Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"The God of the legalistic Christian...is often unpredictable, erratic, and capable of all manner of prejudices. When we view God this way, we feel compelled to engage in some sort of magic to appease Him. Sunday morning worship becomes a superstitous insurance policy against His whims. This God expects people to be perfect and to be in perpetual control of their feelings and thoughts.
When broken people with this concept fail - as inevitably they must - they usually expect punishment. So they persevere in religious practices as they struggle to maintain a hollow image of a perfect self. This struggle is exhausting. The legalist can never live up to the expectations they project on God."
Amen, and amen
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I'll post more later, but I really love his definition of spirituality.
"Spirituality looks like whatever you and I look like when we're thinking about Jesus, when we are trying to find Jesus, when we are trying to figure out what real Christianiy looks like in the real world".
I have a feeling that this will be a special book for me.
From Disney World
BTW, Bino, I have read Pagan Christianity and have given it to Gary who is reading it now. It answered the questions that I had about the traditions of man that have taken the place of authentic Christianity just as surely as the traditions of the Pharisees did with theirs. The modern movement is not very authentic in my opinion.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
What really sparked it was something that happened in my small-group (really just another word for Sunday School) last Sunday. We came into the class in the middle of a series by Charles Stanley called, Developing a Servants Heart or something like that.
After someone read this week’s passage and the study question was asked, I was the first one to speak up. I simply asked if everyone agreed with what was posited. I certainly didn’t. There were a couple of others who spoke up and that really started the discussion.
Therein, I think, is the issue I want to address. Until I asked the question, it was assumed that we all agreed on what was read and we would build on that. I, for one, am over simply hearing something taught in church, be it a sermon or small-group (i.e. “official” teaching) and taking what was said as true purely because it was taught in church or written by a so-called Man of God.
Just because Charles Stanley wrote it, doesn’t make it true. I am done with blind loyalty to any man.
(The lesson had something to do with preserving your reputation in order to be an effective servant, or some such nonsense. It said NOTHING about Christ as the sole source of our service. As a matter of fact, it never even mentioned the One from which all life flows).
I believe that is one of the main problems with the modern Church – no one questions teaching. If it is said from the authority of the Pulpit (does ANYONE stop and think about that phrase? Where does it mention the pulpit in the Bible and what give it its authority?), then in the eyes of most evangelicals, it has the same authority as ex cathedra does for Catholics (no offense meant here to my Catholic brothers and sisters).
The Pastor/Preacher has too much authority in the modern church. If you will notice in Paul’s letters, when he went to Jerusalem after the church had been around for almost 20 years, he met with people who “appeared” to be leaders. We are talking about Peter, James, and John! “Appeared” to be leaders? That means that there was no clear Bishop/Pastor/Preacher – AND, apparently, no jealousy.
And this brings me to something that Bino was kind enough to share with me. It has to do with my post about Biblicism and the fact that the Bible has become the “god” that the fundamental/evangelical church worships today. Bino provided a link to this site (christinyou) that has some great quotes about this subject.
Here is a sampling of some:
"The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts." (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God. Christian Publications. 1948. pg. 10).
"One of the dangers from which the Church should pray to be delivered is idolatry of the letter of Scripture. The letter exists for the spirit, not the spirit for the letter. Literalism is the grave in which spiritual religion is buried. The New Testament is a book which is to be spiritually interpreted. It has no greater enemy than the thorough-going literalist who would fetter its free thought by confining it within obsolete forms. It has no greater friend than the teacher who can give to its time-worn metaphors freshness and power by translating them into the language of the present." (James M. Campbell - The Heart of the Gospel: A Popular Exposition of the Doctrine of the Atonement. Fleming H. Revell Co. 1907. pg. 19)
This one will rattle the cage:
"The purpose of all Scripture is to bear witness to Christ (John 5:39; 20:31). The Bible in itself is not the Word of God. The Word of God is a person (John 1:1). Neither does the Bible have life, power or light in itself any more than did the Jewish Torah. These attributes may be ascribed to the Bible only by virtue of its relationship to Him who is Word, Life, Power and Light. Life is not in the book, as the Pharisees supposed, but only in the Man of the book (John 5:39) (Brinsmead, Robert D., "A Freedom from Biblicism" in The Christian Verdict, Essay 14, 1984. Fallbrook: Verdict Publications. Pg. 12).
Grace and Peace to all
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I am printing Gary’s comment to a previous post http://johnsgracewalk.blogspot.com/2008/12/what-must-i-do-to-be-saved.html in its entirety here, and I am starting a new post for clarity.
Not to be too long (or boring) on this subject but my conviction is based on the manuscripts used (Masoretic Text for the Old Testament and Textus Receptus for the New Testament). Also the form of translation, formal equivalency as opposed to dynamic equivalency used in the newer translations.
I'm not trying to change anybodies mind, the version of the Bible you use is between you and God, that is just my conviction. There are differences in the versions however and it makes for an interesting study.
As far as the languages go the KJV is for English speaking people. There are many ministries that are translating Bibles into other languages using the KJV and some that are going back to the 2 manuscripts I mentioned to translate into other languages.
I have seen Bible version discussions get contentious but that really just makes Christians look bad and I don't think it changes anybodies mind. Just something we all have to decide for ourselves.
Yes Gary, sadly, this debate can get contentious. It won’t here.
A few counter points.
- Not ALL modern translations use dynamic equivalency.
- MY mind WAS changed about this. I used to believe that the KJV was the best translation.
I’ve read books on both sides of the argument – Gary Zeolla’s Difference Between Bible Versions and Philip Comfort’s Essential Guide to Bible Versions.
I believe Comfort has the best and most reasoned argument for using the newer (older!) texts.
Here is an excerpt from Comfort’s book:
“The New Testament of the King James Version is slightly bigger than most modern translations of the Bible. I am not speaking of the trim size or a larger black leather cover. I am speaking of the content. The New Testament of the King James Version has fifty more verses than do most modern versions. This is because the King James Version is based on an edition of the Greek New Testament known as the Textus Receptus, which has about fifty more verses than do other modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament, such as the text of Westcott and Hort, or the Nestle-Aland text.
The way it stands today is that there are two distinctly different texts of the Greek New Testament – that printed in the Textus Receptus (followed by the KJV and the NKJV) and that printed in modern versions such as Westcott and Hort’s or the Nestle-Aland. The text of the TR has about one thousand more words than that of the Westcott and Hort, and about fifty more verses. Several of these verses have become so much a part of the biblical tradition and church liturgy that is has been excruciatingly painful for modern translators to wrench them from the text and place them in the marginal note, even when scholars have known that they were not originally in the text. The pain comes from knowing that most people expect to see these words in the Bible.
…Most contemporary scholars contend that a minority of manuscripts – primarily the earliest ones – preserve the earliest, most authentic wording of the text. Those who defend the TR and the KJV would have to prove that earlier manuscripts or the originals themselves must have had these words and that the earlier manuscripts are textually corrupt.
…The Nestle-Aland edition is a far better representation of the original text than is the TR or the Majority Text. This does not mean, however, that those who read the TR and/or the KJV are receiving a “different Gospel” or a different theology than what is found in the Nestle-Aland text. What it does mean is that they are reading a text that – for the most part – was not read in the first three centuries of the church. They are reading a text that is heavily edited with interpolations and harmonizations, and they are reading a text that is somewhat misrepresentative in Christology.
Most of the significant theological differences between the TR and modern critical editions of the Greek text pertain to issues of Christology, especially as reflected in titles or descriptions of Christ. (See Matt. 24:36, Luke 9:35, John 1:18, John 6:69, Acts 3:20, Acts 16:7, Colossians 2:2, 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 4).
Readers of the TR and KJV miss out on some significant statements about Christ: He is “the Chosen One”; “the only begotten, God”; “the Holy One of God”; the One “preordained for us”; “the mystery of God”; “the mystery of godliness”; the One whom we sanctify our hearts; and “our only Master and Lord”. There are far more examples than these, but these are enough to show that the difference between the two texts is theologically significant. I must emphasize, however, this does not mean that the TR and KJV are “wrong.” This text presents the same basic truth about the Trinity as do modern versions, which are based on better Greek texts. What is problematic about the TR and KJV is that they obscure some significant titles of Christ. “
Remember, we can disagree without getting personal.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I went to a funeral for the relative of a friend yesterday. It was held at a large, fundamental Independent Baptist Church - one where the women are not allowed to wear pants.
There was something the preacher said that reinforced what I have been thinking lately. He said that (paraphrasing) one cannot be saved unless one is shown from the Bible HOW to be saved. (my mother said she knew people who taught that one had to have a salvation VERSE in order to be saved). He gave the testimony of the woman being eulogized that she believed she was saved as a young child, but since no one had taken her through the Word of God, she was never sure she was saved. She later got it “settled” from the Bible.
My former pastor has said recently that the Bible is the only Jesus we now have.
He used tell the story (to illustrate how wrongheaded people can be (!)) about how a visiting Korean pastor was told by the hosting pastor that since he didn’t get saved out of the King James Bible that He couldn’t be saved!
After reading Bruchko, it struck me how the Moltilone didn’t HAVE a Bible to get saved from – much less the KJV!
What arrogance of some people!
Here is the heresy….I believe that some are worshipping the Book more than the Person – Jesus Christ! Where is the belief formulated that the Bible is the only Jesus that we now have? Hasn’t He told us that He is in us and us in Him? That we are hidden with Christ in God?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Bible IS the Word of God, but maybe that’s why we think that God is far away – because we believe the only part we have of Him is a book….
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
"In 1967, about a year after the first Motilones had become Christians, Arabadoyca and a small group of other men came to talk to me. They had decided that they wanted to tell the Yuko Indians about Jesus. I had had the same desire earlier and had made a trip back to the Yuko village where I had spent nearly a year.
I hadn't been there for more than an hour before I saw that something had changed. I soon discovered what it was. One of the women whom I had tried to tell about Jesus when I was there the first time had had a vision. As a result, most of the village had accepted Jesus."
I dare say that most Fundamentalists would say that this was demonic - that God doesn't work that way.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The years passed. Occasionally "Bruchko" (i.e. Bruce - as pronounced by the Indians) had opportunities, in the course of conversation, to explain some of the things he believed - but nobody acted on what he said about Christ. Then one day Bobarishora, his closest friend among the tribesmen, following yet another conversation on the deepest things of life, told him that he had "tied his hammock strings into Jesus". It was clear as they talked further that the tribesman had genuinely turned to the Lord. Bruchko was very excited. "I wanted him to call a meeting and tell the rest about Jesus...He could do it more effectively than I... I wanted him to do it the way things would have been done in North America... I wanted to squeeze him into the mold."
But Bobarishora (Bruce nicknamed him Bobby) would have none of it! He couldn't set up something which the rest of the community would recognize as artificial. He did admit in conversation that he had become a Christian, but he wouldn't hold any meetings or do anything publicly.
Time passed. "Bobby" married and became one of the respected younger leaders among the tribesmen. Then one day an older chief invited him to take part in the traditional "Festival of Arrows", which meant singing a Saga-Song to everyone. Bruchko writes: 'Bobby's song was about the way the Motilones had been deceived and had lost God's trail. Then he began to sing about Jesus... Everyone became quiet in order to listen. The song continued for ten hours (!!!)...That night a spiritual revolution swept over the people. No one rejected the news about Jesus. Everyone wanted Him. There was tremendous jubilation. God had spoken.
He had spoken through the Motilone culture'. After that there was great progress - such progress that Bruce Olsen has several times been asked to address the United Nations on how it was that helpful methods of hygiene and farming, and Christianity, were introduced into a primitive culture, without effacing that culture, or turning it into a pale reflection of the United States!"
What can I add?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
“In too many churches today, people don’t see manifestations of God’s power in answer to fervent praying. Instead, they hear arguments about theological issues that few people care about. On Christian radio and television, we are often merely talking to ourselves.
What we are dealing with today is an Old Testament ‘vow religion’ comprised of endless repetitions and commands to do all the right things. Modern preachers, like Moses, come down from the mount calling for commitment. Everyone says yes but then promptly breaks the vow within two days. There is little dependence on God’s power to make an ongoing difference. There is little calling upon God to revolutionize us in a supernatural way.
Jesus is saying today, as He said to the church at Sardis, ‘You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God…But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief…He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Rev. 3:1-3,6)
Isn’t it remarkable that only two of the seven churches of Revelation (Pergamum and Thyatira) were scolded for false doctrine? Far more common was lack of spiritual vitality, of fervency, of closeness to the Lord. These are what the glorified Christ wanted to talk about most.
I am not advocating melodrama or theatrics that work up emotion. But I am in favor, as were the apostles, of asking God to stretch out His hand and manifest himself.
(He goes on) If we do not yearn and pray and expect God to stretch out his hand and do the supernatural, it will not happen. That is the simple truth of the matter. We must give him room to operate. If we go on, week after week, filling the time with religious lectures and nothing more, God has little opportunity in which to move.
So as long as we are busy polishing our oratory, the stage is entirely ours. Listen to the reproof of the great prophet of prayer E.M. Bounds more than a hundred years ago:
'Among things that hinder spiritual results, fine preaching must have place among the first. Fine preaching is that kind of preaching where the force of the preacher is expended to make the sermon great in thought, tasteful as a work of art, perfect as a scholarly production, complete in rhetorical finish, and fine in its pleasing and popular force.
In true preaching, the sermon proceeds out of the man. It is part of him, flowing out of his life. Fine preaching separates between the man and the sermon. Such sermons will make an impression, but it is not the impression that the Holy Ghost makes. Influence it may have, but the influence is not distinctly spiritual, if spiritual at all. These sermons do not reach the conscience, are not even aimed at it.'"
I have come to believe that the sermon has wrongly taken preeminence in the modern church. Why do we think that we must hear a lecture 3 times a week in order to grow? Not only that, but we only get one man's opinion on Biblical interpretation.
I can no longer go to a Sunday morning church service without being troubled by the impression that is given that we are doing something spiritual merely by attending. Where is the one-anothering in that?
Monday, November 17, 2008
By Wes Seeliger
"Bake sale" said the sign over the door. Joe's mouth watered.
He could imagine all the treats inside. He opened the door and walked in. Joe couldn't believe his eyes.
As far as he could see in the building there were rows of tables with signs over each table to describe its specialty. Cakes, Cookies, Muffins, pies, tarts.
Except ... there were no cakes, cookies, muffins, pies or tarts.
You see, this was a "recipe" bake sale.
Someone grabbed Joe's arm. "Coconut macaroons. Get the original!"
"Not so. Our recipe is older than theirs," another table shouted.
"Devil 's food cake. Accept no substitutes," a shifty hustler whispered in his ear.
"Angel food cake! Just like grandmother made."
A lady began to shove him toward a table of fruit tarts while another yanked on his arm to try a roll.
Yelling arose from every table as red-faced salesmen hawked their recipes.
Confusion ruled and brawls broke out between tables.
Joe had taken all he could. He tore himself away and ran outside as fast as he could.
As he breathed in the fresh air and walked away, he said, "That was no place for a hungry man."
Adapted by Gayle Erwin
To me, this is exactly what I think Christianity is like today. Everybody has the "recipe" for a true relationship with God, but nobody has the real thing.
How did you take this parable?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I thought that I had left my old religious baggage behind until this week, and I've realized that it is still hiding in the corners. I picked up one of McVey's books that I had in my car and read this:
"Having been born into a world system in which every religion known to man stresses his responsibility to stay in favor with his god through specifically defined behavior, it requires a radical paradigm shift for most Christians to move into a mind-set that embraces the idea that our behavior has absolutely nothing to do with gaining or STAYING IN God's favor. To suggest that there is nothing the believer can do that would put him out of favor with God sounds almost blasphemous to the religious mind. Most of us who grew up in church KNOW BETTER than that, do we? Therein lies the problem. Often as much must be UNLEARNED as is learned about walking in grace as a believer. Theologian Krister Stendahl astutely observed that 'it is not so much what we don't know, but what we think we know that obstructs our vision.'
One significant barrier that prevents many people in the modern church from enjoying a life in grace is what they THINK they know. They are firmly entrenched in a paradigm of spiritual reality that to them is self-evident, however imaginary it may actually be. Without divine intervention, the religionist will never experience grace to its fullest extent. Recipients of grace must have a heart and mind that are open toward God, and nothing so decidedly shuts down one's capacity to receive as empty religion."
Excerpt from Grace Land by Steve McVey
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)
One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.
Arthur Shopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 - 1860)
If God is working, like I believe He is, in correcting the damage done in the last 1,700 years to what He intended Body life to be, then what stage are we in? I believe it is the first one - ridicule.
I believe we are on the bottom of the wave - a long way from the crest. We may not even see it in our lifetimes or even our grandchildren's lifetime, but I see him moving His Body.
If this is true, then we have yet to experience true persecution from those who will violently oppose us. That is, the one's who have the most to lose.
Monday, October 20, 2008
If we see ourselves as a liability or as hungry and thirsty, we'll say,"I've got to have some of that for me, then I'll give some away." But we're getting free of that, aren't we? We have no need...in the spirit realm, because Jesus has promised us, "I am your sufficiency. I am your filling."
From The Rest of the Gospel by Dan Stone
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The Senate voted today to make me a god in Palmyra. There will be a little statue to me in the temple and people will bring offerings to me, ask me to bring rain or cure their father's gout. Tell me, Livia. If I'm a god, even in Palymra, how do I cure gout?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The Old Testament uses fruitfulness almost exclusively to refer to having babies – progeny. “Fruitful” is used 13 times in Genesis, and 12 of those times specifically refer to increasing in number, mostly through bearing offspring. From God’s first instructions to the animals He created to his promises to the patriarchs, fruitfulness was specifically linked with an increase of numbers.
Only a few references hint at God’s deeper view of what it means for us to be fruitful in His kingdom. Psalm 72:3 links fruit with righteousness and Isaiah 32:17 extends that application: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” But perhaps the clearest reference comes in Hosea 10:12: “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers the righteousness on you.”
Fruit, here is seen as an expression of righteousness that comes from the unfailing love of the Father. Here Scripture’s definition of fruitfulness deepens beyond a simplistic increase of numbers and deals with the depth of our character.
In the New Testament, the tables turn completely. There is only one reference to fruitfulness as expanded numbers (Colossians 1:6), and that passage deals with the fruitfulness of the gospel. When the fruitfulness of INDIVIDUAL lives is addressed, however, only one definition is used: Fruitfulness is the demonstration of God’s transforming power in the character of his people.
John the Baptist encourages us to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” In Philippians 1:11 Paul exhorts believers to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” In Ephesians 5, he contrasts the difference between the fruit of the light (goodness, righteousness, and truth) with the fruitfulness of darkness.
Finally, in Galatians 5:22, 23, a passage long revered for its profound simplicity and clarity, he lists the fruits that God desires from His people:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Fruitfulness has nothing to do with how many Bible studies I’ve taught for how many people I’ve lead to Christ, nor has it any attachment to any other religious activity. FRUIT IS BORNE IN OUR CHARACTER. It is the transformation of our lives so that we reflect God’s nature to the culture around us. In John 15, the call to fruitfulness and the command to love one another are one and the same.
When we love the way God loves, we bear the fruit of His kingdom. It’s what He wants to work into us through the long process of growth and maturity. The fruits of the Spirit are not what we can make ourselves do for a moment, but what God makes us to be for a lifetime. At its fulfillment, this fruit is how we freely respond to people and situations. Obviously, this kind of fruit is not produced overnight. Learning how to respond like Christ is fashioned in us over time as God walks us through our joys and disappointments, all the while transforming us from the very depths of our being.
Our ability to reveal God’s image to the people around us is more important than our worship, our prayers, our religious deeds, our devotions, our spiritual gifts, even our acts of evangelism. For without this fruitfulness there is no spiritual work that counts, no evangelism that succeeds, and no gift that prevails. All of these other aspects are valuable in our growth in God’s kingdom, but these are not the fruit that God seeks in our lives. If the objective of our time in worship or Bible study is not to allow God to transform us into His image with ever increasing glory, then it means nothing.
From Tales of the Vine by Wayne Jacobsen
Thursday, October 16, 2008
(God talking to me)
Don't go changing, to try and please me,
You never let me down before,
Don't imagine, you're too familiar,
And I don't see you anymore.
I would not leave you, in times of trouble,
We never could have come this far,
I took the good times,
I'll take the bad times,
I'll take you just the way you are.
Don't go trying, some new fashion,
Don't change the colour of your hair,
You always have my, unspoken passion,
Although I might not seem to care.
I don't want clever, conversation,
I never want to work that hard,
I just want someone, that I can talk to,
I want you just the way you are.
I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew,
What will it take till you believe in me,
The way that I believe in you?
I said I love you, and that's forever,
And this I promise from the heart,
I couldn't love you, any better,
I love you just the way you are.
Okay, let the fur fly! ;-)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The rut is this: most of us believe that in the depths of our being we are both good and bad. Or, to put it in theological terms, we are both righteous and sinful. Using a common illustration, we believe that we have within us both a white dog and a black dog, a good nature and a bad nature, that are fighting for control.
But that is not true. It is vital that we know it's not true, because if we believe that we are both righteous and sinful, it will be impossible to live out of our union with Christ and to rest, trusting that He lives through us moment by moment. Instead, we will be focused on ourselves, on getting our act together, on winning the war that supposedly rages within us, trying to suppress the bad part of us so that the good part will reflect the character of Christ. This endless self-effort is the complete opposite of what Paul wrote:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God... (Galatians 2:20)
The only way out of this dilemma, of believing that we are both good and bad, is to understand that the realm of the spirit, above the line, is singular. It is one. The realm of appearances, below the line, is a duality. It is two.
In the realm of appearances, there is constant evidence of good and evil, both outside and inside us. If we judge by appearances, we arrive at the logical conclusion that we are both good and bad. That looks entirely valid. Christians have believed this for centuries. Except for a small minority who have come to know their true identity in Christ, the whole Christian world accepts the lie. Unfortunately, although something may not be true above the line, if below the line we think it is true, it still controls us. We must choose to live out of what is singular, rather than what is dual.
The realm of the spirit, the singular realm, is eternal reality. That is where our spirit being lives, and where our true identity is settled forever. The realm of appearance, although we must live in it in the here and now, is false as far as our identity goes. All of life depends on which realm is ultimate reality to you: the realm of spirit or the realm of appearances. That's going to determine what you believe and how you live.
Choosing to believe that you are not both good and evil can be difficult. All of the external proof, all of the apparent evidence, all of the sight, supports the opposite: that you have two natures. "You are good, yes, a little good, but boy, you are still wicked; you are still evil." Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to you that you only have one nature, not two. In the core of your being you are not both righteous and sinful; you are only righteous.
From: Stone, Dan, The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out. Dallas: One Press. 2000. pgs. 89,90.
I thought that the two leads did a very good acting job and the situations were very believable.
The other parts were obviously handled by non-professional actors, but were none the less, enjoyable and likable, some even lovable.
It had a great "redemptive" message and the audience (me included) clapped at the end.
I will admit I cried a little throughout the movie as I saw God's hand in the lives of the two protagonists.
In short, if you like movies, and want to see a pretty well done "Christian" picture, I recommend it.
Monday, October 13, 2008
"Christ in you, the hope of glory." Yes, glory now, just as they saw the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. God intends for others to see the glory of Christ in us. Don't you look for it. It isn't yours to see. It's for someone else to see, and those God means to see it as they cross your path will see it. Those who are hurting are going to see Him - the sinners, the harlots, and the publicans. To the rest, He looked like Beelzebub. But to those who were desperate, the light of God was on His face. You know Christ is pouring His life through you, so take it by faith that it's so and others will see Him. And they'll be drawn to the One who is in you, thinking they have been drawn to you. But you know it isn't you, it's Him.
If you want to read the entire (lengthy) treatise, you can find it here. It will be worth your time.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
"...the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:25-27)
Christ in us. That is our only expectation of experiencing and expressing the glory of God. Elsewhere, Paul expressed the mystery in another way:
"But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit (with Him.)" (I Cor. 6:17)
Actually, the words "with Him" aren't even in the original Greek. The translators added them for clarification. So:
"The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit."
He or she, a spiritual being, who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit. There are two... they are one. You and He are one.
We are one spirit with God. We function as one. We are not absorbed into the Lord, however. There is an I and there is a He, but we are joined to Him and we function as one. It is a function of cooperation, like a union of gears that mesh together. Our union with God doesn't mean that we are so swallowed up in God that we lose our identity. But neither is there a separation. Rather, the two function as one for the purposes of the greater one, God.
He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. That is a mystery. One plus one equals one. How can that be? The divine and the human are one.
Until we know and live out of our union with Christ, we will never fully manifest the life of God within us. Some of it will inevitably shine through now and then, despite us. But for the most part we will manifest our own merely human life.
Until we know union, we are constantly confronted by the illusion of separation. "God is up there; I am down here. How do I draw close to God? Give me a plan. Give me a program." Plenty of people are ready with the answers. "Read your Bible. Pray. Study. Witness. Tithe. Take communion. Here are the plans. Here are the programs."
But once you know your union with God, there's nothing left for you to do. Oh, you may still do some of the outer things. But you aren't doing them to get close to God. You and God are one. There is no more separation.
When you begin living out of your union with Jesus Christ, you move beyond Christ plus anything, no matter how good it might be. ...We live and move and have our being in God, who is our life. We are saved by His life. He is our life.
Christ lives out His life in us funny old you, funny old me. We have all kinds of different shapes, forms, and fashions, all kinds of interests, all kinds of diversity, all kinds of uniqueness. Praise the Lord. We don't have to look like, act like, talk like, or be like anybody else again. We are free to be ourselves. People see us, but we know it's Jesus living through us.
From: Stone, Dan, The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out. Dallas: One Press. 2000. pgs. 80-82.
Friday, October 10, 2008
An important part of the life is getting yourself on the shelf and not worrying anymore about, “What’s my fruit? What’s my gift? What’s my talent?” You get that settled and say, “God, I’m your person.” Once you understand that you’re His vehicle, you can rest. “God, I’m the perfect expression of You. I may look like a lemon, but there are folks that like lemons.” They will see your life and they’ll come to you and pick you.
From The Rest of the Gospel by Dan Stone and Greg Smith
Monday, October 6, 2008
I've tried to remember if I have ever heard a sermon on this verse. I don't think so. It is probably one that almost every believer - preachers included - see and just skip right on by. It is too "mysterious" for us to understand, they would say.
God's Word says that we can only know Spiritual things through revelation by the Spirit - HE searches the deep things of God. That is, only God CAN know and KNOWS God. We can "know about" Him, but only the Spirit can allow us to "know" Him.
That is where I am - I have learned about my true position in Him - but have not had it truly revealed to me - yet. I have faith that He WILL reveal it in HIS time.
Our minds are so small and so in tuned into the temporal that we cannot see the spiritual - we have scales on our eyes, if you will.
I am trusting in Him to show me how to trust in Him.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Your mind starts working, retrieving information about bears. You won’t remember things like, Bears hibernate in the winter. No, you’ll remember stuff like, Bears eat meat, and I am meat. Running is an option, but bears can run faster than people. However, I could be running while I generate more options. Climbing a tree is no good, since he’d just eat me in the treetop. But then you spot a little cabin in the trees, and mind says, I can run into that cabin!
All options are recommended by your mind to your will at varying levels of intensity according to how strongly mind believes the option will solve the problem. Will is then going to have to choose from among the options presented.
Meanwhile, feeler is getting in on the action. Feeler’s going to generate but one emotion appropriate to the situation: fear! On a scale of 1 to 10, that’s a 10! Thus, feeler socks it to will at level 10: “I feel like the bear’s going to eat me alive, so get moving!” Now, feeler is a tremendous motivator to will. When feeler is talking 10’s, will is heavily influenced to submit to its demands.
Being thus motivated by both mind and emotions, your will quickly chooses to command the brain to make the muscles propel you into the cabin as fast as the legs will move, and they'll be empowered by special rocket fuel injected into the carburetor by adrenal glands at feeler’s direction. Feeler has the God-given ability to bypass having to get will’s permission to trigger adrenaline flow into the bloodstream. You then cover the forty yards to the cabin in record time (for you).
Now, the cabin’s constructed from railroad ties bolted together – even the roof. It’s built like a fort. But it’s also covered with vines, so that you can’t discern its construction. The instant you get inside, you slam the door, which is made of cured-oak bridge timbers three inches thick. You drop a huge wooden bar into a cradle behind the door, and when you do, you instantly become safe in the cabin.
Just as you drop the bar in place, the bear, who was right on your heels and closing fast, slams his nose into the locked door. It stops him cold. He raises up and puts an eye to the lone window (which has no glass, by the way). His head is big; he can only put one eye to the window at a time. He sees you in there and goes absolutely bananas with rage! He begins to rip the cabin apart to get at the nut inside this big husk. (You can relax now; I am not going to let him get in.)
Being a stranger to these parts, you have no idea about the construction of the cabin, and the vines and inner darkness don’t help. If someone where to see you know, they would see you plastered against the far wall of the cabin, as far away from the door as you could get, fearfully waiting for what you believe is the inevitable – that any moment the bear is going to crash though that door and you are going to be eaten alive!
But wait a minute, you are safe in the cabin, remember? You could lie down on the floor and catch up on your daily Bible readings, since you’re going to be there for a while with nothing to do.
Ah, but the problem is that you don’t know you’re safe. Feeler is saying to will, “I feel like that bear is going to burst in here and eat me – that’s a 10”! Mind, being thus influenced by feeler’s intensity, says, “Well, since I feel so strongly about this matter, I believe that my emotions are telling the truth. I believe I am going to be eaten by the bear, and that’s an 8!” Will, having no input to the contrary, chooses to command brain to make muscles act like a man who is about to be eaten by a bear, and there you are – doing an imitation of wallpaper.
Do you see that you could actually die of a heart attack in the cabin and never benefit from your safety? You are safe and you don’t even know it. However, since you don’t know you’re safe, you could still die of a heart attack. So what good would your safety do you? It isn’t enough to be safe – you must believe it! That is Step 1, truth.
A critical factor in this story is time. As time marches on, you are going to survey the situation and ultimately come to the conclusion; I believe I am safe in this cabin. That is Step 2, faith.
This is not Christian faith; it’s cabin faith – faith in the cabin and the cabin’s ability to meet your need. It will take you who have what some call “feeler flesh” much longer to arrive at THAT conclusion than it will others. You have a flesh pattern of belief that your feeler is usually telling it like it is. You often arrive at “truth” by trusting in your emotions; you make them the object of your faith. (Faith is a function of the mind; it means believing something, and it must have an object. It is never a feeling, but a belief upon which you take action. And it’s a fatal mistake to make feeler faith’s object.)
Now that you believe you are safe, you begin saying things to yourself like, “Oh, I am so thankful! Without this cabin, I’d be dead!” But all the time you’re saying how safe you are, you remain plastered to the wall. Can you see that arriving at step 2, faith, that you could still die of a heart attack with your faith?! What good would your faith do you? None, because it is faith without works. Faith without appropriate action won’t do you one whit of good. You might as well not have any faith at all.
Knowing that you are now safe, why would you be acting as if you are unsafe? Because the intensity of your faith (in your mind) is about a two, whereas feeler is still demanding its way at level ten. Will is choosing to go along with feeler’s assessment of the situation, even though will knows better. Feeler’s recommendation is five times stronger than mind’s at this point. Will is intimidated and chooses to go along with feeler’s demands in order to relieve the pressure. But remember who’s boss – will can overrule feeler or mind simultaneously, no matter how intensely the apply pressure to sway his choice – will is in charge.
With the passage of more time in the cabin, you will arrive at what the King James version calls “works”. That means performance, activity, behavior. You’ve got to put some action to your faith if it’s ever going to benefit you. Mind is going to say, “That bear can’t get into this cabin! Here I am with sweaty palms, dry mouth, heart palpitations, and shaky knees. I am going to have a heart attack if I don’t get my act together! Get off this wall! Sit down on that floor and relax!”
Will is beginning to act on mind’s suggestion instead of feeler’s and is starting to slap feeler around a little. “Now, relax,” you tell yourself, “shake it out. Breathe slowly and deeply. Close your eyes. Don’t look at that bear. That’ll just get your emotions all bent out of shape again. Plug your ears; don’t listen to him. Unclench your teeth, and let your tongue unstick from the roof of your mouth. Now, imagine some relaxing scene in your mind like sitting in the sun out on the creek bank in the springtime. Relax!”
You are choosing – forcing yourself – to “live like a safe man lives.” You are bringing your behavior into line with the truth, according to your faith. God’s Word calls this “walking in the light.” You are choosing to go against feeler’s recommendation because your mind has gotten more information about the security of your situation. You might say your faith has increased as a result of becoming better acquainted with the object of your faith (the cabin). Will has now determined that it would be the wise thing to overrule feeler’s intense recommendation in favor of mind’s weaker one. You have thus arrived at Step 3 – Live like a safe man lives. Act like a safe man.
As will forces all your members (except feeler) to relax on the floor and insists on exercising the authority that is his by God’s edict, Step 4 will evolve – I finally begin to feel safer – sort of.
In other words, you can never get complete control over your emotions. True, you can exercise some control over them, but never total control. It is humanly impossible to do so. God has created us to be unable to control the emotions. As a saved person, you can control your mind and will, but not your feelings. God’s plan is for us to believe Him and choose to submit ourselves to His loving care and authority regardless of how we feel.
As you have probably guessed by now, the cabin is a type of Jesus. If the believer is in Him, then aren’t we more safe than in this scenario even if we don't feel like it?
God is committed to training you to walk in the Spirit by faith, and a critical part of that training is to teach you that you cannot trust your feeler, but you can trust Him. At times, He will give you all the zingy feelings you can handle, but He won’t let you build a tabernacle there. Sometimes it will feel as though He has gone to Mars for a summer vacation. He will withdraw all experiential evidence of His presence in order to train you, indeed, to box you in and force you to walk by what you know rather than what you feel. Your job is to keep believing He has everything under control. It’s just that He’s allowing a testing time to come upon you. Don’t be anxious about it. Keep operating by what you know.
Adapted from "Lifetime Guarantee" by Bill Gillham as originally told by Chuck Solomon
Friday, September 26, 2008
My wife and I go to a yoga class once a week (which has been a lot of fun) and there is a position known as "downward dog". Now, I have no idea where this name is derived because it looks nothing like a downward dog to me - perhaps it was the same people who came up with the names and "shapes" of the constellations.
Anyway, this position is considered a resting position. I consider it anything but. It is VERY hard to hold. I told my wife that since this is a resting position and we consider it a working one, then perhaps we are doing it wrong - or maybe it's a mental attitude.
Which brings me to resting in Christ. Perhaps I'm not considering it rest because I want to fight it - i.e. somehow do my own "work". OR, again, maybe it's an attitude that I fight against because it is somehow supra-natural?
I don't know, but I think this somehow holds the key - for me anyway.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
That being said, I have a lot of thoughts in my head and heart from over the past couple of weeks. God has worked a GREAT WORK in me - just as he promised, and I bless Him for that.
He has shown me some wonderful truths - life changing stuff, all of which I just don't know how to put into words here.
Disney was awesome AND overwhelming as usual. We have gone many, many times and we always enjoy it. Some of our fondest family memories have been made there.
We were traveling on the monorail from EPCOT to the Magic Kingdom one night. I was looking at the full moon thinking about the mass of humanity that one encounters there and MY seeming insignificance, when God told me that He STILL knows ME! Yes, even though satan tells us that we are nothing, the Holy Spirit tells us otherwise.
Which leads me to something I've learned - that satan uses our God-given desires/needs and (can I say) "bastardizes" them. We have a natural desire to eat - so satan tells us to overeat. We have a natural desire for sex, and I don't need to be specific here, but just say that after thousands of years, he knows what buttons to push!
So...the ultimate truth is that satan tempts us to sin when he gets us to meet our OWN fleshly needs OUTSIDE of God's plan. We eat too much to satisfy some emotional need that God CAN and WILL meet, and satan knows that overeating will KILL us sooner (or at the very least, affect our health and well-being). But, we just have to trust Father to meet our need.
God tells us in Philippians "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. " Do I believe Him or not? I have a choice. And if I exercise my choice to meet my OWN need outside of Him, then THAT is sin.
Could we go on to say that we tell ourselves (and ultimately agree with satan!) that we are independent from God and can ACT independently from Him? Isn't THAT what the Fall WAS?! The deceiver doesn't change his tactics because he knows that it works EVERY TIME!
I know that the sin(s) that so easily besets ME can absolutely be described that way! Ultimately we can believe God or satan. We HAVE a choice. THAT is why we have to renew our mind daily and to "set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. "
Praise be to YHWH and glorify His Name!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friend and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People need help but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It never was between you and them anyway.
From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, a children’s home in Calcutta
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
EXCLUSIVE: AL QAEDA TARGETS LEADING ARAB EVANGELIST OPERATING IN THE U.S. FOR PREACHING THE GOSPEL TO MUSLIMS
By Joel C. Rosenberg (Washington, D.C., September 9, 2008) -- You have probably never heard of Father Zakaria Botros. But you need to know his story. He is far and away the most-watched and most-effective Arab-American evangelist focused on reaching the Muslim world, and by far the most controversial. The Rush Limbaugh of the Revivalists, he is funny, feisty, brilliant, opinionated, and provocative. But rather than preaching the gospel of conservatism, he is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. And his enemies do not simply want to silence him. They want to assassinate him.
Last week, I had the honor of interviewing Botros by phone from a secure, undisclosed location in the United States, where he now resides. He told me that he had just learned that an al Qaeda website had posted his photograph and named him one of the "most wanted" infidels in the world. The Radicals have even put a bounty on his head. The Christian Broadcasting Network reported the figure was as high as $60 million. Botros does not know for certain. But just to put that in context, the U.S. bounty on Osama bin Laden's head is "only" $25 million.
Why are the Radicals so enraged by an elderly Coptic priest from Egypt who is in his 70s? Because Botros is waging an air war against them, and he is winning.
Using state-of-the art satellite technology to bypass the efforts of Islamic governments to keep the gospel out of their countries, Botros is directly challenging the claims of Muhammad to be a prophet, and the claims of the Qu'ran to be God's word. He systematically deconstructs Muhammad's life, story by story, pointing out character flaws and sinful behavior. He carefully deconstructs the Qu'ran, verse by verse, citing contradictions and inconsistencies. And not only does he explain without apology what he believes is wrong with Islam, he goes on to teach Muslims from the Bible why Jesus loves them and why is so ready to forgive them and adopt them into His family, no matter who they are or what they have done.
If Botros was doing this in a corner, or on some cable access channel where no one saw him or cared, that would be one thing. But his ninety-minute program - a combination of preaching, teaching and answering questions from (often irate) callers all over the world - has become "must see TV" throughout the Muslim world. It is replayed four times a week in Arabic, his native language, on a satellite television network called Al Hayat ("Life TV.") It can be seen in every country in North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, as well as all throughout North America,Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. And not only can it be seen in so many places, it is seen - by an estimated fifty million Muslims a day.
At the same time, Botros is getting millions of hits on his multiple web sites in multiple languages. There, Muslims can read his sermons and study through an archive of answers to frequently asked questions. They can also enter a live chat room called "Pal Chat" where they are not only permitted but encouraged to ask their toughest questions to trained on-line counselors, many of whom are Muslim converts to Christianity who understand exactly where the questioners are coming from and the struggles they are having.
As a result, Botros - on the air only since 2003 - has practically become a household word in the Muslim world. An Arabic newspaper has named him Islam's "Public Enemy #1." Millions hate him, to be sure, but they are watching. They are listening. They are processing what he is saying and they are talking about him with their friends and family. When Botros challenges Radical clerics to answer his many refutations of Islam and defend the Qu'ran, millions wait to see what how the fundamentalists will respond. But they rarely do. They prefer to attack Botros than answer him. Yet, the more the Radicals attack him, the more well-known he becomes. The more well-known he becomes, the more Muslims feel compelled to tune in. And as more Muslims tune in, more are coming to the conclusion that Botros is right and in turn are choosing to become followers of Jesus Christ. Botros estimates at least 1,000 Muslims a month pray to receive Christ with his telephone counselors. Some of them pray to receive Christ live on their air with Botros. And this surely is only the tip of the iceberg, as it represents only those who are able to get through on the jammed phone lines. There simply are not currently enough trained counselors to handle each call.
Many leading Arab evangelists I have interviewed for Inside The Revolution say God is using Botros to help bring in the greatest harvest of Muslim converts to Christianity in the history of Christendom. Botros refuses to take any credit, saying is just one voice in a movement of millions. But he is certainly excited by the trend lines. He does see more Muslims turning to Christ than ever before, and he told me he has cited my book Epicenter at least three times as evidence of the enormous numbers of conversions taking place. What's more, he vows to keep preaching the gospel so long as the Lord Jesus gives him breath. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." That verse - John 3:16 - is the verse that drives Botros. He believes passionately God loves the whole world, including each and every Muslim. He believes that "whosoever" believes in the Lordship of Jesus Christ - Jew or Muslim - will, in fact, receive eternal life. He does not believe all Muslims are Radicals, but he does believe all Muslims are spiritually lost, and he wants desperately to help them find their way to forgiveness and reconciliation with the God who made them and loves them.
"I believe this is the hand of God," Botros told me. "He is directing me. He shows me what to say. He shows me what to write on the web sites. He is showing me more and more how to use the technology to reach people with his message of redemption."
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
"The opposite of fear is love" You want proof?
- 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
"The opposite of faith is works" Proof? Read the New Testament! ;-)
But one must convolute the Scriptures to make that argument. One must mix Old Covenant with New.
Before, when I tithed, I believed I had fulfilled The Law and done my duty. Since I was told that ALL giving should be done through the local church, then by me doing it, I considered my responsibility met.
But even though I went along with that teaching, there was always a nagging doubt in my heart.
We were told that God would get His 10% one way or another.
But doesn't that make Him a tit-for-tat God. A quid pro quo God, if you will.
One freedom my wife and I have enjoyed is that we can now give of ourselves as HE leads and places people and opportunities in our paths.
Isn't THAT what Grace giving is? Giving out of the overflow of material AND spiritual blessings?
Sunday, September 7, 2008
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." 16 Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat". 17 "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. 18 "Bring them here to me,"
Jesus bottom line -"Exactly, YOU can't - I can."
Saturday, September 6, 2008
This is the term which we use to describe the Christian life as God intended it to be. The grace walk stresses allowing Christ to live His life through us. A careful reading of the New Testament makes it clear that we do not live the Christian life by self-effort but by abiding (resting) in Christ and allowing Him to manifest His life through our own (ref. John 15:5; Romans 15:18; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:13; and II Thessalonians 2:13). Through the years various other believers have described the grace walk with other terms such as: The Exchanged Life (Hudson Taylor), The Abiding Life (Andrew Murray), The Crucified Life (L. E. Maxwell), Life on the Highest Plane (Ruth Paxson), The Interior Life (Hannah Whitall Smith), The Normal Christian Life (Watchman Nee), The Victorious Christian Life (Alan Redpath, Ian Thomas), and The Miracle Life (David Needham).
In light of grace exactly how does one live the Christian Life?
The key to victory in the Christian life lies in acknowledging that you cannot live the Christian life out of your own resources or abilities. Only one person has ever lived the Christian life as God intended and that was Jesus Himself! However, there is good news; Jesus wants to live His victorious, overcoming life through you. Perhaps no verse says it better than Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me." We live the Christian life by yielding moment-by-moment to Christ, trusting Him to animate us with His very life.
Does the teaching of grace lead to passivity in the Christian life?
One of the most common misunderstandings about the grace walk is that it teaches passivity in the life of the Christian. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The grace walk is an active lifestyle energized not by the energy of the flesh but by the energy of the indwelling life of Christ. Consider the example of the apostle Paul. Paul trusted Christ to live His life through him (Romans 15:18) while leading an extremely active lifestyle. Notice Paul’s description of his lifestyle in Colossians 1:29, "And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me." Paul was not passive; he was active. The words "labor" and "striving" in the original language refer to weariness to the point of physical exhaustion. Yet it was not done in the energy of the flesh it was "according to His (Jesus’) power" which was at work within Paul.
If we are forgiven of our sins past, present, and future at the time of salvation won't that lead to a sinful lifestyle?
This is not a new question. In fact, this was the gist of the concern of those in Paul’s own day who asked, "Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? (Romans 6:1). Coming to understand the totality of forgiveness should never lead the believer into a sinful lifestyle. In fact, the opposite will be true. When the child of God realizes the totality of their forgiveness before a holy God, they do not want to sin. While it is true that the believer has the freedom to sin if they want too, the believer who has their focus on Jesus does not want to sin. Rules, regulations, and rigorous self-discipline will not keep us from sin but, an authentic love relationship with Jesus will.
How does one come to comprehend the grace of God in the Christian’s life?
The fullness of the grace of God in the life of the Christian cannot be understood apart from a revelation of God. Some of the most profound words Jesus spoke are found in Luke 10:21-22, "At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." We come to comprehend spiritual truth only as it is revealed to us by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Revelation is a spiritual apprehension of the truth and it comes only from God. God reveals His grace to us as we humbly seek Him. See also Matthew 16:16-17 and Galatians 1:11-12.
Does grace lead to a lawless attitude in the Christian life?
The simple answer to this question is "No way!" The Christian who is truly walking in grace is not an antinomian ("one who opposes the Law"). Rather, the person who is walking in grace has great respect for the God-ordained purpose of the Law. In Romans 7:12 Paul said, "So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." Grace-oriented Christians are not "Law-bashers" but, they do understand that the Law has no place in the life of the Christian. Consider the following Scriptures: "Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God" (Romans 7:4). "In order that the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4). "Realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious" (I Timothy 1:9).
Friday, September 5, 2008
Yesterday, I had the realization that Jesus is blooming inside of me. I know that sounds trite, but I have no other way to describe it. He's unfolding in me like the petals of a flower. Jesus, “the true vine", is growing in me, and the first tender shoots of foliage are emerging. Fruit WILL come. That's a promise. I have asked the Father to show me His love for me and He has been faithful and allowed the wonderful "first tastes" of it. I love them both more every day – maybe for the first time in my life. Sad isn’t it.
I sometimes wonder why He doesn't reveal completely the depths of His love to man. Would we not be able to comprehend it in our current state? If He were to supernaturally reveal how much He truly and completely loves us, would it kill us? I don't know. I do know that I asked Him to reveal His love, and He has been faithful to do so, in little baby steps.
When I first started this journey, I determined the only thing I was going to "do" was to abide and rest in Him, and allow Him to change me from the inside out. But if this makes any sense, I didn't (and still don't really) even understands what that meant - I just accepted it by faith - and continue to do so, one day at a time.
This brings me to another article about me He has changed - the fact that I am living one day at a time and not anxious for tomorrow. I have a new peace that passes understanding.
As I mentioned His promises earlier, they are what He kept bringing to my mind before I started this journey. Where were these promises? I wanted the Joy, Peace, and Rest that every believer is promised.
I now enjoy reading His word – it has new meaning for me. As I once considered it an obligation, I now look forward to reading the words of Jesus, God’s Anointed.
PLEASE believe me when I say this, but I have “done” nothing and I am NOT boasting in my flesh – this is all God in me.
Praise be to Him to will finish His good work. I trust Him, and finally understand (just a little) what that means.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
MAYBE, even though He already knows what is going to happen, He still delights in seeing US become excited about Him!
Does that make sense?
Let me say it a different way – maybe even though He knows what is going to take place, He knows we DON’T know. He then enjoys seeing us light up when He reveals something to us or we come to an understanding or truth, or we come to love Him more.
Do you think this is as awesome as I do?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
- God not only loves you, He also likes you.
- God is so delighted with you that He is dancing around and singing because He can't hold back the joy.
- God is smiling at you.
- God never gets mad at you.
- You never disappoint God.
- The sins of your life are forgiven - ALL of them.
From The Grace Walk Experience by Steve McVey
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Edification comes in various forms and can be sent out and received by us in various ways. Sometimes it ricochets further along and touches other's lives. Sometimes we might see how it works -- sometimes we won't.
Other times it can reverberate like an echo between mountains. (And perhaps, just like an echo, it fades over time and gets weaker. Perhaps, that is why we need it on such a regular basis - the resonance wanes and fresh fire must be lit.)
I've just experienced how it can also echo back and forth between two people.
I say this because of a meeting I had with a truly great saint I had the honor to spend some time with this week. I had left thinking I was the one refreshed. I sent him an email thanking him for this time.
I want to share a small part of what he wrote:
It was refreshing for me this morning/afternoon. At times I get cynical and God sends an eager individual my way (usually out of nowhere) and my spirit is renewed. I thank Him and you for that.
THAT in turn renewed me AGAIN!
THIS is edification's echo.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I am with you. (46:7) Stop striving and know that I am God. (46:10) I have chosen your inheritance for you. (47:4) I rule over everything. (47:8) Remember Israel - They didn't possess the land by their own swords. It wasn't their hand that saved them. It was My right hand and My arm and the light of My presence. I favored them. (44:3) So it is with you--I have poured out grace on your lips and will bless you forever. (45:2)
I will always guide you, until the day you die. (48:14) You thought I was just like you. (50:21) But my loving kindness endures all day long, every day. (52:1) Know this--I am for you. (56:9) My loving kindness toward you is higher than the heavens. (57:10) Stay with me and take refuge under the shelter of my wings. (61:4)
Trust in me at all times and pour out your heart before me. (62:8) I am the One who bears your burdens. I am your salvation and am the God of deliverance for you. (68:19-20) I will show myself strong in the way I act on your behalf. (68:28) Just trust me and praise me more and more. (71:14)
Listen to what I am saying - I speak peace to you, my godly one. (85:8) Your springs of joy are to be found in me. (87:7) I will satisfy you every morning with my loving kindness. (90:14) When you find anxious thoughts multiplying in your mind, my consolation will delight your soul. So be glad. (94:19)
I never change. (102:27) My sovereignty rules over all. (103:19) Meditate on that and I'll be pleased. (104:34) I have sent my word and healed you and delivered you from your destructions. (107:20) I am God. I do whatever I please (115:3) and it pleases me to be gracious and compassionate and to preserve you. (116:5-6) What I have said is settled in heaven. (119:89)
I don't count sins or nobody could stand. (130:3-4) You are forgiven and my loving kindness is everlasting. My loving kindness is everlasting! (Ps. 136 says this 26 times) I will accomplish the things that concern you. (138:8) I know you - when you sit down and get up, what you think. I carefully watch over you as you move through your day and then sleep at night. I am intimately acquainted with everything about you. (139:1-4) I wrote the script for every day of your life before you lived a single one of them. (139:16) I know your path and the way where you will walk. (142:3)
And my child...I do take such pleasure in you! (149:4)
With eternal love,
Your proud Father
"Author: Faithful abandoning church" by Christopher Dunn
Empty pews a sign of restlessness
The revolution has begun.
Quietly, maybe, but symptoms are bubbling up.
One is empty pews on Sunday morning, says author Phyllis Tickle.
Every mainline Christian denomination is declining in membership.
...(the faithful) are questioning and experimenting, looking for a way to make church meaningful again. This new movement, which she refers to as emerging or emergent Christianity, will have as big an impact as the Reformation, Tickle predicts.
That was the 16th century upheaval when religious thinkers split open the feather pillow that had been the monolithic belief system of the Catholic Church. No one was able to put all the feathers back into the bag, and it changed the world —- generating new churches, igniting wars and helping push Protestants toward American shores.
The movement is loosely organized, and often quiet. It is made up of people who have gotten to know each other through word-of-mouth, on Internet sites or at conferences where writer-pastors such as Brian McLaren and Tony Jones speak.
The movement’s members are passionate and experimental, socially conscious and ecumenical, deeply devoted to early church disciplines, such a prayer, but they feel free to question and reinterpret long-held beliefs, he said.
Troy Bronsink, a former Presbyterian pastor who leads a strand of the Atlanta movement, describes some involved as “refugees from ecclesiological abuse.”
Discussion groups and the participants’ relationships create a safe space for those willing to question the religion they grew up with and think and talk about new ways to live out their faith, he said.
Like all change movements, it faces backlash from some Christians. Evangelical leaders such as Charles Colson say the trend-followers are relativists who surrender their theology to cultural norms.
Tickle said, “When somebody says they are relativists, I want to smack them upside their heads.”
One has to take belief seriously to question and reposition a faith so that it is meaningful in current culture, she said. And the critics should get used to these faithful who look back to the roots of the faith as well as lean into the future with it.
“Before it’s over, it’s going to be 60 percent of Christianity,” she predicted.
If you would like to read the entire article, you can find it here http://www.ajc.com/living/content/printedition/2008/08/30/tickle.html
Friday, August 29, 2008
Also added a Bible version poll and feed subscriptions at the bottom of the page.
As you can tell by all of the exclamation points, I am very excited about these changes!
Right now I am in a transitional state - after almost a lifetime of being saved - still a babe in Christ. That being said, I am learning to trust Him, one day at a time. I am anxious for nothing and enjoying my journey. I have faith in the fact that He will restore balance, and finish the good work that He has begun.
Please don't think that I have any special gift or knowledge - I'm just seeking Truth. What I have posted so far here may or may not be. I just want you to see where He leads MY life and maybe challenge your preconceived notions about what we've all been taught, no matter what your background is.
It's not exactly the question we expect God to ask, and yet John records it as one of the significant conversations the resurrected Jesus had with one of the disciples, Peter.
15 After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," Peter replied, "you know I love you." "Then feed my lambs," Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord," Peter said, "you know I love you." "Then take care of my sheep," Jesus said. 17 Once more he asked him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, "Lord, you know everything. You know I love you." Jesus said, "Then feed my sheep."
That he asks it more than once focuses even more attention to it.
Why would he care about being loved? He is Almighty God enthroned in the presence of thousands of adoring angels. He can command obedience simply because He is the greatest power in the universe. Why would He be seeking Peter's love?
We seem to be far more comfortable when our deities command fear. Almost every idol or false god man has ever created seeks the submission of his or her subjects by sheer terror. But love? What false god ever wanted to be loved? Feared? Yes. Obeyed? Yes. But never loved.
After His work on the Cross was finished, however, Jesus comes looking for love, and He seeks it from the one who had just failed Him most. Could this be what He most wanted the Cross to produce in His followers? Was His death designed to reach past their fears of God and begin a new relationship based on the intimacy of love instead? What else could it be?
Throughout the Old Testament, God often identified Himself as the God of love and mercy, but few understood Him that way. They seemed only able to obey Him under threat of judgment. Even commanding them to love Him with all their hearts seemed to negate the end by the means employed. Can true love really be commanded?
What Jesus seeks from Peter reflects what the Father had ALWAYS wanted from His people, but what they have rarely understood. He desires the warmth and tenderness of a relationship filled with love. None of this was lost on Peter, even though his answer didn't come easily. If the power of the cross can reach past that failure, then something new had really happened. Jesus was inviting Peter past his failure to experience the depths of God's love - to tap into the most powerful force in the universe.
Love lies at the very core of God's nature. In fact, when John sums up the substance of God, he does so in a very simple statement: "God is love." We may not be able to explain in concrete terms all that God is and how the Father, Son, and Spirit relate together in such unity, be we do know that they exist in a perfect state of love.
When that love touches you, you will discover there is nothing more powerful in the entire universe. It is more powerful than your failures, your sins, your disappointments, your dreams, and even your fears. God knows that when you tap the depths of His love, your life will forever be changed. Nothing can prevail over it; and nothing else will lead you to taste of His kind of holiness.
From He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen
Thursday, August 28, 2008
If someone asked you, when did the father love the youngest son the most, you might be tempted to say it is the moment where the father meets the son on the road. On further reflection, however, you could suggest it is when the father gives him his inheritance and lets him go. Only THEN does it become clear: THEIR IS NO POINT IN THE STORY WHERE THE FATHER LOVES HIS SON MORE THAN AT ANY OTHER POINT! He loved him completely through the process. THAT is the only constant in the story.
The events in this story cannot be accounted for by the varying love of the father - only the varying PERCEPTION of it by the son. Though he was not less-loved at any point in the story, through most of it he lives as if he was.
When he took the money from his father and stormed off the farm, he lived less-loved.
When he spent this money in a foreign land, wasting it on this own pleasures and thinking he'd finally fooled his father, he lived less-loved.
Even when he started for home, practicing his pleas of repentance, willing to be a slave to his father, he lived less-loved.
But finally, when he's home in the robe, the sandals, and the ring, sitting at his father's table, sinking his teeth into the fillet Mignon, it finally sinks in. HE IS LOVED! But he ALWAYS WAS! It's just that now he can stop living as if he wasn't.
Most of our lives are spent living less-loved.
When we worry that God will ask us for some horrible sacrifice, we live less-loved.
When we indulge ourselves in sin, we live less-loved.
When we give into anxiety in the crush of our circumstances, we live less-loved.
When we try to earn God's favor by our own efforts, we live less-loved.
Even when we get caught up in religious obligations to make ourselves acceptable to Him, we live less-loved.
I have lived less-loved all of my life. I can list ALL of the above as mine. I want to "live loved"!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
"All temptation is primarily to look within: to take our eyes off the Lord and to take account of appearances. Faith is always meeting a mountain, a mountain of evidence that seems to contradict God's Word, a mountain of apparent contradiction in the realm of tangible fact -of failures in deed, as well as the realm of feeling and suggestion -and either faith or the mountain has to go."
"God has put us all into his Son, and crucified us in Him. In the last Adam, He has wiped out all that was of the first Adam. What then is the answer to God's verdict on the old creation? I answer by asking for baptism. Why? In Romans 6:4, Paul explains that baptism means burial: 'We are buried therefore with Him though baptism.' Baptism is of course connected with both death and resurrection, though in itself it is neither death or resurrection: it is burial! But who qualify for burial? Only the dead! So if I ask for baptism, I proclaim myself dead and fit only for the grave...Let me say emphatically, that unless our eyes have been opened by God to see that we have died in Christ and been buried with Him, we have no right to be baptized."
And further on baptism:
"The real meaning behind baptism, is that in the Cross we were 'baptized' into the 'historic death of Christ', so that His death became ours."
"(Satan) accuses us not only before God, but in your own conscience also. 'You have sinned and you keep on sinning. You are weak, and God can have nothing more to do with you.' This is his argument. And our temptation is to look within and in self-defense to try to find in ourselves, in our feelings or our behavior, some ground for believing that Satan is wrong. Alternately, we are tempted to admit our helplessness and, going to the other extreme, to yield to depression and despair. Thus accusation becomes one of the most effective of Satan's weapons. He points to our sins and seeks to charge us with them before God, and if we accept his accusations, we go down immediately. Now the reason why we so readily accept his accusations, is that we are still hoping to have some righteousness of our own....God is able to deal with our sins; but the cannot deal with a man under accusation, because such a man is not trusting in the Blood. The Blood speaks in his favor, but he is listening instead to Satan. Christ is our Advocate, but we, the accused, side with the accuser."
"When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost there was something quite extraordinary about their behavior, and Peter offered an explanation from God's Word to all who witnessed it. This, in substance, is what he said: 'When the Holy Spirit falls upon believers, some will prophesy, some will dream dreams, and others will see visions. This is what God has stated through the prophet Joel.' But did Peter prophesy? Well, hardly in the sense in which Joel meant it. Did the hundred and twenty prophesy or see visions? We are not told that they did. Did they dream dreams? How could they, for were they not all wide awake? Well then, what did Peter mean by using a quotation that seems not to fit the case at all? In the passage quoted (Joel 2:28, 29), prophecy, dreams, and visions are said to accompany the outpouring of the Spirit, yet these evidences were apparently lacking at Pentecost.
On the other hand, Joel's prophecy said not a word about 'a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind,' nor about 'tongues parting asunder like as of fire' as accompaniments of the Spirit's outpouring; yet these were manifest in the upper room. And where in Joel do we find mention of speaking in other tongues? And yet the disciples at Pentecost did so.
What did Peter mean? Imagine him quoting God's Word to show that the experience of Pentecost was the outpouring of the Spirit spoken of by Joel, without a single one of the evidences mentioned by Joel being found at Pentecost. What the Book mentioned the disciples lacked, and what the disciples had the Book did not mention! It looks as though Peter's quotation of the Book disproves his point rather than proving it. What is the explanation of this mystery?
Let us recall that Peter himself was speaking under the control of the Holy Spirit. The Book of the Acts was written by the Spirit's inspiration, and not one word was spoken at random. The is not a misfit, but a perfect harmony. Note carefully that Peter did not say: 'What you see and hear fulfills what was spoken by the prophet Joel.' What he was was: 'This is that which hath been spoken by the prophet Joel.' (Acts 2:16). It was not a case of fulfilment, but of an experience of that same order. 'This is that' means that 'this which you see and hear is of the same order as that which is foretold.' When it is a case of fulfillment, each experience is reduplicated, and prophecy is prophecy, dreams are dreams, and visions are visions; but when Peter says 'This is that,' it is not a question of the one being a replica of the other, but of the one belonging to the same category as the other. 'This' amounts to the same thing as 'that'; 'this' is the equivalent of 'that'; 'this is that.' What is being emphasized by the Holy Spirit is the diversity of the experience. The outward evidences may be many and varied, and we have to admit that occasionally they are strange; but the Spirit is one, and He is Lord (See 1 Cor. 12:4-6)
....When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon God's people their experiences will differ widely. Some will receive new vision, others will know a new liberty in soul-winning, others will proclaim the Word of God with fresh power, and yet others will be filled with a heavenly joy or overflowing praise. 'This...and this...and this...is that!' Let us praise the Lord for every new experience that relates to the exultation of Christ, and of which it truly be said that 'this' is an evidence of 'that.' There is nothing stereotyped about God's dealings with his children. Therefore we must not, by our prejudices and preconceptions, make water-tight compartments for the working of the Spirit, either in our own lives or in the lives of others. This applies equally to those who require some particular manifestation (such as 'speaking with tongues') as evidence that the Spirit has come upon them, and to those who deny that any manifestation is given at all. We must leave God free to work as He wills, and to give what evidence he pleases of the work He does. He is Lord, and it is not for us to legislate for Him.
Let us rejoice that Jesus is on the throne, and let us praise Him that, since He has been glorified, the Spirit has been poured out upon us all. As we behold Him there, and accept the divine fact in all the simplicity of faith, we shall know it with such assurance in our own hearts that we shall dare to proclaim once again with confidence - 'This is that!' "