JESUS TODAY (in a post Measure 36 world)

John 8:1-11 (NIV)
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. [2] At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. [3] The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group [4] and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. [5] In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" [6] They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. [7] When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." [8] Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
[9] At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. [10] Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
[11] "No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

I would like to translate this into a modern day story. Lets pretend that Jesus was here on earth living with us today and he was faced with another sexual sin.

But Jesus went to the Butte of Rocky. At dawn he appeared again in the former temple where all the people gathered around him, and He sat down to teach them. Then the pastors and elders brought to Him a man caught in homosexuality. They made him stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this man was caught in the act of homosexuality and would like to marry his sinful partner. Now Measure 36 has been designed to keep this man from redefining marriage.” “Will you vote yes on Measure 36?” They were using this question for political gain, in order to pass the measure.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the new and updated carpet. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “He who is with out sin among you, let him vote yes first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the carpet. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the man still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked him, “Man, where are they? Has no one voted against you?” “No one, sir” he said. “Then neither do I vote against you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

It is important to note that when Jesus was confronted with this sinner, he did not condemn her, but he also did not condone the sin. He said "Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin." This is grace in its truest form. Here was a woman who was caught in a sinful and immoral act. According to the law she should have been stoned. Her death would have been justified, however Jesus bestowed His grace upon her life. Can you see the parallel to what He has done for you in your life?
Homosexuality is a sin, that should not be denied. I believe that homosexuals are sinful humans, but I also believe that Johnpaul Morton is a sinful human. Do I deserve more grace, because the sins that I have committed are more socially acceptable? No, I deserve hell just as much as the homosexual does. The difference is that God has revealed his grace to me and now I believe in the work and the cross and that has freed me from the penalty of death. The poor homosexual hasn’t had that revelation yet; but don’t think that God can’t forgive their sins the same way he forgave ours.

The problem that I see with today’s church is that they have flipped Christ’s example around. Jesus spent his time on earth rebuking the church and loving sinners. Today’s church spends it’s time rebuking sinners and loving itself. Why are we trying to make the world a more “Christian” place?
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." John 18:36

God has blessed us with grace to cover our sins, but this doesn’t give us a free pass to sin whenever we want. God is calling us to treat the worldly man with love, just has He treated the adulterous woman. We simply can not allow pride to get in the way of the cross.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Disclaimer:
I do not approve of homosexuality or gay marriage, in fact from a political standpoint I support the Defense of Marriage Coalition. My main complaint is that this political battle was brought inside the church and turned into a church vs. gays battle. Jesus won people over with love and compassion not by lobbying against them politically. I simply wish that we would treat people with the same love and compassion Christ showed us.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Joel Osteen

I had planned to use this time to write “Running Diary of a Gen Church Sermon Part II.” But I got halfway through Doug’s sermon, and I was so bored I could not bare to continue listening.

Doug, please, you’re killing me here. I know you are speaking to high school students, but, trust me, they are more intelligent than you think. And that girl in the front row can’t keep up the courtesy laugh, she’s gonna crack.

I believe I have a prescription for what ails you. Allow me to prescribe two activities.

First, watch Sinbad’s Video Afros and Bellbottoms. It is the funniest hour of stand up ever.

Second, read the Sports Guy Column on www.espn.com. It will change your life.

So instead of discussing a CBC sermon, I am going to use this space to discuss an article I read in the Washington Post yesterday. The article examines Joel Osteen’s rapidly growing church in Houston.

Here is a link to the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47023-2005Jan29.html.

I challenge you to read the entire piece.

However, for me, one quote in particular stood out. Joel is discussing his prosperity and says:

“I feel like God wants us to prosper,” “My dad grew up in the Depression. . . . It is not God’s will for anybody to live where you can’t support your family. . . . [Houston Astros pitcher] Roger Clemens just signed for $18 million — man, don’t tell me I can’t have a nice house and send my kids to college.”

I like Joel Osteen, but there are so many things wrong with this quote.

I don’t understand where this “God wants me to be rich” mentality is coming from? God does not necessarily want you to be prosperous, Joel. God wants you to be faithful. God wants you to be compassionate. God wants you to demonstrate his love to others. That’s what God wants.

Additionally, Joel, let me fill you in on a little something. In the Book of Job, God told Job he could not have a nice house and send his kids to college. And God loved Job. God called Job his most faithful servant.

I am not saying that God is not concerned with your lifestyle, Joel. He is. It is just not his number one priority. And maybe it should not be your number one priority, either.

Secondly…. ROGER CLEMENS! You’re comparing yourself to a professional athlete, Joel. What are you, two years old?

Just because a professional athlete gets paid a lot of money, does not mean you should be paid a lot of money. Roger Clemens throws a baseball better than anyone else in the world. You, Joel Osteen, preach God’s Word. There are not a lot of similarities there. You really should be less concerned with how much professional athletes are being paid and more concerned with how well your congregation is growing in Christ.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the week. And I apologize to City Bible, apparently they’re right. Apparently 390,000 out of 395,000 churches in America do preach the same way they do… …its disturbing.

Why I Blog (again)

I spent 10 years in church asking the question “Why isn’t this working?”. “Why do I leave the alter feeling like I have changed forever; only to fall flat on my face 2 weeks later?” “Why can’t I stay close to God?” “What can be done to have a lasting change?”

When I left that experience I felt like I was the problem; that I wasn’t good enough.
In a sense it was true, the problem was me. I was putting to much pressure on myself to try to earn my salvation, but I could never live up to the expectations. It took along time to realize that it is only through the sacrificial death of Jesus and the grace given by God that I am saved.

When you begin to understand God’s grace you realize that nothing else matters. God saved me while I was sinning. He didn’t wait until I was perfect and sinless to offer salvation. No, He came to me despite my sinful ways and brought salvation. It became clear to me that He loves me regardless of my faults. I deserve hell. We all do yet, God’s grace has saved me from that.

This lead me to one big change:

I now try to live a holy and righteous life because of my salvation, not in order to earn it.

Here are some thoughts and scriptures that helped undo the damage:

I am a sinful creature who deserves hell. There is nothing I can do to get to heaven, only through the sacrificial death of Christ and the grace of God can I be saved.

Rom 3:23 All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.
Genesis 8:21 Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.

I did not choose to be saved, but God chose to save me.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him
Ephesians 2:4-5 But, because of His great love for us God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith.
Romans 9:11-13 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls–she was told, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

God did not chose to save me because of anything I have ever done. It has nothing to do with my own personal merit or worthiness.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
2nd Thes 1:4 ….because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Acts 13:48 And all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 9:16 It does not therefore depend on man’s desire or effort but on God’s mercy.
Romans 11:5-6 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Therefore, since I have done nothing to earn it, since I certainly don’t deserve it, and since God has saved me anyway, why would I feel as though one wrong step will cost me everything?

John 10-28:29 I give them (my sheep) eternal life, and the shall never parish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Philip. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."

There is no need to worry about the status of your salvation when God says “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” It is important to understand that 1- we do not deserve to go to heaven and 2- that we can not earn our way into heaven. That is the beauty of grace. It is undeserved, unearned, and given freely by Christ.

I have seen so many of my friends turn away from Christ because of a bad church experience and so I am writing these things to help show that there is truth in the Bible, that God is real, and that they need Jesus. I pray that those who no longer have a relationship with Christ, because of past issues with a church would find a way to forgive and understand that Christians can be easily deceived and make terrible mistakes, but God is not the one to blame.

This is why I blog. I have seen two sides of Christianity. One which I hate because it only caused me pain; the focus was on me and not on Jesus. And the other I love, because it has freed me from myself and caused me to look to the cross.

I apologize to everyone who wanted to read something funny today. If it’s humor that you are looking for try listening to Pastor Rick Snow’s sermon on the Generosity Factor
@ http://www.citybiblechurch.org/Content/158.htm
Even the most loyal sheep have got to be able to see through that message.

Christian Advisor

I received an email from my Christian Advisor today. Now, what is really interesting about this is that I don’t have an official “Christian Advisor”, so you can imagine my surprise when he emailed me. However, this is the month of prophecy so I thought it might be a special word from God and so I opened it.

I was a little disappointed when I found out that all my Christian Advisor wanted to tell me was how to “Refinance my home the Christian way”. It was, in fact, not a prophetic word from my advisor; instead it was shameless advertising from Christianfamilyloans.com.

Now, I don’t want to get to hyper-spiritual, but I don’t think there is anything in the Bible about which way to refinance your home. Nevertheless, should you be in need of a loan officer I suggest calling Ryan Callahan with HOMELOAN SOURCE @ 360-254-1500. With any luck he may even prophecy over you.

BITTERNESS SCALE

Here at City Business Church we like to put everything into certain categories. Everybody has there own little box that we put them in. There’s the Blind Sheep box for those still attending Megachurches, the I’m a sucker box for people giving money to pay for their church’s $80,000 lighting package, the I’m a yes man box for certain members in church leadership, the Bitter ex-Christian box for those still angry at the church, and the Damn, we sure are funny box for Catalyst and myself.

And so, to help us decide which box things belong in, I would like to set up the first official BITTERNESS SCALE. We will rank things from 1 to 10 with 1 being NOT BITTER AT ALL and 10 being SATAN. I would like everyone to participate. You can rank anything you want; our posts, anonymous’ comments, or maybe something you heard during the week.

For instance, today I asked my younger brother how he was doing and he responded “Terrible, now that I am talking to you”. I am going to rank that with a 3. You may think that is a low ranking, but if you knew my brother you would realize that he was really being quite nice there.

So there you have it, bitterness in a box. Isn’t technology great?

Good Word Brother

This comment was posted by another Anonymous reader recently and I thought that it was front page worthy.

From my perspective as a short-term PBC student, CBC seemed to be following a pretty simple formula. Not that of biblical church building and evangelism, but rather the economic law of capitalism. Though there are certainly believers in the church and people that genuinely love the Lord, the church itself has become a financial investment. Now instead of infusing the community around it with life by sending out others to plant and to serve, the bloated monolith sends out vans to pick up sinners and shuttle them to the safety of the hill, encouraging them to tithe so the church can continue it’s programs. Promising extra blessing if they give more to fund their dramas designed to scare people into repentance.

I met some awesome people at PBC, including my wife and best friends. But in the 6 months that I attended City Bible and heard Pastor Frank speak in PBC chapel, I heard him talk way more about church administration than about Jesus. This is what happens to mega churches. They become money vacuums, and sustaining the church and it’s facilities and staff can take over for the spreading of the gospel.
At least, this was my take on it.

On a bitterness scale of 1 to burning in hell, I give it a 2.

Well done sir, your heart appears to be free from the anguish that torments so many of us.

I’M BACK BABY

I stayed away as long as I could.
There are some things that will never change.

– Youth group conferences and camps will always be filled with hype
Malachi 3 will continue to be misinterpreted
– The Morton boys will always be offensive
– People will think church = salvation
– Others will think that pastor = God
– Christians will use “Getting Offended” to avoid addressing issues
– Sarcasm will never be funny
– Questioning the church will be confused with bitterness
– And, I will never be quite as mature as I would like to be

I would like to begin by quoting one of our readers.

You both should stop bitching about the church and actually do something. Take a page out of the anti-abortionist page and go block the church doors. Or better yet, maybe something from the Muslim Holy War, I believe in Arabic they say “Jihad”.

Some people just don’t understand.

-Christian Fun

Thank you, Christan Fun, It seems you understand that sarcasm is a wonderful tool.

And now on to my next post.

Generation Offensive

As a former member of Generation Dumb Sheep I have been to many conferences. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes the lights go out and you hear someone blowing into a large shell. Baarroooo. Baarroooo. For those of you who can’t make it to the Generation I Won’t Be Redefined by Homo’s in 2005 conference, let me take you for a walk down “I will never be the same again” lane. It begins: The sanctuary is dark, but not so dark that you can’t see the interns running around with their GU tags hanging around there neck. Suddenly a light appears on stage. "Is Jesus here already" you ask? No, it’s just the lead singer standing there with his hand pointed to the sky. Dunt,dunt dunt dunt, dunt dunt dunt, dunt dunt dunnnnnn. The music begins. First the drums then guitar, then…wait the lead singers wife is already crying. This is going to be the best conference ever. Worship is a wild ride filled with jumping and shouting and that guy playing his shell again. Baarrooo. Baarroooo. Baarrooooo. Then, just as quickly as it started, the music ends, and the hype is put on hold. It’s time for THE WORD. (Quick editors note: It used to be THE WORD OF GOD, but now the bible has very little to do with it so we simply refer to it as "THE WORD") Some young pastor runs up on stage starts yelling at you. You yell back. He yells, you yell, he yells, you yell. OK, now stop. It’s time to get serious. After a quick and lame joke, the pastor makes his new wife stand up and he tells everyone that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Nice try pastor, but you are still not getting any action. You married a church girl who was taught to protect her purity and you will never be able to shake that. Now, the sermon is ready to begin. Everyone get out your bible, hold it in the air, and look around at all the pretty Bibles. Great, now put them back under you seat. Today we will be speaking on……you guessed it, Purity. All the guys groan, the girls start crying, and now nobody is going to get any. Great work buddy. The sermon continues. Blah, blah, blah. Protect your mind. Blah, blah, blah Respect your gift, blah, blah, blah. Something about a rose, blah, blah, blah. Don’t listen to rock and roll music, don’t do drugs, don’t smoke, and for the sake of God don’t break the 6” rule. Here comes the Alter call. You are all sinners headed for hell, but God can redeem your soul if you come down to the alter now. Somehow you find yourself at the alter in tears, holding hands with someone you don’t like, singing "I will never be the same again". (No one ever is the same after surviving 45 minutes of "hands on prayer" where you can’t breathe, you have to pee, and you are being groped by someone whose breath really stinks.) Amazingly enough, there you stand crying, hugging, and singing. At this point someone yells “Let’s go all night”, and you are ready for it. You leave the church later that night convinced that things have changed. You go home and tell your parents. This is followed by more tears, hugging, and perhaps even some singing. Unfortunately, life isn’t a generation conference and eventually you have to return to the real world you slowly get tempted back into your old lifestyle.

Don’t worry, there is always next year.

Selling a Generation

In order to prepare for the upcoming Generation Unleashed Conference, City Bible Church has asked its youth to go on a media fast. Meaning the youth are to watch no TV or movies, and most importantly, they are to visit no Blogs. The youth are to do nothing that could possibly distract them from the Conference’s message of hype and excitement. Not wanting to be left out, I decided last week that I would go on a media binge. And as such, I spent all week watching back-to-back American Idol episodes, paying especially close attention to the commercials. And most importantly, I also visited my favorite website www.genunleashed.com (notice the dot-com). Upon entering the site, I was delighted to find that City Bible had created a commercial for their newest Gen Unleashed Conference. The advertisement features such Church Superstars as Doug and Donna Lasit, Judah Smith and a crazy Australian. I wish there was some mind blowing revelation in this ad. But in actuality, the commercial is pretty innocuous. Doug is obsessed with generations and the commercial is just Doug inviting an entire generation to attend the conference. He specifically mentions those between the ages of 12-25. This caused me to pause. Hmmmm, by my calculations that generation would be everyone born between the years 1979 and 1993. I am not exactly sure which generation this is, since its too young to be Generation X and its too old to be the Echo-Boomers, Generation Y or whatever stupid name the marketing industry has attached to this most recent generation… Then suddenly, it dawned on me. This is a completely new generation. A generation of Christian Soldiers dedicated to hyping themselves… …its Generation Tithe. And in the spirit of tithing, I want to be the first to wish all these future City Bible Givers a happy Gen Unleashed Conference. Perhaps in between all the jumping up and down and intense praying, you can find time to share Christ’s love. Of course, requires you to think about someone other than yourself. And that can be tough, I know. But, as a member of Generation Think-For-Myself, let me tell you, this is a lesson that will last much longer than some cool Christian concert.

Slowing Down

I feel that I should probably inform the loyal readers of this blog that I plan on slowing down the frequency of my posts. I am running out of ideas, and my real life is keeping me from spending much time on this blog.

I will try to add something at least once a week. Unfortunately, I can not really promise much more.

Of course, the blog will always be here for that special “tithing” sermon that City Bible is just aching to preach.

Also, if any readers have any submissions of their own, please feel free to email them to me at justin.morton@gmail.com. I am happy to post other people’s thoughts and feelings.

For example, perhaps the individual who mentioned “Ms. Callahan” in the previous comment section would like to submit something.

One of my favorite stories of all time, involves a Mr. Morton, a Mr. Walker and both of the Callahan girls. I’ve heard the story 20 times, and yet I still fall over laughing hysterically.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this quote.

“If its funny, people will like it.”

-Chris Rock in response to how the audience will react to him hosting the Oscars.