Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

The World in Tumult

The World in Tumult

It seems the world has gone mad! i read something today that said there has been a terrorist attack somewhere in the world every 10 days so far this year.  Even with social media putting it in our faces more, the 24 hour news availability…this isn’t something one can just shake off as having “always been like this”.  Racial tension in America is on the rise, fanned by the main stream media and social media. We can choose to be blind, willfully ignorant, or just plain skeptical of its actuality…however, that doesn’t dismiss the fact that many people see it and it is being pushed in our faces.

There is a passage in Matthew, in Chapter 24; where Jesus, foretells the future. In Verse 6 it says, “And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.” The whole chapter is full of warnings of great trials. In fact the only positive thing about it is that in there somewhere, Jesus returns.  It talks about persecution and of a deception so great that even the elect, if possible, will be deceived.

What hope is there, what joy, what blessing? Here is part of the point; our hope, our joy, our blessing isn’t of this world or this age…it is yet to come fully. What we have now is the Spirit within us the Kingdom Come in Power within us that stays our hearts in times of trouble.  Whether or not you believe the end is near or not, one cannot deny the world is a tumultuous place.  That there is unrest in the Nations…here is where i find my hope:

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those that weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”    Romans 12:9-16

You are loved,

cj

For We Are All One

For We Are All One

Today, as i sat in the building in which a small portion of the Church gathers, i listened to our pastor’s impassioned plea for unity.  It hit me, as i heard his words and saw a glimpse of his heart that this is the same conversation i have been having with Rachel our Axiom manager. Just a regular woman, who just happens to be dark complected, a person of color, black, to be PC, African~American.  i can’t pretend to know how it feels to be a person of color, any color other than white, in America.

We could spend lots of time arguing i am sure, all points and sides, from “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter”.  Simultaneously arguing the same points but blind because neither side can truly understand the other completely.

So, as i sat in the building with the Church i was reminded of this passage in Galatians Chapter 3…beginning with verse 26;

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. 

The CHURCH must rise up above the racial tension in America. It must begin to show unity in tangible ways to those around us. This isn’t a political issue, although it has been made into one…it is rather a social one.  The Church for all of its flaws, has an opportunity to show Christ. To live out this principle in Galatians. To live out the mandate of Scripture to love, show mercy, have compassion, and live in a place of grace and forgiveness…it is for us, the Church, to walk humbly.

i am thankful that we took 30 teens to camp last week and we were the most diverse group there. i am proud of that fact and felt even better when one of the counselors was talking to me and pointed out the fact.  To be honest, i hadn’t thought about it.  i like to think that i don’t see color, that i live out Galatians everyday.  Not that i am already perfected, but forgetting what is behind, i press on toward the goal of Christ Jesus.

Rejoicing always, i attempt to let my gentleness be an outward expression of who lives within me.  i try not to be anxious but in everything though prayer i am thankfully hopeful. i am paraphrasing parts of Philippians, but let me close with this quote from the same 4:8,9

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

You are loved,

cj

Happy Resurrection Day

Happy Resurrection Day

Tonight, i watched a Christmas show. It’s not Christmas, if you were wondering. It is however, the Jewish Feast of Passover. To put it into perspective, if Jesus were fulfilling the Messianic prophecies in 2016, we would be looking for His resurrection tomorrow. i know what you are thinking, we celebrated “easter” already. You are right…but…i hate easter!

WHAT!? No, really, i hate “easter”. Wait, let me clarify for the record, its the term or label, “easter” that i hate, and yes, i do “hate” it. i struggle with it every year about this time…until it has passed and then i struggle with other things. i have enough struggles to keep me occupied all year. Now, since we find ourselves in the Spring of the year and with it the season of “easter” i only found it fitting to write about it here.

i have friends on either side of this discussion, (mostly in favor of the term…ok all of them really and) all of which are far more intelligent than i and yet i still struggle. Why, you ask? i know not, except that it burns with in me each and every time someone refers to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus, as “easter”. First however, my copout, i mean my disclaimer; this is my struggle, it is not intended to be your struggle but i write to find some release.

Somewhere around two thousand years ago an event occurred, of such great magnitude that it has shaped history ever since. It’s scope and grandeur are of epic proportions, yet its origins were simple. A young couple, poor and weary, find themselves in a place more fit for beast than man. A meager beginning, finds a baby, wrapped in rags lying in a manger. A moment, witnessed by shepherds, heralded by angels and later visited by Magi; it was the beginning of things told of generations before.  (Read some Awesome Scriptures here)

The reason for this child’s birth, death. Not just any death, a sacrificial death. Innocent yet guilty as He bore our sins all the way to the grave. His motive, Love. Redemptive love. The “Passion of the Christ” is more than a Mel Gibson film. It is a love story that is still unfolding today. You see what the world saw as an end, death, and burial. We know as triumph, “it is finished,”  wasn’t a gasp of giving up, but rather a shout of victory. “Up from the grave He arose…” On the third day the stone that was placed over the tomb was found rolled away and the tomb lay empty.

What sort of language is there, a word that can describe such an event? Well the feast that this week of Passion fulfills is known as “Pesach” or “Passover”. It was after all what Jesus and His disciples were celebrating in the upper room that fateful night of His betrayal. We as Christians should remember Passover, when we remember His death and Resurrection as the two are really un-separable. Part of the Sedar Meal was looking ahead at the coming of the Messiah, the Deliverer, the King. Jesus was that fulfillment right down to the broken bread and spilt wine. That is where we get the Christian tradition of the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion”. And of this tradition we are told to remember, “do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

Yet in light of this we choose to celebrate “Easter”, often times apart from the passover, as they don’t always aline. i don’t mind that so much as we celebrate it as it happened for the most part given the Jewish leaders cries to have it finished before the Sabbath day, Saturday. And Passover follows a lunar calendar and varies in when it is celebrated not always aligning each year as was the case this year, as you pointed out already, we already celebrated “easter”. However, the Passover Feast on the Jewish calendar is this week.  i believe we should try to keep the two close and always remember the Passover regardless of where it lands. But the term Easter, has some questionable origins. If they are true, and again there are far smarter, more learned folks than i on this, yet my struggle continues; why would we choose the term Easter for our most Holy Week? What is the origin that i question, well, it is said, that Easter gets its name from “Astarte” (there is a lengthy description of this you can read online by looking up that name or Estre, Estara, Eastre, Ostara…etc.) i recently read an article put out by “Answers in Genesis” in favor or just not opposed to the term Easter, you can read it here.

 1 Peter 1:13-16 “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

Let’s say, for arguments sake, that the origins i fear are true and accurate. That Easter does derive from Astarte and she was the goddess of fertility. How would one celebrate fertility? Maybe with eggs? But probably not a bunny…although you know what they say about bunnies!? i just think that we as a Church should be different than the world instead of conforming to it. i am not a fan of easter egg hunts, i have come to the point in my struggle that i no longer participate in them. As a pastor i did not ban them but i was as little help in that department as possible. Again, this struggle is ongoing, i did share my opinions but i also understand the heart of the idea. “We don’t use easter eggs, we have Resurrection Eggs.” So, they’re empty? Usually not.

But i digress. my point is simply this, why use a term, “Easter” to describe something so amazing as Victory over the Grave through the “Resurrection of our Lord Jesus”? Isn’t “Resurrection Sunday” or “Resurrection Day” a more fitting term? Why do we not put more emphasis on the Passover? Although we do, for the most part highlight “Good Friday”, i just think we need to get back to basics. Back to a simple understanding with simple terms that are not easily misinterpreted or lost in translation. We don’t need anymore confusion in the minds of our Children…so this “Easter Season” i mean Passover, share the good news of the Resurrection, the empty tomb, the Passion of the Christ, the Love of the Messiah, in that, through His blood…we will be passed over, in a good way, by the angel of death.

Happy Resurrection Day my friends,
You are Loved,

cj

Question #2 (Pilate’s Plight)

Question #2 (Pilate’s Plight)

Last week we took a look at Pilate’s first question to Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” So rich in its context and with Pilate’s next question we find that Pilate was a man of deep thought and subtle conviction. In response to Pilate’s first question Jesus replied, “Are you speaking for yourself about this or did others tell you this concerning Me?” A question answered by a question answered by a question….

Pilate, in response to Jesus asks, “Am I a Jew?” The idea of the “KING OF THE JEWS” and His love for all humanity has been around for 2000 years. Can the King of the Jews mean anything to anyone other than a Jew? Can the long awaited Jewish Messiah have any meaning for a gentile? The questions just seem to continue from here over the generations since the first recorded question from a gentile to Jesus, “Am I a Jew?” i don’t know but perhaps Pilate’s heart was trying to grasp something greater and even completely unaware begin to bring the message of Hope to all humanity.

Jesus, rises above the question. He presents a new reality to the religious that later is addressed in the letter to the Church in Rome this way, “Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.” a few verses down Paul continues, “But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree-some of the people of Israel-have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a  wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also received the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment form the root of God’s special olive tree.” (Romans 11:11-12,17)

Jesus, in His response to Pilate laid the foundation for what Paul writes here to Rome when He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If My Kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My Kingdom is not from here.” In other words, Jesus was simply stating that there is something greater going on here and that redemption is available for all of humanity…God’s love is greater than boarders. Not to say that Israel doesn’t have a sweet spot in God’s heart, we read that in the letter to the Romans but God’s love transcends boarders and is extended to all that believe!

Pilate’s inner turmoil played out for us here delivers a message of eternal hope that regardless of our nationality God is the redeemer of all. And that if Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world neither is ours

You are Loved,

cj

The Lords Prayer #4

The Lords Prayer #4

Your Will BE Done…

Continuing with, “Our Father in Heaven…Matt 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

“May Your Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Have you ever really considered these word of Jesus. What they really mean and do we really mean them when we repeat them? Do you repeat them?

What is happening in heaven that Jesus teaches us to pray about on earth? The list really isn’t that long.

Praise.
Worship.
Adoration.
Obedience.

You are loved,

cj

The Lords Prayer #3

The Lords Prayer #3

Your Kingdom come

Continuing with, “Our Father in Heaven…Matt 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

So much in this statement, “Your Kingdom come”. i will only focus on a small part of it to emphasis one point. The Kingdom is HERE! On that great and glorious day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended and we through the Spirit can live in His Kingdom now.

It is in the Spiritual, in thought, word and deed. Soon it will be in the physical as well. So we rejoice in the now. In the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and soon we will rejoice in the presence and power of our Lord Jesus bodily as He returns.

12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

You are Loved,
cj