Senin, 06 Desember 2010
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
Christ Is Forgiving
Forgiving (for·giv·ing) excusing an offense without exacting a penalty
Christ’s entire ministry rests on the foundation of forgiveness. He consistently preached about forgiveness during His life and taught it through parables.
Still, it is one thing to speak about forgiveness or to forgive sins that are not directly impacting you. In this verse from Luke, Jesus makes it very personal. He appeals to God to forgive those who have directly harmed Him and tried to take away His dignity as a man. This is forgiveness that transcends theory and reaches right out to the heart of what it means to truly forgive and be forgiven. This is the sort of forgiveness that is not possible to achieve without God’s hand firmly upon our hearts, but it is exactly the sort of forgiveness that God desires for us to exhibit to others.
Ask God to soften your heart towards any whom you bear a grudge against. Pray for those people right now. Ask for God, through His strength, to bring you to the point where you can forgive them.
Do you bear ill will towards any person? Is there anyone that you do not show Christ’s love to because of their attitude towards you? Has anyone, who you have not forgiven, committed any offense against you greater than those that were committed against Jesus?
Jesus did not wait until after His death and resurrection to forgive. He forgave those around Him immediately. Follow His example this week and, after prayer, reconcile yourself with those who you hold a grudge against or carry ill will towards. Turn over these relationships to God.
Kamis, 21 Oktober 2010
HOW We SHORT-CIRCUIT the POWER OF GOD
-J. Lee Grady.
We can't have New Testament power if we don't walk in New
The New Testament church was characterized by exciting miracles
and supernatural anointing, but it was not immune to division. The
earliest churches suffered splits—not only because of doctrine but
also because of bitter personal disputes.
Even the apostle Paul, who modeled Christian affection and
implored his followers to preserve the bond of love, had an
unfortunate disagreement with his close colleague, Barnabas,
early in their ministry partnership.
The exact nature of their argument is a mystery. We only know
that Paul did not want to take John Mark, Barnabas' cousin, on
his second missionary journey because the young disciple had
deserted the team in Pamphylia. Acts 15:39 says: "And there
occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one
another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus. (NASB)"
“Many Christians nurse grudges for years; others collect offenses
like packrats. Many people are wounded in one church and then
move to another—carrying their resentment and bitterness with them.”
We can only speculate about what happened. We know that Mark
was Peter's spiritual son (1 Pet. 5:13), and it is possible that Mark
took sides with Peter in his awkward controversy with Paul over
the practice of Jewish traditions. Whatever the case, Paul went
one way from Antioch and Barnabas went another. For at least a
season, an effective ministry team was fragmented.
When we piece the entire story together, however, we discover
that Paul and Mark eventually reconciled. In the letter to Philemon,
Mark is mentioned as part of Paul's team (v. 24). In Colossians 4:10,
Paul says of Mark: "If he comes to you, welcome him." And in
Paul's last epistle, he tells Timothy: "Pick up Mark and bring him
with you, for he is useful to me for service" (2 Tim. 4:11).
To say that Mark was "useful" was an understatement. After all, it
was Mark who, years after he disappointed Paul with his bad
behavior, wrote the gospel that bears his name. Most scholars
believe Mark based his account on Peter's firsthand experiences
The story of Paul and Mark is a dramatic picture of forgiveness,
redemption and second chances. An ugly conflict was resolved. A
bitter dispute was reconciled. And a young man's ministry was
restored after he made an embarrassing mistake.
This is the way New Testament Christianity is supposed to work.
Jesus constantly taught on the primacy of forgiveness, and the
early apostles urged their disciples to keep short accounts.
Paul, especially, asked his followers to soak their lives in love. He
told the Colossians: "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and
forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone...
Beyond all these put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity"
That is the New Testament's gold standard, but what we practice
today falls short. Too often, pastors who parted ways years ago
still don't speak to each other. The necessity of forgiveness is
rarely preached. Many Christians nurse grudges for years; others
collect offenses like packrats. Many people are wounded in one
church and then move to another—carrying their resentment and
bitterness with them.
What we don't realize is that unresolved conflict can short-circuit
the power of God in our lives, and it makes the church weak and
irrelevant. Many of us have prayed that the Holy Spirit would
unleash a fresh wave of revival in our midst. But perhaps we need
to ask these simple questions first:
Am I carrying any personal resentment in my heart toward anyone?
Am I still carrying around baggage from previous conflicts?
Have I judged a person because of their mistakes, and determined
in my heart that they can never change? If they are willing to
repent, am I willing to release them?
Has my love for people—especially other Christians—become cold,
artificial and hypocritical, rather than warm and affectionate? If we
want New Testament power, we must also pursue New Testament
love. We cannot expect to reconcile sinners to God if we have not
practiced reconciliation with each other.
Please comment on this article at the website below-
Jumat, 08 Oktober 2010
WHERE You STAND
In Exodus 33, Moses didn’t know it but God was about to bring him
into a greater revelation of his glory and nature. This revelation would
go far beyond friendship, far beyond intimacy. It’s a revelation God
wants all his hurting people to know.
The Lord told Moses he was going to show him his glory: “I will
make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the
name of the Lord before thee” (Exodus 33:19). Then he said,
“Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me,
and live…. [But] behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt
stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory
passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover
thee with my hand while I pass by” (33:20–22).
The Hebrew word for glory in this passage means “my own self.”
God was telling Moses, “I myself will pass by near you.” One
translation says it this way: “I will hide you in a cavity of the rock,
and I will defend you with the protectiveness of my power until I
have passed by.”
This is what the apostle Paul means when he says that we are
“hid in Christ.” When we fail God—when we sin grievously against
the light—we are not to linger in our fallen condition. Instead,
we’re to quickly run to Jesus, to be hid in the Rock. Paul writes,
“Our fathers…did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank
of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was
Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:1, 4).
What was the great revelation that God gave to Moses about
himself? What is the truth about him that we’re to sanctify in our
hearts? It is this:
“The Lord said unto Moses…be ready in the morning, and come
up in the morning unto mount Sinai…And the Lord descended in
the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of
the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed,
The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and
abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no
means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:1, 2 and 5–7).
Here was the greater revelation, the full picture of who God is. The
Lord told Moses, “Come up to this rock in the morning. I’ll give you
a hope that will keep you. I’ll show you my heart as you’ve never
seen it before.” What was the “glory” that Moses besought of the Lord?
Here is the glory: a God who is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering
and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquities and transgression and sin, and that will by no
means clear the guilty.”
Christ is the full expression of that glory. Indeed, all that is in the
Father is embodied in the Son. And Jesus was sent to earth to
bring that glory to us.
Sabtu, 02 Oktober 2010
Are You God’s Choice Today? by James Ryle
“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry…” (Matthew 12:18-19).
Is it possible that God is even now looking for that man or woman whom He may place His hand of blessing and anointing upon, raising them up in our time of need to serve as a Deliverer, a Judge, a Hero, or a King? And is it possible that it might be you?
Do you have what it takes?
Jesus shows us by His example what a chosen and anointed servant is like. First, He shall not strive, now cry. The word strive means, “to contend, to dispute; to argue with irritating persistence.” This, Jesus never did; nor should we who seek to follow His way. He spoke the truth in love, and what He said stood on its own merits — needing no wrangled argument to attest to its authenticity.
The word cry means, “to make a clamor; to protest insistently and noisily.” You know, it’s that obnoxious and dominating style of pontificating that so often shows up in public debates. In fact, the distinction between striving and crying is the one is private, and the other public.
Striving is how one individual acts when speaking to another individual, particularly if the other disagrees with what is being said. Crying is how an individual acts when speaking to a crowd; using hype and emotion, and force of opinion, as a cover for his lack of truth and substance.
Thomas Carlyle said, “In any controversy, the moment we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves.”
When God puts His Spirit upon a man or woman they will be marked with a composure that sets them apart from the standard fare of public converse and clamor. They will speak in such a manner as to educate, enlighten, engage, and empower those who listen to them.
I pray that you may be such a person — someone whom God would choose to use; in whom He is well-pleased, and upon who He would put His spirit. Someone so anchored in truth and covered with love that there is no need for striving and crying — just serving all who cross your path for the great good of man and the greater glory of God.
Yep…that’s God’s choice today.
Jumat, 01 Oktober 2010
There is much confusion and wrong teaching out there about grace, which in part has led to the behavior mentioned in this week's Charisma magazine email (link to full article at the end of this email):
A group of traveling ministers routinely met for weekend getaways that included wife-swapping The male leader of a "prophetic" church on the West Coast seduced several men in his core leadership team. (The church shut down after the sin was exposed.) A pastor learned that members of his staff were having sexual affairs in the sanctuary of his church, and he did nothing to stop the debauchery. A church in the Southeast hosted a marriage seminar in which Christian couples were encouraged to install poles in their bedrooms so wives could engage in pole dancing prior to sex.
I could add: Christian couples who have lived together for years, even with children, saying they are married in Christ and don't need a minister to make it official. Christians who say their use of marijuana is freedom in Christ and a sin against no one, Christian homosexuals living that lifestyle, Christian businessmen and women caught up in greed and think nothing of lying, cheating, being dishonest in the name of God blessing them with prosperity, etc. (You could probably add your own examples)
These all qualify under what Jude 4 says: "Some turn the grace of God into a license for sin..."
Rather than a license for sin, we'll see that grace is actually empowerment to live a holy life.
Remember that the whole of the New Testament, as mentioned in the past few week's series, is about the fact that we are the temples of God now, not a building: He lives in us, so we have to learn to walk in that grace, a grace that carries God around with us wherever we go, whatever we do.
No gender, no social status, no racial differences - If I'm a temple and you are a temple, then we are equal in every way. In Galatians 3:28 Paul said: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
In II Corinthians 5:16-17 Paul said this is how he lives his life: "From henceforth I will know no man according to fleshly standards, for if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new."
To the Colossians in 2:16-17 he said it this way: "Let no one judge you in food or drink, or in respect to holy days or the new moon or Sabbath day, which are shadows of things to come, the reality however, is found in Christ."
All things flow from this spiritual truth. Because we are equal temples, saved by the same blood of Jesus, the different ways we function in the body of Christ is how we honor one another. We don't wear our call (function) or grace as a badge of honor, rather we walk out the grace given us through service to one another.
The flow of three truths: Equal in Christ, then creation order, then cultural issues
In Christ we are equal, that is the spiritual truth, yet the Lord made Adam first and then Eve rather than making them both at the same time, establishing as Paul noted, an organizational structure in which this truth may function: The husband lays down his life for his wife as Christ did the church, and she in turn honors him as the body of Christ lives for Christ. This mutual submission in love of a husband and wife both equal in Christ, makes a marriage in Christ work. (Eph 5:21-33)
So the highest truth is that we are equal in Christ - no male/female/bond/slave/Jew/Greek - only Christ.
Second to that is the creation order God established by making first Adam and then Eve, so these equal believers, or as Peter said "joint heirs in Christ", can function in marriage which forms the bedrock of all societies.
God did not make Adam and Eve and Betty - not a threesome in the garden. Neither did He make Adam and Larry. He made Adam, and then Eve, and he made them to fit together spiritually, emotionally, and physically, so God established by creation His divine parameters and order.
People mistake freedom in Christ (spiritual truth) for the freedom to violate divine order (creation truth), taking relationships to a level God never intended, and thus end up in the sin outlined in the aforementioned Charisma article (violating cultural truth).
The Holy Spirit only flows within the boundaries of what the Father establishes, and there is great freedom within these boundaries, but to go beyond what He intended relationships to be is to leave Him out of the equation.
Third are the cultural issues that must be observed, and in which we 'equal temples' must live in the divine creation order within various societies, each with local customs and culture.
Being equal in Christ, neither male nor female, and having a marriage in creation order, means nothing if that marriage cannot function in a culture people live in. The same is true of single people; being equal in Christ to anyone else in the body of Christ, and being free to live for Christ alone without concern for a spouse, means nothing unless that person can function in the culture they live. All 3 truths are grace, and must be balanced in their function, and that balance is maintained and flows by love.
If you can learn to pick out the 3 truths when dealing with conflict along these lines in our day, you will be able to rightly divide the Word of truth and live in grace and peace by making right decisions.
Veil issue of Paul's day
See if you can pick out how Paul deals with all three in the following examples. That's why Paul advises wives in I Corinthians 11:2-16 to wear the veils which were the custom of the day in that region.
He plainly states they may pray and prophesy in the (home) church meetings because they are equal in Christ (spiritual truth), but they must consider if they don't wear the veil they dishonor their husbands (creation truth), and 3 times mentions the custom and culture of the veils and that they should judge from that and dress according to the custom (cultural truth).
They had been thinking 'we are free in Christ, we don't have to wear these things anymore" - spiritually true, but they lived in a culture that said they needed to wear the veils, and if they didn't they gave the appearance of their marriages being out of order. (v6, 13, 16)
So spiritually we are equal, but in function God established Adam/Eve order, and lastly we have cultural issues to observe - it works if our underlying foundation is that we are all equal in Christ, and we honor one another according to the grace given each, understanding this freedom mean responsibility, not a license to flaunt freedom in the face of society's customs.
Grace is about being responsible for being a temple of God
In the 1980's when I was an Associate Pastor we had a situation with a prostitute who got saved, and became an enthusiastic member of the church. Though she was thoroughly saved and Spirit-filled, her over- the-top eye make-up, her barely 'over the top' tops, and her very short skirts made more than one church member roll their eyes! Did she have the freedom in Christ to dress like that? Certainly, but she was in a different culture now and needed to be taken aside by some ladies and advised about her clothing.
At another church we had a worship team member who insisted he wear his work jacket, complete with sewn on name tag, and work pants and boots often still with mud or dirt on them, while he led worship on Wednesday nights. Did he have the freedom in Christ to dress like that in church? Certainly, but when he became part of the worship team the 'culture' changed, and he didn't like growing in this area, and quit.
I'll have mine medium-rare, hold the salad, on a Saturday
In Paul's day the issues were meat sacrificed to idols, being a vegetarian or not, and which day to worship on; Saturday (Jewish Sabbath) or Sunday (Resurrection day).
In Romans 14 (all) Paul dealt with this issue, saying those who ate only veggies or considered one day more holy than another were weak in the faith. He makes the point that both those strong in the freedom in Christ and those weak in the faith, do what they do unto the Lord, so honor one another accordingly for "every one shall give account of himself to God." (v13)
The Corinthian church began in Acts 18 with a mix of Jewish, Roman, and Greek members, so there was a tug of war over which day to meet on, the Jewish Sabbath which meant nothing to the Greeks and Romans, or the day that meant something to them, Resurrection day (Sunday).
Since there was no cultural truth to observe, and the creation truth flows from the spiritual truth of what Jesus did on the cross, Paul deferred to the spiritual truth that we are temples carrying Christ around in us in a 24/7 Sabbath rest between us and God, therefore any day worked to choose as a day of rest. (See my article under 'recent posts' on our web site home page for more on the Sabbath rest)
In Corinth another issue was meat that had earlier been sacrificed to an idol offered for sale in restaurants. Some believers were bothered by this, others were not. Both in I Corinthians 8 (all) and 10:23-33 he dealt with the issue saying "...we know that an idol is nothing...to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, and we by Him (spiritual truth)...however not everyone has this knowledge..." (v4-7)
He speaks of their weaker conscience and how those who walk in liberty need to be sensitive to those who think eating a steak offered to an idol is a sin (cultural truth) - so if someone weak in the faith invites you out, don't order the steak for their conscience sake! (8:10-13; 10:25-28)
You can see confusion in the body of Christ over these 3 elements I shared today: Spiritual equality, creation order, and cultural issues. Many in the name of grace have instead found themselves in the midst of darkness clueless how 'freedom in Christ' and 'grace' could have taken them down this path.
Jesus said "The Father had life in himself, and He gave to the Son to have life in himself." (John 5:26) Have you ever wondered how the Father 'gave birth' to his only born Son, into the very nature of their Father & Son relationship? My new 4-cd series; "I AM; Who Jesus is, where He came from", does just that - link to the right.
External framework of rule & regulations
Last week I laid out how the Father, being a Spirit, created physical beings (us) to be a bridge between His Spirit realm and the physical realm (universe) He created. His plan was that man would be filled with the Holy Spirit, thus by nature walking with God through life in the physical world.
But when Adam sinned, essentially kicking God to the outside looking in, He provided the Mosaic Law and temple/priesthood system as an external framework for fallen man to live by. When you have a world of un-born again people - sinners by nature - they need an external system to corral that nature. Thus He set before them rules for life and the consequences of death, and asked that they choose life. (Deut 30:19)
That external framework included a temple, a priesthood, and a system of rules & regulations governing worship and conduct. The priests told the people what God was saying and what He expected. The temple building and grounds provided a central location for the people to come together to hear what the priests were saying. If you wanted to be where God was or hear what He was saying, you had to go to the temple.
After all, the priests were the ones who spent time in God's presence, for by His choice the Lord made the tribe of Levi His priests and no one else - so they were the font of God's wisdom for the people. Thus the people did what they were told when they gathered in the temple. They had little responsibility for their spiritual lives, and because they were sinners by nature (Eph 2:3), the law could only deal with the actions of a person's life, not the heart. The motives of the heart didn't count under the law, only the act counted.
But the Lord told Jeremiah that a day was coming when He would change the very nature of mankind, that He would make a way for God's law, His ways, to be written on man's heart so man could by nature do what was right, that he by nature could walk and talk with God like Adam did at the start. Things would come full circle, and more than full circle even! People could be born of the Spirit! (Jeremiah 31: 33-34; quoted in Hebrews 10:15-17)
Bye bye temple, hello temples
When the day of Pentecost came, God moved out of the temple in Jerusalem and into people as His temples. Living temples, mobile temples, each one uniquely built and individual, and each having God's laws written, hard wired, into their spirit-man's nature. (I Cor 6:19; Eph 2:20-22, Rom 5:5, Heb 10:16-17)
The change from a central temple location where God's people gathered to be in God's presence in the building, to God's presence being found in individuals, required a change in format, for moving out of a central building made that system not only obsolete, but incompatible with the dynamics of God living in individual people.
For instance Jesus is "meek and lowly in heart" so the new format would by its very nature be one of love and humility and service to one another, rather than all people serving a priesthood via external rules by eye-service.
When God moved into people it meant that motives mattered. No longer would just the act of murder be counted, but the true murder took place when the person was angry with another with no reason. No longer would the physical consummation of adultery be the sin, but the motive of lust was the sin of adultery. It wasn't the flashy public production of prayer/worship that mattered, but the prayer in the 'prayer closet' the Father counted. (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28; 6:5-6)
Now at last, after all these years, the Spirit-Father in His realm, had a living, breathing means by which to manifest Himself in the physical world He had created, by these living temples. Now all the structure was internal instead of external because that is where He lives.
Loving God with all your life, and your neighbor as yourself sums up all that He required, and that ability was placed within mankind when a person is born of the Holy Spirit - so that by nature man could walk with God, naturally, conversationally, without hoops to jump through and hurdles to climb. (Romans 13:8-10)
But here is the rub: Most living temples, the born again people, grew up in or think like the old temple structure. They are trained to go to a temple thinking that is where God lives. They are trained that they know little about God and a trained priest/cleric must be the font of God's word for them. They first want the man of God to give them a word instead of walking in the truth that THEY can hear from God themselves. They are trained to follow rules & regulations, formulas & processes, in order to please God or manipulate Him to want to be moved to do something for them.
But there are people seeking New Testament realities and walking in the ramifications - the consequences - of Christ in them, that they are living temples, now responsible for their own faith and love and walk with God.
But at first, when they first start to truly know New Testament truth makes the mind go 'tilt' like an old pin-ball machine that's been shaken too hard.
The temple-based-mind screams: What about accountability? What about leadership? How do you keep from getting off balance? Who will control me, who will teach me, who will be my covering?
The temple-mind demands external controls (thus it is fear-based), not able to believe that people can truly be 'real people' with God in them, walking in love towards others, in relationship with others in faith, hearing from the head of the body, controlled by His Spirit, and that it all works.
The temple-mind has no means of comparing it to anything its known, therefore all the books and teachings about New Testament realities only bring up arguments against what they have learned (the NT out of the home-based context it was written in). But in truth, you really have to see New Testament relationships in action and be around it if you are too steeped in the temple to fully understand.
The temple-mind cannot grasp that a group of temples meeting in someone's home regularly, would be accountable to one another, keep one another from getting off base, would be connected to the larger body of Christ no matter where and how they meet, honoring the gifts as they function within their midst rather than honoring an 'office' of this or that above the others. That's so foreign to the temple-mind.
The temple-mind cannot grasp a leadership that is humble, approachable, seeks others above itself, eschews attention to itself, because the temple-mind exalts a caste of priests who are the font of God's voice, like the focus on them, and should therefore be exalted accordingly. The living-temple reality is that one plants, another waters, God is the One who gives the increase, so we are all equal. (I Cor 3:1-10)
It takes time to rearrange the temple-mind into the New Testament mind of being living temples. In Acts 2:46 right after Pentecost it says the people were daily in the temple and also in each other's homes. They had 1 foot (and 1/2 their thinking) in the temple and 1/2 in New Testament living-temple realities for about 18 months. That transition between temple-mind and living temple reality lasted about 18-24 months, for Acts 8:1 says Saul of Tarsus so persecuted the disciples they all left Jerusalem except the apostles. Even after Saul met the Lord in Acts 9, you never again see people returning en mass to the temple - they were now fully renewed to THEY are the temples of God.
Today we often see that same 18-24 month time frame needed for people to renew their minds from temple-building thinking to living-temple thinking of the New Testament.
When God moved out of the central temple building in Jerusalem and into people, instead of making them come to Him, it meant God could now meet with people where they lived, in their homes, in their work, in the marketplace and streets. God the Father, this Spirit-Father from another realm, could now have what He always wanted, what He had back in the day with Adam - He could walk and talk with people in their own gardens, in their homes, where they live! Thus home became a convenient place to meet, though the point isn't the home, it's the people, the church, the living temples that is the focus.
Thus when we say "where is (the) church" we point to a group of people meeting - THERE is the church!
Think of it like this...
This past Sunday in our house church meeting south of Mounds, Oklahoma, our hosts Jeff & Mary, brought up these analogies and I think it's great - we had fun drawing out the parallels. Have fun with this, we did.
The temple-based system of thinking is like computers at work before the Internet. Back then at work all the computers were connected to a massive IBM mainframe in a big room in the building, but cut off from others outside that building. All the computers at work were in offices in 1 building, and they could communicate within that building only, and back in the days of cobalt language there were cards to be punched and holes to align - you had to work hard to please the mainframe computer and its attendants who alone knew how to work the computer.
When people would go to lunch or outside the central building they could talk to other people who worked in other buildings and each of them had their work computers too - like various church people meeting other church people, but each person was tied to their own work computer and limited accordingly.
That was before Pentecost, during temple times, but illustrates the temple-mentality that still exists today.
The realities of the New Testament however can be compared this way: Each person is connected to the world via the Internet, each person has Wifi, each person is connected to the Super Computer individually and also at the same time wired to every other computer in the world.
Each person is now able to download information as they wish - they don't have to go to a central building to connect to a main frame and line up all the holes in the cards just right for the computer or attendants.
Each person can download wirelessly even, from the Super Computer - and also talk to other computers on their own, as they wish. But each other computer has to be willing to 'speak up' and participate or they don't become part of the larger network.
Each person therefore downloads different parts from the Super Computer - so that what you have is valid and what I have is valid, and we have to love and appreciate the different parts each of us have experienced and 'downloaded' from the Super Computer.
And finally...even through your 'computer' is full of viruses, you can still download 'clean' information from the Super Computer. Your hard drive has no viruses because the Super Computer Himself made you of His workmanship, but over the years you've collected other programs with viruses in them that make receiving from the Super Computer seem cumbersome and complicated - but over time He cleans up all that defective software so your hard drive is in flawless communication with Him.
God doesn't live in a temple made with hands...for in Him we live, and breathe, and have our being. (Acts 17: 24-27) That's New Testament reality. Now make your thoughts line up with God's truth instead of trying to make NT truth line up with a temple context and thinking.
Next week, details about how to walk in balance and fullness as a New Testament living temple...
Blessings, (remember if you want to write to me directly write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rabu, 29 September 2010
One Thing Is Needed
by Chip Brogden
“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41,42).”
We often sacrifice God’s one thing in favor of many things. There is something more significant to be seen in Mary who sits at the feet of Jesus versus Martha who is “much serving”. Jesus is not contrasting service and worship and saying that worship is better. No, Jesus is contrasting “many things” with “one thing”. We are consumed, absorbed, worried and vexed with many things – serving, witnessing, preaching, giving, writing, singing, attending meetings, reading, studying, building churches, fellowshipping – when Jesus says only one thing is needed, and Mary has discovered it, and it will not be denied her. What is the one thing?
In order to grasp God’s purpose for all things let us look at several Scriptures.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:9-11).”
What does this passage tell us? First, that there is a Will, and it has been revealed to us. Second, that God’s Will is “all things in Christ”. Third, that everything is working according to this purpose. Let us look at these three points more particularly.
THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD
There is a Will, a purpose, a reason, a goal towards which God is moving. Something is intended. A result is sought after. God is not floating us along aimlessly towards everything in general and nothing in particular, but He is moving us towards something. Since He exists outside of time, the End is already accomplished from God’s perspective. To us, who are still bound by time, things do move forward. We have a past, a present, and future, while God is all of these at once. Knowing that there is a Will and that the Lord is bringing us towards something is clearly for our benefit. God wants us to know His Will that we may enter into it and work in harmony with Him, cooperating together. Why does He not just do what He wants? Why bother to reveal it to us at all? Because we are part of the Will.
Most of the world’s philosophy is based on man’s attempt to answer these questions: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going? These questions can only be answered when we consider them in the light of God’s ultimate Will. There is a purpose, a reason for being, a reason for creating, a reason for living, a purpose which is larger than us, but includes us.
I ate breakfast in a diner once that had a sign on the wall that read, “If there is a will, I want to be in it.” I’m not sure what the intended message was, but it immediately resonated with me. I want to be in the Will of God! And I believe every Christian wants the same thing.
ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
What is the Will of God? “That… He might gather together in one all things in Christ.” God only has one need, one desire, one thing He wants to accomplish, and once we see this we will find everything else is peripheral to this one thing. What does God wish to accomplish? God’s ultimate will and desire is to sum up everything into Christ, so that Christ is All in All.
From henceforth when I talk about God’s Will I am speaking of His eternal purpose and plan of summing up everything into Christ and putting everything under His feet. I am not talking about God’s will for you personally, or God’s will for your ministry or business. These may be terribly important to you, but what we are considering now is something which transcends these matters and touches upon the ultimate Will of God for all generations, all people, all nations, the whole of creation – the one thing He is after.
Now we understand why Mary is said to have discovered that one thing that God wants, that one thing that He is after, and why she has forevermore taken her place at the feet of Jesus. Food, fun, fellowship, friendship, all is forgotten. She exists to wash His feet with tears, anoint His feet, and hear Him there at His feet. “Kiss the Son,” Psalms 2 says. In this matter it is not a kiss of greeting on the cheek, or even the kisses of His mouth which speak of the love between the Bride and the Bridegroom (Song of Solomon). It is kissing the feet in subjection to the One Whom God has appointed as the Heir of All Things. The kissing of the feet of the Son and the sitting at His feet is the acknowledgment of all that the Father has vested into the Son and the recognition that everything has been placed below His feet, beginning with US.
EVERYTHING RELATES TO THIS WILL
Thus far we have seen that there is a Will, and that God’s Will is for Christ to fill all things. There is a third thing to be seen: “[God]… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Everything which is spoken, revealed, or done by the Lord is connected in some way to the one thing. We might call it the Cosmic Will, or the Universal Will, or the Mind of the Spirit, or the Prime Directive, or simply the One Thing. However we choose to describe it, that is what God is after. It is His Will, His Desire, His Purpose, His Need, His Heart.
If we read and apply ourselves to the Scriptures – the books of Moses, the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation – we will eventually see one thing taking shape and coming into being. It is this one, continuous, unbroken thread of His Will which weaves its way throughout all of God’s dealings with man for the past six thousand years, having its beginning in eternity past and reaching its conclusion in eternity future towards one thing.
But more importantly, we see that everything is moving in relationship towards God’s End. It is the why which explains God’s reason for creating the world, heaven, hell, the devil, and man himself. It is the motive for sending the Word to be flesh and live as a Man, to die on a cross, to be raised to life, and to be exalted to God’s right hand. It is the impetus which caused God to pour out His Spirit on all flesh and establish the Church. It is His purpose in judging the world and creating a new heavens and earth.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul describes it as the Mind of the Spirit:
“And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:27-29).”
Einstein wanted to know the Mind of God. Here, we have it. If we change the order of the first verse it may help us to see it more clearly without changing the meaning. “He makes intercession for the saints according to the Will of God BECAUSE He knows the Mind of the Spirit.” We know from the Book of Hebrews that “He that searcheth the hearts” is Christ, and “He that maketh intercession for the saints” is Christ (Hebrews 4:12; 7:25).
Because Christ knows the Mind of the Spirit and He is making intercession for us according to the Will of God, “we know that all things are working together… according to His purpose.” And to leave no doubt as to the purpose, we are told that the purpose is “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Christ as All in All.
We frequently quote these verses and interpret them to mean that no matter what happens, good or bad, God is going to make it all work out for our good, and it will all turn out right in the end. That is not what Paul is saying at all. What he is telling us is that all things are moving in relation to God’s purpose of summing up everything into Christ. God’s End is Christ as All in All. Everything in heaven and on earth is moving in relation to this.
So in Romans we are told that God is “working all things together… according to His Purpose” and in Ephesians we are told that God is “working all things after the counsel of His own will.” The key phrase here is “all things”. How do we judge if a thing is of God or not? We need only determine its relationship to the one thing. Either it is in harmony with the one thing or it is one of the “many things” which may be good, spiritual, or moral, but does nothing to move us towards God’s eternal purpose.
GOD’S GOAL: THE PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST
Of course, there are other Scriptures which refer to God’s Will in Christ:
“And [Christ] is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).”
Does Christ have the preeminence in this world? In the Church? In our family? In our heart of hearts? No, and no, and no, and no. Sinners rule the world, “saints” rule the church, we rule our own families (which accounts for our failed marriages and broken homes), and we govern our own hearts, doing as we see fit. Yet the Will of God is clear: that Christ would have the preeminence in all things. Obviously we are not there yet:
“For now we see not yet all things put under Him, but we see Jesus… for Whom are all things and by Whom are all things (Hebrews 2:8).”
Do we see it yet? Not in its fulness, no. We have a little here, and a little there. Where this has already happened, where we actually see and experience Christ having the preeminence, it is called the Kingdom of God. It is not a visible thing, but an invisible thing, for Jesus said the Kingdom is not seen, but is within you. Eventually the Kingdom of God will swallow up the entire Creation and Christ will have the preeminence in all things. Why? Because all things are for Him, and all things were by Him. That is what this verse is saying.
For now, when we abide in Him we are full of His Life individually, and this is a beginning, but it is largely invisible. He fills us and to some extent He is seen in us once we are conformed to His Image. But filling the Church is not the end, but the beginning. The end must include “all things”, not just the Church:
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted [Christ], and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9).”
The key words in the verses we have discussed thus far are “every” and “all”. In these Scriptures our eyes are opened and our vision is enlarged to understand that God’s ultimate purpose is that Christ would have the preeminence in ALL things, that He would fill ALL in ALL, and that ALL creation would reflect His glory.
May the Lord continually open our eyes to give Him the One Thing He desires. Amen.
Selasa, 28 September 2010
How to Get in On What God is Doing by James Ryle
“that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Most people who are reasonably acquainted with the Bible will readily recognize certain passages. Take for example Paul’s words from Romans, known and loved by all Believers alike –
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2).
This provides us with timeless access to get in on what God is doing. Here is how it works.
First, Present Yourself to God. When this happens a change will occur – your thoughts will shift from being fashioned after the world’s way of thinking and living, and your mind will be renewed. You will no longer be conformed to this world, but will become more and more the person God has intended for you to be.
Then, and only then, will you be able to PROVE for Yourself the ever growing circle of all the amazing possibilities which are found in God’s purpose for your life. It is what Paul call “the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
Instead of merely doing what everybody else is doing, or even settling for what seems right to you – aim high. Don’t settle for anything less than the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is your better, and your better is your best.
As you examine your life today, ask these question of yourself.
Am I conforming to this world in my thoughts and actions? Is there a difference in my life between the general consensus of the popular ideas that most people embrace without a second thought?
Am I by steady diligence and faithful pursuit of God proving what is good for my life? And, am I pressing on beyond the good to find that which is acceptable? And do I have what it takes to move beyond what is acceptable until I find and live in the perfect will of God for my life?
This, my friend, is how we each can get in on what God is doing. And that is the secret of a full and richly fulfilling life. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” Find the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God will usher you more and more into that life.
Jumat, 16 Juli 2010
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife: as though they had one body.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
GENESIS 2:24 GMRV
Do you remember the first time that you were naked in front of your spouse? Everyone has had their own experience, but I think that in all of us, there was this initial feeling of insecurity. I remember the first time I made love to my husband, I was so insecure! I wondered what he thought of me. I wondered if he found me attractive. In the romance novels you always read of how the woman falls into the man's arms and is swept away with passion. Forget being swept away with passion, the whole time I wondered if I was doing it right and what was going through his mind!
Not very romantic at all is it? Well it was round about that time that I discovered that the things I had read in romance novels were just that...novels...story books. Reality and fantasy did not mix and it took me a while to discover that romance was not something that just happens, but something you grow into together. I learned that passion was not just based on the flesh, but something that is developed in your soul too.
As time went on, I became more comfortable being naked around my husband. We had a wonderful sex life and I felt like the most blessed woman in all the world. Yet something was lacking. Even though I knew the "breathless passion" was something only to be found in story books, I was sure that there was more romance to be found in a marriage.
So I did what any sensible woman would do. I prayed that my husband would come right! I prayed that he would learn to be more romantic. Well you know how the Lord is. When you pray and give Him an opportunity to bring change in your marriage, He usually starts with the person who thinks they need the least help. In this case...it was me. Was I in for a surprise! The Lord did not waste any time at all in showing me my very closed heart. He showed me how even though I had a loving and tender husband, that I chose rather to get my emotional and other soulish needs met in my work and in other people.
Instead of being satisfied with just lying in his arms, I had to get up and work and strive and do other things to meet that need. Only when I had pushed myself hard and worked as much as I could, did I feel I had accomplished. Not only had this brought a very big wall between us, but it also killed any chance of romance! I suddenly realized that it was impossible for my husband to romance me at all, while I was running around getting my needs met elsewhere.
It was during this time that I truly came to learn about a heavenly marriage. So just like the first time we made love, I took a chance and removed the clothes and the covers from my heart. I opened my heart to my husband and began to share my needs, desires and cares. Then I did not run off and do work, but chose to lay in His arms and to allow his touch and his words to comfort me and meet my need. Something miraculous happened that night and I could relate to Adam and Eve in our passage above who "felt no shame" even though they were both naked. For the first time I could have my husband there to meet my need and then together we could come into the presence of the Lord.
Perhaps you find it easy to talk with your spouse and share all your cares with them, but are you also ready to allow them to meet your needs? Or do you say what you need to say to your spouse and then go and have a drink, watch a move, get on chat with someone else, go out or get some more work done?
The key is not just about sharing your heart, but waiting a little while to find rest and fulfillment with your spouse.
This is not a complicated thing. How difficult was it to take off your clothes the first time? It was not hard at all! It just took a simple choice and the rest followed. Well being naked in spirit and in soul is the same choice. It means making a choice to stay with your spouse a little longer. To look into their eyes a little longer and to choose to put away the other things that have been meeting your needs up until now.
This Story Has A Happy Ending
Even though things started off bumpy with my husband, I am pleased to say that this story does have a happy ending. I discovered that the novels and story books left out a whole chapter on real romance and passion. With that one little choice, something began to happen in our marriage. Suddenly my husband found me more attractive than ever and suddenly I found my husband more attractive than ever. We could not wait to get alone in the evening and would often feign weariness so that we could chase the kids to bed and take an extra hour together. Our times of communication in the evenings became fun!
Suddenly I wanted to make love more...to just be with him! My husband was pleasantly surprised, but did not ask any questions, just enjoying the moment. As for me, I discovered that my husband was an incurable romantic after all. I had just never hung around long enough to see it.
So let me both challenge and encourage you today. Romance, passion and joy are God's gifts to you in marriage. When you allow your marriage to be the one thing that entertains, encourages, motivates and blesses you, everything else will fall quickly into place. When you are secure in your marriage, you can handle any kind of pressure or stress. So I challenged you...get naked with your spouse. Not just physically, but bare your heart to them also and then just wait in their presence and allow them to meet the needs and desires you have.
It is a big leap to a relationship that is more romantic...more passionate...more HEAVENLY!
Selasa, 13 Juli 2010
WHY The 'WILDERNESS'?
The 'wilderness' is not a concept that is understood too well in
Christendom, despite the fact that it is all the way through the
Bible. From the book of Genesis right through Revelation there
are clear references to the 'wilderness' as being something God
often employs in His dealings with men. The pattern is undeniable.
When we look through the Scriptures we see that the wilderness
is often a place of spiritual "crisis" and also preparation. It is the
place God sends us before the "real action" begins - before we
enter into the full purposes of God in our lives. There must be
'death' before there can be resurrection. There must be a desert
place before the "promised land".
The wilderness is a place of trial and testing, of brokenness and
full surrender to God. The props and activities that have kept us
continually striving to "make things happen" are stripped away.
Our self-reliance is shattered and replaced with a total reliance on
God alone. Every "idol" in our lives (often including our own ministry)
is brought under the piercing searchlight of God. Our selfish motives
and ambitions are shown for what they are. This process may take
years. Finally we emerge broken, chastened and purified. The
process has matured and cleansed us in so many ways. We are
now ready for the fulfillment of all that God originally called us to
do. But our heart-motives are vastly different from what they were
We see this pattern all the way through Scripture. Many lessons
can be learned from what we read there. Abraham, Joseph, Joshua,
Moses, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul the apostle - and even
Jesus Himself - all had to go through this "wilderness" experience.
Very often it lasted for years and years. Why then should we be
surprised if it happens to us?
Probably the best-known instance of a 'wilderness experience' in
the Old Testament is the story of Moses and the children of Israel.
Moses had been raised and trained all his life in the palaces of
Egypt. But when he came face-to-face with his heritage as an
Israelite, he rose up "in his own strength" and killed an Egyptian
slave-driver. He was then forced to flee into the desert, where he
was to spend 40 YEARS as a simple shepherd in the wilderness.
What an enormous length of time! Imagine if every Christian leader
had to spend that long in the wilderness before God would allow
them to lead His people! It is almost impossible to imagine the
depths of despair and "death" to all his dreams and hopes that
Moses went through during this time. In fact, after 40 years it is
hard to imagine anyone being "deader" to the usual ambitions
and temptations of leadership than Moses would have been. And
what PATIENCE these years of waiting must have produced in him!
We see here the lengths that God will go to in the "preparation"
of a leader "after His own heart." (-Though 40 years is unusually
long). The isolation, the chafing, the crying out to God for deliverance
- all play their part. Such an experience is almost irreplaceable.
That is why God uses it so often. The hearts of driven men are so
similar in so many ways, that God's "cure" becomes similar also!
He will even shut us up in a kind-of 'prison' for a time so we cannot
escape the process. It is that important. He does not want 'self'-
oriented leaders shepherding his precious sheep.
After his 40 years of preparation, Moses returned to Egypt at God's
command to lead His people out of bondage. This was the beginning
of the entire nation of Israels' wilderness experience. For when they
left Egypt the only way to their "Promised Land" was through the
desert. Some commentators say that in a straight line, their journey
could have taken just a few weeks or less. But because of their
disobedience and fear, the vast majority of those who left Egypt
were destined to die in the desert, never reaching the Promised
Land. In fact, their wilderness journey ended up taking 40 years!
Now we need to take special note of this fact:- Not everyone who
entered the wilderness survived it. In fact, multitudes perished there.
The wilderness tried them and found them wanting. They went to
the place of testing and failed the test. This is a pretty crucial fact
to realize in our day also. Just because we are "called out" and
enter a wilderness time, does not mean that we will embrace the
dealings of God and respond appropriately. It is entirely possible
to lose everything out there. These people lost out completely.
Only their children came through to inherit the promises of God.
How clearly we see this pattern over and over again - in both the
Old Testament and the New:- That many whom God wants to one
day use are sent into a place of aloneness and brokenness before
being brought into their true destiny. We have not even mentioned
heroes of God such as Noah, Jacob, Job and others who all had
similar experiences. Part of this process lies in the "waiting" that
takes place. Also, the fact that all the supporting 'props' are taken
away. The "waiting" alone can be torture.
The wilderness also deals with any fear of man or 'systemized'
way of looking at things. God often uses it to bring a whole fresh
perspective, which is very important for leaders who are going to
be representing a "new" approach or facing opposition because of
the confrontational words that they are bringing. The lonely desert
years give them backbone to stand up to the crowd or the powers-
that-be, and declare God's truth without compromise. They now
truly fear God rather than man. And they think differently from
others. The wilderness is vital for anyone who is wanting to bring
fresh manna to God's people.
Are you someone who has been going through such a "desert"
experience, my friend? Be encouraged! Look up, for your deliverance
draws nigh. God only ever sends His children through such
experiences when there is a great purpose to it. Don't give up. Don't
be cast down. On the other side lies a 'land of promise' if only you
can hang on to Jesus. Be active, be praying, be prepared. Don't
become "passive" and let the desert swallow you whole. Use this
time to draw closer and closer to Jesus. Dig down and plant your
feet firmly on the Rock. Humble yourself before the Lord and He
will lift you up in due time - if only you can cling to Him.
-Please comment on this article at the following website-
God bless you all.
Senin, 12 Juli 2010
Looking Forward To The Future
It was a time when you were not woken up at 4 in the morning by the cry of a newborn baby. It was a time when there were so many new things ahead of you. Hopes, dreams...expectations. So much was possible. It was a time when you were dating or newly married with a new and wonderful road up ahead. You could not wait to begin walking it!
Yet as you have continued walking this road of marriage, the romance of the first moments started to become a little dull. Conflicts, pressures of life and a growing family can make you forget how you started this walk. Often you become so caught up in all of your problems and conflicts that you even forget to look at the wonderful things any longer.
This week I want to take your hand and walk you back down memory lane and then show you a much brighter future. Can you remember the first time you met? Perhaps it was a good time, perhaps not. But can you remember when you first felt that love for your spouse? The person you wanted to be with more than anyone else.
Yes, if you look back a lot has changed. You have changed, your spouse has changed and those memories might seem like wonderful fantasies now. You look at yourself in the mirror and you can tell that you certainly do not look the same way any more. You also know that inside, you are not the same person any more.
Well praise the Lord for that! Can't you see how much you have grown and changed as a couple?
I want you to go back and remember what it was like when you first met. Write down a list of qualities and impressions that you had of your spouse back then. Then fast forward and take a look at the qualities and impression that you have of your spouse right now. Can't you see how much they have changed? Over time can't you see how the two of you have now become one flesh?
Perhaps at the beginning it was all fantastic and you long back for those moments, but what you do not realize is that you are experiencing the greatest romance of your life right now. In fact the more you walk down this road the more wonderful the romance becomes! Why is that? It is because the more you walk this road together, the more you become one in the Lord. The more you know each other, the easier it is to share your heart and have something REAL.
The memories in the past are special to us all, but never forget that you are living the most romantic time of your life RIGHT NOW and...it will only get better. You and your spouse will have many more experiences together. You will learn more about one another each day and as you do, the greater your romance will become.
So remember the past and the special memories, then also hold on to the future, knowing that the best is yet to come. What you had back then was like a little seed that you planted. Yet as you matured, that seed began to flourish and develop into a beautiful rose, with a rich and beautiful fragrance.
Look forward to what is ahead and enjoy the moments you have now, realizing that the Lord has His hand on you and your marriage.
Why not put this lesson into practice!
1. Write down a list of qualities that your spouse had when you first met.
2. Write down a list of qualities that your spouse has now that are different from the beginning.
3. Finally write down one thing that your spouse did this week that you enjoyed, admired or thought was really good.
4. Finally send your spouse your list either by e-mail or on written paper and tell them how much you are looking forward to the future with them!
Senin, 05 Juli 2010
From Hero to Heretic by David Van Cronkhite
Why would a popular Jewish leader like Nicodemus risk his temple rank and his position and provision in society to sneak through the shadows to speak with the One who challenged every aspect of his world?
Why would a simple, struggling monk like Martin Luther risk his life to publicly provoke his church-his very livelihood and known salvation--and expose centuries-long errors and doctrinal presuppositions?
Why would a respected theologian like Dietrich Bonhoeffer place himself in the middle of Nazi Germany and go head to head with one of the most diabolical kingdoms to ever exist on earth?
Separated by hundreds of years and born into different political and social empires, these three theologians seem widely separated at first glance. But they had this in common: they were spurred in their hearts by the revelation that their true God had been shrouded by the religious system and traditions of their day. And everything within them eventually demanded that the real God--the One who loved even the losers and rebels unconditionally, was unflinchingly faithful and forgiving, and was compassionate, merciful, truthful and slow to anger--be revealed.
Welcoming the wrath
Their declarations placed their provision, their reputations, their lives and that of their families in harms way. Yet they welcomed the wrath of the cultural, political, commercial and religious systems even unto death.
Why in the world would they do that? What made them choose to become heretics instead of remaining the heroes of their day?
Luther saw the performance-based measures of the church. He saw that the word "faith" had been long forgotten. He saw the poor as the greatest victims, bowed under the burdens of injustice saddled squarely on their backs. And his church was the worst perpetrator.
When did it begin for Luther? Was it when he wept and agonized over the uncertainty of his salvation and the fear that God would not, could not embrace him? Was it when he saw his people believe the church's lies that they were still too poor, too sinful, too unlovely to be accepted by God unless they bribed Him?
Boenhoffer recognized how the church in Germany had so deeply compromised with the political, commercial, and religious systems, becoming more and more subjugated to the Nazi power. But he was a Father-pleaser. He joined a move to teach young men and women the uncompromised truth of God and His Kingdom, about faith and love, and the ways of the King.
Did Boenhoffer's revelation begin when he quoted Luther, "The curse of a godless man can sound more pleasant in God's ears than the Hallelujah of the pious"? Or did it start when he looked over the German people and had compassion on them because they were tormented by the systems and without a Shepard?
And the popular Nicodemus, the only one who actually talked with the man Jesus, saw Him look him in the eyes, and felt His breath. Did he realize then that he would one day have to stand alone among his Pharisee friends to defend Jesus? Did he understand then that his spirit could be born into a new life by the supernatural Seed of the One whose crucified body he would one day anoint with myrrh and aloe?
Like Luther and Bonhoeffer, Nicodemus, at some point, summed up what it would cost to continue to serve the kingdoms of his world. What he saw in Jesus was worth more than all of that. Church tradition says that he became a follower of Jesus and was martyred for his faith. Later, the church declared him a saint, but not before the kingdoms of the world labeled him a heretic.
Is there a common turning point that changes heroes into heretics? For many, it happens somewhere among the long years of working their way up the systems, while the hole in their hearts that religion and knowledge were supposed to fill, grows larger and larger. Perhaps for others, it happens when they begin to see the glimmer of a Kingdom founded on Love and Justice, and that this Jesus in them has something to do with it. And they are gradually ruined forever when their spirits are stirred and awakened by the maturing Seed implanted within from above.
Jesus said flesh and blood is not our enemy. The systems of man, the kingdoms of the world, are. They are just as real and powerful as flesh and blood because they capture and enslave the flesh and blood that creates them. But God invites us, commands us to seek Him and His Kingdom first, and He will take care of us eternally.
It's significant that Jesus' first encounter after forty days in the desert seeking out His God would be a face off with Satan, the Evil One, the ruler of the world's kingdoms. But Jesus saw the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor and said, "Hell, no! You keep it. I have been given My own Kingdom and it is eternal, cosmic, of another world, and is the only one that cannot be shaken. Any can enter by the faith of a child."
The King started his public journey on earth by declaring his stated purpose: "I have come to proclaim my Father's Kingdom." Each day we have the choice--and temptation--to give our lives for man's systems rather than accepting the Kingdom that God so freely offers. What the prophets of old so desperately wanted to see, we can see now. What they wanted to be a part of, we can be a part of now.
Is this something that can happen by our giving mental assent to or must we have faith that something supernatural will take place that will utterly change us from the inside out? Well, a Seed will grow and mature in us so that when someone looks into our eyes they will find peace and joy, compassion and mercy, graciousness and forgiveness. They will sense His slowness to anger and truth from within and just know there is covenantal faithfulness.
It just takes faith and He is offering that grace to grasp the faith to be born supernaturally from above in a moment, followed by a lifetime of maturing and transformation on earth. He offers us the Seed of life, the Seed of Change, the Seed of AGAPE!
Oh, it will cost you everything. You will become a Father pleaser instead of a pleaser of man. The world will call you a loser, a misfit, and, yeah, a heretic, but it just won't matter. The only thing that will matter will be what mattered to the Son who came to do only His Father's will: to hear those two words, "Well done!"
The choice is ours individually as it was for Nicodemus, Luther, and Bonhoeffer. There is a kingdom at hand; the seed has been planted and we have been born from above. To receive it and let it grow will cost you everything. You may even turn into a heretic instead of a hero.
So, now, how should we then live?
David VanCronkhite David.VanCronkhite@gmail.com
Rabu, 30 Juni 2010
Being the Neck
Have you ever been to a chiropractor? I remember after months of working with bad posture in front of the computer, that someone suggested I visited one. They said it might help with the headaches I kept having. It was quite an experience! After a short time there, the problem was diagnosed. The joints in my neck were out of place. The doctor worked fast. There I was, flat on my back on his table; nice and relaxed. With one or two swift movements he pulled my neck into place and with one VERY LOUD... CLICK everything was in order again. The headaches stopped almost immediately and I suddenly felt alive again. I realized that even though my head hurt, the main problem was in my neck all along.
Have you ever heard this saying, "The husband is the head of the home, but the wife is the neck that turns the head?" It is a common phrase and a very true one as well. The man is responsible for the condition of his home. He is responsible to bring love into the home. Yet as the 'neck' it is up to you to bring stability and peace into the home with your submission and spirit of meekness.
The Word is so clear on this.
1 Peter 3:4 But rather the hidden qualities of the heart, which cannot be corrupted; a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands:
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters you are, as long as you do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. (GMRV)
Peter instructs wives to have a gentle and quiet spirit. He goes on to say that in times of old, great women not only made themselves beautiful on the outside, but also showed their inner beauty through submission as well.
So if you are stressed and upset, the gentle quiet spirit is gone and you are no better than my neck that needed a few adjustments. In the end you just give your 'head' a big headache, and everything falls apart. Just as a man has to introduce love into the home, it is your place as his wife to bring peace into the house. If there is strife and chaos, then you need to look at yourself and see where you can bring peace.
Next week I will share a little more on how you can tap into that peace within, but for now ask yourself this question:
"Am I a peace-bringer or just a pain in the neck?"
If you are brave you can ask your husband to answer this question for you! It is easy to blame your husband for everything that is going wrong in the home, but it is also up to you to bring order. Take your time to not only make yourself beautiful on the outside, but beautiful on the inside as well.
Put on some lipstick and a pretty outfit to welcome your husband home with tonight. Then commit yourself to bringing peace and joy into your home through your submission. Don't just apply the principles because you have to, but seek the Lord for a true spirit of submission and tenderness. As you set your heart to doing this, you will be surprised how easily it all falls into place.
In conclusion, let it be said by everyone who enters your home, that they feel the peace and love of Christ. Then you will also have this honor: Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband , and he praises her.
Many daughters have done valiantly, but you are greater than all of them. (Proverbs 31: 28,29 GMRV)
Jumat, 25 Juni 2010
Being the Head
I had a headache the other night. It was just awful! It throbbed so badly I could just lie down and rest a little until it faded. That one little headache made my whole body suffer, and because of that I could not accomplish anything for the whole evening. Isn't it interesting that the Word speaks about the husband as being the head of his family in the same way that Christ is the head of the church?
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (NIV)
When your head is not feeling well or fails in its task, it affects the whole body. What does this mean to you as the husband in your home? Well it is quite simple. It means that if your 'body' (your family) is out of order and things are in chaos, you need to look at yourself.
Imagine how silly it would have been that when my head hurt I started to beat at my body. Could you imagine me grabbing myself around the neck and saying, "What is the matter with you body? Come into order! Get up and DO something?" It is not my body's fault is it? It is just reacting to the condition of my head.
So when someone looks at the condition of your family and the way your children and wife are acting, who do you think is responsible? When the Lord looks at the state of your family, who does He hold responsible?
The answer is the same for both questions. The Lord holds YOU responsible as the head of your home. Does this seem unreasonable to you?
If you walk into any business and it is in chaos, who do you blame? Don't you blame the boss? You say to yourself, "This company needs good leadership!" Well then, do not find it so strange that God holds you responsible for the condition of your home. If your wife is being difficult and your children are being rebellious, then it is a good time to look at yourself. Every one of us needs good leadership, and no matter how strong or weak your wife is, you have something that she does not have.
You have the delegated authority from Christ as head of your home.
You might want to argue with me. You might say, "But you do not know my wife. She is so strong willed! She does not listen to me. She doesn't care what I say." Well then it is up to you to make sure that she listens. It is up to you to bring her before the Lord and get wisdom.
If a company goes bankrupt, the boss is blamed, not the staff! And so it is the same in your home. If there is a lack, it is up to you to find a solution. This is not based on your skills, your ability or your temperament. It is based on your position of authority. So forget about how you feel. Forget about what you think, and lean on the Word of God.
Realize today that you are the head of your home. God has put you there as an example to your family. It is a heavy responsibility, but it is one you can do with His help. Then also remember that your family is looking up to you for leadership. No matter how strong any woman is, she is waiting for her man to rise up and take the lead. She is waiting to be instructed and encouraged.
Finally, let me leave you with this passage to bring the whole picture together:
Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (NIV)
Love and lead your wife as if she was your own body. You expect your hand to obey your command. You also attend to your hand if it is hurt. In the same way, love and lead your family. In this way you will not only be obeying the Word, but you will be setting your family as a vessel in God's hand, as an example of His grace and His glory in this world!
Kamis, 24 Juni 2010
Loving Him Just as He Is
It is said that men are simple to understand and I guess in many ways it is true. Ask any woman what clothing she needs and there would be a list.
The list would look like this:
* I need a red satin blouse.
* I need a boot cut, stonewash pair of denim jeans.
* I need a knee length black, fitted skirt that flares at the knee.
* I need a dark brown winter coat that is shaped at the waist.
* I need a pair of black high heels.
Ask any man the same question and HIS list would look like this:
* I need pants.
* I need shirts
* I need socks.
* I need underwear.
It can be so frustrating for us women at times! You see the same shirt and socks come into the wash day after day. No matter how bad the socks look or how many holes, still they find a way to your husband's draw and back to the laundry basket. Perhaps you get frustrated and wonder to yourself, "Why can't he just get new clothes?!" Then when you try to nag him or convince him to buy something new, he sees something else he likes instead. Perhaps a new power tool. Perhaps another electronic gadget that is WAY more interesting than clothes.
Who can understand these men? Why waste money on all this other stuff when they could have more clothes? What you need to remember is that men do not think like women. You could have endless fights with your husband and still he will not change. And do you know something else? He is not meant to change.
The Lord has made your husband this way on purpose! So to fight the way he is, is to fight against the Lord. Don't you expect the same from your husband? Don't you expect him to understand why clothing and jewelry and make-up and other things like this are important to you? Well then you need to understand that this wonderful husband of yours is a practical man. We thank the Lord for that! We thank the Lord for our husbands that can remember the practical things and keep us in balance.
It is this "difference" that attracted you to him. Are you struggling to get your husband to notice your desires or to understand the things you like to spend money on? Well how much consideration do you give him? Do you often catch yourself saying, "That is SUCH a waste of money!" when you could have been supportive? If you expect your husband to always give to you, then perhaps it is time to understand things from his viewpoint instead of trying to change him all the time.
Stop for a moment this week and think about the kinds of things your husband likes and desires. How often have you fought him on getting these desires? How often have you thought he was even stupid for having these desires? Now let it go and change your mind. Decide to give him the support that he needs instead. Why not make it a personal project this week to either buy your husband something he has been desiring or to support him in getting something he desires (but seems a waste of time and money to you.)
Just your backing and support will help your husband feel like he is the most important person in the world to you. After all is that not what the Lord gave us to our husbands for? To lift them him up and so enable him to become the Godly leader that God wants him to be. You hold the power in your own heart to making your husband stand out among other men. Support him, encourage him and then watch as he becomes more confident in who he is!
And then, you never know, he might just let you get him some new socks too. And if all else fails...you can do what I do sometimes and sneak the holey socks into the trash and replace them with a new pair. He probably won't notice...but it is worth a try!
Sabtu, 19 Juni 2010
Kala kumendengar saudara seiman di dalam Tuhan dan mempelajari arti saudara di dalam Tuhan, bagaimana mereka hidup bersama sebagai keluarga Allah dalam Kisah Para Rasul dan kitab-kitab lainnya atau bahkan saat membaca Kitab Taurat bagaimana umat Israel selayaknya hidup bersama. Begitu indah dan dasyat. Tapi apakah itu semua hanya mimpi atau sejarah belaka yang kini hanyalah menjadi cerita dongeng pengantar tidur? Entahlah…….aku memiliki impian tersebut…..sebab seharusnya ikatan persaudaraan kita di dalam Kristus jauh lebih kuat daripada persaudaraan di luar Tuhan. Itulah yang membuat dunia takjub dengan pengikut Kristus hingga jemaat di Anthiokia untuk pertama kalinya disebut orang Kristen (Pengikut/imitator Kristus). Dunia tergoncang melihat kasih yang tulus seorang dengan yang lain. Orang Kristen mula-mula memiliki belaskasihan yang sangat besar.
Namun faktanya aku merasa ikatan persaudaraan kami dulu di geng yang “pasti tanpa Tuhan”, jauh lebih kuat daripada saat kuberada di dalam tubuh Kristus. Ketika seorang diantara kami berurusan dengan polisi dan masuk penjara setiap jam bezoek pasti ada salah satu anggota yang datang dan membawa kebutuhan kami, saat kami masuk rumah sakit ada saja yang membezoek, saat kami disakiti yang lain membela – meski seringkali yang dibela justru pada posisi yang salah, saat yang seorang tak memiliki tempat berteduh yang lain membuka kamar atau rumahnya agar bisa tinggal bersama, bahkan kami siap mati bagi saudara se-geng kami dstnya. Iblis memutarbalikkan cara hidup jemaat mula-mula bahkan perintah Tuhan.
Kisah Para Rasul 2:44-47 Dan semua orang yang telah menjadi percaya tetap bersatu, dan segala kepunyaan mereka adalah kepunyaan bersama, dan selalu ada dari mereka yang menjual harta miliknya, lalu membagi-bagikannya kepada semua orang sesuai dengan keperluan masing-masing. Dengan bertekun dan dengan sehati mereka berkumpul tiap-tiap hari dalam Bait Allah. Mereka memecahkan roti di rumah masing-masing secara bergilir dan makan bersama-sama dengan gembira dan dengan tulus hati, sambil memuji Allah. Dan mereka disukai semua orang. Dan tiap-tiap hari Tuhan menambah jumlah mereka dengan orang yang diselamatkan.
Mat 25:34-40 Dan Raja itu akan berkata kepada mereka yang di sebelah kanan-Nya: Mari, hai kamu yang diberkati oleh Bapa-Ku, terimalah Kerajaan yang telah disediakan bagimu sejak dunia dijadikan. Sebab ketika Aku lapar, kamu memberi Aku makan; ketika Aku haus, kamu memberi Aku minum; ketika Aku seorang asing, kamu memberi Aku tumpangan; ketika Aku telanjang, kamu memberi Aku pakaian; ketika Aku sakit, kamu melawat Aku; ketika Aku di dalam penjara, kamu mengunjungi Aku. Maka orang-orang benar itu akan menjawab Dia, katanya: Tuhan, bilamanakah kami melihat Engkau lapar dan kami memberi Engkau makan, atau haus dan kami memberi Engkau minum? Bilamanakah kami melihat Engkau sebagai orang asing, dan kami memberi Engkau tumpangan, atau telanjang dan kami memberi Engkau pakaian? Bilamanakah kami melihat Engkau sakit atau dalam penjara dan kami mengunjungi Engkau? Dan Raja itu akan menjawab mereka: Aku berkata kepadamu, sesungguhnya segala sesuatu yang kamu lakukan untuk salah seorang dari saudara-Ku yang paling hina ini, kamu telah melakukannya untuk Aku.
Kekristenan dewasa ini sudah mengkristal menjadi sekedar sebuah agama dan penekanan pada keintiman dengan Tuhan sudah mulai luntur. Berulangkali kudengar dalam khotbah para pendeta mengucapkan “Christianity is not a religion but a relation”(Kekristenan bukanlah agama tetapi hubungan), tapi khotbah akan sekedar menjadi sebuah khotbah bilamana sang pengkhotbah pun tak berubah untuk menghidupinya. Jemaat Tuhan membutuhkan teladan dan bukan sekedar pengajar yang cakap berbicara. Kecakapan dalam berkhotbah dan mengajar itu baik dan perlu tetapi semua menjadi tak berarti bila sang pengkhotbah tidak menghidupi apa yang ia sampaikan dalam kesehariannya. Apalagi bila ada yang berdalih bahwa khotbah yang disampaikan adalah untuk jemaat dan bukan bagi dirinya pribadi. Menyedihkan sekali.
Apa yang kulihat dewasa ini, banyak pengkhotbah hidup mewah. Hidup mewah tak salah dan berdosa selama ia mengingat rekan sejawatnya, para kaum Lewi dan jemaat berkekurangan yang ia gembalakan dengan berbagi apa yang ia miliki. Tetapi bila sang pengkhotbah hanya memperbesar perbendaharaan hartanya belaka, apa kata Tuhan? Bukankah Alkitab mencatatkan hal ini:
2 Korintus 8:12-15 Sebab jika kamu rela untuk memberi, maka pemberianmu akan diterima, kalau pemberianmu itu berdasarkan apa yang ada padamu, bukan berdasarkan apa yang tidak ada padamu. Sebab kamu dibebani bukanlah supaya orang-orang lain mendapat keringanan, tetapi supaya ada keseimbangan. Maka hendaklah sekarang ini kelebihan kamu mencukupkan kekurangan mereka, agar kelebihan mereka kemudian mencukupkan kekurangan kamu, supaya ada keseimbangan. Seperti ada tertulis: "Orang yang mengumpulkan banyak, tidak kelebihan dan orang yang mengumpulkan sedikit, tidak kekurangan."
Ketika kulihat ada perbedaan di antara pendeta “kaya dan miskin”, terjadi perpecahan di antara kaum Lewi itu sendiri dan ketidakpedulian di antara seorang dengan yang lain. Sungguh ini semua merupakan hal yang tragis. Tidak heran bila jemaat pun berlaku seperti itu. Orang dunia mengatakan “Buah jatuh tak jauh dari pohonnya”. Hal itu bukan saja berlaku bagi orangtua jasmani tetapi juga orangtua rohani (pendeta/gembala sidang). Ini merupakan tanggungjawab besar, kehidupan kita tercermin dalam kehidupan jemaat yang kita pimpin. Khotbah tentang kasih Kristus dan sesama merupakan topik bahasan yang luarbiasa, indah terdengar di telinga, sangat menjamah hati…..tapi sayangnya kebanyakan hanya sampai di situ. Bila ada tindakan itu pun biasanya hanya berdasarkan program bukan menjadi bagian hidup. Kebenaran firman Tuhan hanya menjadi pengetahuan belaka, kebenaran itu tidak memerdekakan sebab tidak dihidupi di dalam Kristus. Orang Kristen dewasa ini senang mendapatkan pengetahuan akan kebenaran, sayangnya tidak ditindaklanjuti sebagai pelaku kebenaran itu sendiri. Orang Kristen lebih suka menjadi pendengar daripada pelaku, lebih suka menjadi anggota sebuah gereja daripada menjadi murid Kristus yang setiap hari hidup bagi Tuhan Yesus. Apakah ini diakibatkan kini banyak kaum Lewi (pendeta) yang melihat bahwa “pelayanan” lebih merupakan sebagai “pekerjaan” dan bukan lagi sebagai panggilan dan pengabdian terhadap Tuhan dan umat/ sesama?
Apakah memiliki impian melihat kasih persaudaraan dalam Kristus itu nyata di tengah umat Tuhan merupakan sebuah lamunan di siang bolong saja? Ini merupakan impianku, doaku dan imanku bahwa aku akan terus berdoa, berjuang dan menghidupi apa yang kuimani. Impianku melihat saudara seiman hidup bersama dalam kesatuan, melihat perbedaan sebagai keragaman dan keunikan daripada tubuh Kristus, melihat ketimpangan sosial sebagai kesempatan untuk menyatakan kasih Kristus secara lebih nyata.
Jumat, 11 Juni 2010
WELLS Without WATER
-by Darren Smith.
Western Christianity has become a well with no water! What could
be worse to someone dying of thirst, than to finally come upon a
well and then discover that it has no water. I think this is a good
example of what modern religion does. It puts up a front that looks
like it has the answer to life's problems and even offers that to the
people. Yet in reality, what they get is a show designed to entertain
and get their money. The shame is that the world is thirsty and
we are supposed to have Living Water, but when they come to
drink they find only an empty well leaving them worse off than before.
2 Peter 2:15-18 addresses this very issue. By abandoning the
straight path, they have gone the way of Balaam. Is not the same
true today? The way of Balaam is the wide path. Not speaking
the Word of God but rather speaking words that profit themselves,
not giving the Living Water, but giving out something that tastes
good to the carnal Adam.
On a recent preaching trip every church I ministered at people
came forward confessing sexual sin, and not just a few but many.
Some were even in leadership positions and were counseling
people with the very same issues. The thing that brought this
out was the Word of God preached without fear and the fact that I
am very transparent about the struggles in my own life. This
happens every time that I minister, even though I don't go out
with the intent - it is just God opening up the chance for Living
Water to come and fill the people once they confess their sins
We have a myth that's been put before the church for so long that
people are numb to the Spirit. We have been told that we can
make revival happen and that's not true. Revival only comes when
the people are broken and they get clean before God. This means
exposing the hidden sin in their life and being willing to suffer the
consequences of that sin. You can pray for revival for years, but
unless the people are willing to get clean it will not come.
So why is this such a problem? For one thing, many of the people
in leadership are bound up in this very sin. It's estimated that 70%
of pastors struggle with Pornography and the sad thing is they feel
like they can never confess, therefore, they never come clean and
Living Water cannot flow from the well that they tend. This must
be exposed so people can get free. This sin is so easy to conceal
that before long the person that is bound up in it can justify their
bad behavior. I know I have been bound by this sin and only found
freedom with deep repentance and confession.
It is the same in marriage. Many have sin in their marriage and
will not come clean so grace can heal. Instead they move into
coexistence that brings no glory to God and eventually they end
up in affairs and broken marriages are the result. The divorce rate
is the same in the church as it is in the world for this very reason.
Trust me, sexual sin is just as bad in the church as it is in the
world. Everywhere I go, this is a huge problem and I get many
emails dealing with the same thing from all over the world.
We must address this now and very publicly so people can get
free and we can see God move in His Body. 2 Peter 2:17 says
these people are springs without water. It's time we become a
well of Living Water for a thirsty world to drink from to become
whole. To do this we need to go through a purification process
by the Holy Spirit!!
Can you think of anything worse than dying of thirst and coming
upon a well and finding out that even though it looks like a well
and has the bucket to draw with, there is no water there to drink.
If you are clean, start praying that a wave of repentance comes
upon the church. If you are not clean, repent and confess and
get clean. We need the Living Water to flow through this world
and it is not God who is holding it back, it is us.