“To Show the Christ”

“To Show the Christ”

I’ve worn the mantle Jesus bore
Upon His frame.
I’ve shod my feet with sandals torn
From distance traveled to a score
Of unbelieving plains.
I’ve burned my skin with suns that scorch
My head. But despite the marks
They’ve left on me, my Lighted torch –
That leads men north –
Fades all their beams to dark.

I’ve spoken with the Pharisees who understand the law
So well they thought that they could trap
Within their tangled scrawls
The One Who sounded Sinai’s calls.
Their pride exposed their wisdom’s lack.
I’ve called the men who all
Left home and ship to follow Him.
I’ve washed their feet. I saw
Them preach, and fall,
And return again, lost souls to ever win.

I’ve preached the sermons, cried the prayers,
And healed the chosen nation’s
Pains. Their stares
I’ve met with His great love, and shared
Each word our Father gave to lead them to salvation.
I broke the bread and felt the glare
Of Satan in the garden.
I’ve watched as one who cared
Too much for silver dared
Betray the One Who’d pay his pardon.

I’ve even felt the tear of thorns and bite of flail
Announce that He would die.
But deeper still than piercing nail
Can drive, I’ve felt the bitter, ugly wail
That must have coursed when palm’s cried “Crucify!”
The cross is all too home to me. I fail
To justly tell its horror.
And though His death I’ve never shared
In truest form, I’ve experienced a measure.

Yet all these shared events can no more
Messiah of me make
Than simple dirt could form
The mirror of the world . . .
For I cannot pretend to save.
So, in the end, all I can hope
Is barely point back to the Light
Who stooped to earth, was born,
And lived, and died, and destroyed the thorn
Grown up from Eden. This is my goal – to show the Christ.

-AMBrewster-

Written for “Reflections on Being Jesus.”

Please feel free to share this image.

To Show the Christ

 

Not Unlike Church

GlobalGathering 2009

Today is Palm Sunday!

It’s today we celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

I assume we’ve studied the Passion Week enough to know what this symbolizes. I also assume that we’ve spent the majority of our study on Jesus and His crosswork.

But have we given much thought to the crowd?

Even deeper still, have we found our place in the crowd?

In my study last week I was drawn to the observation that the crowd that surrounded Jesus that Sunday so many years ago is Not Unlike the constituents of the modern Church.

Let’s see if we can gain some life-altering clarity.

The Believers

The Worshipper

“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair.” John 12:3

True, costly, extravagant, intimate worship. She didn’t care about anyone else. All she wanted was to show in a small way her deep, undying devotion to her God!

The Hiders

“Many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” John 12:42-43

This group of men believed in Jesus, but were afraid of losing their position.

The Unbelievers

The Betrayer

“‘Why was the perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?’ Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” John 5-6

This man was no more than a thieving, lying, self-worshipper.

The People of the Palm

“[They] took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” John 12:13

This is probably one of the most exciting parts of of the Passion Week. Finally, all of the people in Jerusalem saw Jesus for who He was and were welcoming Him into the City to take His rightful place as Lord of their lives!

But that’s not what this was. The Palm Branch was the political symbol for a group of religious extremists called the Zealots. This group may well be compared with our modern day terrorists. In fact, many believe the Barabbas who had been recently imprisoned had been the zealots’ leader.

Their belief system saw Jesus as the man who would overthrow the Romans and set up an earthly kingdom. Hosanna means “save, we pray.”

The Sight-Seekers

“For this reason [they heard about Lazarus being raised from the dead] also the people went and met him, because they heard he performed this sign.” John 12:18

This Jesus guy sounds like something we should check out! This will be cool!

The Pharisees

“You see that are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.” John 12:19

We’re all to familiar with this group. These popularity-seeking religious leaders who saw their own laws as more holy than than Torah could not abide Jesus undermining their “righteousness.”

The Greeks

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:21

These Greeks had come to Jerusalem to participate in the passover. They were clearly proselytes, seeking salvation through Judaism.

The Religious Rejecters

“Then a voice came out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered.” John 12:28-29a

God the Father audibly spoke from Heaven to confirm the words of Jesus, and there were those who explained away the supernatural with a natural solution.

The Spiritists

“Others were saying, ‘An angel has spoken to Him.” John 12:29b

This group denied the direct revelation of God in their own way by making it fit into their own spiritual-system.

The Confused

“We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’?”

This is the group that likes to the throw the spiritual leaders under the bus. “Yeah, but this other guy said . . . .” This is also the same group of whom it is said,

“But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet there were not believing Him.” John 12:37

What About Our Churches?

Mary – We all like to think we’re Mary, but of the ten groups mentioned in John 12, only 1/5th were believers, and only 1/10th glorified God through her worship and service. They had God incarnate physically present! What makes us think the statistics are any better today? I believe all true believers have moments like this, but are we consistent? This group is generally the 10% that gets he work done.

Camo-Christians – These Christians see the significance of worshipping God at church, but living out that faith at work is something completely different. They lack the faith in God to do the extravagant.

Judas – We would be foolish to believe there aren’t scoffers in the church. Of course, they talk a good talk, but their motivations are anything but sanctified. For this group, church is a place to get, get, get. They’re the pretenders.

Zealots – This group is passionate . . . but they’re passionate about all the wrong things. Social injustice, grass-fed beef, and free-trade coffee beans are wonderful and all, but do those siren calls drown out the real truth of the gospel? There are whole congregations who’s real bond is their shared belief in feeding the poor, not serving the Savior. People in this group can be saved, but often they accomplish little eternal good.

Sight-Seekers – Pick a church at random, and you will find it filled with people drawn for the party, the spectacle, the adrenaline, or maybe even the miracle! Church is better than 6 Flags, man! If this is the only goal for church attendance, there’s legitimate concern that real spiritual life may not be there,

Pharisees – This group is passionate too, but their fervor is rooted in standards designed to quantify spirituality. Their self-worth and others-judgementalism is born from a personal code of religious conduct, not God’s truth. These people like church because it gives them a forum to work out and parade their own “goodness.” Legalism is a spiritually dead religion.

Greeks – Though the historical narrative focuses on their race (non-Jewish), the group they symbolize for us are those trying to find salvation by the wrong means. Many today go to church to follow the dead traditions created by the legalist. Some have a half-knowledge that tells them “church is good,” but never drives them to understand what they’re supposed to be doing at church. They too, are unsaved.

Rejecters – These like to see a spectacle, but like a heckler at a magic show, they always seem to have a scientific/philosophical/anthropological explanation for everything. This groups is very similar to the self-professing atheist who attends church because they were invited or because they were tricked into thinking this group was just meeting to play basketball, but a preacher showed up!

Spiritists – This group loves believing in the supernatural, but the clearly revealed truth of God through the Word of God isn’t fantastical enough for them. Revelation must be miraculous! Tongues, visions, angels, and demons are far more interesting than doctrine! The Bible doesn’t say anything good about people who miss the truth of God for a “spiritual experience.”

Confused – “But the last guy said . . . .” This group defines the majority of pew-sitters these days. They listen and take notes, but personal study and real understanding are asking a little too much. That’s why we have a pastor, right?

What About You?

No one’s around. It’s just the two of us. Which one are you . . . really?

What’s your motivation for going to church? Is it really because God is the sole-center of your entire existence? Is church a place for service, corporate sanctification, one-anothers, praise offered for an audience of one, and learning more about your God who is all and in all?

Or are there other motivations? Is church a social club, an entertainment hot-spot, or supernatural spectacle? Does church represent a place to get, get, get for self or to give, give, give to the wrong cause?

Does church seem like a “good idea,” but you’re not really sure why? Is it too confusing to really give deep thought to?

Are you go just hoping to see the “magician” mess up, so you can continue on in life without having to believe in God?

1/5th will stand before God and be ushered into glory.

1/10th will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

No one’s perfect, but may this glimpse into the Triumphal Throng shake us out of the mindset that just because we’re gathered with a bunch of other people who seem really excited/interested in this Jesus guy, that doesn’t mean we have a saving relationship with the Messiah.

Evermind Ministries

What Does Evermind Mean?

If you Google the word evermind you will find links for bands, web designers, and organizations. You will also find that Merriam-Webster says it’s not a word. Hmmm.

But Evermind Ministries is a Bible-based organization with a very well-defined purpose.

In the late 90′s Aaron Brewster came up with the word evermind to mean the exact opposite of never mind. It means simply “to continually keep at the forefront of one’s mind, and to make the center of one’s thoughts and motivations.”

We chose to use this word for our Ministry because we’ve found that God’s truth is frequently the last thing on people’s mind when they’re in line for coffee, navigating a mine field of bad drivers, in the throws of a child’s tantrum, or when they’re typing empty words into a business memo. But the divine reality is that God’s truth should not only always be in view, it should be the reason we’re standing in line for coffee or handling a child’s tantrum.

I Peter 1:3, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

Everything I need for life can only be found in the true knowledge of God. That true knowledge can only be found in the Scriptures. We must evermind God’s Word.

Our Mission Statement is simple:

Evermind Ministries exists to keep God’s Word at the center of the human experience by teaching it, reminding of it, and applying it to life.

1. Teaching – Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Teaching includes any time someone hears God truth for the first time. This can be a gospel presentation, or when someone learns something new about God they didn’t previously know. It is one of our foundational tenants that God’s truth can only be learned from His Word, the Bible.

2. Reminding – The doctrine of Remembrance is fleshed out in the entirety of Scripture. Most of us don’t struggle with biblical ignorance so much as we simply forget what we know. James 1:23-24 “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. ” We have God’s truth in His perfect mirror, but then we forget what we saw there! We all need daily reminders about what we have learned.

3.  Applying – When we apply sunscreen, do we leave the lotion in the bottle? Do we pour it on the ground? Of course, not! We spread it directly where it’s needed. The application of God’s truth is something that is daily ignored in our Christian culture. We memorize verses about loving God. We tell people from the pulpit that they need to love God. But many Christians wonder, “How do I love God? What does that actually mean? Is loving God any different than what I’m already doing?” Teaching and reminding people of God’s truth is fruitless if we do not intentionally apply it to life.

How Does Evermind Fulfill It’s Mission?

We are tackling our three-pronged mission with a three-pronged communication approach.

1. Counseling – We view our counseling program not simply as advice or clinical therapy. Counseling for us is a dynamic, life-on-life, intentional discipleship process that utilizes the Word of God to find the answers we need for life and godliness. It’s iron-on-iron, one-another ministry. Though we are delighted to offer biblical advice and give counsel via social media, email, Skype, etc., our counseling ministry is primarily a local ministry to the people geographically near us. As more people join Evermind Ministries, we will be able to biblically counsel more people in more places. Until then, we’d be happy to point you to biblical counselors in your area who can do for you exactly what we would do.

2. Speaking – God’s truth was meant to be spoken. Counseling affords an intimate, one-on-one or small group setting, but conference speaking gives us the opportunity to share God’s glorious revelation with larger groups. Time allowing, we would love to participate in your conferences, special meetings, services, chapels, and programs. Over the past ten years we have ministered in churches, schools, camps, mission boards, universities, boarding homes, academic associations, and Christian media companies. We count every opportunity to teach, remind, and apply a blessing from God. If we can partner with your ministry, please contact us at AaronMichaelBrewster@gmail.com.

3. Social Media – When we can’t be proclaiming God’s truth with our lips, we turn to the internet! We have a presence on Facebook called Evermind Ministries, you can follow our founder, Aaron Brewster on Twitter @AMBrewster, and you have obviously found our blog, Taking Back the Bible. We hope to grow our internet presence with more articles, links, and videos. Our goal is not our own popularity, instead we desire to do this because our day and age has afforded us, like no other, the opportunity to reach people we otherwise would never have met. We can simultaneously teach, remind, and apply the Bible to millions of people in hundreds of countries! We would ask that you strongly consider following us online and sharing anything we post that’s a blessing to you. It’s so easy to share God’s Word with the simple click of a “share” button!

How Can You Help Evermind Fulfill Its Mission?

Please strongly consider doing one or all of the following:

1. Pray – Petition God that He grants us the grace and wisdom we need to share His truth in His way for His reasons.

2. Follow – Like us, follow us, and share us on social media. The more people we can reach with the answers to life and godliness, the better!

3. Invite – We know there are a lot of resources available out there, but we would love to partner with your family, group, class, ministry, or program. We have a driving passion to share with the broader body of Christ what He is daily showing us!

Thank you for taking the time to get to know us.

Always,

Aaron M. Brewster and the Evermind Staff

Indonesian Hatred

Indonesian Hatred

The Code stipulates five years in prison for religious defamation, two-and-a-half years for hate speech, and one year for printing texts liable to criminal charges.”

Indonesia has never been known for its religious freedom. It’s never been known for tolerance. And it’s never been known for being a country with happy, prosperous people. I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush, but none of the above are stereotypical of Indonesia. People don’t leave second world countries and move to Indonesia with dreams of a better life.

So why is America (the greatest country on the planet) so dead-set on becoming like Indonesia in their ridiculous hate-speech legislation?

The above quote levies punishment for speaking against someone’s religion. Historically, hate speech legislation is illegal in America because it infringes on our freedom of speech. Words hurt only when the listener allows them too. Words are not like “sticks and stones.” If my fist hits someone’s face without legal allowances, I have undeniably encroached on their rights. My right to swing my arm ends where their face begins. But words don’t work that way.

Words hurt us because we choose to value them, not because they are inherently hurtful.” Click To Tweet

Wimpy

I must be painfully honest here, and a number of you probably won’t like this, but the truth is that hate speech legislation is for wimps.

Hate speech legislation is for cry-babies.

Hate speech legislation is for people who like being victims.

Someone, please explain to me one good reason to make speaking out against people illegal? If you take “hate speech” to its logical conclusion, then anything that makes anyone feel bad would be hate speech. I can’t tell you I don’t like your shirt. I can’t tell an employee that they’re a poor worker. I can’t tell someone they’re lifestyle is killing them. I can’t tell them their parenting is hurting the family structure. I can’t tell them that smoking is a bad idea. I can’t tell someone they’re a sinner in need of God’s saving love and grace. I can’t tell people the most important things in life simply because they may not like it.

As Americans, we cannot allow our government (or anyone else) to persuade us that speaking out against something we don’t like/believe is wrong. Hate speech legislation is an infringement on our country’s liberty. If someone hates me, they are entitled to post that in the comments. On the same hand, I’m entitled to delete that comment. I’m not going to cry myself to sleep, lose “self-esteem,” or questions my beliefs because someone doesn’t like me.

The Lord promises me that people are going to hate me in this life because they hated Him. Hatred aimed toward me doesn’t bother me. And I don’t want the government to throw someone in jail who speaks out against what I believe in.

Thank you Indonesia for showing us exactly what not to do.

A Call to the Willing

Call to the Willing

Yahoo! news posted an article today (May 30th) about photographs taken of an “uncontacted” tribe in the Amazon. This photo shows three natives; the two painted bright red are preparing to fire arrows at the plane.

uncontacted%20tribes

The article quoted Survival International in saying that this tribe is one of “more than 100 uncontacted tribes worldwide, more than half live in either Brazil or Peru.”

Imagine that!

More than a hundred villages that have never been contacted by the outside world. They’ve never seen a white man. They’ve never taken advantage of modern medical practices. They’ve never see a T.V. or listened to an iPod. They’ve never known anything or anyone outside their own thatched huts.

amazonian tribe

 

The article also interviewed Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International.  “The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct.” What is endangering these primitive peoples? Apparently deforestation and new diseases are so bad they threaten to wipe these tribes off the face of the map.

So, here we have hundreds of people, possibly on the brink of extinction . . . and they’ve never heard of Jesus.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)

This is a call to the willing. A call to the Hudson Taylors and the Adoniram Judsons. A call to the David Livingstons and the William Careys. And possibly a call to the Nate Saints and Jim Elliots of the world. Which of us are willing to go and reach these people with the gospel? Which of us desire to fulfill the great commission by going into “the uttermost part of the earth“? (Acts 1:8- KJV)

I have a fantastic opportunity next week to minister to missionaries and their children. GFA Missions is having their annual Family Camp at The Wilds in NC, and I’ve been participating in this ministry since 1992. Every year I’m struck by the supreme privilege it is to work along side missionaries. They are the most wonderful people I know and I am honored to be a blessing to them.

But . . . “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)

This news story should be a wake-up call, a ministry call, a missionary call. Are you willing?

What You NEED to Know

What You Need to Know

The single most important factor in your entails a relationship.

The Bible reveals that God exists. He is not merely a force, ethereal energy, a collection of souls, or an uninterested observer. He is a real person Who created you, loves you, and has a perfect plan for you. But that plan cannot be fulfilled outside of a personal relationship with Him. My son receives benefits that no other little boy on the planet receives by virtue of the fact that he is my son. The Bible is clear that my human relationship with my son is a perfect picture of our relationship with God. We cannot be estranged from Him and yet demand the benefits of an intimate relationship.

The first thing we must know about this relationship is that since God is perfectly good He cannot tolerate wickedness. Sin is a simple word to encapsulate all that God cannot abide. What is sin specifically? Well, God’s Word has much to say on the subject, but this much is enough for our discussion here: we must realize that we have all sinned in one way or another (Romans 3:23). Have you ever stolen, lied, hated someone, disobeyed your parents, committed adultery? Of course you have. I have. In fact, everyone has done at least one bad thing. Everybody has sinned. “As it is written, none is righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:9-10) And since we have all sinned, we must also understand that our sin drives a wedge between ourselves and God. This wedge is not mere ambivalence, our sin puts us at odds with God. The old phrase “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” would be quite appropriate here. Whether you feel “against God” or not, you must realize that this is the precise position you are in. The worst part about the whole situation is that anyone who is against God must be separated from Him for eternity in a place called Hell. We are criminals deserving of a sentence, and and eternity of punishment is the only way to pay for sin against an infinite God. Former President Bush outlawed broccoli from the White House because of his disdain for the green vegetable. How much more will the perfectly just Creator of the universe cast wickedness from His sight?

But there is glorious news! Knowing that we humans were incapable of rectifying our standing before Him – and knowing it would take an eternity of torture to pay for our high crimes against God – the Father sent an Advocate. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth in our stead. He not only lived a perfect life, He not only died in our place, but He conquered death when he raised from the dead three days later! He now offers the free gift of reconciliation to everyone who believes in Him and His advocacy for us (John 1:12). He promises to take our sentence, to stand in our place before God, and to proclaim us sinless based on His own righteousness.

So what must you do to claim Christ’s righteousness as your own and enter into an intimate relationship with God the Father? All you have to do is ask. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Jesus possesses infinite righteousness and He’s willing to impart it to you to fulfill your debt to God. If you accept the free gift of reconciliation, God the Father will credit Jesus’ righteousness to your account. That’s all you have to do. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Now, you might ask “I believe in God, isn’t that enough?” Well, the Bible says that even the demons believe in God. But they don’t love Him, they don’t beg Him for forgiveness from their sins, and they don’t ask Him to enter their hearts and clean out the sin that’s keeping them from having a relationship with Him. They believe God exists but they don’t want Him to rule their life.

God wants to be your Savior. He wants to be your lover. He wants to have a relationship with you. All you have to do is accept His offer. Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! If you don’t know what to say, even if you’ve never prayed before, all you have to do is talk to God just like you’d talk to me. Tell Him, “Dear God, I know I’m a sinner. I know You hate my sin and would never have an intimate relationship with me the way I am. I believe that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross and rose again. I believe He did that for me. Please forgive my sin and cleanse my heart.”

These aren’t magical words and they’re not the only things you can say, but it’s a start. If you’ve never asked Jesus Christ to cover your wickedness with His holiness, please do it today. He will change you life and He will even change your after-life. And that is the key. God is not offering a “fire escape” from Hell. It’s about a relationship He wants to start with you today and carry on every day between now and eternity.

If this article has helped you realize your need for salvation, or has helped you understand what it takes to have a relationship with the God of the universe, or if you still have more questions . . . please leave a comment. I’d love to hear if you’ve become a believer! I’d love to know if God has cleansed your heart from sin! I’d also love to answer any more questions you may have.

This is the single most important part of a person’s life. Please enter into a relationship with God today, don’t wait. “Today is the day of salvation!”