Month: December 2014

Do Black Lives Matter?

When the Ferguson incident happened some weeks ago, I was quickly prompted by several people to give some kind of response.  Of course, it was clear that more than anything, they wanted to see if what I had to say agreed with what they had to say about it all.  When I took a neutral stance and stated that I hadn’t formed a clear point of view yet, many were even more frustrated with me, and some went ahead and decided for me as to what I believe; putting words, thoughts, and feelings in my my mouth and heart that I did not, nor still do not have.

I am not an expert in race or race relations, nor have I been a victim of slavery or birthed into a racial minority. I have very little frame of reference as to what it feels like and means to be a black person in America. Equally, I have never been a police officer or a part of our legal system. No one in my family has ever been in either of these arenas.  I have very little frame of reference as to what it feels like and means to be a police officer of part of the legal system in America.

We are so quick to speak and slow to listen in our culture. And furthermore, we often place our agendas, experiences, and emotions above the truth about things, or the seeking thereof.  I know have been guilty of this myself in other issues. I became so sure that I knew the truth before I in fact, knew the truth.

I have no clue as to the complete truth about the Ferguson tragedy, or any other. I have read the same articles and reports as you. But for me, the final conclusion is… I wasn’t there at the incident and I was not a part of the legal process.  Does that make me a racist that I don’t declare war on white police officers and our legal system? No. Does it make me a cop-hater and one who does not value our legal system because I don’t automatically side with officers and juries involved in any and every shooting or incident? No.

But here is what I do know…  When there is perceived to be an error of people in practice or thinking (such as racism) the predominant reaction is to quickly swing the pendulum the other direction, often over emphasizing things in an effort to correct things.  In my own line of work, this happens frequently. When there is an error of people in their practice or thinking about God or the Christian life, some quickly swing the theological pendulum in the other direction, unintentionally creating another theological error in order to bring correction to a previous one.

Yet, what is needed is not over correction, but to find true correction.  Not a mark north of north, but true north.

The truth is, the only statement, call, declaration or battle cry we could ever rightfully imagine coming from the mouth of Jesus, our Creator is ALL LIVES MATTER.  I understand where people come from when trying to bring justice to a perceived injustice. But, this is the only message that will bring us to the center, to the truth, and to the solution of racism of every kind and color. Otherwise, we will just be a perpetual, swinging pendulum of racism. When our practice and thinking in America aligns to ALL LIVES MATTER, then and only then will people be free and racism disarmed. Only then, will justice flow like a river, and all men be judged by the quality of their character not the color of their skin.

Do black lives matter? Of course they do. All LIVES MATTER…. police, victims, perpetrators, black, white, brown, rich, poor, enemy, friend, born, unborn. ALL lives matter. Until that is our song, our anthem, our heart, our cause, our banner, our focus, our resolve, we will fall short of God’s heart and continue to have racism (and injustice) of every kind and flavor… black against white, white against black, asian against hispanic, and on and on and on.

Because God hates racism and injustice of every kind, ALL LIVES MATTER, equally.

One Resolution: What God Truly Wants From You

So, have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?

If you have, undo them, throw them away, no matter how noble they are in intent. Do it now, before it’s too late.

If you haven’t made them… make sure you don’t even start!  Don’t even think about starting!

If resolutions worked, there would be no need for Jesus. Everything we want, desire, and need would be just a resolution away.  We could simply muscle, will, and effort our way into a better future, one goal at a time.

Problem is, more so than not, though resolutions feel inspiring at the start, resolutions ultimately leave us with one thing… the result that we have fallen short. We didn’t lose the weight (or keep it off), keep our mouths shut, reach the goal, play nicer, or be as positive as we promised. Somewhere along the way, our performance breaks down. If we do, by chance, square up with a resolution, we think it’s our strength and will-power that got us there. Our flesh is stroked as we deceivingly believe that the power that moved us forward was from our resolve, or some portion of it. Our identity and self worth become attached to the tubes of our efforts and abilities, our striving and our trying. Behind every resolution is the facade and self-deception that within our performance are the answers to a better future.

Spiritually, we have been taught (falsely) that God wants more and more from us; do more, become more, achieve more… all for Him of course. We have bitten the lie that the goal of the Christian life is to become successful for Jesus. So, we make all kinds of spiritual resolutions… pray more, study more, get more Jesus. Hunger for Him more, go to Church more, get on fire more. Do more of this, and less of that… and on, and on, and on.

Yet, I believe, God has something much different in mind for our 2016! One resolution. A RESTolution.

Rest in His resolution to love you, bless you, favor you, forgive you, and accept you. To empower you and carry out His good work in you. To have you will and act according to His pleasure. To prompt you, protect you, heal you, change you, clear the path for you. To lead you, delight in you, provide for you, give success to you, and give you favor among people.

God wants ONE resolution from you. To realize there is no resolution you can have that works but resting in His resolutions towards you. He is the author and perfecter of your faith, not you. He has already saved you, set you apart, sanctified you, made you Holy, pure, and blameless, lacking no spiritual blessing in your life. There are no resolutions needed from you when you awaken to and rest in God’s resolutions towards you. What could you possible achieve that God hasn’t already achieved for you and in you, and promises to achieve through you.

God has one resolution for you to have this year… a RESTolution.

Rest in Him, for everything, and in every way.  Stop resolving to do more, and resolve to believe more. Stop resolving to become more and resolve to be more of who you already are… made complete, eternally and unconditionally loved, Holy, pure, forgiven, accepted, secure, beautiful, qualified, approved, having the mind of Christ, favored, justified, sanctified, successful, without guilt, shame, or condemnation… all done by Jesus’ resolution-work, not yours.

Trade in all your 2016 resolutions, for God’s ONE resolution for you… to have a RESTolution 2016!

Because of Christ’s resolution-work on the cross, there is nothing more to achieve, just everything to believe!

As you do, watch God work, change, and transform you, your world, and the world around you as you simply enjoy Jesus and rest in Him.

Happy RESTolution 2016!

Awakening to Grace

The Grace of God has done something far more radical and marvelous than you probably realize, not because you are incapable of understanding, but because you have likely never been taught it. Yet, it’s the most profound, ecstatic truth in all of life!

In simple terms…  Jesus has done it all, your journey is to believe it all, as you do, you will live it all… effortlessly.

This is the essence of awakening to Grace.

The applications of this understanding are mind blowing and life changing, here are a few examples… I call them The Big Seven.

1) There is no more work to do on your life. 

On the cross, Jesus remade you into a new creation; whether you realize it or not, no matter what you have done or are doing with your life.  You are a finished work, a new creation. Completely done… finished, period, end of sentence.

He made you Holy, pure, righteous, sanctified, forgiven (past, present, and future) of all your sins, lacking no spiritual blessings, partaking in the divine nature, an heir and priest in the Kingdom, having all the fruits of the Spirit, Christ living in you and as you, that’s who you are. There is nothing left for you to do, you cannot improve on what Jesus has done to you. You Journey in Christ is not become something you aren’t now, but to “be” more of who you already are. That’s the essence of “Growing in Grace.” As you awaken to your true self, you will live your true self. Trying and striving to become a better person only makes you worse in the long run. You don’t become a better person, you become more of the better person you already are. It’s about His performance in what He has made you, not your performance in trying to make something of you. Faith is the key. As you awaken to it (the real you in Christ), you will live the real you.

2) God has nothing but pure Grace and love for you and everyone else. 

God is love, and nothing but love and Grace comes from the Father to you. There is no condemnation over you or anyone else for that matter. God accepts you, loves you, and believes in you. He is not angry or disappointed with you. You are loved unconditionally, without conditions.

On the cross, the Old Covenant system of a conditional, performance-based relationship with God was rendered null and void, we are now under Grace…an unconditional relationship with God based on His performance not yours. Jesus qualified you for every spiritual blessing. You are highly favored, and the gleam in God’s eyes. There is nothing you can do to stop God loving you. His full force love is unstoppable, unyielding, and unceasing. There is not limit, restriction, or restrain to His Grace. There are no additives or preservatives to His love and Grace, it is pure through and through. His Gospel is all Grace or it’s not the Gospel.  Awakening to His love is a process of growing in your willingness to increase the expanse of your perception of how truly deep and wide is the love of God for you and all humankind.

3) There are no “to do lists” in the Christian life.

God doesn’t need you to or demand you to “do” anything. Your greatest calling in life is to enjoy Jesus. Resting, and enjoying as He carries out His good work in you as He wills in you to act according to His purposes. You job is to realize you have no part, only to believe.

As you awaken to God working through your resting (trusting), He will move in and through you, effortlessly. Without strain nor stress. When we work (strive, force, muscle etc.) God rests, when we rest, God works.  There are no “to do” lists, only “to believe” lists. As you believe the promises of God to move, use and guide you, He will move, use and guide you. There are no “big things” to do in the Kingdom of God, there are no “revivals” to be revived. You are the “big thing” God has done. You are the revival.

You just go be you, doing what you love to do in ways that honor God and watch the world change, not because of what you “do” primarily but because of who you are. Stop looking for a “perfect will” or “perfect plan” for your life. You are God’s perfect will, you are God’s perfect plan. Awaken to who you truly are, who God truly is, and just live. Enjoy Jesus, and truly live.

4) Grace does what religion, rules, guilt trips, condemnation, fear tactics, “church,”  inspirational messages, accountability partners, church programs, powerful worship experiences, and “to do” steps never could, and never will.

Grace is the power of God to change, the only power of God to change.  Try everything else… resolutions, sin management, promises to “do better,” church involvement, spiritual disciplines, re-dedications, revivals, “going deeper in the Word,”and on and on, the only thing that truly changes anything and everything is… Grace

What the Law (or any mix of it) can only reveal, only pure Grace can change. People who awaken to pure Grace don’t sin more, they sin less. The law (or any mixture thereof) is death, pure Grace is life. Grace is what teaches us to live rightly; not rules, “church,” regulations, religion, etc.  No one has ever been made Holy through punishment. There is no punishment from God being applied to you, only kindness. God does not use fear, “to do” steps, messages to “do better for Jesus,” shame, guilt trips, nor condemnation to move you forward in life. God uses the only thing that works… Grace. Grace upon Grace. The job of the Holy Spirit in an unbelievers life is simply to convict them of their unbelief in Jesus. The role of the Holy Spirit in the believers life is to convince them of their righteousness! Grace wins. Everything else loses. Taste and see, the Lord is good, He is Grace.

5) You are no longer a “sinner.”

Our actions always follow our beliefs. If you believe you are by nature a sinner, what will you do more of? Sinning, duh!

Jesus understands this. That’s why He did much more than simply improving your life or renovating it. In fact, He put your old, broken life (the one you were born with) to death with Him on the cross and gave you His life. Truth is, it is not you who lives right now, but Christ living in you. In doing so, He gave you His nature, His identity, His posture and position. As He is, so are you in this world.

You are not a “sinner saved by Grace” you are a “saint sustained by Grace” no matter who you are and what you are or are not doing with your life. Your performance does not determine your identity, your identity (as you believe it) determines your performance. Rightly believing in your true nature and identity leads to right behavior, not the other way around. Find me a person who has a sinning problem, and you will have found me a person who has a identity problem.  Awaken to your true nature and you will live your true potential, nothing less than Jesus in this world.

6) Grace levels the playing field.

Everyone needs Grace, equally.  There are no sin levels or hierarchies. Sin is sin. God’s concern for sin is not in what it does to Him or our relationship with God. He has already dealt with that once and for all. God is not altered by our sin nor is our relationship with Him. Rather, God’s concern is the havoc in still creates in our life.

As people, we are in no position to judge, condemn, label, marginalize, or point our fingers at people with our perception of sin in their life.  The moment we do, we must do it to ourselves. If you marginalize another, you must marginalize yourself; label another, label yourself, condemn another, condemn yourself. There is no such thing as a “lifestyle” of sin that makes a person more guilty than merely a moment of it.  Either sin has been dealt with entirely by jesus in your life, or not at all. You have no management of sin in your life, only to believe and trust that Jesus has managed it already. Sin management under the spiritual disguise of “discipleship,” “maturity,” or “accountability,” are evil myths that appeal to our flesh and belittle sin into something we think can handle, manage, or overcome with a certain amount of effort on our part. Grace shows that sin is impossible to humanly manage, judge, or change. It levels the playing field to the place where all must take their hands of the “sin” steering wheel.

There is no room under Grace for focusing on the sins in our culture that are simply different from our own.  In fact, the only two times the Holy Spirit records that Jesus got angry were instances where people were withholding Grace instead of extending it to others.  Grace levels the playing field of biblical interpretation as we all realize that we need to be guided in all truth by the Holy Spirit, and under Grace, no one has the inside scoop to perfect, biblical interpretation. Besides, the Bible is not the fourth part of the Trinity, but has always been purposed on leading us into an encounter with the Trinity where He reveals Himself to us personally and newly. Grace takes away the legitimacy and place of the religious spirit and pride so prevalent in our Christian culture, rendering it powerless and useless. The more we awaken the leveling power of Grace, the more we are able to be Grace to all people and see His healing, changing work among us.

7) You are safe and secure in His arms.

You are saved by Grace, and by Grace alone. You cannot not outrun nor escape from His love. Only awaken to it, enjoy it, and live it. What He did for you and to you on the cross cannot be undone or redone. Regardless of your beliefs, choices, or feelings, God has decided to love you and change you, forever.  There is nothing that can separate you from His love. You cannot earn, merit, or keep His love intact. It is Grace.

Grace keeps you, wants you, and will not let you go. You can either awaken to it in belief, or reject in disbelief. Thus, it becoming either real to you, or foreign to you. Nonetheless, His furious love keeps reaching out that you might possess what He longs for you to receive… Grace.

Awaken to Grace. It has alway been, and always will be.

Pure Grace, nothing else. This is the real Jesus, the real you, and real life… Grace.

Wake up!

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