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Preparing the Church for the future

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Day 69: The Power of Abstinence

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 18, 2011

Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

The Post Office is in financial trouble because people don’t want to waste the time sending “snail mail” when “e-mail” and “texting” is so much faster.

We live in a culture born in hyperspace with the hyper drives fully engaged. We are constantly looking for faster and faster ways of doing what we do so that we can fit in more stuff to do.

You would think that if we freed up time, we’d take the time to rest, but it just isn’t the case. We have such an addiction to speed and busyness that we are killing any chance to make room in life for things that really matter.

Who has time to play with their kids, read books, sit on a porch swing, pray, quietly meditate upon God, look at the stars when we have all this “stuff” going on in our lives.

Not only are we busy, but even when we slow down, we have TVs and radios going on in the background because we just can’t do the silence.  We just can’t seem to break the “busyness habit”.

This is where the power of abstinence comes in.  We just simply need to go cold-turkey, and stop some of the things that bring useless clutter, vain noise and non-value added busyness to our lives.  Here are just a few of the myriad of ways we can bring some calm back into our lives and give room to celebrate those things that really matter:

  • Use your phone only to call people
  • Eliminate (at least for a time) Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and other “social networking” apps
  • Keep the TV off
  • Keep the radio off if just using it to fill the quiet, especially in the car
  • Try praying or singing to the Lord (no music) while driving instead of blaring the radio and yelling at other drivers

I hope you get the point.  Abstain from things for a season that create “noise” in your life, and don’t fill the void with more noise that is meaningless. Take that new found freedom and read God’s word; spend quality time with the kids listening to them; pray and worship God like He matters to you.

Begin a process of resetting your life. It will not be easy at first, but it will be rewarding as you discover that you are not as busy as you once thought.


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Day 68: Worship Lite Syndrome

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 17, 2011

Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • When was the last time you lifted your hands in worship in a public setting? or even a private setting?
  • When was the last time you were speechless because of the presence of God?
  • When was the last time you cried before the Lord, not because you needed something, but just because you couldn’t find the words to show how much you loved him?
  • When was the last time you danced before the Lord?
  • When was the last time you sang to the Lord without a tape, CD or song leader?
  • When was the last time you fell down prostrate before the Lord?

If you have not done any of the above in a while or have never done some or any of them, you could be suffering from a syndrome known as “Worship Lite”.

You know, the primary words we translate as “worship” in Scripture mean to fall down prostrate, to bow, to kiss the hand, to fear, to tremble, to confess, to profess, to exalt, to lift up, to abase oneself, and to bless.

Worship Lite Syndrome is diagnosed through its symptoms. Thoughts like, “I’m content with my worship experience”, “I don’t want people to think I’m weird”, “Lifting hands is something kids do”, “My worship experience is limited to the 20 minutes we sing on a Sunday morning” are all early signs the the syndrome is taking hold.

Worship is always a “verb”.  It reflects your understanding, attitude, feelings and emotions in the presence of an awesome God.  Worship has no limits. The worship experience never ceases. It is only bound by the limitations of our pride.

Treatments for Worship Lite Syndrome are available through “times set aside each day for worship”, “singing to the Lord in the shower”, “lifting those sweaty hands in a Sunday morning service”, “falling on your face before God because he is God and we are not”. Understanding who He is and what we are in comparison to Him is the first step to a cure.

So go ahead and take a leap. Stretch your worship experience into more than a 20 minute orchestrated experience on a Sunday morning. Break out of the old habits and break into unabridged worship.  You might just find the cure you aren’t even aware you need.

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Day 67: Buildings and God

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 16, 2011

Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

For years, I have been very perplexed at what we spend money on in the church.  Over the years, I have been very forthcoming to people that if they want to give to an organization that helps the poor, the widows and the orphans, they should give to another organization other than the church that specializes in those areas.

What bothers me most is, “Why is this the case?”

We actually have a direct calling in the scriptures, both OT and NT to take care of the windows and orphans (Deut 14:29-31 and 1 Tim 5:3. In fact, we have one definition for “religion” in the Bible and this is it…

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

So I direct this question to church leaders, elders, deac0ns and pastors alike, “How much money do you spend on widows and orphans versus the money you spend on your buildings?”

No place in the NT will you find a call to build buildings.  You will especially not find a single passage that says, “Spend 60, 70 or 80% of your budget on buildings, grounds keeping, maintenance, utilities, cleaning services, fire hydrant fees, church steeples, stained glass, projectors, 5” thick padded chairs and laser lights.

As Stephen cried out just before the religious people of his day stoned him, “The Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. (Acts 7:48)”

God’s temple is in the heart of men and women, but we all know this, so why then do we invest so much in something that is going to burn up, does not save people, does not make disciples, does not go to live with Christ for eternity, but does keep eating our resources day after day taking money away from reaching the lost, feeding the poor and helping the widows and orphans?

I’m just asking.


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Day 66: My Top 10 – No. 1

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 21, 2011

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Top ten Scriptures for me. Number 2.

Revelation 21:1-5

1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
I have actually a top five Bible chapter favorites, and this whole chapter tops that list. There are a plethora of reasons, here are just a few:
  1. This chapter tells us where believers will spend eternity, and it is not in heaven.
  2. This chapter tells us where God will spend eternity, and it is not in heaven.
  3. This chapter tells us where the streets are paved with gold and the gates are made of pearl, and it is not heaven’s.
  4. This chapter shows the only thing in existence today that will never be destroyed, and it is not heaven.
  5. This chapter shows a glimpse into a future where the sun is not required  to light the earth and all laws that govern the universe today are nullified.
  6. This chapter shows us a glimpse into the future where the oceans are not required.
  7. This chapter shows a God, in all his wonderful fullness, who gets to finally be with the people he created.
  8. This chapter shows a time when sickness is dead and death is gone.
  9. This is the chapter that shows a final list of all things that keep one from eternity with God.
  10. This is the chapter that solidifies the very hope every believer has in Christ… That He is Lord of all and will reign forever!

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Why does God Destroy Heaven?

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 16, 2010

I have searched for this answer, and I can’t find it anywhere in any commentary or blog I’ve seen.

What did Heaven Ever do to Deserve being Destroyed?

Revelation and Peter (2 Peter 3:7) both tell of God destroying heaven and earth in the end, but why both.  What didheaven do to deserve that fate?

Like me, you probably never even thought about ‘why’.  You just accepted the fact that God was going to do it to “start over”, so let me ask the question this way, “If heaven is so… uh, heavenly, why is it scheduled to be destroyed?  What makes it undeserving of a future as it is?

The answer might surprise you, and it can be found all over scripture from before man walked the earth through today to days yet to come.

Evil in Heaven

I really can’t say this any other way, “Heaven has known evil”. In fact, it is safe to say that evil is probably hanging out in heaven as you are reading this message.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. – Job 1:6,7

In Job 1 and 2, we see Satan presenting himself a couple times before  God in heaven.  This is an interesting situation.  I mean, if you read Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:4, you would think Satan was permanently out of heaven, but just because he was cast out, doesn’t mean he can’t return.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. – Revelation 12:10

Most would agree that God is in heaven right now.  We know that Jesus sits (and sometimes stands) at His right (Acts 7:55), but are you ready for this.  It looks as though Satan is in heaven too standing before God spending his entire time accusing us. The passage above hasn’t happened yet.

We know that there was a rebellion in heaven when a third of the angels followed Satan in his attempted takeover (Isaiah 14:13), So there has been strife and battles, sin and rebellion in heaven.

Only One Thing Makes it Through

Here’s your question; what is the one thing (not person) that makes it through the destruction of heaven and earth?

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…” (John 14:2)

The place Jesus is talking about is not heaven but the place where you will be living.  Revelation 21 tells you exactly where that is… the New Jerusalem.

This huge city with streets of gold and gates of pearl will be your eternal home. (Read the chapter yourself very carefully).

The New Home Never Saw Evil

The New Jerusalem is the one thing that makes it through to the end, and there is a really special reason why it is the only thing.

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. – Revelation 21:27

This cannot be said about any other spot in all of creation… not heaven, earth, hell or anything.  Evil has entered everywhere except this special city.

Heaven must be destroyed because it has known sin, evil and the prince of shame and deceit.

Peter clarifies why….

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. – 2 Peter 3:7

He wraps both the earth and the heavens in the same judgement.  It is because of sin that Heaven must be destroyed.  The same reason that earth must be destroyed.  Just so you know, there will not even be a hint of sin anywhere in the new world to come.  That is some serious purging. That is far better than heaven, and it will be your new home if your name is found written in the book of Life

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Heaven is not your home

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 1, 2009

Quick quiz – What are the streets of heaven paved with? If you said gold, you’d be incorrect.

I have a lot of favorite scriptures, but in the category of changing my understanding of what I thought I knew, today’s Biblegateway scripture is the ultimate shakeup.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 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. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 22:2-4

First off – I know the title of this rubs you wrong.  Because of traditions, we want to believe that heaven is our home. I still cringe when I say it is not our eternal home, but the truth is, you will not find anywhere in the Bible where Heaven is a believer’s eternal home.

In fact, heaven was never designed for you. I would go so far as to say that it’s not even perfect… I’ll get to that one in a minute.

God is your destination, Jesus your hope and by the power of the Holy Spirit, if you believe in the gospel which is Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for your sin so that you might not perish, but have eternal life, then your home will be where God is. So the question is, “Where will God be”?

I know all those great songs we have sung over the years about “heaven being our home” have a great feeling of hope, but though their intention is good, their accuracy is a bit off.

To quickly put any doubts you may have to rest, there is a passage in the Bible that is very descriptive about where your eternal home is – Revelation 21.  The whole chapter is spent talking about where your are going to spend eternity. You are going to spend it in the New Jerusalem which will be located right back on a rebuilt earth.

God’s Favorite Word

I think God has a favorite word, and it’s found in this passage.  It’s a word that represents the realization of a dream.  It is a word that sums up His goal for man and His satisfaction when we actually understand something He’s been trying to tell us for years.  The word is “Now”.

“Now” is the word God spoke to Abraham after he offered his son as a sacrifice and God stopped him.  It became a turning point for Abraham’s walk with God – “Now, I know that you fear God” (Genesis 22:12).

You can almost hear the relief in God’s voice when he says it.  “Abraham, I’ve been trying to get you to this point for years, and NOW you get it.”

The word “Now” is also the key word in the passage in Revelation 21:2.  This is the moment God has been looking forward to since Adam sinned.

You see; God walked with Adam in the garden of Eden; He spoke to him face to face.  Something He has not been able to do since that day Adam ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, and thus, he severed the accessibility of his relation ship with God. From now one, man would need a mediator.

Jesus provided a path back to God, but like Paul says, it is like looking through dark glass.  Much better than the darkness we had before; but still, it’s not very clear.  But when the perfect comes, we will see clearly (1 Corinthians 13:12).  The relationship with God will be completely unhindered, pure and totally accessible.

God is saying in Revelation 2, “Now, finally, after all these years I get to live with the people I love.” Today, a believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but it is not enough for God.  He doesn’t just want to live in you; He wants to live with you.

Here is the little secret that changed my thinking about God.  The whole thing is not about me.  The Bible is not about me.  Nothing is about me.  It is only about God.

God wasn’t doing all of this to bring you to Him.  He was doing it to bring Himself to you.  It’s about where God wants to be, not where you want to be.  Your home is here, your citizenship is in heaven (at least for now), but you are not destined for heaven.

To clarify, if you die today, you go to heaven.  But it is only a rental, not your permanent home. It was made for the angels, and you are just visiting.

Adam was created and placed on a perfect earth – not in a perfect heaven.  Both heaven and earth experienced sin.  Earth experienced it when Adam fell.  Heaven experienced it when Satan fell. Both worlds changed, and both now have an expiration date where all things will be made new.

Look at Revelation 21:1

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

God is going to destroy both heaven and earth and even rewrite the laws of nature (See Revelation 21:4, 5, 23 and 25).  Nothing but his angels and his believers will be around once it is all rebuilt.  God will then resume his original plan – to dwell with man.

Yep, you heard correctly, God’s place is with man, not the angels.  Pretty interesting isn’t it.  You thought you were going to heaven to be with Him and His angels, float on clouds, play harps and wear wings and halos.

Look at the points God makes in Revelation 21:

  • City coming down from heaven –  remember that Jesus went to heaven to build a mansion for you (John 14:2), well… it’s moving day.
  • The tabernacle of God is with men – similar to the tabernacle in the desert,  but this isn’t just a noun (a tabernacle building) but a verb (he is living with man)
  • He shall dwell with them – Second time it’s said (God living with, not just in you)
  • God himself with be with them – Third time.  God is really seriously making a point here. God is going to be with us, we aren’t going to be with God.

I know this flies in the face of years of traditions.  As good as some traditions may be, any that pull you from the truth of the existing Word of God really need to be reconsidered or even better, discontinued.

Many of the traditions we have come from art – e.g.  cherub babies, angels with two wings (when the bible describes them with 4 or 6 or none), the last supper with the disciples on one side of the table in chairs (they didn’t use chairs). Even believing that heaven has streets of gold and pearly gates with Peter next to it.  That’s all tradition, not Bible.  Heaven only has a few descriptions, and only contains the original Temple (the earthly one is a copy), a throne and a few odds and ends.

Other traditions come from songs and hymns, e.g. angels singing on high (actually, they never sing anywhere in the Bible).

So why does this matter.  It’s because truth matters; no matter how small. If we want to believe something just because it sounds good, but it’s wrong, how are people going to believe us when we try to speak the truth that really matters.

The point is, if it comes to what you think you know versus what the Bible reveals, I would err on the side of the Bible.  When you stand before God and He asks you why you did what you did, you will have a better defense if you use your Bible and not your hymn book.

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