Friday, August 29, 2014
Galatians 3:26 So in Christ Jesus you are all sons 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.
That’s who you are! And that is who you are not. According to Galatians 3, there is no such thing as a male son of God, and there is no such thing as a female son of God. Further, there is no such thing as a homosexual son of God, neither is there such a thing as a heterosexual son of God. There are only sons of God. That is our Primary Identity. That is how God sees us. What do you see?
In my experience, most people put their true identity, “son of God,” on no greater level than they do their earthly identities: “I’m a man,” “I’m an American,” “I’m a Republican,” “I’m a boss,” “I’m a salesman,” “I’m a husband,” and so on. Do you know how tragic this is? We’re not impressed by who we are, often because we’ve been seduced into believing we are many things, each of which need work. As an example, which topic has more books available to you today, which one sells more: “How To Enjoy Being A Son of God,” or “How to Be a Better Man,” “How to Be a Better Husband,” “How to Be A Better Wife,” “How to Be a Better Salesman,” and “How to Lose Weight & Be the Person You Really Are”? Which?
God knows who we are in Christ and He is talking with us all about who we are and the benefits of that so we can live as we are. But we want Him to talk with us about lesser identities, which we might think are more practical, even though they’re comparatively rarely mentioned in the New Covenant. Have you noticed that? And we’re disguised from the glory of who we are. And we cannot live by faith. We’re impaired, and don’t recognize that our limp comes from the wound of a false identity.
To me it is just as foolish to tout a heterosexual identity as it is for someone to tout a homosexual identity. Both identities are outside of Christ, and captives are made in such ways.
Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental principles of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
I think it is worldly and dangerous to choose an identity, whether it is based upon status, ethnicity, desire, geography, grade point average, or bodily plumbing(!), because it leads the chooser away from life in Christ (which is where we are), away from being rooted and built up in Him, and away from enjoying the fullness we have received in Christ. The one so choosing has been made a prisoner, even if he doesn’t recognize the invisible bars.
Our bodies are not for us to figure out and to gain identities from; you must know what a trap that is! Our bodies are for the Lord, for His work, for His display, for His glory, and for His life. (See 1 Corinthians 6:13.) There’s no rest in Christ when you believe you’re primarily something outside of Christ, and focus and work upon that. We no longer live, but Christ, remember? Any particular struggle that goes on in the body, any wrestling we encounter within, however it comes, however it looks, is for Him with us there—“Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). That’s where God is; have you found Him there? Probably not if a lesser, worldly identity has your focus.
My friends who refer to themselves as “gay,” know that I won’t talk with them about their chosen worldly identity. Instead, I talk with them about their heavenly identity, their “here-is-who-you-are-in-Christ” identity, because I believe they are who He says they are, new creation sons of God, and that they are then Christ’s workmanship—from beginning to end. He who began a good work IN them—not UPON them—is who I want them to know. For them to be filled and led by the Spirit inside is everything to me, so I recognize them not as the world does, or even as they might want me to recognize them—as gay. To see them and to approach them only as what they feel and what they desire is, I think, for me to choose blindness and to injure them, and I want nothing to do with that.
It’s the same for me with people who are married, people who are single, people who are heterosexual, people who are kids, people who are black, people who are white, people who are Democrats, people who are Republicans—that’s not who they are! Those things are comparative cover-ups to the truth, the truth that brings life within. So this is not a pro-heterosexual rant, neither is it a pro-homosexual rant; it’s a pro-Christ-in-you rant.
My suggestion? Repent, re-think who we are and where we are—sons of God in Christ—and lay aside the clutter of lesser identities. Choosing them has distracted, crippled, and disguised us even to ourselves. The truth is much better.
This is a transcript of the video, “The Crippling Clutter of Lesser Identities,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/GjzG5rv-Tl8.)
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Have you ever thought that meant we’re just supposed to read our Bibles? Read ‘em more, read ‘em better, because then we’ll know what to do? I think it’s a mistake if we believe and approach this transforming act as one that will result primarily in a smart mind and a head crammed full of wisdom and what to do. That’s not it.
In his outstanding book, “Birthright,” David Needham writes, “. . .the renewal of our minds is far more than simply exercising brain power. A crucial ‘how’ of holiness is inseparable from knowing the truth of God’s Word, but it must be more than simply quantitative information. It must involve a participant, relational type of knowledge, which in the Bible is inseparable from the power of its Author. Instead of simply telling us to ‘memorize the Bible,’ Paul prayed,
‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe…’” (Ephesians 1:17-19 NIV.)
Knowing God and the riches He has given us is the point!
What do I do? Well, no longer is it my goal to commit scripture to memory so that I might not offend God, or so that I might not make Him mad or disappointed in me because of my actions resulting from not reading the Bible enough. I heard that angle suggested about Bible reading for many years, which led more than a few people into disappointing false guilt when, having been given a standard of time they were supposed to spend reading, they concluded that they hadn’t read enough or good enough because their days weren’t as good as they thought they would be if they read enough. Frankly, they had done nothing wrong! But because they’d been taught to read their Bibles so as to not disappoint God, they assumed they were guilty. They didn’t hear that from God, but it didn’t seem to matter because they had figured it out on their own without Him. Or so they thought.
Look, all kinds of life and busyness and family and jobs and various distractions are going to happen to you, right? So if you believe you have to put in a certain amount of time in the Bible in order to qualify for God’s blessings, or in order to be transformed, you’re going to struggle with false guilt which usually leads you to stop reading the Bible altogether. And you’ll feel worse still, as it sits on your table, glaring at you. “You haven’t picked up the Word today.”
Many of us have been taught that the Word of God is text on a page, something to be memorized, and not God Himself, someone to be known. When Amy Grant sang Psalm 119:105—“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”—we figured that meant the Bible. It would have been a better song if Amy had included the New Covenant fact of what God did concerning the Word:
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
The Word is Jesus! And where is the Word now? Where is the “lamp unto my feet”? In us, the receivers of Christ Jesus! Considering the path you’re walking, aren’t you glad that the “light unto your feet” is in you? You don’t have to carry a pocket version of the Bible so you’ll have the Word with you at all times—you already do! You have much more than a pocket version!
I love the Bible and sometimes I memorize a verse or two—it’s a good thing!—but I don’t read it so I can be a “good Christian,” with lots of spiritual brownie points accumulating in my heavenly file. I memorize and think about certain passages and verses so that in my day, whether beginning, middle or end, I’m thinking about Him. Reflecting upon what He has done for me and what He has made of me, does something miraculous: the real me, the newly created son of God, me, stands up and is noticeable. I can tell! My thinking is clear, my heart is open and on display, and I love without fear of consequence.
I’m transformed, I’m brought out, and I know it. The lie of my earthly citizenship and belonging is removed, and there I am, a heavenly creature. The decoy attractions of this world appear as the ludicrous seductions they are, and true hunger and value and thirst and freedom invigorate me. Hooray! And things are as they should be, including me.
I don’t mean to imply that the scriptures are not sacred and “God-breathed,” because they surely are! It’s just that we get deceived into thinking more highly of the text and our knowledge of it than of knowing God and the “God-breathed” part. That’s what counts and that’s what transforms. Needham writes, “Remember, God did not save us simply to use us. He did not save us to get such and such quantity of holiness produced. He saved us for love.”
He loves you perfectly, and that’s transforming.
(This is a transcript of the video, “Why Read The Bible,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/f_3rWWF84Uc, or simply scroll down this page. You can also subscribe at the link by clicking on the red Subscribe button.)
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Will God be mad at me if I don’t read my Bible, cut me off from blessings and cancel my inheritance? Should I be worried if I haven’t read it as much as I was supposed to? Give 8 minutes to this video and find out. (You’ll also find a surprise at the 3:35 mark!)
Friday, August 22, 2014
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
If you'd like to listen/download my message from last Sunday at Grace Life Church (Woodstock, Georgia), this quote will help get you primed: "Witness is what I would die for, opinion is what I would kill for."
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Thursday, August 07, 2014
One comes to take and to damage thereby; that’s the pattern. The other comes to give and repair; that’s Jesus’ pattern.
I want to remind you today simply that Jesus is not asking you to give Him your heart – He has given you His. Jesus is not asking you to give Him your life – He has given you His. That’s the pattern.
The rest of your days will be about exploring how good He is for you so He can do and give and repair more and more for you. That’s life by Jesus. You like life that comes from Him, right? And He likes giving and repairing. That’s what He’s like. That’s the pattern, and that’s what you’re set up for.
If you’ve been hearing or giving yourself to a contrary pattern, no matter where it comes from, no matter how you hear it, there will be no life in it, and there will, consequently, be no repair. It’s not for you. It’s not from Jesus. One pattern is from this world—take and damage. The other is from Jesus—give and repair. That’s Him.
Catch the pattern. It will help you.
(This is a transcript of the video, “Catch The Pattern,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/3af193i6220.)