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Don’t you just love the negative stuff that gets shared on Facebook? NOT.

Here’s one from today that has been shared over 94,000 times regarding a comment made nearly six years ago. The photo, however, does not appear to be six years old.

Facebook 8/22/13

Facebook 8/22/2013 referring to Emmy Acceptance Speech 9/16/2007 click on pic for larger view

“A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus….So all I can say is suck it Jesus. This is my god now.” ~ Kathy Griffin
Click here to watch the video on Youtube.

Her statement (whether she meant it or not) says something that few people recognize – our god is whatever we desire most. But that’s not what I’m blogging about today.

The responses to this “share” were not hope-filled. 🙂 I suppose if they were made by those who are not Christ-followers that would be okay because it would indicate that at least they believe Jesus is worthy of more respect. However, I’m guessing that the majority of those responses were by self-proclaimed “followers of Jesus.”

Interestingly, when one of Jesus’ closest followers responded defensively in situations, Jesus rebuked him telling this devoted follower that he did not have “in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23 NIV). Peter is rebuked again when he cuts off the ear of the guard arresting Jesus (John 18:11).

I expect that if Jesus had a Facebook account he wouldn’t “like”  comments that are meant to “defend” his name. He would probably prefer a “weep” option. Snopes.com quoted Griffin as saying: “she was simply parodying rappers, starlets, and athletes who thank Jesus for the recognitions they receive as if Jesus doesn’t have anything better to do than make sure that someone got their People’s Choice Award or whatever.'” (emphasis mine)

This is perhaps the more common mindset of not just those who don’t know Jesus but sadly of those who profess to know him personally.

Here’s some good news for Kathy Griffin and all who think Jesus has better things to do:

Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:29-30

Here’s something that would help everyone on Facebook:

  1. Read carefully. Consider the source and intent. If it seems vague – no specific locations, names, or dates – it’s most likely not true. If it appears to be true, remember there are always at least two sides to every story.
  2. Check Snopes.com before you add your comment, like or share anything. Many “shares” are only partially true at best. Yesterday one implied there are 28 Amendments to the US Constitution.
  3. Christ follower or not, I challenge you to ask Jesus to give you eyes to see what he sees. Respond or don’t respond with “the concerns of God in mind, not merely human concerns.”

Follow the way of truth and love, my friends, even on Facebook. 🙂

If I speak in human or angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:1

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I’ve been reading Naturally Supernatural by Gary Best. Here’s what’s happened this week as I’ve attempted to put the concepts into practice:

  • prayed for a friend over the phone – knee flexibility restored
  • prayed for a neighbor’s congestion and yucky cold symptoms – not totally healed but nasal passages cleared as we prayed
  • prayed for another neighbor’s foot – pain totally gone, we were both amazed! 🙂

This Naturally Supernatural stuff is pretty exciting! God truly loves us and wants to reveal his kingdom power through us. In the last prayer above, I was convinced nothing was going to happen after two rounds of prayer. Proof to me that it’s not about how much I believe. God will do what he intends to do as long as I am willing to try.

Maybe one of the reasons there is so much evil and sickness in the world is that we are not willing to allow God’s power to flow through us. I know I can kinda be like spoiled child sitting back asking why God won’t do something when he invites me to actually participate with him in his divine nature!

Go pray for someone and see what happens! Remember it’s not about our strength, it’s all about God wanting to show his love, his power and his mercy through us. Are we willing to let his mercy flow through us at the risk of looking foolish?

Anyone living in The Woodlands, TX area interested or curious about the Naturally Supernatural stuff… join us Fridays through May 17 at 6:45pm. email me for more info and location (lisa biggs crum@gmail.com  remove spaces)

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

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Too often we fumble around in our relationships with lost people, never really getting to the heart of the matter. We talk around Jesus without introducing people to him. ~ R. York Moore, Growing Your Faith By Giving It Away

How do you feel when you walk up to a friend who is standing with someone you don’t know and they never introduce you? Maybe they even carry on the conversation as if you two do know each other. What’s worse is when the stranger talks to you like they know you! Sometimes it’s humorous because you realize later your “friend” either didn’t know your name or didn’t know the name of the person they had been talking to for 15 minutes.

I had the thrill of being with someone this past week who recognized the awesomeness of Jesus while I was with her. It was so cool. I’ve heard a lot about “leading” someone to Jesus and always felt that wording was a bit odd for my experiences. I suppose there are times when I walk someone to Jesus but most of the time Jesus is already present. My friend this week was already with Jesus, she just didn’t know him personally. She does now!

In my opinion, this is probably more common than we realize. It’s like assuming someone from Ohio knows how to eat crawfish because there is crawfish everywhere in Houston.

I’m convinced that introducing Jesus to people is easier than we think. We don’t have to build a long-standing relationship and get them to “trust us” before we introduce them to the person who is standing there with us. Now, if Jesus isn’t present in your life, then it is probably much more difficult. Maybe you tend to forget his name when you are with someone who doesn’t know him. Or, he’s not as significant to you as the other person so you unintentionally turn away or forget he’s around when someone more significant shows up.

That’s my concern with some forms of evangelism (ooow, that’s a word I detested two years ago) that focus on what the other person might think or do.  In that style of evangelism there is a false sense of being considerate of the person we want to “evangelize” (still don’t like that word). It is almost like we make that person more important than Jesus himself. In reality, we don’t care much for that person either or we’d get around to introducing Jesus pretty quick! Let me tell you something, if you are standing with the President of the US (regardless of whether I voted for him or agree with his policies) and you don’t introduce me!!!!! I’m gonna be ticked off at you dude! I wanna be able to say I met the President.

When we recognize the significance of Jesus not only in our own life but for everyone we meet, we better introduce him. Standing with someone who doesn’t know Jesus and we don’t introduce them…. That’s just rude! Isn’t it?

Is Jesus with you? How important is he to you? As important as the last unknown person you mentioned in conversation? If Jesus is who he says he is -uh, he says he is God, you know, the Creator of everything, the one who will wipe every tear, remove all pain and sorrow – yeah, that’s who we are talking about. So, if he is who he says he is, don’t you think others might like to be introduced to him? HE is not a theory or a religion. He is a friend. Let go of your pride and fear. He’s not just for you. He came for everyone.

Introduce your friend. That’s why he calls us friend.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 

If you don’t know Jesus as a friend, stop what you are doing. Talk to him like a friend then WAIT for him to respond like you would a friend. He will. But you have to WAIT and you have to LISTEN. It’s easier to recognize his voice if you’ve read the Bible and know what he’s like. If you waited and didn’t hear him. Go read John chapter 14 through 17 and try again. 🙂

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Redeeming Coupons

Fear. Wrath. Punishment. Death.

Love. Joy. Peace. Hope. Life.

I like the second set of words much better than the first. Don’t you? When speaking of God, many see God in one or the other. Yet, there is just one word that stands between the two.

REDEMPTION.

The truth is the first set is where we are without Christ. Not just acts of God on us. We also bring those things on each other. The second set is where we want to be. The way we want things to be around us whether we are followers of Christ or not.

Redemption is a strange word. It is not an everyday word but has meaning in various circles. It’s a common term in investments and if you grew up in church, you’ve heard the word whether you know what it means or not. But the picture that came to me was a coupon for something free. A flimsy cheap piece of paper can be redeemed for something of great value. There is wording on many coupons that give that piece of paper a cash value of 1/10 of a cent or less. (Interesting article about that at http://mentalfloss.com/article/26838/why-are-coupons-worth-1100th-cent)

Some coupons have “no cash value.” This is our life. Ouch, our pride doesn’t like that especially in this I-can-be-great culture but it’s true. In God’s economy, we are like a coupon with “no cash value.” BUT, here’s the good news, we can turn in our “no cash value” life for one of value beyond measure!

My son was recently struggling through the question, why does everyone have to suffer for the sin of Adam and Eve? God revealed clearly to him, every person alive does daily what Adam and Eve did in that original story of sin. I believe the way he put it was more personal. He recognized that he does daily what Adam and Eve did. He chooses to do what he wants instead of what God wants. We all do. When we recognize that, we begin to understand both sets of words and what makes God’s redemption and love so amazing.

I’m struggling to push through all the voices that tell me “just enjoy life.” The reality is that life apart from God leads only to Fear, Wrath, Punishment and Death. Those are not things that just show up after physical death. They are real now. The second set of words can also be very real in this life now. But they cannot be experienced fully apart from dependence on God.

The Life that Adam and Eve were banned from in the Garden can only be accessed through intimate relationship with God. We cannot know God’s will, God’s plan, God’s Love, Joy, Peace, Hope, and Life, without listening and obeying God’s voice. When we attempt to have those things on our own terms, we are doing the same thing Adam and Eve did.

God is good because he sets the standard and defines good. God is love because he sets the standard and defines love. Any time we try to define “good” or “love” apart from God, we are attempting to be our own god.

Access to God comes only through Jesus. Why? Because he is God in the flesh. He is not just a good person who figured out how to do all the right things in his own understanding. He is the visible image of the one and only invisible God. He took on humanness in order to take on the wrath, punishment and death that is standard for all creation lived apart from God’s plan of life.

It would be great to say that Jesus’ death took away Fear, Wrath, Punishment and Death completely and immediately. We want to believe that because of Christ, the Christian life is all Love, Joy, Peace and Abundant Life. But we live in the tension of the already and the not yet of God’s perfect plan.

Jesus already brought access to God’s life and Love. It is possible to hear God’s voice and have the abundant life in us now through the Holy Spirit given to us after Jesus rose from the dead (read about that in Acts 1 and 2). Jesus overpowered Death to give us Hope for what is to come: a life always full of peace and joy; a life completely void of pain and sorrow. But God is waiting for more to turn and follow his voice before the plan is completed. Because, those who refuse to listen for and obey his voice now won’t be living where his voice is the only way to live. For now there is a choice. Which means even for those who desire to be fully surrendered to the voice of God, we are attacked daily by the voices opposed to God. But when we hear his voice and obey, we taste real life and it is sweet.

Which set of words do you live with: Fear, Wrath, Punishment, Death OR Love, Joy, Peace, Hope, Life. You can live with the value of the second set even if you are battling with Fear. Jesus of Nazareth is a real historical person. He is the Christ which means he is God. He has a plan to save and redeem the world from fear. We have hope now for a future with total peace and joy. I get a taste of it once in a while and I’m sure it is worth it. It is what we are created to enjoy forever.

There is always a price to be paid for something of great value. A coupon that sits in a drawer at home when I go to the store causes me to pay a higher price.  Coupons put the cost on whoever offers the coupon. Jesus wrote the coupon. And, like many coupons, Jesus’ redemption offer has an expiration date. Have you redeemed your coupon? The sooner you cash-in, the sooner you can taste the good stuff that’s coming.

A prayer of redemption:

Father in heaven, without Jesus I have no value. Forgive me for trying to write my own redemption value. Because of Christ and your plan of redemption, I surrender my limited, rotting life in exchange for the eternal non-perishable life you offer. It sounds like a deal too good to be true but you have written the offer in the blood of Jesus. You promise your Holy Spirit will guide and teach me so that I may see and hear how to live this life you have offered – a Life of Love, Joy, Hope, and Peace. I accept your offer and proclaim, you are God and I am no longer my own god.

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it….This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14,19-20

If you are choosing Life and aren’t plugged in to a regular gathering of Christ followers who know what it means to experience Life now, find one! We need each other.

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…we have put all our energy into trying to get people into heaven instead of trying to get heaven into people. We have tried to get people, as the American author Dallas Willard says, ready to die rather than getting them ready to live. No wonder we haven’t been very good advertising for God. ~ Gary Best, Naturally Supernatural

“Kingdom theology” was a foreign phrase to me a decade ago. Now, I can’t imagine talking about Jesus, or the Bible, or the meaning of existence without referencing this concept. The Kingdom of God is anywhere God’s rule is being carried out. It is carried out perfectly in heaven. Jesus brought that rule to earth as a foretaste of what is to come.

Next week is holy week*. Those who claim to follow the teaching of Jesus the Christ celebrate his death and resurrection. If you know nothing about Christianity, celebrating someone’s death must sound really weird. Might make you very cautious about mixing with those people. I suppose that is why most people like to jump quickly to the “heaven when you die” thing when talking about Jesus. Makes some sense: Jesus died, we all expect to die. Then Jesus came back to life so we celebrate with egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, and jelly beans. Huh? We’ll save that for another blog, maybe.

For the first 40 years of my life, I pretty much figured you “follow Jesus” so that you can go to heaven when you die. Honestly, that was never really satisfying to me. It never sounded like a good reason to bring a child into a world of pain and heartache. It never sounded like a good reason to want to live at all. Shouldn’t we all just go hide in a hole until we die? Ok, so some people said, as Christians, life is all about “saving” people from this “wretched world.” That didn’t make a lot of sense either because there are a lot of things that don’t seem too “wretched” in this world. Some things are actually fun and beautiful. As a matter of fact the fun and beautiful apparently overrides the wretched, otherwise, I think the suicide rate would be much higher.

Let me tell you what I’ve learned that is really good news. Are you ready? Jesus brought that life we are living for after we die into this life now. He was raised from the dead in bodily form, that was part of the life to come. Jesus brought heaven to earth just like the prayer he taught: Our Father… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus didn’t teach his disciples to pray to go to heaven. He taught them to pray for heaven to come to earth, daily. The daily bread (“Give us our daily bread”) in the “Our Father” prayer is the life of Jesus which is the power of the Holy Spirit. Man does not live the life Jesus had in mind on daily bread made from flour. Man lives the life Jesus brought by daily ingesting and exerting the energy of the Holy Spirit.

So what does that look like? Well, let me tell you, it’s a lot more exciting than dreaming about pearly gates and streets of gold. It just takes one experience of watching a demon come out of someone or a physical healing to realize heaven (the rule of God) is pretty awesome.

John 10 tells us that Jesus sent out at least 70 people (not just “the twelve”) and he told them to “heal the sick… and tell them ‘The kingdom of God is near you.'” In other words, you didn’t have to die to go heaven, it just came to you, dude! Strangely enough, not everyone they went to wanted to receive heaven. Maybe they preferred to wait until they died to enjoy it. Hmm, better catch the train when it stops at your station, otherwise, you might not make it to the desired destination.

So where is heaven for you? Are you praying to get to heaven when you die or are you willing to pray for heaven to come to earth through you. That’s why God came in human form. He brought heaven to earth in Jesus. Jesus died so that we could be a vessel for heaven on earth. Jesus told his disciples to wait for the power he would send so that they could take heaven to all the corners of the earth. It’s more than words. People don’t follow words. People follow power. How’s heaven looking in your corner of the world?

It’s not here in fullness yet. But we can join God in revealing a taste of it as he directs so that others will know his love and be drawn to all that he has in store for his creation.

Pray for it. Look for what the Father is doing. You can be pretty sure that if he’s showing you and telling you something that is out of this world, he’s offering to let you bring a taste of heaven into this world. Go for it!

For those near The Woodlands, Texas, we will be discussing this topic on Friday nights at our house starting March 22, 2013 dinner included – we’ll also be practicing and learning to live the concept in our everyday life. Email LisaBiggsCrum@gmail for more info.

PS This will post to Facebook automatically, but I’m resting from Facebook until after Easter. Feel free to Email me directly or post to this blog if you have comments or questions. Thanks. 🙂

*Good blog on “Holy Week” at www.ChurchandCulture.org

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What if church…

What if Church…

wasn’t a place to go to

…instead was an experience in the midst of a busy schedule

wasn’t a time slot on the calendar

…instead was something you could only recognize in the moment

wasn’t about words from one lecturer standing in front of rows of chairs

…instead was a group of friends listening for God to speak to each person, then sharing what is heard in order to see if it was from God or just their own thoughts

wasn’t about making ME a “better” person

…instead was about JESUS bringing the power of God to earth for ALL mankind

wasn’t about going to heaven when we die

…instead was about seeing God’s will on earth today

wasn’t just about receiving forgiveness for our bad past life

…instead was also about accessing now a taste of the perfect life to come

wasn’t about dividing people by denomination or “expression” of worship

…instead was about uniting all people with the One who created us

wasn’t about acquiring more knowledge of good and evil

…instead was about tasting the fruit of pure life that has no blemish or shame attached

wasn’t seemingly about helping those who don’t have money to help themselves

…instead was more about helping all people have a tangible encounter with the priceless power of God

[feel free to add to this list by leaving a comment]

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What is love?

Rather than starting with a universal, general, reasonable assumption, such as “God is love,” the gospel starts with the particular (the cross) and from it establishes the universal that “God is love in that Christ died for us.” The cross is not an illustration of God’s love, it is the basis of God’s love. From the cross we can accept John 3:16 as true. (VLI, Pauline Literature and Theology, Sec 9.1.3, 2012)

If we say, “God is love” and stop there, we end up defining God by our own understanding of love. This can only lead to confusion and frustration. We experience the confusion when anyone asks, “why did God allow this to happen?” That question is basically asking, “doesn’t God love me?”

But when we say “God is love in that he gave his son to die on the cross (the most horrific of deaths),” we have just defined what love is. This gets difficult because this definition of love not only defines the love we receive from God but what that love looks like when we allow God’s love to guide and empower our lives.

How does this definition of love challenge you? When have you struggled with the phrase “God is love?” How can this thought help you – at least internally – with the question “why did God allow this to happen?”

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