Undergroundchurch Blog

Preparing the Church for the future

  • UnderGroundChurch

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 17 other followers

  • Subscribe

  • Twitter

Posts Tagged ‘christian’

Day 85: Science of Persuasion

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 18, 2016


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

I was watching a YouTube video on the Science of Persuasion recently, and as I watched them define 6 shortcuts in being persuasive, I saw Jesus. These techniques were already used by Jesus during his ministry to influence others (specifically, in showing his followers how it’s done).

Watch the video below and then finish reading.

Science of Persuasion

The first shortcut to influencing others is Reciprocity. This means that people are more willing to give back that which they also receive.

How Jesus influences through Reciprocity

Jesus told us that there was no greater love than one shows when they lay their life down for another. He demonstrated this by dying on a cross for the sins of mankind.

Though we were yet still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Since he showed us grace in this way, we are compelled to do the same for others.

The second principle is Scarcity People want more of what they can’t have.

How Jesus influenced through Scarcity

People do not have a lot of grace toward people that violate their particular rules. Jesus has rules, but has greater mercy. A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to him because the law said she must die (so should the guy, but where was he?)

Jesus ignored them for a bit then asked, “You without sin cast the first stone”.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No on, Lord”

And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you’ go, and from now on sin no more” – John 8:10-11

The third principle is Authority.  People will follow the lead of credible and knowledgeable experts.

How Jesus influences through Authority

Jesus wowed the teachers of the law at 12 years of age. People marveled everywhere asking, “where did this man get so much wIslam and authority”.

With Authority, he commanded demons to flee, drove out money changers in the temple and preached the message of repentance.

The fourth principle is Consistency This is asking for small initial commitments that can be made.

How Jesus influences through Consistency

Jesus picked his disciples with one simple statement – “Follow me”

Jesus preached a simple message, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand”.

Jesus didn’t ask more than one thing from pexpel. It may have been a challenging thing, but it was always a call to a commitment to God and was doable. Salvation begins with a small request of commitment, “believe”.

The fifth principle is Liking. Simple put, people are more influenced by people they like.

How Jesus influences through Liking

The video shows three factors to people liking us:

  1. People who are similar – Jesus, who is God, became a man to dwell among us.
  2. People that give compliments – when someone responded in faith, Jesus would always compliment. Sure he also corrected those that lacked faith, but never missed an opportunity to encourage.
  3. People that cooperate – This is why Jesus didn’t get along with the leaders. He didn’t cooperate with their brand of religion. But when it came to people who brought people to Jesus to be blessed or healed, he never turned them away.

The Sixth principle is Consensus. People will look to the actions of others   To determine their own.

How Jesus influences through Consensus

As mentioned, Jesus exemplified the life we should lead, so all we need to do is emulate him.

However, he also takes this concept in reverse when dealing with others. He says,

Do for other that which you want them to do for you. – Matthew 7:12

Later, when the Church comes into fuller being, Paul talks of the followers of Christ as a “body”, working together for the common good. Unity is critical for all followers of Christ.

If Jesus influences us, we cannot be a follower in a vacuum. We must continue in the ways he showed us with others so that we can also influence in the way he did.

 

Advertisements

Posted in Daily Devotion - Scripture Nuggets, Jesus, The Church, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Day 3: A Heart of Sacrificial Giving

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 3, 2011


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. – 1 Kings 17:13

When you read the whole story in chapter 17, you find that Elijah’s request goes to a widow and her son on their last scrap of food.  A ravaging famine plagued the land and the lady made a pact to eat this last meal with her son and then sit down to die.  When the prophet tells her this, she follows his direction and God blesses her with oil and flour that never ran out until the day the rains came.

One way to look at this passage tells a story of “obedience”, for when she obeys Elijah, God rewards her obedience.

Another way to look at it reveals a test of her “faith”.  Can she believe the man of God?

However, I think that it reveals a heart of “giving”.  Yes, the other elements exist in this woman’s response, but her ability to let go of all she has to bless another person that simply asked, “Do you have anything to eat and drink?” shows me a person with a sacrificial-giving heart.

Jesus illustrated the same point in a story of another widow arriving at the temple one day where she placed two small copper coins in the collection box.  Jesus reveals to the listener that the coins were the last in her account (Mark 12:42). We don’t know what happed to the window in Jesus’ story, but we see her testimony in Luke and Mark and the message enlightened the hearts of millions of believers through preaching and teaching throughout the centuries.  Her simple act teaches even today that God recognizes sacrificial giving.

Posted in Daily Devotion - Scripture Nuggets | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Day 2: Hope in a New Light

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 2, 2011


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. – Romans 5:5

What do you think of when you see the word “hope”?

Do you hearken back to the time when you were a child on Christmas morning?  You dart down the stairs as quick as a Jack Russell Terrier on Red Bull. You shake each gift carefully wrapped under the ornate tannenbaum.  With x-ray vision and a keen sense of hearing you attempt to peer into the package hoping beyond hope that what awaits you in the disguise matches the description you gave to Santa (or your parents). Your assurance may not be 100%, but you sure hope your parents or Santa got it right.

This type of hope carries in it an inherent flaw – You might be wrong.  Oh, you bet your emotions that the contents match your wish, but reality could dash your dreams.

Real Hope

Fortunately, the hope in Scripture reflects a 100% assurance that what you hope for will, in fact, come to pass.

Paul stated in one of his testimonies before the Sanhedrin, “I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6) Paul walked in complete knowledge and trust of the resurrection of Jesus and one day of his own body.

Hope fueled the early church and enabled them to endure persecution, the likes of which, we do not see yet in America.  Hope empowered them to sing hymns while chained to prison walls. Hope helped them forgive those that killed them while being crucified, burned or thrown to wild beasts.  Christian hope only comes in one type – complete assurance.

“We hope” means, “We know.”  We know Christ is coming. We know that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). We know that when trials come, God in us will help us overcome, and that kind of assurance gives us power to press on toward the high calling, which is in Christ Jesus.

Posted in Daily Devotion - Scripture Nuggets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Know Your Enemy

Posted by undergroundchurch on November 1, 2010


Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.- 1 Peter 5:8-9

Some suffering is self inflicted.  Choices we make that come back and bite us.

Other suffering is a direct result of an enemy that is out there that wants one thing… your destruction!

Know your enemy

He is not nice or thoughtful nor does he have your best interest at heart.  He will do whatever it takes to bring you down. His best weapon is your ignorance.  So here are some steps to stay on top and overcome.

Be Self-Controlled

We live in a culture with no control.  We eat too much, play too much, complain too much and don’t spend enough time on things that really matter.  We need to prioritize and become more disciplined.

Be Alert

Don’t look for a devil behind every bush, but do be aware that in every situation there is the potential for the enemy to come in.  We are in the last days, and Satan knows it.  He is more active today that perhaps anytime in history, and every believer needs to be vigilant.

Resist Him

Every believer is endowed with the power of Christ, which is the Holy Spirit.  We are bought and owned by God, but because we live in “battlefield Earth”, we are targets of the enemy.  The greatest power God gave us is the power of choice.  We can say, “No!” We can run; we can turn from the enemy and in doing so, stand against him.  He may attack us, but he cannot own us.

Stand Firm in the Faith

Do not doubt, but trust God.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

By standing firm you will gain life. (Luke 21:19)

You are not Alone

One of the hardest things to remember when you are suffering is that you are not the only one.  There are literally thousands and perhaps millions around the world suffering for their faith.  Just hang in there because the hope we have in Christ is not like that of the world.  We have a guarantee from the Lord that we will one day be with the Him and every tear, pain and trouble will be wiped away! (Revelation 21)

Posted in End Times, Quick Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Source of Our Dilemma

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 22, 2010


“Original Sin”, some call it “Ancestral Sin“, is a more pervasive dilemma to our current state than we might even fathom.

Original Sin, as understood for this article, is the sin seed that is passed on to every human because of the original sin committed by Adam in the Garden.

Original Sin effects us today because there are multiple components to it…

Original Sin is about Love

The point of God planting a tree in the middle of the Garden then telling Adam not to eat from it was not to tempt Adam, but to see if Adam would choose to love God or love himself.  When Adam sinned, it separated him and us from the direct connection with God.  Remember that God walked with Adam in the garden, something God has not been able to do since Adam sinned.

The most powerful words God ever utters in the Bible are the ones He says right after he says the word, “Now” as in Revelation 21:3

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

This event takes place after everything is made new.  God is looking forward to the day when He can once again “walk with man in the garden” as it were.

It is all about Love because God reached out to us when we couldn’t reach out to him. (c.f. John 3:16, Romans 5:8)

Original Sin is about Penalty

We are still paying the price for the sin Adam committed that fateful day.

Penalty of Death

  • God told Adam, “In the day you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17)
  • All have sinned, and the wages of that sin is still death (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

Every time someone dies, we are reminded of Adam’s original sin. If Adam’s sin only applied to him, we wouldn’t have death, sickness and sin in the world today.

Penalty of Pain in Childbirth

Every time a woman gives birth naturally, she is paying a price for Eve because she listened to the serpent and not her husband. (See Accountability and Original Sin below)

Other creatures in God’s kingdom don’t go through the pain of birth that humans do; ever heard a dog or cat scream like a human?

Penalty of Snakes

Part of the curse is the form of the snake, which crawls on its belly.  Each time I see one, I am reminded of the curse. (Genesis 3)

Penalty of Thorns and Thistles

Ever been scratched by a thorn? Or have to pull a weed out of the garden? Thank Adam.

Penalty of Gardening

Yep, gardening is a result of the curse.  Makes you wonder how it was before Adam sinned. (Genesis 3) God was going to provide all our food.

Original Sin is about Accountability

Genesis 3 tells us what went down.

Eve ate of the tree first; Adam, who was with her, but didn’t speak up during the entire event, ate it once she gave it to him.

However, you have to go back a chapter to see the setup.  You see…

  1. Adam was created first
  2. God then planted the tree in the Garden.
  3. God tells Adam that if he eats from it, he will die.
  4. Later, God creates the woman from the man’s side.

In chapter 3, we see the man and woman at the tree, she is telling the talking serpent (which should have been a clue) that if they ate from it OR TOUCHED IT they would die.

How did she know about eating it, and where did she get the extra restriction?

We have here the first case of legalism in the Bible, which always adds to God’s word.  God said Adam would die if he ate it; Eve added (probably because Adam told her) that if they touched it, they would die. She ate it first (eyes were not open), and then Adam ate it (eyes were opened to their nakedness after this).

SPECIAL NOTE: The extra rule didn’t help them abide by the command God gave them. (Legalism doesn’t help you be a better Christian.)

The problem in the story is that God told Adam the rule, and Adam told his wife the rules, but Adam did not defend God’s word, nor his wife as she was talking to the serpent.

It was not her fault, it was Adam’s!

Had Eve eaten, and Adam not, there would be no sin today because she was not responsible to God. Adam should have been the one talking to the serpent and saying something like, “Get thee behind me Satan!” He was her covering, and he failed her.

Accountability and the Original Sin Seed

The Original Sin seed does not pass through the woman, it passes through the man because of accountability.  Adam was accountable to God, Eve was accountable to Adam (God never told Eve the rules, that was Adam’s job).

Jesus could only be born as a human, not because Mary was “immaculately conceived”, but because she was a woman and there was no man involved in conceiving Jesus.

The promise was to Eve that the savior would come…

And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.” – Genesis 3:15

Men and woman are equal in every way relationally with God except one, accountability. Eve was cursed because she was deceived, and did not listening to her husband, but we have sin in the world because the man of the house refused to be the man of the house. (c.f. 1 Timothy 2:14)

Original Sin is about Redemption

Paul states that through one man, Adam, sin and death entered the world (Romans 5:12-21). It is through one man with no Original Sin seed connection through man to Adam that sin is broken  and we can live. Our only hope is in the “Son of God” who became the “Son of Man” without losing his claim as “Son of God”.

His Father is God, born of a woman, which allows him to be fully man and fully God and gives us hope that the power of sin and death is broken for those that receive the gift of life. This only comes through the power of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Posted in Genesis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Defend the Gospel

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 4, 2010


NOTE: This article contains strategies for believers and is not intended for those of you that do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ because it contains strategic information (trade secrets).  If  you wish to establish a relationship with Jesus prior to reading this article, shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to talk with you. Then you can read the article and get more out of it.

Call me a pacifist, if you will, but I do believe that there is a right and a wrong way in which believers defend the good news (a.k.a. the Gospel) of Jesus Christ and that for the most part, we get it wrong.

Do our methods hinder the message?

Personally, I am appalled at the way the world treats the God who came and died in their place, took on their guilt and shame, and made a way back to himself.  I mean, what did Jesus ever do to deserve the bad rap He gets from unbelievers?

The answer to that question may lie more with His followers more than in His own life.  While it is true that Jesus saidthe world would hate us because of him, we aren’t making that attitude any better with our public pulpit indiscretions, our internal disputes played out on the world’s stage where we are mocked, our church splits, and even how poorly we drive when we cut off another driver while we flash our “I love Jesus” bumper sticker.

We can learn from Paul in Philippians 1:7 that there are three basic ways to reflect the good news: in chains, defending and confirming.   We spend a lot of time on the second, and not much on the other two.

In Chains or In Battle

What does it mean to be in chains for the Gospel?  And more importantly, what does that look  like in America?

Paul represented this aspect of his testimony by being shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned and stoned all of which only reflected Jesus attitude on the Cross when he forgave his killers while they were killing him.  This is a lost art with the Christian world in America.  There is a proverb that reads, “in doing so (being nice), you will heap burning coals upon their head”.  Our tactic tends to display defensive aggression and not much offensive conversion.

We followers of Jesus need to follow Jesus.  We need to understand that the world is lost and they don’t need to Adopt godly standards, they Need God.

I was reading an article about an artist showing his “art” where he depicted Jesus in, shall we say, non-biblical ways.  Now here is the question for all the believers reading this article; how should followers of Jesus respond?

A) We can respond the way the Christians are reported on in the article and protest.  What does this do though to the witness for Jesus? If we get them to take it down, then what? Do people come to Christ because the art is not longer there?

B) We use the opportunity to show people what Jesus was really like. Oh, you might need to turn the other cheek, but in so doing, you may make them look away long enough to show them a better way.

What is the intent of our defense?

I guess it comes down to this.  We can make noise and protest the world’s…. uh, worldliness. In so doing, we might even change the look of things… less strip clubs, less bars, less cheesy art exhibits, but are people coming to Christ, or have we just won moral victory that makes us feel better, but really does nothing for the advancement of the Gospel?

I’m not saying that we should just let the world do their thing and build strip clubs on every corner.  We have an American right to live in a place that reflects morals (Constitutionally backed), but the dilemma we face is that moral legislation, moral victories, moral indignation, does not bring people to Christ.  Sometimes, we need to put on the chains for Christ in order to set people free. Through our chains, we confirm Jesus’ good news.

What does our testimony reflect?

Is our testimony to the world reflecting Christ or leaving a bitter taste that becomes a stumbling block to the message?When they think about the church of Jesus, what image comes to their mind?  Is it the image of a group of zealots that want to change their laws and restrict their freedoms?  Is it a group of holier-than-thou people that live paradoxical lives?  Is it a church that burns books from other religions, protests funerals of soldiers or removes evolution from text books in public schools?

Or… should it be the image of a church that first and foremost ministers to widows and orphans and feeds the hungry, helps the needy?  Is it an image of a church that has hope for eternity and knows where they are going and knows how to show them the way?  Is it an image of a church that spends less money on their buildings, parking lots, sound systems and salaries than they do on their outreach to communities through helping others and ministering Christ to a lost and dying people?

The Calling

As a church, we are called to take on the image of Christ and to reflect Christ to each other and to the world.  When we defend the good news He brought us through the cross, does our defense become an offense to those that need to know the news?

A lost world is lost and trying to find their way in darkness.  By default, they are going to do things that repulse believers. It is the nature of the world.

We carry the light of Jesus Christ and have to use that light to bring people to Christ FIRST. If we change the heart, we change the world.

Posted in The Church | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Computer Parts of the Spirit: Hard Drive

Posted by undergroundchurch on May 1, 2010


The computer hard drive is a marvel of engineering. It usually contains multiple platters on which it electronically stores and retrieves information.

Information is the key to everything in life from reading a book to forming your opinions about that book to writing up a book report, information is the backbone of everything we do.

Hard drives capture raw information from computer applications to those photos of you with your finger in your nose.  We can change them, delete them and move them around.  The hard drive is like the kitchen cabinets in your kitchen. It holds everything you need to make meals.

If you look at the picture in this article, you will see a little silver curled piece in the hard drive (lower left). This is a very, very powerful magnet/ Check this video out just to see how powerful.

What I find most intriguing is that the data on the disk itself is created using a different magnet and that if that very powerful magnet were any closer to the disk, it would destroy everything on the disk.  In order for the latency arm to write data to the disk, it needs to have a very dangerous magnet dangerously close to it.

Practical Application

As believers, we travel through a world full of sin, wickedness, ungodly acts, violence, gossip, deceit, fear, worry and doubt.  We are constantly gathering, modifying and changing data.  If we put garbage in to our lives, we will get garbage out.  If we fill it with truth, we will get truth out. We are in the world, but we are not to be part of the world. (Romans 12:2)

Lurking around the corner is a force that wants to destroy every piece of your life.  Like that magnet, this enemy can destroy you in a day.  But as strong as he may seem, there are stronger bolts holding him back.  The Holy Spirit is at work in you to help you gain the right information and keep the devil at bay.

One day, you will leave this world and the dangers it contains.  But until that day, be vigilant, gathering that which is good and fighting against that which wants to destroy your life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Posted in Computers and the Bible | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Irritation that became a Pearl

Posted by undergroundchurch on March 5, 2010


For much of his life, Jim struggled with belief.  He grew up with talk of Jesus all over the place. It seemed that Jesus’name was a household word, but amoungst the people that “knew” of Jesus in his household, there was a divide… Mom and Dad were believers, but none of the kids could quite accept Jesus as the Messiah except that first-born kid, Joshua who had a different dad.

Joshua always seemed to be a thorn in the side of Jim and his siblings.  He was a very good kid growing up and liked to talk a lot about his real dad, even in front of his half brothers and sisters.  You can imagine the sibling rivalry that would occasionally come to a head.  Not only was the first-born from a different dad, but he was conceived out of wedlock, which used to be a more frowned upon situation than it is today.

When the Joshua grew up to become a minister of the Gospel, it just made the rest of the siblings that much more irritated with him and his “preaching of repentance”.  I’m sure that they felt that he was always preaching “down to them”.  He was an irritation, so you would think that when the day came that Joshua was killed while ministering, that the siblings of this half-blooded family member would have jumped for joy.

Sometimes though, it is through a tragedy that an irritation transforms in our own hearts and minds and we begin to realize what we really had.  Something happened shortly after Joshua’s death that caused Jim and his siblings to realize that their brother was telling the truth and that the message he preached was real, life changing and powerful.

Jim became a preacher shortly after the death of his older brother and came to realize that when your faith is tested, and your irritation level increases, it will either make you hard hearted or produce in you a pearl of great wisdom.

Jim wrote in one of his letters to his extended family:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Jim, James to those that knew him, became the leader of the church in Jerusalem in the first century A.D.  You might not know him except for a letter he wrote that ended up wedged in our Bible between Hebrews and 1 Peter, but you should know his half-brother Joshua. For Joshua was a translation of his Hebrew name, Yeshua.  You know him better from the Greek – German translation of that Hebrew name “Jesus”.  Yes, that’s right –  Jesus whose Father was God.

Posted in Bible Study | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Some Thoughts on the End Times – Part 1

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 1, 2009


I might as well do what everybody else seems to do and give a quick thought [teaching] on the End Times.

However, you probably won’t find this quite is comfortable sounding as the Sunday morning version.

Most End Time teaching basically follow this format.

  • The End Comes
  • The Church is Raptured
  • All chaos errupts
  • Jesus comes with all the believers and reigns a 1000 years
  • Final judgement
  • Everyone designated for Hell go there, those designated for Heaven, go there

I may have left out some detail, but you get the gist.

The biggest problem I personally have with this format is that

  1. It isn’t exactly a healthy and accurate assessement and
  2. It gives a false sense that the Church is not going to experience trouble

I call this Sunday morning approach the “Escapist Syndrome

Basically, the Book of Revelation is approached as a letter for those who are left behind.  What I find strange about that is that a large portion of the church teaching that I hear around the nation is on a subject that, according to the syndrome, doesn’t even apply to them.

2 Thessalonian 2:3 and 1 Timothy 4:1 along with other scriptures, speak of a “falling away” in the last days. This has to be about believers, because non-believers can’t fall away by definition. I have always thought that apathy would be the culprit, which may still be the case.  But I fear that there is going to be another unintended consequence to current teaching that will cause many to flee the faith.

There is a phobia, I believe, in pulpits to talk about bad things.  Blessings and prosperity, God’s best for your life, God loves you, all have their place, but we are inundated by an unhealthy amount of rose petal teaching. Even roses, though, have thorns, and the teachings of Jesus, Paul, James, and John do a much better job painting reality and have a much more balanced approach to understanding the end times than we American Christians pocesses.

The Right Balance

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” – Mark 4:16 and 17

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-40

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:9-13

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. – John 15:20

And I could go on and on.

I think that church leaders fear that if the truth of persecution, the reality of hard times, and the fate of being hated as Jesus was hated were preached from a pulpit, they wouldn’t fill the chairs on a Sunday morning, but I think that the greater disservice is not telling followers of Christ the truth.  Tough times are coming! The church in America will be one day like the church in China and North Korea having to hide their $10,000 signs and abandon the $20 million buildings.  It is only a matter of time.

But in it all, no matter what happens, Jesus prepared us for this inevitable outcome.  All the prayer in the world, though it may delay it, will not stop it because it is part of the Plan of God.

I will end this part with what I consider to be the problem facing the future church because of the methodology of church teaching today.

The falling away will most likely come from Christians who have succumbed to the escapism syndrome and when the persecution in American and other “free nations” comes, they will ask the question,

Why? Why didn’t you tell me?  Why did you get my hopes up?  Why didn’t you prepare me?”

And they simply won’t have the strength to stand up under the pressure because they will feel betrayed and misled.  They will think that Jesus is not ever coming back because they never thought they’d be thrown into a prison in America just because they gathered with like believers.  The concerns of their world will outweigh their perceived need for a savior.

They thought is was all about prosperity and glory, but will find that the reality of the coming of the Son of Man will be like the birth of a child.  It will be painful while the child prepares to arrive, but the joy for those that endure to the end will be like holding that little baby in the arms.  All the pain in the birthing process will quickly fade in the joy of a new life with Christ forever.

Posted in End Times | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Prayer the Nehemiah Way – Part 8 of 8

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 8, 2009


See Part 7

Here we are at the final prayer of Nehemiah, and it is truly the final prayer recorded.

Remember me with favor, O my God – Nehemiah 13:31

Once again, we look at the motives of Nehemiah.  This seems like a selfish prayer at first glance, but it is the first time he actually prays simply for himself, and given his job performance, I’d say it’s about time.

This is the last verse in the book, and he has fought a hard fight; he has finished strong; he has run his race.  He has poured his heart and soul into the restoration of Jerusalem and now he prays to God, “Remember me”.

I don’t want this statement to be misconstrued, but you can unselfishly ask for blessing when your lifestyle isn’t built on being blessed; however, if you live for blessing, you might want to look hard at your motives.

Nehemiah sacrified. David sacrificed. Moses sacrificed.  Many in the scriptures gave all they had in their journey with God.  When they spoke of being blessed by God, their hearts were already in the mindset of serving God without self-interest.  The mission was all about God’s plan.  There is no shame in asking for blessing, especially when your life is devoted to the cause of God.

God loves to bless, but He is not frivolous about it either.  He doesn’t just aimlessly toss about blessings.  Blessings have a positive short-term effect, but if the one being blessed is not grounded properly in Christ, then the blessing will dry up and the one being blessed will not grow, but become dependent on receiving blessings in order to maintain their spiritual walk.

Blessing from God is always good, but if we are ill equiped to handle the blessing, then we can become prideful, selfsh, greedy, and simply unchanged.  Blessings actually have very little imact on our spiritual outcome.

I have often wondered why so many believers have so many struggles, so many heart aches, and so much pain.  I know this doesn’t preach well (as they might say), but it might be that the only way God can get us to the point of talking with him is when we are afflicted.

You know that I’m right; you just are having a hard time admitting it.  When is it tougher to get on your face before God in humility, when things are going great or when things are terrible?  The Bible tells us plainly that Suffering produced Perseverance and Perseverance produces Character and Character produces Hope! (Romans 5:3-5)  The path to hope begins with the fundamental understanding of suffering.

Paul understood this all too well.  In fact, he is the only person I know that was called by Jesus with these words, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16) Tell the truth, would you become a Christian if Jesus said that to you?

Paul understood, as Nehemiah understood, because he said, “I want to know Jesus in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering”.

If you don’t hear anything I say, hear this, “You will never know Jesus fully until you know him in his suffering.”

Christianity is not meant to be pretty, it is a battle – a bloody battle that started with the battle wounds Jesus bore on the Cross.  We struggle and fight everyday, and we win battles everyday, and that is the point.  In winning a battle, we grow.  We struggle and train hard for this race.  We fall down, but we get back up.  We fight knowing that we will be the victors in the end.  It is the actual struggle that God uses to make us stronger.  Deliverance out of struggle never made any Christian stronger.

Too many preach a message of Christianity that gives the listener enough head knowledge to be dangerous, especially to themselves, but they aren’t taught that the Christian walk is not a cake walk. For when they find that the battle gets hot, they struggle and fail because they weren’t told ahead of time that while Jesus may have promised roses, he also promised thorns on those very roses.

Don’t be afraid of the struggle; dive right in.  Know that your successful journey gives you every right and privilege to pray as many have prayed in the past, “Remember me with favor, O God!”

Posted in prayer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »