When we have power and no authority

Mark 3:20–22 (NIV): 20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “[He is out of his mind].”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

When the religious leaders realize they can’t control or stop Jesus, and he has the true authority, all they have left is manipulation.

Those who are in power but without authority can only control by manipulation, fear, or false narratives. Be aware.

The loss of “power” and finding POWER

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

This is the lesson we need to walk through… and sooner or later most will get to it. I’d like to recommend we work on getting there sooner, because later is going to be extremely painful.

Help us, Lord.

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The temptation to avoid and the invitation to grasp

The temptation to avoid:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (Luke 4:5-8, NIV) Continue reading “The temptation to avoid and the invitation to grasp”

The temptation of power

Years ago Richard Foster wrote a book on the great temptations of our culture. They haven’t really changed.

Money. Sex. Power. They draw us in. They are at the root of so much that dominates our political landscape. And the Church somehow gets caught up in this game.

Let me demonstrate the idea of “power” and “money” in this statement:

The “pro-gun” lobby and the “Planned Parenthood” lobby are two sides of the same coin.

That really sets people off. Both sides won’t see the legitimacy of the other side. Both sides will scream their righteous indignation, NEVER claiming to be alike in any way.

But here is what happens in our current political climate:

“The Democrats are taking away our guns!”

“The religious right is trying to tell a woman what to do with her body!”

When those two lines are screamed, you know what happens? Gun sales go up in the first scenario, and donations to Planned Parenthood skyrocket in the second. Guaranteed.

No room for compromise. No room for discussion. It’s simply going to be a stream of insults and then money comes out… It’s ridiculously predictable.

And in the middle of this we have a “voting block” the media keeps insisting on called “evangelicals.” And that group still thinks they have a lot of sway. They certainly try a lot of guilt!

“If all the evangelicals had got out and voted like they were SUPPOSED TO… Candidate X would have WON!”

So, in our current cultural upheaval we have an American slice of Christianity still trying to hold on to …. power. 

And fear is the driver. Just like “gun control” and “women’s rights,” the key words here are: “religious freedoms.”

Here IS the thing: We have been afforded, as Christians, tremendous religious freedoms over the years. It is true.

My contention has been that in a secular society when you have “religious rights” and that culture’s definition of “human rights” clash… “religious rights” will start to slide away.

We ARE seeing that. There are swipes at what constitutes a “religious organization” when it comes to healthcare law. There are bills that arise from time to time challenging property tax exemption for religious organizations. There is a bill in the California legislature right now challenging funding for religious based colleges.

Here is what we are struggling with: the power. We have had it so good for so long and now that influence and prestige is waning.

And this group wants the same thing as Trump supporters in general and Sanders supporters in general: protection. 

Trump promises protection from the big bad immigrants and terrorists. Sanders promises protection from the big bad corporations.

And yesterday, hundreds of evangelicals made pilgrimage to NYC (Trump ain’t coming to you, baby!) to hear Trump promise one thing: PROTECTION. 

All of these things demonstrate the pull of those big three “strongholds” in our culture: money, sex, or power. Some evangelical groups are still clawing for one last fingernail hold in “power.” And it is looking ridiculous. Honestly.

What we need desperately in the American Church is new thinking. Fresh thinking. Kingdom thinking. The kingdoms of this world pale in comparison to the Kingdom of our God. Yet, we are clawing for power in this realm.

Rights will be challenged. It is just the environment we are in. We can challenge in court. We can challenge in political races. But those rights will keep slipping away.

It is NOT whining on my part. I believe this will give the church the opportunity it needs to BE THE CHURCH.

Quit courting political power! Hillary, Bernie, and Donald do not hold your answers! You CAN live in a society that grows increasingly hostile to Christian belief. Millions of Christians do it every day!

Let us quit the silliness of chasing this system’s power and let us BE THE CHURCH in a fresh new way!

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Moving from Selfie to Selfless

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. (Acts 5:12-16, NIV)

Our temptation today would be to somehow “brand” that moment. Imagine Peter walking down a street today, the power of the Spirit flowing, and as he passes someone they are healed.

He stops, turns around, moves back to the one who was healed, pulls out his cell phone and says, “Could you hold those crutches up for me?” He then bends down by the person holding up their crutches, sticks his phone up in the air and snaps a selfie with the former cripple.

As he moves on, he quickly clicks on the photo and readies it to “share” on Facebook. He types in, “To the glory of God” in the status, pastes in the photo, and sends it off for his admirers to see. Think of the all the “likes” THAT will get!

We need a new Pentecost. We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. We need to move from the selfie generation where our “humble brag” is standing in front of hundreds while we snap away on our cell phone cameras and sending it out “giving glory to God.” We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit that will bring us to the realization that HE must increase… and WE must decrease. We must move from the selfie generation to the selfless generation.

I’ve heard preachers talk about having a “shadow ministry” like Peter, where they’re just walking down the street and people are getting healed. Of course, it’s in the context of them walking down the street and seeing people healed… all so a photo op can take place and they get it out on their website and social media. All for the glory of God, of course.

Maybe we don’t need “shadow” ministry so much as we need ministry in the shadows.

Maybe we need a new outpouring of the Spirit on the Church that activates us so thoroughly we carry that powerful presence with us and we actually have no idea what happens as we pass through our day. Maybe we’re at the checkout line at Target and the Spirit through us touches the person behind us. We don’t know it, but as we turned and looked at them, healing flowed. We paid our bill and walked out to the car, and that person was healed. We didn’t even know.

We don’t need a “shadow” ministry. We need ministry in the shadows.

Maybe we’re in a meeting at work and after that meeting, we offer a kind word to someone as we head back to our desk. We move on, but the Spirit overwhelms that co-worker and whispers to them, “I know where you are. You are loved with an everlasting love.” They get so overwhelmed, they slip into the bathroom and weep uncontrollably. And they really don’t know why at the time.

We need ministry in the shadows.

Ministry that allows the Spirit to flow and we don’t stop for the selfie. We simply allow the greatness of our Savior radiate from us and HE is glorified.

We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. We need a selfless generation moving in a fresh anointing… and it’s not about US any more. It’s about HIM.

Pentecost Sunday

The gods of our culture

NT Wright and Richard Foster both nailed it long ago. Our three biggest gods are money, sex, and power.

Try to say something against those three behemoths, and see how quick you get knocked back. It’s not a cultural war.

It’s just war.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t represent the “rights of women.” They represent the power of greed and sex. The manipulation they can pull is astonishing.

A couple of years ago the Susan G. Kommen Foundation mentioned they wouldn’t give a grant to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings. Within hours, 1. Planned Parenthood had double the money given to them than what the Kommen Foundation had promised in the grant, 2. Planned Parenthood had completely demonized the Kommen Foundation and sounded like this withholding would bankrupt this great work for women, and 3. the Kommen Foundation restored the grant.

Now, it’s the “revelation” of Planned Parenthood selling off body parts for profit. You would THINK that would be a tipping point moment, but my best guess is it’s not.

Here’s why: there isn’t ONE Democrat crying out for an investigation. And, quite honestly, I’m going to call out my liberal Christian friends on this one. I haven’t heard ONE of them… and I mean NOT ONE… decry this revelation. So much for “justice.”

When there is that much STUNNING silence in some major segments… you know something is truly up. We’re bowing to different gods.

There will be cries for defunding Planned Parenthood, etc. That is not really the battle. The battle is in repentance. There needs to be some tipping point where the horror of this action gets so overwhelming, so sickening, that people finally wake up to the atrocities of abortion and realize what is happening to human life.

I pray this may be that day. Quite honestly… I doubt it.

Kermit Gosnell couldn’t turn our stomachs as a nation. In a few days, this won’t raise an eyebrow.

We allow the allegiances of other gods blind us. And we offend the One we SHOULD be worried about the most.