Category Archives: Christ Life

Disruptive Faith

How God Disrupted My Life

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 

“Ha!  You Christians think you’re so perfect, but you can’t even change your stupid sign.” 

This was the thought that ran through my mind as I sped passed the church.  It was just off the highway I drove every day to and from work. You know the type — a billboard with a Christian slogan or scripture verse.  I supposed it was the Church attempting to attract people to visit.

Normally, it changed weekly, but I was making fun of them because it had been seven weeks since they had changed it.   I now can think of a dozen reasons it might make sense to leave a scripture on a billboard for an extended time.  At that moment, I guess I assumed it was a dereliction of their duty – a failure.

This childish glee continued for another week as I yoyoed between work and home while the sign remained unchanged.  Then I became bored with that mental game and started another.

As I began to actually comprehend the text, I fixated on the first four words – “And be not conformed”, I doubled down in a new condemnation: “What do you guys know about non-conformity anyway?  You’re all about conformity.  I’m a true non-conformist.  You’re just about the status quo, you conforming little sheep.”

I had always been an outcast and unaccepted – at least in my mind.   I did not attend a single school for two years in a row until high school, so I learned to go it alone and not get too attached.   In high school, I found I did not fit in with any of the cliques.  I spent most of my time with the drama group who seemed like a diverse mix from the island of misfit toys to me.  Even here, I felt like an outsider. 

I found some weird type of safety in seeing my identity as a non-conformist – even to the non-conformist.  Certainly, this church was not about non-conformity.

I played this game for a week longer picking on the conforming goodie-two-shoes that could not even faithfully change their ridiculous sign.  But I read it each time I went by. Back and forth, day and night, its words seeping in.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed
by the renewing of your mind. 

Romans 12:2a

This amusement became tedious as well and was replaced by this daring declaration, “I bet that’s not even in the Bible!”

I am confident that anybody will likely catch why this is a bold, if not comically arrogant, thought.  I mean, this was a church billboard and I was not a Christian at the time – certainly not a Bible reader.   

I was not unaware of Jesus and God.  I was raised Catholic – casually – meaning mass on Christmas and Easter and when we visited my grandparents.

If you have not experienced a Catholic mass, you may not know that the faithful do not use a Bible since the Church conveniently provides the scripture necessary in a missalette. This little printed pamphlet contains an outline of the service. It tells you when to pray, what the Priest will say, what you will say in response, and when to sit or kneel. It also includes readings from the Old and New Testament printed with very formal references to the scripture such as: “A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.”

Despite my limited exposure, I did have moments growing up where I felt a connection and heart calling to God.   I also thought these readings were correspondence that some missionaries at our church had written and had no idea they were in the Bible.

I was pretty sure we had a Bible at the house, even though we never used it.  Sure enough, I found it on a top shelf in our living room and after cleaning the mountain of dust off it, I dove in to prove this passage about non-conformity was in error.

I discovered all these tabs on the edge of the book pages and ascertained they were abbreviations of the sections in the Bible. So far, so good.  I was shocked when I opened to the beginning of Romans and saw the words, “The Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans”. 

“Wait!  That’s the guy from all those letters at mass!  That’s from the Bible!”

Mind a bit blown, I made my way to Romans Chapter 12, Verse 2 – deciphering the structure for the first time.  Confirming that the verse was mostly as advertised on the church billboard, I decided I needed to understand the entire context.  Maybe that would make it different somehow.  Romans 12:1-2 told me:

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

I found these little symbols in the text – T and R.  Continuing my improvised study of Biblical structure, I found references that led me somehow to the book of Matthew.  

Once there, I was confronted with something new.  Some words were red and some were black. Reading a few of each, I quickly saw that the red letters were the words of Jesus and I was very intrigued by what I read. 

Before I knew it, I had read this entire Gospel and I found myself in love with Jesus and frustrated, if not a bit angry, that my Christian friends and church people had not been able to share with me what I clearly saw now.  

To be honest, I had never really had a Christian treat me poorly. Yet, somehow, I had in my mind that they thought of themselves as perfect and they (and I) knew I was a hot mess and not accepted by them – even though I had never really been shunned or treated badly.

In the Bible, I found Jesus going, not to the religious people, but to the hot-mess, non-conforming, outcasts like me!   I could hardly believe it.  But the pattern was clear over and over again.  I realized the Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious holier-than-thou elite and Jesus was constantly trying to help them get over themselves and their rules so they could love people.

What was not to love about Jesus?

I did not have anyone there with me to teach me the sinner’s prayer or tell me my next step – but I did not need that.  God had disrupted my seemingly non-conforming, tragically truly conforming life and showed me the only real non-conformist, Jesus Christ, His son who laid down His life for others instead of claiming His right to it – because he loved us that much.

What is Real Non-Conformity?

I have spent about 37 years with Romans 12:1-2 since that night and God still shows me amazing new things from these two verses.  That is crazy-awesome-miraculous.

It is still sad to me when this verse is used to heap judgement upon people – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world with the pattern being drinking, sex, cussing or whatever other infraction being condemned by the speaker.  The pattern of this world is self, separate from God, and the Pharisees as well as those they condemned as sinners were stuck in this pattern. The modern equivalent is no different.

The transformation that comes from renewing your mind is the one that Jesus enabled for us – by us viewing instead, His mercies that enable us to be a living sacrifice because we too give up our life to let Christ live His through us. 

Even after we become a Christian, Satan accuses us constantly that we are not good enough – as if we were still separate from Christ. But Christ already disrupted Satan’s power when He claimed us and came to live in us as one with us – as our very life. 

That is what disruptive faith is – the faith of Christ to overcome both sin and death in us, which he has already done.   This is why we must continually renew our minds to see the mercy and grace Christ already provided – Christ in us, the hope of glory – and continually let this revelation transform our lives.

Why Does This Matter?

People are often amazed when I share how I came to know Christ through a billboard rather than another person.  I am sure others had talked to me before about Christ, but it never seemed they had introduced Him to me.  I think that is true for most of us, even if we come to Christ when another shares the gospel with us. Usually, there were previous experiences too but this one is the one in which Christ reveals Himself to us – even if facilitated by another.   Saint Paul tells us it requires God’s revelation:

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.

Galatians 1:15-16a

When we see Christ as one with us, it is not our environment, behavior, capabilities or even beliefs that change – It is our identity.  We are now one with Him, inseparable.  This is true regardless of our environment, situation, or circumstances.  This is true despite our behavior whether good or bad.  We are not operating under the law of good and bad – but under the reality of Christ’s grace and life in us as one.

When we are one with Him, we love Him and His life in us begins to transform us as we journey with Him. Like Paul, God reveals His son in us for a purpose God reveals His son in us SO THAT we might live out a unique calling with Him in our life. 

Seeing His presence in us is how we come to know how we are uniquely called to live and love others. It empowers us to co-create with Him the same types of environments of love and grace He created when he walked the earth.

We are not here to only work and live and consume and experience our culture.  Christ has disrupted all that.  He has replaced life with life abundant.  We are here to partner with Christ in the restoration of all things – to create His culture – on earth as it is in heaven.  

If you have invited Him in, Christ lives in you and through you and is disruptively revealing Himself to you, SO THAT you can disruptively partner together.   Your calling, His mission through you is at stake. 

  • Do you see Him? 
  • How will you partner with Him? 
  • Will you accept His disruptive calling and live life abundantly?

Predator’s View (Warrior of Light)

In view  of his mercies
New every morning
New every minute
Knew before forming

Wisely choose sacrifice
Renewing your mind
Transforming lives
Redeeming in kind

There’s no waste in grace
Though faith may seem blind
It finds glory someplace
It abides for all time

Rule o’er your enemies
For greater is He
Surrender your life
Pure intimacy

Neither good nor bad
Morality
Subtracts or adds
True Nobility

Hear now his call
And lift up your voice
Conform no longer
Commit to real choice.

Our enemies never
Brothers and sisters
But demons whoever
Speak fear when it whispers

Run fast and hunt
Fulfill your birthright
Child of the King
Warrior of Light

Jubilee

There is a theme in freedom that it must be declared before it is achieved. American’s celebrate July 4 as Independence day but is it actually when our  forefathers declared independence which did not come until the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and after a great cost was paid between those points in time.

When Moses tells Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he is essentially declaring their independence but there’s all sorts of activity that occurs before they are actually free from Egyptian rule.  And after freedom from Egypt is obtained, there is so much more they go through to learn how to live free.  It was easy to understand what it would be like to be free from Egypt but not so easy to know what it would be like to be free to serve God as His people – forty years in the wilderness and then all that effort to secure the promised land, which never really fully occurred.

The Israelites were told by God to celebrate a ritual every 50 years called Jubilee. It was a year for freedom where each person was to set slaves free, to free their brothers and sisters from any debts, to return to the freedom to God alone and his economy – but they never celebrated Jubilee.

Jesus walked into his home-town church near the beginning of his ministry and reads from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

then after reading this, he tells them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. He is literally declaring Jubilee and the response of his nearest friends and neighbors who had known him all his life is rejection – to the point of not only driving him out of town, but also trying to throw him off a cliff. Wow!  Freedom is an explosive topic.

It is strange though – that Jesus, who has the power to secure instantly the freedom he wants only declares it.  Why is this? When the American forefathers declared independence, they invited all Americans into the drama to gain freedom.  Jesus invites us into the drama to gain freedom too – not from an external power but to his internal reality in our lives.

In believing that his spirit has become one with our own and living in pursuit of this incarnational reality, we also find the freedom from seeming external realities.  We can’t control our world externally but the freedom Jesus brings cannot be taken away if we don’t allow it.  It is treasure where moth and rust do not destroy, not in heaven only, but in our hearts where the King of Heaven already resides for those who’ve allowed him in.

This is all nice to say but hard to do.  Every moment here, our humanity, our world and God’s enemies try to point us to the scenes around us as evidence of the futility of loving God and others.   David said in the Psalm – speaking of Jesus prophetically:

You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion;
now rule, though surrounded by enemies! Psalms 110:2 Message

When Jesus makes us free, we are free indeed!  It is not just a declaration.  It is real freedom – we are truly like him, sons and daughters of God, princes and princesses.  We get confused and think this must mean later since we are still being told we are slaves because we are still surrounded by enemies. But who we are is not dictated by where we are.  We need to learn to ignore the temporary things of this world and keep our eyes on the son of God indwelling our life.   We, with him, are noble children of the King of all kings, God Most High.  So what if we are surrounded by enemies. We are free!

  • Do you believe you are really FREE?  If you don’t, whose voice are you listening to?
  • Can you see that Christianity is more about our NOBLE Identity than the cheap religious substitute of morality?
  • If you aren’t free, who are you enslaved to?  Who can stand against God?
  • Consider writing your own declaration of independence in agreement with Jesus.


Seek Ye First

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Matthew 6:33

Before you read this post, you may want to first look up the word first.  See what I did!? I used first in the context of time which I suspect is our first inclination. (puns intended)

If you did look it up, you noticed it could apply to order, rank, importance or other items, things, preferences. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that our Lord was not saying first seek the kingdom of God – now that you’ve done that, go, eat, drink, be merry. 

I think the idea he is getting to is closer to primary or essential or foundational.   If you do that thing, all the other things will occur and will make sense.  But don’t expect that to be true the other way around.  Everything that comes after fits on that foundation or framework.  But the various pieces won’t hold together on their own.

Putting the kingdom of God first makes sense considering that the son of God is the speaker – but what does that mean?  Clearly he is not saying, seek to get past this life to heaven as he intentionally left us here. – see John 17:15,18

A clue may be found in the many Gospel references that the kingdom of God is at hand or has come near. It is Jesus that was at hand and available to men and he alone enables us to enter the kingdom of God.    But he is not out there somewhere to seek.  He is here, at hand.  Our seeking is not outward – to find a place in the world – but inward to find him who placed the world into the universe making a place for his life in us and therefore a place for everything else in our world to fit is a way that makes sense.

As we grasp that Jesus is our very life and how that makes all the other stuff in our life come together, we realize there really was no life beforehand. We realize who we really are as a son or daughter of God in Christ – and this is real freedom and real life abundant.

Taken all together, our seeking first first of the kingdom of God is seeking who we really are – by asking the only one who really knows to reveal it to us.  Seek you first – by asking him who knew you first before the foundations of the world.  It is the height of arrogance to assume you could know yourself any other way or that you could construct a better you than God has designed – yet that is exactly what we are doing if we aren’t seeking him first to find out who we really are.

  • Are you still seeking success rather than God.
  • Have you realized that seeking freedom from something is seeking success? What would happen if we sought him first and let him free us?
  • James said, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:3) What wrong motives do you have? Can you see that this are not seeking God first?  What would happen if you swapped motives.
  • When you seek God about who you are in Christ, what are you hearing him tell you? Hint: you are my child!  I love you. what you do or have is completely secondary to that.  I will always love you.

Psalm 116: Free to serve God

Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
Psalm 116:16 MSG

Even though God saves us and we are now Hischildren serving in the family business magnifying His glory, we must continue daily to get our minds free to this reality so as to serve Him well.  To be a faithful servant is to daily come back to Him, even moment-to-moment and surrender everything and ask His help to see from His perspective (renew our minds Romans 12:1-2) and therefore be made free for His service.

Even at the moment of choice of following God or running to self and sin, we can surrender it.  Even if we don’t and we fail Him, we can reconcile and pickup with fellowship the very moment after.  This is so foreign to us.  We think we need to stay away from Him for awhile – grounded in our room, punished.  But that time is just wasted time or time which we become resentful.  If we run back into His grace right away, our enemies tell us that we are just taking advantage of Him – just taking His grace for granted.  We can answer to that – Yes, we are taking advantage of the grace He provided but No, we are not taking it for granted, just accepting in faith that IT IS.

Don’t let Satan trick you into further rebellion.  It is a sin to not let the grace of God prevent sin in you but it is also a sin to not accept God’s grace afterwards – why sin twice? Grace gives us strength to overcome sin – both in prevention (1 Corinthians 10:13) and in reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

The sooner we get back to Him, the sooner we really believe the power of His grace, the sooner the power of it keeps us from that sin forever. 

Father, please forgive my rebellion of you – thank you for the grace that encompasses and devours all my sin (Psalm 103:12).  Father, transform me by the power of your love so that I not only do not sin but that I become your faithful child – set free for your service.

76 Scripture References Most Christians Never Internalize

You likely understand the concept of a paradigm shift.  This is when you think the world is one way, perhaps frustrated by the woman at the grocery store who seems irresponsibly unwilling to control her kids, but then instantly see it is a different way when you address her and find she just received news from her doctor that she is dying of breast cancer.   Suddenly, it’s all about compassion and understanding rather than frustration – we suddenly remember to be kinder than necessary because everyone we meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Our faith walk is often like this too.  As we grow closer to God, he teaches us more and more about the reality of his presence in our life.  At some point, for us to see him more clearly, other things that stand in the way must become subordinate to him and this reality.  Often, this process creates a paradigm shift in our mind.  Oddly, we then often tend to think we comprehend all there is to know about God.  This is where we should be concerned because our beliefs become religion.  This was the problem the Pharisee’s had.  They believed they comprehended God and chose their religious point of view over the Godly view that Jesus tried to share with them.

Sooner or later, God tends to call us to separate our religion from faith in him.  We sometimes call this a crisis of faith but in reality, it is usually a crisis of imagination.  We’ve so focused our mind on our past belief that we can’t imagine God to be bigger than that – even though we’d logically argue that God is bigger than everything.  We don’t have a frame of reference for this new thing so God is having to renew our mind, so he can transform our life again.

A few days ago, a friend of mine on Facebook wrote this status:

Christ Followers: Has the fact really sunk in yet that the God of the Universe, Jesus Christ, actually lives INSIDE YOU?!

What a great status!  Sadly, only a few people responded to him and most responded with references of a political nature.  It was a bit understandable because this friend does focus and connect with those who focus on politics – but still, the response was completely off topic – and is such a miniscule point of value compared to the reality of Christ in you, the hope of glory – Col 1:27.

What about you, dear reader?  Do you really comprehend the incredible reality that Jesus Christ, the son of God, the risen Lord – lives INSIDE YOU – as your very and only LIFE!!?  Is that a radical concept to you?  Did you know that the King James New Testament includes 76 scripture references of the phrase “IN CHRIST” and many more with expressions such as “Christ in You”.  We tend to read over it as if it means “WITH CHRIST” or as just meaning “believer in Christ” but a study of this will reveal that St. Paul and St. John clearly express the idea of INCARNATIONAL REALITY – that just as Jesus became man, the risen Christ lives on incarnate in the believer.  Here is a brief sampling:

  • I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20
  • According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Eph 1:4
  • Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  John 3:3-6
  • Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Cor 3:16
  • I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
  • But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 1 Cor 6:17
  • For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Eph 5:30
  • For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.“
  • Rom 8:15
  • Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. – Col 3:11
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Cor 5:17
  • Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:1-4

Surely, it is amazing that God sent his son for us, that he walked among us, that he died to pay for our sins, that he broke the gates of hell open and defeated death to live again.  But this is not all that he did.  In fact, he did all that to have the right to purchase us back and offer to exchange our broken life for his perfect, eternal life.  That is what it means to be a Christian – to give up our old life in exchange for his new life.

So, if Christ is your very life, your ONLY life – what does that mean for you? Here’s some thoughts to meditate on:

  1. Can anything take Christ’s life from you?
  2. Is there anything that you can do that would change your true life – the life of Christ in you?
  3. Can you really add to or subtract from the value of that life?
  4. How does God see you if Christ is your very life?
  5. How much of Christ is available to you?
  6. How does this change your interaction with everyone around you? with God?
  7. When, if ever, can you be separated from Him or do something without him?  What does the answer to this question mean?

Thanks for reading.  I hope you will take the time to meditate on what it means to have Christ as your life.  If this is a new concept for you, I hope God will create a paradigm shift for you so you can say with St. Paul, “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…” Gal 1:15-16a Please subscribe and share your thoughts or experiences of viewing Christ as your life with me.