Chills

Just had a random thought enter my mind during my prayer time this morning. I’ve never thought about this before, and this thought line may be totally undeveloped for now, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway.

Just had a thought about this particular verse of scripture – Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin. This same verse appears slightly differently in the gospel of Luke as well – “”And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” Luke 12:8-10 ESV

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Ok, so here’s the thought I had this morning, and it’s a very serious thought. The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven…if we are Christians, who claim to have been “saved”, who claim to have communion with the holy, risen Christ, who have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who claim to have been indwelled with the Holy Spirit, yet we walk in the world as the same angry, selfish, obnoxious person/people we were before…is that not blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? Is not the worst blasphemy we could possibly make the blasphemy of an unholy life lived in the name of the Holy Spirit?

This gives me chills. People know who I am. They know that I am a Christian, one who believes in Jesus Christ, who believes he is the way, the truth, and the life. But – is what they see from me in my life and the way I carry myself on a daily basis blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? Do they see me loving my neighbor, am I one who prays for those who would be my enemies? Do I even love my own wife and children, brothers and sisters as myself?

Chills.

How about the church as a whole?? Does the church blaspheme against the Holy Spirit in our day to day interactions with the “world” around us? Do we, as a church, walk in a spirit of protest and confrontation, or in the spirit of love and reconciliation?? Which of these spirits is of the Holy Spirit? Is one of these spirits a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

We think we know what “sin” is. But these are words straight from the mouth of the sinless one. These are not my words, they are the words of Jesus, the one we claim to follow yet ignore his teaching. All those “unwashed masses”, Jesus says all their sins will be forgiven them, but those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

Again, am I guilty, in my own life on a daily basis, of blaspheming the Holy Spirit? “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 ESV. Sometimes we think we have all the answers, we know every sin known to man, and we can tell the “world” all the things they are getting wrong. But, as Jesus also said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 ESV. How many of us point out every speck of dust in the world’s eye, when we can’t even see past the redwood tree in our own eyes? After all, it may be we who are guilty of the only sin Jesus says is unforgivable.

Chills.

“”Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.””

Mark 3:28-30 ESV

http://bible.com/59/mrk.3.28-30.esv

John Lewis

Advertisements

On the Fringe

On the Fringe

fringe

Talking about good news today. Specifically the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is really just about the best news there’s ever been.

degraffl-darknessontheedgeoftown.jpg
This is the end of the sixth chapter of Mark. This chapter is loaded with action from the life of Jesus. It begins with Jesus being rejected at Nazareth, then he sends out the twelve apostles. John the Baptist dies, he feeds the 5000, and walks on water. It’s no wonder we miss this gem which almost thrown in at the end of the chapter.

Jesus-disciples
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. One thing we can see for sure, Jesus was not doing his work anonymously. People were talking. These people in Gennesaret, in Galilee of the Gentiles, knew who Jesus was. It says they immediately (that key word for Mark’s gospel) recognized him and ran through their region bring all their tired, their sick, their poor in spirit to Him, wherever they heard he was. If he left one place and went to another, they would find him.

touch the fringe
And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. It didn’t matter where Jesus was, gentile marketplaces or Jewish marketplaces, they found him and desperately brought their sick to him. And all they had to do was touch the fringe of his garment to be made well. I told you this was Good News! I mean, read this again!! All they had to do was touch the fringe of his garment and they would be made better. That’s it. I don’t know why these people were doing what they did, maybe they had heard of the woman who had been bleeding for twenty years who got well just by touching his garment. But they brought their sick to Jesus, touched just the fringe of his garment, and were made well.

radiating from jesus
Jesus had healing power just radiating from him. It was (and is) just a part of who He is. It’s in His very nature. And remember, God is like Jesus. Jesus is the exact ikon of God, no one has ever seen the father except his only begotten son who has made him known.

galille of the gentiles
These people in Genneserat were both Jews and Gentiles. Galilee is not like Judea, where the only gentiles are the occupying Roman forces. Here, there is much more acceptance and mixing of the Jews and the gentiles. Living in such close proximity they’ve gotten to know each other a bit. Jesus is not taking his ministry to the gentiles, that would come later with Peter and Paul. But neither does he purposefully and systematically avoid them like the Pharisees, for fear of being made “unclean”. Jesus never avoided those people on the “fringe” of society, those people whom the people of Yahweh would have nothing to do with for fear of being made “unclean”.

were made well
So while Jesus is not here specifically to minister to the Gentiles, he does not avoid contact with them either. They brought their sick from all around, and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. Look at what is happening here. They don’t ask Jesus to pray with them. They don’t ask Jesus to heal them. They don’t ask Jesus to lay hands in them, or touch them. They really don’t even ask for Jesus to even acknowledge them in any way. They just want to touch the fringe of his garment. And just by touching the fringe of his garment, as many as touched it were made well.

on the fringe
These people in Gennesaret were considered to be on the fringe by those in good, religious society. They were Gentiles, not part of “the elect”. Yet these people on the fringe could touch just the fringe of Jesus’ garment and be healed. Yes, they did have faith, enough faith to be drawn near to Him. But they didn’t have to follow a plan of salvation. They didn’t have to say a sinners prayer. They weren’t asked to accept Jesus into their hearts. They weren’t baptized. They didn’t have to make their case for being worthy, didn’t have to take a six week course, sign any papers, take any oaths, or publicly repent of their sins. Jesus doesn’t heal them with the promise or requirement that they might accept him as their Messiah. There is no bait and switch here.  Jesus doesn’t heal them so that they might become his followers. He just healed them.  They had no, nor promised to make any particular allegiance to Jesus. Yet the Kingdom of God was among them and available to them just by His presence.

 
People on the “fringe” were made better simply by drawing near and touching the fringe of Jesus garments. And two thousand years later, based on his having passed through our midst, it is like we are still touching the fringe of Jesus garments. People on the fringe, people for whom going to church or submission to Christ are on their list of things not to do, can still receive the benefits of Jesus just because He passes near and they are somehow able to just brush up against Him. After all, the body of Christ is still present, isn’t it? Aren’t we as his church, his people, now the body of Christ?

staticelectricity
I guess the question is, is there enough Christ in us that people can be healed simply by drawing near to us? Do we have healing power radiating from us? Or is the power within his church these days more like static electricity, that anyone who happens to brush against it might receive a quick little shock to remind them not to come too close??

jesus-heals-with-power
I say, we still have the power of healing within us. It still radiates from Christ through the church. His church is always one generation away from dying out, yet 80 generations later, here we are, radiating healing and forgiveness into a world that desperately needs it.

holyof holies
And if his church is not radiating that healing, I know a place that is. It’s the holy-of-holies of the New Covenant, inaugurated by Christ himself the night before he was crucified. There once was a time when only one man, the high priest, could go into the holy-of-holies, once a year. He was not allowed in without having a rope tied to his ankles, lest God should strike him dead while he was in there and there was no way to get his dead body out. But we have a new holy-of-holies, his communion table, that still radiates healing. And nobody, no matter how bad the sin, is struck dead for coming near. It is inclusive, all are invited, never exclusive. Because Jesus is still the friend of sinners.

new holy of holies.jpg
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭6:53-56‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mrk.6.53-56.esv

John Lewis

Jesus and The Crowd

Jesus and The Crowd

jesus

Just a short thought on Jesus and “the crowd”. And that is this – Jesus was almost always against the crowd. As Soren Kierkegaard says, “The crowd is untruth.” Kierkegaard goes on to tell us, “The crowd is indeed untruth. Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd.” When the crowd shouted their Hosannas and brought the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, Jesus wept because he knew their violent ways would eventually lead to their destruction – “As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”” ‭Luke‬ ‭19:37-44‬ ‭ESV‬‬. And of course within the week some in that same crowd would a part of a different crowd, the crowd shouting for the release of the violent revolutionary Barrabas while calling for Christ to be crucified.

christ_on_the_mount_of_olives_by_giovanni
Look at the this scene right after the feeding of the 5000. “So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” John‬ ‭6:13-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This crowd had seen enough, they knew that He was indeed Messiah by the miracle they had just witnessed and experienced. They were ready to take on all comers and make Him their King – by force. But Jesus would have none of this, He had already dealt with this temptation out in the wilderness before He started His ministry. He would be crowned king, but he would not take His crown through violence. He would not take His crown by killing. He would take His crown by being killed.

the-crowd
The crowd feels good. The crowd feels right. The crowd can bring together those who had always been on opposite sides of all the battles if only it can find that scapegoat, the one it can send all of its anger and rage into. Just as the crowd did with Jesus at Golgotha, and Pilate and Herod became friends after being lifelong enemies, because they had come together to put that rage into the great scapegoat, Jesus of Nazareth. “And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.” Luke‬ ‭23:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

file_passionmovie_crowd
Putting all their anger and rage, all their sins, into Jesus was a cathartic experience for Herod, Pilate, and the crowd. It felt right to them. It brought them together. They thought that in killing Jesus, they were doing God’s work. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Imagine that…in committing the crime of deicide, the murder of God, they thought themselves doing God’s work.
Because…”The crowd is untruth.”  

angry-crowd

“So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”

‭‭John‬ ‭6:13-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.6.13-15.esv

John Lewis

Known by Love

Known by Love

amazing-love

Happy New Year!!  A message on carrying our message into the world in 2017.

christian-protesters
As Christians today, the world knows all about what we are against. In fact, we are known to the world mostly by what we are against. We have learned the art of protest, the art of shouting down those we disagree with. Instead of doing to others as we would have them do to us, we do unto them before they can do unto us. What did George Bush once call it, the “preemptive strike”? I know, that was a military term and for our national “security”, but did not we all in some form adopt that into ourselves?

election-protestor
We are known for our quarrels and disagreements, both with each other and with the world around us. We are known as a voting block, for picking sides in elections. We are known for our anger when things don’t go our way in these elections (really…isn’t it just the state of being angry that we are most known for these days?). Because while we proclaim Jesus is Lord with our mouth, in our hearts and minds we know that our true Lord resides in Washington. And if we can just get the right people in Washington, then we can truly get around to doing God’s work!! Get the right people in office, get the right laws passed, get the right things banned, make all things just like 1950 (which is rumored to be the time of pure Christian nirvana in the USA. But then somehow the 1960s happened, so maybe the 1950s weren’t quite as idyllic as we like to tell ourselves??). But since it is 2017, that means 1950 was 67 years ago, and not many reading this would have been alive to have any real memories of that time.

protest
And since it is 2017, and I’ve already given a list of many things that I believe we are known for, what exactly should we be known for? I would say, the exact things Jesus was known for. After all, we claim to be “Christians” right. The definition of “Christian” would and should be “little Christ”, right?

christian-wallpaper-cross-and-sky
Jesus Himself told us what we would be known for. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ‭‭John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬. People will know we are disciples of Jesus by our love.

love-one-another
Love. Not anger. Not judgement. Not bible knowledge. Not by our protests. Not by our Christian memes on Facebook. Not by our arguments. Not by our clever comebacks. Not by our being right.
They will know us by our love. Jesus brought a love revolution. It is political in scope as well as personal, but we can’t win politically by the worlds system and values. We’ve been trying this for decades, and it’s gotten us nowhere. The apostle Paul told us long ago “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We have tried ignoring this command in the Bible. We have tried for decades to to conform to this world, to follow the pattern of those around us. We know how to protest, how to organize, how to mobilize against our perceived “enemies”. In 2017 it’s time for the renewing of the Christian mind, and the renewing of the call of Christ in our lives.
Christ told us people would know us by our love. Today they don’t know us by our love, and as a result they don’t know Him. They think they know Him through us, and so they should. Instead, they know our anger and our protests, and think that by this they know all they need to know about Him.

confession-saint-longinus_1157719_inl
Jesus was able to make Himself known to unbelievers even with His dying breath. “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”” Mark‬ ‭15:39‬ ‭ESV‬‬. A Roman centurion watching Jesus of Nazareth die crucified knew as He watched that he was seeing the Son of God. What exactly did this centurion see? “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This centurion had seen many crucifixions. They were commonplace in Rome at this time. He had seen how men died during crucifixion, and it was not praying for the forgiveness of those doing the crucifying. This battle hardened Roman soldier standing at the foot of a Roman cross knew instantly and instinctively that this kind of love could only come from another world. He knew that the man up on that cross with the crown of thorns and His sign declaring “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” ‭‭must be divine!! It was only the power of forgiving love that could have persuaded this Roman soldier that a crucified Galilean Jew was indeed the Son of God. It proved the Jesus was exactly who He said He was. In the words of Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Love alone is credible“.

father-forgive-them
Our Christianity has become antagonistic and retaliatory in attitude. We have gone from imitating Christ in non retaliatory, unconditional forgiveness to becoming a Christianity which is focused on its own interests and self-preservation. In the words of Brian Zahnd from his book “UNconditional? The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness” – “This is the ugly Christianity that demands its rights and angrily protests when it is treated by the world as Christ was treated by the world. The irony is tragic.”  

carryingcross1
We have lost credibility in the world, because the world does not know us for our love. They know us for many things, but love is not one of them. Jesus told us “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬. To take up our cross and follow Jesus is not a call to believe something about Jesus and His cross. To take up our cross and follow is to take up our own cross and do as Jesus did on His cross. It’s the call of Jesus to give up our rights, forgo retaliation, and practice unconditional forgiveness.  It’s the call He gives us, and it’s the walk He walked, right up through His  own brutal execution.
Because love alone is credible.

“And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭15:39‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mrk.15.39.esv
“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.23.34.esv
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.””

‭‭John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.13.35.esv
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/rom.12.2.esv

John Lewis

The Feast of Empire

CNN And Arizona GOP Host Presidential Debate

I’m in the book of Daniel today. This book was key to Jesus and His understanding of His mission and who He was. The concept of the “son of man” that Jesus referred to Himself as was born here. The clearest reference to resurrection in the Old Testament comes from Daniel.
The book of Revelation and Daniel have much in common. Daniel is referenced heavily by John the Revelator. Daniel was written during the exile to Babylon. The people had already received the letter from Jeremiah – “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” ‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:5-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬. They were going to be in Babylon for a while. So, their challenge was to be able to live as exiles, to live in a foreign land, while staying true to what it means to be Hebrews, to be the people of God in Babylon. They were to live among the Gentiles while themselves remaining kosher.
So Daniel and three of his friends are chosen by the king to be in a program after which they would then serve in the palace (think:White House). Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king wanted the best young men from the Hebrew people he had just conquered for the purposes of teaching them how to be Babylonian. He wanted the best of the best, good looking and smart!! The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. So, these Jewish boys selected for this program were to eat a diet from the Kings table, be educated for three years, and then were to be ready to serve the king. Among these boys were Daniel and three of his fine, upstanding young Jewish friends.
And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. The first thing they do with these boys is to give them new identities. Names in this day mean something. Daniel, which means “God is my Judge”, was called Belteshazzar, which “Bell’s prince”, Bell being one of the Babylonian gods. Hananiah, which means “Yahweh is gracious” was called Shadarch, which means “friend of the king”. So the goal from the beginning is to change their identities, change their understanding of who they were.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. But Daniel, while more than willing to interact and work for the good of Babylon, is also determined to keep for himself his identity as a chosen one of God. He is determined to follow the dietary laws he has kept his entire laws, and does want to eat from the Kings table. The king is probably serving up a lot of pork, maybe some shellfish, with a side of bacon.
Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” This poor servant of the king. He likes Daniel, and wants to let him stay kosher. But he’s afraid the king will find out and cut his head off. (Which he probably would if he found out!). So Daniel says “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” Just give us ten days. If we don’t look at least as strong and heathy as the rest of these boys in your program, then fine, we’ll just have to eat from the Kings table.

vegetables
So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. So Daniel and his friends were the fittest and finest of the bunch after ten days and were able to keep kosher, avoiding the defiling food coming from the Kings table. They began living in Babylon, while staying true to what it means to be Jewish.
Well…just what does this mean for US?? Are we just to avoid pork and keep the kosher rules after all? NO. This is not what we take from this scene in Daniel. Remember Jesus told us – “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart. ”. So Jesus tells us – “You can eat what you want!” What goes in through your mouth doesn’t defile, doesn’t make you “unclean”, but what comes from your heart defiles you.
Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. Except Jesus hadn’t told them a parable, he had told them very simply that they could eat what they wanted. But this was so far outside of the disciples way of thinking, that they thought Jesus HAD to be using a parable to make a different point. Keeping kosher was such a huge part of what it meant to be Hebrew, to be Jewish, that they couldn’t begin to understand what Jesus was saying. So Jesus gets even more blunt – “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.) And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”” Food just passes through you and into the sewer. Every kind of food is acceptable to God. This was so mind blowing to His disciples that they stayed kosher for at least ten years, until Peter had his vision and God told to “Rise, kill, and eat”. Then he went to Cornelius’ gentile home and broke bread with Gentiles for the first time ever. That is how entrenched this was in their lives.

bacon-2
So…we don’t follow kosher laws. Hooray for bacon!!! That’s not what defiles us. But what does defile us is what comes from the heart. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.   
We live in a modern Babylon, the modern empire. We have a Kings table to eat from as well. But instead of pork and bacon, what is served up on the Kings table in America is a steady diet of consumerism and militarism. Of course, that doesn’t sound good, we like our slick marketing, so we don’t call it consumerism and militarism. The diet served from the Kings table is called ECONOMY and SECURITY.

economy
“It’s the economy, stupid!” The economy is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in American society. If you don’t think the economy is most important…then well, you’re stupid, right? Can you say “Golden Calf?” It is our economy which we fall down and worship as a society.

security
The other most important thing is security. A security guaranteed by violence – and the ability to bring massive violence in an instant – against others. But we are Christians, right? So, as King David once said “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭20:7‬ ‭ESV

faith-hope-love

‬‬
The king serves up economy and security. Look around you, these things can be found everywhere. What is SUPPOSED to be the diet of the Christian? What is SUPPOSED to be going into and coming out of our hearts? “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We live with a 24 hour news cycle. What is the empire serving up,when we turn on 24 hour news? Fox, MSNBC, CNN…every one? Every one of them is serving up the empires diet of 100% fear. 24 hours a day, 365 days/year, we are served up 100% fear.
And if we sit at that table and west that fear, what comes out of our hearts? We see ISIS overseas in a power void in the Middle East, and the sermon on the mount goes out the window. Jesus said love your enemies, but “He wasn’t talking about THOSE guys, I can tell ya that!!! We gotta convert ’em or kill ’em”

wall
If we sit at that table and eat that fear, we might find ourselves chanting in the streets “BUILD THAT WALL!!”

amerikkka
If we keep eating that fear, we might find ourselves holding up “Only in Amerikkka” signs and burning cars in the street.

all-my-heroes-kill-cops
If we keep eating that fear, we might believe a few cops dying in the streets is some sort of just revenge.

_anti-abortion_sign
If we keep eating that fear, we might think everyone who disagrees with us just wants to kill every baby they see.

mississippiburning_12
If we keep eating that fear, we might think everyone who disagrees with us wants to lynch black men and burn churches.

forgiveness-of-sins1-516x345
If you are eating from the Kings table and what you are eating there keeps you away from faith, hope and love, it’s time to back away from that table. Don’t eat the fear being offered. Feed on faith, hope and love. Remember that Christianity is about forgiveness, or it’s about nothing at all. Keep Christian kosher.

 

John Lewis

Aftermath

donald-trump-vs-hillary-clinton-5

Going to the Psalms in the aftermath of this election. The psalms are basically Gods prayer book, and I’m pretty sure we can all agree our nation needs prayer right now, regardless of where you stand on the outcome this morning.

nations-rage
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. God is our refuge. He is our strength. We don’t have to fear every rumbling of the earth, every earthquake, every eruption. We don’t have to fear the stormy waters, God is in control even through the chaos. We don’t have fear the forces of chaos around us because Hod is our refuge and our strength.

river-of-life
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. A contrast to the raging waters and chaos above, we come to a river that symbolizes God’s blessing renewal. “And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭47:6-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. God is in the river, bringing life and calming storms. This river will make glad the city of God, nourish it, water it. The holy habitation of God – I’m sure Ezekiel is referring to the temple- but we now as God’s church, the bride of Christ, aren’t we His Holy habitation, the living breathing temple of God? God is with us, Emmanuel, we shall not be moved. The morning dawns, He is here.

encouragement
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Chaos is all around us, wars abound. The things we hope for in this world can all be snatched away. But when God speaks, the earth stops. When God speaks, kingdoms fall. All military might, all human weaponry, all evil plotting to bring down the people of God will not succeed. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew‬ ‭16:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. All the weapons of this world will not stand. When the Kingdom of God which Jesus brought is fully realized, when the city Abraham was looking for is finally completed, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” Revelation‬ ‭21:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬. All military power will be broken down, there will be no more war, no more will the spirit of the division and accusation and vengeance rule the earth.

be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-1024x576
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. I still don’t have a “life verse”, that verse to remember when all else is failing. I don’t think I’ve come across any other verse in the bible (besides maybe Luke 5:32 & Matthew 9:12) that makes me stop every time I read it. Be still, and know that I am God. When the world around us turns to chaos, when truth is declared lie and lies and declared truth, Be still, and know that I am God. When I think I have the solution to my own problems, when I’m going to fix something, when I’m going to convince someone else that I am right and they are wrong…Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!   Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday, is Lord!! He is exalted among nations, He is exalted in all the earth. God is with us, He is our rock and our redeemer. He is our fortress. So if you’re sad with the outcome, if you’re glad with the outcome, or even if the candidate you voted for won and you still have an uneasy feeling, Be still, and know that I am God. 

curtis_lake_sunset-and-ellie

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:1-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.46.1-11.esv

John Lewis