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 16 other followers

  • Subscribe

  • Twitter

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Posts Tagged ‘cross’

Day 52: Who Murdered Jesus?

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 22, 2011


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Several years ago, Mel Gibson came out with the movie The Passion of the Christ. A lot of controversy swirled because one could draw a conclusion from the movie that the Jews killed Jesus.

While there is no question from Scripture that the rejection of the Jews was the basis for Jesus murder and that the leaders of the Jews wanted Jesus killed, I propose that they were only a party to the crime.  The actual murder still lives today.

The Romans

The Roman leaders were acting in behalf of the Jewish leadership because the Jews could not, under Roman law, sentence a man to death. Pilate, Herod and company simply placed their stamp of approval on the murder of an innocent man and condemned him to death.

So who killed Jesus?

The Roman guards were the ones who beat and whipped him.  They were the ones who pulled out his beard and crowned his head with thorns. They were the brutes who made him carry his own instrument of death to the top of a dirty hill where they stripped him of his clothes, casting lots for his underwear and  nailing his hands and feet to cross beams of wood to be raised up in order to let the sun beat on his naked, battered and bruised body for six long torturous hours.

The Roman guards watched him breath his last and saw the darkness and earthquakes.  They made sure of his death by thrusting a spear in his side.  So obviously, they are guilty.

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus say from the cross, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing”?

So maybe they aren’t the only ones guilty.

So who murdered Jesus?

Judas

Let’s blame Judas.  If he didn’t betray Jesus to the Jews, maybe Jesus would still be walking the earth today.  That back-stabbing man ate dinner with Jesus just before he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver… the cost of a slave, and to add insult to injury, he pointed him out to the Jewish leaders with a kiss of friendship.

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus approve Judas’ task by telling him before hand, “What you are going to do, do quickly”.  That really muddies the waters.

So who murdered the perfect man?

His Father

What about God?  I mean, didn’t God send his son to earth to die? How many fathers would do that to their child? Didn’t he love Jesus? Didn’t he care? Couldn’t he have stopped the whole thing? Didn’t Jesus pray for another way and God not answer that prayer?

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus tell us that “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”. Didn’t he tell us that God so LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his son.  Maybe God’s love for the world was so great that he did what he had to do to make a way for the world to return to him. Maybe Jesus meant what he said in that same prayer when he concluded his plea with “nevertheless – not my will, but your will be done.”

So who was it really?

You and Me

What about us? You know… “the world” that God loves so much.

It started with a man named Adam and a command from God that said, “Don’t eat of this one tree, for in the day you eat of it, you will die”.

Adam defied God’s instruction, and Adam’s first sin planted a seed in each and every person ever born in this world that God loved so much.

Every person is doomed to die apart from God because of sin that rules and reigns in the hearts of men.

Sin lived in the Jews that wanted Jesus dead, the Romans that carried out their wishes, and it lives in you and me today.

It is the sin in us that murdered Jesus.  If we had not sinned, Jesus would not have died.  An innocent lamb sent to the slaughter so that by his death, anyone who believes on him won’t have to die apart from God, but can have eternal life with God.

We are all guilty.  We committed the murder of the ages, a crime beyond any every conceived. We all participated in the death of God, and yet… It is by that very death that we are forgiven for the very murder we committed.

It is the only crime that makes things right again in the heart of those that committed it, but only to those that believe on the saving work Jesus death brings to mankind.

Though we are all murderers, the wrath of God was poured out upon his only son so that we could all live in peace and freedom with God.

So yes, we are all guilty, but you can be free of that guilt by accepting what Jesus went through on your behalf. Believe in Jesus, receive the gift of salvation, ask for forgiveness, confess Jesus Christ as the master of your life and you too can be free of the crime of the ages.

Posted in Daily Devotion - Scripture Nuggets, Easter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Breaking News Flash! The Day Goes Dark

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 22, 2011


The Sun Goes Dark: Day becomes Night

by Jeff Ben Les, AP

A day that just seems to be getting weirder by the minute.

It’s been a couple hours since the trial of Yeshua in which he was found innocent yet condemned to death, and the sky is going black.

The guards just brought three men to the top of skull hill to impale them upon wooden beams.  It is a horrific practice of execution invented by the Romans where they nail or tie the victim to a horizontal wooden beam and place it atop a vertical beam planted in the ground.

Suspended between heaven and earth, with their naked bodies completely exposed, they slowly suffocate in agonizing pain while the sun beats down upon their wounded bodies.  It is a death designed for the worst criminals.

In fact, two thieves are being put to death in this manner along side this innocent man found guilty.  In a conversation between the two thieves, one was overheard mocking Yeshua.

The other thief jumped to his defense proclaiming their guilt and recognizing Yeshua’s innocence.

In one of the few words heard from Yeshua throughout this ordeal, he responded to his defender by stating that he would be with him in Paradise.

This seems to go against the tradition of thieves spending eternity in Sheol, but then again, this man is coming to be known as one who defies traditions.

After six hours pass, he is heard again praying to God.  His prayer, though, does not follow reason.  First he speaks in Aramaic asking why God has forsaken him, then he actually  starts praying for the forgiveness of those that are actually killing him while they are killing him.

It could be a mild form of delusion from the stress, but then again, it does seem to follow the pattern of his life.

A few moments ago, he was even making sure that his mother was taken care of by giving her to another man that was standing at his feet.

When asked about this, the man simply replied, “I don’t know why, but He just loved me.”

As the darkness continued to grow, and clouds began to build Yeshua was heard over the wind and the rain as he shouted with his final breath, “It is Finished!”

As soon as he said it, and earthquake tore through the city.  It was such a powerful moment that the guard standing their proclaimed that this man must be the son of God.

There are reports of people that had died, good people,  roaming the streets because their tombs had opened.  However, the claim has not yet been substantiated.

One thing this reporter can say is that even in death, this man, Yeshua, has a huge impact and influence upon those around him.  He death brought his killers forgiveness, which you just don’t see everyday.

Reporting from a hill just outside of Jerusalem, I’m Jeff Ben Les.

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

Day 11: Power and Suffering (shhhh!)

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 11, 2011


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Philippians 3:10 – “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection” [STOP!]… Don’t read any further.

That’s far enough! Whatever you do in your Christian walk, all you need to know is Christ in the “power of His resurrection”. All you have to do is walk in the love, walk in the effortless joy of the Lord.

We all want that resurrection experience with Christ.  All too often, we read our Bibles only looking for those “resurrection moment” verses and cling to them like they are magic; however, you will never see Paul doing that.

Remember Paul, the one called by God where God said of him to Ananias?

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” – Acts 9:16

How many American’s, if presented with that calling from God, would actually give their lives to Christ?  Similarly, how many American Christians would gladly take on that calling?

We can’t stop a thought of Paul mid-sentence…

“… and the fellowship of His sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10, continued)

Paul knows that you can’t just know Jesus the way you “want” to know him.  You must know him the way God wants you to know him.

Why?

“…to become LIKE HIM in his DEATH.” (Philippians 3:10, continued)

The expressed work of the Holy Spirit is to make you into the image of Christ.  If we think that is a “living” image, we’d be gravely mistaken.  We die with Christ; we die to self; we carry our cross (our instrument of death); we are baptized into Christ’s death; we must humble ourselves and become living sacrifices (though you are alive, you are dead because you don’t get a sacrifice back).

In short, we need to die daily and let the power of God live through us. 1 Corinthians 15:31

Only then will we find real JOY!

Posted in Daily Devotion - Scripture Nuggets | 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 »

Where Faith and the World Collide

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 29, 2010


With all these ridiculous “religious knowledge” surveys going around, I got to thinking about “faith” and just what it is.

I think there are two primary pieces to the “religious” experience with which some just don’t understand– Faith and Hope. I will address faith here.

There are two facts about faith that must be understood:

  1. True faith is not blind
  2. True faith is not void of substance

Those that steer clear of faith in God tend to do so because they see it as a futile, wishful-thinking belief system empty of reason, understanding and wisdom. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Faith is not a childish look into a fantasy world, but a childlike trust in a revealed reality.  The goal in faith is to connect with God through relationship.  The problem is that if you try to prove God to yourself first, you fail to take the path God intended for you to take to produce faith in you.

Faith follows a specific path – Obedience to Jesus first, revelation of Jesus second and finally faith in Jesus is born.  Notice that all three have their source in Jesus.

God calls us to a path that begins with him.  Faith is not based on my understanding but His understanding.  I have to trust Him first, demonstrated through obedience, and then I can receive a faith that comes from God, for He rewards those that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Abraham is a perfect example.  He walked with very little faith for most of His life.  Yes, he followed God’s leading and that was out of obedience, but never really trusted him.  God said, “leave your family”, but Abraham took his father.  God promised him that his children would be plentiful, but he lied about his wife to protect his life.

It wasn’t until Abraham was challenged to give back to God the only son he had been given by God, through a black and white act of obedience, that Abraham achieved the level of obedience to God that God was looking for.  Just as Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his son as a sacrifice to God, and angel stopped him and said these powerful words, “Now I know that you fear me, for you did not withhold your son from me.” (Genesis 22:12). It was during the trek to the altar that Abraham answered his son’s question concerning what they were going to sacrifice with, “God will provide”. (Genesis 22:8)

The scriptures say multiple times that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom“. Strangely enough, the path to faith comes through a fear in God which produces in us obedience.

Once we obey, God can then respond in building up our faith.

You see, if the faith you have is your own, it is bound to fail.  But if the faith you have comes from God, then the source is solid and produces in you a revelation of God that makes Him real in you.

Nature cries out that there is a God, but it doesn’t tell you how to establish relations with Him.  Only when God reveals himself to you through faith, do you discover that your faith is a sure foundation.

Posted in Faith, Hope and Love | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Newton’s Laws of Motion and Life’s Obstacles – Reaction

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 10, 2010


Newton’s had three laws of motion that can help us understand some of what happens to us on a daily basis. By tying these three examples to life’s obstacles, hopefully we can gain some understanding on how to deal with our daily circumstances.  Let’s look at the third law of motion. (click HERE for the article on the First Law, Click HERE for the article on the Second Law)

The Third Law of Motion – Reaction

The Third Law states – “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

Every move you make affects something or someone somewhere.  We do not live in a vacuum, but we are either going to have a positive or negative impact on the world around us.  We can bless; we can curse, but we cannot avoid impacting the world around us.

This law states that the reaction to the force is equal and opposite. This is often the case in the short term, however, there is a spiritual “butterfly effect” that takes place that actually boosts the output of the reaction. The Bible uses the term “sowing and reaping”.  You will reap what you sow, but like seeds, you don’t get one seed for every seed you sow.  You reap 50, 100 or 1000 times as much.  In some cases, you reap a harvest year after year from the same seed you planted (e.g. fruit tree).

Like sowing and reaping, you also receive the same type of thing that you sow.  You don’t get apples from orange seeds; you get apples.  You don’t get good from evil either; you reap in like kind.

If you sow curses on your children, they will in turn curse you and probably lead a cursed life, but if you sow blessing (not material, but spiritual blessing) upon your children, they will, as Proverbs 22:6 says, not depart from the way they are taught.

Someone said once that it takes 10 blessings to overcome one curse.  This is sometimes true, not because blessings are less powerful, on the contrary, they are the greater power.  Curses just impact our sinful life in such a way that we tend to allow it more power in our lives than the blessing.

God says that the return on a curse from him goes 3 or 4 generations, but blessings go a 1000 generations.  (Exodus 20:5-7)

God built his church with this very law in mind, I believe.  For it is the mission of the church to encourage and build one another up in the holy faith.  It is each Christian’s ministry to love and bring a positive affect on one another.  We are to bring those that don’t know Christ to the Cross, and we are to help those that have encountered Jesus to grow in grace.

We are to impact those around us, but be aware, even your loving actions can produce an unlovely response from the world, for:

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. – John 15:19

When this happens, be strong for the Love God has for you is supposed to be passed on.  Some will receive that love and so be saved…. that is a good reaction.  Others will hear the message and so reject it… that is a bad reaction.  Either way, we are called to bring the good news. It is up to the hearer as to their own reaction to it.

Posted in Science and the Bible | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

My Thanksgiving Story

Posted by undergroundchurch on November 25, 2009


There certain people in your life that teach you lessons just from the very way that they live their life. Sometimes   they say things that tie it all together. When this happens, it’s like an epiphany. It’s like the bow on top of the package. It’s like the flowers on top of the cake or the cherry on Sunday. It’s that one thing that brings everything into focus even if you heard it time and time again. I had one such encounter with my grandpa back in 1986.

I had driven from my army base in Fort Stewart, Georgia to St. Augustine Florida where my grandpa lived in a trailer. I was a selfish 20-year-old only caught up in my own self gratification. I really didn’t think about how my actions would affect other people. In my life, I had only received things and never really given anything back.

While down in St. Augustine, I asked my grandpa to help me install some speakers in my newly acquired 1977 yellow Mustang. Of course, he being grandpa, happily obliged. After a few hours of cutting, tearing and mending, we finally achieved success. So the next thing that I asked, being a young self-absorbed 20-year-old, was, “What have you got to eat?”

That must’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Throughout the course of the previous two or three hours, my grandpa must’ve been observing the way I handled myself. Because I never really expressed how thankful I was that he was there to help me.

He said in the most stern voice, “You never show appreciation!”

Those four words struck me so deep, that I have never forgotten them to this day. It was like a light went off in my head, and for the first time in my life I realized that there were other people in my life, and that my every action affected them.

I realized then that I really was not thankful for all the blessings in my life. I took so much for granted. I live for myself, and I did not live my life as a blessing to those around me.

It’s not to say that I am perfect or have finally arrived, but it set my feet on a path that I have not changed from to this day. God used my grandpa that day to plant a seed in my heart of serving others.

True thankfulness, true appreciation, begins in the heart. It bubbles up and comes out of the mouth, but it is most effective when it materializes in our hands.

This holiday season, I challenge everyone, including myself, not to be just be thankful in our hearts, or even in our words, but to express our thankfulness, our appreciation, in our actions and our deeds.

I intend to physically show people how thankful I am for them. I intend to show with my actions my love and appreciation. People will not always remember what I say, but they will never forget what I do.

In this, I hope to reflect the life Jesus lived. He didn’t come just to say he loved us; he came to show us he loved us by taking our place in death. It was his actions, not his words, that saved us. It is in my actions that I hope to reflect that heart of love to my family, friends and those far off.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!

Posted in Quick Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hope vs. Hope

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 11, 2009


People that buy a lottery ticket hope they win.  I hope to spend eternity with God.  There is a difference between those two hopes.

Romans 5:4-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.

Hope, with the possibility of failure

This is the type of hope that we usually think of when someone uses the term “hope”.

  • Boy I really hope we win this game.
  • I hope I get a raise.
  • I hope I win the lottery.

This type of hope has varying levels of confidence in failure.  In other words, the desire is to have the dream come true, but in the back of your mind, you have a serious doubt issue going on.  This is a shaky hope in biblical terms because usually, the assurance is weak at best.

Hope with assurance of a positive outcome

This is the hope that is understood by the first century church.  This is the hope that comes as a result of understanding that God loves you.  It is a hope that kept the early church going even when being thrown to lions, burned at the stake and stoned.  It is the hope that say, “I KNOW in whom I have believed and that when my breathing ceases in this life, my next breath will be in the presence of God!”  Doubt is banished, fear – erased.  The hope of salvation is a guarantee.

What is your hope like?  Do you hope you’ll make it to God when you die, but you aren’t really sure?  Maybe you think you have to do something, to earn a chance to be with God.  Maybe you think you are good, but you are really gambling with your eternity.

The only path to assurance is accepting what God already did for you.  You don’t have what it takes to earn back his good graces.  Only God has that power, and he already did all the work.  Have you received it?  Do you believe it?  Is your hope found solely in Jesus Christ?

Posted in Faith, Hope and Love | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »