Who are you fooling?
Posted: Aug 26, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

 One of the most tragic stories in the entire Bible is the story of Judas.  Judas was a disciple of Jesus.  He was called by Jesus personally to be one of His followers.  The Bible says that Jesus trusted Judas so much that he put him in charge of the money.  Jesus and the disciples had money that would come into their ministry that they would disperse to needy people.  We know that this is true from the account of a woman named Mary who came to anoint Jesus while he was at his pal Lazarus’ house.  Jesus was visiting with some people and Mary busted through the door with some perfume that was worth 1 years wages.  Judas watched all of this happened and said the following as recorded in John 12:5-6.

 ”Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

 It’s clear that Judas was a thief and didn’t really have an interest in following Jesus.  Jesus after hearing Judas speak these words sternly corrected him by saying, “ leave Mary alone!”  It was after this encounter that Judas got offended and thought to himself…..”Who does Jesus think He is calling me out like that?”  Judas then went to the high priest to arrange a way for him to betray Jesus.

 Fast forward to the night of the last supper.  Jesus is sharing one last meal with all 12 of his disciples including Judas.  Jesus is in a very somber mood clearly realizing all that He is going to have to go through in the coming days.  He tells the disciples that one of them will betray Him.  Upon hearing this, the disciples go into freak out mode.  They begin questioning each other….”Is it you?  Is it you?  No way, it’s not me…..Is it you?”  Jesus told them…..”Guys….relax.  The person that I dip this bread with….that is the one who will betray me.”  After hearing that the disciples are like……”Ummmmmm ok?”  Then something amazing happens.  Jesus calls Judas over to him and dips bread with him.  Basically he took some bread and dipped it into some wine.  Now this next part baffles me.  Jesus just told the disciples whomever I dip bread with…..they are the one.  Jesus dips bread with Judas.  Check out what the disciples response is.

 ”"What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, 28but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor.”  John 13:27-29

 Hello?!?!?!  Didn’t Jesus just say the person whom he dips bread with is the one?  He dips the bread with Judas and they say……Why did He say that to Judas?  He is probably on some secret assignment.  Here is the point.  Judas had all of the disciples fooled.  The never suspected Him in a million years.  I bet Judas would have made an incredible poker player.  He bluffed his way through Jesus’ entire 3 year ministry.  The only problem was even though he had the disciples fooled, Jesus saw right through him.  Jesus always sees right through us.  Some of us may think we are doing ok because everyone around us thinks we are godly.  The real question lies in who you are when no one else is around.  Jesus knows.  And His opinion is the only one that counts.

 With Expectancy!

 Corey

 corey@firstassemblywest.com


Selling your soul on eBay?
Posted: Aug 3, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

I picked up a book a few days ago that was based on an interesting concept.  An atheist, named Hemant Mehta from Chicago placed his “soul” up for auction on eBay.  The purpose was that Mr. Mehta wanted to find out a little more about Christianity so he decided he would place himself on eBay to the highest bidder.  Whoever bid the highest would be able to take Hemant to the church service(s) of his or her choice.  The winning bid was just north of $500.  Now before you lambaste the author for doing such a thing, I do want to point out that he did donate the money to charity so this wasn’t just some sort of scam.  The gentleman that ended up purchasing “Hemant’s soul,” paid enough money as to allow him to attend church for a year.  He instructed him to visit a variety of different churches.  Some were big and some were small.  They represented a myriad of different representations of the gospel.  Some were Baptist, some Methodist,  Catholic and so on.  As Hemant visited these churches, he was to do so as a student.  That is he was there to take notes and observe why people of faith believe the things that they believe.  He visited powerhouse churches like Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Willow Creek in Chicago and Lakewood church in Houston with Pastor Joel Osteen.  He also visited several smaller churches in and around his hometown of Chicago. 

This book is very intriguing.  I appreciate Hemant’s honest evaluations of faith.  As Christians, we have to look at people that are not of faith through the eyes of Christ.  I received a phone call a few days ago from a member of our church who needed some advice in talking to a friend of theirs.  Their friend was trying to explain that Jesus only cares for Christians.  He has no concern for those that are lost and only cares for those who are inside the church.  Our church member was looking for a way to respond and wondered if their friend was right.  As ridiculous as that concept is, I think there are many others that share that view.  My problem with that idea is that Jesus himself said that he has come to seek and save that which was LOST.  So many times in church, we fail to present the gospel in ways that people like Hemant can understand.  We need to stop looking at people who are not of faith as enemies and start looking at them as people who need to hear the gospel presented clearly in a way that makes sense.

I appreciated Hemant’s sincerity with which he writes.  I honestly believe that the purpose of this book was not to bash those who believe.  He is honestly coming over to our “side of the fence” while saying…….”explain this to me.”  I wish I could tell you that Hemant’s year of visiting churches resulted in his salvation.  As far as I can tell, that has not happened as of yet.  What was encouraging was I honestly believe that he went into this journey with an open mind.  If someone came to you today and said, “why do you believe what you believe…” what would your answer be?

I Peter 3:15 tells us to always be prepared to give a reason for why we have the hope that we have.  We don’t need to be embarrassed or ashamed.  I love reading books by people who claim to have different beliefs than I do.  It makes my faith stronger.  If your faith can’t stand up when it is put under the microscope of scrutiny, you shouldn’t be surprised when people start to question.  I do have a reason for the hope that I have.  Believing in God certainly requires an element of faith but it is by no means blind faith.  I was challenged by this book to make sure that when I communicate the gospel, to do so with the understanding that there may be someone listening who has never heard the message before.  Or maybe they have heard a message that has been clouded or confused.  Just because a person believes something different than you doesn’t mean they can’t teach you something.  I certainly don’t agree with Hemant Mehta on issues of faith, but I appreciate his willingness to not only listen to the gospel, but also give pastors pointers of how they could better explain it.  “I sold my soul on eBay,” by Hemant Mehta is a very interesting book  that Christians and especially pastors should seriously consider reading.

With Expectancy!

Corey