Hey, I have Good News.

March 20, 2009 at 6:26 pm (1) ()

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We are sinners.

I had the pleasure of talking to one of my very close friends at work about the church and their views on it, which is always an interesting conversation when it comes up. About how they feel really uncomfortable sitting in a church hearing the pastor say “We are gathered here today in recognition of the fact that we are sinners”. I can see how that would make people uncomfortable, but the truth is, it shouldn’t.

Most people hold it pretty strongly in their minds that sin is doing something.

To sin means to do something bad.

Like a lot of things in Christ, its almost the opposite.

The Hebrew word for Sin is Het, a word that means to miss the mark.

To Miss the Mark. To not get it right … to not be … perfect.

Its unfortunate how someone can feel totally comfortable with hearing a friend tell them “I’m not perfect, I’m only human”, but when someone else says “The world is full of sinners”, their day is ruined.

Why is that so … uncomfortable? When somebody says “Its okay, nobody’s perfect”, I find that comforting. When I mess up, its okay. Because everyone does.

But in something I refer to in my bias as “Republican Theology”, we’re told that sinners burn in hell and suffer for eternity, and sinners are people like rapists and murderers and adulterers.

So I guess when someone at the front of the Church tells you you’re a member of that group, I’m not going to be totally surprised if that makes you a little bit uncomfortable.

The truth of the matter is, though, we’re not perfect. We’re far from it. When I screw up and act too flirty with someone, or I get all angry at stupid little things, those are problems, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to suffer for eternity as a result. And that’s grounded in my faith as a Christian, believe it or not.

Is it okay to do those things in the first place? No. They’re not good things to do, obviously, but the beauty of sin is that, in the long run, the only ones holding you accountable are yourself and the people around you. God will forgive you.

Jesus came to earth for the salvation of the broken. In the same breath as having come for the prostitutes and the murders, he has come for the poor and the sick. The gossipers and the thieves.

We’re all in this together. Whether we talked behind someone’s back or whether we burned someone’s house down. All sins are equal in God’s eyes, and even though we’re all sinners, God still loves us.

As Paul says here, Christ loves us so much that he was even willing to die for us when were still sinners.

The best news you’ll ever receive is that, even though you’re a screw up, like me, Jesus still died on a cross for you. Picture that you’re about to get hung on the cross, and Jesus goes “No, take me instead”. Because that’s what happened.

And there’s no guilt attached. Jesus did this out of grace. Now, don’t you owe Him your life?

Paul also makes an important comparison about the inherent human nature of sin. We are flawed by nature, according to Adam’s original sin. I don’t even know if I’m a Genesis Literalist, but either way, he has a point. It had to start somewhere. He says just as the sin of one man resulted in the condemnation of all people, the death of one man resulted in the salvation of all people.

ALL PEOPLE. Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or you don’t, whether you jump and down or sit in silence, you’re saved from your sin. So get over it.

But He died for your sin so that you might die TO your sin. So that you might be reborn in Him. God has flooded our bodies with Holy Spirit, and you feel it. You know you do. That Holy Spirit is God working through you and helping you to live the life you were created to live. We’re not strong enough to do it by ourselves. And through love, you have been given the freedom to believe in it or not. You have been given freedom to save yourself … from yourself. God has already saved you from your condemnation.

All of this through grace. Now, again, don’t you owe Him your life?

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We’re in Rome

March 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm (1) ()

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The things Jesus taught to live by are obviously profound in more ways than anyone could figure out in a life time … but I think Paul is saying that they’re not necessarily the whole point. I sometimes distance myself from the actual person of Christ. The Jesus that is alive and moving in the world today. And that’s important because we need Him here now or else we’re nothing. We’re just living, not filled with life. Denying that Jesus is living inside of us is denying what it means to be human.

We know that righteousness … anything we do that is right … can only be upheld by faith, because the only things that we do right … come directly from God, so we have to believe in Him for that to be true. It is God’s righteousness within us. We have learned that righteousness comes out of faith, so does God’s righteousness come from faith as well?

In this chapter, Paul starts talking about “God’s Faithfulness” as something that is very real. So what does God place His faith in?

When we are shaken in our faith, when we lose site of God working through us in our lives, do we lose God entirely? 

I think maybe instead of believing that our road to righteousness starts with our faith in God … maybe it starts with God’s faith in us to believe in Him.

Have you ever been asked to prove that God exists? It just occurred to me that no one has actually just … asked me that question. I think its maybe because everyone knows that I can’t. No one can. But it doesn’t matter because you feel it like you feel Love. There’s no way of proving love exists the way I understand that it does … but I know it does. That’s how I know God is real. And not just a figment of my imagination. I feel Him.

God’s Love is a very real example of His faith in us. And this is what a lot of people don’t really get about love.

God, in all his infinite power, in all his infinite wisdom and justice and mercy … why doesn’t he just make every one Love Him? Why doesn’t he just reach into the world and fix it? Wouldn’t that just solve everything?

The truth is, and we know this about love, is that it can’t be forced. It can never be forced. If its forced, it isn’t love. And faith is putting the ball in the other person’s court. When I told my girlfriend that I love her for the first time, I left it up to her. The beautiful part is that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ever. For the rest of my life.

There is no greater gift, there is no greater expression of God’s love, than forgiving us our sins by punishing Himself, and then putting His faith in us that we might choose to believe in Him. That is the essence of God’s Love. Jesus was murdered because He loves us so much, and He wants us to love Him in return. 

So when Paul goes on to talk about the Law of the old testament, it makes sense that he would tell us that abiding by the law does not make us righteous. Being aware of the Law only makes us aware of our sin, which we are forgiven of.

It is not our faith in the law that saves us, it is our faith in God, but the glorious gift of it is that God has put the ball in our court. He’s given us, in His faith, the most undeniable and incomparable expression of love, and now its up to us to put our faith in His existence, along with everything that implies.

It starts to dawn on you … How could you not believe?

And this doesn’t mean that we just forget about the law. Jesus told us that we should live out every pen stroke of the law until heaven and earth disappear. Jesus shows us how to live, and that it is the best life. The most heartbreakingly beautiful life that we could possibly live. But in Romans, we read that it wasn’t His teachings that saved us from our sin. The same way rabbinical law makes us aware of our sin, the extended law of Jesus Christ does the same. The thing that DOES save us from ourselves is our own belief in His presence. Believing that He lived, and that He was God.

There is only one God that is lord of everyone. Whether we follow the law or not, He is our God. And He loves us with all that He is. Which is everything. God is waiting for us. God wants us to love Him so badly. And the only way that we can love God, is if God leaves it up to us. Which He has. I choose Him.

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Do As The Romans Do … ?

February 23, 2009 at 5:59 pm (1) ()

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Don’t judge people! That’s it. That’s the whole chapter.

Just kidding. I feel like we do that too much. Read something and recite in our heads what we’ve been told it means since Sunday school. And just move on to the next section, which probably says something like… Love your neighbour! The Bible takes like 15 minutes to read. But really it doesn’t.

I unfortunately am drawn to consider the culture we live in as experiencing the same problems that the Romans are facing. I am, anyways. I’m experiencing those problems. I’ve never been Jewish… I only recently started really calling myself a Christian… I’m a Christian born of a massive, capitalist, super – power empire, and as a result I’m constantly being drawn back into the things that it represents. Money. Image. Living in this world as a Christian is like walking on thin ice with the life guard really close by all the time. It sucks a lot to fall in because its really cold and really bad for you, but the Life Guard is always going to save me from it as long as I call for help.

So… “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” That’s Romans 2:1.

Judging people is so… over said. So what does it actually mean? Its telling me not to judge people because I do. This one just hit me right when I read it. Its saying to ME…

YOU who does things wrong all the time…. as small as they sometimes seem to you…. you look down on those that do things wrong when they seem worse than the things you do. But here’s the deal. You are not better than the killer. You are not better than the malicious dictator.Cold Or the porn star. Or the crooked politician. And you’re no better, because yesterday, you let yourself get upset over someone that bumped into you at the fish market while you were on a vacation that would cost anyone else thousands and thousands of dollars. The little things start to carry more weight when they’re right in your face. But the truth is, they carry just as much weight as anything else. Because the killer has a daughter who loves him and who he loves back more than anything. And the malicious dictator was beaten by his Father, and now he feels in charge because he doesn’t know any other way. And the porn star is stunningly beautiful even when she doesn’t wear thick camera make-up, but no one has ever seen her for anything else since she hit puberty, so its all she really knows. And the crooked politician thinks that what he’s doing is going to save his family from danger. And he would die for them. Like Jesus died for you.

If Jesus can die for them, than you can die for them. You should be able to die for them.

I guess that all applies directly to me. Would I die to save Hitler from himself?

So what is repentance? Is it saying I’m sorry? Or is it changing? Is it both? Yeah probably. Apologies are utterly useless without fixing the problem afterwards, we should know that by now. And changing your ways is the idea, but you can attempt to do that without admitting that Christ is at all God. And we’re not strong enough to do this thing without Christ. Without Christ, we’ll fall back into the same patterns. Luckily, we have Him whether we want Him or not.

Out of evil comes distress. Out of all the poor choices, comes the crap. That’s just the way the world works. The water is cold. God doesn’t even get angry that he has to keep reaching out His hand. That’s just what he does. He’s been watching us walking over that ice for a while now, and he’s been yelling at us not to, but we’re dumb.

The world is covered in thin ice, and we’re constantly going to be walking on it. And since we’re all walking on it, its bound to break, whether we’re jumping up and down or delicately tip toeing from place to place. Its just a matter of when. And when we’re in, we can keep swimming around in the crappy situation we’ve created for ourselves, or we can try every day to make the right choice and when God asks “do you trust me?” … we can say yes. And He’ll reach out His hand, and he can pull us to shore. The best part is, God can reach out His hand to us… and what does that mean?

He’s here! He’s here with us right now! That’s amazing! And all we have is His hand. We have to have faith in Christ Himself, not just what he taught. We absolutely have to. I have to believe that what we’re doing when we choose to live this way is right, but I also have to believe that God is here right now to pull me out, because I’m not strong enough by myself. And He is. He is here. I know that now.

Thank you, God. Amen.

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When In Rome

February 13, 2009 at 6:57 pm (1) ()

Mammon
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The Faith of the Romans is being reported all over the world, which is kind of cool, because they’re Romans, and they certainly did not love God before Christ. They loved Caeser. But now … here they are.

Paul really wants to go visit the Romans. He wants the Romans to see his faith, and he wants to see there’s, and he wants to learn from each other. With God as his witness, they are in his prayers all the time. He loves them. Beautiful. He wants to live in a community of communities with… Romans. And he openly admits that he has a lot to learn about faith in Christ from them.

Paul seems to show a particular fascination with what he is referring to right now as Gentiles. These Gentiles are people who are showing remarkable faith in Christ, but were not Jewish before, and as a result they have next to no understanding of levitical law. So he’s not saying the Romans are gentiles because they don’t have faith. They actually have a lot of faith, and he can learn from them. And he says the Righteous will live by faith. So what you need to be righteous is to be faithful to Christ, and HIS righteousness can then be lived in your life.

However, Paul goes on to talk about God and how He makes it clear to people what is right and what is wrong, and still some people ignore it, even though they know it. He’s speaking directly about creating idols and worshipping them still.

For me, worshipping idols means worshipping what each idol represents, not the figures themselves. Example, Mammon is greed and riches and selfishness. Not a little gremlin lookin dude with a brown sack of cash.

These idols they’re worshipping are Pagan gods. Things like … money and sex and weather and all the crazy stuff people worship as gods. By worshipping the things they represent, and they give in to them. Sex. Money. Things that distance them from the kingdom of God. Paul says they exchanged the Truth of God for the Lie of these idols. The Truth being that the promises God makes can actually be delivered on. Lust and Money promise us happiness that they can’t deliver.

Paul says that when the Romans acknowledge the existence of God but push him away in their actions, God doesn’t abandon them … he’s given them the choice, and when they choose the other, he hands them off.

God even has a hand in the action that we take when we ignore him.


This is now the section of Romans that talks about homosexuality, and in context it makes a lot of sense. Its referring to some of the Romans not as being in LOVE with the same sex, but as being inflamed with Lust for one another. Lustful sex is just another idol for people to worship. That’s all.

Paul is being very clear about something in this Chapter. He’s saying one of the worst things you can do to YOURSELF, is to know God but ignore him. When we decide to take the right path, God helps us to live in recognition that we are part of the kingdom of God and we can live for everything that means. If we decide not to, then God hands us over to the lifestyle we choose, including all the circumstances that come out of it. This is why faith in Christ is so important, because anything that is true and happy and good comes from Him …. and Christ has faith in us to believe Him.

Its not one of the worst things you can do to God. Nothing you can do to God will make him any less than he already is. We don’t have that kind of power. He’s always doing this for us.

God is both Holy … and here with us. In us. To let him work through us is a prayer we should all pray.

I’m not saying its easy. I don’t understand any of it really. And that we don’t get distracted by the world and that we don’t forget all about the spirit living inside of us. Its hard every day. But lets try together.

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In the Beginning

January 23, 2009 at 7:50 am (1) ()

I don’t know what to think of Genesis. Its poetry. That’s fact. And a lot of is … poetic story telling. Whether it happened or not, literally, I don’t know. But what I do know is that God is trying to speak to his children through it, whatever it is. That’s important. And here I am trying to respond. As if I’m worthy of a story this magical. Which I’m not. Not even close.

Chapter 1 – The Stand

The spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

The earth was formless and empty. There were waters, though.

But even the waters were dark and empty.

I love picturing that. Yes everything is covered by this fluidity of blackness. But the beautiful thing is… God is there. He’s actually there.

Hovering.

Maybe He is preparing for what is about to happen next. What could that thought process look like to one of us. Maybe He has no need at all to prepare. Hah. Even better.

Either way. Its heart breakingly beautiful.

He spoke … and the world was set into motion.

God made light, and he named it. And separated that light from the dark that was there before. And the light was day and the dark was night.

The First Day. A day of darkness and light. A day of opposites, a day of things of things being pulled apart and put together, and its the first day.

Ever.

We’re talking about the creation of everything here.

All Things.

And God is Hovering over top of that.

God is hovering over top of forever. That gives me chills.

Then He separates things some more. Again, He pulls things apart and puts them together. He decides to break the ever expansive water apart, but out of ashes rises one of God’s most beautiful gifts … the sky. And then he breaks the seas that remain again, and out of that, comes land, and then in the same breath and on the same day creates vegetation, which, again by the grace God, can take care of itself, because they create seeds according to their kind.

All of this breaking apart and separation.

Out of the ashes, rises the world we humbly live in.

I’ve always been slightly amused by the fact that when you have a glowstick, you do your best to snap it in half, only to have it to light your way.

This happens a lot in the Bible.

But we’ll get there. Its nice to know it starts right from the beginning though. Its like God is trying to tell me that certain things have to fall for other things to rise.

The darkness needs to be pulled away in order for there to be light.

The water needs to be pulled away in order for there to be land.

The seeds need to fall in order for the tree to grow.

What does this mean for me?

What needs to die in order for me to live?

I know. I know what needs to die.

God, deliver me from evil.

Give me the courage to do this. This life you’ve given me. Give me the courage to live it.

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