Editing Jesus…..Part 2

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I’m simply trying to understand the purpose, the validity behind certain statements made within Christian faiths. In the earlier blog Editing Jesus, I tried to raise awareness to the bleak contrasts I noticed in the Catholic faith. This was an attempt, not to fight, sway or even dramatically dam the Catholic faith entirely, just that I wanted to know WHY!

Now, this was posted on my Facebook page last night by a dear friend who I respect and care about a lot praising the Pope’s comment shown above. It sounds great, in fact, it sounds like our God in His loving expressions to His children of how He might desire it to be. BUT, I don’t care who you are and how well educated, your title, your prestige, your spiritual level; IF WE BASE OUR BELIEFS AND UNDERSTANDS OF GOD OFF HIS WORD GIVEN TO US IN THE BIBLE, WE SHOULD NOT CHANGE THE DIRECTION OR PURPOSE OF WHAT OT SAYS!!

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18, 19 NIV)

Now I may be a simple minded man, but taking the scripture literally in any main translation, it’s telling us we better not mess with God’s word! Now I understand that other religions have their own documentations and guides, but if we base our denomination, religion or exercise of beliefs off the Holy Bible, then it shouldn’t be changed, added to or taken away from!

The Pope’s comments, though just in describing our loving and Holy Father, states, “The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer.” How can he claim the church, which is the body of Christ, the believers, whether Baptist or Methodist or Nazerene or Assembly of God, or whatever….NOT just the Catholic Church.

It’s misleading to many millions of people not only of the Catholic Church, but ANYONE, who has a belief in Christ and goes to a church or not. Scripture says in multiple areas many of which Jesus himself speaks the words pertaining to the literal place of hell.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ (Matthew 25:40-43 NIV)

For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. (Luke 8:29-33 NIV)

Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. (2 Peter 2:2-6, 9 NIV)

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:1-3, 10 NIV)

So….How can the church NOT believe in a literal hell? I truly understand the Pope wanting to bring love & hope for his people about the love of God; however, we need to have a consequence to FEAR for our actions of we continue to sin openly!

This is where my conflict arises. You cannot claim the absence of a literal hell if you study scripture and more importantly, the literal words of Jesus. Yes I know, the Bible was written by fallible men just like any of us; however these men were chosen by Christ Himself and they wrote based on their account of their time spent with Jesus. Have any of us had that opportunity?

I believe the church, God’s people, God’s disciples, God’s livers of the faith–not denominationally or traditionally bound….need to STAND for God’s holy word and call out the conformists of this world! Just because the majority of the world desires to follow a certain way doesn’t mean God is calling YOU to believe and follow the same way!

Be unique, Be honest, Be real before God and LIVE WITH OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD TO CHANGE HIS WORLD IN LOVE!!

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The MINORITY in Majority

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Controversy…..a word that is widely used to describe an action between two parties where a disagreement ensues.  From the tiniest of disagreements, to the most passionate war-like reactions that cut deep to the core; controversy reigns supreme in the human spirit.  Many people within the last two weeks have been consumed with the controversy between Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and the A&E Network.  Like the millions of those who have, I have also pondered and prayed about the situation, my feelings about it personally and how Christians as a whole have been responding to it.  Unfortunately I must admit that before the controversy began I had rarely watched any of the Duck Dynasty episodes due to the enormous amount of other time consuming shows my family already watches!  However, due to their faith expressions known all over social media, television and radio, the Robertson family was very familiar to my ears.

Much can be taken from the statements made throughout both pro and con for Christians alike; however equally could be said for the non-Christian groups like the LGBT, NAACP, etc.  When something of passion of another strikes a cord with you personally and passionately in a negative reflective way to your beliefs, most all UGLY sides come out!  Many sides have been explained and many opinions have merit; however how each are displayed, explained and verbalized reflect the deep belief systems we hold closest to your hearts!  So what’s wrong with us expressing our beliefs to others?  What’s the issue when we have been given the right of free speech?  Well….I believe the right question to ask is the most hardest to answer honestly….Does your freedom to express your beliefs you s passionately want to express bring HONOR, GLORY AND PRAISE to our Savior Jesus Christ?  IF you call yourself a Christian, a Christ-follower, Born Again Believer, Non-Denominational, Methodist, Baptist, Protestant, Lutheran, Church of God, Catholic, Church of this….Church of that….YOU ARE ACTING UPON THE BELIEF THAT HOLDS JESUS CHRIST AT ITS CORE!

Would Jesus approve of the attitude you display in expressing your thoughts and opinions?  Would Jesus believe you are LOVING those to whom you stand up for by way of your voice?  The reason that Christianity has such a target on its back within the media and other minority groups is because it is a majority group with no consistency and no back bone!  Its no wonder that so many people listen to groups like the LGBT and NAACP because their goals and mainly unified and more consistent with what they hope to accomplish!

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Their beliefs are not conflicting, their goals are focused and they are being heard because they have what they BELIEVE they have….POWER!!  And why wouldn’t they have power?  Think about this:  Jesus said in John 17:13-14, “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”  We are not of this world if we live and believe as Jesus did!  We are just visiting and our home is our calling card from the Almighty; the world HATES us for this reason and will continually fight against us because the world and its ways will always agree with and protect the sinful beliefs of its ways!  With non-unity amongst ourselves stemming from the 330+ different denominational separations of faith in the United States alone, we cannot stand solidly for Jesus Christ without criticism and persecution.

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The experience I first received after posting my initial reaction to Phil Robertson’s indefinite suspension caused my Facebook to blow up with arguments and different defenses of opinion.  As far as I could tell, every comment was made by someone who stated they were a Christian.  Heated arguments of freedom of speech to A&E’s right to suspend Phil to hate comments about gays to even the Koran!  And for what purpose?  To feel heard and to be heard….but as a reader of the messages, all I could feel is sadness for how poorly we all were reflecting Christ.  Its one thing to have passion and truly express it when prompted; but its another when all other focuses surrounding the negativity within the world gets the passionate responses instead of standing for Jesus Christ.  Again, there is no wonder the other minority groups are striving….they are loving the inner conflicts between us “Christians”.

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One of my most admired pastors, Perry Noble of NewSpring Church wrote one of the best blogs about the Phil Robertson controversy and I invite you all to read it when you can (click his name above to go to the blog site).  In the blog Perry wrote these words that struck the depths of my core:

There are people in this world who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and who really do deal with same sex attraction.  If I could personally sit down with everyone who would categorize themselves in one of those ways I would communicate three things to them.

#1 – I am SORRY for the way you have been treated by the church and by people who claim to be followers of Christ.  There is no excuse for those who hold up signs that say “God hates fags” or who use insensitive phrases such as “that’s so gay.”  The way many of you have been treated is detestable to me, but even more than that, I believe it is detestable to Jesus–and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.

#2 – You matter to God!  He loves you, created you in His image and has AMAZING plans for your life…and His plans are always so much greater than our plans.

#3 – You matter to me!  Recently, I preached an entire message in our church dealing with this subject (here’s the link) and in preparing for that message I spent hours with a group of people who identify themselves as gay in order for me to better understand how to communicate what I truly felt need to be said…but in a way that showed compassion and care.

That hits the nail on the head for me personally.  Its not about hating those that live in sin, its about LOVING those who don’t have the deep intimacy with Jesus in a NON-DEFENSIVE way leaving your opinions out of it and sticking with only the FACTS within scripture!  I know, I know, you’re already thinking to yourself, “Facts within scripture”?  That’s a matter of interpretation!  Ok then….INTERPRET IT!  Do the research, DIG, DIG, DIG!!!!  What can you interpret of an Almighty, All-Knowing God, who we can NEVER fully comprehend the magnitude of His majesty, WITHOUT diving deeper than the surface words!?  Instead of loving with the truth, we begin to judge with the lack-there-of.

James, the brother of Jesus, tell us in James 1:22-25 that the Bible is like a mirror with which we are to look into intently to see where we are lacking in our own lives; however, too many “Christians” have ceased to use the Bible as a mirror and began using it as a window, and instead of looking IN IT to see their issues they look THROUGH IT to judge and condemn others (despite what JESUS Himself said in John 3:17, “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”) So the question is, IF we are truly God fearing and Jesus believing followers….how can we read these words from John and condemn others with our words and actions?

In our struggle to be like Christ, we have redefined and ultimately distanced ourselves MORE from Jesus than closer to Him.  We fight amongst ourselves because we are entitled to our opinions and value our own egos and intellect.  We would rather hold tighter with man made traditions of what we have interpreted as truth within the gospel than to allow the Holy Spirit to CONTINUE to interpret the truth to us daily.  Instead of ministering to the sick, the poor, the needy, and non-believers in LOVE; we would rather filter who our comfort zone’s define those to be.

Phil Robertson started a controversy that could possibly change many aspects of our freedom of speech and expression; however my concern and prayer is that those that need to make the change from it….won’t.  To argue points of history, who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s rights are more important and who’s aren’t, etc. is chiming into what the world desires to happen.  What Satan desires to have happen to glorify the sanctity of insanity that the sin he caused is causing!  Love….REAL UNCONDITIONAL LOVE….is left aside for political correctness and fear of standing out.  Where is our back bone as followers of Jesus Christ?

image(2)The above image summarizes the numbing effect the world and sin has had on so many of us.  Christians and non-believers alike look at all the “good” in the world and is blind to the depths of SIN that is really there at the core.  And the genuineness of our youth today, believe it or not, are the one’s beginning to see the reality.  Our genuineness as adults and seasoned “Christians” has not fooled the eyes of God’s children.  If only we could retrain our eyes as they have, the world would be seen in its real state and the urgency of our actions for Christ might start mattering.

image(3)So many are seeking….but so few are truly finding the LOVE of Jesus in the church.  We, the majority of this world, have become the minority in the eyes that seek us the most!  We wait for some injustice to occur before the “closet Christians” come out and begin to make their voices heard.  Because of that, Phil Robertson and the Duck Commander brand and some Duck Dynasty brand items have been brought back to the shelves of local Cracker Barrel restaurants.  Wow….many Christians stood to get some merchandise put back onto the shelves of a store to purchase.  What would happen in ALL Christians united for the purpose of LOVE through the gospel of ALL people:  White, Black, Hispanic, Lesbian, Gay, Democrat, Republican, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Apostolic, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Scientologist, Atheist, Poor, Rich, Blue-Collar, White-Collar, Rapist, Thief, Murderer, Adulterer, Liberal, Conservative, Traditional, Contemporary, or any other confused individual in your own opinion that’s different than you!

“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them (His believers, followers, disciples) into the world.  ‘For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.  I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be ONE; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.'”               –John 17:18-21 NASB

The world is going to forever and continue to support the groups that accept SIN as a choice; for that is what the world is meant to do.  Since we are not of this world and only visiting, we need to live like we are just visiting….making the MOST out of every opportunity.  We are the majority in number, but we are the minority in spirit and unity.

Phil Robertson hasn’t been and won’t be the only controversy we have the opportunity to speak our voice about.  He is a common man of God who has don’t what the minority has only done….SPEAK THE TRUTH OF JESUS CHRIST IN LOVE.  The truth will hurt to those that don’t live within it.  The truth will stir the soul of those who claim His name and don’t live it….it will cause defensiveness and discord.  The eternal question I leave you with today and always is this:

Will you live the remainder of your breaths in the minority afraid to cause controversy; or will you LOVE as a majority to bring more UNITY to His truth and cause a change of opinion?

I love you all and forgive me to whom I have EVER made feel that I don’t love you with the love of my Savior.  He is worth it all and will love you through your sin till you see His value beyond it.  🙂

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Editing JESUS

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QUESTION: When was the last time you went to church and didn’t leave with a question unanswered? Has there EVER been a time you felt you were comfortable and knew everything that was said?? Have you ever went back and looked for the answers yourself through God’s word? As Christians, it is my belief that our DUTY as followers of Jesus Christ (also known as DISCIPLES), that we need to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for whatever direction our church foundation leads us towards. It would behoove us to do this on our own instead of relying totally on an equally sinful human’s interpretations! Even now, as I write this I am telling you, follow up my convictions with your own one-on-one study with God! If you lead with emotions instead of truth, you will miss where He’s leading you!

Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to accompany a friend of mine to a memorial service for his wife. She was raised Catholic and he was an evangelical Christian (you do the math!). This memorial was given by her family at their Catholic Church. Let me tell you that prior to this visit, I has only been apart of a Catholic service ONE other time back in college! When we arrived I immediately felt uncomfortable! People kneeling and crossing themselves and splashing “holy water” on things and the chants…..my Lord the chants!! It was enough that my stomach was in knots as I observed this sacred practice!

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The history behind a religion, worship practice or whatever I know I don’t know it all; but looking at the above picture, how can that not contradict scripture? Here are a few examples:

“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (Exodus 20:3, 4 NIV)

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5, 6 NIV)

Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’ “Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! (Ezekiel 14:4-6 NIV)

Why does this perceive to be idol worship when an apparent statue of Jesus & other apostles are there!? Simply put, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14 NIV)” How it this reasoned to NOT be idol worship? You have a challis Of gold, statues equal to Jesus, chants to Mary….from an outsider looking in, it seems borderline cultic!

These other two pictures on either side of the stage are similar:

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No one….can come to the Father, EXCEPT the me (Jesus)….why so much worship and emphasis on Mary and the other Saints? Does that mean we worship ourselves as well? Being that the Apostle Paul said we are all saints, “I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. (1 Corinthians 1:2 NLT)“. There is no one, who claims the name of Jesus Christ as their personal savior, who is better or more privileged than another:

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. (Ephesians 2:19 NLT)

So why are millions of people relying on the speech and declaration of another, born-into-sin human being to be their communication to God for their sins!!??

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I don’t want to ever read a Bible and see markings like the one above….what good will that do us?? Reading God’s holy word and interpreting it is one thing; I believe He speaks to each individual differently. But I can never understand only referencing points of it, especially Jesus’ ministry instead of seeing the whole picture, His whole life lived. I truly think the more we make scripture to be how we desire it to be instead of the literalness of its deeper meaning is hypocritical!

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He didn’t sacrifice His life cause He had to as much as He WANTED to out of genuine love. And let me tell you, when you do edit Jesus out of the important parts of your life and replace it with your idol of comfort and excuse; the eventual rude awakening you’ll have along with a sense of loss and hopelessness will overwhelm you. WHY? Because Christ is trying to bring you back to the reality of REAL INTIMACY with the Prince of Peace…..why would you want to have it any other way??

I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE….NO ONE (no replacements, no excuses, no sugar-coating) NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER, EXCEPT THROUGH ME (Jesus Christ, the Son of the LIVING GOD).