Friday, October 14, 2011


Religion, including what often passes for Christianity, is all about how we reach UP to GOD
Religion is predicated on the false notion that there is a GAP between us and GOD.

us                      GOD

And that doing religion right is how we bridge that GAP.

us ------------> GOD

The Gospel, by contrast, is radical, different, unique, one-of-a-kind. Only the Gospel tells of the GOD Who Stoops to unite with us - not where we ought to be, but where we are.

us <------------ GOD


Both the Old and New Testaments show GOD as being keen to reverse the positions of those who are above with those who are below. Old Testament prophets often proclaimed that their GOD brings down the ruling powerful from their thrones, to lift up the poor and vulnerable. He did just this in the Exodus and numerous other places. In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of the prideful being cast down and the humble being raised up in echo of what his Father is like.

No one could have guessed or would have ever imagined how far GOD would go in his greatest reversal. Two thousand years ago, the GOD of all power stepped down from his cosmic throne. In Jesus, he humbled himself, became one of us, united himself to us in our poverty and vulnerability, in order to lift us UP.

Religion says we are to lift ourselves UP by doing more and trying harder. 
  • If you are a Buddhist, you must be nice and successfully complete the Eight-Fold Path of Enlightenment. 
  • If you are a Muslim, you have to pray five times a day, pilgrimage to Mecca, etc. etc.
  • If you are a Jew, you must keep over 600 laws. Good luck with that. 
  • If you are New Age, you have to save the whales and go green. 
  • If you are a Christian, some churches say your doing more and trying harder comes in the form of giving time, energy, money, and not embarrassing the church leadership with bad behavior.
In other words, religion sees a GAP between us and the Divine and knows nothing of the GOD Who Stoops to lift us UP to where he is, free of charge or effort.

The next time you hear someone wonder if all religions are the same, say YES.

Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of GOD, Son of Man, is different.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Love keeps no record of wrong. That's what it says in I Corinthians 13:5.
On the day Jesus died, God fired all the bookkeepers in heaven and assigned them happier jobs. 

John says in I John 2:2, that Jesus died for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
And Paul says, "God made you alive with Christ. He FORGAVE ALL our sins, having canceled the written code...He took it away, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:13-14 

This means there is now  -
 Eternally FORGIVEN

If there be any doubt about this, Jesus himself said, "Father FORGIVE them," as he died.
Now when we think about the judgment of God at the end of the age,
                                                      when God destroys all sin and evil,
                                                     He can do so without destroying us.

Should we choose to believe this Good News, we can walk through life free of guilt and shame.

And because we are fully and eternally FORGIVEN, we can now FORGIVE others.

This is also Good News.

We have all been hurt by others - sometimes grievously.

I know from personal experience that FORGIVING our enemy, especially a beloved enemy is not easily done.

To FORGIVE something serious is to experience a kind of death.

God bore in His flesh the pain and death of FORGIVING a world.

We experience our own little deaths by following him in this work.

And it is work - and may take time.

But it is work that has to be done and is well worth the doing.

If my wife and I didn't regularly FORGIVE each other, our marriage would be unbearable.

If I don't FORGIVE others, my life becomes unbearable.

When we are able to FORGIVE, we set others free and find that we too, are set free.

After all, withholding FORGIVENESS is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.

When God, in Christ, FORGAVE the world, He did it not only for us, but also for Himself.

He lives with a free and generous Spirit toward us.

Following Him empowers us to live with a free and generous spirit toward others too.

Jesus tells us to FORGIVE as we have been FORGIVEN.
Again, he's looking out for us.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


In Matthew 13, Jesus tells this story...

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who found a TREASURE in a field and with joy, sold all he owned to buy that field."

Imagine walking into a field and finding something so beautiful, so valuable ...
that all you possess or could ever gain in this life pales in comparison.
So you make a sign... EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!!! ...and have a garage sale.
Everyone thinks you've lost your mind.
             "Why are you doing this?" they demand.
You point to the field and smile. 
"I'm buying that!"
"You're crazy," they protest. 
"Don't you see? You're losing everything." 
But you just keep smiling because you know that with the field comes the TREASURE. You are gaining - not losing. With joy you sell ALL, because you've seen a beauty worth losing EVERYTHING for.

I like this story. I've preached it many times as though we were the ones who find the great TREASURE - the kingdom of God - worth losing everything for.
But recently, my son, Aaron, wondered, "What if GOD is the man who sold everything and WE are the TREASURE?"

Even better.
It is a little story that points to the big story.

We are the TREASURE God emptied himself to buy. 
When Jesus came from heaven to find us, he found his TREASURE.
Heaven was bankrupt as Jesus gave ALL and died for us.
"But for the JOY set before him he endured the cross..."
the pain and the loss...
Hebrews 12:2
Yes. The JOY of finding and gaining the TREASURE.
Think what it cost God to own you and now what JOY He has in having you.

You are the TREASURE!