Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time to Resolve the Identity Crisis

Who am I? Who are you?
Personal identity has attracted much public attention lately. Thieves have found it very lucrative to actually steal peoples' personal identities through credit card frauds and computer scams. Identity theft has become big business.
However, I believe an even greater problem exists in that many people don't even realize their identity has been stolen, because they don't even really know their true identity in the first place. Many fall through the cracks of life, merely passing through, but never coming to a knowledge of who they are.
Unfortunately, we have become human doings rather than human beings.
The medium has become the message. True, we can send a message around the world in a micro-second, but what value is it if it merely communicates a burp, a grunt or even worse?
We have become mesmerized with our own hype.
We have lost touch with the truly vital intrinsic realities of this life. Our identity has become lost in a sea of information and misinformation of questionable value.

I spent years searching for my identity. I also attempted running away from who I was, or at least, who I thought I was. Lack of identity can be a very frustrating experience.
One day some friends told me I needed to meet someone who could help me find this elusive identity; someone who knew everything about 'heart' issues. My friends said that if I met their mutual friend, it would bring an end to my search. After all, had I not spent years trying to solve the eternal questions and was still none the wiser?
How could this be? I did not think such a person really existed. Who could possess such knowledge and then be able to give it to someone else?
They set up opportunities for our introduction, but I missed many appointments.
I was too busy and couldn't make them. However, they didn't give up on me.
They persisted and persevered and finally, one day I met Him.

I gave up the pursuit of knowledge and found the love of the Lord Jesus Christ!

I discovered that my true identity had been stolen in a garden by a serpent many centuries ago, but Jesus had since paid the price on the Cross and won it back for me.
He also showed me that if I truly wanted to find my identity and real life, then I needed to in turn lose it. Paradoxical?!
Through faith in Christ I am now a child of God. That was 35 years ago.
Not once have I found Him to be a liar. Jesus is always true to His word. That is a very precious commodity in today's world: someone who will agree from his heart to do something and not forget or go back on his word. Such a one is secure in his identity.
Our 'Who am I?' questions find their answer in 'Who do you say that Jesus is?'
Some say He is a man, others a wise teacher, others still a prophet or guru. Some believe the stories about Him are merely fabricated myths or lies.
But the Bible reveals that the mystery is resolved in a Revelation of Jesus who is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
None of us are complete in ourselves. Our identity is fully involved with Our Creator and Redeemer. Satan stole our identities and has lied to every generation. We have swallowed these lies and wandered this world without meaning or identity. Until we renounce the counterfeit, idolatrous images we have substituted for God, we are condemned to continue this frustrating journey. Only in Christ is the Father's pure love revealed and we are restored to His image, secure in the knowledge that we are His.
Do you know you also have an arranged appointment with this Jesus?
This year it became required for all Canadians to have passports in order to cross the border into the United States. Even moreso, we need our new real identity in Christ revealed that we might cross over spiritual barriers to enter and enjoy new life in His kingdom. Please don't miss your appointment because you're too busy on this other side.
Besides, this is only the beginning. Introduction leads into Relationship.
God-forgiven Identity releases into God-given Destiny.

**Let the Lord fulfill your new Identity in Jesus Christ below
Check each in the Word; then let the Holy Spirit verify + release His life in you!
Take at least 1 of these to heart each day like spiritual vitamins + grow!
Remember: the devil comes seeking whom he may devour;
let Jesus' answer be yours: 'he has nothing in me' (Jn 14:30)
.... I am in Christ!'

WHO AM I ???
“ in CHRIST JESUS ... ”

I am the salt of the earth. Matt 5:13
I am the light of the world. (1Thess 5:5) Matt 5:14
I am of priceless value. Matt 6:26
I am a child of God; I have a Father who loves me. Rom 8:16; Gal 3:26,28
Jn 1:12; 1Jn 3:1-2
I am set free. Jn 8:31-32
I am the Good Shepherd’s sheep; I can hear His voice and follow Him. Jn 10:4,10
I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life. Jn 15:1, 5
I am Christ’s friend. Jn 15:15
I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit Jn 15:16
I am filled with joy! Jn 16:33
I am One with the Father and Son and all believers. (1Cor 6:17) Jn 17:22-23
I am Christ’s witness. Acts 1:8
I am a slave of righteousness to God. Rom 6:18, 22
I am free from all condemnation. Rom 8:1-2
I am a son of God, spiritually adopted by my Father God.(Gal 3:26,4:6) Rom 8:14-15
I am a joint-heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance. (Gal 4:6-7) Rom 8:17
I am inseparable from His love. Rom 8:35
I am more than a conqueror, an overcomer. (1Jn 5:4-5) Rom 8:37
I am a temple/home of God; His Holy Spirit dwells in me. 1Cor 3:16; 6:19
I am washed, sanctified and justified. 1Cor 6:11
I am not my own; I have been bought with an incalculable price. 1Cor 6:19
I am a member/part of Christ’s body. 1Cor 12:27
I am transformed into Christ’s image by faith from glory to glory. 2Cor 3:18
I am a new creation; a totally new person. 2Cor 5:17
I am reconciled to God and an ambassador of reconciliation to others. 2Cor 5:18-19
I am the righteousness of God. (Eph 4:24) 2Cor 5:21
I am crucified with Him: dead to sin and alive to God. Gal 2:20
I am redeemed from the curse. Gal 3:13
I am a saint, blessed with all spiritual blessings. (Phil 1:1) Eph 1:1-3
I am totally accepted/chosen in The Beloved. (Col 3:12) Eph 1:6
I am completely forgiven by His Grace. Eph 1:7
I am sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Eph 1:13
I am alive, saved, raised up and seated in the heavenlies. Eph 2:5-8
I am God’s workmanship, created to walk in good works. Eph 2:10
I am a member of God’s family, secure in His foundation. Eph 2:19-21
I am a prisoner of Christ. Eph 3:1,4:1
I am confident He will complete what He has begun in me. Phil 1:6
I am a citizen of heaven and seated in His throne right now. Phil 3:20
I am delivered from darkness and translated into Christ’s kingdom. Col 1:13
I am absolutely complete. Col 2:10
I am hidden with Christ in God, my life is kept of God. Col 3:3-4
I am not afraid, but filled with power, love and a sound mind. 2Tim 1:7
I am never alone. Jesus never leaves me nor forsakes me. Heb 13:5
I am of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a unique people 1Pet2:9-10
I am an alien, stranger and pilgrim in this world I temporarily live in. 1Pet 2:11
I am an enemy of the devil,; the devil cannot touch me. 1Jn 5:18
I am His Bride. Rev 19:7
I am not the great “ I am” (Ex 3:14; Jn 8:24,28,58)
but “by the grace of God I am what I am” (1Cor 15:10)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

There Must be a Better Way

A short word before this next article:
I first wrote this just before US forces moved into Iraq in 2003; however, I find it addresses a perspective still out there in the contemporary 'Christian mindset' that needs to be challenged.
What are your thoughts?

Preparations for war have filled our minds and newscasts.
Soldiers pack up their gear, embrace their children, kiss their wives. “We just want to get the job done, get it over with and get back home!”
Thousands fill the streets of New York, London, Rome, Istanbul; 35,000 protest in Vancouver and even Abbotsford hears the cries, “No blood for oil!” The images contrast as sharply as the opposing battle lines in the desert.
Days and nights of constant bombardment have now left much of Baghdad in ruins.
Our TV screens explode with “Shock and Awe!”
but do we realize men, women and children are dying while we watch the fireworks?
Then the next photos: close-ups of the injured and maimed lying in blood-soaked bandages in ill-equipped hospitals; or even worse, the dead lying in the streets after the battles.
Even closer to home, a Maryland father thrusts his slain son's picture into the camera's eye. “Take a look, George Bush. This is my son, my only son, and you killed him!”
Sons, fathers, soldiers, civilians...all casualties of a world that has definitely lost its way...again.
Survivor Baghdad has become the ultimate Reality TV show.
A chorus of hearts cries out: “There must be a better way!”

The debate intensifies:
“Saddam's a monster, a foul dictator, a virtual anti-Christ. He slaughters his own people. Replace him and we'll make the world a safer place!”

“Bush is no better. Who does he think he is: the world's policeman? imposing his brand of 'Christian' democracy, bullying Moslems and the entire Arab world?”

“Terrorism, biological and chemical weapons must be countered with ten times more force. These are threats to world security and must be preemptively neutralized.”

“But by reacting this way, haven't we become what we say we oppose?”

Over 3000 died in the World Trade Center disaster.
How many will have to die in the retaliation?
United Nations diplomacy proved ineffective.
Canada teeters somewhat smugly on the fence, officially uninvolved, but cautiously cheering on the Americans, anxiously concerned about effects on our economy and comfortable way of life.
There must be a better way.
It's amazing how we can piously mouth Jesus' teachings, “Turn the other cheek, Walk the second mile, etc.” on a personal, individual and family level, but fail to relate them on the wider community, national and international stages. The words sound good on an ethereal, spiritual plane, but they don't really apply to the 'real world'.
How easily we sentimentalize 'Blessed are the peacemakers', but resort to waging war when our 'real' interests are threatened.
Indeed, a 'Christian brother' once tried to enlighten me by proving that The Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount will only come into effect in some future Millenium!
What happened to The Cross?
Shows you how strongly your end-time beliefs can determine your present-day attitudes and actions.
The problem with Christ and His teaching is not that they have been tried and found wanting; it's that they have not been really tried!

We so-called 'Christian' nations have not truly sought to put them into practice when it comes to resolving problems.
“Be realistic,” some counter.
Jesus was and is.
He understood that what we sow we ultimately reap:
sow violence, reap violence;
sow love, reap love;
live by the sword, die by the sword.
Don't be overcome by evil (the forces of this world that are bent on destruction),
but overcome evil with good.
Gandhi was not a Christian, but he sought to follow Christ's non-violent approach, and he ultimately led India to independence.
Martin Luther King dreamed of his people's freedom from racism and inspired them by Jesus' faith.
South Africa has been spared a bloodbath because they chose to forgive past inhumanities by both whites and blacks rather than resort to vengeance.
The Berlin Wall did not fall to tanks and missiles, but to the prayers of believers who not only filled a Dresden church night after night, but then let their light shine in the streets until the communist darkness could stand no longer.

Jesus said, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, and by so doing, you will heap coals of fire on his head.” (Romans 12:20)
I always interpreted this to mean that God would ultimately execute fiery retribution on my enemies. But my heart motive was all wrong. Rather than calling down judgment on your opposition, this verse alludes to the nomadic custom of transporting fire coals from camp to camp in baskets on their heads. If someone's fire went out between camps, others were to give them some of their own.
Rather than retaliate, rekindle.
Jesus tells us to bless and not curse; heal rather than wound; help, not destroy ...and not just when it's personally convenient. Thousands of Iraqi children have died over the last 10 years' embargo on goods, including proper medical and food supplies.

What if: rather than pound them with missiles, we bombarded them with mercy and the skies rained down relief packages rather than death?

“Traitor! Naive! Impractical?"
But the real gospel in action has worked miracles and fostered much more goodwill than self-centred evil. We really do have so much here in the West. God has blessed us with such abundance. Rather that retaliation, why not break the cycle of violence by faithfully following the One whose Death and Resurrection forever broke the power of sin and death … hatred and war?
I am convinced: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is A Better Way!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Something Greater

Something greater than the Iraqi and Afghan war, terrorist acts or Canadian and American elections is now happening in our world. The kingdom of God, greater than any election platform, is presently sweeping the earth. The greatest movement in world history is now changing the face of the earth! Are you a part of it?
People are turning to Jesus and discovering His words are true.
“Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have life and these testify of me (Jn 5:39)
“All the Scriptures…things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27)
must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”(Luke 24:44)
Spiritually hungry people do not accept counterfeits; they turn to Jesus!
A few years ago, my wife and I visited many ancient sites of the early Christian church in the Mediterranean world. These cities had once known vibrant churches, but the ravages of apathy, war, and time have taken their toll and their once-strong congregations are no more.
In Spain, we found church buildings full of gold plundered from Aztec and Inca empires, but empty of people. In Assisi, we found St. Francis’ simple church, but now smothered beneath an overwhelming edifice. In Greece, St. Paul’s powerful words seemed silenced amid all the noisy Olympic preparations.
The seven churches of Revelation were merely empty ruins in Turkey, a 99% Muslim nation. Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia, once the largest church in the world, was now only a shell of a museum.
However, we found something even more remarkable. Although the outer vestiges of ‘Christian faith’ are no longer as prevalent as they had once been, an even more powerful movement is now sweeping these lands, especially in the hearts of the younger generation. Hearts are hungering for the real Jesus and will accept no substitutes.
Our young Italian friend was born and raised in the church, even served as an altar boy, but the church’s hypocritical practices had turned him away. Their large, cold marble buildings no longer impressed him and he now looked for heroes elsewhere. I challenged him and his counter-culture group of friends to look to the original Jesus, the only perfect man who has ever lived. “Why continue to look for ideals of perfection when He has already come?”
He acknowledged that Jesus’ life uniquely demonstrated truth in action, in spite of all man’s external religious embellishments. But it's hard to find the real Jesus through all the religious embellishments...the crap!
One afternoon in Ephesus, just outside the ruins of the church where St. John lay buried, we stopped to talk with a young carpet-seller. The topic turned to the emptiness of religious buildings and observances and we encouraged him to seek the head of the living church, Jesus Christ. Suddenly he remarked, “You’re just like those other people who were here this morning and shared this same message with me. And you’ve got that same joy in you! You are filled with joy and radiate life just like them! Is that Jesus?”
Then he told us how he had begun to read the New Testament (Injil) in his own language so he could find out these things for himself.
Later that evening in our hotel, Achmed, our 18-year-old night watchman, watched his new ‘Jesus’ video all they way through on the very first night he'd had it. In the morning, he was so very excited about what he had seen and had all sorts of questions about this Jesus.
In Cappadocia, our young Turkish tour guide led us through labyrinthine underground cities, nine or 10 stories deep, 150 feet below the surface, where Christians had fled to escape Roman persecutors and later Muslim invaders. We marveled how they had survived and prospered for centuries and gazed at their wonderful frescoes and mosaics. But there’s more to life than old paintings, murals and books –and as we drove to the next site, she wondered out loud about what we were seeing. Our topic of conversation turned to Jesus. Rather than argue concerning religious dogma, I asked her what Islam said about Jesus.
“He is a prophet,” she replied.
“But much more.” I added. “The Koran speaks of Jesus as the Judge at the last day. Surely, if even the Koran esteems Jesus so highly, don’t you think it’s most important for us to know Him as He truly is now, seeing we are all going to stand before Him as judge on the last day?”
That opened more questions.
Other nominal Muslim friends of hers had gone to the theatre to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ because they’d heard it was anti-Semitic, but the movie had now turned them and their thoughts to examine who this Jesus of the Passion really was.
In Istanbul, another young Turk stood in a nightclub doorway, his red and black T-shirt emblazoned with Che Guevara's picture on the front and “We want a revolution!” on the back. I couldn’t resist and stopped to ask what kind of revolution he wanted.
“Do you want to have a real revolution or just replace the present batch of scandalous politicians and ideas with others? What about revolting against the world’s greatest tyrant?”
“Who’s that?”
Self! Do you want a real revolution of the heart? Have you considered the world’s greatest revolutionary?”
Who’s that?”
“Jesus! He turned the world right side up!”
He chuckled.
Che Guevera had good intentions, but he was a very imperfect political revolutionary and is now very dead.
Jesus alone dealt with the greatest threat to freedom: self.
And He is very much alive: He is risen! He alone offers a revolution of the spirit.
While the world’s philosophers and politicians argue – ‘esteem yourself, free yourself, empower yourself! Jesus invites us to “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
Charee (his name in Turkish means ‘called’) heard theJesus' call that day.
Not to ideas, but a Person.
Not to dead forms, but resurrected life.
Not to religion, but a faith relationship, personally and directly from Jesus Himself to be then shared together with others.
Jesus has given us life. Not dogmatic systems or learned responses. Not buildings or programs. God is looking for those who will simply respond out of their heartfelt need. He draws those who are honest in their reality.
It is only a matter of time: His kingdom is filling all the earth.