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

The 9 Commandments

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou Shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Honor thy father and thy mother
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet . . . anything that is thy nieghbors.

It seems fitting to take out the commandment about honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy since we have thrown it aside anyway. After all, we have made every excuse in the book to remove any need to honor it, even replacing it haphazardly without honor, certainly not holy, and filled it with worldly pleasure.

One, at this point, might label me a legalist. Ok, fair enough. Yet, if i am a legalist, then would i also be labeled a legalist if i said, “you shouldn’t kill someone?” Or that “you shouldn’t commit adultery?” Or any of the other commandments. The answer is obviously NO, so why is one labeled a legalist if they call for the observance of the Sabbath? Maybe someone can enlighten me. Of course, there are the scriptures that talk about how they gathered on the first day of the week, that being Sunday. However, it also says they gathered all the time; we don’t do that! It also says they took communion A LOT! Some are content to take it once a quarter, and still some not at all!

Part of loving God with our whole being as Jesus declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” is honoring Him. i am not saying that you cannot honor God on Sunday, or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday . . . what i am saying is that God clearly cuts out Saturday and says, this is the Sabbath, and you should honor it and keep it holy.” So the next question is, how do we honor it, how do we keep it holy?

The Pharisee’s obviously were missing the boat on this as Jesus clearly rebuked them for how they had turned it into something that it wasn’t. So what is it? “Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because, on it, God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” God took the seventh day, and He rested. We can rest on any day of the week, i get it, but there is something to this seventh-day rest if it weren’t so the devil wouldn’t care to distract us from it!

i have been taking Saturday and resting. i try to do as little as possible. i refrain from shopping because that requires someone to not be at rest so that i can shop. i don’t do this out of legality but in honor of both God and others as i wish for them to honor the Sabbath day. i am still figuring out what it means to keep the Sabbath, but i spend time with the Lord. i read Scripture, listen to sermons, pray continuously, and seek to honor God by honoring the Sabbath. i believe this is what God desires of all of us. i would love to hear your thoughts on the idea.

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

The Return of the King!

For those of us of the Way, we eagerly await the Return of the King. No, not the third movie in the Lord of the Rings series, but the actual return of our Lord and King Jesus. So much so that i think we often lose sight of what is to transpire prior to His return. We like to sugar coat things. We want to hope in rescue. We also like to overlook or explain away things like beasts, dragons, and death. Although some are allegorical, much of it is literal, and understanding that is vital as we enter what i believe to be very difficult times ahead.

i know i keep repeating myself there, but i want to share something that has been on my heart for some time. i think many Christians are ripe for being fooled by what’s ahead because many rely on the “news media,” and i use that term lightly, more than the Word of God, for their understanding of current events. That is a problem. A very big problem. They have gotten a good portion of the US wrapped up in the election process and are leading like the pied-piper many to false hope and security. Basing it on one man in an office, we call the president. This is a dangerous road for Christians. Here’s why.

As we get accustomed to seeking man for hope and security, it will make it easier to fall for the coming deception of a man seemingly so great that he appears to solve much of the world’s problems. It will seem right and amazing, fooling many, even if possible, the elect. Why? and How? Because rather than study the Word of God we listen to man, or in many instances, the media. It is time to wake up Church because the great deception is upon us and if we are not dilegent in our study and understanding of the Truth, we will fall for the lie.

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV

i know what many of you will say, “this occurs after the rapture.” Well, i have a different view of the rapture as i do not believe it occurs until the end of the great tribulation. If i am wrong, and i don’t mind being wrong on this point, then great. However, if you are wrong and you are not prepared to endure till the end as often referenced in Scripture, you will be more susceptible to following a man. That is why i write this. For you see, the first “man” on the scene in Revelation isn’t Jesus, but the beast, and this is where the allegorical story comes in.

“It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” Revelation 13:6-9 ESV

The second one on the scene is the false prophet who deceives many into worshiping the first beast. See Revelation 13:11-18. Here we read about the mark of the beast and the idea of buying and selling being limited to only those who have the mark. Many are not prepared to endure or to suffer or to die . . . and i fear that the church has been lulled to sleep of what is before us. i do not believe it is either of our potential presidents; let me make that clear. However, it is the idea that we are being “programmed” in a way to accept the idea that in man, we have the answers we need.

Here is my main point, be diligent, keep your eyes on Jesus, keep your oil lamp full! As we continue into uncertain waters, do not grow weary, do not lose faith, do not put your hope in man, but do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

We are going to be launching a weekly email that will emphasis spitiual insights on developing stories around the world. You can subscribe here.

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

Cold Brew

Moments in which you are given the opportunity to self evaluate need to be taken like you are making cold brew. Coffee that is cold brewed is steeped for 24 hours. Whereas a coffee pot or perk, even a pour-over are relatively instant . . . of course there is instant, but is that even coffee? In brewing cold brew coffee, you use a filter of some sort, like a teabag, and let the coffee grounds sit in the coffee. That’s it. There is no real secret: filter, coffee, cold water, and 24 hours.

In your moment of self-evaluation, you will need just a few things. A good filter, i would suggest you use the Word; everything in your life should be filtered through Jesus and God’s Word. You will need coffee, the substance, the experience, the action, the situation that is being evaluated. You will need cold water, clear your mind of distraction. Finally, you will need time; you should never rush but consider everything in order to get an accurate evaluation.

The Word will keep you honest. Life is life, and there is nothing new under the sun. God already knows, so lay out your life bare as you evaluate it. You will be distracted, you will be challenged, and you will want to walk away if you are really taking the evaluation of your life seriously. Therefore it will take time, time to clear your mind, time to remove distractions, and time to sit and listen.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God . . .” It is an excellent place to start as you sit in the counsel of the Word. Be still before the Lord and know that He is God, that He already knows, and He cares for you. Psalm 1:2 says, “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.” The Word, although difficult at times, to understand, to follow, to take in, should still be delighted in. You should meditate on all of it, and as you read it in order to filter your life through it if you find something in it that is disagreeable to you . . . i can assure you, you are the one that is wrong and not the Word of God.

That is part of self-evaluation that nobody likes. The part in which, as one’s life is laid bare before God and His Word, there is no doubt conviction. That conviction isn’t intended to harm, but to grow you. Every situation in life is a learning opportunity to learn and grow. It can be very uncomfortable and feel very lonely; these two things are why many refuse even to attempt self-evaluation. Psalm 4:4 says, “Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” It is in these moments, pure, open, honest moments, that life is found, and growth can happen.

Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

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

Slightly Stale . . .

i was recently eating at a restaurant where they served chips and salsa. i love good chips and salsa, but who doesn’t, right? Anyway, as i anticipated the chips and salsa arriving at my table, i was hoping they would be warm. Why? Because that would indicate that they had been in the warmer and, therefore, would be crispy. Interestingly, last night i was out at a restaurant that served bread before the meal, again i found myself hoping that the bread would arrive warm. Why? Because that would indicate that they had ensured that freshness by warming it.

Have you ever had a slightly stale chip or piece of bread? A stale chip can be a little soft, whereas a stale piece of bread can be a bit firm or hard—the remedy for both heat. If you put the chip in the oven for a bit, it will crispen up . . . whereas the bread, if done correctly, will soften. Both will taste fresh again. A warm chip dipped in salsa is as heavenly as a warm piece of bread that melts the butter as you spread it on.

The Christian life can be much the same thing. Believe it or not. We can find ourselves stale, in a place where we are too soft, or we have grown to firm or hard. Both positions are not good or healthy. And just like chips and bread, the solution to our problem is heat. How many worship songs do you know that talk about “Fire?” Are you feeling a bit flimsy in your walk with Jesus? Turn up the heat! Do you feel your heart hardening, especially seeing what is going on in this world? Turn up the heat!

We are called to stand firm in our faith and be at the ready with compassion. We are called to be prepared in season and out of season. It is easy to lose that freshness of when we first came to know Jesus; it’s also easy to lose that refreshing feeling you get from a camp or retreat or even a good sermon. Especially now, with all these restrictions and long periods of isolation. One could very easily find themselves growing stale in their faith or walk with the Lord.

In fact, with the way the world is going, this verse seems rather fitting: “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.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Peter gives a remedy: “Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time of restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.” Acts 3:19-21

If you find yourself in a stale relationship with Jesus. If you find yourself growing weak or arrogant, you might want to repent and allow the Spirit of the Lord to refresh you. And keep yourself in the warmer.

I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence, there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:8-11

This is not the time to allow ourselves to grow cold or stale. We need to remain HOT and FRESH for the battle that is before us. People who are looking for answers are not looking for stale Christianity. They want something real, authentic, refreshing, and pure. The Lord is coming again . . . Whether that is in our generation or one to come, the time is short . . . when He does, i pray He finds us faithfully about the Kingdom’s work.

You are loved,

cj

Beyond Blessed

As the world around us crumbles, and as my life seemingly crumbled around me, i can only say, “i am beyond blessed.” How can one make such a statement, how can i make such a statement? Easily! But first, you need to know the road i choose to travel. my road is much like yours in many ways, yet completely different, and that is the mystery of life. Everyone is the same, and yet completely different. To think otherwise is to be a fool. Furthermore, everyone is on a journey, influenced by others, affected by decisions, changed by events.

How one traverses these life influences and how these things imprint one’s life is one hundred percent the choice of the individual. It is called taking responsibility, being self-aware, and stopping to breathe and to use a skill often left in the annals of history, critical-thinking. You may not be able to stop what happens to you, but you can definitely determine how you respond to it.

Romans 15:13 —May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 12:12 —Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Philippians 4:4 —Rejoice in the Lord alwyas; again I will say, Rejoice.

Galatians 5:22-23 —But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . .

Life might suck. Lord knows my 2020 has! i have shared before, besides all that is going on with the world, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and died four months later. Through a series of events, i find myself yet again divorced. It has forced me to step away from full-time vocational ministry after 20 plus years! This is the first summer that i have not had any of my son’s with me. With all the travel back and forth to visit my mom and be with family for the last four months, my finances are shaky at best. i have been eating out more. Taco Bell, mainly, as i am on a very tight budget, and i can get a meal for $3.50, which is actually far less than if i went to the store. Because when i cook like i did this morning, i make food for a family, and it reminds me of the fact i am alone. So how is it that i can say that i am beyond blessed?! Because of the road, i choose to travel, and on this road, i am never truly alone.

If not for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within me, i would not. It is the hope that i carry within me that allows me to have joy unspeakable. i can’t even fully explain it. All i know is that i have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and an opportunity each moment to choose Jesus, to choose joy, to stand and say, “i am beyond blessed.” And it is true, no matter my circumstances, i am beyond blessed. You can be too! If you choose.

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