Undergroundchurch Blog

Preparing the Church for the future

Archive for March, 2009

The Problem with Helping God Out

Posted by undergroundchurch on March 30, 2009

God never managed a McDonalds.

We live in a fast food, instant messaging, wifi, gotta-have-it-now generation. I have an iPhone just so I can keep up with my blogs, facefook, email and Fox News. I just heard a study that talked about all the things the cell phone have replaced – PDAs, home phones, long distance, MP3 players and strangely enough, the next thing they will replace is the cell phone. People don’t talk to people anymore, they text, email and tweet them.

We crave the fast and the quick. We buy everything before we can afford it. In fact, if you take personal debt (not including mortgages) and spread it across every man, woman and child in America, each person would owe $7,575 according to the Federal Reserve Board. Throw in the mortgages, and each person owes almost 10 times that much.

That is not a sustainable model. Eventually, you will break a system based on wanting things you aren’t ready for. The McDonalds mentality – gotta have it now, just doesn’t work in God’s kingdom.

Just ask Moses. God trained him for 80 years before he was ready to use him. David ran from Saul for years before he became king and then another 20 years from his own people for 20 years after he became king. What about Abraham 20 years, Noah 120 years and Jesus 33 years.

I don’t think we get it. We don’t need to use man’s methods to push God. We don’t need to help Him out. He just wants us to be ready when He calls upon us. He will do it in His timing.

Our intentions are good. We mean well; we just should not use the worlds flawed methods to drive God’s plan.

Let me be somewhat bold and say, “I sincerely doubt that God has ever ever asked anybody to go into debt to finance His work.” There is no biblical precedent for it. On the contrary, I could show scripture upon scripture against that practice.

When we help God out in this way, we set ourselves up for trouble. Even though our intentions are good and our proclaimed “faith” sees results, I don’t believe we get the best value from the work. In fact, it might even have unintended consequences that could undermine the very work you are doing for God.

Case in point. There was once a king of Judah named Hezekiah. He was a good and righteous king who loved God with all His heart.

One day, God honored him by telling him in advance that he was going to die and that he should get his house in order. Most of us would not like to hear that kind of news, and neither did Hezekiah. Rather than trust God, he pleaded with God to change the plan.

God did.

This was one of only a couple times in the bible where God listened to a man. This time, however, it would be very bad.

God extended Hezekiah’s life 15 years. During that time, some leaders from an eastern country came to visit and Hezekiah foolishly showed them all the treasures of the kingdom. Pride had entered in. The local prophet came to him and told him that that very nation would one day after he was gone come back and take it all away.

That news strangely gave him peace that he would live a safe life. But it wasn’t the worse thing that came from his “helping God out”. You see, during that 15 years, Hezekiah had a son – a son that would take the kingdom over at the age of 12 years of age. His name – Manasseh. He was in many ways the most wicked king Judah ever saw. More wicked, the bible says than the Amorite nation before him. He filled Jerusalem with blood and undid every good thing that his father established.

The sadest part of that story is that non of it had to happen. For if Hezekiah had just followed God’s will instead of trying to alter it or help God out, the wickedness that followed his reign may have been avoided. Eventually, Manasseh came around, but not before dragging Judah through the mud.

I don’t know why we feel we need to help God out, it really never ends up well. Faith is trusting God’s plan. When we add to his plans, we created houses of straw and sticks that are weak and fragile. When the times of trouble come, they quickly perish while the plan of God continues on.


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The Perfect Will of God

Posted by undergroundchurch on March 30, 2009

One of the greatest feelings a Christian can have is knowing that what you are doing is in God’s perfect will. It may come as a surprise to some, but many Christians are not operating in God’s perfect will instead being content in a somewhat complacent state, and every christian at some time or other has experienced being out of God’s perfect will. That is the journey of a Christ follower.

The great thing about this journey is that God is a God of reconciliation. He plans; we follow; we fail; he revises. It’s not that our failures are unplanned for by God, but we learn through our failures to trust God’s plan and will more, and hopefully, we reduce the number of failures by learning to trust him more.

There are many many biblical examples of this, the most notable being Adam and Eve.

If I asked you what God’s absolute perfect will was, what would you say? I think a strong argument could be made that God’s absolute perfect will was that Adam would not sin. God’s will was not for Adam to fail, but God planned for Adam’s failure. He made it very easy for Adam to succeed yet challenging (He only gave Adam one rule), yet challenging enough to allow Adam to make a choice. The one rule – don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.

Seems like an easy rule to follow except that that tree was located right next to the tree Adam needed to eat from, the tree of life.

Adam could not avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and thus succomed to temptation and, as you know, Adam failed this test. At that moment God’s absolute perfect will was not followed, and man lost something he could never get back – his inoscence. Therefore, God’s plan unfolded – there would be a redeemer that would restore man’s relationship with God. The problem was that it would be some time, and many rules leading up to the day where God’s newly implemented plan would come to fulfillment.

It’s not that the new plan was not God’s perfect will; it was more like God’s “revised perfect will”. The point of most interest is that once the failure occurred, the original perfect will was unattainable.

Case in point, Adam’s fall brought man from a point of a life untouched by sin with the capability of seeing God face to face, walking with him phycially in the garden of Eden to to a sinful state where salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus became the only way to reconcile man back to God. The main difference is that believers still live in a sinful world, affected by the precence of sin until we die.

God’s perfect will then is perfect based on the condition of man, not on the condition of God. Eventually, we will be perfect in the presence of God. Currently, we have one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. However, once we leave this physical existence, we will have direct access to God’s precence.

This in no way diminishes what Jesus did, on the contrary it promotes that work. For up until that day that the Son of God invaded our world, God’s perfect will depended on man’s actions. God required something of us for his perfect will to be upheld.

The difference in the work of Christ is that this new point of grace provided to man through the cross of Christ was a completely God created, God ordained, God performed act. There was not one thing man or devil could do that would keep this perfect will of God from unfolding.

Humans free will has a huge downside, we are selfish beings. We tend to muck up God’s perfect will for our lives by not trusting him. We take the reigns of our lives and make our own decisions based on our feelings, our thinking our egos and our pride. This approach to life is usually against the will of God. We forfeit God’s perfect will for a revised perfect will. But each time we do that, we lose a little and gain what we don’t really want. We lose time being on our side to gain struggle; we lose our pride through the pain of failure (which we wouldn’t experience if we laid aside our pride) and and often gain a humiliation to our ego.

God does not want us to walk through the ups and downs of a rollercoaster discovery of His perfect will for our lives. Take a leason from Jonah and learn to enjoy the journey.

Jonah heard God’s perfect will quite clearly and didn’t want to follow it because of anger and pride. God, not one to be ignored, still fulfilled his will of saving a nation through Jonah, only Jonah had to struggle on his journey. His trip which would have been realatively easy, now included 3 days in the belly of a fish, and a 500 mile trek across the middle east.

God’s will is always going to happen, and when God calls upon us, it is to our benefit to trust first and ask questions afterward (although you might be wise to leave that last part off).

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The UnderGround Church

Posted by undergroundchurch on March 18, 2009

The title, “UnderGround Church” may sound a bit separatist, but the truth be told, it is a somewhat prophetic attempt to describe a future look at the church – especially the church in America and bring helpful preparatory training, teaching and instruction on how the church can be instrumental in it’s main mission, even when the form in which we do church today is gone.

Admittedly, some may call me alarmist and ignore the whole idea that the way we do church today is going to change, but Jesus was quite plain in His teaching that it would get worse not better before His return. Even if you are of the belief that the book of Revelation is not written as a guide book for the Christian to endure the coming events but is a simply a prophetic book of events that don’t effect you, you need to know and be prepared that the days will grow darker to the point that the church may be the last bastion of light in a world consumed by selfishness, greed, sin and godlessness.

Consider the times leading up to the flood, where the only light in a world of millions were eight members of a family that trusted God by doing what everybody around them called foolish. The world couldn’t see what God was doing because they lost their ears to hear what God was saying.

Consider a wandering Israelite people that had the opportunity to make a short two or three week Journey to the promised land, but found out that when you can’t hear what God is saying, your trip can hit a roadblock that will leave you roaming a desert for 40 years.

And who can forget that those same people almost 1500 years later rejected again God’s voice to the point where Jesus actually held that generation accountable for not recognizing the signs of His coming.

In fact, if you ask a believer what Jesus favorite saying in all of Scripture was, they’d probably be surprised to find out that it is a simple one, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear”.

The message of the Cross never changes, but the conditions under which it is delivered are in a constant state of flux.  The first and second century church thought that their generation was the last generation solely on the conditions in which they existed.  Lions, crucifixion, human torches and other oppression from human governments are a far cry from the worst an American Christian has to put up with.  Come to think of it, I can’t even think of anything in America that would correspond.

Sooner rather than later, this is going to change.  I don’t know when, and I can’t say exactly how, but there is no doubt that the conditions in which the church operates and the method in which it functions will both be changed.  There are a load of consequences to these changes, and though they may seem to be negative at the surface, they are most assuredly good primarily because they are orchestrated by God.

The UnderGround Church is the time when once again the “catacomb” will become the building, the “rocks” will become the pulpit and the “candle” will replace the chandelier.  However, be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world.  It will not last, and the theme of the early church – hope will be redefined to its original intent and the church will be a powerhouse like it has never been.

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