My 2 cents on Halloween…

Today I read a friend on Facebook complaining about churches and Trunk or Treats. I began to comment without much thought. However; as I typed I began to hear my heart and I believe the heart that God is shaping in me and I wanted to share that comment here (My friend’s name is Lynette):

I remember thinking just like you Lynette. I preached a sermon one year before Halloween encouraging people to stand against the evil holiday, about a year later I had a choice to make – help with an event at the church on Halloween or sit back and complain about it. I decided to help, by the end of that event it was my baby to handle for the next years. Two years later on Halloween we had over 25,000 people show up and many heard the gospel. I knocked on doors delivering prizes for months after that event, many times people prayed prayers with me beginning a conversation with God. Today, I’m not planning events like that… I think God has me on a different journey but I’m not going to fuss and condemn anyone for where they are on their journey either. Today, I’d rather have a beer with someone or play poker with them and really get to know them instead of just knocking on their door and pushing them toward something they don’t understand. But, I’m not going to condemn the old way either… instead I want to celebrate the journey.

If we aren’t careful we’ll spend all of our energy fighting instead of loving and being light. Jesus said they will know us by our love.

I know Halloween loving Christians and Halloween boycotting Christians, but I think it would be wise for us to love and respect both.

I know Democrat Christians, and Republican Christians and I think I understand the reasoning for both. I happen to be a more of a libertarian leaning Christian (Ron Paul style Libertarian) but I’m not going to say that you aren’t a Christian if you don’t vote my way. I skimmed an article today called why I’m a Democratic Christian and I saw good points.

In Ezra the religious Israelite people decided that the only way that they could obey God was to divorce their wives and put their children in the street all because they married Moabite and other foreign wives but in Ruth, Boaz is called the Kinsman redeemer for marrying a Moabite woman. I think those who took Ezra’s leadership were wrong, but I understand their journey. So there you have two bible books that have opposite messages… beware of seeing only black and white in a world where evil pretends to be good and sometimes is better at looking good than the better truth loving people. What I’m trying to say there is this, If the devil entered a “Christian of the Year” contest at most American Churches he would win by a landslide.

Sometimes following Christ isn’t easy and clear-cut. In fact, the key to the Christ life may include disagreeing and challenging one another without judging and hating one another, iron sharpening iron.

I’m getting ready to study dispensationalism, a theology that I totally disagree with in hopes of better understanding dispensationalists that I love. Why, because iron sharpens iron.

Lynette, I remember 7 or 8 years ago realizing that I didn’t have any lost friends… I realized that I was only hanging out with religious people. The problem was I simultaneously realized that I had insulated myself from everything that religious people might crucify me for. I’m still too insulated today, but I’m trying to learn to be IN THE WORLD enough to know and impact the world. The salt is no good in the shaker, and the light has no value under the bushel. Remember Jesus was called a winebibber and a drunkard. He didn’t get that reputation by standing outside the bar protesting its liqueur license!

Have a beer today with someone who hates religion and could care less about Jesus and then maybe we’ll all learn something about loving people who don’t think like us. That’s my 2 cents!

Check out this new movie preview – Jeff’s World!

Some friends of mine from California are shooting a new movie. I think you’ll love it. Check it out, pass the preview along, (PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK IF YOU LIKE THE PREVIEW) and if you love it… donate a few bucks toward helping them finish the project.

List of verses that show that God prefers relationship, love, and obedience to sacrifice

I’m working on a list of scripture verses that indicate that God’s not looking for sacrifice or offering as much as He wants relationship, love, and obedience… Here’s my list so far… would you have some verses to add? Psalm 40:6; Hebrews 10:4; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7; Psalm 51:16; Hosea 6:6; 1 Corinthians 13:3; Jeremiah 7:22-23; 1 Samuel 15:22; Jeremiah 19:5; Isaiah 1:11.

Psalm 40:6
6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired ; My ears You have opened ; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.

Hebrews 10:4
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Matthew 9:13
13 “But go and learn what this means : ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 12:7
7 “But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

Psalm 51:16
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.

Hosea 6:6
6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

1 Corinthians 13:3
3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Jeremiah 7:22-23
22 “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people ; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’

1 Samuel 15:22
22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Jeremiah 19:5
5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind ;

Isaiah 1:11
11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle ; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.

I read a great blog entry today… so I decided to share it with you!

The following is a short story by Mick Mooney: (Click Here to visit his blog, or here to visit his Facebook page. Also all of Mick’s kindle version books are on sale right now for 2.99, here.)

Once upon a time, a mother made her son a wristband. On it was written: WWJD. This, of course stood for: What Would Jesus Do?’ She instructed her son to look at the wristband before making decisions on how to live his Christian life.

A week later she was shocked to see that her son had become friends with prostitutes, was hanging out with ‘sinners’ – even buying people who were already drunk yet another round of beers!

Worse still, he had walked into their church the previous Sunday and tore down the book store, overturned the tables and threw the cash register through the window, he then made a whip and chased the pastor out of the building, declaring he was turning God’s house into a den of thieves.

Most shocking was what happened when his mother went to picket the local abortion clinic. To her embarrassment, her son was also there, but he was standing with the women who just had an abortion, and yelled at the protesters: “You who is without sin, throw the first stone!”

The mother was very distressed, but fortunately she found a solution to this terrible problem. She made another wristband, this time it read: WWAPD, this, she explained to her son, stood for: What Would A Pharisee Do? She took the old WWJD wristband and burned it.

Since her son has been wearing the new wristband, looking at it to help him make his decisions, he has become a dedicated tither, a public prayer warrior, an active condemner of ‘sinners’, a passionate defender of the Old Covenant law, and has a great reputation as a godly young man amongst other religious people.

Needless to say, the mother is very happy now. She only wishes Jesus would take notice and follower her son’s good example.

Would a tragedy like the Holocaust make retribution like South Africa’s apartheid okay?

I watched a video the other day, and I’m sure very few people will take the time to watch the documentary but I wonder if we all should watch it. I’m way too ignorant of history to even pretend to know if this is accurate or not. But if it is even slightly accurate, we should do or say something. I want to go and see this for myself. I want to stand up against injustice if this is happening. But it seems weird, 10 – 12 years ago it would not have entered my mind to ever consider standing up against Israel. But isn’t it just like God to show up on the other team? It happened to Paul, he thought he was fighting for God and then he discovered that he was fighting against Jesus.

I’m almost in tears right now, because this is so confusing to me. I want to see the truth of all this. I want to know what is really going on. I’ve prayed and prayed about Haiti, because I care about the people there, but God has never given me a real passion about going there for long term. But right now, I could imagine going to Palestine and just standing there as a witness. I hear that just having witnesses with cameras is actually saving the lives of Palestinians.

I’m told that this travesty is the best keep secret of our lifetime. Israel is killing, and imprisoning Palestinians and the world is looking the other way. What is the weapon that the Israelis use to force the world to look the other way – history. How does this work, guilt and the “unofficial” right to revenge. Did Palestinians carry out the Holocaust? No, but the world seems to have decided somehow to allow to allow Palestine to pay for that tragedy.

WARNING: I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT AND I KNOW IT. I AM AS CONFUSED AS YOU THINK I AM. IF YOU CAN EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS TO ME, PLEASE DO. BUT IF THIS DOCUMENTARY IS EVEN 50% CORRECT, CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE SHOULD BE STANDING UP FOR PALESTINE AND NON-VIOLENTLY INFLUENCING ISRAEL TO REPENT.

This isn’t for everyone, just like every issue isn’t mine to take on… but I hope there are a few people out there who will watch this documentary and advice me about it.  I have some friends that I am sure will want to stone me for even posting this video.  I have a few other friends who may be able to explain to me how this video is right or wrong.  Either way, I want to know the truth.  I’m a huge proponent of transparency.  I’m being very transparent here…. I am asking for advice.  Help me understand this….

Here’s the video (It is an hour and 15 minutes, sorry but it is worth it):

This is evidently a real popular story but I just read it today…

This came from Jon Zens’ Searching Together…www.searchingtogether.org
 
THE QUESTION THAT CHANGED MY LIFE [AT THE BATTLE FRONT 65]
-by David Ryser.
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.

Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.

… I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God–much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ–that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?”  I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions?

It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?