A living parable

Adventure through life like it’s a parable. What is a parable, you ask? Well, simply, it is a story with spiritual meaning or application. Imagine, if you will, every situation, every conversation, everything you read or watch, becoming a parable. It can if you simply ask the question, “what does Jesus want to say to me through this . . .?”

“He put another parable before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’” Matthew 13:31-32 ESV

This is obviously talking about how the Kindom of heaven may have small beginnings but grows beyond what one would expect. Life is a bunch of mustard seeds. Every word you speak. Thought you think. Choice you make. These seeds grow. It is why it is essential to choose your words wisely, be quick to listen, and slow to speak. It is why we need to take every thought captive and bring it before the Lord that we not be ruled by our limited understanding but by the Truth of God’s Word. It is also why we must choose wisely, be doers of the word; whatever we do in word or deed should glorify God.

Could you imagine the impact one could have if they started to think of everything they do as the beginning of a parable? Considering what a word or action would later produce is kind of common sense, but sometimes although the idea is there, the actual thought is not. You might say it would be too much pressure. i disagree. i view it as an adventure! It’s like one of those old choose your adventure books. You read a little and then your character faces a choice. In the book whatever you choose, you turn to a particular page and continue the story, some outcomes are good and some are not so good. However, unlike most choose your own adventure books, most of our day to day choices are redeemable. That should give us some hope.

i have been living this parable life idea now for some time, and i can honestly say that my life has become a great adventure! i don’t always make the right decision, but i am constantly learning and growing and experiencing life with a desire to have the mind of Christ, the hands and feet of Christ, the words of Christ, the love of Christ.

Join me in my adventure in being a living parable.

You are loved,

cj

Prayer and Fasting

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hyporcrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you; they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18

There is a lot of information on Fasting and dieting available with a simple internet search. Endless information, really. Most of it will be related to dieting with intermittent fasting and mostly positive regarding its health benefits. You will also find information on Biblical fasting and its health benefits. So i will not bore us with more information regarding this topic along these lines. However, i will focus on what one should expect while fasting.

If the purpose of fasting is to draw near to God, and that indeed is your focus. Whether to get direction or refocus your life and attention on God, you can, without doubt, expect a spiritual attack. As fasting is a fantastic tool to approach God in the way of humility, it also awakens the demons around you, and they will do all they can to distract, disrupt, mislead, and discourage you.

As Jesus is our perfect example, when He was in the wilderness before the start of His ministry, He was fasting and praying and tempted. We need to expect the same. We need to be aware of our weaknesses and prepare ourselves with Scripture to do spiritual warfare.

A real biblical fast should have at least one of three goals, focused worship, gaining wisdom, or as part of a repentant heart. If your reasons for fasting are not based on at least one of these three, there will be no spiritual benefits. If one or more of these is your focus, you should, without doubt, expect temptation and demonic distraction. This spiritual warfare can only be waged in the Spirit with The Word and with prayer.

If i can be transparent here, i always hesitate to go into a season of fasting because not only do i come under spiritual attack but so do those around me. i take the passage above to heart and try to keep my fasting between God and myself. However, this can be a problem if those around you don’t understand why there is an increase in spiritual warfare that if they are sensitive to the spirit, they will sense but without having an understanding as to the “why.” i say this not to discourage you but to encourage you to communicate with those close to you in regards to fasting because those in your home or if in ministry, those with whom you closely associate need to also prepare for increased spiritual influences.

Satan can absolutely use those around you, even Christians, to be a distraction to you. Look at how Peter was used to distract Jesus, “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23

Let me wrap this up with this if your motive is on the “things of man,” your fast will most likely go off without a hitch. You might even feel spiritually empty but physically healthier because there are health benefits to fasting. However, the spiritual emptiness will be the result of your focus. If your focus is on the things of God, your fast might leave you feeling hungry but spiritually strong. “And after fasting . . . He was hungry.” “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left Him, angels came and were ministering to Him.” Matthew 3:2, 10, 11

You are loved,

cj

You might be the answer . . .

i was in my mid 20’s and married to the mother of my boys. We had hit a rough financial spot, and i had spent the week in prayer. i would go down to the harbor in Dana Point. There was a place where the storm wall met the beach that created fantastic tide pools. The waves would crash upon the rocks at low tide with great force making for a spectacular water show. This was my prayer closet every morning, and i loved it. It was here that i brought all my worries and concerns and financial needs to the Lord and tried my hardest to leave them there in faith.

A week had gone by, and we were growing increasingly desperate for relief when came a knock on the door. It was our neighbor Carlos; he said, “Good morning, i have been restless all week. My wife and I came into some extra money unexpectedly after having a dream to give you money. I ignored the dream and bought a new TV. We got the TV home and plugged it in, but the screen blew, and it didn’t work. That night I had another dream about giving you the money. Again I ignored the dream and that morning went down and exchanged the TV. The same thing happened, and it happened again yesterday. Three times total. Last night I had the dream again, and I can’t ignore the dream anymore. So here is a check, please accept it; I don’t understand why but if I am not obedient, I am afraid I will never sleep without that dream.”

We did accept it, and after he left and I had gone inside, i opened the check, and it was for the exact dollar amount we needed for our financial shortfall. The EXACT amount! To this day, i have a dollar in the Bible i used down at the harbor as a memorial to God’s faithfulness. i had prayed for a week; God set out to answer that prayer as soon as i started to pray. Finally, through the obedience of our neighbor and friend, the answer arrived. i think about when Daniel fasted and prayed, and 21 days had gone by before getting an answer to a pressing vision he had. You can read the account in Daniel 10.

Now i am no Daniel, but i find it intriguing to think that as we pray that within the heavens, battles are being fought. Also, that the ruler of this world and his many minions are fervently fighting to delay answers to prayers. Have you felt led through a dream or vision a pinch of the heart to help someone and failed to do so? Could it be that the devil would have you distracted from being the very answer to someones prayer? If the devil can get you to focus on yourself, you will miss the need of your neighbor.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about giving to the needy in this way. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you; they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4

Earlier, He said this: “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42) Now i didn’t make known our need, and my only begging if one would call it that was making my petition to the Lord. God moved Carlos to be the answer to that prayer. His willingness to be obedient in giving was a blessing to us and actually to him! i want to be careful here because i don’t want to give folks the wrong impression of being obedient. Our reward is often in heaven, however for Carlos and his wife, that weekend at a company picnic, they won a drawing for a TV! Coincedence? Maybe, maybe not.

Here is my question for us, what dream or vision is God giving you? Who is he leading you to reach out to, to lend a hand to, or perhaps even help through money or groceries? You might just be the answer to someone’s prayer, don’t delay the response any longer, giving temporary victory to the evil one.

You are loved,

cj

. . . there can be no wrong?

If there is no right, there can be no wrong, and if there is no wrong, then the phrase, “Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law,” becomes completely understandable. The idea of “You do you, or whatever makes you happy!” This first saying, “Do what thou wilt . . .” was that of the person accredited with starting the new age movement we see today. i wrote last week about right becoming wrong and wrong right, and as i have thought about it this week, we are witnessing the transition happen before our very eyes. This should be troublesome for all believers of the Way. Not in a fearful way but in an awakening sort of way. We can no longer sit by . . . our silence, is our consent.

The new age movement uses the terms we use. They will refer to light and that we are all stars and light. But their appetite is selfish. It goes back to the garden, and the tree, and satan. “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” “Did God actually say, . . .?” Satan was a lying serpent then, and he is a lying serpent today. Yet, he disguises himself as an angel of light. This is how Paul describes it in his second letter to the Corinthians. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” i have thought about what it would look like to be the light of the world or a lamp on a stand. There are some street preachers here where i live. One guy who has a microphone and speaker stands on a ladder and preaches. Another guy says nothing; he simply walks all over town with a sign that reads very clearly, “Jesus is our only hope.” i don’t feel called to either of those, but there is no doubt that they are being light. One thing is for certain when we are silent to the sins of this world; we are the opposite of light.

We are living in a time in history that i believe was foretold of by Paul to Timothy. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” He goes on later to say this: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:1-4)

This hasn’t only happened outside the Church with the new age mantra, “Do what thou wilt,” but also inside the church, and it is time for the remnant of the Way to “hunger and thirst for righteousness, for (we) shall be satisfied.” Finally, let me close with Jesus, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” Matthew 16:24-28

Be the light . . .

You are loved,

cj

Betrayal, what the enemy thought for evil, the Lord uses for good . . .

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray Him. (Mark 14:10-11)

Imagine hand selecting your inner circle of closest friends. Walking with them for three and a half years and then having one of those friends betray you. Some of you don’t have to imagine because you have lived through it . . . maybe not the death part, but for some of you, it could have felt as threatening. i know that i have had some close to me betray me, and it hurts.

We are in a time in history where many are looking at what is going on in our country and crying, “betrayal!” It could very well be true. Many are disheartened because they prayed and have not seen God move. They have been told of specific outcomes, and those outcomes have not come to pass, and time is growing increasingly short.

Jesus took his closest friends into a garden to pray. The burden so heavy drops of blood fell from His face like sweat. Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me.” His desire was not for what was ahead of Him. Could you blame Him? He was to suffer a tremendously torturous death. If i knew that was the way i was to die, i would be pleading with God also. Yet, Jesus finished His prayer, “not My will, but Your will be done.”

Sometimes we don’t see the whole picture. Sometimes when we pray, we don’t fully understand all that is going on. This is why we are called to be patient. This is why i have such an issue with name it and claim it preaching. God promises this, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14), But they so easily forget the “not My will, but Your will be done.” part of prayer. In 1 John 5:14-15, it says this: “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” These are true sayings; however, there is also this idea of prayer “HIS WILL.”

For Jesus, it was death on a cross. He was tortured in the most horrific way. Yet, as Jesus prayed in the garden, He understood that although the road was difficult, God’s will was being accomplished, and through it, you and i, and countless others have been able to have the hope of eternal life in glory with Jesus.

Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) Could it be that although we desire one outcome because we see it as being best, we have blinded ourselves to the idea of “Your will be done.” Because of the weight that it brings, the difficulty we know comes with it?

We know that in the end, perilous times will come. They will be difficult, and many will be betrayed by family and friends. We will be brought into the synagogues, and we will be hated for His name’s sake, even beheaded. These are unpleasant thoughts, and i imagine anything would be better but as we pray for the future of our country, and the world, let us not forget the part, “not my will but Yours be done” because as awful as our potential future, nothing compares to the glory that awaits us in Heaven! Just because God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to doesn’t mean He isn’t listening!

So, keep the faith. Seek not your will, but “His Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Do not fear, for He says, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” (Matthew 10:19) i believe we are headed into a very difficult season. Do not lose hope, do not lose faith, do not lose sight of our mission, “To make Christ-like disciples.” And always remember, “Not My will, but Yours be done!”

You are loved,

cj

Why do you marvel? I tell you a mystery . . .

Wow! What a time to be alive. i have to admit that i have been a bit frustrated as of late with writer’s block. The longer it lasted, the more frustrated, maybe even depressed i got. i wanted to write, but nothing came. i have been wrapped up in election stuff, COVID stuff, lockdown stuff, vaccine stuff, and it just all seems so surreal. It is very easy to jump into debates and wonder how so many can just blindly accept everything they are told from one side yet somehow question or doubt the other without listening to anything. They are just simply told what to believe, and they step right in line. Then i come along and only suggest that they question everything . . . Not that one side has a corner on truth, but that both sides are equally at fault here.

That brings me to the point of this post. Both sides, in my opinion, are pushing the same rock in the same direction. They are not pushing against each other but rather with each other. Even if it looks as if they are on opposing sides. Here is where my tin foil hat comes in . . . They have us right where they want us, at a boiling point. For out of chaos, folks will cry for peace, and in steps government because we have been programmed to think that government is the solution. And that my friends couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything the government touches becomes a pile of rubble.

What could they possibly want? Why would they want chaos? Power is the only word that can sum this up. They want power. The power they want is absolute, and it is driven from a lie told thousands of years ago, “. . . For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . .” (See Genesis 3:4-5) The serpent hasn’t changed. Man’s desires have only grown more evil, more covetous, more greedy. It is what will drive the final chapter of world history as the return of Jesus unfolds. This time is upon us. i am not a prophet; therefore, i am not claiming to know the day or the hour, only that it draws near.

There is much that still needs to unfold, but things are happening at a rapid pace. When in history has there ever been the technology of cryptocurrency, global surveillance, mass transportation, international counsels, and presently an ecumenical movement never seen before? The answer never, until now. All of these things are written of in Scripture, and all point to the time just before Jesus returns to take His throne as King.

Be in the Word. Question everything. Seek truth. Stay faithful. Be ready. And like i have said before, be prepared to die for your faith. Don’t put your hope in the rapture. If it happens, great! But if it doesn’t and that is what you are waiting for thinking that none of these things will happen while you are here . . . You will be susceptible to receiving the mark of the beast. If you prepare for the worst, you will be ready for anything. i don’t write this to create fear or panic. Our hope is in the victorious One! Be confident in that when you are brought before the rulers, that God will give you the words to say, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” Matthew 10:19

i am not sure any of this actually makes sense. What i do know is this, persecution, like we have never seen before, is on the horizon and i feel compelled to sound the alarm to a church that is asleep in the culture God has called us out from. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

These are unpopular opinions, i know, this is what the Lord has said concerning these days, “for people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:2-5

You are loved,

cj

All Creation Longs for Redemption

i have written recently, twice actually, on what i see as troubled waters ahead. As i was doing my reading today in God’s Word, i was reminded of how creation longs for redemption as those in Christ. There is an uptick in global earthquakes, just yesterday a 7.0 quake hit off the coast of Turkey, leaving hundreds dead, buildings in ruin, and lives devastated. Volcanic activity is also increasing with magma on the move under the surface. Not to mention the sporadic wild weather being experienced, along with devastating fires.

After creation, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” He created everything to work in concert. Like a synergetic masterpiece, everything working together for good and creating humans to be the caretakers. When man sinned, falling from God’s perfect plan, creation suffered along with us. The plan of redemption that God mapped out isn’t just for us humans, but the whole of creation and creation is longing for it!

Here is the part in Romans that got me thinking about this:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8)

As we get closer to the Lord’s return, creation will become more volatile and unpredictable. Even humanity as the war around us in the Heavenly’s begins to manifest itself among us. Like a woman in labor about to give birth so will the pains be for all of creation. However, for us with Christ our hope isn’t in what we see around us but in what we know is coming. This is not a time to cower but to pray and live as saints, the sons and daughters of the Most High! So fear not and look up for our redemption draws near.

“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28

You are loved,

cj

Hold my Beer

“The End is Near! Repent and Believe in the Name of Jesus!” i can see the apocalyptic signs now. You know the ones in all the movies about calamity and destruction. Of course, they are always portrayed as the morons, even if there is significant destruction. There was a street preacher the other day on a major intersection in Billings. He was standing on a ladder, he had a microphone, and his message was, “repent!” It got me to thinking and that is always a dangerous thing.

Way back in January, i had been watching the “YouTube” fringe news, and as i did, i became aware of the impending pandemic, even as many in the mainstream either didn’t report it or said there is nothing to see here. i began to stock up on things just in case. Not in an alarming way and not all at once, just a little here and a little there is all. i told those close to me, “hey, it might be nothing, but better safe than sorry.” i also mentioned some other things, and those things, although without fanfare, did come about as well.

i am not Nostradamus, i don’t pretend to know the future; however, i think 2021 is about to tell 2020, “Hold my Beer!”

i have a gut feeling i am not the only one who thinks this way. i also have a feeling that as others become more vocal, we will be portrayed, like the movies, as morons, kooks, and extremists. They will say things like, “how many times has the world almost ended since 2000? Remember Y2K? And who could argue? We have been desensitized and, in a sense, programmed to react this way. But even this is prophetic.

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.“” 2 Peter‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

i am simply writing this to say, stay alert, stay vigilant, stay in the word . . . And it wouldn’t hurt to maybe stock up on things like water, non-perishable foods, vitamins, and some paper products. Be smart. Have a plan. If 2020 is any indication, 2021 is going to be a wild ride, and i have a feeling we aren’t long for the Trumpet blast.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-52

Be somebody else.

“Well, what else would you call a second chance?” she asks. “You don’t like the man you were. Very well. Be somebody else. There’s nothing stopping you, not anymore. As I said, I envy you. The rest of us are stuck with our mistakes.”

Have you ever woken up and thought how amazing it would be to be . . . someone else? Not another person, like your neighbor or a celebrity, but a new you? Your past wiped clean, and your future unwritten or uninfluenced by your history. A brand new start. i know that many do, it is written about, movies are made about it, and friends share thoughts, “if I had it to do it all again . . . I would . . .” fill in the blank.

i watched a Hallmark movie (don’t judge me) that had this lady get into a car accident and she had amnesia. She is taken in by strangers and takes a new name. For a short time, she gets to be someone completely new. Of course, she falls in love, remembers who she is, tries to return to her old life, realizes she doesn’t like that person, and returns to her new love, insert happy ending.

i am currently reading a book. It has started with a man who has amnesia. The more he finds out about the person he was, the more he wants to be someone else. That is where this line from the book comes in. It is a brilliant line! The book is “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,” the author is Stuart Turton. i am only to chapter 8 but plan on spending the rest of the day reading it. Anyway, that is where i got the line above. Again it is brilliant, and it sums up humanity’s view on new beginnings so very well. i even underlined it and made a footnote.

You wanna know something incredible? A new beginning IS possible, without having to suffer amnesia. Paul writes: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

Paul also writes to the Philippians: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: FORGETTING what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on . . .” (3:12-14)

It is a fresh start. No longer bound by your past in the eyes of God. You have essentially been given a “do-over” just like when we were little and playing a game . . . it was always a gracious move to give your opponent a “do-over.” God, through Jesus the Son, has given humanity the opportunity for a “do-over,” one only needs to receive it. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are NEW every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Jesus teaches us about forgiveness in this way: “Then Peter came up and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22

Every day, actually, every moment, every decision, you have an opportunity to “be somebody else.” You don’t like who you are? Then “be somebody else.” Make a mistake? Confess, repent, forget, move forward, be somebody else, be the person God created you to be. Be an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be somebody else.

Life is full of new beginnings. Some we chose; Some are thrust upon us by different circumstances. Either way, seize the moment. Fear not for God is with you and be somebody else. The only person holding you back . . . is you. Today, i choose to be the person my dog thinks i am.

You are loved,

cj

The Church at Bugz’s

What is the Church, or where is the Church? Both of those are loaded questions. Of course, they both have simple answers. We are the Church, those of the Way, born new through Christ. Its location is the gathering of those of the Way. These are the prominent answers of the western church, and although they are correct, they are also far from right.

i could spend hours writing out the answers, but the problem with the western church is our answers. They are too theological and represent vast knowledge but lack simple wisdom, in the sense that the people who need to know don’t want that theological answer. They want simple, not for lack of intelligence but because they lack interest, and they aren’t coming to the Church to find out. What they see, doesn’t match what they are told, so what hope is there in that? Why would they want to be apart of something steeped in hypocrisy?

When i moved into my little apartment, my new neighbor and i struck up a friendship. We will sit out on our shared deck and talk about life. One day he shared his passion for pool. He once upon a time was a ranked semi-pro pool player and participated in a U.S. Amateur Open Pool Tournament; he owns a million pool cues!

One Sunday i was headed to Church and then to drive. It would be my first Sunday in town in some time as i have spent many weekends on the road between here and Colorado with my family during my mom’s final performance this side of heaven. i was going to try a local Church out but as i was returning from a morning walk with my ride or die, Shiloh, he is a six-year-old mini-Aussie, and perhaps the coolest dog on the planet. Anyway, as i was entering my apartment, my neighbor was exiting his. “Hey, I am going to Bugz’s to shoot some pool, do you want to go?” Now for those who don’t know, Bugz’s is a bar/casino.

At first, i started to make an excuse for why i couldn’t go. After all, it was Sunday; one doesn’t go to a bar on a Sunday and definitely not to shoot pool! But something grabbed my tongue, and i ended up saying, “Yes, i will meet you there in a few.” And so i did. He shot pool while i pushed balls around with a stick. He showed me some ways to hit and plan and see the table as a whole, each shot, although, individual, is part of a greater plan. Even if you mess up, there are ways to redeem your previous shot. Don’t waste opportunities and sometimes the easiest shot is not the one you take, defense can be a good strategy, don’t slam your stick on the table, sorry, pool cue.

We talked about a lot of things around that pool table. Life, current events, Jesus, each moment was blessed. It reminded me of something; This is the church. It is living in community. It isn’t a place or a building or a set time. It is lived in the heart of the believer and pours out in moments of time, every encounter, every conversation, each relationship. Jesus in me, Jesus through me, because Jesus is for me.

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but have itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill you ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

i am not discouraging the assembling together of the saints. i am a firm believer in that! The Church should gather in groups to share life and worship. But as i have written previously, the Church cannot just be a building; it is not a set time; it is every moment, every encounter, every decision. Choose to be the Church today, love the unlovable, show mercy and grace, walk humbly.

You are loved,

cj