Who is this Jesus anyway?
THE HAVEN NEWSLETTER
In Matthew 16:13-17 Jesus asks the disciples a rather important question. “Who do people say that I am?” They answered with a bunch of options: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. In John 7, some thought he was a good man and others thought he was a false teacher. Opinions were all over the map. In the late 1980’s the very dark band Depeche
Mode had a hit song called “Personal Jesus”. The words weren’t terribly bad but the official video made it clear that they were talking about a prostitute. Not long after that in the early 1990s, alleged Southern Baptist Al Gore talked about this in his environmental farce book “Earth in the Balance” and claimed that he had a “deeply personal interpretation of Jesus”. I have talked to so many different religions over the past 28 years and it is amazing how people still answer Jesus’s question. In just the past year for example, I have talked to Muslims (‘Issa’-Jesus is a good prophet, second only to Muhammed, but he was never crucified nor resurrected), as well as many kinds of Mormons. Jesus is the older brother of Lucifer/Satan and the older brother to all of us. He is the conceptual product of God/Elohim (himself a man/god) who had sex with his own daughter Mary to produce Jesus here on earth. He was crucified (didn’t matter because he paid for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane!) although no Mormons are claiming that the cross was a part of the atonement. I have also talked to New Agers who see Jesus as the “Way Shower” - not the Way. Just another enlightened being of which we all can become. I have had several meetings with Urantia readers who think Jesus is one of 700,000 creator sons throughout the Universe, atheists who think Jesus was a myth, or a misunderstood philanthropist. Hindu teachers like Deepak Chopra claim Jesus was an Avatar or incarnation of Shiva, or Krishna or whatever. Buddhist leaders like Thich Nhat Hanh claim that Jesus and the Buddha were basically twin sons of the same mother. In other words, the confusion today is even worse than when Jesus was in Israel so long ago!
Recently, a media eruption occurred when Pastor Robert Jeffries of First Baptist Dallas was asked to pray at the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem. Jeffries is considered by many on the political left as extremely offensive. He has been known to teach that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6) and that Muslims and Mormons for example are false religions for denying this central Christian claim. No less than Sen. Mitt Romney came out and blasted Jeffries as a “bigot”. The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial quoted a Jewish thinker who argued that Jeffries’s beliefs were akin to ehumanizing” all those who did not believe that way he did and this is how the holocaust happened!
Another new social media video done by liberal “Christians”, emergents and other assorted heretics, all of whom deny the Gospel and the central teachings of the Christian faith, claimed that unless you as an individual accepted the progressive or Marxist political positions of the hard left - you have no right to bear the title of Christian or follower of Jesus. The people who were making this claim deny the resurrection, the atonement and ultimately several claims that everything and everyone is god! None of that matters as much as Marxist teaching apparently.
So, the question of who Jesus is, is still a dividing one, not just for the people of 1st century Israel, but literally for people all over the world!
So back to Matthew 16. Jesus asks a follow up question to the disciples “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responds; “You are the Christ - the Son of the Living God”. Jesus of course rebukes him for his exclusivist and narrow- minded views... NOT! Jesus affirms Peter’s statement and goes even further. This was revealed to Peter not by human beings, but by God the Father himself! Now I don’t know about you, but let me see - the word of emergent heretics like Brian Maclaren, Soros backed Jim Wallis or hard core panentheist Richard Rohr, versus the word of Jesus. Which way do I go which way do I go? I think I am going with Jesus, as revealed to humans by the Father himself, on this one.
Why does it matter? Can’t one have a “deeply personal interpretation” and still be a “believer in Jesus?”
Well perhaps we need to look closer at Peter’s God given answer. The word Christos, Greek for Meshiach or Messiah, designated something special in the Tanakh or Old Testament. It was used for special occasions such as the anointing of Kings and prophets. We are told in several places what this Messiah would be like. In Isaiah 9:6, a child will be born who will be among other things, “the Eternal Father” and “Mighty God”. In Isaiah 53: 1-11, this person will be struck down for our sins, crushed for our evil, bearing our griefs and suffering in our place. He would be a sacrifice for our guilt, be killed and buried. All this was laid out 600 plus years before Jesus was born here. But this Messiah does not stay down! He rises and will see his followers (or descendants) and He will justify all those who believe and so many other things.
There is so much more I could say from both the Tanakh and a ton of things that could be brought up in the New Covenant but let's focus in on a discussion Jesus has in John 8 with the religious leaders of Israel, who hate him and want him dead. In verse 8:24, Jesus says “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins’ for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins”. In verse 27, we are told that His audience is confused about what he is saying. Jesus goes on to say much more but then His audience senses that Jesus is making a much larger claim. “We are children of Abraham” they assert. Jesus slaps that down. He calls them liars and asserts that “Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” (All past tense!) The audience freaked out! You aren’t even 50 and you have seen Abraham??? (Abraham lived approximately 1800 years before this scenario!) Jesus lays the hammer down. Verse 58: “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am!” Given that they thought he was crazy or demon possessed, the appropriate esponse to that notion would be lock Jesus up in a nice rubber room where he can’t hurt himself or anyone else. But look at their response instead. They picked up rocks to kill him. This is appropriate in the Mosaic law for the crime of blasphemy, particularly making yourself equal with God. But how is he doing that? Isn’t he just acting crazy? Does it really matter what he said or what we might believe thousands of years later? I think the Pharisees and Sadducees were entirely right to pick up rocks. The Mosaic law doesn’t allow you to kill an insane person. But Jesus had said something which caused them to react the way they did. In the Septuagint, which is a koine/Alexanderian Greek copy of the Old Testament, done some 150-180 years B.C, the phrase in Hebrew from Exodus 3:14 where the Lord gave Moses his unique name YHWH, was translated “Ego Eimi” in Greek. This is the present tense verb “I am”. I don’t think you kill someone for saying I am, as Jesus had already said many I am statements in the Gospel of John, (I am the Way, the Door, the Bread of Life, etc). But in 8:24 the word “he” at the end of I am, is not in the text. I think both in verse 24 and for sure in verse 58, Jesus calls himself YHWH. It is the only way to make sense of the religious leader’s response. If Jesus really is God in the flesh, predicted in Isaiah, then our collective opinions, wisdom, 2 cents worth, don’t matter one single bit! Our progressive politics don’t matter, nor for that matter do our conservative politics. What matters that we must know, or die in our sins, is that Jesus is the Great I am/YHWH. He is very God of very God as the Nicene Creed states. He was with God and is God as the Apostle John says at the very beginning of his Gospel. You cannot have a personal interpretation here - Jesus is not a sacred mushroom, Ganga, or your favorite traveling sage. He is the very Lord of heaven, creator of all things and savior of your soul, IF you believe.
This truth was revealed by God. Don’t listen to the clowns who seek to edit, redact and minimize the truth of it. Your very soul depends on it!
July 8th - Morning service at Stockham Community Church- Stockham, NE Evening service at Aurora Evangelical Free Church- Aurora, NE
July 11th - Midweek service with the youth at Heartland Evangelical Free Church- Central City, NE
July 15th - Morning service at Hastings Evangelical Free Church- Hastings, NE
July 17th - Midweek service at Faith Community Church- Aurora, NE
July 18th - Midweek service at True North Church- Grand Island, NE
July 22nd - Morning service at Monroe Evangelical Free Church- Phillips, NE
Evening service at Pleasant View Bible Church- Aurora, NE
July 29th - Community Church- Fontanelle, NE
Aug 19th - Cowboy Church- Penrose, CO
One of our biggest events is the Parliament of World Religions. Every 3-5 years, almost all the world’s religions get together for 8- 10 days and this year it is in Toronto, Canada from Nov 1-8. For us, it is a “target rich environment”. Everywhere you turn there are whole other religions! In other words, ten thousand people there who need Jesus! Pray lots please!
We thank the Lord for the gracious giving that He has given us through so many of you. We thank yall for your continued prayers and support. Please continue to pray and seek the Lord’s Will concerning giving to the ministry of Haven. Lots of amazing ministry opportunities are in front of us! We hope to have more impact as we are enabled through the prayers and support of our Haven
1) We continue to thank the Lord for His goodness. Terri is still hurting physically and has Hashimoto's disease and arthritis/inflammation. I ask that you please hold her up in prayer. Scott, Savanna and Conrad are doing
well and expecting a baby daughter soon! Shawn, Kelly, Tegan and Apple are doing well and Shawn really loves his job! Andy is still happy going to his day program. He is looking forward to spending time in Nebraska this summer and of course next fall for a game! Gabe, Shaina and Kaylee are doing well and Gabe is now a fireman with Aurora Fire Department. Joey, Johanna and her kids have just moved in to a new apartment together where she works. Rose, Austin, CeCe and Bella are doing well and looking to buy a house. Jon and his girlfriend are in the process of moving back to Colorado! We will see what that means... Pray for all our kids to honor the Lord with all that they have! My uncle George has been in the hospital, in and out of ICU for six months now! Pray for all my family who need the Lord!
2) Please pray for some friends and co-workers who have serious health issues. Pray for many who have pressing chronic issues such as Sherri C, Rose R, Liz H, Sheila H, Joanna V, Charlene E, Jason G, Zach M, Duane E, Noah G, Tracie P, Pepper W, Susan L, and others. Please continue to pray for Doug and Rebecca Groothuis. Pray for dear friends and mentors like Jim and Ossie who have had a terrible struggle with their adult daughter and her extreme health problems. Pray our Father shows mercy! Pray for the daughter of a pastor/friend of ours, her name is Amber and is still struggling with a terrible stroke! Many of you in this audience have major health issues, we pray our Father shows mercy in all these things. Pray for our dearest friend Susan who has some frustrating health conditions and lost her husband this past year.
3) Pray for the miracle of repentance and reconciliation in the marriages or now ex-marriages of Debra, Mike, Cheryl, Leon, Susan, Janelle, and way too many others.
4) Terri and I were in Clearwater, Florida and we walked into the International Headquarters of the Scientology cult! We had a great conversation with a lady named Amber. We talked for almost two hours and she didn’t scream at us! (If you have ever contradicted any of them in any way you know what I mean!) Pray for the salvation of the Muslims, Gnostics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Buddhists, and many others.
Please pray for all the people that we have witnessed to over the years, whom can be referenced in the past Haven Newsletters. Please pray for Michael and Miguel, both of whom are Urantia readers. Continue to pray for my atheist student Ben whom I have met with twice. Some good things going on there I think. Pray for two Mormon missionaries who were coming to our house for over a month. Elders Curtis and Blackham (I really hate to call teenagers Elders!) Elder Blackham’s brother killed himself back in Utah right before our fifth meeting. We hope to meet Elder Blackham’s family in Utah soon. I also had two meetings with other Mormons, including one who called himself a “Buddhist Mormon”. I see a lot of strange things... that ranks way up high in the strange department. Terri and I had good talks with three different kinds of Mormon in Independence recently. Pray for Jewish New Ager Ron, whom I had a great talk with recently. Pray for these folks!
5) Pray for the Haven staff and for their support raising efforts. Pray for their ministry and for all of us as we go to different events. Pray for the Lord’s grace and mercy to mark everything we do. The staff continues to grow with new associates and interns. Pray especially for one of our staff members Rose, who has some difficult health concerns. Pray for her husband Mark also and all the family please. The staff is up to 21 people with another new intern! So, we thank the Lord for the fellow workers and we thank you all for your prayers!
6) Please pray for our many friends and their children who are serving with our military. The reality of militant Islam is that we are now in what many think is another chapter of a very old war. This sadly is getting much worse lately. Hardly a day goes by without Muslims killing innocents somewhere in the world. Pray for soldiers like Miguel, Matt, Josh, Nick. Heath and Will. Pray for the Marines like our nephew Eddie and Matt. We thank the Lord for all of them and so many others who serve us. Pray for soldiers like Chung and Gabe.
NON PROPHET SECTION
So many heretics – So little time... There is a screaming need to make the Non-Prophet update the whole of the newsletter but it is too discouraging to only talk about all the bad stuff. You can start with Jesse Duplantis extorting his church for a new private jet so he can “minister”. (My fellow worker and friend Bob Liichow call all these word faith/New Apostolic reformation types “sinistries”, I think he is right.) Then you move on to Pope Francis blessing homosexuality and to Andy Stanley calling for Christians to dump the Old Testament. A new video came out on social media where hard-core liberals, emergents and other heretics tried to make the case that unless one adopts the “progressive” (read “marxist”) political agenda, you have no right to consider yourself a Christian! One example of this group is Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic priest who thinks he, and everyone else is God!!! Now, believing that you yourself are god doesn’t make you a non-Christian to these folks, but not accepting a centrally planned economy is the true heresy! Too much garbage out there. Pray for revival and discernment please!!!
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