Undergroundchurch Blog

Preparing the Church for the future

Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

Encountering Jesus

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 11, 2010

What does Jesus mean to you?

The way you answer that question directly correlates with your encounter with Jesus.  It’s the Christmas season, so I’d like to use a few examples from those that encountered Jesus as an infant and young child as an example of how we encounter him and what we get from that encounter – the shepherds, the magi, and Anna and Simeon.

The Shepherds

Let’s call this the Accidental encounter.  There was nothing in the shepherds actions that would lead you to believer that they were looking for Jesus or any real encounter with God.  In fact, their own words indicate quite the opposite.

“”Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” –  Luke 2:15

They didn’t know anything was about to happen until they were told.  They had an accidental (though orchestrated by God) encounter.  In other words, they weren’t looking for Jesus; Jesus found them.

Millions of Christians take this approach to their Christian walk every day.  They go about their duties and wait for the “Sunday” encounter or for God to do something first.  If he doesn’t, then they just keep on keeping on. They don’t really chase after God, they let God do all the chasing.

Not a very rewarding relationship, but like any relationship, you will get out of it what you put into it.

The Magi

The Magi encounter was unique in this one respect; they weren’t looking for the Messiah, just a king.  It was Herod that actually figured out that this king was the promised Messiah.  The Magi were just doing what they had done for years, seek out kings. Let’s call this the unintentional encounter.

A king had not been born in Judea for almost 500 years, now all of a sudden a king was to be born.

The Magi were looking for something real, they just didn’t understand completely what the were seeking.  They were at least chasing after truth, they discovered the truth of God because God honored their endeavor.

They were non-Jews, but because they were coming to Israel looking for a king, which they hadn’t had for 500 years, God let them find the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Many people in this world seek after truth.  Some find half-truths and deceptions, but those that seek God in the right context more often than not, find him.  God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him – Hebrews 11:6

Anna and Simeon

These are the only two in the story that really get it.  Simeon had been promised well in advance that he would not die before seeing the Messiah.  Anna spent her days and nights worshiping God for almost 60 years at the Temple.  Both of these dedicated people knew what they were looking for and chased God in pursuit of it, and God honored them in a special way.  Let’s call this the Intentional encounter.

These two didn’t just bump into Jesus, they actually blessed him.  Look at the words of Simeon:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” – Luke 2:29-32

And Anna:

Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. – Luke 2:38

Both of these were people that could testify to the truth of the savior with understanding from the truth of Scripture.

This is the most fulfilling encounter.  When you chase God and catch him, the reward is not only that you find Jesus, but you are also fulfilled because the investment you made in seeking him returns to you 100 fold.

Note: This is a revisited post from 2009, but the content is timeless.

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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.

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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.

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A Light Theory

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 12, 2010

Is it a coincidence that God creates light first in the new environment He set up Genesis 1:1-3.

In short, light is not just “visible” light, but it includes the entire electromagnetic spectrum from huge radio waves to tee-tiny gamma rays.

Chuck Missler has a very good study called “Beyond Time and Space“. In it he was talking about the velocity of light and the actual space matter takes up, etc., but what intrigued me most was an article I read in Popular Science (I know it’s not the definitive commentary on the Bible) where scientists are building the most powerful laser “that can be built“.

Here’s where it get’s interesting.  Theoretically speaking, there is only so much energy you can put into light before it begins to actually create matter.

Construction Worker in Laser Target Chamber at National Ignition FacilitySeems those nice little photons can move and impact electrons at such speeds and intensity that they can actually create matter, but making the laser less of a light, and more of a solid.  Essentially, you create new solid atoms out of pieces of atoms, or seemingly out of nothing.

The start of creation as recorded started with light.  The sun, moon and stars weren’t created for a couple more days.  So why start with light?  Maybe it’s cause it was the tool used to create things in our universe.

Hey, if scientists can start with theories based on mathematical calculations and hypothetical guesses, can’t I work on theories based on conversations from the actual creator.

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

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 9, 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 second law of motion. (click HERE for the article on the First Law)

The Second Law of Motion – Force

The second law of motion states in essence, “The more force you apply to an object, the faster it goes and that the same force applied to two objects of different masses will move at different speeds.”  But you knew that already.

In a car, the more gas you give the engine, the more power it produces making the car go faster.  But if you put a car engine in a Semi tractor trailer pulling a 30 ton haul, it may not produce enough force to move that trailer even 20 mph.  A car engine just can’t produce enough force to move a large load like a tractor trailer.

Let’s face it. Many of life’s problems are small enough that you can handle them in your own strength.  But if you throw together enough of those little problems, you can become overwhelmed.  Your engine just isn’t strong enough to pull the larger loads.

We can only exert so much force and then we tap out.  Either one big problem can doom us to despair or a bunch of little problems drown us and we die a death by a thousand paper cuts.  What we need is a bigger force or additional forces applied to the situation.

God provided three methods of walking through situations when your engine just isn’t enough.

  1. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22)
  2. Strengthening one another through love (e.g. Luke 22:32)
  3. Combination of 1 and 2.

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (vs. 12)

Contentment is a big part of overcoming, but contentment alone is not enough unless you are content in the right source of force.  Paul goes on to say this about his source of contentment:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (vs. 13)

And when in doubt, trust in the Lord and don’t lean on your own understanding (force).  In all of your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

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Newton’s Law of Motion and Life’s Obstacles – Sinertia

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 9, 2010

I know – weird title, but the laws that govern our world tend to have a spiritual counterpart.

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 first law of motion.

The First Law of Motion – Inertia

The Law – An object in motion tends to stay in motion until an external force is applied to it.

If I throw a baseball while standing on earth, gravity, air molecules and eventually the ground itself all contribute to the baseball coming to a halt  in a 100 feet or so.  External forces fight against that baseball until it comes to a stop.

If I were floating in outer space and threw that same ball, it could theoretically travel forever as long as nothing interferes with it because there is no external force to stop its motion.


Life goes along usually pretty steady – almost routine, until that day when something happens.  All of a sudden, our life is interrupted and things come crashing down.  The first spiritual law of “sinertia” kicks in.  No, the things that happen to you do not have to happen to you because you sinned at that moment, but it does happen to you because there is sin in this world.

Until Adam and Eve violated God’s rule, life was perfect, and they never had problems.  When they spiritually left the heavens and became grounded through sin, everything began to have the capability of self-destructing.

Where they could walk through the garden and pick fruit from trees they did not plant, now they would have to plant food to eat and fight the elements, drought and thorns that came about because of sin.  The struggle of weeding the farm and the failed crops were not necessarily because they did additional sin, but disasters are now in the world because of the original sin.

Bad things happen to people when it seems that they don’t deserve it.  I hate seeing a child with cancer, a soldier lose and arm or a teen crippled for life because of a drunk driver.  That person that now has to suffer isn’t necessarily suffering because they sinned, they are suffering because sin exists and thrives in our world and nobody is immune to its impact. The impact of sin even killed Jesus causing him to suffer even though he was perfect and innocent.

Death, destruction, pain, hardship, and sickness are all byproducts of the sin seed planted through the leftover core of the fruit eaten in the garden of Eden.  It’s not God’s fault; it’s doesn’t seem fair; it hurts, and it is frustrating, but the reality is that life is full of problems.  The key is knowing how to overcome.

Overcoming Sinertia

The method of overcoming is to connect to a source that is more powerful than the force of sin that is against us.  God provided this source through His Son’s death via the power of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.  This power provides the means and the hope necessary to overcome all life’s problems.  It is not a guarantee of deliverance FROM the problems, but it is the hope of deliverance THROUGH any situation that arises.

The motive that keeps one pressing on in the face of trials is hope – Real Hope! This is not man’s hope that says, “Gee, I hope everything turns out alright.”  No!  It is the hope that says, “I know everything will be fine; for I know in whom I have put my trust, and I know that He is faithful, and I know that I will one day be with my God who loves me and will wipe every tear from my eye!”  It’s hope that “knows” not hope that “wishes”.

Sinertia is a powerful force in our lives, but no matter what comes your way, sinertia does not need to keep you down.  The power of the Holy Spirit given to every believer through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can lift you up and lead  you through any trial that comes your way.

Click HERE for the 2nd Law

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Your Mission: Be a Kingdom Priest

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 30, 2009

My cousin, Deana Cardenas and her husband Anthony have just started a new web site http://www.kingdompriestworship.com, and when I went there to check it out, I noticed 4 scriptures at the top of the page that got me thinking about the job of a priest and how that relates to the believer today. Whenever I read Scriptures I usually ask 3 questions right off the bat, Why? What? How? I have posted the scriptures below for you to read, then we shall evaluate:

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. – Exodus 19:5-6

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. – 1 Peter 2:9

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. – Revelation 1:6

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. – Revelation 5:10

These passages have two common strings, kingdom/nation and priests, and what got me thinking was, “Why a priest? What are their duties? What is this kingdom/nation? How do we get there?”

Why a priest?

I’m not sure that we humans see the function of a priest the same way that God sees the function of a priest.  Normally, we see the priest as a person that is a mediator or intercessor between all the followers and deity.  They can offer offerings on the follower’s behalf for sin and perform the work of the ministry.  It is also usually limited to a few select individuals.

I think God sees this slightly different.  Yes, in Israel, there were a tribe of Levities that supplied the priests that served the tabernacle/temple, but the Exodus passage above suggests a more expansive approach to the priesthood. The nation would be a “kingdom of priests” a “holy nation”.  This suggests that it wasn’t just the responsibility of the Levities to be “priests” alone, but that it was the responsibility of the entire nation to be a priesthood before the Lord and the rest of the world.

What are their duties?

The duties of a biblical priest are really three-fold:

  1. Worship before God – this is the priest’s primary function. Everything else they do revolves around this crucial activity. It is essential for each believer to worship before God because it produces a connection to God that nothing else matches.
  2. Minister to the followers – this is the ministry task given to each of us.  Paul calls us a “body of Christ”. Each member ministers to one another.  In this priestly fashion, we build the church by building one another up in the faith.
  3. Light to the world – If the nation of believers is a priesthood, then our mission is to be priests for the world.  We intercede for them, praying that God “sends out laborers in the harvest field”, “that the Holy Spirit will work on the hearts and minds of the lost so that they will turn and repent and be saved”, and “that we will show the way to all who cross our path”.

I really get tired of hearing people say, “my faith is a private thing” or “I don’t want to push my faith on others”.  No one is asking you to “push” anything on anyone else, but you do have a responsibility to show the way!   You have been given a gift of life. If you believe, and if you are going to just sit there and watch your brothers and sisters eternally die because you aren’t willing to tell them the way out, then you defy the very heart of Christ who said, “Go into all the world and tell everyone the good news.” (Mark 16:15)

What is this kingdom/nation?

For Israel, it was their calling as a nation to be priests.  For the believer, it is the calling of the church.  We are a kingdom people, a royal priest hood, a people set apart by God, for God’s ministry.  None of us can escape that calling. The kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom.  In fact, the last passage above suggests that the believer will reigning on the earth at some point in the post apocalyptic future.  We will in some way become priest/kings as it were.  That’s a whole different study, but the fact is that God’s kingdom is not limited to this life, but is an eternal kingdom that has always been and always will be. It is a growing kingdom and one that has one primary mission – to Glorify God!

How do we get there?

Scripture is pretty clear, you must believe in the one God sent – namely Jesus, to be part of the kingdom.  But once there, the growth of this kingdom takes each and everyone of us actively participating in the kingdom work using the gifts and callings God has placed on each one of us. If you don’t know what your calling is, there are plenty of ways to discover it; however, might I suggest a default for you – a starting point as it were. These points apply to you know matter what your calling is, and it will help in your search.

Learn to worship.

Worship will be the primary function in all aspects of kingdom ministry.  Break out of your preconceived mold of what you “think” worship is and challenge yourself to go deeper…. much deeper.

There are ministries around this nation that have a deep heart for worship. Some like the International House of Prayer devote themselves to 24/7 worship.  Even they will admit after years of 24/7 worship that they have not “arrived”.  They are constantly seeking a deeper relationship with God through worship. If you think you have arrived in worship, you have just begun your decline.  Worship cannot plateau; it must be ever increasing and never content.  Worship is not a byproduct, it is a passionate mandate from God and the most important thing you do as a believer and as a “kingdom priest”.

Learn to Intercede

If your prayer life is consumed with praying for your own needs, then you have a ways to go to become an intercessor.  Interceding means that you stand in the gap for others.  A priestly duty for each of us is to stand in the gap for our fellow believers.  To pray for them, encourage them and build them up.  An intercessor also has a heart for the lost – praying for those that need Christ in their lives. If everyone approached prayer in this manner, then nobody would need to spend time even praying for their own needs.

Learn to Share Jesus

Sharing Christ with others is a critical part of every believer’s life.  You can start by learning a few basics:

Know your Testimony – Remember the day you were saved, and learn how to share it in under a minute.  Keep in mind these three pieces What was your life before Christ, what was you salvation experience, and what has it been like since you were saved.

Learn to show the way – Surprisingly few Christians can tell someone how to be saved, or walk them through scriptures that would help lead someone to Christ.  You need to know how to tell someone to be saved.  I know, it’s a “duh” thing, but I have to say it.

In the end, a kingdom priest is a lover of God.  He/she lives life for God in every way so that God will get the glory in all things.

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Four Points of Faith

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 29, 2009

Faith is an action, not an intangible.  Real faith reveals itself through the actions of the believer.  Works don’t create faith, but real faith will produce works. James spends an entire book in the Bible on this subject.  Yes, faith is a starting point, but not the end.

I like to think of faith as a match.  When struck, it produces a fire that can burn down a forest, but until it is applied to kindling, tender, or some other fuel that can cause the first to grow, it will burn out.  Faith must be applied or exercised to grow. Let’s look at four ways Faith can be increased.  These are starting points that contain many different elements related to each one respectively.

Love of God

This is everybody’s favorite.  God loves you – and for many, that’s all they want from God.  This understanding alone usually produces an unbalanced understanding of God and usually aids in the believer forming God in their own image. The believer that only wants to know the love of God finds it hard to see God in his holiness and righteousness.

However, in balance, the love of God is powerful.  It produces trust so that no matter what happens to you in your walk, you know that God will see you through to the end.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer in this life, it just means that you understand that God’s love transcends the troubles of this world.

Fear of God

This is a highly neglected element of faith in today’s society.  To be frank, we don’t want to think of God as a God of wrath, righteousness and one who can’t stand sin in His presence.  But God is holy, just, true, righteous and we must balance the love of God with the fear of God.

We are so used to coming boldly before the throne that we forget to tremble in the presence of a Holy God.  We are both children of God and servants of the Most High. Paul says it this way concerning Israels failure to recognize the Messiah,

You will say then, “Branches (Unbelieving Israel) were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.  – Romans 10:19-22 (italics mine)

Gifts of God

This is what we know as ministry.  Every believer has a ministry, gift and calling.  This is how we carry out our faith in action toward one another and how we are to build the church.  Most ministry is defined by how the believer interacts with the world around them and other believers.

God gives us gifts and methods to bless one another, but too often we leave this task to the “paid” ministers or “leaders” in the church.  We fail the church when we don’t all operate in the calling and giftings God has given each of us through the Holy Spirit.

Fruits of God

You’ve heard of the nine fruit of the Spirit listed in Scripture… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23), but what they really represent is the change that should take place in the believer’s life because of the presence of God.

The fruits of a righteous life, a loving believer, a dedicated and devoted follower of Jesus and one who reflects the image of God.  They indicate changes that should be evident because a believer is a redeemed dead person.  We were headed for destruction, but by the grace of God, we were saved.  The encounter we have with God and the depth of that encounter will evidence itself through one’s actions, lifestyle and devotion to Christ.

Each of this points of faith must be active in the believers life if he/she is to experience all that God has for them both here on this earth and on the one to come.

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12 Days of Christmas Correction – Getting it Right

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 26, 2009

“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”- Luke 2:28-32

In an old song by that great theologian Bob Dylan, he wrote:

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. – “Gotta Serve Somebody”

Our life is governed by who we follow.  Each one of us, even our “leader” are led in the end by the Lord or by the devil.  It not only determines our path but our destiny as well.

Simeon was a man led by the Lord, and it was evident in both the journey he took and the destination.

At some point in his life, God had made a promise to him that he would see God’s anointed one (that is Jesus the Messiah) before he died.  Simeon, followed God and to ensure that he would be available for God when that time came, he hung out at the temple.

The temple was the place of worship.  It was the place where the people of God could get as close to God on earth as possible.  Simeon exemplified a servant of God because he wanted to be in constant worship of God.

That path he chose was not just a weekly activity on a Saturday night (or Sunday morning), but it was a daily venture.  He sought God’s throne room every day of his life.  Life is the journey we all take; Simeon chose to chase after God and so was rewarded for his journey.

The passage above shows what happened the day he met the savior.  The years faithfulness were rewarded in this life and the journey reached its intended destination.  He was not ready to move on because God had revealed to him the promised Messiah.

Oh, that we would have  a heart like Simeon.  Oh, that our worship was driven by our destination like Simeon’s worship was.  Oh, that our heart for God was humble like the shepherds that saw him that night when Christ was born. Oh, that we would chose the right path, serve the right God and  journey to the right destination making ourselves available for God on a daily basis.

Jesus came into this world as a child that would grow up with one purpose – to die for the sin of the world.  Too many people missed him even when he was right under their nose.  Too many more miss him today.

We have one journey in this world and then it’s over.  We have one life in which to get it right, to serve the right one.  Chose this day who you will serve, make it the Lord and then never look back.

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12 Days of Christmas Correction – Why a Virgin

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 20, 2009

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – Matthew 1:23

Why a virgin?  Why did God choose this method to bring Christ into the world.  After all, He is God.  He could chose to just make Jesus appear on earth without any mother or father.  Why did God choose this particular approach.

The virgin birth is a core element to Jesus birth for many reasons, and I’d like to show you some reasons you may know and others you may not have thought about.

It is Miraculous

OK, this is a cop out, but yes, being born of a virgin is quite a miracle in and of itself.  It takes two (male and female) to make one person, so by only having a human female bear a child without the human male interaction would be quite the testimony.

It was Prophecied

The verse quoted above in Matthew 1 came from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14).  By some accounts there are over 300 prophecies in Scripture about Jesus.  Everything from his birth, to his ministry, to his preaching style to his death and victory over sin is prophecied about.  Many of these prophecies are what I call “passive” prophecies, which means that you couldn’t make them come true if you tried because it takes outside forces to cause you to fulfill them.

For example, Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem.  Jesus could only fulfill this prophecy on purpose if he were God before he was born.  He couldn’t just tell his mom and dad from the womb, “Hey, I need to be born in Bethlehem so that I can fulfill a prophecy.” They had to make the decision that affected Jesus – a passive prophecy would be fulfilled.

One odds maker took 8 prophecies about Jesus birth and ran the numbers on these passive prophecies.  To have just 8 fulfilled by one person would be one in 1 x 10 to the 17th power.  or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.  You have better odds winning the lottery one million times in your lifetime than Jesus fulfilling 8 prophecies. That’s not only an amazing example of the power of prophecy, but quite miraculous too.

It Made God Human

Jesus is the Word of God (John 1).  He is God and yet he would have to become man to dwell among us (this the Imannuel effect – Click here to read my book on this subject). To become human, God had to be born of woman, and since men can’t give birth, this was the obvious method of introducing Jesus to humanity. The Holy Spirit became the Father of the Son of God the Father (I know, it’s confusing). And in so doing, Jesus became fully man and yet was fully God.

In Order to be Born Sinless

This is probably the biggest reason of all. Any person born of a man and woman are born into sin, and could never be the sacrificial lamb of God needed to cover the sin of all mankind.  There is a reason for this, and it goes back to the Garden of Eden.

When Eve ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6,7) her eyes were not opened to the sin she had committed.  It was only when Adam ate the fruit that their eyes were opened.  This is because God told Adam before Eve was created not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It was Adams responsibility to tell his wife, Eve.  He was the only one accountable to God for the rule.

He stood there next to his wife as she ate the fruit.  He then followed her lead.  This is backwards from God’s plan of accountability, and sin entered the world when he failed in his responsibility.

Had Eve eaten the fruit, and Adam not eaten, there would be no sin in the world because the sin seed does not pass through the woman… it passes through man because he is the one responsible to God (this is a huge subject in the discussion of marriage responsibilities).

Notice the promise given to Eve through the curse pronounced on Satan,

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

The redeemer would be in the offspring (literally, “seed”) of the woman.  This is the only mention of a “seed of a woman” anywhere in the ancient world.  Men were the seed spreaders.  It almost didn’t make sense, but the women understood one thing.  One day, a redeemer would be born of a woman that would crush the head of the serpent.

Every woman in the ancient world strove to have children partly because of this promise.  It was a curse not to have children.  They all hoped to be the mother, grandmother, great-grandmother of the redeemer, and man was to be left out of the loop.

Was Mary sinless?

The Catholic Church has tried to cover the loophole of God being born of a sinful woman by saying the Mary was ‘immaculately conceived”.  In other words, she was without original sin. This was put forth in 1854 by Pius IX and based on other Catholic traditions.  There is no Scriptural basis for this unless you first draw the conclusion that Mary was sinless and then read the passage in Luke 1:28, “Hail, Mary, full of grace”, which has become a core prayer of the Catholic Church.

Mary was favored, yes, but the favor was to be hers because she would bear the Son of God. God didn’t need her sinless first, because the sin seed, though present in her, was not passed by her if the human seed was not present. She even calls Jesus her “savior” in the prayer she prays. (Luke 1:47)

All of this was part of the plan God laid out before the foundations of the world.  God was not caught off guard, but knew what needed to be done, built the framework to make it happen and then when the time was right, entered this world fully God and fully man to crush the head of the serpent, Satan, and set up his kingdom forever and ever.

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