Well, it’s the day after the Fourth of July, and I’m on a rant. Go figure. Maybe it’s seeing on Facebook all those who allege they are Christians going all patriotic, ranting against Kap and Nike. singing God Bless America. Some seem to “up their game” when it comes to achieving the status of being a “Patriotic Christian”. Patriotic Christian? Really? But that’s a rant for another day.
Today I’m ranting against “Statistical Christianity”. I’m not talking about Barna or Pew Research. I’m talking about those who use statistics as proof of their beliefs–why they are right and I am wrong. Maybe I should give you my definition of Statistical Christianity:
Statistical Christianity is defining what it means to be a Christian by the numbers, rather than the truth.
Statistical Christianity has two branches. One branch is occupied by the Tenured Pew Sitters. They look at the past and try to build the future based on what they used to do. They look at the numbers back then, and in an act of ultimate futility, insist that it can be that way again IF we just replicate what we did then. For this branch, it’s all about 3 things: the building; their personal preferences dressed up in the clothes of tradition; and the most important part of all: DEMOCRACY! Every decision should be made based on the vote of the majority–and they make sure that their governing boards are stacked with people who think like they do. It’s about the numbers!
The second branch is occupied by “The Allegedly Enlightened”. The Allegedly Enlightened Branch looks to the culture to define what it means to follow Jesus. It is a life based on assumptions, presumptions, feelings, and sincere personal beliefs. Oh, and don’t forget THE NUMBERS. Mark Holland is proud to point this out in his blog 76% of US Annual Conferences Reject Traditional Plan. Mark bears witness to something I learned way back in college days when taking Statistical Math: 92.5874685% of all statistics are made up on the spot with a 99.99 percent margin of error.
The Allegedly Enlightened have the Numbers on the assumptions, presumptions, feelings and sincere personal beliefs to back up their claims. This Branch of Statistical Christianity wants us to allow the views, feelings, and emotions of culture define the Body of Christ. Public Opinion, be it a majority or minority, trumps anything else provided our personal experiences and feelings bear them out as truth.
And so we see it: The Tenured Pew Sitters Branch and the Allegedly Enlightened Branch stand across from each other shouting derogatory remarks at each other, while the rest of the world (statistically speaking they are the true majority) shakes its head and says, “If this is what being a Christian is about, thanks but NO THANKS!”
I close with this:
Excuse me for a moment. Statistically speaking, I need another cup of coffee…..
It made me think about the Great Debate going on in my Tribe, the United Methodist Church. While some have chosen to make it a debate about human sexuality, I see that it is something much more that this single issue. The real issue is Grace. There are some within our Orthodox Camp who show little grace to those who are struggling with their identity, but I’ll leave their narrow view of grace to another post.
I’m talking about the artificial grace from those with a progressive persuasion. They claim that because of grace, sin needs to be redefined. At the core is that the suffering of Jesus was designed to free a person from that nasty thing called sin. Grace gives us the authority to redefine everything. Not so fast, Buckeroo.
The grace that condones and encourages anyone to live outside God’s Intended Design, is not Real Grace, rather a prosthetic grace. I have nothing but deep respect admiration for our Wounded Warriors and others who have lost a limb and then proceed to live their life to the fullest through the use of that prosthetic limb. If you are one of these, know that you inspire me to do better, BE better.
But to insist that there is a form of grace that allows us to live by our desires, our feelings, our understandings–well, it’s not really grace. What I see is a progressive grace that denies people the opportunity to experience God’s Power of Transformation. And thus, their theology ceases to be progressive…it becomes regressive. Perhaps this explains the aggressive behavior of many within the progressive camp.
Listening to the stories of those who have those prosthetic limbs, I hear the difficulties and pain involved in learning to use these marvelous devices. Ask anyone who is required to use a prosthetic limb, “Which would you rather have, the real limb or prosthetic limb?”, and I believe that would answer, “The real one, of course.”
This false grace being promoted is filled with both difficulties and pain. False grace leaves no room for the true purpose of Grace–which is to engage us in a lifelong process of transformation. It is telling people you are a prisoner to your desires and feelings. And to the LBGTQI+ community I say, “God loves you, period. But His GRACE is made to liberate you from your feelings and desires about who you want to have sex with. You are not identified by your sexual desires. You are identified by the person God wants to make you. Because God is good, He will transform you into someone beautiful and wonderful.”
Grace without a lifetime of transformation??? It’s not real. It’s not grace. It’s a prosthetic to replace the real.
And remember to love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
this Lenten Journey, I want us to look at the most profound statement ever made
by Jesus while He was here in our human form.
Throughout Lent we are going to be in John’s Gospel looking some of the
sayings of Jesus—those moments and situations where He identifies Himself in a
very specific way.
lay the groundwork for today’s passage before I read it to you. Moses had this unbelievable encounter with
God. We call it “The Burning Bush”
story. God tells Moses to go back to
Egypt and inform them that God has appointed him to lead them to the Promised
Land. But before Moses agrees, he wants
to know who it is that is sending him.
They will want to know who has sent him, so Moses poses the
question: “Who shall I tell them sent me?” And in that moment God reveals His true
Name: I Am Who I Am! In Hebrew, the word is Yahweh! And God goes further with this statement:
This is my
eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
am I telling you all this? Because
without this knowledge, nothing that we look at this season will make any sense. We are going to journey through Lent by
looking at certain moments when Jesus says, “I
Am”. The first one we
need to look at is from John 4:4-26
He had to go through Samaria on the
way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan
village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from
the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water,
and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his
disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse
to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and
I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the
gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would
give you living water.”
sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than
our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well?
How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals
enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who
drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will
never be thirsty again. It becomes a
fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me
this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to
get water.” “Go and get your husband,”
Jesus told her. “I don’t have a
husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said,
“You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you
aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a
prophet. So tell me, why is it that you
Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans
claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the
time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on
this mountain or in Jerusalem.
Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all
about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here
now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will
worship him that way. For God is Spirit,
so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to
us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
need be begin our journey with boldest statement ever made by a human
being. Jesus tells her: I AM! For what I am about to say, some would want
to tar and feather me and run me out of town, but I’m going to say it. Jesus did not say “I Am”. Now, you look confused. “Preacher, you just read that Jesus said I
Am.” But Jesus did NOT say I Am—because He did not speak
English. Jesus would have been able to
speak in both Aramaic and Hebrew. So
when He identifies himself to her, the word He used is Yahweh!
The Name That God
Told Moses Would Be His Eternal Name, The Name That People Would Identify As
None Other Than The God Of Abraham, Isaac And Jacob.
you imagine the shock on this woman’s face when Jesus identified Himself as Yahweh? It was a name so sacred that Law prohibited
its use in public. No human being since
Moses was allowed to use that name. And
no one dare named their child Yahweh! Yet this is the name Jesus calls
Himself. What were the first thoughts
running through her mind?
“Is he crazy? Has he been out in the sun too long? Is he playing mind games with me? Is he mocking me because I’m a Samaritan?” Whatever her first thoughts might have been, they didn’t stay long. Somehow she knows His words ring true, so she runs back into Sychar with the news, telling everyone she can find: “I’ve found Him! I’ve found Him!” And the people may have laughed, “Who, husband number 6?” She catches her breath, “No, no, I think I’ve found Messiah! I just know He must be Messiah!” I know it says she asked a question: “Could
He be the Messiah?”, but it’s not a question of doubt. Hers is the question of hope. And here’s the one thing you need to remember
The Deepest Longing Of Every
Human Heart Is To Be Near To God!
may have been a tarnished hope, or it may have been a secret hope that no one
could see in her life. But somehow, deep
down in her heart, there must have been that hope that God would come near to
her to satisfy the deepest longings of her heart.
we make our Lenten Journey, we need to know that we are going to find that same
longing in our heart—to see and experience the nearness of the One, True and
Living God. And we can count on Jesus
being that just for us, as He was for her!
And it is all because of The Name:
Yahweh! Jesus is Yahweh and here’s why:
1. He Is Yahweh Because He Looks For Us
Well was the place ordained by God for this woman. He Has A Place Ordained For You, To Meet Him
Face To Face, For You To Surrender Your Life To Him. And Jesus planned it out for that moment when
she would be coming to draw water. As
Jesus and his entourage arrives at Jacob’s Well, Jesus announces, “Guys, I need
to stop and rest; besides it lunch time.
Tell you what, go into town to McDavid’s and get you something to eat,
and bring me back a #7 combo. I’ll just
wait right here. Now, go on guys.” Have you ever wondered why Jesus sent them
ahead while He stayed behind? Well, I
have and I’ve come to this conclusion.
If there had been several of them with Jesus, that woman probably would
have stayed away. But just one man
there, it’s not as threatening to her.
Jesus wanted this moment with her.
had been looking for her and the time was right. And He looks for us. There are God-ordained moments where He is
looking for us. He is looking for us to
have this special relationship with Him.
God wants us to have more than a mental knowledge about Him. He longs for us to give Him our hearts. But
God-ordained moments go further than for us to become a Christian. There are God-ordained moments to comfort us,
encourage us, strengthen us, and to take us deeper into this relationship with
Him. And you never know when they will
appear. This woman came in the middle of
the day; not the usual time to draw water.
And God may surprise you with ordained moments because He is always
looking for us.
2. He Is Yahweh Because He Knows Us
in Sychar must have known this woman. 5
divorces and shacking up with another man?
She must have been the talk at all the hair salons. They looked at her and saw someone who
couldn’t keep commitments. They saw
someone who had no morals. They saw
someone whose only contribution to the community was to keep the gossip lines
hot. They saw her as dirtied and all
women of Sychar always went to the well early in the morning, but she would not
have been welcomed then. They saw
everything that was wrong with her. They
thought they knew her. But there was so
much about her they could not see because they had made up their minds about
her. But Jesus knew there was more to
her than what was on the surface.
Only God, Only The One Whose Eternal Name Is YAHWEH Can
See Into The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Heart.
sees the secret sins we hide from others.
He knows the dark secrets we keep pushed down deep. But He knows more, much more. He knew what she was truly longing for, and
He knows what we are longing for.
Because He knows us, He knows what it will take to bring that hope alive
in us. This woman wasn’t ignorant of
God’s promises. She knew one day Messiah
would come. And though it may have been
a weak hope, there was the hope that Messiah would come to save her. Listen to your heart; your heart knows it
wants to be known deeply and loved intimately by God. Yes,
He knows our flaws and sins, but He also knows the real you—the one waiting to
be born, waiting to be released upon this world and into God’s Kingdom.
3. He Is Yahweh Because He Offers Us Life
At Jacob’s Well this God-Ordained moment was for one single purpose: To Bring Real Life To This Dirty, Broken Woman! Nothing Can Give Us The Life We Long For, Only Jesus.
people settle for a life of thrills, but there are never enough thrills. Some settle for a life of wealth, but there’s
never enough wealth to hold off the fear of losing it all. And some settle for a life of respectability—but
they are hollow and empty inside. This woman
was looking for life through one relationship after another. But none of them satisfied the cravings of
in this world can give you real, abundant, lasting, eternal life. This is something only God has—Jesus is Yahweh
because only HE has the life that we hunger for. Only He has the life that will survive
the ups and downs of life here on earth.
Only He has the life that can hold up under the fiercest
storms. Only Yahweh can offer us
this kind of life—and He offers it as The Gift.
only He paid the price necessary to take away the dead things of our life, and
put in their place Life. It’s not just any ordinary life, but the most
extraordinary life of all—His Very Own Life. In this Lenten Journey, in your life journey,
remember that There Is A Name For All Generations To Remember.
is His Eternal Name, Yahweh and He is looking, looking
for you because He knows you. He knows you need more than an ordinary life—but
the most extraordinary life of all. Paul
nails it when he describes this life in Galatians
And this is
the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
Great I Am can put real and abundant life in you—That life is Him
Has anything robbed you of
hope?The news? This
controversy going on in our Tribe?
Guilt? Some fear, named or
unnamed? Crushing grief that you keep holding on to, that you never completely
give over to Jesus? Feelings of
inadequacy? Or, how about despair, that
you’ve given up on something, something very important?
Give whatever that is up. Give it up to
Jesus. Make it your offering to
Him. He’s not looking for only the good
things to offer Him, He wants the pain, the burdens that you carry to be given
over to Him. You don’t have to keep
carrying them because He carried that weight, while on that Cross!
If you have given Jesus your
heart, then declare this truth every day, all day long:Christ
Lives In Me. When you doubt, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When you are afraid, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When that thing you gave up that was robbing
you of hope starts to weigh on you again, say it: Christ Lives In Me.
Good morning and welcome to some more insights from the Book formerly known as The Acts Of The Apostles but now known as Acts Of The Holy Spirit I Surrendered People. I’m still in chapter 2 and what caught my attention is Verse 36.
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
I’ve read this so many times and have believed its truth with all my heart. But this time when I got to the end of verse 36, the Spirit said, “Stop!” So I did, carefully reading each word slowly so as to take in every breath. Then it hit me. Immediately I started thinking about my culture, my Tribe, and the issue facing this Tribe. It was those last 6 words: “to be both Lord and Messiah”.
I see a lot of people in our culture who love the idea of a Messiah–someone who will come to help us out of our messes we’ve made. After all, who doesn’t want to get out of the pain, despair and everything else that goes along with the messes we make of life. It’s a new way of saying what I heard a long time ago: “Some people just want Jesus to save them from hell, and nothing else.” The crowd of Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters definitely fit in here. Can you blame them? I mean, who wants to spend an eternity in fire and brimstone.
And I seen this among the Progressives (formerly known as liberals) in my church Tribe. They advocate a new definition of sexuality and insist (may I add without scientific evidence and solid exegesis) that God created some to be gay. They add that the birth parents even gave them the wrong physical gender. So, to get rid of the mess, they want The Messiah, The Savior, but not the Lord.
To want only the Messiah but not the Lord??? That’s like ordering a deluxe bacon cheeseburger but saying, “I want the Deluxe but hold the onions.” What makes it the Deluxe is all that other stuff they add to that burger and bun. You’re denying yourself the full experience of “The Deluxe”.
But here, when the Body of Christ was born, Peter insists (under the inspiration of the Wind and Fire of the Holy Spirit, I might add) that it is not enough to declare Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus must also be Lord! In this good old U.S. of A. that just doesn’t sit well. We are a democracy, not a nation of lemmings. Actually, we are not a democracy–we are a representative republic. I’ll let you do your own research on this statement.
Even as I’m writing, I see something else. It’s the order of those words, “Lord” and “Messiah”. Here’s the truth that Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Me) would say to so many today: “You can’t handle the truth!” The truth that many today refuse to handle is that before Jesus can become your Messiah, your Savior, He must first be your Lord.
It’s difficult to admit that there are some things–correct that–many things we cannot handle on our own. And unless we acknowledge and surrender to Jesus as our Lord, we will never find Jesus as our Messiah. We can find warm fuzzy feelings of love and plenty of ways to justify our lives, and if we are told that enough times, say it enough times, we will believe the lie–and miss out on the Savior.
But in order to enter into that realm of God’s Grace, we must first acquiesce to the fact we NEED The Lord. Let unto our own devices and logic, it is a train wreck about to happen. The only way He can be our Lord, is that we surrender to His Authority and Rule. Not just once. Not just every day. But every moment of every day choose again to make Jesus you Lord. And unlike absolute rulers today and throughout history, Jesus is a Good Lord. He’s trustworthy to make the best decisions for your life. After all, in order to show that we can trust Him to be our Lord, He allowed Himself to be crucified on That Cross–for me…..and for you…..
Don’t forget, my friends….Love Jesus with all your heart. Love others the way He loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him.