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Preparing the Church for the future

Archive for July, 2009

Undeniable Truth Number 2

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 27, 2009

Undeniable Truth Number 2: Mankind is inherently evil.

I know that sounds very strong, but it is a proven truth throughout history and is the basis for our need for a savior. Every society has shown that it is capable of unspeakable evil. It can be rationalized, justified and ignored, but it cannot be denied.

I know that thought also flies in the face of what you hear today. So many people are out there teaching and preaching the opposite, that mankind is basically good, but the problem with that approach is that when you believe you are basically good, you don’t completely grasp your need for a savior.

First, let’s define a couple things. 

Good and Evil.

Here is the scoop on evil, “There is no such thing as evil, only an absence of good”. Let me ask you two other questions to illustrate, “Is there such a thing as ‘cold’ or ‘darkness'”? Again, the answer is no.  Cold is the absence of heat and that starts at 0 degrees Kelvin. Likewise, darkness is only the absence of light.  Dark always loses to light and cold always loses to heat.

In the same way, evil only exists when good is gone.  Adam and Eve started good, but opted to relegate the good for selfish gain.  In doing so, they brought evil into our lives.  Ever since, we have all been bent to selfish gain. 

Everything we do from birth is about us.  We want our bottle, so we cry. We want mommy’s attention, so we throw tantrums, and as we grow older, we maintain that position of selfishness by doing things to please self.  That root is pride which is the cause of evil in our lives.

Self-Centeredness is God Ordained

Here is the interesting part, God made us to be self-centered beings.  It is a design characteristic that allows us to produce one thing – love.  Love only exists when we have the choice not to love.  Adam and Eve made that choice for us, and we repeat it every day of our lives.  Sometimes we choose to love God, and other times, not so much.

The most important thing we do for God in our lives is obey.  We demonstrate our love to God this one way – by putting aside our selfish nature (pride) and “obeying” God.  We cannot obey God and please our selfish nature at the same time.  However, when we do obey God, we not only please him, but satisfy our spirit.

Loving God is all about sacrifice.  Sacrifice is all about setting aside the self-centered will and opting for the will of God.  It is the hardest thing we do.  We think God is pleased with our worship, prayers, and sacrifice alone, but all of that is meaningless if we aren’t willing to lay aside our pride and obey God. (1 Samuel 15:22)

He wants it all.  We must die to self and live for Christ.  If we are unwilling to do this, then we are living in disobedience and proving once again that our hearts are bent toward evil.  It is a daily battle, and one that is attainable if we live our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He gives the essential strength to do right, avoid wrong and transform our lives. 

God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9)  God doesn’t fix wicked hearts, he replaces them. (Ezekiel 36:26) It is the only cure for the wicked hearts of mankind.


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Undeniable Truth Number 1

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 19, 2009

OK; there are loads of undeniable truths found in the Bible, but I want to hit on what I believe is the top ten keys.  These are the black and white truths of Scripture that are very plain.

The best part about truth is that is doesn’t change whether or not we choose to believe it. You can deny the existence of gravity, but if you step off a cliff, you will discover that your belief system didn’t line up with the undeniable truth.

I do want to gear these toward believers even though they still apply to those that don’t believe in Jesus as the only way and savior of the world.

Number 1 – Forgiveness is not an Option

I know that we think we may have rights, but the fact is that God doesn’t give us any rights when it comes to forgiving others. You must forgive!

In fact, the Bible is plain about it, if you don’t forgive others, God will not forgive you  (Matthew 6:5-15). In fact, the post discussion on the Lord’s prayer, which has this concept at its core, also focuses on fogiving. 

I was in Sunday class today, and we were talking about the reasons why we should forgive.  I listened to Stormie Omartian speak why we should forgive.  They were all good reasons, but reasons that can only be discovered once you obey Jesus and forgive.

God expects obedience first and faith second.  You don’t always understand why God demands certain things from us.  We think that because we were wronged by an individual that we have the right to retaliate with unforgiveness.  Unfortunately, you don’t see the reason to forgive until you actually forgive.  Your unforgiveness blinds you to the peace you can have with a life full of love and not bitterness.

The only person that hurts when you are filled with unforgiveness is you. It is the number one undeniable truth and one that can affect your eternity.

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The Greatest Description of Jesus: Part 4 of 4

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 16, 2009

The continuing look at Philippians 2. See Part 3

Power in Humility

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
      and gave him the name that is above every name,
 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

“It’s the inside outside, upside down kingdom where you lose to gain and you die to live.” – Misty Edwards

Before Jesus death on the Cross, the name Jesus (Hebrew Yeshua or tansliterated “Joshua”) only meant “God Saves”. It was more of a proclamation than anything else.  Thousands of people before and since have been given that name as their birth name without much fanfare. But something happened that day Jesus died on the cross that transformed the name into something that would change the God/man relationship forever.

What’s in a name? If Jesus was named by someone today, it would have probably been Bob or Ralph (no offense to any “Bob’s” or “Ralph’s” out there).  We just don’t name people the same way they did back then.

Ever notice that so many people in the Bible had names that they fulfilled?  Adam – “earth” (made from the earth), Methuselah – when he dies, it shall come” (he died the year the flood came), Moses – “drawn from water” (taken from a basket floating in the Nile), and the list goes on.

Names mean things to God. In fact, all believers will get new names end the end, so don’t get too used to the one you have now.

Another feature of the day was that the baby was named by the mother on the eighth day when they were dedicated at the temple.  Jesus, was similarly named; however, he was given the name before his birth by an angel. 

The name stuck, and he eventually fulfills his name’s sake by being the God that saved the world.  But what happened afterward?  What are these three verses telling us?

Verse 8 said that he became “obedient to death on the cross”. He succeeded. Jesus won! He carried out God perfect plan perfectly.  Do you realize that if Jesus failed at any point, we would all be left without hope?

But because he finished his journey, we have an advocate with God.

The name is similar to being crowned King.  When something was done in the name of the King, it was final.  Jesus was given all the authority he had before, with the additional benefits of winning the war.  He got the spoils – which were us. He battled to free man, and he was given the spoils of war by his Father.

The name above all names is the power and authority that he now has above everything.  Our sin separated us from God, but Jesus victory reconnected that which was lost. Now we have access to Him, and Jesus has earned the right to be Master (that’s what Lord means) of everything.

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The Greatest Description of Jesus: Part 3 of 4

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 15, 2009

The continuing study of Philippians 2.  See Part 2.

The God-man:

…being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7b-8)

Do you know that there are more scriptures that talk about God being a man (Jesus) than Jesus being God? 

In our society today, we tend to have less faith in God and have substituted it with faith in “science”.  Much of what we call science is just faith in what we see, and I am amazed how often that faith changes.

Twenty years ago, science said that we were going into a period of global cooling, now it’s global warming.  Foods that were good for you are now bad and those that were bad are now good.  Evolution is even changing from Creator to Big Bang to a collapsing universe – from life evolving from a single cell to life evolving from aliens (I’m not making that last one up.) But I digress…

In the first century, the prevailing thought among doubters in Jesus was that a spiritual God who was good and holy could not become a dirty sinful man.  The early church battled this thinking called, among other names, gnosticisim.  It was easier to believe a man could become a God than for God to become a man. 

Even the Catholic church took on this concept with the teaching that Mary was sinless, for a holy God could not be born of a sinful girl, so they created a sinless vessel in Mary.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on that except to say that the sin seed does not pass through the woman but the man.  It is not woman’s responsibility; it is man’s. 

Adam was the one God told not to eat from the tree in the garden.  It was his responsibility to tell Eve.  He was with her when she ate the fruit.  She did not recognize the sin when she did eat of the fruit God told Adam not to eat. Her eyes were not opened until He ate it.

There was still hope for her had he not eaten it, but the accountability for man’s sin fell to the man, and when Adam ate, all hope was lost. (Genesis 2-3)

For Jesus to be fully man he had to have all the experiences of man from birth to death. He had to learn to walk, talk and eat.  He went through potty training, skinned knees and probably hit his thumb with his hammer a few times.  Jesus had all the same temptations we get, only he didn’t fail.

He humbled himself; he was born in a feeding trough, not a royal crib.  He came into the world with the bleating of goats not the roaring of crowds.  He was called a bastard by other kids that knew he was born out of wedlock. He wore robes of rabbis not robes of royalty.  In the end, he was killed with thieves and put in a borrowed tomb.

Jesus Christ suffered in every way you can imagine, yet did not sin.  He was fully man. He was born and he died. But that is not the end of the story.  Because as much as he “became” man, he was already and would forever be “fully God”!

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The Greatest Description of Jesus: Part 2 of 4

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 14, 2009

Continuing the look into Philippians 2,  See Part 1.

The Attitude of Christ

It has been said that your attitude determines your altitude. No more outstanding example exists than Jesus’ example.

Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 
 but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7a)

This is an interesting verse. Jesus was an is God, yet to show humility, he had to lay down the right to call himself God and become a servant. 

The Greek here poses the attitude Jesus had in a stronger way, the word “grasp” is the same a “robbery” – to seize. It does not carry the connotation of robbery that says, “it doesn’t belong to him”, but the sense that it is a prize or reward that he could grasp hold of. 

However, he determined in His mind that he would not grasp this right.  That choice made it possible for him to die a slow and miserable death on a criminal’s cross.  He could have called up the angels, but did not because he took the servant’s role.

It literally says that he “emptied himself” of the right in order to take upon himself the servant role.  I don’t want to jump ahead just yet, but this chapter ends with God lifting him up.  If Jesus doesn’t bring himself low, God could never lift him up.

This is first attitude we must have in Christ.  If we do not humble ourselves, God cannot lift us up.  He wants to lift us up, but we too often get in the way with pride, selfish ambition and fear.  Jesus showed us the path to greatness… it is through the job of a servant.

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The Greatest Description of Jesus: Part 1 of 4

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 13, 2009

Philippians 2 is my favorite chapter in the second half of the Bible because it is an illustration given by Paul, which turns out to be the greatest description of Jesus in the Bible.  I want to explore it over the course of the next few posts.

Read the whole chapter HERE.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (vs. 1-5)

 This is the story behind the illustration Paul is about to give.  The goal Paul is seeking is that the church would be “Like-minded”.  The like mindedness is based on your condition in Christ (e.g. encouragement from being united, comforted by His love, fellowship with the Spirit, tenderness and compassion). Here’s the outline of Paul’s desire for the believer in being like minded.

  1. Same Love – We may have different approaches to methodology, but we are of the same source of Love.  Agape type love is the strongest love in the universe.  It is not dependent on feelings, but is selfless, loving others even when you feel they don’t deserve it. Jesus did it for you, you have no right not to love others in the same way.
  2. One in Spirit and Purpose– (lit. one mind of understanding) This spirit is not the “Holy Spirit”, but represents being on the same playing field in the spiritual understanding within each and every one of us.  We are three part beings – body, soul and spirit.  The spirit is the foundation of the person and if we aren’t unified here, the rest of our unity will crumble.
  3. Don’t function with selfish ambition – The word is erithia, which means “electioneering”. It is a political word that has come to define the cut-throat life of politics.  The believer’s attitude has no room for electioneering.  Churches that play this game, are not exhibiting a Christ-like attitude.
  4. Don’t have vain conceit – Literally, “empty-glory” – We like to be recognized for accomplishments, but when that attitude consumes us, we begin to take glory for things we really don’t have anything to do with.  When we take glory, God doesn’t get it.  But when we direct glory to God, it reflects back to us.  Empty glory leaves God out of the loop. Fulfilling glory focuses on Him.
  5. Humbly consider others better than yourself–  This humility is a “modest consideration of one’s own self”, literally, “low-hearted”. Christ was one of the most meek and humble individuals to walk the planet.  He had every reason to consider himself something special, but it was his heart’s desire only to bring glory to God.  John the Baptist understood this when he said, “[Jesus] must become greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30).  Jesus echoed that with his Father (John 8:12-30).  A good acronym is JOY (J)esus first, (O)thers second (Y)ourself last.
  6. Look to other’s interest first – He is not saying to neglect your things, he is saying that you have to consider others needs equal to your own.  This is hardest of all because we are selfish by nature, but through Christ, even this is possible.

All of these are examples of the attitude the Christ has.  If we are “Christians”, then we are to be “Christ Like” (that’s what that word means).  Therefore, if you want to be Christ Like, then these seven attitudes need to be adopted as your attitudes.

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Building a Better You

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 12, 2009

What’s important to you?

Today’s Biblegateway verse from Matthew 4:4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God

Let’s be honest, life is really only fulfilling when priorities are set right.  There is that which you know you should do and that which you are doing, and when they aren’t in harmony, life feels less meaningful. 

You can make millions, vacation anywhere you want, retire from a successful career, but if your priorities are screwed up, you just won’t feel satisfied.

When looking at your priorities, there are three factors you must consider, and they are based on your very makeup – body, mind and spirit.

First is the spiritual consideration.

The spiritual part of your life is the least noticable on the surface, but it is the most fundamental to your very existence.  You are first and foremost a spiritual being. That is what separates you from rats and mice.  You have to come to grips with your spiritual condition in light of spiritual truth and discover if you are walking in truth.

It’s not about what you believe, it’s whether or not your belief lines up with truth.  The most important relationship is the one you have with the one that created you.  God is more than a concept; he is an involved, caring and loving God that has done everything within His power to give you complete spiritual satisfaction without violating your free will.  The question you need to answer, “What are you doing with what God has done for you?”

Second, is the emotional. 

It is important to have the emotional follow the spiritual because the emotional tends to shift around.  Your feelings are good and can be beneficial to you, but they are not to be completely trusted. 

For example, you can think that someone is out to get you, when all you really have is an overblown imagination.  If you are spiritually governed first, you tend to lead a more stable life because its not always just about you.  There is something bigger than you out there.  You recognize God in more situations that would emotionally wreck you.

Another example of this is Love.  Love is first a spiritual verb and second an emotional feeling.  There are days in my marriage that if I was just holding to emotional love, it would be greatly diminished if not gone.  But my love is tapped into a spiritual dimension which means that even though I don’t “feel” the love, I “know” the love is there and that it is strong and immovable.

Finally, is the physical aspect. 

This is the one we spend most of our time trying to please, but it really has the least impact on our well being.  If you gain the whole world, yet lose your soul, what have you really gained?

So there are three things you can do to help build a better you. 

  1. Contact God.  Break out your Bible (doesn’t matter the version), just ask God simply, “Show me what you want for my life and how I can glorify you in it”, and start reading and praying.  You’ll be surprised to find that He answers you.
  2. Confirm Yourself. Know who you are in Christ.  Don’t listen to the voices that tell you “you can’t do this or that”, “you aren’t worthy” or “who do you think you are”.  You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.  Your worth is based on your purchase price. God purchased you with the life of his own Son, and because of that, you are a child of God and co-heir with Jesus Christ.
  3.  Corporeal Subjugation. Don’t set out to please your body (flesh) first.  You can make your flesh subject to your spirit.  Let no temptation overtake you.

Remember that God has put his own Spirit in your life to give you strength to do all this.  You don’t have to rely on yourself. You have God and fellow believers that will walk with you on your journey.

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Some Great Old Routines

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 11, 2009

I grew up listening to a group called Isaac Air Freight.  They had some great routines.  I since lost the albums, but I found the routines on Youtube the other day.  They are only audio, but that was how they were intended. They are good, even today. Hope you enjoy.

You can see more at the source in Youtube by clicking HERE.


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Independence, Interdependence and Dependence

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 2, 2009

This Fourth of July, we Americans celebrate the Independence of our country from Dependence on Britain through an Interdependence on each other. This is the summary of our nation’s title, “The United States of America”.

This principle defines freedom.  When any part of this is removed, freedom is diminished.  As Dependence upon government grows, freedom diminishes.  As Interdependence on each other lessens, freedom diminishes.  As Independence gives way to “one world governments” and we aim to please as opposed to aiming to lead, then we become less of an independent nation.

Each of these ingredients must be balanced appropriately.  Even in our own lives, true freedom comes when we are independent from sin, interdependent on one another and dependent on God.  If I become dependent on self and less of God or I believe I can be a Christian without interdependence on my fellow believers or I become more independent from God, I become more and more in bondange and less free.

Our freedom as believers is found in Christ; we must become more and more dependent on Him and less dependent on our own strengths and understanding.  Our freedom comes in relying on the gifts of others in the church through blessing one another.  When we function in the strength of a union… a body, then we truly experience power.  The hand can’t tell the foot, I don’t need you.  (1 Corinthians 12:15)

Finally, we need to be more humble in our approach and less “independent”.  We are not “know-it-alls”, we can’t be a Christian on our own, in our own strength; as we do that, we isolate ourselves from the power of God in our lives.

The church is more than a title, it is a function.  It is not a place you go, it is a state of being.

Jesus is more than an escape ticket from Hell, He is a life and freedom giver here on earth today!

So while we celebrate our Nation’s independence with all the pride and excitement it brings, so too celebrate your dependence on God, and remember that it was our nation, under God, founded on a dependence on God that made us great.

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