Thursday, November 27, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
As we enter the Christmas story of Jesus this year, we will conspire together. We join forces to subvert the consumer empire and celebrate the birth of a King. I and the entire NCC staff would like to issue a challenge. The "not one penny challenge". Yes we would like to invite you to refuse to bow to Master card or Visa during this Christmas. Refuse to incur any credit card debt. Not one penny! It may be difficult for some but I believe that Jesus birthday is best celebrated by freedom and not bondage. Instead of spending more-give more. Give more presence instead of presents. Give yourself to those you love. Give time. Give encouragement. Give relational gifts. Give more-spend less. Love all!
More info on practical ways to do this coming...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
When it comes to "love always" only One qualifies. Jesus is love in high definition. We become impatient and unkind. We become jealous and proud. At times we are rude and selfish. We fly off the handle. Hold grudges. Enjoy sin. When it comes to always-we always do something unloving like this. But Jesus always loved. Even in the face of people like us who always get it wrong. He loved through unbelief, discouragement, isolation, rejection, betrayal, brutality, ridicule, crucifiction and death. His love was stronger than all of this.
Song of Songs 8:6 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love;
He is a lover and a fighter. He all the all-time greatest fighter. He is the champion of the world. Of the universe. Of the universes.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I wrestled around a little bit with God last night after you announced the church needed $10,000 by Monday. Things have been really tight and my husband's job may be ending the end of November so I had to do a lot of soul searching and talking with God about giving more than usual. He assured me that He is going to take care of us and told me the amount I should give. We love this church and God loves what you are doing so we are stepping out in faith and giving this to help keep us open and keep doing the great things we are and helping all of those who desperately need our help. You were there when I needed you most and helped me through a lot and I want to be there for you as well. I spoke to my husband about it this morning and agreed without any hesitation.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I find this interesting that those who would love God are encouraged to hate evil. Why? When you love someone deeply you love what they love and you hate what they hate. God hates evil. It is destructive to those that he loves so He hates it. Hating evil is an issue of love. In fact the sincerity of our love is on the line.
Romans 12:9 (NIV) “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
We were designed by Love for Love. God is Love. He wants us to receive it. He wants us to give it. When sin is looked to for a source of enjoyment we lose our ability to love. We still desire love and still want to give it but we cannot. We become self-seeking and lack authenticity. Pride, envy, jealousy, and other controlling motives take over the heart rendering it unable to give and receive love. Therefore we must guard our hearts with all dilligence against love for the world.
1 John 2:15-17 (NIV) 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
God’s love and love for the sinful pleasures of this life cannot coexist-so we must choose. Die loving the world or live forever loving Him.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Having children causes us to re-evaluate. How much trash is being downloaded into Sam’s brain (or mine) in very subtle ways? How much do we entertain ourselves with media that is impure? How much does that affect my ability to give and receive love? As I contemplate 1 Cor. 13 I am realizing that love does not enjoy evil. And to the degree that I allow evil (even unwittingly) into my life I am diminished in my capacity to love. I want Sam to grow up with a strong capacity to love. I want him to have a strong sense of what is good and what is evil.
When it comes to Sam I hate evil. Wow there it is…no wonder my Father hates evil and tells me to do the same.
Amos 5:15 (NIV) “Hate evil, love good...”
Monday, November 10, 2008
1 Corinthians 13:6 “Love…does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth"
We love to have fun, but could our fun be unloving? Most people view sin as a way to have fun. Las Vegas is built on the idea. Our culture is largely centered on entertainment. Movies, television, internet all are mediums of consuming images that stimulate pleasure neurons in our joy hungry brains. Is this how we are designed to enjoy life? Last night the Travel Channel aired a showed called:
21 Sinful Vegas Hot Spots In one fast-paced glitzy hour, the alluring, sexy and luxurious hot spots in Sin City are revealed. So, toss your inhibitions aside and prepare yourself for a head-spinning trip around town for 21 Sinful Vegas Hot Spots.
I guess that great philosopher Kurt Cobain spoke for a generation when he wrote “Here we are, now entertain us.” He has been labeled, “Spokesman of a generation” a title he was never comfortable with. In disallusionment, he eventually took his own life. I know there was a time in my life when I celebrated in sin-even bragged about my exploits. I thought it was how you had fun. It almost killed me.
Proverbs 14:12-13 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
I am reminded of one of our cultures most famous blondes and how her tragic story ended...I wonder, do blondes really have more fun? What is fun really?
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Jesus the Whip Cracker
He was NOT a "man of Peace"!
By Tiffany Ranae, published Sep 08, 2006
I’m getting a little sick of so-called “Christians” that attack me for telling the truth about their religion. They are undoubtedly the same sort of people that would have crucified their savior in order to protect the sanctity of their organization. It’s one thing for non-believers to get it wrong about Christ. They likely haven’t been exposed to His teachings…but rather the rhetoric surrounding his teachings… and to his so-called “followers”, MOST of whom have never even completed reading the defining document of their faith. So, if you are a Christian, Let me boil it down into bite sized chunks for you.
A lot of people believe Jesus was a man of peace, the sort of guy that wouldn’t say &$#@ if he had a mouthful of it, a passive sort who “turned the other cheek” as a way of being nice. While for sure, Jesus was kind to children and compassionate to the poor, the sick, and those truly seeking God’s kingdom, he had nothing but vehemence, violence, venom and hatred for those who got in the way of those who wished to know his father, God. You don’t believe me? Consider this, the account in Matthew of Jesus “cleansing the temple” and some of the immediate aftermath (Matthew 21:12-19)
“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them," 'My house will be called a house of prayer, 'but you are making it a 'den of robbers."
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night. Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.
Here’s the account of the story from the book of John (John 2:14-16): “In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
” Dear readers, Jesus didn’t just kick over some tables. He didn’t just have a little temper tantrum, and he was NOT out of control. Consider these things: 1) Immediately after he kicked the tables over and drove the money-changers out, he stopped to heal people. He had done what he was there to do. 2) He didn’t just kick over tables. He didn’t just brandish a whip. HE MADE THAT WHIP! And he USED IT! 3)
As to the fig tree, My personal take is he was still a bit grumpy from the day before. In any case, he made his point. Bear fruit or DIE! It’s important to understand exactly what it was that got Jesus so riled up. So I will explain it. The temple laws were such that only temple currency could be used to pay for sacrificial animals. It was a way that the religious people had of sticking it to the Roman Government that occupied their land. Jerusalem, on the day in question was abuzz in activity. Its was the celebration pf Passover and Jews from all over swarmed into the city to offer sacrifice to God for the sins of the previous year. The moneychangers charged exorbitant rates. Furthermore, they had the racquet on what was and what was not a “clean animal”. The merchants at the temple also jacked up the prices on the “clean” animals, making it nearly impossible for the common man to offer sacrifice. In essence, it was price gouging.
Jesus was concerned with only one thing in life, taking away the impediments between humans and their creator. Profiting from worship on the backs of poor men and women, and making sacrifice to God cost prohibitive is what set Jesus off that day. It made him VIOLENT. We often assume that because Jesus raised no hand against those who killed him that he was an advocate of non-violence. The above account clearly demonstrated that he was not.
Do you want further proof that non-violence was not part of the message of Jesus? Consider this: Matthew 10:34-39 (Jesus speaking) "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
To be fair, he did also say “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9) However, to assume that a man who would say such things is only about peace, kindness, and charity is to be illiterate.
Jesus spared no opportunity to call the Pharisees “snakes” and “hypocrites”. He spared no opportunity to use the Pharisees as examples of how not to live. In the end, it was the Pharisees, the MOST RELIGIOUS PEOPLE OF THAT DAY that killed Jesus. For three years they tried to trip him up. They chastised him for hanging out with sinners and “tax gatherers” (By the way, the tax gatherer thing was ALL ABOUT POLITICS, the underground struggle between the Roman occupation and The land promised the Jews by God). Jesus answer to them was, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, it’s the sick and the lame.
For those of you who think “turn the other cheek” was a way of advocating non-violence, think again. It was about POWER! If your attacker has no power over your emotions, no power over your actions, and no power over your decision making process, then no matter what he does, you have won. Other great leaders have understood that as well, Ghandi and Martin Luther King among them.
Jesus was not a man of peace. He had one message, a drum he beat continually “The Kingdom of God is at hand!” A lot of people would have you believe that “At hand” means “coming soon”. In reality “At hand” means, reach out and GRAB IT! People wonder why it is that I bag on so-called “Christians” so much. The reason is simple. Unless their primary message in life is “The Kingdom of God is at hand”, they are not Christ like. Unless they will stop at NOTHING to remove the impediments to humankind seeing the Father God, they are not Christ like. Unless they bear fruit, they are not Christ like. If they live the sorts of lives that concern themselves with the legalities of religion rather than the relationship of God to his people, they are not Christ like. If they hang out amongst the people that they get along with, who believe as they do on everything concerning God, they are not Christ like. If they are not concerned with the business of healing the sick and the lame, if they put religion over God, if they put self preservation over message, then ladies and gentlemen they are NOT CHRIST LIKE!
Why am I so tough on Christians? I am so tough on Christians because I believe people should be held accountable to the titles they take on. I believe people should be held accountable to be LIKE someone, if they espouse a title that claims they are disciples of that someone. I believe that the teachings of Christ could change the world. I am not a Christian, but I believe that there is value in at least attempting to be as Christ like as possible. Jesus always pointed the way to his father. So if you feel like I put you down. If you feel I have been unfair, if you feel I am angry, if you feel that my tone is mean spirited, then stop before you type it out. And tell me this. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO??? It is not me that must be held accountable for acting as Christ did, for I refuse to label myself with the title of “Christian”. If however you label, yourself as such, then ACT like it or shut the hell up!
The Pharisees were al about morality codes. Jesus was about showing people God’s kingdom. The Pharisees were about keeping order. Jesus was about showing people God’s kingdom. The Pharisees were about self preservation, so much so that they killed Jesus. Jesus was about showing people God’s Kingdom. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. He did not come into the world to condemn it. He came to save it. He came that men might have life and have it more abundantly. If you are pointing the way to “godly behavior” instead of the way to God, you are in the way. If you are pointing out immorality and injustice, but not God’s Kingdom, you are in the way. Point out God’s kingdom or get out of the way!
What is God’s kingdom? It is by no accident that in Genesis God created his perfect world, a place where man did not know good from evil, where he ate freely from every tree of the garden EXCEPT that one, a world in which man communed with creation peacefully as a caretaker. God’s kingdom is a life free from guilt, in which the only sin is any action that does not first consider the best good of the part of creation with which we have been entrusted. It’s a life wherein we may eat freely from any tree of the garden, EXCEPT for the one that gives us the perception of knowledge regarding what is good and what it evil. No war has ever been fought that didn’t emanate from a differing opinion on good vs. evil. What is it that will kill mankind if we don’t get this message? It’s simple, the repercussions of assuming to know good vs. evil for others, the repercussions of taking our focus off of our job of looking after the best interest of the garden, and the repercussions of having a perception that we know good vs. evil had been what has killed billion in war and caused untold zillion of fights between men will be what ultimately kills mankind. The only cure for that is finding God’s Kingdom once again in our lives. Why do I bag on Christians so much? In their quest to point out the immorality in the world, they forgot all about God’s Kingdom. They forgot to be like the savior that they claim to follow. I think it’s fair to hold them accountable. Don’t you?
Monday, November 03, 2008
This week I am reflecting on how slow God is...that is to get angry I mean.
6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
18 'The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.
17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
Ps 86:15Psalm 86
15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Ps 103:8Psalm 103
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
Ps 145:8Psalm 145
8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.
When I try to run from obedience to God, He will always catch me but thankfully he is slow to be angry with me. I love You Father!