Archive for February, 2013

Jesus is talking with Peter, James and John after the transfiguration. He’s trying to explain who he is and where he’s going.

Peter: So, you are going away for three days and then you’ll leave us a parakeet?

Jesus (rolling his eyes): No, Peter, “Paraclete” — it’s Greek — means comforter or encourager.

James: So, you’re bringing in a new disciple? Is it Barnabas? We call him “The Encourager” all the time.  He’s a good man.

Jesus (nodding): Not exactly. Barnabas clearly imitates me, but it’ll be more blatant. I’m going to die, rise again and ascend to heaven. I’m going to leave my Holy Spirit — MY DIVINE NATURE —  behind to live in you and to comfort and guide you. You guys relate to me directly, now, but when I’m gone, I’m going to live IN YOU. By this they’ll know you are my disciples.

John: What could be better than living with you and following you?

Jesus: Just wait. Now it’s from the outside in, in the future I’ll work from the inside out. I’ll literally warm your heart! Abundant life will come from me, who is the Father, living in you, through the Spirit, who is me, who is the Father, who is love, who will lead you.

John: Hang on a second. I want to take notes.  You and the Father are one. You’re saying you only do what the Father tells you. So, you are living out God’s character and your Holy Spirit will live in us, too.

Jesus: Yeah. Put that in a book. After I die I’ll demonstrated the Father’s love, stick around a month or so, then, ascend to the Father. According to most future creeds, I’ll be sitting at the right hand of God, but I’m leaving my Spirit to handle things here, IN YOU.

James: Got it. You and the Father upstairs. Spirit downstairs.

Jesus: The day will come when my Spirit will be ignored a lot. Everyone’ll be looking upstairs. They’ll wonder about what’s going on up there–what’s God up to? Is Jesus vacuuming heaven with the angels? Is he coming back?

Peter: But we can’t see because we’re downstairs.

John: Right. The Spirit is downstairs. With us. You’ll be upstairs, in us.

James: So, you’re saying we need to focus on your Spirit.

Jesus: Yep. The 1st Century church will depend on it. You followed me and saw me in action — a man focused on the Father. In the future you’ll see people and say, “Oh! See that? THAT is SO Jesus!” You’ll know they are filled with my Spirit because they act just like me. I’ll warn you now, Paul and Barnabas will visit Antioch in a few years and will come back and say, “The Gentiles? They’ve acting like Jesus!”

Peter: Who is Paul?

Jesus: Not now, it’ll blow your mind. Just remember, if they live as I live, they have my Spirit.

John (continuing to take notes): So, and I’m guessing here, but we’re going to see people “doing” you. We’ll recognize you IN them.

Jesus (excited): Bingo! You’re so familiar with my way, truth, and life, you’ll be able to spot my Spirit anywhere. You’ll see. When believers get really good at doing me — wired into the Father’s love — they’ll start to heal, raise folks from the dead, turn bottled water into Sangria, and speak in tongues.

James: Just like we do now, with you?

Jesus (tapping James on the chest): Exactly. So don’t stand around looking upstairs after I leave, trying to imagine me, the Father or streets of gold. Remember, MY Spirit is here, in the house.

Tr8: Be filled with the Spirit.

life in the fast lane

Posted: February 10, 2013 in Serious, Truth and Grace
Tags: ,

Pray fast

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Isaiah 58:6-12

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

angry preacherJesus is at a meeting with Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John in 1968 at the First Faithful Church of God of Christ Prophecy in White Castle, Missouri. Sort of a transfiguration reunion. Here’s what they heard (paraphrased) after the offertory and a “special music” by Francine Chestnut:

Pastor Buck Thorn (pounding loudly on his hand-carved pulpit): Everybody who isn’t like us good Bible-lovin’ Christians will fry in hell! And, Praise God, there will be a heathen’s righteous judgment!

The Congregation: Amen!

Pastor Buck: Now, let’s stand. With every head bowed and every eye closed, who wants to go to heaven?        I see that hand.      Yes.     Yes.     Another.       Thank you. Thank you.     Now look up (grand smile).    Take a seat for a moment and dig deep into your pockets as we’re takin’ a love offering for the Bratwursts who are missionaries to the damned in Africanistan.   In the meantime, Sister Athena will you give the Sunday School report?

Elijah (wide-eyed): Wow!

Jesus (nodding): Yep. This is what’s called a monoculture. No one here thinks about much outside this town. Most of ’em are related and they don’t like different.

Moses (thoughtfully): Yeah, reminds me of the boneheaded, stiff-necked Hebrews.

Jesus: No one here ever rubs shoulders with anyone who isn’t a white, middle-income, Protestant farmer.  They don’t love Russians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, communists or Muslims because they don’t know any of these. There’s not even a Chinese restaurant in this town.

John: But Jesus, that’s not right. You taught us that the world will know disciples by your love.

Peter: Holy smoke! Buck wouldn’t go over too well in Jerusalem or Antioch.

John: Whew! I’m amazed! This is a church?

Jesus (putting his hand on Moses’ shoulder): Sort of. There are some really fine saints here, but the church tends to act like cultural institution or a club associated with Christianity. Thankfully, love and good news transcend culture. You guys declare a message of love and repentance. The good news that if one turns to God, he will accept them. You know — it’s really, really, really personal — me and you. We’re not talkin’ sin management, being good or being a member of the First Faithful Church of God of Christ Prophecy.

Elijah (pointing his staff at the preacher): Yeah, Buck needs some exposure. He’s thinking he is THE ONLY ONE or these are THE ONLY PEOPLE OF GOD, and that’s dangerous.

Peter (whistling): He doesn’t have a clue about The Keys to the Kingdom.

Jesus (putting his other arm around Peter’s shoulder): I’m working on this, guys.

James: What do you mean?

Jesus (drawing the others into a small circle): After I ascended it took about 300 years for church institutionalism to settle in — we got adopted by the government. Then for about a 1200 years fighting was limited to kings and cleric types because of lack of books and people who could read. When the Bible was published all hell broke loose. Everybody became a “priest.” Individual and institutional churches splintered into zillions of little groups, like the First Faithful Church of God of Christ Prophecy.

The group looks at Jesus thoughtfully.

Jesus (motioning with his hand): Come with me.

They all vanish and reappear in your church.

Jesus: This is the new millennium. Monoculturalism has almost disappeared — high-speed transportation, cable, Internet — this millennium faces a global community full of all sorts of faiths and cultures. The last millenium only saw this in big cities and universities. The buffer zones are gone.

Peter (animatedly): Narrow-mindedness isn’t going to work here! Get out The Keys!

Jesus (smiling): Right, Peter. My disciples have a real chance to shine in this setting. Love will rule. No more religious silos. No more segregation. I’m calling it a discipleship ‘convergence’ — folks loving like we did in the beginning.

John (excited): Wow! This millennial group have a remarkable chance to renew the mission of the church.

Moses (with some reserve): But first they’ll have to learn to treat other faiths and cultures like their own. The Law won’t help much. That’s a hard lesson. As you showed, Jesus, it only comes with grace.

Jesus (gives him a quick hug): Moses, you hit the nail on the head. This is where this millennium’s disciples have a historically unique opportunity — they can think globally rather than locally. I’m hoping they’ll quit arguing and splitting and begin loving and caring. And so we start — again — love others as I have loved you. Converge!

Tr8: Lose the monoculture. We’re living together now. Our cultures are different, but love transcends culture.