Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Scary, un-Reformed “Reformation” Sunday

Want to know what's REALLY scary this Halloween? It is also Reformation Day in so-called "Reformed" Churches across the world (celebrated today in the US and elsewhere.)

Why scary? Why "so-called?" Because the Reformation of the 16th Century failed to go far enough to pull Christianity out of Ancient and Dark Age pagan thinking about God, and millions still believe in SCARY-wrong doctrines. And these doctrines negatively affect how hundreds of millions respond to the Gospel – a Gospel they really have never heard, because of the failure of these “reformers.”

Sadly, almost 100% of Christians are unaware they are even infected with these theological diseases.

Like the scary belief by "Reformer" Martin Luther that one can "sin boldly!" because we are secure in a one-time-only salvation event without the requirement of obedience to secure that Salvation  - a scary-unbiblical lesson, one that modern evangelicals learned so well, they think Jesus taught it. Close, but they're only 1550 years off, and the author is Luther, not Jesus!

The Reformers also failed to go back far enough and cure "Saint" Augustine's SCARY-wicked, and horrifyingly false belief that God's commands can only be obeyed IF He gives us the ability to do so in advance ("Give [me] what you command, then [you can] command whatever you want.") Scary-unbiblical, that is, because if we have a duty to obey, and will be judged according to our ACTS, we must be free to act by a just God, Whom otherwise would be at fault for us NOT obeying.

And, good news! The Scriptures say that human beings are FREE and morally able to obey God, which contradicts another of Augustine’s Vampire-like doctrines (which cannot be killed, and was later re-VAMPED and given new strength by the demon-like, murdering Theocrat John Calvin) in which he states that man CANNOT do any Good, because flesh is evil, while spirit is always good. Leaving aside the fact that flesh can be used for good OR evil, and that we can have very damaged spirits - the Augustine-created Original Sin doctrine pretends we are Zombies (from birth!) who are unable to do good, and ALWAYS are compelled to do evil, despite our Master Jesus’ commands and clear trust in us that we CAN to do good - and should do so, continually.

We cannot really blame Augustine, since he was carrying over his beliefs from Manichaeism, a group that taught that there were two Gods, one good and one evil, and flesh (and sex) was totally evil. Then again, maybe that’s actually CAUSE to blame him, and mightily, for bringing paganism into Pure Christianity.

And millions of “Protestants” today, thanks to the so-called Reformer Calvin, now believe in SCARY Calvinist doctrines like the theories that God has damned some souls to a scary eternal hell - BEFORE THEY WERE EVEN BORN, and that they cannot do anything to prevent such a fate, which is pre-determined, unattached to their actions! This makes a mockery of Jesus' call for ALL to Repent, Believe and obey his words and serve God with Works of Righteousness. (Dare I mention the other scary belief by ANOTHER person who often contradicted the Savior, by claiming such Good Works are "filthy rags" in the eyes of God, misusing King David’s beautiful poetry of the Psalms? No, not now, but that Antichrist's misperception needs urgent Reformation, one day, too.)

And we shall leave for another time the numerous other doctrines, created by wicked and misled men, such as the abomination of Tri-Theism of the Catholic Trinity the “Reformers” refused to dump, the human sacrifice and commercial transaction atonement of Jesus on the Cross, the “instant salvation demand” of Easy-Believism, and the horribly scary, Anti-Christ of the Prosperity Gospel.

So let us hope those who attend Reformation Sunday services this weekend in their not-yet-dePaganized “churches” do so knowing that their Reformation is incomplete. To say the least, Christendom needs to repent quickly of these spooky, innovative, man-made doctrines.

The clear message of Jesus, warped and de-formed by a millennium and a half by outrageous man-made Councils and Papal mi-rule, was left grossly un-reformed and even more deformed by these horribly flawed “Reformers,” who ought not to be celebrated.

So, let the Reformation begin anew and finally be completed, back to the PURE, clear and plain teachings of Christ Jesus, the man whom God anointed as His spokesman and prophet: That we must repent of our sinful shortcomings, turn back to God, serving God and our fellow human beings fully and completely, seeking God’s help to live as Jesus lived, yearning to achieve the goals he set for us, that we might live fully and act righteously in this life, building up God’s Kingdom on this earth and building up treasure in Heaven so we might reside with God there forever. Amen.

Scripture and other Citations:
“Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins?  Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.” (Letter 99, Paragraph 13, from Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften)

"For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, SO THAT YOU CAN DO IT.” Deut. 30:11-14 (my emphasis)

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deut. 30:19

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve GOD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve GOD.” Joshua 24:15

“GOD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.’” Gen. 4:6-7

“And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.” Deut. 11:32

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Prov. 1:10

“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways” Prov. 3:31

“No one is established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.” Prov. 12:3+

“God in the beginning created human beings and made them subject to their own free choice. If you choose, you can keep the commandments; and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. Set before you are fire and water; to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand. Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them.” Sirach 15:15-17 (also in the 1611 KJV. Luther dropped this book from the Bible, for obvious reasons.)

“But those who do what is true come to the light in order that the light may show that what they did was in obedience to God.” John 3:21

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” John 14:24

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13 (Luther sought to drop this book from the NT, for obvious reasons, but was stopped by others from doing so.)

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:2-3

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jesus Challenged Religious Leaders: And Calls Us to Do the Same

The religious figures of Jesus’ day had it all figured out. They knew the religious system and the religious buzzwords inside and out. They could spout bits of Scripture to prove everything he said was wrong. They called him a “heretic” and worse: one who speaks evil against God.

Jesus’ preaching challenged the doctrines of religious leaders, plainly telling them they were wrong, and that they needed to rethink their beliefs and practices.

It was no longer just enough to SEEM to be doing God’s will, one must actually DO it, he said.

It was not enough to SEEM to be pious, praying publicly with long prayers and fancy words. One must actually BE pious, and do much of it in private.

Intentions mattered as much as outward appearances, said Jesus. And the motives of the heart, which give birth to actions, are important to control (and CAN be controlled) and turned towards Righteousness, so that our actions will also be Righteous.

But it is never easy to challenge religious ideas - especially long-cherished ones. It can hurt feelings and brings great anger.

Yet, Jesus was often blunt, and he knew that he would be met with great anger and even death. And so he was. And in three days, God took Jesus back.

But soon after his death and return to God, others came – as Jesus had predicted – with a different Message, one that was easier, less Godly, and less powerful and challenging to authority.

They called on people to believe special things about his death, but to not worry too much about his teachings and life.

They told people that Jesus wasn’t REALLY calling for us to perform Righteous Works, because we are not capable of them.

God, they claimed, at his own good pleasure, doles out the strength we need in order to do the Good Works, then rewards us for doing what He did through us.

And they elevated Jesus to equality with God, so that he could be admired, and worshiped, but not imitated.

Thus, they put Jesus out of reach, out of touch, and out of our minds as a perfect example to follow, and the Dark Ages and “reformation” which followed did nothing to bring the original Jesus back.

Today, the story that was once powerful and universal is powerful in numbers and wealth, but is almost universally arrogant and prideful.

Shockingly, Christendom today promotes the worship of money, power, and greed, and allows people a “Wide Gate” of easily-obtainable eternal salvation at the drop of a check, after spouting an unbiblical, simple prayer.

Christendom – particularly PROTESTANT Christendom – teaches that we may, without repentance or Good Works, and with only a few magic words, steal from God the salvation promised through His messenger, even though Jesus told us that this was available to us ONLY if we repented and worked Righteousness.

A movement that started off with such promise, but gained earthly power and dominance at the cost of its soul, is in need of a fuller, more complete Reformation.

What originally was a call to greatness through perfect Love and a call to serve God and other people through complete self-sacrifice stands in desperate need of renewal.

What is easy to purchase with a quick prayer and a promise of wealth must be rejected and confronted as false and contrary to Jesus’ express teachings.

What is incomprehensible and man-made must be stripped off like a layer of suffocating paint, so the original Truths of Jesus may shine through and breathe again.

What became large and lethargic must become again humble and holy, less demeaning and more dynamic in its evaluation of what we, as God’s creatures are both called to do and capable of doing for others and our Creator, God.

Today, as we embark once again on the Way Jesus preached, we must also dare to boldly question today's religious leaders' long-held, man-made beliefs as well as some even less attractive alternatives which call us to look inward and serve only ourselves, rejecting both God and Jesus without doing the hard work of discerning God’s will for our lives and learning Jesus’ true message.

Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, today’s religious leaders are not going to be very happy about being challenged, either. But we owe it to God and the one whom God sent to us – the man, Jesus, our Master – to become merely Jesus Followers and servants of God once again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Story Worth Re-Telling - from the Beginning

There is a story we live by that has been told so many times it has grown stale.

Worse than that, it’s been told so many times, it has grown. A lot. Monumentally. Like a game of telephone, in which each hearer enlarges the tale.

But it is not only growing bigger in size or in strength, it’s growing in heft, and in hubris.

It is a story that starts off with great power and resonates with all who hear it. There is, or was, something powerful about it, something universal. It was a call to greatness, and a call to love. It was a call to serve and a call to lose one’s self in that service.

But over time, it has become both easier to buy into, and harder to believe; it became larger, but also more lethargic; less dynamic, and more demeaning.

But it is a story worth going back and telling, from the beginning. Before the game of telephone and other games took over the story.

It really is time to retell the story.

And here’s the start of it: God lives.

God doesn't live “up there” on a mountaintop. Or in the clouds, or beyond the clouds, where there is only space, and the universe. God lives above and beyond the universe, and also right here, within our hearts. God lives in another, spiritual dimension, which our science cannot measure or quantify, but each human can visit instantly and know for certain that it, and the God Who created it, and all of us, resides.

And this God is Just, and Pure, and Perfect. This God is Loving and Kind and the Creator of the Universe.

This God is Eternal, and Spirit and All-Knowing.

And this God is Within us, Among us and, perhaps most importantly, is FOR us.

And this God, the God whom the ancient Israelites served, and loved and worshiped, is our God. This God of Moses and the Prophets and us – this God is a God worthy of Worship and Praise, and has made this known in His Creation and to His people.

And in the early days of the Roman Empire, lived a man in the Roman province of Judea.

You may not have ever really met this man, this man of flesh, blood and bones; sweat, tears and hunger. He had a father and a mother, and brothers and sisters. He was well known to his neighbors. And was inquisitive and wise from a young age.

This man, Joshua, was early on interested in learning, and God took notice of this man, and when he had reached adulthood, this man, whom the world knows now as Jesus, stepped into the waters of the Jordan River.

And as he was baptized, his God, and our God, the God Who created the universe, said, “You are my well-loved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This day, I have given birth to you.” And the spirit of God rested on him, and he stood, and began his ministry, speaking words that would change the world.

Jesus began his ministry preaching a Good and Beneficial message to the poor, and to the spiritual blind and to the sick, and to those in need of repentance from their evil deeds.

He said we must stop sinning and serving the Self, and turn instead to God, and begin seeking (and doing) Righteousness, serving God and obeying God’s commands.

Jesus said we were to be as loving as God. Not the mild love we give our favorite candy, and not a sexual, erotic kind of love. It is not even the kind of love who show to those who love us back.

We are, said Jesus, to love God purely, with every fiber of our being, all of our souls and minds and every bit of our strength.

Jesus said we are to love also our neighbors, and do so just EXACTLY as we love ourselves.

And “neighbor” is to include everyone with whom we come in contact: our next door neighbors, our co-workers, our friends. And also those we see in trouble on the side of the road, those who are hungry, sick, in prison, in need of shelter and clothing, those who don’t know they are in trouble yet.

And not only that, this Jesus said we are to love even our ENEMIES: Those who oppress us, those who hurt us, those who force us to do things we don’t like to do, like carrying their burden twice as far, and giving up not only our jackets but our shirts.

And Jesus said we were to become as merciful as God is merciful. We were to forgive others if we were to expect any forgiveness from God. But that forgiveness from God would indeed come to us, and forgive us when we fell short of these amazing goals.

And because of God’s mercy, Jesus challenged us to become morally Perfect, just as God is morally Perfect. And we must not serve money, wealth, power or other distractions in the place of God as we seek this Perfection.

And here’s the kicker – Jesus was challenging us not to tease us, not to tell us we can’t do it, not to mock us, but because HE KNEW WE COULD DO IT.

Why? Because he did it. He achieved Righteousness in his own life, was thus favored by God, and was sent out into the world to preach Righteousness, challenging others to make him an example of how we are to live our lives in a Godly way.

Some called him crazy. Even his own family doubted his sanity at times. The religious leaders of his day? They REALLY doubted him, questioned him, and hated him.

Accused by them of seeking to be God’s equal in all things, he scoffed, saying no one is “Good” like that, except God.

And yet, this life of Jesus was like a clear glass by which we can “see” God CLEARLY, not dimly, and by him, we how God wishes us to live.

He went willingly to death at the hands of those religious leaders. And when asked why, the answer was not mysterious, but it fit his ministry’s message: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. We are his friends, he said, if we do what he commanded us to do. Pure, simple, Love.

Jesus challenged us to become as good as God. Not that we could become the Creator of the World, or all-seeing, or present at all places in the universe at once. But so that we become MORALLY as Good as God, and in doing so, both please God and also have rich, fulfilling lives on earth, and, if is God’s will, to live in God’s presence forever after we are done living.

Let us pick up that challenge.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Voluntary Slavery

Do we make ourselves into VOLUNTARY slaves to the things we desire?

Slavery is seemingly something for which we would ever volunteer. But while involuntary slavery in our world is largely a thing of the past, we continue to make ourselves willing slaves to objects and things through our actions. And when we become slaves to Things, this separates us from God, the Creator of all Things and from the one God sent to become our benevolent Master and Teacher, Jesus.

In our daily lives, we often casually make objects our master - be they our thirst for wealth, sexual gratification, money, even food, and we make ourselves willing slaves to them and for the acquisition of them, and our Actions turn us from the path our true Master Jesus taught us we should be following.

Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin." (John 8:34) And he left us with many teachings that lead us to reject slavery and become free.

Jesus taught that we must not become slaves to our lust, and even if we THINK of another person with lust in our hearts, it's as bad as the act of adultery. (Matt. 5:29) Lust goes beyond mere attraction, which, when restrained and tempered, is a natural step in the process of falling in love. But Jesus wisely spoke to the beginning and source of our desire - our hearts - so that we might temper and train our desires and put them into their proper place, so that they do not make us their slave.

We make ourselves slaves to our possessions - our THINGS, be they clothing or cars or even our homes - when we put them before God. When we FIRST seek things that rust and can be eaten by moths, we put them above the things of God, which cannot rust or fade. (Matt. 6:19-20)

We become slaves to money and the acquisition of wealth when we allow money to become our slave master above all other things. Jesus taught that one cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:24) While we are allowed to work, and to receive payment for our labor (and as Jesus instructs, to pay our taxes on the money we have earned (Luke 20:25) allowing the quest for wealth to become our God makes it our master, and Jesus taught repeatedly and clearly that wealth blinds men and makes it very hard for them to be with God in the life to come. (Matt. 19:23)

Are we even slaves to our food? While we must eat to live and survive, when we eat beyond what we need for energy, we make food into an object to crave and acquire. Jesus taught that what goes into us doesn't matter as much as what comes out of our mouths, but if our hearts are set on acquiring and devouring food, we make it an ungodly object, rather than a source of nutrients. (Mark 7:19-20)

Jesus calls us to repent and stop making objects our master, to change our behavior, to amend our hearts. While sin may seem like a tiger crouching at the door to leap onto us, we have a choice, and we possess the ability to master it, and must do so, rather than becoming its victim. (Gen. 4:7)

Rejecting slavery to sinful desires leads us to freedom, indeed, and to a throwing off of the shackles of slavery we build for ourselves by our own sinful actions. This we can do only because we know Jesus has first achieved it. Without his fully human example, we may be led to believe that we have no power within us to act, and no responsibility to ourselves repent and change our behavior.

The teachings and perfect life example of Jesus, our Master, is the Good and Beneficial message to the world we must proclaim with our mouths but also with our deeds.

This wonderful message is this: Repent, stop sinning and do not become a voluntary slave to mere Things, but instead, act righteously according to our Master Jesus, and do not turn back, relying on his example and the ongoing encouragement of God's Grace. THEN, we become fit to be called citizens in the Kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A paganized, Dark Age message doesn't get better online

Putting the same, flawed message that's failed to introduce the world to Jesus onto the Internet with a slick video or website doesn't change the flawed nature of the message.

Even if Christendom's message is now presented with nice graphics, features blaring rock music, has cool pastors in blue jeans giving "hip" pop-culture infused sermons, at its core, it is still a version of paganized Catholic dogma straight out of the Dark Ages.

Instead, the world thirsts and hungers for the same, fresh message Jesus preached when he spoke of "MY God and YOUR God" being the Source of forgiveness, renewal, and spiritual transformation: the same God who anointed and sent a man, Jesus, to show us we could live up to God's high ideals! Please share this message with those whom you feel need a REAL change in their lives.

The Jesus Followers is launching a movement dedicated to following Jesus, who was Anointed by God. Join us!