Undergroundchurch Blog

Preparing the Church for the future

Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

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.


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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.


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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.

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Four Thoughts on Worship – Part 1 of 4

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 28, 2009

Worship is the most important thing a believer can do…. Period!

Yes, there are other important tasks, lifestyles, commitments, and the like, but there is no more important matter in a believer’s life than to Love the Lord God through worship.

When Jesus tells us that the most important command is to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Matthew 22:37, c.f. Deuteronomy 6:5), He only places one verb in the sentence – “Love“.

Love is a Verb

You cannot love God by simply saying, “I love you God”. That would be like me telling my wife, “I love you”, but never doing anything to demonstrate that love.

How do you show God love?

There are two basic ways of showing God love – Worship and Obedience.  Each has a different purpose and significance, but of the two, the more powerful, albeit equally important one, is Worship .

Obedience is submissive Love. When you obey God, you are telling Him that His will is more important than your own.  This is the breaking time in your journey with God.  You cannot expect God’s best for your life if you are unwilling to let go of what you think is your best for your life.  Obedience is the root of Jesus sacrifice and is demonstrated in His prayer before His death on the Cross:

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. – Luke 22:42

Submission to God’s will is a choice you make to follow God’s rule and not your own.  It is rooted in the “fear of God”.  Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).  It is a fundemental and often forgotten key to establishing a strong relationship with God.

Worship differs from obedience because it is your choice to love God apart from any rule.  It is the step in your journey that demonstrates to God and yourself, that you love God because you love God not because you fear Him!

The Worship / Obedience Balancing Act

Many Christians focus on the worship aspect of God without a true commitment to the Obedience factor. They love God, but don’t really fear God.  They are bold before Him, but really haven’t grasped the fact that He is untamable. This is not good balance and will lead you to an inaccurate understanding of who God is.

Others focus more on the obedience factor and even worship him more out of duty than love.  It’s not to say they don’t love God, but comparing it to the marriage – it is like saying, “Honey, I love you.” and then demonstrating it by patting her on her head.  It isn’t very convincing. There is no passion in it.

You have to understand that God is a passionate God first…. why else would He wipe out mankind after Adam’s sin?  He passionately chased after man even to the point of giving up His Son to die in man’s stead.

Yes, we worship God in anything we do that gives him glory. However, what is the depth of that demonstration. It is very important that I tell my wife that I love her, but it is more important that I show her – clean the house, cook a meal, do her shopping, bring her flowers, give her hugs, listen to her (guys, notice which one I left out).  These are all indicators that I love her.  In and of themselves, I don’t get a lot of satisfaction from these things, but I know that they bless her.

If the only demonstration of my love for my wife is sex, then I only demonstrate to her that I want to feel the love while giving the love.  That’s not going to fly with her, and it doesn’t fly with God. Once you understand this, your marriage will be better off, and once you apply this same concept to your relationship with God, you will have a whole new experience that will blow your mind!

Next Article, we will look at what worship is not.

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Prayer the Nehemiah Way, Part 4 of 8

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 31, 2009

Part 3

The prayer is not recorded, but the verse is very telling,

But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat – Nehemiah 4:9

There are three basic approaches to dealing with situations in your life:

  • Prayer and action
  • Action alone
  • Prayer with no action. 

As with most things, the choice you make does say something of your faith in God, and so, I want to look primarily at the first and last approach together since the second one is pretty much a lack of faith in God and more a faith in your own abilities.

Faith – Make Your Move

Many people say that “faith” is letting go and letting God do it, and it may be true in some cases, but not always.  The key to a prayer of faith is that you go to God first.  Faith is found in the action taken first.  If a overwhelming situation arises and you spend your first bit of time trying to resolve it, then your faith is more in your actions than in the ability of God. 

So the first move in any situation should be toward God, and it is the sign of a good relationship with God.  You understand who you are and who He is. 

Once you make that move toward God, you then have two options – wait and work. 

Faith that Waits

God is not confined by your timelines.  He doesn’t run a McDonalds.  He is very patient which can be very frustrating to us.  The reason His movements don’t match up with our reason is because He operates outside of the space/time continuum.  He sees the beginning and the end at the same time; we don’t. 

Sometimes, when we pray, we need to wait and do nothing.  But when do we do nothing?  When should we let go and “let God”? 

This question is found more in what you know you should do verses what you feel you should do.  Trust your understanding of God’s faithfulness and not your emotions.  He works in perfect wisdom. 

For example, if you see a need that your involvement in could jeopardize a Godly outcome because of you interference, it might be wise to just simply pray.  When in doubt, you can’t really go wrong just praying.  Become an intercessor; become a person that stands in the gap and help that person or situation through a spiritual battle.  They don’t need to even know, but I will say that if you intercede on someones behalf in a driven manner, you will make a huge impact in the spiritual world on their behalf.

Faith that Works

But there are times with faith needs to be followed with action.  Do you think that if you break an arm and pray to God, that you should just sit there and do nothing, or should you go to the hospital? If you go to the hospital, are you acting in faith or denying the power of God? 

By going to God first, you are demonstrating faith.  You are giving him the first move.  Sometimes, he answers yes, other times he answers no or wait, but should we just sit there if he seems silent?

Nehemiah didn’t pray the prayer he prayed, which was for protection from the enemy, then just foolishly go about his day.  He prayed for protection, then, as one writer wrote, “he picked up his weapons and went to work on the wall saying, ‘God I trust you, and I am picking up every tool available to me so that I will be ready when you call me to action.'”

Faith is like a battle our military fights today.  There are various elements involved from the bombers above, to the ships at sea to the troops on the ground. Each has a mission and it is a very bad thing when they all move at the same time.  If the troops on the front line go charging in just as the bombers are dropping their payloads, there are going to be a lot of dead allies. 

God moves and works in ways that we don’t always see.  Just go to him first, pick up every tool you can find and ready all weapons then wait for the call to march.

Don’t be afraid of praying then moving.  It is not a lack of faith, it is a voice that say, “Lord, here I am, and I am ready for what you would have me to do.”

This concept is echoed in the entire book of James.  So adamant James was about the link between faith and action that the early church struggled whether to include James in the Scriptures.  The key to understanding this link, as I have already shown, is to start with faith and end with works.  Works should only reflect the faith you have already. 

Trust God always, and ready yourself to be called upon if God decides He is going to use you to answer your own prayer.

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95% of the Putts left Short, Don’t Go In

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 22, 2009

Yogi Bera said it the only way he can when he said, “95% of the putts left short don’t go in”.  We always strive to be better,  and in our hearts, I know we all wish we were perfect.

But, what is perfection?

There is the idealistic image of perfections – no flaws, errors or failures, the ultimate state of quality and  excellence.

In fact, there are no equivelant words to describe perfection because it goes to the extreme of our vocabulary.  The best way to describe it is by showing things that is it not. (e.g. flawed). The short of it is that there is no way for us to reach a state of idealistic perfection.  If I reached a state of perfection tomorrow, I would travel a path of imperfection getting there, thus nullifying the perfection I had attained.  An imperfect being cannot attain a state of perfection for there will always be the stain of imperfection.

We flawed humans can’t achieve perfection, yet we know that Jesus says in the heart of his greatest teaching, “Be perfect as the Lord your God is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). 

It’s easy to take one verse out of the Bible and demand things that aren’t as though they are.  This is one of those times when context is everything.  The entirety of Chapter 5 and 6 deal with one basic subject – don’t think like humans, think like God. Look at the comparisons he makes:

  • The blessings: when you think you are in a state of abasement, you are actually in a state of blessing.
  • Let your light shine before everyone
  • Murder: if it is in your heart, you are guilty even before you commit the act.
  • Adultery: if you lust after a woman in your heart, you have committed it.
  • Divorce: If you do it for “irreconcilable differences”, you set yourself up for adultery
  • Turn the other cheek when attacked, don’t respond like the world does.
  • Love your enemies, pray for those that want to hurt you
  • If you love only those that love you, what good it that?

This is where he says, “be perfect”.  Then he goes on.

  • Give to the needy, only don’t tell everyone
  • Pray to God, not in order to gain admirers that think you pray so well
  • Fast and pray, but don’t make it obvious for self-gratification
  • Don’t worry about tomorrow

In the midst of all this attitude adjusting teaching, Jesus tells us to be perfect as the Father is perfect.  The word used here can also mean “complete” or “finished”.  It comes from the root “telos” meaning, “the end”.  

You can do the things listed above and not be perfect.  Your heart must change.  You must take on the heart of God and act like you are God’s child.  God is in the business of replacing hearts, not repairing hearts.

Perfection is an attitude adjustment.  It is when Jesus thoughts become your thoughts and you aim to please the Father above all else.  Paul tells the readers in the letter to the Colossians, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (1:28). This perfection or completeness can only be found in Christ when Christ is all that is flowing through your very veins. 

Don’t strive for perfection for perfection’s sake; strive to become like Christ – perfection then comes as a byproduct of that relationship.

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A Martyr’s Death

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 22, 2009

Neda Soultan is becoming a historic icon through nothing that she did, only what was done to her.

Her fame has swept the world as today’s Iranian symbol for freedom. I’m sure that she did not travel into that street thinking that she could be anybody.  She probably had no ambitions of her own to think she could ever lead a revolution. However, her innocent demeanor has landed her on the front pages of a nation’s revolution, and her tragic death by the bullet of a soldier has fueled an entire nation’s rally cry. She is and forever shall be – a martyr for the cause.

Martyrs have always been a catalyst for revolution throughout history.  The word for martyr comes from the Greek and it means “witness”.  Their deaths testify or are witness to some cause, situation or movement and empower people to do more, be more and overcome more.

Most martyrs die never even expecting or possibly imagining the symbolism they would personify. Nevertheless, timing, circumstance and fate expands their seemingly small sphere of influence to a world changing stage.

Some martyrs, like Neda, are unwilling participants that become a symbol; others become a martyr because their passion and drive put them in situations that brought about sheer risk.  Martin Luther King Jr. is a good example of this.  He exposed himself to danger, but it was not his intent to die. He had a passion, a drive and a dream, but they did not including becoming a martyr.  That was for the rest of us to decide.

Still there is a level of martyrdom that even goes beyond this. It is where a cause or purpose is so important that death itself is possibly a byproduct for your belief.  Many people around the world die for a cause because they believe in something. 

Though he did not die that day, “tank man” became a symbol for the freedom in China that fateful day in Tienanmen Square where many others were massacred.

 He simply stood there knowing that it could very well be his last moments of life.  He didn’t really stand a chance against four tanks, but he was going to do everything in his power to make his belief made known to those who would try to kill him.

From a biblical point, Stephen was this type of martyr. He stood before the leaders of the Jews of his day who were accusing him, and testified of Jesus. He knew, as many others who were tossed to lions, burned on stakes and skinned alive, that his words could very well be his last. In fact, Paul the apostle, at that time called Saul, held the coats of the people that murdered Stephen giving his approval.

As powerful as the faith based martyrdom is, there is another more powerful and potent martyrdom that lasts beyond death.

This martyrdom isn’t about ideologies or belief systems, it is not about politics, movements or fate.  This martyrdom is about one thing only… Love.

This is the martyrdom that Jesus says is the greatest love that any person can show another person, “That you lay your life down for your friends.” (John 15:13) This description of perfect love comes right after he challenges his disciples to “love each other as I (Jesus) have loved you”.  He not only tells them to love each other, but he shows them how to do it by laying his own life down for them, you, me and everyone in between through his voluntary death on a cross.

The famous scripture posted at every sporting even (John 3:16) tells the whole story of the love of God.  He loved us, not just in word, not just in life, not just in healing a few people, not just in preaching a good message, making bread out of nothing, turning water into wine, or even creating the heavens and earth.  He loved us “so much”, the verse says, “that he gave us his only son” to die for us, that if we “believe on Him, we will have life everlasting.”

You can tell me you love me, you can write it down, you can live it out, you can do everything for me to show you love me now, but when you die for me, you are showing me that your love is not constrained by our temporal existence, your love is for now and forever and that you are willing to give it all to prove it. That is what Jesus did for you.

He was the greatest martyr the world has ever known.

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