Friday, September 27, 2013

Guard Your Family Well

"What good is it to a Christian 
if he should gain (and win) the whole world,
but lose his own family?" 
(adapted from Mark 8:36)

Unfortunately, this is far too easy to do.  I am certainly guilty at times, and must keep reminding myself of these things.

Remember, Christian, you are not called to save the world, but to minister to the flock entrusted to you (1 Peter 5:2).  For most of us, that is our families first and foremost.  While family should never be an excuse to keep from answering the call of God upon your life, the latter should NEVER be a reason to neglect the former.

The very first ministry that God ordained was family, so is it any wonder that the very first recorded satanic attack was against the intimate fellowship between the family members and God Himself?  Satan knows that if he can destroy a family, the devastation will resound through generations.

"But those who won't care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers." (1 Timothy 5:8)

Guard your family well.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pole Vaulting the Grand Canyon

You know what the difference is between the ordinary person and the person who trains their whole life to win the gold medal in the Olympics pole-vaulting competition?

The latter spends a few more seconds in the air while trying to cross the Grand Canyon before plummeting to a violent and bloody death like the former jumper.

"Trying" to be perfect is like trying to jump the Grand Canyon. It's just not going to happen.

And... even if you could somehow keep every single jot and tittle of the Law of Moses as it applies to you, the truth of the matter is this:

All of YOUR righteousness is like filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). Do you think your 'efforts' somehow please Him?  That you can somehow 'earn' His favor?

The Law is there to show us that WE CAN'T DO IT, that we need Christ, who, as it is written:

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Trusting in your own efforts to be made right with God is a sure path to spiritual pride.

Trust in the finished work of Christ instead!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Friday, September 20, 2013

Link: Do Christians "Cherry Pick" the Bible?

"Some people argue that Christians "cherry pick" the bible. They claim that Christians choose what parts to accept and what parts to reject based on personal preference. ..."

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Message and a Reply

I recently received a private message from yet another "Torah-observant" believer, appealing to me to seek truth and enlightenment, while using some of the same assumptions and general attitudes that I have seen in almost everyone who holds to these views.
He wrote:
"Seek him in prayer, deeply, listen, read the Bible from Genesis to revelation, asking Him to remove any false images or doctrine not in line with truth. He will answer that genuine prayer. Though many people that "have the truth" are negative, bitter, etc, that dosen't mean that what they are saying is all lies. Jer. 16 comes to my mind. But anyways, when I finally threw all my doctrine I learned in the trash, or tried to and studied the Bible from more of a "the writers were Heberew, so let me think like a Hebrew perspective", my life changed, I still know I have much in my mind that dosen't line up with the word, but as I come out of Egypt (spiritual Babylon) I am seeing this:THE main point of my salvation is to glorify God by hating this world unto death, which results in life (Y'shua). This is what Y'shua did. He hated sin, the system, and all that was in it, but loved God's image, which God's people were made in. Love you. Peace."
I responded:
"Do you not understand that from the first time this appeared on my horizon three years ago, I have diligently, desperately cried out to the Lord in my distress to remove any blinders from my eyes, or any spiritual oppression. I do not take my faith, my walk, or my role as a minister lightly at all -- in fact, I am ever so conscientious that I will be held to a higher account before the Father.
"And yet, if anything, the more that I have searched, the more that I have cried out, the more that I have yielded myself to Him, the more convinced and secure I have become of my positions. In fact, I have discovered just how amazing His grace is when set against the black backdrop of our own wretchedness; I have discovered that where I had thought I had known the heights and depth of His love, I had only barely scratched the surface; I have discovered just what is so very "GOOD NEWS" about the Good News of Christ.
"My only true doctrine is Christ, and Him crucified. I have a living relationship with Him. Yes, I still struggle with sin, but I am no longer condemned by it, nor by trying to live my life conforming to a set of external do's-and-don'ts that always either left me feeling spiritually prideful (when I imagined myself to be "good" by living by the letter) or spiritually condemned (when I failed to measure up to these perceived external standards). 
"Now, though, I know that it is the Holy Spirit living in me that teaches me and reminds me of the Truth, the Way, and the Life, convicting me when I am wrong, keeping me conformed to the Law of Christ written on the tablet of flesh that is my heart. 
"This is one of the parts that I have the hardest time with, even coming from you, with whom I have a general mutual respect. Because I do not follow Torah, it is ASSUMED that I just haven't bothered praying about all of it. 
"When it comes to matters of spiritual life or death, I especially value the Word of God over my own pride, my "need to be right," my ego, etc. I would rather be universally hated by all than to preach a wrong, dangerous Gospel. 
"Many within the HRM (Hebrew Roots Movement) also erroneously assume that I preach "greasy grace," as though grace were a "get out of hell free" card in the quest to gratify the lusts and pleasures of the flesh. They assume that people such as myself would prefer the Old Testament be ripped out of the pages of our Bible, that the New Testament is better appreciated without the context of the Old. 
"They might as well be saying that I preach the core tenet of satanism -- "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."
I generally don't make a practice of sharing such exchanges, but I thought that this one serves as a near-perfect illustration of the attitudes and assumptions that I still encounter from time to time.  I haven't told my personal story in written form yet, and I may never.  Still, as I shared in a recent sermon, sometimes the 'thorns in our flesh' are provoked in unexpected ways when our guard is down, and we find our old wounds still sore and throbbing.

And God continually reminds us, "My grace is sufficient for you."

What are YOUR thoughts on this general "if you would only pray, then God will reveal truth to you" line?

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Beware "Cheap Grace"?!

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

".. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)

"I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power." (Ephesians 3:7)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Quote on "Hyper" Grace

Using words like “extreme” and “hyper” in order to insult the message of grace, is like attempting to insult light by calling it “illuminating”, or water by calling it “wet”. Yes, Grace is both extreme and hyper… would you rather it be “moderate” and “docile”? – Jeff Turner