Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Echo of Edification

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

A Love Note from Your Father

(Adapted from the Psalms by Steve McVey)
My dear child,

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

The New Reformation?

Excerpts from a recent AJC article -
"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

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wolves vs. Sheep

“If God would have painted a yellow stripe on the backs of the elect I would go around lifting shirts." Charles Spurgeon

Technical Stuff - New Look! New Poll! New Feed!

Just changed my template to one a little more professional looking. I can at least LOOK professional.

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!

Grace Abounds!

Interesting site related to all things Grace

Rethinking What I've Been Rethinking

I met for about 2 hours with an amazing man today who challenged me about my beliefs. I've already mentioned that when I left my home church 2 months ago after 17 years, that God had "emptied my cup". The only thing I clung to was my faith in Jesus Christ and HIS finished work. He has been building on THAT foundation.

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.

Stay tuned....

The God Who Wants to be Loved

"Do you love me?"

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.

John 21

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

Are You Living Less-Loved?

Jesus told a parable traditionally called "The Prodigal Son", and most believe the son is the focus of the story. It should be called "The Story of the Incredible Father!" because the FATHER's "outrageous love" is actually the unifying theme.

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

Where Faith?

"I used to feel constant guilt over my void of faith, and still I long for more, but increasingly I have come to terms with my level of faith. We are not all shy, or meloncholic, or introverted; why should we expect to have the same measure or kind of faith?" - Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God

Deep "Nee" Exercises

"Oh, it is a great thing to see that we are already in Christ! Think of the bewilderment trying to get into a room in which you aleady are!"

"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."

"This is That!"

This is a most incredible exposition between an Old Testament and New Testament passage. It is from Watchman Nee's "The Normal Christian Life" and it concerns how the working of the Holy Spirit is going to be different for each believer.

"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 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!' "

Faulty Concepts of What Father is Really Like

1. God is like a divine employer

Many only focus on the His Lordship, but He is more than that. We don't have any life apart from Jesus. He doesn't want to be Lord of your life - He IS your life.

John 15:15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Too many of us, after the first blush of Joy after salvation, get robbed of that Joy by religion. We believe that there MUST be something He wants us to do! After all, we have to TRY to pay back what He has done for us.

He doesn't want us to DO, He wants us to BE.

John 6:28 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

He only wants us to believe - everything else comes out of that. Our animation comes out of the overflow of the indwelling Christ.

2. God is a harsh judge

Some of us believe Father is always looking down on us with a frown on His face, just waiting for us to make a mistake. He's always in a bad mood. We see Him as an impatient parent who's ready to spank the child who gets on His nerves. He's punitive, harsh, judgmental, critical.

Maybe like many people, you believe that God doesn't really like you. We know He LOVES you - he HAS to, but you feel He doesn't really LIKE you.

If you believe this lie, you will find it hard to understand the intimacy and the joy you could have in relationship to Him because you have a false understanding of His attitude toward you.

But not only does He LOVE you, He also LIKES you! He is ALWAYS loving, accepting, and best of all, He is never angry with you!

Read the parable of the Prodigal Son - it is a picture of the "outrageous love" of the Father. Notice that the Father runs to the son BEFORE the son "repents". Do you read any anger that the Father had toward the son? Did the Father ever UNaccept the son? NO, NO, NO!

3. God is a distant deity

We see God as big and sovereign, and He is those things. But we also see Him as removed and distant - He's "out there". We imagine a majestic God who doesn't have time for or interest in our petty circumstances.

This kind of view of Him resembles deism. It suggests that God created us, wound us up, and now has stepped back and is letting us run our course.

Ephesians 2:13 tells us: But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

God is close up and personal in our lives. We aren't just close to God, we are ONE with Him through Jesus!

Some have said that they don't bother God with small stuff, but remember, to Him it's ALL small stuff.

He wants to be intimately involved in our lives.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where is God Today - Revisited

We both believe, and disbelieve a hundred times an hour, which keeps believing nimble - Emily Dickinson

Current and Recent Reading List


Various Struggles

Things I am pondering/struggling (in a good way) with these days:

1. If Christ IS MY LIFE and we are IN CHRIST and HE IN ME, how much effort is required on my part?

Right now I am giving myself the freedom not to DO anything because of compulsion. That is, I have no self-imposed Law that I MUST read my Bible, or have a devotion every day or that I MUST go to church every time the doors are open. I don’t believe that the words “ought to”, “should”, or “need to” belong in a Christian’s vocabulary.

2. He says that we are to take His yoke upon us – doesn’t that imply some effort on our part – doesn’t it also imply the old adage, “God helps those who help themselves” which some believe is un-Biblical?

See also the word sunantilambanetai found only in Luke 10:40 as the word Martha uses when she believes that Mary ought to “help” her and Romans 8:26 that the Spirit “helpeth” us in our infirmities (i.e. in our trials and troubles) This wonderful word means “to lay hold along with, to strive to obtain with others, help in obtaining” or “to take hold with another”.

The word picture I was given for the verse in Romans was it is like I’m carrying a log with the Holy Spirit on the other end WITH (sun) me and FACING (anti) me! Again, isn’t there some effort required on my part? Martha didn’t want Mary to do everything, just for Jesus to tell her to do her part?

3. He says that we are to abide in Him – I ask, how is that accomplished? Maybe that relates to the 1st item.

4. He says to rest in Him – again, I ask how? How does one rest? I guess that again goes back to #1.

Old (misguided) goal – to be more like Christ. We are like Christ the moment we believe, and cannot be MORE like Him.

We also cannot be closer to Him since we are IN Him and He in us.

New goal – for God to REVEAL the FACTS that I am IN HIM and HE IN ME and to UNDERSTAND how to abide and rest and take His yoke upon me – however those are accomplished. (Nee would also add, for Him to reveal to me that I DIED and am DEAD, which I also don’t understand at this time)

Why is it that we think we must DO something?

Freedom in Father

Anything we do to try to guarantee stability on our own terms will actually rob us of the freedom to simply follow him today. We'll resort to our own wisdom instead of following Him. The greatest freedom God can give us is to trust His ability to take care of us each day.

What IS Body Life?

One definition I read is: people learning to live in relationship to Father in freedom from shame and guilt, and then learning how to share that life together.

Honest Question of Every Believer

How can we, as believers, have a "personal relationship" with a God who is invisible and we're never quite sure He's there?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where is God Today, continued

Thomas Merton suggested, "If you find God with great ease, perhaps it is not God that you have found."

Where is God Today?

Liked this quote from Philip Yancey, "Traditional theology seems (can I also insert here merely tradition?), to some people, like reading recipes to the starving - like an unslaked thirst."


I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.

Amazing Contact Last Week with a saint in St. Louis

Hi, John ~ The Spirit is urging me to encourage you on your journey and to tell you to strengthen your faith. I know that God loves me and wants to use me to nurture and bless others. Keep the faith, John. He hasn't brought you this far to leave you. Remember II Cor 12:9 and be blessed ~


Wow. Thanks Damon.

I had thought I arrived spiritually when I became a Deacon about 10 years ago, but it took having to give up our “home” (church) where we had been for 17 years. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I had become so dead that I began to question everything. But God is good!!! It took shaking off all of the work and actually having a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. The only thing I clung to was my faith in the finished work of Jesus and I started all over again – RE-learning and UN-learning. I was raised a Baptist and now at 45, I don’t know where He will lead me, but I am taking one step at a time and seeking His face. He has shown me the diversity of the Body, which has been one of the biggest things for me to understand. I have to admit that as an Independent Baptist that I was an elitist – i.e. WE (independent Baptists) had the BEST answer, and our church in particular had THE best answer. That thinking now repulses me and I am ashamed because of it.

One day I hope to be as in touch with the Spirit as you, and I thank my God for allowing our paths to cross on our Journey on this earth.

Can I share your email on my Blog as to encourage others?


Glory to God!! Of course you can share the email. I was raised in the A.M.E. church. It was a great experience filled with many positives and negatives. One thing I learned was that God is in control ~ not me. But, you know, John, I didn't really begin to learn until I 'emptied my cup'. At that juncture of my life a great deal of ignorance began to melt away from me. The main thing that seemed to matter was SERVICE. More and more, I was called upon and the Lord began to place opportunities before me...opportunities to be a part of the blessings that he was about to deliver in the lives of others. It doesn't matter to me if my name is mentioned or if I get recognition. The only thing that matters is letting people know that God loves them and wants them to have a good and prosperous life that is bountifully blessed and connected to Him. He's God all by himself and doesn't need us. But, what a blessing it is that He created us to be co-creators along with Him.
-- Damon Loper

July 18, 2008 - Letter to a Friend

Dear X,

I am not misjudging, you ARE the paragon of Spirituality. Just kidding, but I really look to your example of how a Christian should be.

OK, let’s get started. Oh, where to begin…..
· Are our sins forgiven?
1Jo 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.

· Are we dead to sin?
Rom 6:2b How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

· Is the old man dead?
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Well, he (the old man) has been crucified with Christ – as have we…

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

· We are a brand new creature…
2Cr 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

· We are saints…
1Cr 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

In 1 Corinthians 1:2, Paul addresses the people of the church of Corinth as saints. He certainly had to be talking about an identity that stemmed from their spiritual birth, because their behavior surely wasn’t saintly. He calls them saints in chapter 1 and then spends the rest of his entire letter telling them to live like the saints they really are.

· We are God’s work of art…

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The word workmanship is the Greek word “poema”, from which we get our word “poem”. God has made us to be a heavenly piece of poetry!

· We are righteous and holy…

Rom 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Jesus is our righteousness. When we received Him, our spirit was filled with righteousness. What you are at the spirit level determines your real identity. When we do not behave righteously, we are being inconsistent with who we are.

· We are fully accepted by God…..

We are accepted because we are in Christ…

Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Because Christ has received us and He is fully accepted by the Father, we are fully accepted as well! We don’t need to change a thing about ourselves for God to accept us. Our acceptance isn’t based on what we do, but who we are!! WHEW!!! AMEN!!!!

· Which brings us to the Prodigal Son (man this is great!)

Luk 15:11 ¶ And he said, A certain man had two sons:
Luk 15:12 And the younger of them said to [his] father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth [to me]. And he divided unto them [his] living.
Luk 15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
Luk 15:14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
Luk 15:15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed
Luk 15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
Luk 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, “How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Luk 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
Luk 15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”
Luk 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Luk 15:21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
Luk 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet:
Luk 15:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:
Luk 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Notice something XXXX. You said that it was about Justification or repentance. No! It is about ACCEPTANCE….by the Father. The Father runs to HIM BEFORE his “repentance” (cf. v. 20 with v. 21). Acceptance (which NEVER changes because of the Son-ship of the believer) before (dare we say, regardless of?) repentance. Can’t we take this to mean that if we are in Christ that there is nothing we can do to become UNaccepted by the Father even if we NEVER repent?!!!! The rebellious son thought he had to come home and be a servant. That’s where I’ve been. I would have been out tin the far country and, in my mind, in my imagination (which did not align itself with Scripture), I would see myself coming back to God and saying, “Oh, God, if You’ll just forgive me this time, I’ll serve You better.” And it’s as if the Father said, “Son, don’t you get it? It’s not about service. The bottom line is this – you are My SON! I accept you, whether you are in the far country, or here, or wherever you are.”

Now, it has a second part…

Luk 15:25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
Luk 15:26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
Luk 15:27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
Luk 15:28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
Luk 15:29 And he answering said to [his] father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
Luk 15:30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
Luk 15:31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
Luk 15:32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The older brother, the Pious one, made the same mistake as his prodigal brother! They both thought that their acceptance by the Father depended on how well they performed. The younger brother thought he should be rejected because he didn’t perform well. The older brother thought he should be accepted because he HAD performed well. The Father said to the older brother, “Son, all that I have is yours.” In other words, “Don’t you know who you are?”
The younger brother was miserable after he had miserably sinned. The older brother was miserable after he had faithfully served.

We are heirs to the Kingdom – because of Abraham (see Galatians 3) – and have all the (full) privileges of a SON! Full acceptance without our service. Our only responsibility is to rest in Christ.

· Now, this leads to my question about the Gospel. Most Christians think that the Gospel is about forgiveness, and they are right. However, I now believe that that is only half of the “GOOD NEWS”. I always thought that Paul, in Galatians, was talking about the Galatians teaching a different way to be saved. But notice how he calls them “brother” throughout the book even though some “removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:. I believe the other “Gospel” was their walk of legalism by adding the Law. Read Galatians and you will see it.

I’ve always heard that we are “saved to serve”. Paul says in Romans AND Galatians that, “The just shall live by faith.” The Just – i.e. ones who have been Justified, shall “live by faith.” Works are not to be found in faith – God does the work (see many times where Jesus talks about God doing His work thru Him).

***Sidebar. I read recently that Jesus “taught” as to the Law (Gal 4:4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,), but “ministered” as to Grace. Interesting thought. Did everything that Jesus taught on Earth have to do with the old covenant? I cannot find it now, but somewhere I read recently in the Bible that a covenant doesn’t go into effect until one of the parties dies. More on that later.***

I now wonder if we don’t go far enough when we talk about the “Good News” of Jesus Christ with an unbeliever when we take them thru the Romans Road. Why not go further and show people that not only are our sins forgiven by the” Death, Burial, & Resurrection of our Lord” (Please believe me when I say that I am not minimizing that), but also tell them about the abundant LIFE that we are promised here on Earth. Isn’t that the “complete” Gospel and where the Galatians deviated by adding the Law (or Legalism, if you will)? I now have something that I can be excited telling people about. Before all I had was that once you accepted Jesus that we must now “serve” with our “works”. I couldn’t in good conscience bring somebody into something that was making me miserable. Where’s the “Good News” in that?
I was thinking yesterday that I may now say that I was “born again” sometime between June 15 and July 15, 2008 because I now understand the 2nd part of the Good New of Jesus Christ.

· Confession….

I’m not fully convinced yet, but maybe the only place for confession in the Christian’s life is if confession means acknowledging the foolishness of disobedience to the Father and then praising Him that we are ALREADY forgiven and accepted by Him.

If we are already forgiven for our sins, past and present AND future, then the passage in 1 John cannot be talking about those who have already been Justified.

Isn’t THIS what we should be sharing with the world?!!!!!!!

Not all of this is mine, but I’ve incorporated some of my own thoughts with others. This dialog is helping me get it together in my mind so I can share it with other people.
There is more, but I think that is enough for now.

More infinite hugs then you can ever imagine.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Steve McVey - Grace Walk Ministries

I want to take a moment and thank God for bringing Steve McVey's ministry into my life. I have come to see that not everyone is ready to learn about the Gospel of Grace (which I now know is the COMPLETE Gospel i.e. Not JUST forgiveness [even though that is enough], but abundant Life!), but that we come to understanding as the Spirit sees fit.

If you want to visit his website, you can click here:

If you want to leave him a donation, you can click here:

I would also like to thank God for Chuck Swindoll, Philip Yancey (Hey, we went to the same church in the 60's together when I was a little boy), William Young, and Watchman Nee (I can't wait to meet him in Heaven).

To those who may now think that I have lost my spiritual mind and have veered into error, these writers have only ANSWERED what my heart was ALREADY asking!

July 10, 2008 Letter to a Friend

(Note from John: I have gone back and tried to recreate my line of thought from the middle of June until now. Even though the postings may not be in order, read in order of the Title Dates - this should be correct going forward)

Dear X. I hope you don't think I'm to compel you to convince you differently!!! The insidiousness of mediocrity is that it doesn't necessarily shipwreck faith - we just live our entire life in it while not accessing the Life that we are promised.

I am coming to realize that we are dead to sin - I know, I know, of course we are, but it is deeper than that. I have read so much on the subject of Grace and the meaning of the Blood and Cross of Christ lately that it has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Please pray that God reveals to my heart what my head "knows". If you get a chance, read a little bit of the attached book. It was written by Watchman Nee who I have never heard of until a week ago. He spent the last 20 years of his life in a Chinese prison where he also died.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

July 8, 2008 - Letter to a Friend (Excerpt from Grace Walk)

This pretty much sums up my life......"You have a sincere hunger to live as a victorious Christian. But, if you are like many other Christians, you may feel that your level of spiritual victory has been mediocre at best. That is the place that many of us have lived our Christian lives for years. Many know what it is to rededicate themselves to live for God and then to sincerely try hard, only to ultimately discover that they just can't live it like they want to. For some of us, this is all we know of the Christian life. Mediocrity in the Christian life leaves us with a gnawing sense that there must be more to being a Christian than this. Surely, we think, this isn't how God means for the Christian life to be! The Bible describes the Christian life as joyful and victorious. Maybe, like many others, when you look at the level at which you live as a Christian, it leaves you yearning for something more." Have you ever felt this way?

July 9, 2008, Letter to a Friend

The problem is the fact that we can never pay back what was priceless to begin with. That is, we can never DO enough. We will NEVER read our Bible enough, pray enough, give enough, etc. IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH. Why do we have faith that He can save us, but then think that He expects us to work to remain in a right relationship with Himself AFTER we are saved? God expects us to experience victory in our Christian walk by trusting, not trying. We may have tried to improve ourselves to become victorious, but God never asked us to do that. He only asks that we trust Him and let Him transform us. But if we keep taking the same wrong approach we've always taken, we'll get the same defeating results. You've heard the definition of insanity - doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. That's why we will never find victory in DOING - it comes by TRUSTING and RESTING in Christ.

June 27, 2008

This will show where my head was. This is a letter I sent a friend of mine.

XXXXX ,We met with 2 men from XXXX Baptist last night, XXXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX. I have to tell you they spoke a language that I almost couldn't understand, and are so far ahead of me spiritually that I seem to be starting from square one. They are so far ahead of anyone I know that I can't even put it into words. Who am I and where have I been over the last 10 years? I should have never been put into the leadership positions that I was. I allowed pride to cloud my judgement. I was definitely part of the problem. XXXXX recommended a book called Grace Walk by Steve McVey. I am going to buy it today. I'll let you know what I think, although if I were you, I wouldn't listen to anything I have to say.John