THE REAL BATTLE IS THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS

The Bible talks of spiritual warfare and it isn’t just metaphoric language. Lately it seems Tracey and I have had quite our share of it. We have come across more people, as of late, opposed to Christ. As you listen more carefully though there real trouble lies with religion and people claiming to represent Christ. There are many, many ways we can all fail each other when it comes to living life but don’t let failures and disappointments with “Christians” give you an excuse to throw Jesus out too.

One thing that has brought me peace through the turmoil is to know all of this is only a result of being exactly where God wants us. It truly is war, and the closer you get to the front lines the more of a firestorm you run into. I am reminded of when Jesus called the phony religious leaders of his day a “brood of vipers.” When it comes to a brood of vipers all coiled up and ready to strike, there’s nothing you can do that won’t end up getting you bit.

No matter what Jesus did or didn’t do there were always accusers and we know who that is don’t we? If you do this someone won’t like it. If you do that someone else won’t like it. It seems to be a no win situation. In Matthew 11:16-19 Jesus said, “to what can I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John (the Baptist) came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds (children).”

So many are so deceived about God and what the truth is when it comes to Jesus Christ. One thing is for sure He is the most controversial figure to ever walk the earth. Even so at some point we all have to come to a conclusion. C.S. Lewis said, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” Mere Christianity pg. 52

Louie

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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO “MAN OF STEEL”

I was amazed to see the parallels to Christ, and the message of the gospel, in “Man of Steel” the latest version of the Superman story. Although it was a lengthy movie I did in fact watch the whole thing and am glad I did. For those that don’t know the story let me give you a little bit of back story. See if you catch the Spirit within.

The movie opens with Superman’s mother in labor even while Krypton, his home planet, begins to fall apart. You see Krypton’s core is dying and there are political forces at work determined to save it. Even though they aren’t on earth politics, greed and difference of opinion still rule the day so there’s is a disagreement on how to proceed. We are introduced to Superman’s father Jor-el and Zod the military leader who are at odds with one another over who has the best game-plan to save the planet which sets up the plot-line of the conflict between good and evil.

Jor-el decides to ship his son to earth in order to save him but not before taking Krypton’s core and downloading it into the baby superman. Effectively the baby now has the DNA of thousands of Kryptonians within him. Zod wants to turn Earth into the new Krypton but what better way to save them than for them to be actually “In” Superman? Hint: for me this was an illustration of all that are “In Christ.”

As Zod and his villainous companions are banished to do time for treason, Jor-el sends his son to earth where he lands in Kansas to be raised by an all American farming couple who do their best to raise him and keep his secret. The young superman attempts to conceal his identity, but inevitably he can’t help but be who he really is which is the savior of the world. Even as a young man he rescues his classmates when the school-bus plummets into a river. As the burden of his true identity grows slowly but surely people start to discover how different he really is.

I’m sure I will leave out significant pieces of the story but let me just tell you a few things that stuck out to me. His true identity can’t be hidden forever because as you know; who and what we really are will always show itself. It was the same for Superman in that he was driven to find out who his real parents were and why he was even on Earth to begin with. By the time he meets his true father he is really meeting what is described as the Father’s consciousness, whom I interpreted as the Spirit who tells him who he really is. So the Father sent the Son to earth to be the savior, and even though Superman didn’t fully understand who he was, the Spirit of his Father filled in the blank spots. One added tidbit here being that when he became fully aware, and embraced his true identity, he made the comment he had lived on earth for 33 yrs. This of course is believed to be the age of Jesus Christ when he was crucified; coincidence? I don’t think so.

The message of the gospel: God becoming a man, living a sinless life and dying and rising again for the salvation of man, is woven throughout the history of mankind. In fact if you look at most superheroes you will find they are a mixture of human and superhuman and that’s what makes them savior figures. Some would want to say this occurs because the Gospel message is really only a myth or old wives tale. Can I suggest to you maybe it’s the other way around. What if the message of God becoming man in order to save mankind is the truth and all these other tales are just new versions of the same theme?

C.S. Lewis said,

  1. All the myths of mankind’s primitive religions were expressions of a deep yearning — the deepest yearning — in mankind’s consciousness, namely that the mysterious transcendent God would come into intimate contact with mankind, and do so in such a way that He would repair the damages made by mankind’s sinfulness, and would grant to mankind a safety that would last forever.
  2. Christianity, rather than being one myth alongside many others, is thus the fulfillment of all previous mythological religions. It is a myth, like the others, but this time a myth that is also a fact.

So it seems to me Superman may just be a more recent story-line with the universal theme of the salvation of man at its core. Just as the myths of old, prior to Christ’s coming, were glimmers of the truth and the pagans response to the light they had. Superman and the like have become the new “gods” of our day. I in no way am saying they should be what we look to in order to know the truth about God himself, but what I am saying is if you have been born again you now have eyes to see the Kingdom no matter where it pops up. In the end what makes for a good story is love that goes the distance even at the risk of giving up ones own life.

When all is said and done I truly enjoyed the retelling of the Superman story in “Man of Steel” and recommend it. See if you can catch the Gospel sprinkled throughout.

Louie

THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

“Perception is reality.” Everyday we all come into contact with people and these people bring with them their own viewpoint of the world. Their perception of the situation is reality to them; so if it isn’t reality, their viewpoint is what has to change. The Bible calls this having our minds renewed.

My mother taught me, as I was growing up, to see things from the “other persons” viewpoint. She understood how we all bring prejudices, past hurts and skewed opinions with us to the table. She wanted me to learn how to put myself in their shoes before I rushed to judgment. Isn’t this part of what we are called to do as a Christian?

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” It seems the Apostle Paul understood what my mom was trying to teach me. We simply can’t make judgment calls on others motives. We may think we’re sure they are out to harm us, and on purpose even, but we have to learn to give them the benefit of the doubt.

C.S. Lewis once said, “But if you are a poor creature—poisoned by a wretched up-bringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels—saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion—nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends—do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day He will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all-not least yourself.”

Before anyone says, “Well, you’re just seeing others through rose colored glasses” let me say this, “Love hopes all things.” We are told to “Love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.” We all want everyone else to give us a break but it seems most of the time we aren’t willing to do the same for them. Apparently we think we’re right all the time and well, they should give me a break, after all it’s me you’re talking about here!

We want others to see how Christ has transformed us and appreciate the changes. We think they should see all the good things he has done in us and overlook those things we are still struggling with but for some reason we don’t do that for others. My prayer is we learn to see Christ in others in the same way we expect them to see him in us. I once heard discernment isn’t being able to see the faults and sins in others it is being able to see Christ in them. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to see Christ in them over and above what we think is their shortcomings. This appears to the world as naivety but in truth it is the way God sees, and we are learning to see through his eyes rather than the world’s.

Written by Louie

GOOD INFECTION

The Bible tells us Jesus Christ is the seed of Abraham. He’s the fulfillment of the promise of the seed of the woman, the heir of Abraham, the one that will rule on David’s throne and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is unlike anyone that has ever lived and yet he was made just as we are and tempted at all points yet without sin.

When God created Adam in the beginning he was perfect until he disobeyed. It was then that everything took a turn for the worse. Things became difficult for man. Thorns popped up, and women were going to have difficulty in child birth. In essence everything in all of creation was affected or should I say infected by man’s fall. It was going to take God’s intervention in order to set it straight and that’s exactly what happened. God sent his only Son here to reverse the curse. C.S. Lewis said, “He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life he has—by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

You know how weeds grow and take over a yard or garden? Well, Jesus Christ is the Seed and he came here to do the same thing but in a good way. Rather than him being a weed in a garden full of flowers he came as a flower to take over a garden full of weeds. God planted him here and he has been reproducing himself in others ever since and although to us it may seem at times like it isn’t working–it is. God chooses to work on a timetable most of us don’t like or understand.

Apparently there is an advantage to the length of time God takes to transform everything. The Bible says, “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from it slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” It’s as if God has slowed things down in order to free his creation. What if the material world itself is like it is just so we could be freed? After all God is Spirit and we are spirit. Could it be that he is working something out in our realm of “Matter and time” that will fix things once and for all? “All of creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons…”

We have the first fruits of the Spirit. We have received the Seed, which is Christ, and he is right now in the act of reproducing himself from within us. We that have received him by faith have caught the “Good infection.” I pray you have because one day according to 2 Peter “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” It seems the fall brought on by Adam didn’t catch God by surprise at all and better yet he’s working from within creation to set us free once and for all and once that is accomplished there will be no need of a material universe any more. The curse of sin on God’s creation will be no more and we will find ourselves in a brand new realm of Spirit without the slow, compacted and confining aspects of the material universe.

Written by Louie

THE PROBLEM OF ADDICTION

I. THE PROBLEM OF ADDICTION

 The Bondage of Addiction is a Stronghold—

 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5) It’s in the mind (thought, misbelief) opposite of God.

 “A stronghold is a mindset impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable what is known to be against the will of God.”—Ed Silvoso

 Addiction is Satan’s substitute it’s a counterfeit for intimacy with God.

 Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith -Addictionologist – “Drugs change the nature of Consciousness. The reason for the drug epidemic is that we have not taught our children to enjoy God forever on a daily basis. We are made for God – to spend time with Him. They are sensory deprived so they induce spiritual experiences through drugs.”

 Oswald Chambers says Satan’s counterfeit for fullness of the Holy Spirit is drunkenness or sexual experience— “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing.” —C. S. Lewis

 The essence of addiction is self-consciousness—if this is true then what would the answer for addiction be? “Thou has made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their all in Thee.” Augustine

 “As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I remain ‘hooked to the world’ – trying, failing and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart… Our addictions make us cling to what the world proclaims as the keys to self-fulfillment… These addictions create expectations that cannot but fail to satisfy our deepest needs. As long as we live within the world’s delusions, our addictions condemn us to face an endless series of disillusionments while our sense of self remains unfulfilled. In these days of increasing addictions, we have wandered far away from our Father’s home. The addicted we can be aptly designated a life lived in a ‘distant country’. Jam the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep leaving home where l am called a child of God, the beloved of my Father?”

—Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

 “It is for freedom Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

Taken from: Freedom In Christ Conference with Mike and Julia Quarles

Click HERE for the whole PDF from the Webinar

TRAVELING LIGHT

Our cat Bendhi loves the world!
Photo illustration by Tracey Lewis

Sometimes I get razzed about how I don’t have a cell phone. That’s right, you heard me correctly; I do not own a cell phone and as a matter of fact I never have. I know that sounds impossible doesn’t it? In this day and age how can anyone live their life without one? Just a little sarcasm for you; I’m not anti-cell phone I simply have yet to need one.

It isn’t only the cell phone, but I actually never wear a watch either. Some think that is strange too, but I guess I’m one of those people that like to travel light. I don’t wear jewelry, except my wedding ring of course. I’m not into having a bunch of stuff to keep up with. There are some things in the Bible that came to me sort of related to this. What do you think?

As far back as the night before God was to free the Children of Israel he told them to be ready to go. He told them when they ate the Passover lamb they should, “eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover.” I think we too are to be ready to go when the time comes. In the New Testament Jesus said, “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.” Notice these things are not sinful things, things in the house and cloaks, but they are things that we can grow unhealthily attached to, don’t you think?

We are instructed “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The world spoken of here isn’t the world in the sense of the world the bible says God loves, rather it is the “world system.” This is a system of believing and understanding that says we have to have these things or else we aren’t hip or we are out of touch. Remember it isn’t necessarily the things, in and of themselves, that are sin but the love of them. If we find ourselves not able to let go of them we may be falling in love with them. I think this is part of what fasting is all about. It is a way of showing ourselves what is truly most important to us. Anything we can’t live without might raise a red flag. Once our affection is solidly on Christ alone we are then free to enjoy all of these things, but we have to be sure our love isn’t divided between the two. It is one more of those paradoxes we live with; if we can live without something we are then free to have it.

I am a fan of rock music from way back and sometimes I hear some very profound truth in the lyrics. One of those times is a song by the group .38 Special. They have a song called “Hold on loosely” and of course like many other songs this one is about love. The line says, “Hold on loosely but don’t let go if you cling too tightly you’re gonna lose control.” It seems all of life works in this manner doesn’t it? If we could ever just enjoy what life offers without becoming controlling or obsessive we would have freedom, peace and joy to live it. One thing my wife says all the time is “This is not my home; I’m just passing through.” We are here to love God and love others; in the process we can enjoy all life has to offer along the way. I heard a quote once and I will end with it. C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

Written by Louie

ALL OF YOU

Willie removes a tree
Taking the whole tree down

“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart shall become your heart.”
—C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)