and shame tortures me enough.”

This was so painful to hear. Jesus came to remove the stench of our past and create a new life for those who surrender their lives to Him. The cross of Christ does not judge us, but frees us from the burdens of our sins. So many Christians are living with the shame and guilt of their past, it blinds them from focusing on Jesus. They can’t comprehend what it means to fix your eyes on Jesus.  It is easier to believe the demonic lies that Satan whispers to them; the fear based lies of guilt, shame, and condemnation. Many believers live in an identity crisis. They do not know who they are in Christ Jesus. Their identity is in their past, not in the future God has for them. She was discouraged and depressed, she thought God’s love was conditional. I encouraged her, shared the truth of God’s word and poured His eternal love into her.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:4-5

When it comes to guilt and shame it takes several conversations before an individual can began to understand what Jesus did for them. Many people read the Bible and all they see is condemnation. Jesus understood shame. He understands our shame. Jesus was stripped of all clothes, hung on a cross completely naked, fully exposed for all to see. He was abandoned, dehydrated and weak. The crowds mocked Him and laughed at Him.Their ridicule was cruel. In the passage at the top it says that Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame. Don’t be fooled; this was a form of sexual abuse. The crowds were like a rape gang encouraging the torture, of God’s Son, adding to the shame Jesus felt. They cheered and celebrated His suffering. The Roman Crucifixion was a perfected art form of torture and humiliation.  Jesus was beaten, tortured, humiliated and shamed for our sins, our shame and our humiliation. All of this He endured for us; to be the author and perfecter of our faith in God. All for the joy of reconciling us to God. In His death and resurrection, Jesus freed us from the bondage’s of our past. His blood washed away our sins, guilt and shame.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Christ removes the old and makes things new. The Gospel is not about shame and guilt. Jesus died to remove the stain of it from our lives. The church is the bride of Christ, it is not meant to be condemning and judgmental. Followers of Jesus should be encouraging and loving, sharing the message of reconciliation. Philip Augustine a writer for jessicahof.blog  writes that Church attendance and those who claim to be christian has fallen significantly. I believe this is because we have failed to present a clear Gospel message of hope and salvation. We are using far to many commentaries and man made theologies instead of the scripture. The Gospel of Jesus provides hope and salvation, it empowers, forgives and demonstrates love. It is embodied only in Jesus Christ and His word. This is why we need to know the Bible, which is the Word of God.  His truth freed us. (See my blog post Are You Being Guided by Truth?)

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37-39‬ ‭

There are those who promote their view over the scripture, they promote a “False Gospel”. (See: “The False Gospel We don’t Talk About” By Lisa Robinson) These are the ones who shame and guilt you into a religion that is not Christianity. There are also those who unintentionally lead people to hurt and depression, It is because they lack the love of Jesus. Many claim Jesus, few know Him or his love. In their own selfish pride, they destroy lives.

“I know that there are also people who aren’t malicious, but are simply lacking in empathy. I know that there are some people who mean well, but are unfortunately clueless and oblivious.”- October 13, 2015
Rebecca Prewett, Rape Survivor

The Bible speaks of a great deception that will cause many to fall away from Jesus. Some will leave because of hurt, and others will leave because of lies. Jesus will never be the reason. Let us not be deceived. This is why we do not put our faith in pastors or strange teachings but in Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word. We need to endure in our Bible reading and in seeking the truth of His kingdom. We need to endure in our love for one another. Endurance is a proof to your faith.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4

The quote was from the blog Prone to Wander. This is a tough subject, please let me know what you think.

–Stephan

Keep Your Life Calm With Love

Let’s be honest with each other; the world today needs love and needs to know God’s love.

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Everyday I hear the comments from liberals and conservatives wondering why we can’t get along. Interesting enough each group blames the other. Each side claims the other group is rude, angry, intolerant and full of hatred. I realized some years ago, what ails America is a lack of love. This is why we are a sick nation. I am not talking about tolerance, I am speaking about genuine selfless, patient, love. All sides of the hostile American political system are missing this. In the above passage, the word flesh is to be understood as your selfish desires. Paul, who wrote Galatians, was stating that all of God’s laws were directing us towards love. Those who love God, let His love fill their lives through Jesus. It is through His love for us that we are able to love one another. Christ demonstrated that love by willingly sacrificing His life on the cross for us. Those who really follow Jesus as their savior understand this and live by it. Yes, I am making a clear distinction between those who follow Jesus and those who claim to be Christians. Jesus also made the distinction.

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

What does the love of a true Christian look like?

Paul makes that clear as well; we are to serve one another. It does not require a rocket scientist to figure this out, but love that serves does so without a self motivated agenda. It is compassionate, patient, forgiving, and gentle. True love never speaks a harsh word, it never responds out of anger or hurt. The one who serves others encourages and builds up. This was demonstrated to us by Jesus. This is how we, who claim to be Christians, should act. Study the death of Jesus. Show me the harsh words He uses. You will not find them, because Jesus came to serve. Jesus came to love.

45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Paul does give a warning in the passage from Galatians. It is the warning that every American needs to hear. It is a message to every person who claims they are good. It is a warning to the prideful and the arrogant. Read it carefully.

15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:15

There seems to be a push by many Americans for violence. Violence will not solve anything. It will result in the death of millions. Innocent people will suffer, especially children. Violence, anger, hate will consume and destroy us all. This is why we need to love. Love never fails. Love always wins. So love deeply and love often.
P.S. To the people of Singapore I love you and am praying everyday for you. May the love of Christ fill your hearts with joy and peace. May you endure to the end. Run the race with everything you have until you fall into the arms of Jesus.

Are You Being Guided by Truth?

Reading the Bible needs to be at the forefront of what we do in life.

“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (‭‭John‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭NASB)‬‬

A while back, I posted The God We Should Worship . The purpose was to bring some clarity to the incorrect understanding that Muslims worship the same God as Christians. The central argument is that Christians worship Jesus because He is God, the Triune God. This is the core of Christian belief. We get this theology from the Bible. Jesus made this claim several times. Muslims view Jesus as a mere prophet whose teachings they regularly ignore. The differences between Islam and Christianity are apparent. One only needs to read the Bible to know that there is no grace of God in Islam. Grace is a character of God that he reveals in the Bible.  Through the scriptures, God reveals Himself to us. I have found myself in awe of God as a result of seeking Him. One gets to know God by studying the Bible, memorizing scripture and praying. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the more I desire to be in His presence. I love him because he first loved me. For God is love. It is in His love for me that God reveals His Divine character of truth through His word.

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him”.(John 18:37-38)

The whole world claims we want truth, honesty, integrity, and transparency. The fact is that most people don’t even seek it. They personally don’t want truth to interfere in their daily lives. They don’t want truth to destroy their misguided conceptions of life. Most people would rather believe lies about themselves. They live in the guilt and shame of their failures. They can’t comprehend that God could love them. The truth of God’s word, tells us that He loves us. Those who truly seek truth become doers of truth. The person who does not apply the word of God to their lives is failing to live a Christ centered life. If you are not reading God’s word, you can’t apply it. If you are not reading and applying the Bible to your life; your Christianity is worthless.

“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (‭‭James‬ ‭1:21-22‬ ‭NASB)‬‬

Are you of the truth? Do you hear the voice of Jesus? Jesus told Pilate, that everyone who is of the truth hears His voice. If you don’t read God’s love letter to you, how will you distinguish the truth from a lie? Are you listening to the stranger’s voice? Examine your life for a moment. Is your Christianity weak? Do you struggle with your walk with God? Are you focused on loving Jesus or are you living in doubt? There are things that you can do to draw closer to God.

  1. Ask God for help. Seek His wisdom.
  2. Read the Bible everyday. This is critical. It’s good to have a plan. Write down what you learn. I journal through my Bible Everyday
  3. Memorize scripture. Take time while you are standing around and memorize scripture. (I use an app called fighter verses.)
  4. Pray. Write down your prayers and your answers .  If you have a hard time praying, pray through the scriptures. (Try the Psalms)

God loves you! Let God’s grace shine on you. Seek His truth.

I Need to Know the Cost

The cross shows us our value to God. It demonstrates God’s love for us and how precious we are to Him.

We despised him and rejected him;
he endured suffering and pain.
No one would even look at him—
we ignored him as if he were nothing.
“But he endured the suffering that should have been ours,
the pain that we should have borne.
All the while we thought that his suffering
was punishment sent by God.
But because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did.
We are healed by the punishment he suffered,
made whole by the blows he received.
(Isaiah 53:3-5)

I do not consider myself a poet, that word belongs to those who dedicate themselves to that art. This past year, I have had some amazing times with God and have been  inspired to write some of my thoughts down. I am confounded by God’s love for me. It overwhelms me at times and leaves me drenched with love, understanding and awe. On one such occasion, I wrote the following poem:

I Need to Know the Cost.

I need to know the painful cost,
of the blood He shed upon His cross.

So gruesome a price Christ did pay, His life, our sins He did slay.
Unworthy of Him who bore my sin.
All for love my soul to win.
His body so broken, His flesh torn to shred.
My life to be saved, with his blood that was shed,
I need to know the epic cost, of the life Christ gave upon His cross.

Lead me to the everlasting way; that my heart will never stray.
Fix my eyes on the eternal one, so Christ can finish this race I run.
So precious is your love for me, in Jesus name I am free.
Grow your love in me; still more, so others will see the cross you bore.

Oh Holy Communion remind me still,
of the precious blood that was spilled.

Repentance I need for my sorrowful sin.
His body so broken for my soul to win.

How precious is the life Christ gave, by grace and love, my life to save.
I need to know the painful cost, of the life we hung upon that cross.

Lead me to the everlasting way; that my heart will never stray.
Fix my eyes on the eternal one, so Christ can finish this race I run.
So precious  is your love for me, in Jesus name I am free.
Grow your love in me; still more, so others will see the cross you bore.

© 2018 Stephan Caraway. All Rights Reserved

Final Thoughts: Since we are approaching Palm Sunday, ask yourself the following: Is your love for Jesus real, is your praise genuine or are you just a fan?

A big Happy Birthday today to my hero, friend and the best sister in the world. You  inspire me with the way you live a conquering life for Jesus. Happy Birthday Rebecca!