Posts Tagged 'Jesus'



It’s True. All of it.

Denise took me to Star Wars the other day, and all I can say is, WOW! We decided not only to see the movie, but to see it in HD, 3D, IMAX, etc., and it was truly amazing. I swear there was one point in the movie when some starship looked like it was literally sitting in the seat next to me. And at another point, a guy from a few rows down went out for drink or something, and I thought he was a Stormtrooper dashing across the screen. For a brief moment, life and art were one. The whole thing was almost worth the price of the popcorn, for which Denise and I had to take out a short-term loan.

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Anyway, the reason that little excursion makes it into a blog about the supernatural is because the movie itself kind of overflows with a good and evil, God and Satan sort of tale. I knew that going into it, and then Harrison Ford summed everything up. When Rey was asking Harrison’s character, Han Solo, about all the stories she had heard over the years, Han replied, “It’s true. All of it. The dark side. The Jedi. They’re real.”

It reminded me of what might happen today if someone was able to meet up with one of Jesus’ apostles, like maybe John. That person might ask, “Hey, I’ve heard all kinds of crazy stories in the Bible, and a lot of people think they’re fairy tales. What’s the deal?” At that point, I’m sure John would say, “It’s true. All of it. God. Satan. Jesus. The supernatural. They’re real.”

But all of that begs the question, which has been posed most forcefully by Del Tackett from the Truth Project series. During that series, Del often asked, “Do you believe that what you believe is really real? Because if you really believe that what you believe is real, then Christians will change the world.” He’s right. If we acted as if we really believed everything in the Bible, our actions would look radically different not only to the rest of the world, but likely even to us.

What if we really believed that we were created in God’s image, that Jesus is God come in the flesh, and that by having faith in Jesus Christ we are able to live as eternal beings with God? And if we really believed that Jesus Christ is God, wouldn’t we strive every single day to act in ways pleasing to Him? We believe in the laws of the natural world, and we act accordingly. So what would our lives look like when we really believe in the supernatural?

I’ve spent many years studying various aspects of different worldviews and I’ve come to believe that there is universal truth, which points directly to Jesus and the Bible. That, in turn, has dramatically changed how I live my life. I don’t worry so much anymore. I walk in the supernatural. I fight demons. I talk to God. I talk to other people about God. I follow His will even when those in the natural world think I’m nuts. I know I’m about as far from perfect as someone can be, but I understand the concept of perfection and where to go to learn more about it so I can get better. If you don’t feel as confident as I sound, keep searching. Because if you go looking for truth – or, as Denise calls it, “Truth with a capital T” – you’re going to run smack into Jesus.

You aren’t going to have John the apostle or even Harrison Ford show up in person to tell you that everything is “really real,” but Jesus knew that. He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)  You can strengthen your beliefs and come to know Jesus better through a variety of other sources – most importantly through the Bible – because you’re hard wired to recognize Truth. Start looking, and I’m sure you’ll come to believe that God, Satan, Jesus, and the supernatural are true. It’s really real. All of it.

May the Force . . . er, I mean, may God be with you!

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A New Year’s Resolution

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I’ve been thinking about the one thing I would tell followers of Jesus Christ to start off the New Year, and my decision will shock you!

Did that introduction make you want to click on a link to see more? Well, the good news is that you don’t have to click on anything to read what I’ve written, and I won’t bombard you with ads in any event (you can tell I’m getting a bit sick of the Internet lately, can’t you?). So let’s get to the point. The one thing I’d like to tell followers of Jesus to start the New Year is this: remember the Judgment Seat of Christ!

“Oh no, he’s going to preach! And if it’s about some sort of judgment, then I’m hosed. I don’t want to be judged, and, frankly, I’m not really keen on anyone else being judged either!”

I suppose at least one person out there may be saying or thinking these very things right now. Give me just a minute, though, and I’ll explain why you should really look forward to this particular judgment and why you should try to remember it every day.

I’ve been thinking about the Judgment Seat of Christ (also known as the Bema Seat of Christ) because I’ve been trying to figure out why God has me working so hard on criminal justice reform when I’m not so sure that we’ll even see true reform before the rapture and tribulation. If it’s true that we’re really that close to the end (like I think we are), then why bother, right?

The answer came to me as I awoke the other day. And it starts with an understanding of the exciting judgment for followers of Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

We know that there’ll be judgment even for believers of Christ because in the Bible, Paul wrote:

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  (2 Corr. 5: 8-10)

On its face, this judgment can seem a bit intimidating, but if you read other parts of the Bible and various commentaries, it becomes clear that this judgment is only for determining a believer’s rewards in heaven. It doesn’t include judgment for sin, because sin is taken care of by Jesus’s death on the cross. I repeat – it doesn’t involve judgment for sin. Jesus is your proxy on that matter through your belief in him. Like Denise says, belief and faith in Jesus Christ is the golden ticket. Leave it to Denise to dream up a Willy Wonka reference.

So even though the passage above says that you’ll receive what is due to you for things done “good or bad,” it doesn’t mean morally bad. Instead, it means that certain things have eternal rewards in heaven (the good) and certain things don’t (the bad).

Think of it this way. You’re going to do a lot of things during your walk in the world, and you might consider some of those things to be really, really good things. For example, you might think that holding down a particular job your entire life is a pretty good thing. And to the world, it is. But it might not be the thing that gets additional rewards in heaven. That makes sense, right? The Bible talks about building a foundation on Jesus, and if you build your foundation on anything else, a fire will burn away all that is worthless, which will include things you may have thought were pretty good but that simply don’t measure up to reward-giving status.

Paul often likened our journey on earth as a race to be run, so imagine it that way for a minute. As a runner, you might do tons of good things to get ready for the race – lift weights, stretch, practice your starts – but in the end, you get a reward for winning the race. Those are the rules. It’s not that stretching was a bad thing – heck, it may have been crucial to winning – it’s just that you don’t get the reward for stretching. You get it runnerfor crossing the finish line first. Likewise, there are certain things that God finds deserving of rewards, such as winning souls, developing your spiritual gifts, showing love and sacrifice to others, etc., but there are also things that you might think would be deserving of a reward and aren’t. So when you think of the distribution of rewards for “good and bad” things done in the body, think of it simply as receiving rewards for eligible things that you actually did in the world. If those things weren’t eligible, or if you didn’t do them even if they were eligible, then you don’t get the additional rewards.

Remember when you were a child? I don’t know about you, but when I was a child and I did something I thought was a big deal, I went running to some adult to tell it to. Usually that was my mom or dad. And when I told them what I did, I found out that sometimes it wasn’t a big deal at all to my mom or dad. But sometimes it was. And when it was, I got a reward. And man, I wanted to get those rewards! Even when I was fifty years old, taking care of my dying dad in the world, I was constantly trying to impress him, looking for those rewards – like a smile or a laugh. Believe me, when I get to heaven I want that same feeling of “reward getting” from God as I got from my dad here on earth.

“Hey wait, does all of this mean that I’ll be compared to other people?” No, so you should think of the race as being your own personal race, like running against the clock. This is between you and Jesus. You won’t be envious or jealous of others getting rewards, and, in fact, whatever regret you may think you feel from not receiving a reward that you could have received will ultimately be wiped away from the overwhelming joy of being with God. As Denise often says, it’s like having tickets to the Super Bowl. Your seat may be right on the 50 yard line, or your seat may be up in the nosebleed section. Either way, though, you’re at the freakin’ Super Bowl!

Now when it comes to figuring out what God will deem pleasing or not so pleasing in your life, I’ll leave it up to you to do some further biblical research. But you should remember the following cautionary note that has people like me needing constant reminders about what God thinks matters: Throughout the Bible, people were told that because they received an earthly reward for something they did in the world, they’ll receive no reward for it in heaven. Holy smokes! This makes everything a bit more complicated, doesn’t it? Oh well. As I’ve said before, Christianity is simple, but it isn’t always easy.

So what does all of this have to do with my criminal justice job and whether that job even matters? It matters because every day God gives us opportunities to add to the tally of things that will bring us rewards when we stand before Christ. That’s how much He loves us. And that love and those opportunities will continue right up until the day of Jesus’s return. Every day God allows us all to decide whether or not to do something that is pleasing to Him and worth eternal reward. And my work, helping people to see why we need criminal law reform, is just one more opportunity that God is presenting his children – through me – to do something eternally worthwhile.

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You and I are basically in the same earthly business when it comes to other followers of Christ – the “opportunity for eternal reward business.” Every day you will likely give someone an opportunity to do a good thing, and I or someone else will likely give you the same opportunity. And because every opportunity will only help the body of Christ, it should be our intense desire to keep expanding our business. Every day, look for opportunities to do things pleasing to God. Every day, look for ways to give other people those same opportunities.

So this year, remember the Judgement Seat of Christ! Work each day on earning your rewards. And, please, work each day to help me earn mine!

The Pattern of the World

I’m way off track on my goal of switching from full-time criminal justice reform to creating a new album and studying more about God. It’s super frustrating, but I can see some light. Plus, I consider everything I do with criminal justice reform still to be doing God’s will – in fact, I call what I do “God’s Project,” because of all the things He’s done to make it happen. So if He wants me to keep it up, I will. Part of walking in the supernatural is to hear God and do what He says no matter what else you think you want to do. We’ll see.

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Last week I watched with amusement the Family Leadership Summit, where each of most of the Republican candidates for president answered questions about pretty much everything, including God. I watched a lot of strange answers, including a guy who said that he never asks for forgiveness (apparently he doesn’t need it), but that he enjoys eating that “little cracker.” Most of the answers made me think that everyone was just trying to find that perfect balance between talking about God and not saying anything too crazy to lose votes. Political Christianity.

A lot of America is probably content with these kinds of answers. But if you’re a follower of Jesus, you have to get used to living in a foreign land – the natural world, where everything Jesus said and did often seems crazy to most everyone else. For a moment, I wondered what it would look like if a candidate for president was truly someone who believed in all that Jesus taught and modeled. Someone who believed in the supernatural. Someone who understood the transcendent force of love for all persons, even those who are unloved by the world. What would he say? Would he be called a “Republican?” Would he even be there?

In my opinion, if Jesus himself were in Ames Iowa that day, he wouldn’t have been labeled as either a Republican or a Democrat. If he spoke to anybody, he probably would have spoken of things that people simply wouldn’t have understood. Just like before, he would have spoken of wonderful things to give hope to all humanity, but he also likely would have spoken about things that would have made people want to kill him. The more I think about it, the more I believe that he wouldn’t have even gone in to the Summit – I think he would have spent his time looking for the poor and displaced people that were somewhere in the backstreets of Ames.

If you’re like me, and you want to follow this radical named Jesus, you have to realize that some things he said might be labeled ultra-conservative, while other things might be considered downright socialist. And so to truly follow Jesus, you’re going to have to get used to feeling like a complete outcast in the natural world. That’s to be expected. In Romans 12, Paul wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Jesus mentions being “not of this world” a few times, and one commentary explains one of those statements quite succinctly: “The Spirit of God in true Christians is opposed to the spirit of the world.”

If the whole political thing just frustrates and confuses you – especially when they talk about God – then that’s a good thing. In my opinion, that’s just you listening to the Spirit of God and not conforming to the pattern of the world.

Be blessed, everyone!

Easter 2015

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One nice thing about being a follower of Jesus is that I can celebrate His birth and victory over death every day. Every day is Christmas and every day is Easter, but the world needs redemption more than anything else, and so it desperately needs a special day to focus on the cross.

As for tonight, Denise and I are going to participate in a Passover Seder!

Happy Easter, everyone.

“It is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”  He has risen indeed!

Pope Francis, Freedom of Speech, and Love

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I didn’t have time to write about it when it happened, but I was quite impressed by the Pope’s comments concerning freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. Basically, he said that there must be limits to what we say or depict, and that perhaps deriding someone’s deeply held faith should be one of those limits. No, he didn’t condone the killings in Paris, but he took a decidedly Jesus-like attitude toward the whole thing. Here is the Wall Street Journal’s story on it:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-francis-sees-limits-to-freedom-of-speech-1421325757

Think of it this way, is making fun of anyone really a loving thing to do? What if it hurts people to do it? In the Charlie Hebdo case, the cartoons led not only to killings in Paris, but also to a variety of politicians saying that we should root out radical Islamists and kill them. Everything surrounding the decision to run the cartoons seems to have led only to a focus on killing other people, and that simply cannot be squared with anything taught by Jesus Christ.

Sure, we allow freedom of expression in America, and so we allow people to get away with tons of horrible and hurtful things in the name of the First Amendment because we are “Americans.” But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have some self-restraint.

In another story, the group Reporters Without Borders said that the Pope’s statements were dangerous, and that limits to freedom of expression should never be set by religious leaders. Well, I disagree. By following Jesus, I often have to refrain from things that may be within my rights to do, but that would hurt people, and thus would not reflect God’s love. Everyone has a choice, and I simply choose to follow Jesus. He limits my secular freedoms every day, and I am better for it.

A couple of weeks ago, Face the Nation host Bob Shieffer said that he likes Pope Francis because he often reminds us that religion is about kindness. And so Shieffer, a self-described “strong” defender of the First Amendment, nonetheless ended his show by saying that the Pope’s comments about freedom of expression remind us that “there is a difference in having the right to do something and doing the right thing.” I think Jesus would agree.


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