The Flea and the Acrobat: A Spiritual Lesson in Stranger Things

(Spoiler Alert – Stranger Things Season 1 Details Below)

image

On the Netflix hit series, Stranger Things, an over-eager middle school science professor, Mr. Clarke, explains to three of his young pupils about the nature of dimensional travel. He reveals that our current dimension is like a tight rope and mankind is like an acrobat carefully walking the line. Limited by our nature, we are only able to walk across the line in a single direction. But he reveals that a smaller creature, like a flea, might be able to walk along the line, moving freely, forward and backward, and even “upside down”, where it would then enter a sub-dimension. But that’s a flea? What about humans? Humans, according to Mr. Clarke, could only ever experience this “upside down” sub-dimension if there was some tremendous release of energy that opened a portal to this other world.

image.jpeg

Hmm, that’s interesting.

This morning while studying I read Ephesians 2:6 that reveals that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”. This got me thinking.

In the beginning, God created us in a world of perfection; that we know as the Garden of Eden (or the top side of the tight rope). But when we fell, a tremendous amount of energy was released, and we were forced through a portal into a lesser reality – a sub-natural existence, much like the upside down world of Stranger Things.

Sadly though, upside down begins to feel “right” after you’ve stayed that way for so long, so that now many who are still trapped in this upside down post-fall world are unaware that they aren’t right side up. I’m confident that even for the believer, as we finally enter into the full reality of eternal life, that only then will we realize how very sub-natural we actually were.

But according to Ephesians, we don’t need to wait until we die to enter this world. For the believer, we are there now – seated with Him! Through the power of the resurrection, a new and living portal was reopened by which all who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus may pass freely from darkness into light. What an awesome truth! (And a pretty cool comparison for all of the Stranger Things geeks out there like me.)

What do you think?  Any other connections between Stranger Things and faith?

3 Comments

Filed under Articles, Grace

The Greatest Display of Jesus’ Obedience to God

One of the greatest displays of Jesus’ obedience to God is witnessed in his continued faithfulness to God despite mass rejection from his disciples and followers after he taught that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  Shortly after Jesus fed the five thousand in John 6, we read that he traveled across the lake to Capernaum where he began to teach his disciples and the crowds that gathered about “the Bread of Life”.  His words offended the masses and caused a great number of them to abandon him.

Jesus went from ministering at one of his largest and most successful meetings ever to losing the majority of his followers in one 24 hr time period.  From a human standpoint, this would be reason to quit.  His reputation was tarnished, most likely  his funding dried up, and he had every reason to give up himself, but he didn’t.  He kept going, rooted in the knowledge of who he was, and the importance of the call that was on his life.

I love what he asks his 12 disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  But Peter’s response is perhaps even better.  He says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Not sure what you are going through in your life or if you feel like giving up, but I want to encourage you to look to Jesus.  He was rejected, abandoned, dismissed, cast aside, and eventually killed, but he kept going.  He didn’t quit and he refused to allow anyone else to dictate his place, position, and passion to follow God with his life.

You got this.  Better yet, HE’s got you!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why America is in love with the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty.

In my book, Good God:  The One We Want To Believe In But Are Afraid To Embrace, I tackle one of the most widely held false notions about God – his sovereignty.

For some time the church has held to this idea that God is divinely controlling all things – the bad and the good – and that our lives are the result of his choice, will, and dominion.  Although this might sound spiritual, it’s actually a form of Gnostic teaching and rooted in pagan mythology.  The Gnostics believed that “god” was both light and dark; that is that he embodied both good and evil.  In fact, they taught that the father was “dark” and the son was “light” and that the son came to save us from the father.  This is why John writes in 1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”  This would have been revolutionary to the Gnostic people.  John proclaimed that the God of the true gospel is all light and that there is no darkness – no confusion, nothing hidden, no ill intention.  From his biblical understanding, in Christianity, we understand that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all one in the same – God in three persons.  Gnosticism taught their separate identities, much like the various deities that dwelt together on the Greek’s Mt Olympus.

aid1484973-728px-Know-the-Twelve-Olympians-of-Greek-Mythology-Step-2

Today, this Gnostic teaching, has resurfaced in Western theology through the doctrine of extreme sovereignty.  I believe one of the reasons why sovereignty teaching (and hyper-Calvinism) is so attractive is because of its removal of personal responsibility on the life of the believer.  As Christians, many are frustrated today by the continual devaluation of personal responsibility in our society.  According to today’s world, crime is due to guns and not criminals, sexual perversion is due to nature and not sin, the list goes on and on.  So removed is the idea of personal responsibility that in several countries in Europe pedophiles actually received disability benefits.   But it’s important that we see that this loss of personal responsibility does not exist only in the world today – it’s also in the church.  Through the doctrine of sovereignty, adherents distance themselves from the power of their own decisions and behavior, by claiming things like God “has them in this season”, “is leading them through a desert time”, or “trying to teach them something”.  Cloaked in spiritual language, religious minded individuals unable to come to grip with their own depravity, cling to the idea that God is in control of the outcome of their lives, and hide from the reality that, outside of the impact of others’ freewill and the result of a fallen world, their lives are the summation of the choices they make.

This is the exact same belief system that Job was rebuked for in the last chapter of the book of Job.  Job, a man who faced massive amounts of suffering and loss, mistakenly thought that God was the source of his pain.  Job, overconfident in his own righteousness, was unable to see how his fear and pride (two of the biggest themes in the book of Job) affected his life.  He was also completely unaware of the existence of Satan.  Job saw all things (light and dark/good and evil) as existing in the Godhead and would rather blame God than himself, nature, or the enemy.  But in the end of the book, upon finally seeing God face-to-face, Job saw the error of his ways, repents and says, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

In reality, God’s goodness is displayed in the freedom to choose that he bestows upon his children.  Personal responsibility should actually empower us, not condemn us.  When we realize that God is not the cause of our pain, it frees us to draw near to him, rely on his grace, and seek his guidance in our life.  If the problems of life are God’s will for us, what hope do we have?  But if God is really “for me”, then I can stand firm, resist the enemy’s advances, and walk in victory.  This doesn’t mean that bad things will never happen, but if and when they do, I can rest in the knowledge that God is not the source of my pain.

Theology is simple, “If it’s good, it’s God. If it’s not, it’s not.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, grace teaching

Sparks and Seeds

I had an opportunity to talk about some challenges in my life recently with a close friend of mine.  Like many of you, I wanted them to validate all of my insecurities, agree with all of my self-focused opinions, and just all-around tell me what I wanted to hear.  But they didn’t.  Instead they listened, they asked questions, they didn’t always feel the need to response to every question I asked, and at times, they just let the weight of what I shared hang there so that I could hear what I was saying.

Man, was it frustrating.  But man was it beautiful.hand-holding-oat-seeds-thumb11587108

In the end, instead of validated or vindicated, I just felt peaceful.  I realized that many of the things I felt like I needed, I didn’t require, but they helped me see and reminder, that God is my source and supply in those areas, and that my trust is in him, and not my job, my career, my businesses, my family, or friends.

That conversation reminded me of some wise words that a mentor of mine once shared.  “Words are like seeds,” he shared.  Continuing he added, “Every word that is spoken will either produce life or death.  The job of a good friend is to catch them, and help you sort them, to ensure that seeds of life are planted in your heart, and that words of death are dealt with and discarded.”

As I grow older, friendship like this means more and more.

On the contrary, I heard a story once about two friends that accidentally set a field on fire while playing with fireworks.  It was just a small spark -but under the right conditions, the right environment – it Field_in_Fire_by_Yolenzogrew into a blaze of destruction.

I’ve had conversations that blew up like that field did too.  Sharing words before I’ve had time to process how I really feel, saying things out of frustration, or jumping to conclusions or judgments without giving the other person time to articulate their thoughts are all words that behave like that small spark.  It might not seem like a big deal at the time, but left alone and not addressed, these words can grow into a field of frustration, disappointment, and burnt bridges.

It may sound simple, but we all have a choice.  Are we going to be seed catchers or fire starters?

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cuba, Communism, and Codependency

Obama landed in Cuba this week and, as such, is the first US President to set foot in the country since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.  His trip included attending a baseball game with the Cuban president, as well as holding a live press conference alongside the Communist leader, taking turns sharing applause and grievances for life in both countries.

But contrary to Obama’s public admonition prior to leaving Cuba that our two countries should abandon the “last remnants of the Cold War”, the president’s actions in Cuba this week did not mark the end of the effects of the Cold War, but rather continued the already sliding progression of which side of the war against Communism our nation sits.

This was perhaps best seen in the President’s response to Castro’s criticism against the lack of social services our country provides it’s people.  Castro stated that it is “inconceivable that a government does not defend and secure the right to health care, equal pay and the rights of children.”  Instead of seizing the opportunity to encourage their nation to explore individual freedoms and personal responsibility (encouraging a move toward democracy), Obama followed this up with, “In [Castro’s] view, making sure that everybody is getting a decent education or health care, has basic security in old age, that those things are human rights as well. I personally would not disagree with him.”

It’s easy to hear comments like this and miss the real nature of the issues.  I want us to understand what this is really all about.

It’s about determining the source of our hope.

From a faith standpoint, socialism and communism look to the nation itself to do what only God can. It’s a misplaced hope and it can never produce the utopia that we are promised. While the world is hailing the uniting of two nations, I believe we should grieve for the continued and unnecessary distance that we are placing between God and man.

In Genesis 11, Nimrod wrongly commissioned the building of the Tower of Babel to fortify the people against God (in case he would decide to send another global flood) and as a result, Nimrod led the people to depend upon himself and the strength of the tower, rather than to depend upon God to meet their needs.  This is the nature of Socialism and the Communist State; a misled reliance on the institution to try to do for the people, what only God can do.

It’s time we wake up America.  This isn’t about politics, it’s about placing our trust together as one people under God.  This is our only hope for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, World Events

Good God: Order Your Copy TODAY!

“Not only is God not dead, but Lucas’s book shows us that he is even better than we previously thought.”

Kevin Sorbo, actor, God’s Not Dead

Good God 3D

In my new book, Good God: The One We Want To Believe In But Are Afraid To Embrace,take readers on a journey, tipping over some “sacred cows” along the way, to uncover the lost and forgotten nature of the Creator of the Universe and discover a real relationship with him through the person of Jesus Christ: God’s goodness incarnate.

Already receiving rave reviews from actor Kevin Sorbo, Christian marketing expert Phil Cooke, celebrity life coach Dr. Tim Storey, and American Idol Semi-finalist and national Christian recording artist Joanna Beasley and others, Good God speaks to the following:

• You will learn the unexpected answer to the question, “If God is good, then why do bad things happen?”
• You will gain a religion-free understanding of God’s character, rooted in scripture, which simultaneously magnifies his goodness and his strength. • You will discover why the world wants nothing to do with the ‘Christian’ notion of God.
• You will uncover the ‘Job Conspiracy’: how misreading the original text has shaped much of Christian tradition and modern theology and led to the false accusation that God was the source of Job’s suffering. • You will unpack the truth of God’s innocence in relation to the fall of man; establishing that God is not the source of our problems.
• You will understand how confusion regarding God’s interaction with people under the Old Covenant has prevented people from seeing God’s true nature.
• You will come face to face with an unveiled image of the person of Jesus, the full expression of God’s goodness.

Good God is NOW available for pre-order and debuts wherever books are sold on March 8th, 2016.

Place your order TODAY for the book that will change the way you look at God forever!

Available through Worthy Publishing.

amazonEvxYrjm7_400x400barnes-and-noble-logo

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Is Justin Bieber a Real Christian?

Justin-Bieber-Expected-to-Release-Album-in-2015-News-FDRMX-1024x576As someone who spends time ministering in Hollywood, I hear questions like this all the time. “Is so-and-so a real Christian?” It’s happened recently with Selena Gomez, Shia Labeouf, Chris Pratt, and now, Justin Bieber. The young pop star recently was quoted in Rolling Stones magazine stating, “I just wanna honestly live like Jesus… We have the greatest healer of all, and his name is Jesus Christ. And he really heals. This is it. It’s time that we all share our voice. Whatever you believe. Share it. I’m at a point where I’m not going to hold this in.”

Honestly, I’m amazed that the first question that so many have after hearing words like that is whether or not it’s real. Why doubt? In a day where most Christians are afraid to invite a friend to a weekend service or are unwilling to retweet their pastor’s latest 140 character message, a passionate and faith-filled testimony like JB shared in Rolling Stones should be applauded. I read the article and wanted to get saved all over again! How awesome, that someone so influential would risk their fame and open themselves up to so much potential criticism by telling the world the impact that Jesus has made in their life! I would take 1 new convert like Bieber over 300 unmotivated-sour-faced-know-it-all Christians any day of the week, even without ever winning a Grammy!

Earlier this year, Justin attended the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia. Kudos to Hillsong BTW, because they limited the media’s access to Justin while there and protected his privacy, so that he would feel comfortable attending. At my church, Oasis (www.oasisgranger.com), because of my influence in entertainment and role in coaching top performers, we have regionally and, at times, nationally known figures attend church frequently. They are there to worship – not sign autographs or take selfies. It’s important that people give them their privacy and let them set the precedent of what’s acceptable behavior. The last thing they need is someone saying, “So are you really a Christian?”

Obviously no one knows what’s in someone’s heart, though we all love to think that we do, but personally, I’m cheering for Justin. Will he “fail” publically? Perhaps, but I know one thing, societies’ criticism and skepticism of celebrities’ faith sure doesn’t do anything to help them stand. In fact, I would partially blame the church’s incessant need to sniff out if someone’s conversion is real as one of the reasons why those in the spotlight have trouble living a life of faith from the beginning. Think about it – Celebrity X finds Jesus and tells the world about it. Next the church (you know the place that is actually supposed to receive them and welcome them in) responds by criticizing the legitimacy of their experience and offering judgment instead of acceptance. What do you think this does in the life of the new believer (aka Celebrity X)? Failing to be accepted as a “real Christian”, celebrities like Justin are often forced to follow Jesus in isolation and without a community of faith. Like a sheep that’s stranded away from the flock, this makes them more prone to attacks from the enemy, discouragement, and stumbling. Then when they “fall”, instead of offering grace, the church responds with an “I told you they weren’t a real Christian” attitude and only further pushes them away.

Our skepticism may very well say more about our own lack of faith in the working of the Holy Spirit, than it does about whether or not an individual celebrity actually had a real change of heart. Why should we be surprised when someone like Justin Bieber gets saved? Because of his past behavior? Really? What about our past behavior? Have you ever had too much to drink? Have you ever looked at pornography? Told a lie? Guess what? The Bible teaches that if you’ve stumbled at just one point you are guilty of breaking the whole law! If we are going to question Justin Bieber’s salvation based upon his behavior, perhaps we should also be questioning our own.

So am I saying that he should just get a pass on his behavior? No, I’m saying he got a pass and it’s called the Cross! I’m not implying that sin doesn’t matter, but I am stating that our behavior is not what determines our salvation. Sure, true salvation produces good fruit; but let’s not pretend like we never stumble ourselves. If most Christian’s lives were as public as Justin’s, we’d probably question their salvation too.

Justin Bieber Switches On The Westfield Stratford City Christmas LightsBeing in the spotlight is never easy. Nor are the pressures of the entertainment industry. What is easy though is standing on the sidelines and judging someone else’s performance that is actually in the game. Are there some that use “their faith” as a means for selfish gain? Absolutely! Are there some who claim they have a relationship with Jesus, but have no evidence of the fruit of this relationship in their life? Without a doubt! But can’t we at least allow a young man some time to figure things out before offering judgment regarding his spiritual integrity? Wouldn’t you want the same courtesy?

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized