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Preparing the Church for the future

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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!”


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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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Hypocrisy is a Good Thing

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 26, 2009

Hypocrisy is not all bad.  I know that people that jump on those “being” hypocrites, but the reality is that there are two very important realities associated with hypocrisy.

  1. Hypocrisy shows that there are moral values in a culture. You cannot be a hypocrite unless a moral standard is set – whether in the mind of the hypocrite, or in the mind of the accuser or both. 
  2. If moral equivalency is the rule, then nobody can be a hypocrite. By definition, moral equivalency denotes that there is no moral baseline.

When an individual is accused of hypocrisy, usually the one holding to the accusation does not bear the same moral equivalent in their own mind, yet the feel obliged to make accusations using rules by which they don’t abide.

Those with little risk of being a hypocrite are the ones that should concern society most.  They live with no standard, moral base or absolutes that provide a platform on which character and integrity are built.

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The Immanuel Project: Chapter 5: The Sin Problem

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 23, 2009

Click here for Chapter 4

The largest obstacle for God to overcome in the process we call “incarnation” is sin. The incarnation is the point where God transforms himself into man.  To be affective, the incarnation has to happen at the cellular level.  He has to conceived, carried in the womb and then birthed; otherwise; he would not be fully man. He would be more of a facsimile of man and not a real man.  As I mentioned earlier, angels have encountered our world many times in human “form” but they were no more “human” than a team mascot for the LSU Tigers is a tiger.  To be a tiger, you would need to be born a tiger. To be man, God has to be born as a man.

The main problem is that when man is born, he is born into sin because of the sin passed on to him from Adam’s original sin.  The spiritual curse was passed down in the physical genetics of the human gene.  The bible calls this the seed.[i]

The seed issue would seem to pose a huge problem because you need it in order to be conceived. 

However, God set the law of sin upon other principles.  There are two things that make a good law: one is that it needs to be well defined.  Obscure laws open to interpretations are not very effective.  The meaning of a law can change the next time a judge rules on the law.  So when they create laws, they try to capture the original intent of the law in the law itself. 

The sin law’s original intent is to produce a punishment – namely death.  The law is violated automatically just be being born.

A method was created to satisfy the law’s price.  This was done by shedding blood. 

It might surprise you to discover that the first shedding of blood was not performed by man but by God.

After Adam and Eve sinned and tried on their new leaf clothing line, God exchanged those leafy garments for animal skins.[ii]  But where did God get animal skins?

He must have killed an animal first.  He then placed the skin of the sacrifice over man’s naked flesh, so the first sacrifice was performed by God himself.  Incidentally, the last and ultimate sacrifice was also performed by God.  What does this say about God?  It shows that He is desperate for reconciliation with man.  It shows that man is not as involved in salvation as he thinks he is.  It shows that man cannot muster up enough righteousness to overcome his situation and that it takes the greater power of God to transform a sinful life.

The second component of a law is that the law must be based on something greater.  In our nation, we use a Constitution.  When judges make rulings on laws, they are judging the law against the Constitution and determine if the law is “Constitutional”. 

The law of sin is also based on greater rules.  One greater rule is the holiness of God.  Sin cannot abide in God’s presence.  Even looking at God in our sinful state is cause for death.[iii]  The holiness of God demands obedience and that is the foundation for righteousness.  When we disobey, we perform an unrighteous act which violates sin’s law.  Adam did that based on the single rule of obedience God set up with Adam, “Don’t eat from the tree.”

Sin is a bad thing, but a good law.  The law of sin is necessary in order for God to remain holy. If God allowed sin in His presence or performed some form of sin, then he would violate His holiness.

The mission of Jesus had to be one of holiness.  If He failed at any point to obey God, His Father, He would immediately lose favor with God and become a blemished sacrifice.  He would no longer be able to provide the ultimate sacrifice for man’s sin.  He would never be able to be “one” with the Father. 

Jesus states his current state of obedience when He tells us that He only does what His Father tells Him to do.[iv]

This presents that old theological issue, “Could Jesus sin if He wanted to?”  The answer has to be “Yes”. 

The reason it has to be yes is because the governing rule for obedience according to God is love.  Love, as stated earlier, demands a choice not love in order to be love.  If you have no other option but to love, then you can’t choose to love or not love.

Jesus had to have that choice.  If He didn’t, then Satan wasted his time.  Do you remember the temptation by Satan?[v]  Satan is giving Jesus choices.  He can do this mission the Father’s way or take the easy way out.  At one point, Satan even says that he would give Jesus everything if Jesus would just bow down to him one time. 

Satan was going to surrender if Jesus would just disobey God one time.  How could it hurt, right? I mean, God would forgive His only Son, and He wouldn’t have to die and go through all the pain.

Don’t tell me that wasn’t a powerful temptation.  But that is all it was.  Jesus knew the rules.  “Do not bow down to [other gods] or serve them; for I, the Lord you God, am a jealous God.”[vi]

That act would have been direct disobedience leading to death.  Not a good thing for the savior to do if he wants to be the savior.  This makes Philippians 2:8-10 come alive.  It was because of the choice to obey the Father and humble Himself in death that God promoted His name (Jesus) to a point where every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Master of all.  That means that Satan, the one that Jesus could have briefly bowed down to, will have to bow down to Jesus because of the victory found in winning the battle over sin.  There was a lot riding on that temptation, and Jesus came through victorious!

It is important to keep in mind that God does not violate His nature nor does He violate His own spiritual laws.  Notice, I said spiritual laws.  He can suspend natural laws anytime He likes because He has not restricted himself to those laws. 

When Jesus walked on the water[vii], He violated several laws of nature.  Did He sin because He broke those laws?  By no means; in fact, we call them miracles.  He even tells us that we will do even greater things than that.[viii] 

You mean we get to break physical laws to and get away with it?  Yep.  It takes faith, but you can lay your hands on a sick person, pray for them and see the sickness disappear. 

I know I am making that somewhat simple, but so did Jesus.  We make it so complicated because we doubt.  Have you ever wondered why we don’t see miracles like we should, like they did a hundred years ago?  The simple reason is that Christians don’t believe.  Sadly, we have more information about our faith than any Christian generation ever, but we do not practice it.  There is no commitment, no passion, no repentance, no holiness and no faith. 

The only hope is the scriptures that tell us that in the last day, God is going to pour out His spirit on all mankind and great things are going to happen.[ix]  The last days get closer each day we get out of bed.  One day soon, God is going to find a church ready for His Spirit’s outpouring.  He will find them because they will be on their knees crying out to Him in His house. 

When He finds that church, look out world!

Back to God’s sin dilemma.  How does God become a birthed baby and not catch the sickness of the sin seed?

That is found in the sin-law loop hole.  Really good laws have loop holes for special circumstances.  The sin-law has a limit.  The sin seed is passed through the one who is accountable.  How do we know this?  Check out Genesis again.

Adam is formed by God from the ground on the sixth day.[x]  After man was created, God planted the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden.[xi]  He then commanded the man not to eat of the tree.[xii]  Notice though, who is not at this meeting… the woman. She isn’t created for five more verses.  You never see God tell her not to eat from the tree, so who do you think told her the rule?

By design, the responsible person to God was Adam.  God was going to hold Adam personally responsible.  Eve wasn’t there.  She is not accountable to God.

This concept is borne out through the scriptures.  I know that people think that there is some element of men lording over women in the Bible, and to some extent, you will find those accounts.  But the part you don’t hear is that the woman was not responsible for the sin. 

Here is a thought for you.  If Eve ate the fruit, and Adam did not, would there be sin in the world?  Was it Eve, Adam or both eating the fruit that caused sin? 

We know that their eyes weren’t opened until Adam ate the fruit.  So the act of Eve eating the fruit did not cause her to feel guilt, shame and sin.  In fact, she rather enjoyed it.  She actually gave it to Adam to share.  Why?  It is because she ate it and didn’t have any adverse effects. 

God said that they would die.  She didn’t.  Therefore, it must be fine for them to eat it. 

I submit to you that Eve’s act alone had nothing to do with the problem of sin.  Adam had not sinned yet.  I believe that evidence throughout Scripture bears a testimony that if Adam did not eat, he could have possibly atoned for her guilt and the sin seed would have died with her. 

There is a priestly order to things in the Bible. The husband is the individual in the household that is directly accountable to God. It’s not that the others in the house are less important, it is that the responsibility for the household falls to the husband.  That accountability is seen throughout scripture.  Men are found in leadership because God holds them accountable for the family, not women. 

It sounds odd given our humanistic society. And it certainly wasn’t designed to devalue women.  This principle is something that God Himself follows within the Godhead.

The Bible tells us that Jesus submitted to the Father in everything.  That is to say, Jesus is accountable to the Father.  Accountability does not show that Jesus is less valuable than the Father; it is simply a chain of accountability. Yes, there is an element of submission to it, but not in the sense of a Master/Slave submission.  Rather, it is a voluntary submission in love knowing that you are building the other up in the process.

Jesus did everything to bring glory to His Father.  In turn, the Father brought glory back to the Son.  But it started by the Son submitting to the Father.

This principle carries over to the church.  Jesus is the head of the church in the same way that the Father is the head of Jesus.[xiii] Jesus is the head because He sacrificed his life for it. 

That same word head is passed down to the husband and wife.  The husband is the head of the wife.[xiv]  Like the other relationships before it, this one must be saturated in love.  Notice also that it always costs the “head” something to be the “head”.  Husbands must lay their lives down for their wives. Jesus died for His church.

This accountability is like a priest’s duty.  They are responsible for those accountable to them. The priest’s duties are to atone for other’s sins.  But if the priest sins, there is no atonement left.  They had to be clean to be a priest.

Adam forfeited his ability to atone by participating in the sin.  When he took the fruit, he gave up his responsibility.  That is out of God’s order.  Instead of God being his head, he made Eve his head.  We aren’t allowed to transfer our allegiances.

In short, it was Adam’s act of eating the fruit that cause the sin seed to be born in man.  There was no further redemption that man could conjure that would overcome the act of disobedience. 

Adam was the one that told Eve not to eat, but in the end, he failed.

I have one quick side note about the passage in Genesis 3.  When the serpent talked with Eve (which she did not find odd at all) she changed God’s rules.  The law was, “Don’t eat”.  She added “Don’t eat, and don’t touch it”.[xv]  This is the first occurrence of legalism in the Bible.  Legalism are rules added by men on top of God’s law to make you feel more spiritual by putting people in bondage to more rules thinking they make you more holy. Eve’s legalistic touch didn’t keep her from violating God’s laws.  Legalism is no way to enhance your spiritual claim to holiness.  It only leads you to death.

When God’s divine order is messed with, chaos is just around the corner.

Looking at the sin seed again, so where is the out clause? 

Believe it or not, the woman is the out clause. 

You mean that the very person that started this has a way of getting us out of it?

Yep.  It’s funny how God works sometimes. 

God told the serpent the loophole that he designed into the sin law.  Genesis 3:15 gives man hope.  “The seed of the woman will strike your head and you will strike His heel”.  Interesting, but what does it mean?

It tells us that, because the woman was not held responsible, she would be able to produce an offspring that would be pure again.  That offspring would defeat the one that defeated man.  But it would cost the woman’s offspring dearly. 

From that point on, the women of the Bible understood that any child born could potentially be that deliverer.  Eve recognized this right away and thought Cain might be the “man”.[xvi] Later, after Cain killed Abel, she bore another son, Seth.  She saw him as a “seed” replacement for Abel.[xvii]  She thought to herself, “Maybe this one will be the one.” 

However, the deliverer didn’t come until after God gives more clarification.  The child had to be born of a virgin.[xviii]  Why a virgin?

This was done because the man carries the sin seed.  It is a feature that exists due to the accountability factor.

The way around this is to take man out of the loop and leave woman.  The Holy Spirit was the “Father” and Mary the mother. Therefore, if God was going to be the Father, then the sin seed would not be present at Jesus’ birth.

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary 4000 years after Eve’s promise, he told her that the baby in her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.[xix]  God had used His loophole in the sin law to get the savior God into the flesh of man. 


[i] Genesis 3:15 et al

[ii] Genesis 3:21

[iii] Exodus 33:20

[iv] John 5:30

[v] Matthew 4:1-11

[vi] Deuteronomy 5:9

[vii] Matthew 14:25

[viii] John 14:12

[ix] Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17

[x] Genesis 2:7

[xi] Genesis 2:8,9

[xii] Genesis 2:17

[xiii] 1 Corinthians 11:3

[xiv] Ephesians 5:23

[xv] Genesis 3:3

[xvi] Genesis 4:1

[xvii] Genesis 4:25

[xviii] Isaiah 7:14

[xix] Luke 1:26-35

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It’s a Brain Thang

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 30, 2009

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. – Ephesians 5:17-19

Only God can change the heart of man.  He never repairs, he only replaces. I think this is probably due to the fact that our “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

But the battle for men’s (and women’s for those that only speak politically correct language) hearts does not take place in the heart.  It takes place in the mind. 

When a battle is fought in war, the battle field is usually in a place that does not contain the actual goal.  For example, to win a castle, most of the battle takes place in the courtyard or fields outside the castle walls. In the battle for the human heart, the battlefield is the mind. 

“Futility of their thinking”.  The world is stuck in a box fabricated in the recesses of their mind.  Science is a great example.  Mankind determines what is true only by using the tools of science. If it doesn’t fit in the mold of scientific proof, it can’t be. 

That’s like using a ruler to measure the size of the universe.  Science only pertains to the limited functions of this world’s design. It does not apply to the designer. 

Look at it this way. If I drew a picture on a piece of paper and could bring that world to life, it would function is a way no where near as wonderful as mine.  For example, it could only function in a two diminsional fashion. It I intersect that world as an artist with a pencil being pushed through that piece of paper, the people of that world could only interact with the part touching their world.  My pencil to them would seem like a flat circle.  They couldn’t tell if it were solid or empty and certainly couldn’t understand that it is a 3 diminsional object.  In fact, they couldn’t even fathom three diminsions because it is outside the capabilities of their “science”.  Three dimensions to them would be “scientific theory”. They would be limited in their minds to the reality that is all around them. There is not scientific tool they could use to measure my universe.

We are those people drawn on paper compared to a God who is the artist.  We can’t understand the tools he used to fashion our world. We can’t see the brush or pen He used to draw its concepts.  God is operating in a sphere outside our time/space continuum.

The people of this world only think in terms of the limits of this world – not the potential of a world beyond science.  Science can sometimes see the fingerprints of God, but it does not have the capabilities of putting human rationale around the spiritual world in which God resides.

Since this world is limited to the thinking of their own universe, their desires are only to seek satisfaction in the realm of their universe and not the awesome infinite nature of God’s kingdom.  God has so much more for us than animalistic instincts of lust, greed, selfishness and desires that only this world can offer. He offers a new heart and a connection to His world. 

But to get there, the mindset must change.  The thinking must change so that God’s realm of possibility becomes your realm of possibility.  The Bible says it this way, “Faith comes by hearing”.  Hearing is not just listening to words. Listening is actually taking it in, listening and responding with affirmation.  But if you are set in your mind that you will not change because the “science” isn’t there, then you will be sitting alone for a long time on a park bench to nowhere.

God is a rewarder of those that dilligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6), but to find him, you must first take off the blinders of a futile mindset and trust that there are just things beyond your understanding – things that you have to take by faith.  Once you accept this, and take that step, you will open the avenue for God to come in a replace that heart of stone for a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Then you will begin working in God’s science.

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Better start praying underground

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 17, 2009

Two students in a California college are threatened with suspension when they prayed for their teacher after asking if they could pray for their teacher in the teacher’s lounge. – see article

The argument was that they were being suspended for “disruptive behavior”. The story in short is that they were alone in the teacher’s lounge praying for the sick teacher when another teacher came in and said, “You can’t do that in here.”  The students stopped and left.

This is just one of many signs of the times of a polictially correct society running amok. 

“Disruptive Behavior?” Fortunately, this time, the students are allowed to take their case to court to prove “that the school treated religious expression more harshly than other speech.”  But for this to even happen is a reality of a new society that is out to crush God.

Freedom of speech is no longer about “freedom of speech” but content of speech. If your content is not “politically correct”, you don’t have the right to speak freely.

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