all in for jesus|guest post

 

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)

 

The gospel is a scary thing.

 

God always calls us to the uncomfortable. Abraham, leave your relationships and your career and your home, and set out. David, the time for shearing sheep has been overcome by shepherding a people. Moses, I know the agony and fear and humiliation of your princely failures and the misery of your humbled life, but it is your pain which shall lead many to a land of great promise. Ezekiel, the definition of your ministry shall be its ceaseless failure. Jeremiah, to the painful pit of your abandoned dreams I will lower your beaten body and raise your beautiful soul. Hosea, the entirety of your life in its betrayal shall be the beautiful redemption I offer and the tragic rejection I receive. Peter, how would you like to stop fishing, and start finding? Paul, out of great success and unmistakable brilliance I shall summon you to the simplicity of my cross and the wonderful shame of my sufferings.

 

The gospel is a scary thing.

 

So God says, do not be afraid of them…them. And who are they? Abraham fear not the kings around you. David you have fought the lion of the wild but do not fear the lies of man. Moses dread not the clamor of a dangerous crowd but come up to the stillness of a consuming God. Hosea let the brokenness of your marriage be redeemed by the revelation of my Word. Peter, fear not the questioning glance of a slave girl but share the gospel to a searching centurion, a vast multitude, the frightened faces of an exhausted gathering. Ezekiel, want to see some dry bones be called so no more? Paul, how would you like to go from killing others to dying for them?

 

The gospel is a scary thing.

 

Jeremiah is afraid. He is afraid because he sees not the infinite power of the gospel’s God but the inadequacies of its messenger. Ah Jeremiah, Jeremiah, says the Lord. What I have planned, pursue. I will not make you old. Moses, I will not fix your speech. Paul, I will not heal your hurts. I will conquer the fears of a frightened people not by consuming their worries with personal wonders but fixing faith on a fearless Christ.

 

Perhaps I will not cure your cancer. Perhaps I will not heal your marriage. Maybe I won’t save your son. Maybe making ends meet isn’t important. I might not be the God of your security. But doubtless I shall be the one of your salvation.

 

The gospel is a scary thing that takes us to scary places and makes us lose nice things, safe things, pleasant things, comfortable things. The gospel is scary because prior to this unspeakable redemption there is most often certain ruin. Who is called without chaos, or summoned without suffering? Was the invitation of Jesus to come, or stay? We cannot live our lives as if we can or could or should determine the where, when and how of our redemption. If He says to come, can we then act as if called to remain?

 

Paul was shown how much he must suffer (Acts 9:16). Moses was told that pharaoh wouldn’t listen (Ex. 3:19). The first revelation of Ezekiel’s ministry was its ultimate failure (Ek. 2:1-7). The gospel is a scary thing because it is the endless reminder that grace is not the continual improvement of our circumstances but the radical resurrection of a ruined soul.

 

When Jesus reinstates Peter, there is a sacred second between a man and his Redeemer. Jesus says, Peter, I won’t give you the life that you want, the relationships you desire, or the safety you might crave. I will show you how you will die (John 21:19). And after giving undoubtedly the most depressing pep talk of human history, Jesus says with unshakeable optimism, “Follow me!” (21:19). Almost no one in the scriptures begins a powerful life for God with a pleasant one. And almost anyone who creates a restful life – David, Nebuchadnezzar, Solomon, Pharisees – ceases from a redemptive one. Maybe Jeremiah was less afraid of being young and more frightened of never growing old.

 

The gospel is a scary thing. Fear God only, it says. Even the demons do that – and shudder at the thought (James 2:19). Everyone else is pretending. The gospel is a scary thing because in a culture which trains us to cling to life we are encouraged to abandon the same. The gospel is a scary thing because like Eve we would rather feel the faithless fruit in our hurting hands than ponder the uncertainty of a life giving garden. I think the gospel is scary for a lot of reasons. But most of all it is frightening because it returns us to the garden – the everyday Eve experience. The gospel is scary because it means that my life isn’t based on the person living it but the One who gave it.

 

 

I don’t know who “they” are in your life. But God says to Jeremiah, you preach.

 

I’ll plan.

______________________________________________________________________

all in for jesus| written by james backing

*Originally appeared as A Jeremiah Journey on ssamegodnewme.wordpress.com

 

 

Advertisements

dead on arrival

 

James 2:14 & 17|

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisers, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone…So you see, faith by itself isn’t  enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

Have you ever experienced one of those days when you wake up, lie in bed, only to realize you want to call in sick to work? At my previous place of employment I had a number of those days. I had very little desire to exert any energy into getting into my vehicle, driving 45 minutes and then working.

Perhaps you  feel under the weather or the day is too perfect to go to work. Regardless of the reasons why not go, there are always reasons to go. For starters, calling out makes one look like they’re not dependable. When you’re not working, you’re not getting paid and there are always bills to pay. So, for me, its always been a struggle to call out of work because I over think the good and the bad. More often than not, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

The basic principle we live under is this; first you work, then you receive.  After 2 weeks of working, I get a paycheck. After years of studying, I received a diploma. The process is rather simple, first I put in my own efforts and then I receive the fruits of my labor.

Should we expect anything different when it comes to Gods way? Well the truth is, God operates quite different than we do and think. God provides what we need and accomplished what we couldn’t. That is the starting point for God and from that starting point, God calls us.

 

[God provides all the essentials for good works to be produced.]

First, we must begin with the acknowledgement that ALL good works come from God himself. (Heb. 13:21)

 

Secondly, it is not us believers producing good works but rather they are being produced in and through us as we abide in Christ. (John 15:4-5)

 

Third, while faith is not idle; we are saved by grace through faith alone. As such, our good works are a response to the salvation we have already received. (Eph. 2:8-9 & Phil. 2:12)

 

So what is dead faith as James is describing?

James discussion on faith is a hot topic among Christianity because it is focused so much on works and that paints a very different picture than Paul who penned much of New Testament spoke of salvation as the free gift of grace which comes through faith alone.

 

We can move beyond the argument that James is not discussing the assurance of salvation but the assurance of rewards in heaven. As believers, we are called to good works because they show the faith we already profess and those works point to the Savior Jesus.

 

Dead faith paints the picture of a believer who believes the gospel message and receives it by faith but fails to “work out their salvation…”  Salvation is from God and is a work of God. Our contribution to salvation is to believe.

 

[We don’t work for our salvation, we work from our salvation. ]

 

》Good Works reflect the internal transformation which is Christ in us working his will and purpose for our lives.

 

[We are called to a faith that works.]

 

》Living for God begins and continues as we surrender to God.

 

[We are called to have faith that bleeds.]

 

》Our faith is alive. When we exercise our faith, it reflects the reality of God’s existence. Our faith should bleed as we live for Christ and participate in his sufferings.

 

As followers of Christ, we should continually encorage and motivate each other to good works, bringing glory to the Father.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

Dead on arrival| written by mike monica

why i love jesus and religion.

This past Sunday I attended Riverbank Church (www.riverbankchurch.com) as they began a series in the book of James. I had planned on writing about the topic of faith without works however, due to unseen circumstances, I have had to rearrange a few things for the blog.

So I wanted to share this with you guys. Again, this covers the topic of semantics. I know one of the more popular phrases in Christian culture these days is I love Jesus but I hate religion. I know as you read that you’re probably thinking, yeah so what?  I’ll be honest I’ve said the phrase more times than I can count. I’m part of the guilty party who loudly stands up and says, I love Jesus but hate religion!

Heres where the issue lies, the phrase is problematic. Sure there are books that focus on Jesus hating religion and Jesus being better than religion.  The problem is that religion is always focused on what we do or can do to earn acceptance, favor, right standing and forgiveness from God.  It is completely self centered. The truth is that our acceptance to God is all because of Jesus. Our favor from God is all because of Jesus. Our right standing with God is all because of Jesus. Our forgiveness is all because of Jesus. When we discuss the idea that we can do something to earn something, we have ventured beyond religion and into legalism. Legalism says do, not religion.  Legalism says Jesus plus your works equals salvation.  Legalism is the problem.

This is why I love Jesus and Religion|

James 1:27|

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

When you or say I love Jesus but hate we hate religion, we imply that …

1] Caring for orphans doesn’t matter.

2] Caring for widows doesn’t matter.

3] Abstaining from the world by seeking first the kingdom of God & His righteousness doesn’t matter.

The first problem so to say that the church encountered was this lack of caring for widows. The problem was addressed and we were introduced to Stephen who became the first known martyr. His death gave Paul the opportunity to arrest Christians and thus meet Christ on the Damascus road. The issue was widows were being overlooked in food rations. The disciples taught a Biblical principle of staying faithful to your calling and delegating responsibility to able men. What the disciples did not do when they heard about issue was throw up their hands and cry, I love Jesus but hate religion.

Religion doesn’t teach that obedience earns our salvation; that is legalism. Religion may be the “To-do” list of Christianity but it still is a matter of the heart. Our obedience or lack thereof is a response to the identity and work of Christ. He gave his all and so should we.

Love Jesus. Love Religion. ____________________________________________________________________

why I love jesus & religion| written by mike monica

blogmatics (july 2014)

Fellow Peeps,

Whazzup? A quick update for everyone, I’ve been without a computer and will continue to not have one for a little while longer. Blogs  are being posted via my tablet, which I am learning is not the most effective method.  Life goes on…

The blog is finally returning to the once a week format. I’ve been blessed to keep it running with guest writers and contributers for two months! That, my friends, is awesome.  I am thankful for those who helped out.

[I Love the Church]

Praxis Church will be hosting a free community movie night on August 22nd at 7 PM. This event will show The Lego Movie and feature prizes and games.

If you live in or near the Keene,  NH area check it out. please check out their website for more info. http://www.praxischurchorg.com

 

[Ten Quotes]

1. A sinning man will stop praying and a praying man will stop sinning.

2. The world is not waiting for a new definition of the Gospel,  but for a new demonstration of the power of the Gospel.

3. The true church is born from above; in it there are no sinners and outside it there are no saints.

4. God does not want partnership with us but ownership of us.

5. God’s purpose for us is not TV happiness but holiness.

6. Ponder this: God has nothing more to give to this world.

7. Prayer is as vast as God because he is the one behind it.

8. That which is born in no prayer will survive the test.

9. The miracle of conversation takes place at the cross but the miracle of identification takes place on the cross. (Paraphrase)

10. To be much for God we must be much with God.

All quotes taken from, Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MI. 1959)

 

[Prayer Line]

Please pray for Liberty University.

http://www.liberty.edu

it’s my job as a christian to tell you that you don’t have a job as a christian

 

I. Semantics Matter|

Semantics do matter. That might sound strange to some but it’s truth. Semantics really do matter. What we say and how we say things matter. Over the course of my life I’ve heard this phrase thrown out, “it’s my job as a christian…”

I’ve thought about that as of late because I’m someone who puts a lot of weight of semantics. I know this may seem silly but let’s be honest with one another. Do we really view Christianity as a job?

If the answer is No, then let’s skip over the phrase and throw it out. It really doesn’t belong in a believers vocabulary.  If however, the answer is Yes, then I think its appropriate to make the announcement

“You don’t have a job as a christian.”

If Christianity is a job then we should expect the following|

1. Part or full time status.

2. Time off (such as weekends, vacation, personal and sick leave.)

3. The option of calling out and or skipping work.

4. Payment for doing our job.

5. Advancement.

6. The possibility of being fired or let go.

Here’s some reality for us all. Some Christians actually live this out. Sometimes I have been guilty of being like this. Sometimes we live our lives in the sense that being a Christian is a job. We’ll go to church and bible study.  The rest of our lives are separate from Christianity. Others however, are workaholics and never stop to rest.

Sometimes we can live wanting a break or time off from everything the bible commands us to do. We can also want and seek recognition for doing a good job. Maybe we witnessed to our coworkers or invited friends to church. Perhaps we stepped up in our tithes and offerings.

There are also times we expect advancement. As an honest confession, I’ve struggled dealing with not being in a pastoral position. Sometimes this comes when I compare myself to those who I know should consider how they pastor and lead. God’s reminded me lately that…

1. Its not about me, its about Jesus.

2. I need Jesus, not recognition.

3. God has work to do in my life. There areas of struggle, doubt and insecurity that need to dealt with. Character is a priority.

4. God also must prepare the church. The people need to be ready as well.

Finally, there are Christians living under the fear of a vengeful God who will fire them for not getting the job done. Here’s a newsflash, everything we need to do Jesus already accomplished. Obedience is the response to what Christ has already done.

That being said, its my job as a Christian to tell you that you

 don’t have a job as a Christian!

II. Doctrine Matters

1. As a believer, you have an identity. ( Gal. 2:20, 1 Peter 2:10)

2. As a believer, you have a new nature. ( 2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 4:24)

3. As a believer, you have a calling. (1 Peter 2:9, 2 Tim. 1:9)

_________________________________________________________

It’s my job as a christian| written by Mike Monica

who is jesus| jesus is our salvation

“…Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…”

– Acts 16:31

[This is Me at My Best]

I was sitting in an auditorium during my Security Forces Academy graduation. I couldn’t believe the day had finally arrived. A dream I had when I was just a young child had come true; I was a cop. Today, all of the hard work and training I had endured over the past twelve weeks were met with the most beautiful thing in the world, a police badge.

Prior to our entire class, 120 of us, being called up, one by one, to receive our SF Badges, we had to give out “Distinguished Graduate” awards. These awards were given to the Top Five students in the class who excelled at their studies and their QC’s (the practical side of what we were doing.)

For your consideration, Security Forces was a difficult training school with each class averaging a 10-20 person drop- out rate. Our class was no exception either. We had about 10 students who dropped out. So, truth be told, we began with around 130 students. Our drop-out rate isn’t as significant as say, Navy Seal Training, but we’re not Navy Seals either; we’re Law Enforcement and Security personnel.

As I sat there, I had one desire-to get this “Distinguished Graduate” segment over with. I really didn’t care for it; all I wanted was to get up, get my badge and cry with tears of joy. I wasn’t expecting nor anticipating any award because I don’t think of myself as someone who would receive such an award. Besides that, there were many students in my class who excelled at being the “Top Dog” if you will.

You see, I struggle a lot; that’s what I do! I struggle in my studies and I struggle when I take exams. I struggle to get out of bed, shower, shave, brush my teeth and get dressed in the 7 to 8 minute time limit we are given. I struggle with running 2 miles in under 15 minutes. I struggle doing push-ups for two minutes non-stop. I struggle with weight issues and I even struggle against authority sometimes.

Then, out of the blue, my name was called. I was shocked to hear my name called because there were only two names left. That meant me, somehow, graduated 2nd in my class. I sat there frozen to my seat. The guy next to me had to break me out of my trance and say, “Dude, your name was called.” I got up, walked up to the front and received my award.

The funny thing is, just a few days prior to graduation, the class was performing an exercise in how to clear out a single room with a known armed intruder. As I completed my exercise, a number of my instructors looked at me and said, “Who are you?” We didn’t even know you were part of the class! You never said anything.

Do I need to give you a lesson on being an introvert?

I kept to myself and I was very quiet and very shy. I did my work and that was it. When we had classes, I never raised my hand to answer a question, regardless of whether or not I knew the answer. In many ways, I am the same person today. I am often the definition of being an introvert. Whatever, I’m kind of over it. Moving on…

I’ve been out of the military for a little over 10 years now. I look back and I am amazed that I accomplished something like that. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, now that I am older, I cannot possibly bring myself to do as much. My body simply doesn’t work the way it used to.

But I did something!

[Reflections I Don’t Want to See]

When I think over the highlights of my life, I should be proud! I mean, I graduated High School; I went on to serve my country in the US Air Force. While serving in the armed forces, I captured a child hood dream (being a police officer), I graduated with honors. I moved on to becoming a Chaplain Assistant and I was a Top Graduate nominee.

Following military service, I went to college and received my Masters degree. That’s all really cool stuff. That’s me at my best! But something is missing from the picture. Something is wrong. It might look like the perfect picture but it isn’t it. I am deeply flawed. I am stained with imperfection. I did something else-I fell short of the Glory of God.

I made a mistake. I repeated the same mistakes more often that I care to admit. I sinned against my creator. Now I am faced reflections I don’t want to see. Now I am faced with the imperfection that resides within me. I am lost, broken and empty.

How can I escape who I have become?

Jesus.

Jesus came to rescue me from the deep; he came to destroy the works of the enemy and to bring salvation to all who would believe. Jesus came to adopt me as an abandoned child. In salvation, Jesus delivers us, not simply from the power of sin but also from condemnation brought forth from the Law and to empower us to live life with God at the center. Deliverance is provided through the work of the Spirit.

 

1] Salvation is a Secured Work|

John 10:18|

“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

We can sit around a campfire and debate the idea of who killed Jesus. I’ve heard all the stories before. The Romans were ultimately responsible. The New Testament actually points to the Jewish people since they tried him in their courts; they arrested him and sentenced him to death. We can argue that all of humanity made a contribution to the death of Jesus when we sinned. The lips of the Savior speak of something very different though. He said that no one-no Roman solider and no Jewish religious leader is going to take my life. No, I am going to give up my life for the world.

The work of salvation is secured by the only one who can secure such a work-Jesus. He alone has the authority to give his life away. He had and maintained authority to give his life away because he was without sin and therefore, he was not subject to death. On the contrary, death was subject to Jesus! He showed this, time and time again, when he called forth those who were dead and he raised them to life!

2] Salvation is a Complete Work|

John 19:30|

When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”

Earlier during the crucifixion event, the Roman soldiers had offered Jesus vinegar and wine but he refused to drink it. The purpose in providing this to the condemned was to ease the suffering and pain they were enduring and would about to endure. Jesus refused to ease the suffering he endured because he embraced the full weight of sin, our sin.

When Jesus knew his time had come to leave the world behind, he accepted the wine and vinegar, knowing full well he would no longer endure any more. Upon tasting it, he used his final breath to utter, “It is finished!” The work of God in Christ had come to fulfillment.

Jesus won!

When God enters into the picture, the work is always complete. It is never half done or almost done, it is always complete. Philippians 1:6 reads, And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

3] Salvation is an Eternal Work|

John 10:28-29|

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. [a] No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”

Notice Jesus says this, “I have given them eternal life…” When does eternal life begin and end? The simple answer to this is that it doesn’t. Believers are called out, even before the foundation of the world, set apart and given eternal life.

Salvation is of God, it is his work and his work is secured and complete. As such, his children are secured. Eternal security is the Biblical response to the human condition of sin.

We are chosen by God, adopted by God, saved by his grace through faith and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.


 

Jesus is our salvation| written by mike monica