Sunday, July 30, 2017

UNCHURCHING PODCAST: From Motel Church to Tent City - Keith Giles




In this episode, Keith Giles returns to the show to share some amazing stories from his house church’s motel ministry, and some insights about where they’re headed next.

LISTEN HERE




Saturday, July 29, 2017

CONFESSING MY SINS






Too often we in the Christian church tend to think of evangelism as communicating to the “lost” that they are sinners who need to repent and turn to Jesus.

But, if we want to talk about sinfulness I really think we have to be willing to start with our own.

Like, what if the way we did evangelism was to go out together, in groups of two or three, and find a stranger and pull them aside and say, “Hey, I just wanted you to know that I am a sinner and I really need Jesus in my daily life. Would you pray for me?”

Just imagine if we started the conversation by freely admitting our own need for Jesus like that. Wouldn’t that change the entire conversation? Wouldn’t that fulfill Jesus’s admonition to first deal with the beam in our own eyes before we attempt to remove the speck in someone else’s eye?

Today I was reminded once more that I am a sinner and that I need Jesus more than anyone else I know.

My failure was profound, and shameful, and it hurt some of the people I care most about in the whole world.

On one hand, I can see how God can take this failure and make something good out of it. 

If nothing else it shines a much-needed light into a dark place in my heart that still needs to be touched by Him and be transformed by His irresistible love. 

So, that is a good thing [the exposure of our sin, not the sin itself of course].

See, our sin flourishes in the darkness. When it comes into the light it dies. So, as painful as it is to look at it, our ugly sinful nature starts to die the moment we put it on display and call it by name.

Still, the shock of seeing our sin in the daylight isn’t comfortable. It’s painful and it’s wrapped tightly in a shroud of disappointment and heartache and failure. 

These emotions can easily overwhelm us if we do not quickly turn to Jesus and receive His forgiveness and experience the restoration that comes only from Him.

I've said it before: our walk with Jesus is a process. Thankfully we don’t fall down the entire journey, but on those [hopefully] rare occasions that we do, He is quick to turn our failures into opportunities to grow, and somehow to work it all into our ongoing transformation into people who look and act and love like Him.

It’s not about getting it perfectly right. It’s not about never stumbling or falling on our face. It's about humility. It’s about admitting we need His help and giving each other Grace to keep going. 

So, if we really want to speak the Truth in love, then our message to others can't be, "You're a filthy sinner and you need Jesus". Instead it should really be, "Hey, I'm a filthy sinner and I need Jesus. Please pray for me.”

Our invitation to others should be to ask them to join us as we follow Jesus daily and seek His face and partake of His mercy and grace.

If we did this, it would not only place the emphasis where Jesus put it - on following Him daily and surrendering our will to His – it would also force every single one of us to admit our need for Jesus, regardless of how long we’ve been a Christian or much we’ve studied the scriptures.

Our calling, ultimately, is to love people, and that can only be done in relationship. This relationship will best reflect Christ if it is marked by a heaping helping of love and forgiveness for one another. 

God will convict people of their sins just fine without us - because that's what He said He would do.

Plus, He specifically told us that it is not our place to convict people of their sins. 

His new command to us was simply this: “Love others as I have loved you.”

That seems like more than enough of a challenge to me, don't you agree?

Because, if we love people we make room for the grace of God to touch their hearts. 

If we judge people, our condemnation becomes a barrier and a veil that makes it very hard for them to see the love of Jesus in us. And if they can’t see the love of Jesus in us, please tell me where they supposed to see it?

“Hello. My name is Keith. I am a sinner and I really need Jesus in my life. Please pray for me.”


-kg

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Unrelenting Wave Is Rising



Today I invite you to become a member of a subversive group of social media renegades whose mission is to spread the audacious joy of Christ's heart and to change the tone and tenor of the internet to reflect His new Kingdom reality, one post at a time.
Our strategy will be to relentlessly post quotes, articles, videos and memes that unapologetically declare that Christ's message of love, peace and forgiveness is remaking the world - one person at a time, from the inside out - whether we like it or not.
We will not stop to argue with the naysayers. We will respond only with more love, more joy, more forgiveness and more endless declarations of the Gospel of Peace that inevitably transforms everyone it touches.
As our numbers increase [and they will increase] the algorithms of Facebook will have to be rewritten to accommodate our unstoppable tsunami wave of agape.
I'm not going to ask who is with me. I'm just going to move forward and step into this movement that is already in motion.
This little kingdom will also fall and all will bow down to the Lamb who was slain to the Glory of God.
Join me now, or wait and be swept up into the rip tide later. It makes no difference.
His Kingdom is here. It is advancing. We will overcome.
Selah.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yes, the Bible is full of contradictions (But I love it anyway)



If we're going to talk about the Bible, we have to be honest; there are more than a few errors in the Scriptures. In fact, there are errors, mistakes and contradictions all through it.

This is the truth.

Before I list a few of those contradictions and errors, let me first say this:

I love the Bible.

I not only love the Bible, I also study it, treasure it, and thank God for it.

Why? Because even though it's not perfect, it does point us to Christ. It is also chock full of incredible wisdom, insight and profound truth.

But, no, the Bible is not perfect.

However, God is and we can know a lot about Him through the Scriptures.

Thankfully, we don't need a perfect, inerrant, infallible Bible to know and worship a perfect, inerrant and infallible God.

So, the sooner we just admit that the Bible has a few mistakes and errors and contradictions, the sooner we can move on to discover the truth, wisdom and insight it still holds for everyone.

Now, here are a few errors, mistakes and contradictions in the Bible:

God does NOT command burnt offerings to be sacrificed:
"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." (Jeremiah 7:22)

God DOES command burnt offerings to be sacrificed:
"You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you." (Exodus 20:24)

The Earth remains forever:
"A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever." (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

The Earth will be destroyed by fire:
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10)

Elijah ascended into Heaven:
"As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven." (2 Kings 2:11)

No one except Jesus ever ascended into Heaven:
"No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man." (John 3:13)

Israel had 800,000 men and Judah had 500,000 men:
"And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men." (2 Sam. 24:9)

Israel had 1,100,000 men and Judah had 470,000 men:
"Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword." (1 Chron. 21:5)

David captured 1,700 horsemen:
"David captured from him 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers; and David hamstrung the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots." (2 Samuel 8:4)

David captured 7,000 horsemen:
"David took from him 1,000 chariots and 7,000 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers, and David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots." (1 Chronicles 18:4)

So, this is just a quick list of contradictions and errors in the Bible. A lot of them are just numbering mistakes. Others are historical inaccuracies about who did or said this or that. Honestly, nothing too "out there" except perhaps for the question of whether God required sacrifice or not. (That's another blog article for another day).

My point is not to weaken your faith in the God of the Bible. My point is to speak the truth and admit that there are a few errors in the Scriptures which we should simply admit to and move on.

The Bible is not perfect. The Scriptures are not error-free. 

But God is perfect, and Jesus perfectly reveals the Father to us, and we can know Him directly by the indwelling Holy Spirit who abides within us.

If we run around claiming that there are no errors in the Bible and no contradictions, then we look foolish. What's worse, we also set our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ up for a fall. Whenever someone points out one of these errors to them they will no doubt lose all faith in the "inerrant and infallible" Scriptures and possibly even in the Lord Himself.

But, if we are honest with one another and admit that our Scriptures are "mostly" reliable (at least about the things that matter), then we're at least dealing with reality and being realistic about the Bible. 

As my friend Brian Zahnd says, "What the Bible does inerrantly and infallibly is point us to Christ."

Now that we have Christ, we also have the Holy Spirit which lives within us and leads us into all Truth so we can recognize error and walk in the light as He is in the light.

The Bible points us to the Truth, even if it (sometimes) does so inconsistently.

Being "God-breathed" does not necessitate perfection. Humans are also "God-breathed" and we are prone to all sorts of mistakes. Thankfully, that doesn't mean God abandons us, or refuses to abide within us. 

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing greatness of this power is from God and not from ourselves" (2 Cor. 4:7)


-kg

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Scriptures Are Clear: The Bible Is Not The Only Way We Can Know God


Does the Bible really say that the only way to know God is through the Scriptures? You might be surprised at the answer.

 In the ongoing conversation about the identity of the “Word of God” and differences between the Bible and Christ, we often hear reactions that sound something like this:

“You cannot know Christ apart from the scriptures. Everything we know about Christ comes to us from the bible.”

That sounds right, doesn’t it? I mean, how else could we know anything about God or about Jesus apart from the Bible? (Right?)

But, if we look to the Bible to support this notion we might be in for a little surprise. 

As we look deeper we run across verses that suggest something a lot more breath-taking than what we might have expected.

For example, the Gospel of John tells us that “The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and that this same Word of God is Jesus (John 1:1) and now Jesus (the Word of God) lives within every one of us who abides in Him (John 15:4).

So, if the Word of God is Jesus, and if Jesus now lives within me, then I have the Word of God inside of me. 

This means we can know Christ the way we know our own voice, or our own heartbeat, because He is alive within us.

The Scriptures also tell us that we “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) right now and that we can discern “the things that come from the Spirit of God…because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:15) and this Spirit is now alive within us.

Jesus also affirms to us that we can hear His voice and that He, as the Good Shepherd, is more than capable of making Himself heard:

“I am the Good Shepherd and my sheep hear my voice” (See John 1:1-16)

So, not only can we all hear our Master’s voice individually, we are also empowered by the Holy Spirit who “leads us into all truth” (John 16:13), as Jesus promised us.

The Apostles also affirmed these same ideas by pointing to the evidence of the Holy Spirit within us as proof that we belong to Christ and that we can know the truth apart from anything else:

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27)

The anointing every Christian has received is from the Holy Spirit and this anointing teaches us about all things.
Now, does any of this mean we don’t need the Bible? Far from it. 

I mean, why wouldn’t we avail ourselves of the all the treasures provided for us in the Scriptures? That would be unnecessarily foolish.  

But my point is this: According to the Bible, we can know God, and Christ, by the indwelling Spirit of the Living God within us.

This is what the Bible teaches us about how we primarily know God and Christ and the Truth: By the Spirit of God.

So, according to the Bible, everything we know about Christ comes from Christ. Yes, some of it does come from the Bible, (and that of course comes from Christ, too), but even more wisdom and truth is available to us directly from the One who lives and breathes within us on a daily basis.

I think that’s worth at least one big “Halleluiah!” Don’t you?

Are you ready for a little more excitement? This is all exactly what the New Covenant is all about.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34; emphasis mine)

Notice that the result of this New Covenant would be that God’s people would not turn to teachers for wisdom about God because “My law (will be) within them and on their heart I will write it” and because “they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them”.

When these words were written it sounded like science fiction. How could God do this? What would it be like to have God’s Law written on our hearts? What would it be like not to depend on teachers to know God? How amazing would it be if everyone who belonged to God knew Him so intimately?

Now, today, because of Christ’s accomplishment and fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh. We, right now, are those people that Jeremiah prophesied about. 

We are the people who now have God’s Law written on our hearts. We are the people who are now empowered by the Spirit of the Living God to “Know the Lord” because we can all know Him, “from the least to the greatest.”

Doesn’t that excite you? Isn’t that great news?

How sad would it be to live in such a time as this and not take advantage of such a wonderful gift from God?

Jesus declared this New Covenant in His blood. We remember His death and Covenant with us every time we eat the bread and drink the cup. Why stop there? Why not continue onward to claim the promises that come with this New Covenant reality? Why not listen for the voice of our Good Shepherd and learn to “Know the Lord” in this one-on-one way?

In fact, if we don’t live this way, we are actually choosing to live an Old Covenant life and to embrace and Old Covenant kind of faith rather than a truly Christ-centered life and faith that leads us to life and grace and truth.

Jesus was quick to remind us that we have no need of any other teacher except Him:

"Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah" (Matt.23:10)

Please don’t miss this, my friend. It was for freedom that Christ has set you free from the Old Covenant kind of life. The opportunity to know God intimately and to hear the voice of Jesus directly is wide open to you now.

The Lord is available to you. Listen for His voice. 

-kg

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CHURCH OF THE HEART PODCAST: Giving It All Away






In this episode: Keith Giles of the Mission House Church in Santa Ana, California talks about being a part of a fellowship that has as its goal giving everything that the group takes in to help the poor in the community. Dan and Keith also discuss politics, millennials, Keith’s books and a few other things.

CLICK LINK HERE TO LISTEN>

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Pax Christus vs Pax Romana




In the first century, the Roman Empire kept the peace by the power of the sword and the cross.

With the sword, they could enforce the law and with the cross they could punish those who defied the Empire through intimidation and public humiliation.

In Christ's Kingdom, peace is also maintained by the power of the sword and the cross.

But in His Kingdom, the Sword of the Spirit sets people free, transforms them into the image of Christ and separates truth from error and light from darkness.

In His Kingdom, the cross crucifies our flesh, puts to death our sinful desires and unleashes the resurrection power of Christ so we can experience His new life within.

The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, and the Word of God is Christ. He speaks freedom and life. [see John 1:1; Heb. 4:12; Eph.6:17]

Pax Christus or Pax Romana - your choice.

As for me, I choose the power of Christ's sword that sets us free and the cross of Jesus that transforms and resurrects rather than the sword that kills and the power of humiliation.

What about you?

-kg

**
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." - Hebrews 8:12-13

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." - Eph. 6:17

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." - John 1:1; 14

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MERCY FOR ME, BUT NOT FOR YOU?



The news broke this week that OJ Simpson has been approved for parole.

Of course, the media, and people on social media, were all quick to remind us of his crimes and his failures as a person.

As I read some of these reactions I couldn't help but remember a verse in Micah 6:8 which says:

”(God) has shown you, O man, what is good, and what is required of you; to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Most of us have no problem with most of this. We understand that we need to do justice on behalf of the weak and the oppressed. We know that we need to walk in humility with God and our fellow man.

But that part about loving mercy? That's too much.

Why? Because to love mercy you need to rejoice when someone gets a blessing they really don't deserve.

Like OJ Simpson getting paroled this week.

Our problem isn't with mercy in general. Oh no. We all love mercy - as long as it is being showered down on us. That feels so good and it speaks so powerfully of God's love for us and His kindness to us just warms us from the inside out.

Mercy is awesome.

But, when someone who doesn't deserve mercy receives it, we tend to complain. We go on and on about how they don't deserve this. We wag our fingers and shake our heads and roll our eyes. 

Do they deserve such abundant favor and mercy from God? Of course not, and neither do we when we receive mercy. 

But, we're ok with mercy shown to us. So, why are we so upset when mercy gets shown to others?

Because deep inside we still think we deserve mercy and they don't. 

But is that true? No, it's not true. None of us "deserves" mercy. In fact, if any of us actually deserved mercy then the blessing wouldn't be called "mercy" it would be called "justice" because the blessing was deserved and giving it to us was simply making everything right again.

Mercy isn't about deserving anything. It is, in fact, about not deserving a damn thing, but getting blessed anyway.

If your son or daughter got into trouble with the law, or hooked on drugs, and then appeared before the Judge and was shown mercy and given a second chance, you might weep and praise God and shout "Halleluiah!"

But if you read a story in the newspaper or heard on the news about someone who broke the law, got caught holding drugs and then got a slap on the wrist in court, your reaction to that might be very different. Maybe you'd get angry. Maybe you'd even curse a little under your breath and complain about our shoddy justice system.

But if that was your son or daughter, you'd be on your knees thanking God for the mercy and grace poured out on your family.

We all love mercy as long as it's being showered down on us. But the Lord calls us to love mercy in general; to celebrate whenever anyone receives mercy, no matter who they are or what they've done.

Mercy means everyone gets another chance to get it right.

Mercy means rejoicing with those who rejoice, no matter who is rejoicing.

The only way we'll ever love mercy this way is if the Lord Jesus transforms us from the inside out. It will take a miracle of God to help us see through the eyes of Christ and celebrate whenever any one of His children receives a blessing they don't deserve.

Are you willing to submit to the Lord in this area? Are you willing to pray and ask Him to give you a heart like His that rejoices whenever someone is shown mercy?

Until we love like Jesus loves, we'll never love mercy.

-kg


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

5 TIMES JESUS CONTRADICTED THE OLD TESTAMENT



A friend recently told me that Jesus would never contradict the Old Testament scriptures.

In response to that statement, I'd like to offer this list of specific contradictions that Jesus made against teachings found in the Old Testament:

1) According to Deuteronomy, God commands His people to swear in His name:

Old Testament: "You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name." - Deuteronomy 6:13

But Jesus says that to swear by anything is "from the evil one":

Jesus: "But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one." - Matthew 5:37

2) The Old Testament says that God's people should show no mercy and practice an eye for eye form of justice:

Old Testament: "Show no pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." - Deuteronomy 19:21

But Jesus contradicts this directly:

Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." - Matthew 5:38–39

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 5:43-48

3) The Old Testament teaches that adulterers should be put to death without exception:

Old Testament: ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death." - Leviticus 20:10

Jesus famously ignored this command when they brought the woman caught in adultery to him: 

Jesus: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground...."Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.'" - John 8:3-11

4) The Old Testament commands that no one do any work on the Sabbath:

Old Testament: "But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do." - Deuteronomy 5:14

Truth be told, no one breaks the Sabbath more than Jesus does. There are dozens of examples but here's just one:

Jesus: "Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath" - John 5:8–9

5) Right after healing this man on the Sabbath, Jesus goes one step further and He commands this man to break the Sabbath, too!

In Jeremiah 17:21–22 it says that no one should carry any burden on the Sabbath:

The Old Testament: "This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors." - Jeremiah 17:21-22

Truthfully, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day understood that this was in direct defiance of the specific OT command:

"...and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” - John 5:10

So, does Jesus ever contradict the Old Testament Scripture? Yes! He most certainly does.

What does this mean? It means that:

*Jesus is the "Word of God" made flesh 
*Jesus as the Living Word of God has the authority to correct the written Word as-needed
*The Old Testament Scriptures are modified by Christ because Jesus is the reality these were pointing to
*Jesus - His life, His teaching, His example - are the standard which everyone, and everything [including the Bible] must measure up to and align with [not the other way around]

This also means that the Old Testament Scriptures, which were written by men, were sometimes "inspired" and sometimes not so much.

How do we know the difference?

Simple: Whenever those Old Testament Scriptures accurately point us to Christ [as in prophecies about Jesus and His incarnation, ministry, identity, etc.] we know that those are truly inspired.

But, whenever we see verses that conflict with Jesus, or His teachings, or His character, or that don't align with His revelation of the Father, etc., we can safely say that  Jesus was right and those men who write the Old Testament were wrong [at least in those cases]. 

Does this mean we can just make the Bible say anything we want?

No. Sorry. That's not what it means. [Unless what you want the Bible to say is exactly in line with Jesus and His teachings and life, then, yes].

Please note: This is not an arbitrary realignment of truth in the Scriptures. It's a Christ-centric alignment of truth, which sees Jesus as the standard. 

Why? 
Because Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Because Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. 
Because no one has ever seen God at any time except for Jesus. [Which means that those other people who wrote the Old Testament did not see God clearly, and certainly not as clearly as Jesus does because He is God in the flesh].

For example: In the Old Testament Scriptures it was said that God commanded His people to kill innocent women and children and even warned them not to hold back or to show any compassion on the infants or the toddlers. 

"[God Almighty says] Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'" - 1 Sam. 15:2-3

"But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction..." - Deut. 20:16-18

Can you imagine Jesus turning to you and commanding you to go next door and kill every man, woman, child, and even the pets of your neighbors? Does that sound like something Jesus would say? Does that sound like something that the "Abba" revealed by Jesus would command His children to do?

Of course not. Therefore, we can conclude that verses like these are projections of God's character made by men who sometimes heard from God prophetically and at other times [like these] did not. 

How can we know this? Because we know that the God revealed to us by Jesus would not command this sort of violence against women or children, nor would He condemn someone for showing mercy and compassion on the weak and the helpless.

Jesus has shown us the Father. He is like the Father and the Father is like Jesus. 

The Father that Jesus reveals to us does not command us to kill our enemies, or their infants. Instead, He commands us to love our enemies, to bless them, to do good to them, and to pray for them.

He even tells us that when we do those things, we are also doing exactly what the Father does!

We have not yet fully embraced the idea that Jesus was the only one who has ever seen God. 
We have not yet fully accepted the idea that Jesus reveals the Father to us better than anyone else does.
We have not yet completely believed Jesus when He tells us that God loves and even blesses His enemies and that's why we should do it, too.

But, I have very high hopes that we might get it soon. That is my prayer.

-kg


Monday, July 17, 2017

Understanding Your Identity In Christ


Jesus started His ministry by saying this: 

"I have come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and it will not disappear until this is accomplished." [Matt. 5:17]
At the end of His ministry He said this:
"Father...I have glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." [John 17:4]
"It is accomplished!" [John 19:28]
Now that Jesus has accomplished the Law and the Prophets as He came to do, we are told that the Law is: "fading, vanishing" and "obsolete" according to the Apostles. [2 Cor. 3:7-11; Gal. 4:24-31; Heb. 8:13]
This means we are no longer under the Law of Moses, because:
* It was a covenant made with the Jewish Nation 
* The covenant with that nation ended officially in AD 70, along with the priesthood, temple and daily sacrifice
* It was fulfilled and accomplished by Christ and now it will disappear, exactly as Jesus promised [see Matt. 5:17]

So, we who are in Christ are now only under the Law of Christ [Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21] which has an easy yoke and a light burden because:
* Christ indwells and empowers us to love one another as He loved us [John 15:4]
* Jesus is transforming us daily into people who are like Him [2 Cor. 3:18]
* The Grace given to us by Christ has given us everything we need to live a godly life [2 Peter 1:3; Titus 2:11-12]

This also means that we, who are in Christ, are now God's Chosen People because:
* Jesus is "the Chosen One of God" [Matt. 12:18; Luke 9:35; John 1:34]
* If we are in Christ then we are also "Chosen in Him" [Eph. 1:11; Col. 3:12]
* God's "Chosen people" have always been those who belong to Him in Spirit and in Truth [Rom. 9:6; Gal. 3:29]

So, please keep these things in mind:
*Jesus fulfilled the Law
*You are not under the Law
*You are under the Law of Christ 
*You are called to love others as Jesus has loved you
*Christ's Law brings freedom and an easy yoke
*You are one of the "Chosen People of God"
*Anyone who is "in Christ" is Chosen of God

Now, go and live like every one of these is true - because it is true.

-kg

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Friday, July 14, 2017

HELP HANNAH CHANGE THE WORLD



Let me tell you something about this young lady in this picture.
Her name is Hannah Dulaney and she is one of the most breath-takingly fierce women of God I have ever known in my life.
She grew up in our house church and has become one of the spark plugs that ignite our collective passions for more of Jesus.
This young lady will share Jesus with a total stranger at the drop of a hat. Her testimonies have inspired and astounded many of us on a weekly basis.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because she is about to embark on a grand adventure to share this amazing light and love of Christ with the unsuspecting people of San Francisco.
She leaves in a few months for a long-term missions trip where she will spend a year serving the homeless and the outcasts in one of the most dangerous and challenging communities to reach.
To support her in this audacious mission to carry the light of Christ into the darkness, we are asking you to buy one of her awesome, hand-made t-shirts based on a phrase I introduced a while back, "Agape Against The Machine".

*To refresh your memory, the article is here: Love Against the Machine


The shirts are $25 plus $5 shipping [US only] and every one sold will go 100% to help her complete this bold mission to San Francisco.
NOTE: Every shirt will be hand-made by Hannah herself.
We've already sold about a dozen of them, but we still have a long way to go to help her reach her financial goal.
If you're able and willing to help, and if you're interested in owning and wearing one of the very coolest t-shirts ever made [by hand, mind you], then please leave a comment below [or send me a private message with your address and your sizes and I'll send you her PayPal info.
If you'd like to know about her mission to serve in the Bay Area [or if you want to make a donation] visit her GoFundMe page here>
If you can't help out financially, please pray for her as she steps out to change the world with the love of Christ with "Apape against the Machine".
Thanks!
-kg

Thursday, July 13, 2017

THE ABOMINATION OF A CLOSE SHAVE



In the New Testament scriptures, the Apostle Paul speaks out against a trend that he sees as being “unnatural” and an “abomination” and warns that Christians need to be on their guard against this dangerous practice.

What is it?

[It’s not what you think].

See, in Paul’s day being a man meant keeping your hair short and your beard long. Why? Because women had long hair and smooth faces. So, to Paul – and many others in his day – if a man had long hair and shaved his beard off, he was accused of "going against nature.”

The Greek word Paul uses to describe this trend is “malakoi” and the best translation of the word into English is “effeminate”.

In the first century, “malakoi” was most often used to reference men who shaved daily and had no beards. These men were often ridiculed and accused of wanting to look like women with clean-shaven faces.

This term was used as an epithet against men who are not masculine enough, as in, “You punch like a girl.”

Plato, for example, in his “Republic”, wrote famously that “too much music made a man soft [malakoi], and feeble; unfit for battle.”

Aristotle also warned about the dangers of men becoming too soft [malakoi] by over-indulging in pleasures rather than balancing out their lives with acts of physical and mental discipline.

Even Josephus, the first century Jewish historian [and contemporary of Jesus and Paul] used the term “malakos” to describe men who were weak and soft through lack of courage in battle.

So, the word “malakoi” refers to being “soft”, rather than masculine, and it occurs four times, in three verses in the New Testament. [Jesus uses the word to refer to soft clothing, for example, in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25].

Now, here’s the problem: “Malakoi” is translated in most English Bibles today as “homosexual”.

Seriously.

Do you think that a man who shaves his beard and has long hair and enjoys music is a homosexual?

Hopefully not. 

Paul and others in the first century didn’t either. How do we know that? Because the word is never used to refer to someone who is homosexual. It is always used to describe a heterosexual male whose behavior is more feminine, or “soft.”

This is what Paul had in mind in 1 Cor. 6:9. In fact, if you go to the actual Greek language, this verse does not refer to homosexuals, even though most English Bibles use the phrase “men who have sex men” rather than “effeminate.”

In the Greek the text actually reads:

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind..” – 1 Cor. 6:9

But the definition of “effeminate” is not the same today as it was in the first century, is it?

Back then it was “unnatural” for a man to shave his face and grow a mullet. Today, mullets still aren’t so popular, but we wouldn’t say that a person who sported one was “unrighteous” and unwelcome in the Kingdom of God. [Again, I would hope not].

The term “effeminate” is based on a cultural bias, not an absolute rule.

If you want to make it an absolute statement, then we must adopt Paul’s first century ideals about what makes a man “effeminate” and that means that all men are forbidden to shave their beards or wear their hair below their ears to be considered godly. It also means that women can’t wear pants, or cut their hair short [and who wants to be in charge of defining “short” for the rest of the Christian world?], etc.

So, do we all want to adopt Paul’s ideas about cultural norms? Are we willing to live by this rule?

“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” [1 Cor. 11:14-15]

We have to decide if we honestly believe that a man with a clean-shaven face is an abomination or not. We have to decide if guys with long hair aren’t welcome in the Kingdom of God, or if perhaps in this case, the Apostle Paul might have only been speaking to the Christians in first century Corinth about what it meant in their day to conform to cultural norms.

What do you think?

Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

If this article blessed or challenged you, please consider sharing it on social media.

Thanks,
Keith

READ MORE ON THIS SUBJECT?

*Romans Re-Examined
*Blessed Are The Eunuchs
*A Love That's Better Than Sex

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

WHY JESUS IS NOT PROPHESYING THE END OF THE WORLD IN MATTHEW 24


“Immediately after the distress of those days, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’” – Matt. 24:29



The apocalyptic language that Jesus uses to describe the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem [and God’s judgment against those who rejected and killed the Messiah] is often misunderstood as being about the end of the world and the second coming of Christ. 


But if we read the actual context of the conversation we’ll see that it’s not about that at all.

At the beginning of what’s called the “Olivet Discourse”, Jesus and his disciples are at the Temple. The disciples point to the stones and marvel at how amazing it is. They say “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

And Jesus responds by saying: “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”

This obviously disturbs them and so they ask Jesus: “When will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

And everything after that is an answer to those two questions.

The “end of the age” is not the “end of the world”. The age that is coming to an end is the Jewish age because their priesthood, their daily sacrifice, their temple and their status as a nation is about to be wiped off the face of the earth.

In this context, the “coming of the Lord” is similar to what is said about the Lord riding on the clouds as He brought judgment against Egypt:

“Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.” – Isaiah 19:1


Did God saddle up a cloud and come riding through the sky when He judged the nation of Egypt? No, that’s not what happened. 


What did happen was that armies from another nation attacked Egypt and they experienced the “coming of the Lord” who was “riding on a swift cloud” against them.

This is what Jesus intends to communicate when, in the context of pronouncing a similar judgment against Jerusalem and their Temple, he says:

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” – Mark 13:26


Jesus even goes so far as to let them know the time frame of when these events will take place:

“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” – Mark 13:30


And Jesus was correct. The temple was destroyed in AD 70, just as He predicted it would be, with no stone left upon another and in the lifetime of those who were hearing Him pronounce this prophetic judgment.

What about where Jesus refers to the things like the sun and the moon not giving their light? What about His prophecy about the stars falling from the sky? Doesn’t that mean the world and the universe are being destroyed?


Yes, and no.

Much like the previous use of the “fire is not quenched and their worm does not die” language mentioned above, this is apocalyptic hyperbole.

Here’s a few examples:

Isaiah prophesies against Babylon:

“For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” - Isaiah 13:9-11 


Ezekiel prophesies against Egypt:

"And when I shall put thee [Pharaoh] out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God." - Ezekiel 30:18; 32:7-8

Amos prophesies against Israel about how the Assyrians will destroy them:

"in that day, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight" - Amos 8:9


Isaiah prophesies against Edom: 

"...Hearken, ye people: let the earth hear....All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll....For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold it shall come down upon Edom, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment....For it is the day of the Lords vengeance." - Isaiah 34:1-8
Notice anything? 

Did you see how these prophets pronounced a very real-world judgment against them and yet used cosmic destruction-language? 

Notice how they each promise that the stars will go dark, or the heavens will be dissolved and rolled up like a scroll? Notice how they foretell that this destruction will be marked by the sun and moon not giving their light?

All of that? It’s apocalyptic hyperbole. Prophetic and poetic overstatements about the cosmic-level judgment that is about to come upon them all.

Poetic, not literal.

No stars were harmed in the destruction of Edom. No moons or suns were actually extinguished when Babylon and Egypt got sacked. No heavens were actually rolled into a taco .

Hyperbole.

Now, go back and read what Jesus says about the destruction of the Temple and the “end of the age” that is coming to Jerusalem within a single generation. If you do, you’ll notice he uses the exact same phrases, and when he does the disciples understand that the moon, and the sun, and the stars and the sky will not literally turn to blood, or be extinguished, or fall, or be rolled up in a rubber band.

They knew – where we do not seem to know – that this was very common Old Testament-style apocalyptic language used to communicate a very real day of destruction and judgment that was about to come to pass.

The language is figurative, but the destruction is very, very real.

Notice a few more examples of this type of apocalyptic hyperbole:

"I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth, declares the Lord...The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth" - Zephaniah 1:2-3 


Note: Zephaniah prophesied against Judah prior to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. God did not destroy the entire planet or wipe away everything from the face of the earth, in this event.

When the prophet Joel prophesies against Judah he says this about the armies that will be used to bring the Lord’s judgment:

“The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining…” - Joel 2:4-11


Once again, this is not a promise to snuff out the sun and the moon, or to extinguish the stars in the sky. It’s a promise to bring a cataclysmic level of doom upon Judah because of their sins.

Got it?

[I hope so]

Here’s a bonus example for you.

When Jesus says: 

“For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” [in Matt. 24:21]...

...you already know what he’s trying to say here, right?

Of course you do. Because in the Old Testament this sort of language was used over and over again to overstate the severity and horror of the judgment to come:

“And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.” – Ezekiel 5:9 


This was about the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Jesus applied the same language to the impending destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matt.24:21). Both events, in the common hyperbole of the day, are spoken of as if they were each uniquely horrendous, but this is simply for emphasis.

The same language is used of the locust plague mentioned in Exodus 10:14, yet the language in Joel 2:2 seems to be describing another locust plague, also uniquely horrendous and “unequaled since the beginning of the world”, etc.

But can these three events all be the worst of all time and never to be equaled again? Of course not, but that’s not the point here. The hyperbole is not literal, but the destruction is.

Similarly, Solomon was said to have been uniquely wise and magnificent, using the exact same hyperbole (1 Kings 3:12-13). Yet we know of one [Jesus] who is "greater than Solomon" (Matt.12:42).

The language of "never before, and never after" is common hyperbole, and should not be pressed to a literalness beyond that which was intended in any of its uses.

In Daniel 9:12, he says of the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzer: 

“You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.”

Really? Well, maybe up to that point, but certainly not for all time. 

The point – and I do think I have made it – is that hyperbole is never literal, but the destruction always is.

If any of this helps you, please let me know in the comments below and please share it with your friends on social media.

Thanks!

-kg