Thoughts on Revival: Jesus Movement Leaders!

Nothing exposes the need for revival more than the criticisms thrown at its leaders. Entrenched ecclesiastical powers measure others by values and standards that long ago lost contact with earthly realities and heavenly concerns. They’re irrelevant and don’t know it, unscriptural and don’t care. Blinded by their religious categories, they miss what God is doing. Comfortable in their unchallenged conclusions, they ignore what God has said.

The leaders of our revival had the courage to swim against the ecclesiastical current. They didn’t care what others thought. Their passion for building Christ into our lives eclipsed their fear of criticism from their peers.

What sets the revolutionaries that lead revivals apart from political or cultural revolutionaries is a resource that forces every honest mind to evaluate their message and methods by the divine standard. We call it the Bible.

jesusrallyWhen the counter-revivalists of Paul’s day slandered him, he defended himself by describing his ministry from God’s perspective to those who followed him. The paragraph he devotes to his defense is the template for New Testament leadership—1 Thessalonians 2:1-12.

If you’re asking God to use you in radical, revival ways, read it and live it.

A Two-Minute Post on “Camps”

I used to be a “camping Christian.” Not a Christian who goes camping–I’m still one of those, but a Christian who divides the Christian community into “camps.”

You know what I mean, you may even use “camping” jargon:

He’s not in our camp–meaning he doesn’t agree with your interpretation of Scripture, your theology, or your practice of the Christian life.

They’re a part of that camp–meaning that they just don’t fit into your group.

What camp are you in? This is a question that determines if someone is on your side.

indian-camp

I’m too busy and I’m too tired of Christian “campers” to write anything substantive or maybe even profound, so I’m giving myself two minutes, 120 seconds, to say what is on my heart.

I was wrong when I insisted that those who disagreed with me or didn’t follow Christ in the same style I did were outside of my camp.

You’re wrong if you’re doing that now.

Can we disagree? Should we disagree?

Absolutely!

But should we divide into camps?

Absolutely not!

The next time you’re tempted to divide Christians between “us” and “them,” read Mark 9:38-50.

I’d say more, bit my time is up. So I’ll just close with Jesus’ words:

“For He who is not against us is on our side” (Mark 9:40).

PAUL AT YOUR POTLUCK?

Picture yourself at a potluck with some religious people who are all competing to be impressive Christians and you start thinking, “I better start acting like an impressive Christian too.”

By impressive Christian you mean better than normal, whatever your normal is. You say to yourself, “Okay now, careful. Watch closely here. Try not to mess up. And whatever you do, don’t just be yourself. This is what it’s all about, impressing these people with your ability to manage your sin. At least in public.”

Basically, you start acting religious, trying to be an impressive Christian on the outside. You know, like those “stellar” religious people.

Now picture the Apostle Paul walking in and taking a seat next to you. He looks you in the eye and says…what?

What would he say to you if he caught you acting religious?

You may protest, “How could you possibly know what Paul would say to me if he caught me getting all religious on him?”

I know exactly what he would say, because he said it to Peter when he caught him acting religious in the church plant at Antioch to impress some of his friends visiting from the home church in Jerusalem.

The Apostle Paul would get in your face and say, “What are you doing trying to be an impressive on the outside? That’s religious gibberish! There’s a better way.”

Paul chose that particular confrontation of Peter to introduce the theme verse of his grace-in-your-face book, Galatians:

“Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law” (Galatians 2:16).

It’s the central truth of Christianity, the gospel of Christ. We are justified by faith in Christ because Christ was faithful. But when anyone who knows the gospel starts trying to be impressive to others Christian—whether it’s you, me, or the Apostle Peter—it’s not just that we’ve got the gospel wrong, we’ve got life wrong.

Because the only way to live the Christian life is by applying the same grace we received when we believed in Jesus to our everyday life.

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life that I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:20-21)

Legalists, what if you know one?

Remembering The Legalists!

They were the most discouraging and surprising enemies of our revival, the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s. They surprised us because they were embedded in the church. They discouraged us because they attacked us for being…us. We were the long-haired, huarache-sandaled radicals who fell in love with Jesus. They were the buttoned-down, Brylcreemed up, wing-tipped pew sitters who were more in love with church than they were with Jesus.

Two Marks of a Legalist

In my last blog I highlighted, or lowlighted, the two distinguishing characteristics of a legalist from the Lord’s confrontation of the Pharisees in Mark 7:1-23: Unholy Legalists!

First, they answer to the wrong source of authority–their religious traditions, rather than the Word of God. Second, they teach the wrong definition of righteousness–from the outside in, rather than the inside-out.

This is vital. Though legalists impress one another, don’t be fooled by their unholy ways. They are heretics and hypocrites.

pharisee

Standing Up to Legalists: Three Steps

I’ve tried everything with legalists–kindness, harshness, arguing, citing Bible verses. Finally, in desperation, I decided to examine how Jesus handled them. I’m sure you can find a lot of principles that I’ve missed by reading through all of His encounters with legalists, but here are three steps that have guided me:

Ignore them!

That’s right. Just ignore them. That’s what Jesus did. His disciples picked grain on the Sabbath, didn’t wash their hands properly, and mixed it up with Gentiles. He never explained Himself to the legalists. There was no, “Okay, Mr. Pharisee, we’re going to pick some vegetables here because we’re starving and you’re going to be a little upset. Sorry to discourage you, but I really don’t think your view of the Sabbath is correct.”

He just acted like they were irrelevant to what He was doing.

Because they are!

Know Your Bible!

Jesus ignored the legalists until they tried to force their unholy theories of spirituality on His followers. Then He came out with all guns blazing. There was too much at stake.

And there still is today.

In my next blog, I’m going to give you some resources to turn to when a legalist tries to get you to conform to his or her outside-in measurements of righteousness. But you will never be able to stand up to the legalists if you don’t know your Bible.

Every time the legalists challenged Jesus, He came back at them with Scripture.

Live It Out!

The best way to neutralize the legalists in your life is to live out of who you are in Christ. His Spirit always produces true righteousness in the lives of those who trust Him enough to follow.

So, follow Jesus…honestly, courageously, and radically.

It won’t make them happy, nothing will. But they’ll leave you alone, because you scare them.

Question: Why do you think we’re afraid to stand up to legalists?

Two Reasons Why Legalists Are Unholy!

Holy or Hypocritical?

Every time I talk or write about legalists, church folk get uneasy…even testy. Their charge is always the same, “But these people are good Christians, just a little narrow.”

Really?

That’s not what Jesus said. When the legalists of His day confronted Him for not “following the tradition of the elders,” He called them hypocrites (Mark 7:7-8).

pharisee2

Why did He call these sincere followers of their religious traditions and expectations hypocrites? Two reasons:

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bible.cod: 2 Samuel King David–Flawed, but loyal to God!

bible.cod: 2 Samuel

King David: Flawed, but loyal to God!

“Your house and your kingdom will stand before me permanently;

your dynasty will be permanent” (God to David, 2 Samuel 7:16).

The third major unit within the seventeen Historical Books is referred to as the United Kingdom Period. . These four books—1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-11, and 1 Chronicles—record the United Kingdom under three rulers, Saul, David, and Solomon. The events reported during this era cover a period of 170 years, from the birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20) to the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:43).

By the end of the chaotic period of the judges, God’s people are crying for a king. Samuel, the last judge and first great prophet in Israel, anoints the people’s choice for their first king—Saul. Though Saul’s political credentials are impressive, his indifferent heart attitude toward God causes him to lose his kingdom to the young king-elect—David. But David, whose heart is dedicated to God, must wait for his kingdom. Saul rebels against God’s will, becoming insanely jealous of the young king to be. David flees for his life and learns many lessons of faith. Finally, Saul and his sons meet death on Mount Gilboa, setting the stage for 2 Samuel and the prosperity of Israel under righteous King David.

The books of Samuel provide an account of Israel from the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 10th centuries before Christ. Picking up the story of Israel from Judges 16:31, they give a prophetically oriented history of Israel’s early monarchy. First Samuel traces the transition of leadership from judges to kings, from a theocracy to a monarchy. Samuel was the kingmaker who anointed the first two rulers. Saul quickly disobeyed God and became a tyrant. David became the first real theocratic king—he allowed God to rule through him.

Soon after the death of Saul, God’s choice David becomes king, first over Judah (where he reigns from Hebron for seven and one-half years) and finally over all Israel (where he makes Jerusalem his capital and reigns for thirty-three years. The first half of David’s reign is marked by success and victory. But following his sin with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, David’s life and his kingdom suffer due to the consequences of his sin. Still, David remains “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) because of his repentant attitude and wholehearted devotion to God:

2 Samuel: God will use you in spite of your failures—if your heart is wholly devoted to Him.

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Legalism, what is it good for?

The Unkind, Impatient, Intolerant Jesus

As I read the accounts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, I’m impressed by His amazing kindness, patience, and tolerance toward all types of people: children, fishermen, businessmen, lepers, rulers of synagogues, tax-collectors, occupying Roman soldiers, prostitutes, political traitors, adulteresses, zealous political patriots, rich, poor, Jew, and even Gentile.

He lets people say the most inane things about Him or His Father, and gently asks them clarifying questions or offers insightful guidance. He listens before He speaks, or sometimes doesn’t say anything at all.

Except for one type of person, one group of people, one crowd He meets. Every time He meets them, every conversation He has with them, every circumstance and occasion when their paths cross, Jesus aggressively confronts them. And the names He calls them–a bunch of snakes, whitewashed graves, hypocrites and heretics.

To these people He is surprisingly unkind, impatient, and intolerant.

Meet the Legalists!

pharisees2

One of my favorite Bible profs from Dallas Seminary, Tom Constable, defines legalism accurately: Legalism means making laws that God has not made and treating them as equally important as God’s Word.

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Discipleship Minute: Liberty!

I’ve been set free by Christ, and now…

Before you can finish the sentence, “I’ve been set free by Christ, and now…” some spiritual hall monitor is going to remind you that “Your liberty in Christ should not lead to license.”

Okay. Got it.

Is there anyone who has been in a church more than a few hours who doesn’t know that our freedom in Christ isn’t freedom to sin?

Is there any way the Holy Spirit isn’t going to convict the holy stuffing out of a believer who is using his or her freedom to excuse their sin?

Come on, man.

Why are we so afraid of our freedom in Christ?

I think I know. We’re afraid of losing control.

But I thought that was what the Christian life was all about. Losing control of life by handing it over to Jesus.

Freedom doesn’t intimidate Jesus. He loves it.

Stop being so afraid of what “might” happen if you tell people the truth that Christ sets us free that you miss seeing what “could” happen.

Like revival! Personal, local, regional, national, and worldwide.

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.”

–The Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:1

Discipleship Minute: Honesty

We all have two sets of books: The ones we allow others to read, and the ones God’s reading.

If you let me open the book of my choice, you’re going to read about a pretty impressive guy.

But if I let you open the book only God and I are reading, you’re going to read about a pretty impressive God.

You won’t be at all impressed with the type of people He loves.

But you will be impressed with the grace it takes for Him to love someone like me.

And then, what will you do?

If you’re religious, you’ll probably throw up your hands and say something about “cheap grace.”

If you’re honest, you’ll throw up your hands and worship the God of grace.

Honesty invites grace; hiddenness repels grace.

bible.cod:1 Samuel–God Chooses a King for His People

bible.cod: 1 Samuel

God Chooses a King for His People

“The Lord has sought out for himself a man who is loyal to him

and the Lord has appointed him to be leader over his people” (1 Samuel 13:14).

The third major unit within the seventeen Historical Books is referred to as the United Kingdom Period. . These four books—1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-11, and 1 Chronicles—record the United Kingdom under three rulers, Saul, David, and Solomon. The events reported during this era cover a period of 170 years, from the birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20) to the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:43).

By the end of the chaotic period of the judges, God’s people are crying for a king. Samuel, the last judge and first great prophet in Israel, anoints the people’s choice for their first king—Saul. Though Saul’s political credentials are impressive, his indifferent heart attitude toward God causes him to lose his kingdom to the young king-elect—David. But David, whose heart is dedicated to God, must wait for his kingdom. Saul rebels against God’s will, becoming insanely jealous of the young king to be. David flees for his life and learns many lessons of faith. Finally, Saul and his sons meet death on Mount Gilboa, setting the stage for 2 Samuel and the prosperity of Israel under righteous King David.

The books of Samuel provide an account of Israel from the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 10th centuries before Christ. Picking up the story of Israel from Judges 16:31, they give a prophetically oriented history of Israel’s early monarchy. First Samuel traces the transition of leadership from judges to kings, from a theocracy to a monarchy. Samuel was the kingmaker who anointed the first two rulers. Saul quickly disobeyed God and became a tyrant. David became the first real theocratic king—he allowed God to rule through him.

God had intended to give Israel a king (see Genesis 49:10; Deuteronomy 17:14-20), but the people demanded the king of their choice instead of waiting for God’s king. True to their actions during the period of the judges when they rejected God as their King, they now demand an earthly king like the pagan nations they admired. Still, God used even their rebellious spirit to accomplish His purposes. Only God sovereignly establishes and removes kings. The Lord brought Saul down and established the Davidic dynasty because of David’s obedience, wisdom, and dependence on God. 1 Samuel demonstrates God’s sovereign control of history. National and individual strength do not rest with human leaders but with the wise and sovereign God of Israel. This book contrasts the consequences of the characters’ response to God’s grace. When individuals, families, or nations respond to God’s grace with trusting obedience, God blesses:

1 Samuel: Trust God in spite of the circumstances of life! 

First Samuel records the crucial transition from the theocracy under judges to the monarchy under the kings. The book is built around three key men: Samuel (1-7), Saul (8-31), and David (16-31).

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