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Skin On

March 16, 2011

Jesus with “skin on” is a term we rarely hear in our Christian culture anymore. We have become a body of believers where morality is more important than vitality. The greed that permeated the business world for a long time has ruined the modern church, because we bought into the same cultural (wealth) philosophies that destroyed our economy. It is time for a fundamental change back to how Jesus intended the Body of Christ to look.

There are more churches closing now in the United States than at any time in our country’s history, and more people are leaving the pastorate than ever before. Mega-churches are surviving by a thread because of the sheer volume of their membership, but donations to the ministries (true gospel) they supported are dwindling to nothing in order to pay staff salaries, utility costs for oversized facilities, and pay the debts (sins) of overspending. Smaller and medium-sized churches are not making it at all, and are being forced to close their doors. So where is God in all of this?

He is recreating true community!

In scripture, I haven’t read anywhere that the Kingdom of God was about counting salvation tokens (new people coming to Christ), increasing membership (tithe base), and building ornate structures that are only used on Wednesday night and Sundays. I think there is a parable in Matthew chapter 25 (Parable of the Talents) about this very subject. I think Jesus’ message was to teach people how to walk with God! Jesus invested in people!

This past month I had the pleasure of being with a group of men at a deer camp in Mississippi where the gospel took on the skin of Jesus, and served those who attended who were hurting. Men sat around and told their stories and allowed other men (Jesus with skin on) to speak truth into their hearts and lives. They were accepted, challenged, well fed, comforted and loved. The curtains of heaven were pulled back, if just for a moment, to reveal a glimpse of what unconditional love looks like on this earth.

It didn’t cost much; we stayed at a deer camp and slept on twin beds. We bought a few drinks, some steaks, and a few bags of chips, but we filled up the hearts of those attending with something that has been lost in this world, LOVE.

This is a challenge to the churches across this country who read this blog. Love is free! If you are in leadership and know of non-profit organizations that are dying because of funding issues that are living the gospel (serving others), partner with them and allow them to use your facilities. It will be messy; with broken people it always is. They will tear up your buildings, destroy your kitchens, and wear the Pharisee right off of your face. Don’t build anymore structures; there are plenty of buildings for sale and for lease that need restoring and life poured back into them in our inner cities. Better yet pour money into people; it doesn’t cost much to love someone enough to give them hope. Remove the business leaders from your finance committees, because greed is why we are in this place now in our country and in our lives. I am guilty myself. Lift up people whose hearts have been melted by the real Gospel of Christ.

 This message was written for the Men’s Adventure Group (Ralph, Gene, David, Bill and Lynn) and Ken Anderson,  people I love who are trying something new; investing in people.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2011 8:06 am

    Well said! I too have been blessed by a group that you describe in the post. I’ve attended Men’s Coaching Weekend (aka Deer Camp) three times, my first in September, and I’ve seen exactly what you are talking about. It has changed my life! I still attend church and enjoy that time of worship, but nothing will ever compare to the experience of hearing Jesus speak to my heart through the story and/or feedback of another brother in Christ.

    • March 16, 2011 8:14 am

      Clint, you must be talking about Phil Hardin’s group. He is the reason I do this everywhere! That life is available everyday, but we are afraid to live it. Thanks for the comment.

  2. March 16, 2011 8:19 am

    Yep! Phil’s group. I was introduced to it by Roane Hunter. Roane is my mentor and great friend. Your post about Writer’s Block spoke directly to my life two weeks ago when I read it while at Deer Camp. I was struggling with not writing in my own journal and your words spurred me to re-initiate my dialog with God. Hopefully we will get a chance to meet in person.

  3. Expeditions permalink
    March 16, 2011 8:43 am

    Mike

    You have good eyes and a discerning spirit. If organized religion is failing then I for one will shed no tears. Religion is the enemy of God. Its really hard for us to grasp that.

    This new life in us has a different compass then the old ways of duty, obligation, and performance. It has a completely different value system where we are able to love and esteem others greater then ourselves. This life needs true community and I think that is actually happening around the country. True community is birthed when the only control I have over people is my radical love for them.

    Jeff

    • March 16, 2011 8:49 am

      Thanks Jeff! I know and love your heart, and I am glad you and I are in this journey together.

  4. Greg G permalink
    March 16, 2011 11:51 am

    Bro, Jesus’ skin is not comfortable to wear, kind of rough and itchey like camel hair….it is a lot more comfortable for me to send a check to the church so someone can dedicate their time to being relational and so I can then control my level of involvement. Keeps things cleaner…sterile….and kind of like a morgue. Thanks for being one of the men who challenged me to get some skin in the game! It is a lot more exciting!

    • March 16, 2011 2:30 pm

      Thanks for being Jesus with “skin on” for me. I couldn’t have made it without your friendship over the past ten years. I love the fact that you allow me to challenge you and somehow you still love me. Brotherhood is an awesome thing!

  5. P. Jack Page permalink
    March 16, 2011 12:08 pm

    Mike,
    I have been in & out of church all my life…..mostly running from it. It took a Deer Camp at Ebenezer in the fall of 2009 to finally bring me to my knees. I had never felt such love and acceptance and I had never felt God’s presence like that before. My encounter that weekend brought me into a community of Christian men who truly have a heart for God. It also brought me back into the church in a different light, not to find religion but to share my heart with God.
    Jack

    • March 16, 2011 2:32 pm

      Jack, we are going to have to spend time together next time I am in MS. Love your heart. It is amazing how much deer camp has done for all of us. Love you brother!

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