Friday, February 29, 2008
First of all, there should not be anything in the "church" that brings a divide between us, where some people are elevated to some sort of special status over another while the rest of the people are just common folk. (clergy laity divide is apparently the religious term) Where some people can do some sort of service, which others cannot do.
Yes, there is a very real divide that is built in the church, but this divide is not sent from Jesus Christ. This is not a biblical concept. Anything that elevates someone to a special status over another is not what Christ demonstrated for His followers, nor died to give us. I don't care how you try to justify it, it is clear in Christ's Words that though a true leader is recognized within the body of Christ, it is not positional, as in a place of being "in charge" and "lording over". A true leader would be there to help guide the body and assist together in decision making which should involve each member of the body.
When are we going to take the New Testament seriously ? Each member of the Body of Christ is a part of the other, not separate from the other. Anyone who reads the New Testament seriously cannot ignore these truths and fail to admit that we need to stop practising this kind of distinction and elevate people with titles and names like Rev. so and so, Pastor so and so, while others waste away and never reach their potential. We DO need all the parts. But we need to stop excluding the parts that are sitting in the pews week after week. We are all equal and a part of the other. It is about community , it is about how we live out these truths that will or will not have an impact on another. Is our community life-sharing, life-giving, is it real as God intended, or is it just positional lording over others?
We need to evaluate these truths seriously in our hearts and acknowledge that many things that are being done in "churches" today are dead wrong, ,,, so many people are truly waking up and praise God for that .. because what is being "practised" for lack of a better word, is no where found in scripture. But true community is. You simply cannot find in scripture a church in the new testament that has one man in it as "The Leader", I mean that's a good starting point, isn't it ?
On a side note, 80 to 90 percent of "tithes" goes towards paying salaries and maintaining and paying for a building. Compare this to Acts 20 , Paul's heart and own words to His FELLOW believers:
"I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all."
Paul had the kind of heart that was sincere and would not consider taking a salary from the saints that He loved dearly. Rather the other way around, he worked so that he himself would have the funds available - available to give to the poor, because he knew the need was so great and that was where his heart was. He loved and cherished the poor deeply. (oh to have a heart like Paul's) His heart was to have available the means to share with the poor and at the same time, not be a burden to anyone. He wanted to be free and to freely give to them... hmm
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Do you remember not feeling well as a child, and your Mother or the Doctor would say "Now, open up your mouth and stick out your tongue!!" Then you would be subjected to the careful prodding and examination of the condition of your tongue. Usually with a tongue depressor. Well even as a sickly looking tongue would indicate fever and physical illness, the words that come forth carelessly from our mouth at times also indicate just as surely the sick spiritual condition of our heart.
If we are uncertain of how well we are doing spiritually, all we need to do is carefully determine if the Holy Spirit has control of our tongue. (If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.) James says the tongue is of the highest importance . This because it is able to completely defile us.
The tongue can really only bring forth two things: it's not difficult to examine it's fruit. On the one hand, it is able to completely defile us and bring hurt and suffering to another, but on the other hand, it can be a source of blessing and encouragement - a tree of life to someone else.
Through the Holy Spirit we can gain control of our heart and tongue and our tongue can be a source of blessing to someone else. We can be cautious and careful with our words. We will always need to deeply rely on the Holy Spirit to do this because James says no one can tame the tongue, "it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."
Have you noticed how the effect of words linger? Even as the hurt can persist for a very long time in a heart, so also can the effect of encouraging words and loving words. Their effect can linger and inspire someone for a lifetime. Remember the nursery rhyme, sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me? This isn't really true. We shouldn't teach this one to our children. We have all gotten burnt by the words of another and sometimes it's been a long time healing ..
Truly we shouldn't underestimate the power of this very small part of our bodies! Such a small part. But if it is out of control, our whole being is also out of control! So important is it ! God is greater than our tongue and only He can tame it !
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I was just thinking how within the organized church, they keep track of the finances as in "donations" and "giving", then of course they issue a receipt that shows your "donations" and "giving" financially in terms of that organization... well ...
Just how does that whole concept fit within family?
Do you donate to your children?
Is Jesus trustworthy to meet the needs of who, when, and where? I think He is.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"Most Christian leaders would have us believe that current state of the institutional church is of “divine design” – that God prefers today’s intellectual-social Christianity over the Holy Spirit-empowered and Spirit-guided church with miracles, signs, and wonders that existed in the First Century. By comparison, Christianity of the New Testament was passionate, grew through discipleship, and depended on the manifest presence of God and the Holy Spirit’s leadership, whereas today’s institutional Christianity is academic, bureaucratic, and intellectual. In First Century Christianity, Christian leaders were empowered by the Holy Spirit and thus tended to impart spiritual gifts upon those whom they mentored, while today’s Christian leaders are intellectuals and thus tend to impart intellect alone upon those whom they mentor.
In institutional Christianity, Christian leaders are measured not by their spiritual endowment (as was once seen throughout the New Testament) but by their education, their intellectual prowess, and their ability to articulate their knowledge.
Jesus and His apostles taught that miracles through faith and the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit were the approval of God (Hebrews 2:4) and that those who strive to know God through their intellectual prowess are fools. But today, just the opposite is true. It is a complete reversal of fortune. The wise and educated have once again stolen center stage, claiming that they who believe in miracles or practice spiritual gifts are fools. They claim that God has simply changed His mind. He now requires an education, and He is not in the least bit interested in the spiritual gifts – the kind for which Christ was known, the kind that He bestowed upon those who followed Him. Even so, every Christian who truly loves God knows in his heart that the cold and powerless form of Christianity practiced in our Western institutional churches is not what God intended. They just don’t understand, nor can they explain, why Christianity has changed. They rationalize that it is a change in culture, that the Western culture is intellectual and affluent, so Christianity has simply adapted to a new audience. But in the midst of all the rationalization and compromise, the voice of the Holy Spirit is whispering ever so softly to the church to return to true Christianity which places Jesus as the king.
Most Christians .. are comfortable with the institutional church and how little it requires of them. They value comfort and pleasure over the discipleship of the past. So instead of insisting that Christianity stay true to its heritage, they simply rationalize away their birthright of power for the bean soup of contemporary academia."
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Better yet, are they better than Christ Jesus? For if anyone deserved to charge for anything, wouldn't it have been Jesus Christ alone?? Yet Paul and Jesus shared freely with all. Paul worked as a tent maker so that he would not be the slightest burden to any, .. and also probably even more importantly, so that he would have the means necessary to be able to give to the poor. (His love and desire to serve the poor was always foremost.)
They who charge in this manner for their "bread" do the exact opposite of what Paul said he wouldn't do - eat another man's bread. Even though Paul was travelling and preaching full time, (physically demanding) he made sure he did not eat another man's bread. How exhausted he must have been, but at the same time, what joy he must've had, in knowing that he was being poured out in a very real and glorious way. At the expense of no other. All without asking anything of anyone, .. because He wanted to set an example for others to follow. An example of integrity and sacrifice. He said, "Withdraw from others who demanded to "eat your bread" ". What Paul had to offer and desires for us to offer others, should be freely and generously given. This was the whole point.
Paul had a constant love and care for the poor, and it seemed his one commandment written in the new testament was to "remember the poor". (Gal 2:9,10) This was his priority. Paul would never have suffered and went through all that he did (His life was spent) to share truth with others that required payment of any kind, that only certain people could afford. What he shared was sacrificial, and was directed to the poor. He spent His life in giving and being poured out to others. It simply was not something that was only available to those who had the financial means to pay for it or to pay to come hear him speak at the local temple. How utterly crazy to even think of such a thing, but this is the level on which alot of these ministries operate.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
(Psalm 116 :1,2)
When we are in a "difficult" place of sorts, it's good to know and be assured that God has heard the "voice of our supplications". We can wait on the Lord. Wait and also know that even though so many of us get into difficult seasons and trials come with the Lord, we know we have hope - hope because He hears our voice, hope because He hears our cries.
We don't have to worry - for God is listening, He will not leave us nor forsake us because we have done some wrong things, he doesn't require perfection in us only an honest heart. As we deal openly with the Lord of the issues in our heart, we can be persuaded like Paul who said God would keep that which was committed unto Him.
When we know that we have given Him all,
When we know that we have given Him our life,
When we know that we have given Him our heart,
When we know that we have given Him our trials,
When we know that we have given Him our families,
When we know that we have given Him our friends,
When we know that we have given Him our mistakes,
When we know that we have given Him our regrets,
When we know that we have given Him our future,
God is on the throne of our lives !
The wounds that we experience in our union with Christ are simply reminders that we are His and we belong to Him. They help our faith to deepen and remind us of the journey we are on .. Paul said he bore on his body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of all these places, we drink, and drink, and drink, of the well of salvation in us. This is how we really make a difference, God is getting us through and giving us the courage we need to experience Him in deeper and deeper ways.
God is the only one who can help us to understand why we go through what we go through. He's really the only one who can explain to us the meaning of all things, and what it is that He is after in us. To be Christlike, to know without a doubt God will bring us through everything, through every false accusation. He'll bring us through all, and then we will truly know that God has been with us, and we have walked with Him on an incredible journey.
So many people will challenge us by saying such things as:
"Has God really walked with you?"
"Has God really been there with you ?"
"Has God really heard you?"
We can say yes, yes, yes, He has! And more! Yes He has heard us, and yes He is merciful. His mercy in fact, has preserved me through all things and dealt even bountifully with me. We walk with Him, and as we do, we bear in us the very marks of that journey. God will not forsake us. In fact, there comes a confidence that will always say, I love the Lord because He has heard the voice of my supplications....
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
"I am already being poured out as a drink offering." 2 Timothy 4:6
"I am ready to be offered." (it's the readiness / willingness he is after in us, to love Him and to follow Him in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in day in and day out)
It is a transaction of will, not of sentiment. Tell God you are ready to be offered; then let the consequences be what they may, there is no strand of complaint now, no matter what God chooses. *It's been settled in our hearts - God is truly on the throne of our lives*
God puts you through the crisis in private, no one person can help an other. Externally the life may be the same; the difference is in will. (ie to those on the outside, all others, they never know what is going on inside, the intense personal outworking is so deep, only Christ knows. It makes no sense whatsoever to another, to one who has never allowed the Cross to have it's way within)
Go through the crisis in will, then when it comes externally there will be no thought of the cost. If you do not transact in will with God along this line, you will end in awakening sympathy for yourself. (If we go thru the crisis in our will we will no longer say to God, "can't you see what you are requiring of me" ... or "that you are asking too much of me" for you have counted and settled the cost. You will no longer be tempted to say to God, why can't I ? Why God are you not requiring such of so and so ??)
"Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." The altar means fire - burning and purification and insulation for one purpose only, the destruction of every affinity that God has not started and of every attachment that is not an attachment in God. You do not destroy it, God does; you bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar; and see that you do not give way to self-pity when the fire begins. After this way of fire, there is nothing that oppresses or depresses. When the crisis arises, you realize that things cannot touch you as they used to do. What is your way of fire? (The outcome is a calm and peaceful countenance that radiates to others His presence and keeping power in all things)
Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be.
Why is solitude and a quietness within our soul necessary to clarify the accuracy of circumstances? Because in Him we are free. We are free to evaluate and weigh whatever is happening in the confidence of His love. We know we are loved. In this place of assurance of love, we have courage to face imperfections. In the moments of quietness with Him, we are set free not only from the sins yet to deal with, but to deal with whatever we face. We are also set free of what Frances calls the "improper evaluations of thy worth and false pride" that seek to distort what God is truly after in us. It's so important to stay in tune with Him and solitude and quietness is the sure way we can maintain this posture of continual work of rebuilding, restoring, re-molding, re-creating...
"Live close to Me and let Me re-mold and re-create until I see in thee the image of ALL that I want thee to be" page 151
Come Away My Beloved
"The Secret of Silence"
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
"Only in much solitude can ye begin to sift away the chaff and come at last to the golden grains of truth"
"Silence will speak more to thee in a day than a world of voices can teach thee in a lifeline" (page 135)
He talks about how we can't really discern the ways of God (His Voice) amid the ways of man.
This is really true. To know and hear His Voice we really have to appreciate the value of solitude. We need to respond when God is leading us; become quiet with him, and at the same time, give less attention and less regard to the voices of so many ... so many clamouring for our undivided attention .
When God begins calling and drawing us in the direction of deep solitude with Him, our immediate response is uncertainty. "Really, is that you God?" (And often if we listen to our well meaning friends, they would tell us without hesitation, "no, that is not God")
We are all constantly hearing of the value in terms of the world, what it can offer us in terms of humanity and our fallen state. Unfortunately mixed in with this, is the clamoring very loudly via the organized churchianity as well. Encouraging us to conform by listening to respected knowledgable voices. The motives are often guilt, manipulation, fear, to name a few.
But when we eventually realize, "Yes, Lord, that is you drawing me, I will come!" Immediately as we choose this, we are filled with excitement, and we embark on this tremendous journey of appreciating and valuing His presence above all others. This then begins to reach far beyond what we have imagined possible. His heart pleads with ours to find solitude with Him, harmony with Him alone. Our confidence soars as we become set free from our fears and from the familiar clamoring of "others". We realize that we are secure in Him. Confident in our unfailing Father and His love towards us, His beloved. We come away with Him.
The value in terms of spiritual growth and unity with Him that solitude can bring is immeasurable. It's central. It brings us into deepened harmony with Him on many levels - our soul truly becomes knit together with Him, our Creator, through this process.
"Find it. Find solitude - and having discovered her riches, bind her to thy heart."
Friday, February 1, 2008
The law of liberty in Christ Jesus has set us free! Freeing us in surrender, moving us forward into restoration and what the Father has for us. Our confidence grows in the victory that He has already won! It's no longer what God can do, but what God has already done! It's all about Christ and Oswald said something very interesting this morning:
We are nowhere commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (John 12:32). It is a travesty to say that Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to redeem the whole world, and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God. The fact that Redemption can be experienced by us is an illustration of the power of the reality of Redemption, but that is not the end of Redemption. If God were human, how sick to the heart and weary He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation, for our sanctification. We tax His energies from morning till night for things for ourselves - some thing for me to be delivered from! When we touch the bedrock of the reality of the Gospel of God, we shall never bother God any further with little personal plaints.
The one passion of Paul's life was to proclaim the Gospel of God. He welcomed heart-breaks, disillusionments, tribulation, for one reason only, because these things kept him in unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God.