FEELINGS….WHAT’S UP WITH ‘EM?

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As humans we are blessed with two capabilities that cause us to bear a resemblance with our creator.  As humans though, left to ourselves, these can also be a curse when taken outside the context of Jesus and His life and purpose in us.  As a matter of fact, there are shelves and shelves of books in stores dealing with these unique features of us humans.  What are they?

We can feel, and we have the ability to reason (think).  Together they can be an enormous blessing or a tragic curse; depending on whose “hands” they’re in.

Some of us are simply bundles and bundles of feelings, and some of us are like stone walls appearing to not have any feelings at all.  Human feelings are wide ranging.  We feel lonely, fear, grief, rejection, sorrow, abandonment, jealousy, hurt, weighted down, etc.  We can also feel joy, loved, elation, happiness, fulfillment, peaceful, accepted, understood, united in heart, goofy, playful, etc.

The fact is we do have them, but why do we have them, and what do we do with them?  This is the issue at hand!

To cut to the chase, feelings (ANY feelings) are a gift from God to allow us to experience life and subsequently HIM in so many unique ways, and thereby experience life to the fullest!  Jesus even said He came “that you might have life and have it to the fullest.” Fullness of life comes when we experience our Savior in the midst of our feelings; whether they are negative or positive (to our understanding).  They are also sweet reminders of our absolute need for dependency on Him.

Feelings are not right or wrong; bad or good.  They simply…..are!  We feel what we feel because we think what we think.  Case in point: if you are at a horror movie, why do you have feelings of terror?   You KNOW that guy can’t torture YOU.  It is because your feelings don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy. “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” So, we can’t really trust them.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.  For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.  (Col.3:1-3 Amplified)

PLEASE……chew on these verses awhile.

Here’s an example from my life.  If I’m feeling lonely or feeling really depressed, I acknowledge conversationally to the Lord (because I’m “alone”……with Him J), “Wow….I’m really feeling depressed/lonely.  Lord, what have I been thinking all day?”  I will quickly discover that I’ve been thinking/dwelling on subjects/circumstances, etc that are….well……..depressing/lonely.  I then substitute those thoughts with TRUTH!!!  This usually begins by thanking and thanking Him for all I have in Him, all He’s done for me, etc.  This is where our ability to reason can be a source of victory or a source of horrible bondage.

You have a choice:  Stand on the truth of who you ARE (identity) in Jesus and who HE IS in you (life) and His complete sufficiency for you OR trust and embrace and meditate on the feelings letting THEM become your identity.  If you choose to walk in truth you are now in a place to see God more clearly and maybe disclose what needs to be revealed to you about you!

It is in the midst of some of my strongest, deepest feelings of loneliness, pain, sorrow, helplessness, regret, self-hatred (I can truly go on) where God drew me to Himself and where He revealed Himself (His heart) the most AND He continues to, as I continue experiencing feelings.  His desire is for us to know and understand Jesus and thus become a display of HIS life!

“For in Him we live and move and have our being;” (Acts 17:28)

So my dear friend…….it’s ALL about Him and NOT about us!!!  What is amazing though is that WE are still the beneficiaries of His grace, His life, His love, His blessings, etc. in the midst of our feelings.

“Knowing Christ IS Eternal Life. And knowing him profoundly, deeply, and in reality, as well as experiencing his unsearchable riches, is the chief pursuit of our lives, as it was for the first Christians. God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ.” – from Jesus Manifesto, by Sweet & Viola

A Letter From a Burdened Heart!

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Here is a letter I just sent to a dear member of the Body of Christ.  I believe the Lord was leading me to share it with you, because it came from His burdened heart and it is a message the body of Christ desperately needs to hear!!!  For this post, I have added 4 verses and a just a few more lines for emphasis.

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My dear ______!
I often think of you and I have therefore “not ceased to pray for you that you be filled with the knowledge of HIS WILL, in all spiritual wisdom & understanding.” (Col. 1:9)  I realized that the reason for my burden is because when I look at you…….I see me!  I’ve proved it so many times.  I only share what I do because I love you & because you are so young in the Lord.  I so long to see you grounded in truth & consumed with Jesus & HIS heart!

I was reading today in Hebrews chap. 3 and I wanted to share it with you. Here is vv 6-19 in the Message paraphrased version:

6-11Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house! That’s why the Holy Spirit says,

Today, please listen;
don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,”
that time of wilderness testing!
Even though they watched me at work for forty years,
your ancestors refused to let me do it my way;
over and over they tried my patience.
And I was provoked, oh, so provoked!
I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God;

they refuse to walk down my road.”[a life of total dependence on HIM]
Exasperated, I vowed,
“They’ll never get where they’re going, [victorious Christian living]
never be able to sit down and rest
.

12-14 So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.

These words keep ringing in our ears:

Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
15-19 For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt [salvation]? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness[flesh life]? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there [victorious Christian living] because they never listened, never believed.

___, the Christian life IS Jesus……period!  Nothing more…nothing less!!!  It’s not about our pleasures, our lusts, our comfort, etc. NO! It is simply about Him….His desire, His pleasure, His way.  And His life dwells IN you and me.  It’s not HOW we live, but rather allowing HIM to live through us!!!  And corporately we all who are IN Christ make up HIS body. WE together are Jesus (literally) to a lost world here and now!!! Wow! This life IN Christ (the Christian life) is all about Jesus…….beginning, middle and end!!!

(These are all NASB unless otherwise noted. Emphasis is added by me.)
Rom. 11:36 says, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen”
Col. 1:18-19 says, “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,”

Heb. 12:2 says Jesus is “the Author and finisher of our faith.”

Phil. 3:10, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;”

1 Pet. 1:3-4 (Message) “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to KNOW, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. [Jesus] The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.”

And finally……let this verse sink in:
“for in Him we live and move and exist,…” Acts 17:28

As a fellow frail & weak human, I empathize with you, but I pray that you receive a real heart revelation of the LIVING Jesus (not an historical person on a page)…..just as I am praying the same for myself!  ALL of what’s good about life is found IN HIM!  This is why we MUST be occupied & consumed with JESUS!

To Him Be the GLORY!
Anthony

A JESUS MANIFESTO!

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THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE POST BY FRANK VIOLA & LEONARD SWEET.  IT IS NOT ONLY A MUST READ, BUT IS ABSOLUTELY A TRUTH TO BELIEVE!!!

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Posted by jesusmanifesto on the June 22, 2009

A Magna Carta

for Restoring the Supremacy of

Jesus Christ

a.k.a.

A Jesus Manifesto

for the 21st Century Church

by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Christians have made the gospel about so many things … things other than Christ.

Jesus Christ is the gravitational pull that brings everything together and gives them significance, reality, and meaning. Without him, all things lose their value. Without him, all things are but detached pieces floating around in space.

It is possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue, or gift, yet miss Christ . . . who is the embodiment and incarnation of all spiritual truth, values, virtues, and gifts.

Seek a truth, a value, a virtue, or a spiritual gift, and you have obtained something dead.

Seek Christ, embrace Christ, know Christ, and you have touched him who is Life. And in him resides all Truth, Values, Virtues and Gifts in living color. Beauty has its meaning in the beauty of Christ, in whom is found all that makes us lovely and loveable.

What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology. Christianity is not a philosophy. Christianity is the “good news” that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are found in a person. Biblical community is founded and found on the connection to that person. Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection. Jesus’ use of the ancient Hebrew word shubh, or its Aramaic equivalent, to call for “repentance” implies not viewing God from a distance, but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human connection.

In that regard, we feel a massive disconnection in the church today. Thus this manifesto.

We believe that the major disease of the church today is JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder. The person of Jesus is increasingly politically incorrect, and is being replaced by the language of “justice,” “the kingdom of God,” “values,” and “leadership principles.”

In this hour, the testimony that we feel God has called us to bear centers on the primacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Specifically . . .

1. The center and circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ. All other things, including things related to him and about him, are eclipsed by the sight of his peerless worth. Knowing Christ is Eternal Life. And knowing him profoundly, deeply, and in reality, as well as experiencing his unsearchable riches, is the chief pursuit of our lives, as it was for the first Christians. God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ.

2. Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his teachings. Aristotle says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Socrates says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Buddha says to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.” Confucius says to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.” Muhammad says to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.” Jesus says to his disciples, “Follow me.” In all other religions, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. Not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus himself. Jesus Christ is still alive and he embodies his teachings. It is a profound mistake, therefore, to treat Christ as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teaching. The Lord Jesus and his teaching are one. The Medium and the Message are One. Christ is the incarnation of the Kingdom of God and the Sermon on the Mount.

3. God’s grand mission and eternal purpose in the earth and in heaven centers in Christ . . . both the individual Christ (the Head) and the corporate Christ (the Body). This universe is moving towards one final goal – the fullness of Christ where He shall fill all things with himself. To be truly missional, then, means constructing one’s life and ministry on Christ. He is both the heart and bloodstream of God’s plan. To miss this is to miss the plot; indeed, it is to miss everything.

4. Being a follower of Jesus does not involve imitation so much as it does implantation and impartation. Incarnation–the notion that God connects to us in baby form and human touch—is the most shocking doctrine of the Christian religion. The incarnation is both once-and-for-all and ongoing, as the One “who was and is to come” now is and lives his resurrection life in and through us. Incarnation doesn’t just apply to Jesus; it applies to every one of us. Of course, not in the same sacramental way. But close. We have been given God’s “Spirit” which makes Christ “real” in our lives. We have been made, as Peter puts it, “partakers of the divine nature.” How, then, in the face of so great a truth can we ask for toys and trinkets? How can we lust after lesser gifts and itch for religious and spiritual thingys? We’ve been touched from on high by the fires of the Almighty and given divine life. A life that has passed through death – the very resurrection life of the Son of God himself. How can we not be fired up?

To put it in a question: What was the engine, or the accelerator, of the Lord’s amazing life? What was the taproot or the headwaters of his outward behavior? It was this: Jesus lived by an indwelling Father. After his resurrection, the passage has now moved. What God the Father was to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is to you and to me. He’s our indwelling Presence, and we share in the life of Jesus’ own relationship with the Father. There is a vast ocean of difference between trying to compel Christians to imitate Jesus and learning how to impart an implanted Christ. The former only ends up in failure and frustration. The latter is the gateway to life and joy in our daying and our dying. We stand with Paul: “Christ lives in me.” Our life is Christ. In him do we live, breathe, and have our being. “What would Jesus do?” is not Christianity. Christianity asks: “What is Christ doing through me … through us? And how is Jesus doing it?” Following Jesus means “trust and obey” (respond), and living by his indwelling life through the power of the Spirit.

5. The “Jesus of history” cannot be disconnected from the “Christ of faith.” The Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee is the same person who indwells the church today. There is no disconnect between the Jesus of Mark’s Gospel and the incredible, all-inclusive, cosmic Christ of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The Christ who lived in the first century has a pre-existence before time. He also has a post-existence after time. He is Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, A and Z, all at the same time. He stands in the future and at the end of time at the same moment that He indwells every child of God. Failure to embrace these paradoxical truths has created monumental problems and has diminished the greatness of Christ in the eyes of God’s people.

6. It’s possible to confuse “the cause” of Christ with the person of Christ. When the early church said “Jesus is Lord,” they did not mean “Jesus is my core value.” Jesus isn’t a cause; he is a real and living person who can be known, loved, experienced, enthroned and embodied. Focusing on his cause or mission doesn’t equate focusing on or following him. It’s all too possible to serve “the god” of serving Jesus as opposed to serving him out of an enraptured heart that’s been captivated by his irresistible beauty and unfathomable love. Jesus led us to think of God differently, as relationship, as the God of all relationship.

7. Jesus Christ was not a social activist nor a moral philosopher. To pitch him that way is to drain his glory and dilute his excellence. Justice apart from Christ is a dead thing. The only battering ram that can storm the gates of hell is not the cry of Justice, but the name of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of Justice, Peace, Holiness, Righteousness. He is the sum of all spiritual things, the “strange attractor” of the cosmos. When Jesus becomes an abstraction, faith loses its reproductive power. Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live.

8. It is possible to confuse an academic knowledge or theology about Jesus with a personal knowledge of the living Christ himself. These two stand as far apart as do the hundred thousand million galaxies. The fullness of Christ can never be accessed through the frontal lobe alone. Christian faith claims to be rational, but also to reach out to touch ultimate mysteries. The cure for a big head is a big heart.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with CliffsNotes for a systematic theology. He leaves his disciples with breath and body.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with a coherent and clear belief system by which to love God and others. Jesus gives his disciples wounds to touch and hands to heal.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with intellectual belief or a “Christian worldview.” He leaves his disciples with a relational faith.

Christians don’t follow a book. Christians follow a person, and this library of divinely inspired books we call “The Holy Bible” best help us follow that person. The Written Word is a map that leads us to The Living Word. Or as Jesus himself put it, “All Scripture testifies of me.” The Bible is not the destination; it’s a compass that points to Christ, heaven’s North Star.

The Bible does not offer a plan or a blueprint for living. The “good news” was not a new set of laws, or a new set of ethical injunctions, or a new and better PLAN. The “good news” was the story of a person’s life, as reflected in The Apostle’s Creed. The Mystery of Faith proclaims this narrative: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” The meaning of Christianity does not come from allegiance to complex theological doctrines, but a passionate love for a way of living in the world that revolves around following Jesus, who taught that love is what makes life a success . . . not wealth or health or anything else: but love. And God is love.

9. Only Jesus can transfix and then transfigure the void at the heart of the church. Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his church. While Jesus is distinct from his Bride, he is not separate from her. She is in fact his very own Body in the earth. God has chosen to vest all of power, authority, and life in the living Christ. And God in Christ is only known fully in and through his church. (As Paul said, “The manifold wisdom of God – which is Christ – is known through the ekklesia.”)

The Christian life, therefore, is not an individual pursuit. It’s a corporate journey. Knowing Christ and making him known is not an individual prospect. Those who insist on flying life solo will be brought to earth, with a crash. Thus Christ and his church are intimately joined and connected. What God has joined together, let no person put asunder. We were made for life with God; our only happiness is found in life with God. And God’s own pleasure and delight is found therein as well.

10. In a world which sings, “Oh, who is this Jesus?” and a church which sings, “Oh, let’s all be like Jesus,” who will sing with lungs of leather, “Oh, how we love Jesus!”

If Jesus could rise from the dead, we can at least rise from our bed, get off our couches and pews, and respond to the Lord’s resurrection life within us, joining Jesus in what he’s up to in the world. We call on others to join us—not in removing ourselves from planet Earth, but to plant our feet more firmly on the Earth while our spirits soar in the heavens of God’s pleasure and purpose. We are not of this world, but we live in this world for the Lord’s rights and interests. We, collectively, as the ekklesia of God, are Christ in and to this world.

May God have a people on this earth who are a people of Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. A people of the cross. A people who are consumed with God’s eternal passion, which is to make his Son preeminent, supreme, and the head over all things visible and invisible. A people who have discovered the touch of the Almighty in the face of his glorious Son. A people who wish to know only Christ and him crucified, and to let everything else fall by the wayside. A people who are laying hold of his depths, discovering his riches, touching his life, and receiving his love, and making HIM in all of his unfathomable glory known to others.

The two of us may disagree about many things—be they ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, not to mention economics, globalism and politics.

But in our two most recent books—From Eternity to Here and So Beautiful—we have sounded forth a united trumpet. These books are the Manifests to this Manifesto. They each present the vision that has captured our hearts and that we wish to impart to the Body of Christ— “This ONE THING I know” (Jn.9:25) that is the ONE THING that unites us all:

Jesus the Christ.

Christians don’t follow Christianity; Christians follow Christ.

Christians don’t preach themselves; Christians proclaim Christ.

Christians don’t point people to core values; Christians point people to the cross.

Christians don’t preach about Christ: Christians preach Christ.

Over 300 years ago a German pastor wrote a hymn that built around the Name above all names:

Ask ye what great thing I know, that delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the crucified.

This is that great thing I know; this delights and stirs me so:
faith in him who died to save,
His who triumphed o’er the grave:
Jesus Christ, the crucified.

Jesus Christ – the crucified, resurrected, enthroned, triumphant, living Lord.

He is our Pursuit, our Passion, and our Life.

Amen.

How Do You See Easter?

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     Have you ever witnessed an historical event?  For example, wouldn’t it have been cool to be there when they signed the Declaration of Independence?  Or how about watching that “big game” you always read about? How about the discovery of America or the North Pole?

     A couple of weeks ago I saw my son graduate from college.  It was a very proud day for me.  There were many people in that room and we all saw the same thing, but did we?  What I saw was much different.  Everyone witnessed a graduation ceremony.  I saw a young man who beat all the odds!

     The Easter story…the story of the resurrection found in John 20 had 3 witnesses, but it also gives us 3 different Greek words that are a great illustration of 3 different ways people SEE Jesus and the resurrection.

     1. blepo = “the see the obvious” (vv 1,5)

          These folks merely see “what’s there”, but not knowing what’s really going on.  They see all the trimmings of Easter & know the story…but is clueless to its reality or power.  They just see with their eyes.

     2.  theoreo = “to be a spectator of” (6,12,14)

          These folks have been exposed to “religion”, but are merely spectators.  They’re looking on, checking things out.  When it comes to the resurrection they are like spectators at a game or in a museum.  They merely “look” on with amusement or curiosity but with no reality.

     3. horao = “seeing with discernment” (vv8,18)

          Horao gives prominence to the discerning mind. Horao denotes perception in general. To the Hebrew mind – to experience. These are the people who get it!  For them the requirements are completed! It…is finished!!!  Easter is reality! They can see clearly that Jesus died a cruel and horrible death for them personally; that He was buried and that He rose on the 3rd day to conquer sin & death!

     How do YOU see Easter-the resurrection?  Today, I pray that you like John are seeing AND believing.  Do you see clearly today?  Trust Him with your life now!!!

 

     In Acts 26:18 Jesus told Paul, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me