Mutant Jesus

This week my wife and I were selected to participate in the screening of a new Christian movie titled The War Room created by the Kendrick brothers (Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants). We’ve participated in these events before and they’re a whole lot of fun for movie buffs like us. You actually get to be a movie critic. A marketing company has you watch the movie at a selected theater with a selected audience before it’s released and then fill out a questionnaire afterwards to get your take on it.  If they get too many negative opinions from the screening audience on certain aspects of the movie they’ll actually go back and reedit or reshoot some scenes to improve it. This was the first time for us that the movie we viewed was a Christian flick.

I don’t want to review this movie yet because I want to wait until the final cut is complete. They may end up changing many of the things that bothered me. I doubt it, but I do believe in miracles.  I’ll just say the version I saw had all the usual problems that plague Christian movies. Those problems are: they’re too preachy, the message is forced and feels unnatural/unrealistic, they have a cheesy TV movie feel, they tell instead of show (this isn’t radio, it’s film), and they don’t treat their audiences as being intelligent by over explaining everything instead of letting the audience connect the dots and have the thrill of discovery.  However,  many of the people in the audience that were obviously Christians seemed to love it.  Their cheers and other reactions made that quite apparent.

Over the next few days I was bothered by my experience at the theater and I had a difficult time verbalizing why. I mean it’s just a movie, and a clean one at that. We’ve all seen corny movies, so what’s the big deal?  But there was something bigger going on here that really grieved me.  What was grieving me wasn’t just the movie alone.  Rather the movie was merely the symptom of a much bigger more wide spread problem plaguing Christianity that has gone on for decades.  And most folks don’t only tolerate it, they’re so blind to it they participate in it, identify with it, and cheer it on.  The thing I’m talking about is mixture.

Christians for centuries have been fed a concoction of Jesus plus a whole bunch of crap that is horrid for them.  Christians with any level of discernment would never drink the crap by its self, so just enough Jesus is mixed in with it to make it palatable and down the hatch it goes!  After drinking the elixir long enough people can’t even tell Jesus from the crap.  They actually have linked the two and think they’re one and the same.  I could show a crowd Jesus and they’d cheer.  Then I could show them some religious chains and they’d cheer just as loudly.  I could show them a pitcher filled with water from the springs of life and they’d cheer.  And I could show them a pitcher filled with religious poison and they’d cheer.

I can’t even put into words strong enough just how blind and accepting many people are of the mixture. They can’t even see that they are putting weights and burdens on people.  They can’t see they are shackling them and stripping them of their identities in Christ.  They can’t see they are moving in the exact opposite direction from God’s heart.  And there comes a point that many have reached that when Jesus Himself shows up mixed with nothing they can’t stand Him.  They can’t even recognize Him apart from the crap that they’ve been fed. They turn and call Him and His ways heresy.  They ridicule those who drink of only Him as being heretics, embittered, and spiritually dangerous.  They’ve become drunk on the elixir of religious obligation.  They’re in love with mutant Jesus and all his demands, rules, regulations, and quests for power and prestige.  Just as the Israelites worshipped the false god Ba’al, confusing him with the living God, so many Christians worship mutant Jesus as being the real Jesus. For these Christians, trying to peal the real Jesus away from all the crap is like trying to peal two pieces of duct tape apart that are stuck together on their sticky sides.  In their minds Jesus IS the religious nonsense and the religious nonsense IS Jesus.

This so breaks my heart beyond words.  This is the message the movie was carrying, but it’s an ever so common and widely accepted message.  It’s Jesus plus chains.  Jesus plus burdens.  Jesus plus the law.  Jesus plus death.  And of course many Christians are so accustomed to the mixture they cheer on the message.  For me, I ache. I weep.  I grieve.  And I write.  And I create podcasts.  And I produce videos.  And I connect with other brothers and sisters in Christ who have embraced Jesus alone.  All with the deep desire and dream that one day the mixture will no longer be tolerated.  That those who have been drunk on the elixir will grow sick of it, throw it out, sober up, and drink of Jesus alone.  I yearn to see a people who shed the nonsense, live in Christ’s liberty, and love as He loved.  There are many of them out there.  But I can’t be still until all my brothers and sisters are free.  This is my passion.  I may not see it in my life time.  But I’ve felt for years that this is a big reason why I’m on this planet.  This is what I see my Father doing and I’m happy to labor along side Him in His vineyard.

Twenty-one years ago Father gave me Isaiah 45 as the passage for my life.  He’s confirmed it numerous times by numerous people since.  It was written during the time of Israel’s captivity in Babylon. It’s about God breaking the gates of Babylon before Cyrus and giving him the treasures of hidden darkness for the sake of Israel His chosen.

Loren  Rosser

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Man’s Plans and God’s Hand

It came to me a few moments before I began writing this that absolutely nothing major I’ve planned in a decade leading up to about five years ago has gone the way I expected it to. For that matter, most of the smaller things didn’t go as I had planned either. No matter how consistently I’ve been able to get in God’s way, he’s simply continued to push right past me to get things done his way. For the last five years it’s been different. I don’t plan much anymore. I try to find out what he’s up to and hope he let’s me tag along. It’s fun to watch him do awesome stuff without my “help.”

When Joshua was about to lead an army against Jericho, he encountered a man with a drawn sword in his hand. Confident in his mission he trotted right up to him and asked him whose side he was on. The man said “neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Joshua fell on his face and asked the commander what message he had for him. The Lord told him to take off his sandals as the place he was standing was holy. All of Joshua’s strategic war plans to take Jericho were laid aside at that moment. In the presence of the holy God, he realized two things: God doesn’t take sides, and Joshua was no longer in control. When he removed his sandals he realized that all his proposed ways and means to destroy the city or possess the land were made null and void.

Its mind blowing to realize that we who are in Christ live in the holy presence of God. There are no more holy places, holy objects or holy moments. We are holy in Christ and citizens of a heavenly kingdom living as strangers in the world. Plans based on earthly wisdom, ways and means are not candidates for his blessing. Attempting to recruit God to help us with those plans is futile, because he won’t support us in our dead works any more than those of the pagan next door.

There’s nothing more restful and peaceful than shrugging off false responsibility, letting go of our own efforts and being led by his Spirit in the plans he’s already prepared for us.Instead of frustrated goals and dashed expectations, life becomes an adventure of discovery as we partner with Father and watch the unexpected come to pass by his hand.

David Fredrickson

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In the World but not of the World

What does it mean to be in the world but not of it?  Many Christians seem to place all the emphasis on not being of this world.  They set down laws and set out on quests for holiness to keep themselves separate from the world.  But is separation from the world something to which we aspire and achieve or something that Christ has already done in our hearts?  It’s also interesting that many believers place all the emphasis on not being a part of the world and seem to miss the part about being IN THE WORLD. One only has to look at Jesus to see that we’re supposed to be immersed in our culture, loving those around us. This is what David Fredrickson and Loren Rosser discuss in this extra special podcast.  It’s extra special because instead of the usual Skype conversation, David joins Loren in his home in Dallas, TX.

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What Is Church

A new podcast episode is up! Is church a building with a cross on it? A service we attend? A group of people that meets together? It’s interesting that when we speak of the universal church we easily state that the church is everybody who follows Jesus. But for some reason when it comes to the local church we tend to feel a need to make it more than that…to organize something, to build something. You may be surprised to find church is far less complicated than you’ve been led to believe. This is what David and Loren discuss in this podcast.

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Aliens among Us

Recently I heard the true story of a Woman in India who was certain she saw a ghost, but it turned out that what she actually encountered was a man who was not of this world. She was gathering sticks along a path near her village when a pale white figure came running down the path toward her. She dropped her sticks and ran back into the village screaming that she had seen a ghost. It turned out that the “ghost” was an American I recently met in Spokane who has a wonderful testimony of how God delivered him from a life of darkness and transferred him into the kingdom of his dear son.

When Jesus prayed for those that had come to believe in him (John 17) he said that “the world has hated them, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.”
Yet most of us living in the Western world who call ourselves followers of Christ seem to spend most of our time and energy in becoming knowledgeable, comfortable and successful in earthly ways. And how many of us are hated by the world?

There’s been much preaching about faith and what you can gain if you have enough of it.
But the writer of Hebrews points to Abraham as an example of faith. He lived in tents because he was looking forward to “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Speaking of all the heroes of faith mentioned in chapter 11, it’ written that “they admitted that they were strangers and aliens on earth.” What’s more, unlike the faith preachers that tell you how to cash in on the promises of God, these heroes
“..did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” It goes on to say that because they were looking for a heavenly country, “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

God does not condemn us or love us any less if we choose to put more toward our earthly
goals than our heavenly ones. As the writer of Hebrews mentions, “If the men and women of faith had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.” But we’ll never know the unshakeable joy and peace of placing our hope in eternal rewards if we sink our stakes down here. Nor will we know the depths of his love. For as John writes, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Reading scriptures like the one’s above and writing blogs like this make me uncomfortable, because I come up seriously lacking. It’s never fun to walk through the trials that shape us and cause us to grow in Father’s love and grace. But going back is not a choice and standing still is impossible. And God has a way of melting hearts that are turned toward him and of revealing a glimpse of his that overcomes the protesting flesh and causes the spirit to say “Yes!”

David Fredrickson

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Church: Not of this World

Many forward looking Christians are longing for the revelation of what true church should be and what it would look like in its ideal form. They want a practical description from which they can create a model that would insure tangible results. This desire is growing ever stronger today due to the obvious impotency and dysfunction of what is presently called ‘church.’ Ironically, many of those who have left the religious institutions have bought into the same system dressed in another form. Some have started other movements outside of the institutional structure that are moving quickly toward the very dead end they are attempting to escape.

One problem lies with the false assumption that the church is a construct. Yes, we all know that from an academic standpoint, the universal church is not a building, a denomination or a system. It is the body of Christ, comprised of all those who have come into a personal relationship with Jesus. But when it comes to identifying the church in a given local, the living reality of Christ’s glorious body is lost. The church, which Paul describes as “..the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” has been traded for a building where tithe paying units fill pews on Sunday and call it church growth.

As an expression of the kingdom of God, church cannot be identified as a unit or measured in terms of numbers. Nor can it be separated from kingdom in terms of nature, principle or function. Jesus said very little about church and much about kingdom, because kingdom defines the former. What Jesus told the Pharisees applies to church as well: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”(Luke 17:20-21) But living within the boundaries of space and time, we attempt to place earthly limitations on kingdom realities and assume we can cut a linear path along which to move the church forward. But God doesn’t live in space and time and nothing he is or does can be measured or compared to anything else. We cannot fully comprehend kingdom, we can only allow God to draw us near to him so that we will always be reaching out to apprehend that which he has prepared for his church.

The apostle Paul did speak of the church that meets at the house of Priscilla and Aquila, but that didn’t make their home a house church, nor could one define church by observing what took place in the meetings. As the church dispersed and left the house, the church as a unit would become invisible and her real work and greatest impact on society would begin. Each individual would bear the essence of kingdom life in whatever she or he did and wherever they went.

But never would Paul or any of the apostles attempt to build the church in a context other than by sowing and watering the seed of truth. This, he made clear was still of no use unless God gave the increase. Nothing kingdom can be built by man’s hands or man’s plans. Jesus Christ is the foundation and builder of the church. He causes growth as each member of his body walks in love, obeys the Spirit and functions as leaven in the home, work place, market place and in every other facet of society. One cannot identify or measure yeast that’s been absorbed into a lump of dough.

The church is “..like a mustard seed which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” The church was birthed at the cross and was sent from heaven after Jesus resurrection. It is no less heavenly today, and functions on earth by heavenly (kingdom) principles. To think man can build, measure or manage it is absurd.

Sacrificial love births thriving community where the kingdom of God is in the midst of his people. New souls are birthed into the kingdom, the poor are served and the sick and lame are healed. Light comes to dark areas of society and Jesus is lifted up for the world to see. These all provide glimpses of the church and are signs that she is functioning as his bride. But none of these wonders will spring from a set form, methodology, structure or routine. Like the Holy Spirit and the wind, you can feel the effects of the church but cannot determine where she’s coming from or where she is going. Nor can her full impact ever be seen or measured. What can be seen is Jesus and the immeasurable love that flows from his heart and through the lives of those who have abandoned all to follow him.

David Fredrickson

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Spirit of Sonship

Sometimes I have days when God’s goodness and love are so evident to me I feel as though nothing is impossible. This sense of well being always precedes a revelation of my spiritual poverty. Just when I’m moved with compassion for those who I may previously have taken for granted, a further revelation stands waiting to draw me up short. Consider what Jesus said on a mountainside near Galilee:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

I have trouble enough loving those who persecute others. I find it difficult as well to love those who use there assumed authority to bring others into religious bondage. Yet just before he made the above statement, Jesus said:

“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

I’ve prayed for my enemies without passion and have tolerated their insults. And as far as going in for extra slaps, extra miles and letting some shyster rip me off…no way!

Yet Jesus lived that way and died that way proving that he was the son of the Father that loves that way. I’m sure glad he brings those realities to my attention while affirming and pouring his love out on me. Otherwise I would become depressed or, worse, tried harder. Instead, I’m drawn even more to fix my eyes on the one through whom I’ve received the spirit of sonship, and to live in his transforming love.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

David Fredrickson

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Love In Action

A new podcast is up! “Yip, yap, yip, yap, debate, debate…” Do you ever get the feeling we’re doing a whole lot of talking about love but not much doing it? We can talk about love all we want but that means nothing. Jesus didn’t say, “They’ll know you’re my disciples by your philosophy about love.” He said it’s by our love they’ll know we’re His. When Jesus spoke of loving our neighbors He told the story of the Good Samaritan to make the point.  Love is an action not a theory!  It’s so crucial that we know we’re loved by Father.  But love can’t stay dormant.  The evidence of Father’s love in our lives is eventually seen through our actions and not in merely being nice to people, but in laying down our lives for others.  The world will not see Jesus through our endless yapping and Bible studies. He’s seen when we love others with no agenda. That means no seeking to build our thing, market our group, or gain anything at all from them. This is what Loren and David discuss this week.

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Spooky Christianity

Today children everywhere are impatiently waiting for tonight to get here when they will be going door to door in there costumes collecting mouth watering treats. They will look forward to visiting certain homes where they scored the best treats last year. But some of the little spooks will quickly pass even spookier houses where the lights are out and the inhabitants have closed their doors to ward off what they believe is a satanic celebration. Others of the children will visit homes to encounter disappointment when they are tricked with a Chick track exposing the evils of Halloween rather than candy.

Yes, there will be those who are celebrating satan tonight. Their lives will celebrate him every other day of the year as well. But some Christians seem to believe that “spiritual warfare” is the only appropriate response to Halloween. Maybe that response is exactly what he wants. That way he can keep them focused on him self while also keeping them from blessing those that would have come to them for a treat. The devil knows that he has no weapon powerful enough to overcome love. On the other hand, he’s a master of distraction.

Most yearly celebrations and holidays have roots in pagan rituals. So what? Those who follow Christ are rooted and grounded in love and are free to make the most of every opportunity to bless others and give glory to God. We are not bound by what man has instituted because we are joined to Christ and are citizens of his kingdom, and the authority of his kingdom administered in love overcomes every other influence on every occasion and in every situation.

Have fun and make the most of it!

David Fredrickson

 

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Immeasurable Love

During the years I spent running an institutional “church” there was always a major goal supported by secondary ones to keep me pressing forward. I had personal “spiritual” development goals, goals for the church, the city and “revival”. There were always small victories and future events to provide motivation to keep plugging toward that elusive place of arrival.

Several years after I stepped off that religious treadmill, I came to realize I’ll never amount to jack squat according to my former measurements. The city doesn’t need me, and most of what’s dead out there was never alive in the first place, so revival’s out. Past victories were often temporary or a matter of false perception and few events met expectations. I was bright enough to realize that numbers didn’t really matter, but wanted them all the same. Amazing how some pastors ask another how many sheep they’re herding in their pen.

The truth is, Jesus messed with my goals and everything else that worked as a motivator for me in the past. In him, I’m as spiritual as I’ll ever be, but I’ll never be able to quantify my transformation. The city needs him, not me. I’m not sure he’s interested in what we call revival or even reformation, but he will reconcile all things to himself. He’s already won the victory and the main event happened over 2000 years ago. It appears that he’s gone and done it all himself!

It’s human nature to measure things, but it’s impossible to measure God or anything that he does. That includes what he works in and through us. It’s useless to try to get a handle on any kingdom reality or to measure the worth, impact or extent of any work of God. He gives the Spirit without measure, he’s given himself fully to us, and his love for the most evil individual is unsurpassed and immeasurable.

The one goal that’s worth living for is to become more and more like Christ, and the more progress we make toward that goal, the less we’ll be aware of it. Our one purpose on earth is to love as we’ve been loved, without measure. There’s no place to arrive, but always an opportunity to give of ourselves. Many are praying for the outpouring of the Spirit as if he hasn’t been given to us already so that we can pour our lives into others.
And as we do, he will continue to fill us without measure.

David Fredrickson

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