From Lost to Found
Salvation is a free gift of grace. You are never lost or lonely in Jesus.
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—THERE’S MORE JOY IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER’S RESCUED LIFE THAN OVER NINETY-NINE GOOD PEOPLE IN NO NEED OF RESCUE.” (Luke 15:7)
Now… Who are the “good people in no need of rescue”?
Sometimes people wonder whether those in heaven or in other planets, know what is taking place on earth. Some would say no. But I beg to differ. I think heaven and God’s creatures in other planets that have not sinned are aware of what is happening on earth.
However, I don’t think our loved ones are sitting in heaven, watching everything we do. But I do believe the angels and inhabitants of “unfallen” planets know what is going on, and there are verses that I could cite to prove that point. (Revelation 5: 13, 14) But this much I know CLEARLY: When someone surrenders to God and they repent of their sinful condition, there is REJOICING in heaven. Whenever there is a CONVERSION on earth, there is PARTYING in heaven. That, I know without a doubt!
God gets excited when LOST PEOPLE accept Him and repent of their LIFE WITHOUT GOD, and so should we. As C. S. Lewis said, Joy is the serious business of heaven. So if they are having a party in heaven over the conversion of one person, should we, too, not be excited when we see someone come to Christ?
I believe that is what kept Jesus going, even to the cross, when He was on this earth! Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus, “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What was that joy? It was us. We were the joy. We were the prize. We were the treasure. We were the goal He went after and laid it all down for.
I want to leave a thought with you…
Could it be that we find it difficult to rejoice over a lost person coming to God because we really don’t know what it means to be lost? Could it be that religion and culture have confused us so badly that we don’t understand that “NICE” people, “MORAL” people, “COMMANDMENTS OBEYING” people,“HELPFUL” people, people with a “GOOD HEART” may be as lost throughout eternity as what we label “BAD PEOPLE”?
Being spiritually lost, doesn’t mean being a horrible person, or a horrible sinner, committing horrible crimes, serious offenses, or a serial killer! SPIRITUALLY LOST means being OK without God! It means being OK with religion! It means God is not at the center of your life! It means God is not a relationship that is renewing you every day! It means you fulfill a religious duty once a week, or even daily, but God is not the driving force of your life! And, perhaps, you couldn’t tell the difference between your good life and a life with God or a life without God! Isn’t that tragic?
What matters most to God, Friend, is your relationship with Him. What matters most to God about your wife, your husband, your children, your friends, your co-workers, people in the community, is their relationship with God. Eternity is on the balance! And you are God’s messenger to them! If you don’t know the difference between being saved and being lost, you probably can not see the difference in others either!
My Lonely Journey with God
I am a seeker. I am committed to let God love me every day and seek God’s will in the reading of the Bible and the direction of the Holy Spirit.
“Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:27 KJV)
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6)
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
THE LONELINESS OF A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS A NARROW ROAD
So, I am not politicaly conservative. I don’t believe rules and fear make people authentically loving and compassionate. Conservatism preserves order, civility and protects people from anarchy, but in the end we must hear the voice from and shift from self-centered living to God/Christ/Cross/Gospel centered life.
I am not a religious person. I don’t believe in religion. I consider religion a human attempt to catch the reality of God from our side of the universe. The word “religion” (Latin: “religare” which means “bond” or “re-unite”) is a good word, but unfortunately it has become a symbol of the human attempt to seek, reject, or make sense of God.
Religion is in its very essence anthropomorphism (Transfer human views and perceptions on to God).
Religion is the desperate attempt to make sense of God from a human perspective. I don’t believe you can “theologize” God unless you experienced God in your consciousness. You can talk “about” God, your can practice religion like an addict, you can talk about God like you talk about the weather, or biology, or computer science.
I am not politicaly liberal. I don’t believe everything goes. I don’t believe the answers to the complex fabric of the human existence are liberal views. Liberalism is as extreme and unrealistic as conservatism is. One is obsessed with “preserving,” the other with “bringing walls down.”
I BELIEVE IN LETTING GOD LOVE ME, BECAUSE I BELIEVE LOVE IS A POWER THAT CAN TRANSFORM MY LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT. Love defines the existential reality and unlimited power of God. I BELIEVE THAT A “RELATIONSHIP” WITH GOD IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE, BUT VITAL TO A LIFE THAT NATURALLY MANIFESTS LOVE AND COMPASSION.
When you believe, repent and receive the Holy Spirt, you must let God LOVE you, God will not make you a Christian, God makes you born again for a heavenly country. God will turn you into a loving, growing mature son/daughter of Heaven.
When you let God LOVE you, you won’t need to try to be a good person. That’s not your job. You will spend time with God, and let God transform you naturally.
I have found out that a RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD when I let God love me, is not about trying to overcome particular sinful behaviors, but a correction of what I believe God is like. This is a radical differentiation with the general spirit of religion.
The real PURPOSE behind letting God LOVE you, is to establish a RELATIONSHIP with God, that will grow your consciousness of God’s 24/7 presence in your life and TRANSFORM YOU! When you finally understand that God loves you matter what… When it dawns on you that God is with you no matter what… you will begin to wake up to the reality of a God no religion can teach you about!
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: TAKE YOUR EVERYDAY, ORDINARY LIFE—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—(Yes, your exhausted self, your defeated feelings, your sense of despair, your multiple challenges, all of it) AND PLACE IT BEFORE GOD AS AN OFFERING.”
A love relationship with God will heal you by changing your beliefs about God and transforming you into who you are meant to be. Meaning and purpose are embedded in this concept of becoming.
When you let God love you first, you suddenly realize you are part of a history that spans all through human history.
You become part of the body of God eternally connected with a huge, worldwide, global, historical, and timeless crowd of believers.
You begin to read the stories of the Biblical narratives and you suddenly identify with King David who lived and wrote many of the Psalms almost 3.000 years ago. You identify with Abraham who lied twice letting other men take his gorgeous wife to protect himself from being killed. Yet God chose him for a special mission.
You read in the Gospels about rough fishermen who became followers of God as Jesus. You read about a religion that hated his guts, while humble, broken people came to him to be healed and be comforted by him.
You were there 2.000 years ago. Those human beings were not much different than you and I. The words of Jesus begin to speak to you.
As your relationship with God matures, God stirs your heart for other people. As you connect with God, you find your heart going out like never before to people around in your sphere of action. Your relationship with God fuels and creates a longing for a relationship with your spouse, your neighbors, your kids.
Your relationship with God ignites in you a desire to connect and relate to others. The mark of God in your life becomes love, compassion, grace towards people who suffer and are needy.
Yet as you go deeper in your personal relationship with God you begin to find another reality Pastors, megachurches, religion and Christian friends don’t tell you about because they have seldom experienced it.
Suddenly God becomes the center of attention in your life. Your consciousness of God grows, deepens, and expands.
You realize God is with you all the time whether you are aware of it or not. You also realize God loves you no matter what you do. This shocks most people because they have been told by religion that God only likes “nice” people, and those who only do what God wants them to do.
Your consciousness of God’s love drives you to begin to practice a lifestyle of reckless and radical abandonment, by making God your sole desire and highest delight in life.
You find yourself conversing with God before going to sleep, or when you wake up in the morning. Or you decide to turn your radio off when you drive to chat with God.
You find yourself longing for intimacy with God.
This is what I have chosen to call in my own experience the “costly” side of my relationship with God. That’s when you begin to experience the attacks of demonic forces. You also experience antagonism from religious people.
This side of the relationship with God is costly because the crowd is not with you. Perhaps you know one or two people who share the same passion with you.
You find yourself struggling with the superficiality of religion in sermon, articles, books and social media.
Intimacy with God is costly. Here is the beauty of it.
The more you let God love you, the more you will experience love, and the more reckless and radical you will become in your response to people who feel antagonistic against you.
The more you let God love you the more naturally changes will happen in your life. Why? Because a walk with God is not about “trying” to be good and change, but letting God change you.
The more you catch a glimpse of the love of God, the more you will be attracted to broken people. The less you will be affected adversely by people who find you weird, too passionate about God, and compassionate about the needy.
I get a glimpse now of the spiritual loneliness and frustration Job experienced away from the church gathering, and the popularity of religious power. For all practical purposes he was perceived as a religious fiasco, a loser, a lost man.
Job was harassed by the leadership of God’s true church at the time. Job struggled, agonized, and did not surrendered to orthodox, conservative theology. He stood rooted in a personal knowledge of God.
When Job’s religious, conservative wife saw her husband suffering she said, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? (Your belief in your kind of God) Curse “God” and die!" (Job 2:9 - NIV)
The real dark loneliness of Job’s journey was caused by a clash between the lies of conservative religion about God, and his own experiential knowledge of God.
In response to Pastors who attempted to dissuade him with conservative theology, his own personal, emotional, mental, and physical agony, the loneliness he must have experienced, Job stood up and said,
“So hold your tongue while I have my say, then I’ll take whatever I have coming to me. Why do I go out on a limb like this and take my life in my hands? (Why do I risk my own existence? Why do I put my own life on the line by standing against your conservative theology AND YOUR LIES ABOUT GOD?)"
And here comes Job’s stunning answer…
“BECAUSE (I know God so well) that EVEN IF HE KILLED ME, I’D KEEP ON HOPING. I’d defend my innocence (against your accusations based on lies about the character of God) to the very end. Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation!" (Job 13:15)
Job’s experience gets to the core of what I am describing as spiritual loneliness in a journey with God while surrounded by people who don’t comprehend your path, unless they are or have been there.
What Job did not know, because he was not privy to the information we can read in the book today, is that the conservative theologians who confronted Job day and day out, were part of a demonic strategy to destroy Job. Job was a test case for the whole universe to see. God knew about it. God allowed the test case to take place to prove that love wins over pain, suffering and fear. Of course, Job and the conservative religious Pastors did not know what was behind.
It’s simply a fascinating story when put in the context of today’s contemporary religious landscape.
I understand Abraham’s broken human nature, manipulative behavior, allowing men to take his gorgeous wife twice to protect his own life. He became very wealthy because he lied, and the King bestowed fortune on him, driven by fear of punishment by the “gods.” What would you say of that kind of wealth created by someone today?
in spite of it, God saw in Abraham a struggling sinner with a mission, a purpose. Abraham’s lack of faith in God’s promise, like many of us, drove him to “help” God, which created a mess we are still dealing with as a global community, 4.000 years later. It just blows your mind!
I thank God every day for the Biblical narratives that shed light on the human fabric, how broken it is, how fragile, how twisted, and then on the other side of the spectrum glimpses of the character of God.
I understand the loneliness of King David, as a fallen sinner in the presence of God. Persecuted day and day out by his enemies, and his own family. Suffering the consequences of his own fall, David surrendered in the presence of God and saw the face of God’s grace, mercy and redemptive power.
David did not find affirmation in the Jewish religion of the time, but in a personal relationship with God. Yes, God used a prophet to get his attention, but the spiritual journey was David’s and David’s alone.
I read the Psalms and I find in them a guy who was intimately connected to God. A struggling sinner hanging on to God. His hymns, poems, and utterances about God were born in a deep empirical consciousness of God’s presence you don’t learn by reasoning, or simply theologizing God. It’s knowledge rooted in a relationship.
YOU WILL FIND PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPERIENCING THE SAME EXISTENTIAL LONELINESS IN THEIR JOURNEY WITH GOD
There is a depth of fellowship only available between like-minded (or rather: like-spirited) souls that share the same depth in their relationship with God. They have experience the same intensity and passion for God. They have “seen” with the eyes of faith the same treasures, and “tasted” the same pleasures of heaven.
These are people who may looked ruined socially, economically, but they are rich spiritually. Their hearts are fixed on the same thing and they share the same commitments.
Believe it or not, many of these people are homeless, some of them are struggling with mental disturbances, they are suffering, they carry the scars of painful memories of the past, abandonment, and abuse. They know a God I know, and we can talk about the same God!
And let me add that the people I meet and connect because we know the same God, are not religious conservatives. They are not denominational loyalists. They don’t push organized religion as the “way” into the Kingdom of God. They are not social liberals. They are not obsessed with social justice, for the sake of activism, THOUGHT they stand for love and compassion (as God does, above legalism, right and wrong) as the core of God’s call in their lives… They are the modern “JOBs” experiencing a personal relationship with God which I call mystical, real, profoundly satisfying, and manifested in a life of humble service and compassion for others.
They may be suffering, they may not be successful in the eyes of the culture but we know the same God.
This is the narrow road. This is a lonely journey!
Very often in this kind of walk with God you truly feel like a peg in a square hole. A misfit. You get fingers pointing at you from all directions.
“You, GOD, are MY GOD, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." (Psalm 63:1 - NIV)
GOD’S PEOPLE ARE NOT GATHERED TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE. THEY ARE ALL OVER THE WORLD. OFTEN IN THE MIDST OF A LONELY JOURNEY LIKE YOU
I have to think of all these believers in the spiritual outbacks of this world. Those who cultivate lovesick hearts and an ever growing hunger for the presence and the knowledge of God where no one else does.
People in nations or regions that die from spiritual hunger without realizing, people who belong to the few who cultivate the secret place of intimacy and wholeheartedness before God without having any support from the people around them or any people around them who inspire them to give even more and go even deeper.
I have to think of the people who, after having been touched by God in a mighty way, return to their traditional, conservative, lukewarm churches where no one has a paradigm for what they have experienced.
I have to think of the missionary couple who moved to a spiritually desolate region, completely stripped of any spiritual fellowship apart from each other to serve the needy.
I have to think of the young man who encountered God in the most weird kind of experience (he told me he felt weird) and due to a lack of other Christians in his area started reading Matthew 5, 6, the words of Jesus on his own while his atheist parents scolded him for his insanity and religious fanaticism. He ended up joining a Buddhist community and his spiritual experience and connection with God put me to shame.
I have to think of the group of people who consistently come together and experienced the most intense prayer meetings, with crying and sobbing in, and because of the measure of the presence of God in their prayer meetings, they ventured to help people no one in the entire city understood, but they were compelled to do it by the love of God.
These are the modern day hermits.
People who - while living in cities, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, even while being part of communities of believers or secular people - find themselves in a spiritual desert of loneliness.
These are the spiritual hermits who understand the words of David and cry with the same longing and commitment:
SOON OR LATER YOU AND I WILL BE FACED WITH GOD’S CALL TO LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND, LET GOD LOVE US, AND FOLLOW GOD IN THE WORLD. IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!
Love calls you and me to press on, to go deeper in in our relationship with God, to get to know God more as we journey together.
Once you have experienced the love of God, you will be emboldened like Job was.
You can’t go back, you can’t just stay where you are. You burned the theological bridges and the lies who kept you imprisoned in fear and legalism.
To the one who has tasted of God’s liberating grace backing down is an act of highest stupidity anyone is capable of. You are ruined for ever if you choose to reject such love. God does not stop loving you. You become miserable running away from God! Love’s longing is to give everything, surrender all, leave everything behind to cling to God, just as a lover embraces a lover in real life. “Counting the cost” (Luke 14:27-28) makes sense in a capitalistic culture, but really that religious approach to a relationship with God was “yesterday,” when you did not know better. “Calculating the cost” of a relationship with God is an absolutely absurd idea to the one consumed with yearning for the God who loves you beyond your wildest imagination!
Power of Grace
Power of Grace
Grace in the Bible is the undeserved gift of eternal life, (John 3: 16, 17) God grants to a human being who accepts his sinful condition, and accepts Jesus as His Redeemer.
Ephesians 2:7-10 is one of the most liberating messages of the Bible. It dismantles RELIGION totally! I call it the “RELIGION DEMOLITION” message directly from the heart of God. ([My notes]
“Now God has [YOU] where he wants [YOU],
with all the time in this world and the next [God has all the time in the world. There is NO anxiety! God’s journey begins with REST! No hurry]
to shower grace and kindness upon [YOU] in Christ Jesus.
Saving is all his idea, and all his work. [No religion, theologian or denomination can claim this one. IT’S ALL GOD’S IDEA]
All we do is trust him enough to LET HIM DO IT.
It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing!
No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”
Did you know that “Grace” (The Gift of God, salvation, eternal life) is harder to accept than to reject it? It sounds crazy, uh? Sin has impacted our psyche in such a way that we struggle to accept love and grace. We have such a low concept of ourselves that we constantly find it easier to give, produce, work for something, and get a reward for it, than it is to accept anything because we are LOVED. We don’t know what to do with undeserved love!
Religious people have made it to appear that the narrow gate is so because of demands God places on us, which are very tedious to fulfill. Like the BIG 10! Right? Have you heard that view in religious circles? It sounds like you have to jump on a behavioral treadmill, and try to be perfect, keep trying and trying… because otherwise you will miss heaven or paradise. All the religions of the world teach this view, except God Himself. All religions are rooted in a reward system based on good or bad behavior. Did you know that?
The narrow gate is so, because it requires you to leave all your human baggage at the door! Can you see the image? The door is narrow, you can not fit through it with your big luggage!
Jesus reduced the BIG 10 to 2, and the 2 to 1: LOVE. (Matthew 22: 37, 38) You can not love God, yourself, or people, unless you accept the love of God, first! You can not keep the BIG 10 unless you learn to love from God Himself! (1 John 4: 19) The human attempt to obey God is human baggage at the door!
By human baggage I imply all of your GOOD and BAD deeds. All your goodness, intentions, resolutions, and EFFORTS to be good! The narrow gate requires freedom from human baggage, that can only be found in God! Surrendering is the answer to the challenge of the “narrow gate,” not trying to obey God! When you surrender to God, He transforms your heart, your tendencies, and you find yourself obeying God, and responding to life like He would!
SINNERS, who accept God in their lives, (Read the parable of the prodigal son, Luke 15: 11-32) make it easier through the narrow door, than religious people with all their attempts to be good and better.
Amazing Grace! Have you experienced the GRACE of God in your life?
The Bible says about the human nature in Romans 3: 10-12
“There’s NOBODY living right, NOT EVEN ONE, NOBODY who knows the score, NOBODY ALERT FOR GOD. They’ve ALL taken the wrong turn; they’ve ALL wandered down blind alleys. NO ONE’S living right; I can’t find A SINGLE ONE. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides. Every word they speak is tinged with poison. They open their mouths and pollute the air. They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin. DON’T KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT LIVING WITH OTHERS. They never give God the time of day.”
Do you struggle with your marriage? The reason is because you are broken. We all are. Relationships are troubled an conflicted. We don’t know the first thing about living with others, says God! You may be very religious, but lousy at relationships. We all are! We are control freaks by nature. We hurt people with our words, our tone of voice, our selfishness, our judgments. Our reactions are like knives on the throats of others.
The human condition is sick, fragmented and broken, even if we don’t recognize it.
So, the final question, the bottom line, is not whether you need God or not, but whether you acknowledge you need God or not!
Have you been trying hard to be good? Are you exhausted? Tired of trying to do better? See yourself failing over and over again? Do see glimpses of your brokenness here and there?
Here is Jesus’s invitation to you and me:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 28-30
What’s your bottom line? Are you open to God? If not, why not?
What is the TRUTH of any matter?
Truth is most often used to mean in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal.
The commonly understood opposite of truth is falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy and religion. Many human activities depend upon the concept, which is assumed rather than a subject of discussion, including science, law, and everyday life.
Various theories and views of truth continue to be debated among scholars and philosophers. Language and words are a means by which humans convey information to one another and the method used to determine what is a “truth” is termed a criterion of truth.
There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth: what things are truthbearers capable of being true or false; how to define and identify truth; the roles that revealed and acquired knowledge play; and whether truth is subjective or objective, relative or absolute.
Many religions consider perfect knowledge of all truth about all things (omniscience) to be an attribute of a divine or supernatural being.
Jesus was amazingly powerful in his definition of TRUTH. Out of context, it could perhaps be considered the most arrogant statement of all times. No one ever claimed this definition of truth.
Jesus was either God, or He was the greatest deceiver that ever walked on the face of the planet.
John 14: 6 - “Jesus said, I am the truth!”
Jesus proposition is simple when it comes to spiritual “truth.” Spiritual or religious truth is not a set of dogmas, doctrines, theological statements, presuppositions, discoveries, but ONLY relational. No one has ever claimed this so poignantly. Of course there have been “masters,” “sages,” “wise men,” through the ages that pointed to the fact that by “association” or “discipleship” we could learn their “truth” or a “bigger truth.” But Jesus doesn’t say any of it. He simple say, “I, am the TRUTH!” Jesus is God! In other words, “Truth can only be found relationally as we get to know God!”
Want TRUTH? Walk with God. Spend time reading your Bible. Spent time praying. Spend time meditating. Spend time sharing God with people. Every time you spend time WITH God, doing what He DOES, reaching people for the Kingdom, LOVING, feeding the poor, listening to people, affirming them, loving them, you are actually KNOWING TRUTH! Isn’t that a fascinating paradigm?
Spend time with Jesus, reaching people for the Kingdom, following God’s passion, and you will know TRUTH!
“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want." John 5: 39-40