Pastors

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
- Jeremiah 3:15, Ephesians 4:11 (KJV, ESV)

"Pastor" is one of the most common words in Evangelicalism or Protestantism.  I quoted the verses above to illustrate two things.  Pastors are always mentioned in the plural and pastors are metaphorically, shepherds.

A human pastor (singular) is never mentioned in the Bible, outside of Jesus.  It is always pastors, plural.  The NT knows nothing (does not teach) about a single, solo, human pastor leading.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably seen a pastor having severe  problems.  Whether it is a stress-out, nervous break-down, falling into some sin that causes them to step down, or workaholism that adversely affects their health and their family's well-being.  A very large percentage of pastors quit or are fired, in a disruptive fashion, because of the job.

Pastors are shepherds.  A shepherd and a good shepherd, has a certain skill-set or qualities.  Jeremiah says that God wants shepherds or pastors that have his heart.  There are some anti-shepherd passages in the OT, where God rebukes bad shepherds, who mistreated the people and malpracticed in their role as overseerers in Israel (Jer. 23 and Ezek. 34).

God has not changed and still sees bad shepherds or pastors and rebukes them.  Being a pastor is a gift from God.  A good percentage of Christians have the gift, but a few are actually called pastor; and there are pastors in-name-only, who don't have the gift, but sought and attained the job.

Pastors or shepherds are always plural in the NT.  And there is never a "senior", "lead", "chief", or "ruling" pastor, shepherd, or leader in the NT.  Only Jesus is that.

Leadership, whether it is apostles, prophets, elders, teachers, or whatever description of giftedness; is never singular, but plural.  Elders are loving heads of their homes, but are not heads of the church.  Apostles or prophets or evangelists might be very gifted in the ministry of Christ, but when they go home, they take out the trash, change diapers, and mow their lawn.

Two points: you are not your gift, calling, or ministry; and the gift, calling, or ministry is not a title, but a function you flow in or an office you stand in.  Even if you have the office, you are still not the office, but it is the office of Christ, that he lets you stand in for him, at times.

We all share in the ministry of Christ and some are known for their particular giftedness in ministry.  It is descriptive, not prescriptive.  In other words, I might call you a prophet, because I have seen, heard, or read the prophecies that came through you; and the good fruit.  It would be very different if you either just started saying "I am a prophet" and I started calling you "prophet sam", or if you went to school and got a certificate that says, "prophet sam".

Even if I have ordination papers or a preaching license, that does not necessarily make me a pastor, preacher, or prophet.  A preacher is someone who preaches, a pastor is someone who pastors, and a prophet is someone who prophecies.  Now, hopefully it is good preaching, heart of God pastoring, and edifying or encouraging prophetic ministry.

Then, we will begin to call you, as we know you.  The person that can truly say, "he (or she) is my pastor", is the person who has been pastored (shepherded) by them.  I have know many pastors who were not very pastoral, and it was not because they did not have the gift, but because they were stressed out by the duties and pressures of "the job".

And this is another subject that pastors do many things they are not gifted to do, so they get very tired doing them, but they must try to do them, or they will lose their jobs.  The solution might be to not put people in jobs that they are not gifted, equipped, or qualified for.  Another solution if to live in your giftedness and let God provide for you in a "tent making" job.

In the NT, leadership in the church, is always plural and leaders are never over the other people.  Individual churches had leaders (plural) who's leadership was exercised along side of the people.  Jesus is the head of the whole and every church, and the Spirit of God moves in and through all the people, orchestrating church life.

In the NT, leaders lead, but they lead from among the rest of us.  This is different that leading over, which is the way of the world.

There is no "two-class system" in the NT, of "ministers" and the rest of us who watch.  In the NT, all who are in Christ are ministers.  There is no stage and no audience but a wholly participative body of people.  

In Protestantism, we believe in "the priesthood of all believers", which means that we do not need a special person ( a professional priest) to have access to God and we are now all priests, in Christ, sharing the ministry.  We have the first part down, but we do not do the second, when we elevate pastors or the pastor or "pastor _____" to a special status, and call that as "going into the ministry".

As for "pastoring", here is how we "do it", that is not biblical:
  • Solo pastor
  • Senior pastor
  • Lead pastor
  • Clergy
  • Laity or "laypeople"
  • Elders functioning as administrators.
  • Inequality
  • Hierarchy
  • Domineering
  • Performers/spectators
  • Divisions by age, sex, ethnicity or social standing.
  • Honorific titles.
These are all unbiblical.  People are pastors, healers, helpers, prophets, and on and on; but we do not call them that.  We call people by there names or by brother or sister, period.  You may stand in the gifting and flow in it, but that is not your name.  Titles entitle.  

Humble your self.  If God does great things through you, that does not make you "the great man (or woman) of God".  Only God is great.  Think about that donkey that Jesus rode on Palm Sunday.

You can refer to, make reference to, or introduce someone, by their spiritual character and work; and that is biblical: "George, is a man full of the Holy Spirit and love for God's people".  "Here is Beth, one of the most effective Christian teachers on the scene today", would be proper, rather than "Teacher Beth".  Introducing someone, personally, about the person, and what they do, who they are and so forth; is very different that stating a position, title, or rank.

We don't do ecclesiastical titles.  That is not the Jesus way.  First name, brother or sister, and what they do or have done or what God's doing in their life, is what is appropriate.

All Christians do the ministry and Holy Spirit gifts anyone or everyone in the people of God, for the ministry.  This is threatening to the guy or gal who wear the name badge and get a check and have the keys to the building.  This is also threatening to people who want to float of coast and just be congregants, who consume other's performances and get their bottoms in the chair or pew and write a check; and go on an over-seas-mission-trip-vacation once in a while.

Real, authentic, Jesus-shaped leaders, who may or may not be called pastors; lead from among and beside the others.  They are neither "out front", or "above" the group; nor are they "hiding" in the back or in the middle, disguised.  Real leadership is at the sides and among others.

Real leaders don't say "hey, I am the leader - see me up here above you - listen to me or get out".  Only God can say that, and he rarely does.  Humble yourself.

The leader and those led share life together, Christ's life, and participate in the Holy Spirit's work of lifting up Jesus.  Sharing, communion, community, love: out of that environment, the leader is at the side, beside, sharing life with others, and in that place leads.

Unity and peace come before being right or "telling it", for the Jesus-shaped leader.  

Leaders are first brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, members of the body; then and from out of that, they then can lead.

Holy Spirit led and filled leaders also have patience when speaking and let the Spirit lead before them and have faith in God to bring about unity and consensus, when making decisions, rather than functioning as autocrats.


The Church is a Crossover Network

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
-1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)

The Church is a crossover network.  Crossing over is the ministry of Jesus.  And the whole Church is a network of connections with a common center of gravity and purpose which is Christ and his mission to disciple nations.

The Church is a crossover people.  We go to people who are unlike us.  And we reconcile people to one another and to God.

The ministry of the Church is the ministry of reconciliation.  The Church holds the power, the hope, and the wisdom that all peoples need.  The Church travels across boundaries into different cultures, classes, ethnicities, races, and creeds.

The whole Church has many individual tribes who are all one in Christ.  We are different tribes, but we are not tribal, because love in Christ is our center of gravity.  As every person bleeds red blood, no matter the color of their skin or their culture; we also have many tribes, all in Christ, and  recognize each other as brothers and sister, because of Christ within.

We are one, but have many tribes.  The Church crosses over into communities and cultures that are not like they are.  Crossing over is not to assimilate but to reconcile: first us to them, and then them to us, and them to God, and the only basis for our crossing over is our having been reconciled to God and to one another, in Christ.

We are not humanists, but Christians.  We are carriers of hope from God in Christ.  We love humanity, but not with human love or out of human solutions.

We love people because God loves people and God is transforming us into being like Jesus, who loves, because he knows the Father loves him and has sent him to show Father's love.

The Church is a going out and crossing over people.  This is who we are and what we do.  The essence of the Church is loving reconciliation, so what the Church does, reflecting Jesus, is crossing over.

The Church is also a network.  We are connected to one another, in our tribes and tribe to tribe, all connected in Christ.  The lack of networks or networking or connection between tribes and individual Christians is a tragedy and a disaster.

The lack of network or the disconnection between tribes and individual Christians or the massive disunity in the Church has greatly weakened the Church for her mission in the world.  The most powerful force or army in the world has been greatly dis-empowered by our lack of connection or being networked to one another in unity.

The whole Church is meant to be in one network, under one head.  It can be a patch-work.  Instead, we have many tiny and some bigger, individual networks.

This will and has to change.  For the net to work, it must be mended and that is already underway.

Zechariah 14 Is Not About The Second Coming


On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south. 
-Zechariah 14:4


I saw this idea that Jesus' feet would 'touch down' on the Mount of Olives, some day, in the future, at his second coming.  I grew up in a local church that strongly taught dispensationalism, which I do not believe in today.  Here is what I do believe.


Zechariah 14 is not about the second coming.  The day of the Lord, spoken of in verse 1, is not the end of the world, but a judgement day.  And when that judgement day came and the Lord's feet touched the Mount of Olives, that is was not the second coming, as we conceive of it today, but happened around 70 A.D., when Jerusalem was destroyed.

Zechariah 13 does talk about Jesus:
Sword, awake against My shepherd,
against the man who is My associate—
this is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.
Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
I will also turn My hand against the little ones. (13:7)
There will be a judgement, and 1/3 will survive it, as a remnant.  Messiah will be crucified, then judgement will come upon Israel.
In the whole land—this is the Lord’s declaration—
two-thirds will be cut off and die,
but a third will be left in it.
I will put this third through the fire;
I will refine them as silver is refined
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
and I will answer them.
I will say: They are My people,
and they will say: Yahweh is our God. (13:8-9)
Jesus taught that this would happen, in his parables in Matthew 21 and 22:

The Parable of the Vineyard Owner

“Listen to another parable: There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the grape harvest drew near, he sent his slaves to the farmers to collect his fruit. But the farmers took his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
“But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance!’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?”
“He will completely destroy those terrible men,” they told Him, “and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at the harvest.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This came from the Lord
and is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit. [Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whoever it falls, it will grind him to powder!]” (Matt. 21:33-44)

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables: “The kingdom of heavenmay be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come. Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the others seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them. The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city.
“Then he told his slaves, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:1-14)
The end of Zechariah 13 gives us the backdrop or context for chapter 14.  The time period is the time of the coming of Messiah and his death, and what happens after that, which is the judgement of Israel.
A day of the Lord is coming when your plunder will be divided in your presence. (Zech. 14:1)
This is a judgement day, not the end of the world.  This is what "day of the Lord" means in the Bible.
I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle.The city will be captured, the houses looted, and the women raped. Half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be removed from the city. (Zech 14:2)
"All the nations", is hyperbole, for Rome, Roman soldiers attacking Jerusalem, earthy Jerusalem.  Roman soldiers came from many nations that Rome had conquered, and not just Italy.  The word "half" is figurative, as the "two-thirds" and "one-third" in chapter 13 were also figurative.

Please notice that the writer of Hebrews calls the church Jerusalem or the heavenly Jerusalem:
Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect,  to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel. (Heb. 12:22-24)
In the new covenant, Jerusalem is the people of God, ethnic Jew and Gentile.

Continuing with Zechariah 14:
Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations as He fights on a day of battle. (Zech. 14:3)
This is the gospel waring against nations to gain back people who are lost.
On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south. (Zech 14:4)
The reference here, of the Lord's feet on the Mount of Olives, is from Ezekiel 11:23:
The glory of the Lord rose up from within the city and stood on the mountain east of the city.
The Lord, God, or Yahweh left Jerusalem, and stopped protecting it, and went east, to the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives splitting in two (Zech. 14:4) is apocalyptic language about God making a way of escape, for the remnant, that escaped the Romans in 70 A.D.  This is symbolic speech, just like John the Baptist saying, "Every valley shall be filled in and every mountain and hill shall be made low", quoting Isaiah 40.
You will flee by My mountain valley, for the valley of the mountains will extend to Azal. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with Him. (Zech. 14:5)
This is the way of escape, made in A.D. 70, for the believers in Jerusalem, who are the new remnant of the people of God.

From verse 6 and following, Jerusalem is now the church, in apocalyptic terms:
On that day there will be no light; the sunlight and moonlight will diminish.  It will be a day known only to Yahweh, without day or night, but there will be light at evening.
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea, in summer and winter alike.  On that day Yahweh will become King over all the earth—Yahweh alone, and His name alone.  All the land from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem will be changed into a plain. But Jerusalem will be raised up and will remain on its site from the Benjamin Gate to the place of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses.  People will live there, and never again will there be a curse of complete destruction. So Jerusalem will dwell in security. (Zech. 14:6-11)
We then have a description of how the enemies of God are judged and defeated, in figurative, apocalyptic language:
This will be the plague the Lord strikes all the peoples with, who have warred against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.  On that day a great panic from the Lord will be among them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of one will rise against the other.  Judah will also fight at Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected: gold, silver, and clothing in great abundance.  The same plague as the previous one will strike the horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all the animals that are in those camps. (Zech. 14:12-15)
The end of the chapter now views the church, the people of God, from another angle: a spiritual feast of tabernacles.  And everything in the church, is now holy:
Then all the survivors from the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the Festival of Booths.  Should any of the families of the earth not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, rain will not fall on them.  And if the people of Egypt will not go up and enter, then rain will not fall on them; this will be the plague the Lord inflicts on the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Booths.  This will be the punishment of Egypt and all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Booths.
On that day, the words

HOLY TO THE LORD
will be on the bells of the horses. The pots in the house of the Lord will be like the sprinkling basins before the altar.  Every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of Hosts. Everyone who sacrifices will come and take some of the pots to cook in. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of Hosts. (Zech. 14:16-21)
Zechariah 14 is about the judgement on Jerusalem in the first century that Jesus said was coming.  It is also about the people of God and the nations, during the time after Messiah's coming, which includes the first century, up through today.

When Rome came to destroy Jerusalem, around 70 A.D., the remnant, the people of God, or the church in Jerusalem escaped to the east, before it was too late.  Zechariah saw the escape plan in advance.  And the church or the people of God are now figuratively, Jerusalem and Israel.

There is one people of God, one in Christ, and we are also hopeful that all ethnic Jews will be saved before the end; but there is only one way to be saved, through Christ, Messiah.  There is only one mediator, only one living way.  We all who are in Christ are living our stories in God's story of loving and saving the world.  Our task is to find meaning in the story of God that we find ourselves in, and to celebrate that together, while inviting the world around us to join.

Declarations and Admonitions



In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13.  Paul writes this:

If I speak human or angelic languages 
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy 
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains 
but do not have love, 
I am nothing.

And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, 
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love, 
I gain nothing.

Love is patient, 
love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, 
is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, 
is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, 
believes all things,
hopes all things, 
endures all things.

Love never ends.

But as for prophecies, they will come to an end;
as for languages, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

For we know in part,
and we prophesy in part.
But when the perfect comes,
the partial will come to an end.

When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things.

For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, 
but then face to face.
Now I know in part, 
but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

- 1 Corinthians 13


1 Corinthians 13 is a profound chapter of a letter to a group of Christians that Paul had a troubled relationship with.  Think about it, we would not have had this chapter of the Bible, without the wild and crazy Corinthians.  These are some declarations and admonitions, starting with thoughts on love, then thoughts or tips about various and sundry things; and ending with thoughts about practical living in Christ.



Love
  • Love is the bedrock of life.
  • If we do not love, we are not in the faith.
    • So always ask yourself, "How am I loving?"
      • "The first duty of love is to listen."  -Paul Tillich

Halt
  • Have you learned the HALT thing?  When you find yourself crashing, ask yourself:
    • Am I hungry?
    • Am I angry?
    • Am I lonely?
    • Am I tired?
  • Sometimes, you just forgot to eat.  
  • Remember that anger is a secondary emotion that usually follows hurt that needs expression- express your hurt- tell someone, tell God.  "Blessed are those who mourn".  Have your wake, your funeral, and memorial.  Do your grief work.  Feel the hurt
  • If you're lonely, reach out to someone who also might be lonely or go to a meeting where there is life, or go to an activity.  Reading a book maybe.  Let God embrace you in your loneliness and know that God is lonely for you.
  • Be in touch with your tiredness and become a rest fanatic, being fierce about getting your rest.  Resting is spiritual activity that places our trust in God, humbles us and makes us gracious!

Knowledge
  • Knowledge is not our identity
  • Leading with knowledge creates self-righteousness that lacks love.
  • Love that loves God, then loves people, then loves knowledge, results in a life of compassion, humility, mercy, and wisdom. 
  • True knowledge, or knowledge of truth, is found in relationship to the person who is the truth.
  • Much of our Christian culture today is a cult of knowledge and we think that is what the Christian life is all about: knowledge, how much you know, what you know, and imparting knowledge to others through teaching.
    • But the Christian life is really about love and transformation.
    • Knowledge is not part of Christ-like character or godliness as described by the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Being with other Christians was never supposed to be for gaining knowledge, but for mutual edification and encouragement.
  • We take the stories of teaching in the early church and use them to say that this is what the church is about, but these stories illustrate new believers getting intensely taught.  And the trouble today is that most of us never progress past that or are not allowed to by our teachers, because they are not teaching how Jesus taught, and not equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.
    • Yes, the people who are the ones 'in front' have the job of equipping (training) the rest of the people to do the ministry.
      • Preaching is something done to non-believers, 'out there'.
      • Speaking before a group of Christians is to be a training session, that should always have a 'lab', 'practicum', or 'clinic'; that follows the lecture, talk, presentation, or story-telling.

God
  • God accepts us as we are today: rough and tumble.  
    • We do not have to get cleaned up or learn how to talk right to come to God.
    • We come to God 'as is' and in the process of the relationship, we are transformed.
      • All transformation comes through our relationship with God.
        • God's relationship with us is tested, borne, built, and revealed through every circumstance of our lives.
Faith
  • Our faith is always being tested and refined, because faith is something that lives and grows.
    • If it is not living and growing, it is not faith; but mental assent.
  • The opposite of faith is not uncertainty or doubt.
    • True faith contains doubt, uncertainty, curiosity, questions, bafflement, and perplexity; 
      • on a path of humility and meekness.
  • We teach faith that is based on the love relationship.  
  • Our faith is not based on certainty alone, 
    • but on the faithfulness of our beloved.
  • The bedrock of the faith is love.

Mission
  • God has always been the missionary God.
  • All Christians were always meant to all be missionaries.
  • The people of God and the mission of God have always been interwoven.
  • God never called us to go into the world and build churches.
  • Church planting in the book, was about evangelism and discipleship, which are both about people's lives being changed by God; and has nothing to do with a physical building.
Discipleship 
  • Is not just another program.
  • Is not a sermon series.
  • Is not a slogan that becomes reality by tagging your church with it.
  • It happens through ordinary Christians, one with another; sometimes in trios, quartets, quintets, and octets.
  • Any church serious about discipleship, will stop having 'the sermon', being the centerpiece of their gatherings; because lectures are the least productive way of learning and sermons promote the cult of the guru, or sage.
  • Saying "we are a church of disciples", while having 'the sermon' as the centerpiece of your gatherings is disingenuous, schizophrenic, and cowardly.
Jesus has left the building
  • The church Jesus has always been building is not the church building.
  • Just like in his earthly life, Jesus is primarily outside the building.
  • Jesus is in the nations, wanting to save the people there, who do not know him yet.
  • Jesus is at every Christian's home door, wanting come in and have meals with us.
  • The church is God's vehicle for changing the world, which means outside the buildings we meet in.
  • Jesus never called his followers to build churches or structures to meet in, but to love each other and to teach others about him, on their turf.
  • Going to church or inviting unsaved people to church, is unheard of in the Bible.
  • What would you do if there were no church buildings and you could no longer drive miles to a group that meets in someones home?
    • The answer to that question is what Jesus and the NT and whole Bible instruct you to do.
      • Go out into your neighborhood or walk up and over the hill to the next farms.
        • Preach the good news of Jesus by being the good news.
        • Love each other.
        • Heal the sick.
        • Cast out demons.
        • Feed the poor.
        • Weep with those who weep and laugh with who who laugh.
        • Let your neighbors share their food and homes with you.
        • Listen to other peoples stories.

Sky Links 8-26-16

Photo by longboard CC 2.0

Jesus wept.
-John 11:35



Stop Saying This To People Who Are Suffering

Tim Lawrence wrote a post about a cliche that people, even Christian people, say; that they should not say, because it is unhelpful, and it is often hurtful.

That trite phrase, that you should stop saying is, "everything happens for a reason".

Tim wrote this:
When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.
Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:

I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.
Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you're going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.
Read Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason, by Tim Lawrence


What Are House Churches? A Primer 

Years ago, I thought that house church people were just bitter rebels.  After finding out that's not true, the common one that I have heard is, "House churches are not real churches!"  Buzzzzz - Sadly, that is wrong too.

Dave Barnhart wrote:
I’ll confess that when I first heard about the idea of house churches, I thought, That’s not real church. I thought the only reason a congregation would meet in a house instead of a larger traditional or contemporary church would be because they couldn’t afford a building or they didn’t have the vision or ability to grow into a “real church.” I knew, of course, that the early church started in homes. What I didn’t understand was why anyone in a free country would continue to do so when larger churches with exciting youth programs, riveting preachers and spectacular worship music are not hard to find.
Now, here I am, starting house churches.
What Are House Churches?, by Dave Barnhart


Why Millennials Can't Stand Coming To Church

It is still true that the church sometimes is the greatest barrier to people finding God.  The Millennial generation, people roughly in their 20's and 30's are, by and large, and perhaps more than the preceding generations, not interested in church.  And it is not because they are just a bunch of bad apples.

Last year, The Barna Group did some research on and here is what they found:
Among those who say church is not important, most are split between two reasons: two in five say church is not important because they can find God elsewhere (39%), and one-third say it’s because church is not personally relevant to them (35%). One in three simply find church boring (31%) and one in five say it feels like God is missing from church (20%). Only 8% say they don’t attend because church is “out of date,” undercutting the notion that all churches need to do for Millennials is to make worship “cooler.”
A significant number of young adults have deeper complaints about church. More than one-third say their negative perceptions are a result of moral failures in church leadership (35%). And substantial majorities of Millennials who don’t go to church say they see Christians as judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), anti-homosexual (91%) and insensitive to others (70%).
Are you listening and do you care?  I hope so.  Read What Millennials Want When they Visit Church, by David Kinnaman


Why Calvinism is Wrong

Roger E. Olson reviewed a new book by Jerry L. Walls, called, Does God Love Everyone?  The Heart of What's Wrong With Calvinism.  From the post:
In Does God Love Everyone? however, Walls does an excellent job of driving home the Achilles Heel of five point Calvinism which is that a believer in it cannot say to any group of people or any individual: “God loves you, Christ died for you, and you can be saved.” Of course, John Piper and some other five point Calvinists argue that they can say that to any group of people or to any individual. However, the “explanation” of that basic evangelistic statement, if made by a five point Calvinist, is so tortuous as to be laughable. As one five point Calvinist explained the first part of it “God loves all people in some ways but only some people in all ways.” And Piper argues that Christ’s death on the cross benefits even the reprobate—those God has predestined to hell—with “temporal blessings.” As I have said many times that amounts to giving them a little bit of heaven to go to hell in.
Does God Love Everyone? Review of New Book about Calvinism and Arminianism, by Roger E. Olson.  Roger also has a book on this subject, titled Against Calvinism (2011)

Do You Love Me? Feed My Lambs

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?"" Yes, Lord," he said to Him, "You know that I love You." "Feed My lambs," He told him.
-John 21:15

Being a Christian is all about love: being loved and loving others.  Being a leader is all about serving others, through love.  We have his love and we show his love by serving others in practical ways.

The basic and indispensable qualification for Christian service is love.  In this conversation between Jesus and Peter, we learn again, that love is the foundation of the Christian life, of the good news, and of Christian service.  

Peter might be identified as a leader or even the leader in the church. We have an obsession with leadership in the church today.  But there is no calling to leadership, but only a call to service.

Jesus says to me and to any of us who are his followers, just like he said to Peter, "Do you love me?  Then feed my lambs."  Something to always remember is that the people are his.  Even our children, our husbands and our wives are his.

"Feed my sheep", is a word from the top, chief shepherd, to the rest of us who might be in the shepherding role.  Feed them (and tend them), and they are his, not yours; so keep that in mind.  We have here a description of "the ministry", because the context of Jesus' words are Peter's reinstatement into the ministry.

Peter had already met with Jesus, after the resurrection.  Peter had his faith intact.  But he might have been still hurting over how he betrayed Jesus and he might have felt like a failure.

Peter may have disqualified himself from being a person who could lead others to Jesus and share the good news and encourage them, because he felt like he totally blew it.  But Jesus comes along and has a pow wow with him, and it is in front of the other guys.  In Peter's mixed feelings of despair and awe in the Lord's presence, Jesus says, "You love me right?  (pause)  Then feed and take care of the people who believe in me."

Peter's response is, "Of course I love you (but)".  I put the 'but' in parentheses, because he was maybe thinking a 'but'.  His 'but', might have been something like, "I can not believe he asked me that, and I think he is probably not going to want me to serve him or his people in any capacity, after what I did on the night he was arrested."

Jesus is love.  Jesus being with Peter was loving.  I bet Peter knew Jesus loved him at that moment.

Jesus did not say, "You know I love you".  Instead, Jesus asks Peter that question, not because he was after information or he doubted Peter's love.  Peter was crazy in love with Jesus.

When someone loves you like crazy and you ask them, "do you love me?", they might be taken aback, or a little bit offended.  That's when we say, "I can't believe you are asking me that!"  But Jesus can ask anything he wants to and it is always a good and meaningful question.

In other words, Jesus is not insecure and he is not playing a game.  There is absolutely no guile in his question.  Everyone knows that Peter is a lover of Jesus of Nazareth.  There is no doubt.

So, why oh why does Jesus ask this (crazy sounding) question?

Peter might have answered the question more fully with, "yeah, I love you, sure I do (what a weird question!); but I am pretty sure I blew it and you don't want me to represent you in any way, while I still believe you do love me and I also believe you forgive me, but being the guy people look to for learning about you, I am pretty sure you don't want me for that."

To that, Jesus simply says, "Do you love me?  Then simply feed my sheep, and care for them".  Yes, the light is green.  Jesus says, "Take your love for me, and love my people and look after them".  Behold, Jesus' description of pastoral ministry!

Here is the message for all of us:  Do you love Jesus?  Then feed his lambs.

This scene, this story, on the beach, between Jesus and Peter, is a message for all Christians, especially to ministers.  Peter was just a man, just like we are just men and women that do Jesus Christ's ministry on earth, today.

I believe that the ministry is Jesus' ministry and he calls us all into his ministry.  There is no pyramid shaped hierarchy in the church.  But there is one at the top, God in three persons, and then the rest of us; all the way from Peter to me.

The (corporate chart in the) kingdom is flat.

Peter here is being called, again, after his mishap, to service.  Peter is special in that he was one of the founding Apostles, but he is never called to be a special ruler, like a king.  In Peter's mind, and through his words, Jesus is the only head, chief, senior, or lead shepherd (see 1 Peter 5:1-4).  

The rock that Jesus' church is founded upon, is The Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God.  From Christ, we love, and we serve: feeding and caring for his people.  That is the ministry.

Whatever your failure, your mishap, or your detour; and even if your wandering feels like you are lost from the ministry, the church, your calling, your destiny, or simply a happy life of service to God:  Hear Jesus' words to you:  "Do you love me?"

He simply asks, "Do you love me?"

Some of us might have a hard time even with that question, because we equate love with performance.  We are all tied in knots, because we judge our selves, our performance as poor.  We say to ourselves, that we really must not love him AS WE SHOULD because of our failures.

Real love is not tied to success or proved by winning performances.  Real love is based on no conditions, but is a choice to love that person.  We never define or gauge God's love for us, based on our victory or defeat, success or failure, and applause or boos from people.

The word is simple.  Do you love him?  Get past your performance orientation, ambition, competition, need to look good, low self-esteem, and ego-mania.

Get past it, does not mean pretend it is not there, but it means to acknowledge it and let it go.  Set it down at the cross, release it and embrace Father in his unconditional love.  The only way to live, which is the way of Christ, same for Peter and same for us, is to live loved.

After clearing the way, you can say, "I do".  I do love you.  Yes.

He has brought me back to the center.  My bad is not the center.  Me is not the center.

My "I" is now filled with his light.  It is a little light most of the time, but his light is there in me.  In that light, I know I love him.

He loves me and I love him.  Truth!  Now that we have that clear, and we might have to go back and forth a number of times, because of my stuff; I hear him say these simple words: "Feed my lambs and tend my sheep".



Happiness, Anger, and Your Liver


  • Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely. 
  • That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous; yes, my whole body will rest in safety.
  • This is a good life—my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy, and my body is at rest.
    Who could want for more?
  • So my heart rejoices and I am happy;  My life is safe.
  • Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.
  • Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
  • Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.
-Psalm 16:9 (HCSB, CEB, MSG, NET, NIV, ESV NKJV)

A secure person has healthy emotions -  healthy happiness and sadness, joy and anger.  Our heart is the seat or inner place of our love and our liver is the seat or inner place of our anger.  Healthy, normal people experience love and anger, and because of this, they walk securely.

Having God's protection, living a life of worship towards God, loving your neighbor, declining to live in idolatry, making the Lord your life, receiving and living in your inheritance in contentment, receiving counsel from God even while sleeping, and living in 24-7 intimacy with God.  These all lead to or produce the fruit of a secure life, from the inside out, symbolized by a healthy heart and liver.

David says that three aspects of his life are good, and I looked at seven different translations, because the second part, aspect number two, is translated differently, in different translations.  He says his heart is good, and something else is good, and that his flesh, body, or life is good.  That something else is translated:

  • my spirit
  • my mood
  • my soul
  • I
  • my tongue
  • my whole being
  • my glory

The King James has "my glory", as does the NASB and many other older translations.  But we simply do not say, "my glory rejoices", today; so translators had to choose other words.  It probably tells us that the Hebrew is difficult or obscure here.

I found a note, in the NET Bible notes, that makes the case that this word, and they translate it "I", is synonymous with liver.  Again, we do not exclaim, "my liver rejoices", so no English translation says that, but the writers of the NET Bible notes make the exegetical and anthropological case that this is what the original statement meant.

We have to remember that we are in the West, but David and the other authors of the Bible lived in the East.  Sometimes people do fear-talk and say, "watch out for those eastern religions", and  I imagine they have in mind Hinduism and Buddhism.   But Judaism is from the middle-east, and is closer to China and India than to London, New York, or Los Angeles.

Even though Continental Europe is closer than those, it's western, modern ideas of psychology and medicine will not help us with Hebrew as much as looking at Eastern anthropology.  And, from Chinese medicine, we find out some things, from the eastern mind, about the liver.

Some of our bodies' organs are connected to our emotions.  It is believed that the liver is connected to our anger.  How you feel, deal with, or process anger is connected to your liver.  When we have a weakened liver, it is more difficult to deal with anger.

Overeaters or compulsive overeaters often eat because something is eating at them, which is often anger or resentment.  Alcohol and drugs, including Tylenol, are hard on the liver.  Ironically, people take drugs and alcohol to cope with anger, and actually weaken their body's built-in anger processor. 

Anger is a secondary emotion or a reaction.  Anger is healthy and normal.  A robust life includes healthy anger.  David might have been such a person: a passionate warrior who had fiery anger that regularly was processed through his inner man or liver.  He had a bright light, we could say.  He might have been a person who changed the atmosphere in a room or place, just by his presence, which included his passionate, fiery personality.

Anger includes irritability, resentment, and frustration.  We get these, but we do not stay in these, but process them; which is the inner role the liver plays in our body's emotional processing system.  If we do not process or allow our system to process, or if our system is blocked somehow, and we can not process the anger that comes, then we have a back-log of anger and we become angry easier at smaller annoyances in our lives.

Headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, stomach, and spleen problems can be the result of anger backed up in your insides.  There are actually about 100 conditions that could be connected to your liver's health.

The liver is the blood filter.  The liver stores sugar, for energy.  The liver works for the growth and repair of the body's tissues.

The liver is in charge of your body's peripheral nervous system.  People with dysfunctional livers have difficulty relaxing and with balance.  Dysfunction also results in lack of drive, ambition, and creativity; and feelings of anger: frustration and rage for no reason.

The liver and gallbladder work hand-in-hand.  If one is unhealthy, it affects the function of the other.  A healthy life-style for one is helpful for the functioning of the other.

Most of these things are the negatives of an unhealthy liver.  But, in Psalm 16, David says, "my liver is great!"  So what are the positives about a healthy liver, that David must have been experiencing enough to say this?

In Chinese medicine, the liver is "the general", or "the chief of staff".  The liver is the general in charge of strategy.  We are talking about vision, planning, and creativity.  

A person with a healthy liver is vibrant in their kindness, benevolence, compassion, and generosity.  This reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit. A healthy liver function, according to Chinese medicine, results in the feelings of ease, harmony, and peace.  

The macro functional idea of the liver's role is to make you go somewhere, to set you free to be creative, to live going out, up, and forward.  "Carpe diem!", with peace, is what your liver wants to say.

__________________________________________________________
Bibliography

Net Bible, Liver
The Liver Doctor: Your Emotions Can Effect The Health of Your Liver
What Are The Seven Emotions?, by Shen Nong
Liver: Wood-energy yin organ




It's Me!

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
-Galatians 2:19-21

I was thinking about my troubles, my struggles, challenges, and relationships; basically every negative aspect of my life.  Is it spiritual warfare?  Or did I take offense?  Or am I just sleep deprived and have a stomach ache?

Maybe all of the above.  You know the phrase, "get a life"?  Well, how about, "get a new life"?  That is kind of what Galatians 2:20 says.  I groused and grouched.  But when I stilled myself, turned to the Lord, and listened, Holy Spirit gave me my verse, again, for the umpteenth time.  

And that verse says: "When my heart is weak, I cry out to you from the very ends of the earth: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  I read that, and said that, and prayed that; again.

And after I took it in, I looked back, over my shoulder, at the road I had just traveled on, and the things I was just thinking about.   And I said, "It's me".  It's not all this or all that or all them...  it's me.

And that brings me to Galatians 2:20.  The whole "me" thing:  Have you noticed how many times "I' and "me" are in Galatians 2:20?

  • I have been crucified with Christ.
  • I no longer live.
  • But Christ lives in me.
  • The life I now live in the body.
  • I live by faith.
  • In the Son of God, who loved me.
  • And gave himself for me.

"I" and "me", is what I am responsible for in my life.  And "I" and "me" is very different in Christ than not in Christ.  "I" and "me" needs to be crucified with Christ, and then "I" and "me" needs to walk in Christ's redemption, transformation, and live his resurrection life in my "I" and "me" life.

After and while I am doing that, I will still have my life, with my stuff, with my troubles, and with all my relationships.  But, I am now living out of, relating to it all, all people, and even to my self; "I" and "me", through Christ.  And that is the Christian life, that I am still learning to live, and I will always be learning and re-learning it.  Disciples are always learning.


Silent Prayer

I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
-Psalm 62:1

Have you tried silent prayer?  It has two components: You don't tell anyone but God, and you primarily pray without speaking out loud.  It is counter-intuitive and powerful.

All the words are here, describing silent prayer, in Psalm 62:1, and are amplified and further explained in the rest of David's song.  I wonder what the tune was like.  To be blunt, this is a song about people wanting to kill you, but putting your trust in God to save you.

I have prayed about hundreds and probably thousands of things over the years.  The most important or biggest things were crisis things and impossible things.  I know about praying and talking to others about the prayer request, then waiting, seeing, praying, talking, living, waiting, and praying some more.

There are prayers of request, petition, supplication, thanks, lament, grief, and anger.  There are also declarative prayers and prayers that involve binding and loosing.  There are also prayers of command.

There are also prayers of travail and prayers that involve tears and prayers that are just weeping, and even wailing.  And don't forget fasting and prayer or prayer and fasting.  You can fast from just about anything and it helps your life, prayers, and prayer life:  Fast from television, all electronic media, certain foods or all foods, or fast from gossip - the need to talk about other people, even if it is not malicious

Silent prayer fits in with many of the types and styles of prayer I just mentioned.  Silent prayer is a type of fast where we keep our prayer request secret and keep it between us and God.  And silent prayer is when we pray silently.

When I had some impossible prayer requests that weighed on my heart, I began to practice silent prayer during the north leg of my daily commute.  Sometimes I would speak during the westbound time and then get silent when I headed north and sometimes I would listen to podcasts or recorded material, but shut it off and go into silence when I headed north.

Without having this verse or any verse in front of me, I placed my self and my problem in front of God, in silence, like an offering or as material for sacrifice.  I often marveled at the fact that in the past, my way would be to "phone a friend" and talk endlessly about the problem, but now God is teaching me a better way.  Actually, in the past it was both/and:  I would do long silent walks on the beach and I would also talk a lot to friends.  The difference in the recent past, was like I was not aloud to talk about it, or rather God was counseling me to do things this way, cutting out the "phone a friend" old way.

And nothing in wrong with talking to friends and family!  It is good to talk and listen and communicate.  But there is something more and God's intimate one-on-one relationship with each one of us is so very important that it is the foundation of our lives that we can not live without.  Much better to be lonely for friends or companionship with people than to have many friends and loved-ones, but have God lonely for companionship with you, because we have neglected him or rather your relationship with him.

I had a funny, gentle dream once that made a point about savoring my relationship with God and not gossiping about it.  I was in a church setting and received a revelation or a word from God, and there was a phone, my phone, right behind me; and I picked it up and called my friend to tell him about the word, immediately.  It was like a television comedy where that phone rings, interrupting something, except it was me who went for the phone, when something intimate and secret and loving and gracious had just been given to me by God, "phoning a friend" rather than celebrating, savoring, and being thankful in God's presence in intimacy.  I learned.

Everything I need to know about what God is to me and what he wants to do, it given to me in David's words in Psalm 62:1
I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
Being at rest, means to wait silently.  The "in God alone" piece tells us that he was putting all his chips on the table for God.  He is going all in, whole hog, or as John Wimber loved to say, "lock-stock-and-barrel, no-holds-barred, mountain-style".

Often, when we have a crisis, we say, "but I have a plan".  This has happened, what do we do?  We say that we could do this or that or try this or that or investigate doing this or that.  But there is a time when our only hope is God.

There is a paradox that we live in where we must completely put our hope in God, but we also must do something: faith and faithful follow through, based on God's faithfulness.  We can be fully in the place of reliance of God, in silence, and ready to move with God when God moves or take the initiative, as God directs or brings together circumstances.

Having grown up during the Star Wars films, I always think of that line, "your're my only hope".  God is my only hope for a number of things.  I am thankful that I can do many things, by and through God's grace, at this moment; but there are some things that I need God's help on, with, and for; or they pretty much will not be.

The word rest goes along with this idea of waiting in silence only on God.  He wants me to rest and not strive.  We actually do everything from rest.

But with the big problem, the big prayer request; where it is out of my control and there's nothing I can do to change what needs to change, what I want to see changed, and it is based on what the Bible tells me about how things can be.  With that big one in front of me, I wait, rest, and dwell silently before God, seeing God as my only resource.  Just the practice of doing this is a blessing, is helpful, is gracious, is healing, and beneficial.

Big God, little me.  When I do this silent prayer, I am "strangely encouraged".  I feel better, even when nothing is better, according to my senses.

I have come out of silence with the revelation that God has me, God has my problem, or the issue I am concerned about.  Things build up in me, in my non-silent world; and I return to the silence before God again, bringing my stuff and placing it before him, and I am reassured again that he's got this and he's got me.

Silent prayer.  Try it, you'll like it.

The Little Things - Like Money

Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.
-Luke 16:10


This proverb from Jesus is a commentary or a side note on a parable he just told, about "the dishonest manager".  The ESV & HCSB title the story that way, but the NLT & NIV call it "the shrewd manager".  Eugene Peterson has, "the crooked manager".

Some Bible experts say that this is the hardest parable in Luke, to interpret.  There is difficulty in seeing what Jesus point was, with possibly asking us to emulate a dishonest person.  But, as is often the case, the context helps us understand the text.

The context is a story about a person and their money or resources.  It is the story of allocation or investing assets or commodities.  It is a story of how to manage or do beneficial process in a financial crisis.

In the story, the manager did good business right before he lost his position.  He was a seller or a trader, who managed assets: buying, selling, and trading; for his boss.  The boss decided that the manager was doing poorly, so he dismissed him.

But before the manager packed up and handed things back to his boss, he made a number of finishing deals with the accounts (people) he dealt with, for his boss.  He lowered the amount that each owed and got each account or deal closed and settled.

We do not know if these were, "I am going out of business", discounts; in order to not leave loose ends and make his boss happy; or if the manager himself paid the difference, blessing these customers and his boss.  Either way, his boss did compliment him on the way out; and more importantly, Jesus complimented him.

So, what is this all about, and how does it apply to Christians today?  It is about investing or generously giving money or commodities to people who are in need.  Jesus is saying that just as the boss in the story praised him for what he did for his customers, you will be praised by people who you generously give to, who are in need; in this life and in heaven.

Diametrically opposed to this generous lifestyle that Jesus teaches, were the Pharisees, who loved money.  And Jesus says that we can not love God, serve God; and love or serve money.  Money is meant to serve people who love and serve God.

Money is a great tool to bless people, because people who do not have money need money to eat and live.  God blesses us with money to enjoy our lives and to give it away to people who are in need.  How we handle our money is a barometer of our spiritual maturity and readiness to receive opportunity and responsibilities in the kingdom.

Do we love God and love people, or do we love money?  If we hoard money, if we are not generous to those in need, and if we see money and commodities that we have as only for us; then we are not walking in the generous love-way of Christ.  And unless we change direction, we will arrive at where we are headed.

How we handle dollars or our extra stuff are the little things that are very important in Jesus eyes, because they give us a reading on how our hearts are.  Generous hearted people can be given spiritual promotion or kingdom duties.  Generous hearts are identified through generosity in dollars and sense.

God Arises

God arises. His enemies scatter, and those who hate Him flee from His presence.
-Psalm 68:1

Do you see God arising?  We pray, "God arises!", as a declarative prayer.  He is arising, and we bless what we see the Father doing (John 5:19) just like Jesus.

"God arises", is a statement of truth; like saying, "God is on the move".  We are not petitioning God to come, but we see that he is already here.  We are announcing that God is here, so that we can do something.

We see and do.  We do not just see and enjoy the sight, nor do we just see and learn, all in the thinking realm.  Real learning is in the participation.  

I declare, "God arises".  Do you see?  I will help you see if you do not see God arising.

Can you see, can you hear, and can you sense God arising?   If so, what do we do?

When we see God arising, we:
  1. Repent.  Jesus message was not to accept him into your heart as your personal savior.  Jesus message was not to believe in the cross and what he did (would do) there.  Jesus message was, "Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand".  To repent means to change, to change your mind, to change your purpose, to change your direction.  God does not give a catalog of sins we should stop doing, because 'sin management' has never been the message or God's way.  Repent also means 'reform': Reform or die.  You must change and re-purpose your life or you will die: you are signing off on your death notice.  Many people are the living dead, because they refuse to repent when the call to do so has been given clearly.
  2. Get out of the way.  There is a dance that reverences participating with God and in God, without ever taking God's place of headship.  Jesus modeled how to be submissive to Father's lead and rely upon the power of the Spirit.  He is the model for how to live and the only way to live.
  3. Join in on what God is doing.  We get to participate with God in what God is doing in the earth.  We are co-missioned into God's mission.  He calls us child, friend, and slave; and we get to learn how to enjoy life in those three roles or dimensions with God.  Jesus gives us authority and we need to know what it is and how it works and our responsibilities for and how we use our authority.

When God arises he gets himself between you and his enemies.  When God comes into a situation his enemies are exposed and must flee.  Selfishness and sinfulness in people will not stand or live in God's presence either.

Every person that Jesus encountered, during his years of ministry, after he left the family's business; had issues that came up, that Jesus had a word for, a key to help then unravel from selfishness, hopelessness, delusions, or misconceptions.  This same Jesus who preached the general "Repent!" message to all, had helpful counsel and instructions for individuals.  So, God calls us all to repent and he also has compassionate, loving, care filled counsel and instruction for us as individuals.

When God arises we do not want to delude ourselves to think, "God is on our side".  It does not work that way, because "Repent" means that we all surrender to being on God's side, realizing that God is the king and we are all his subjects.  Some people have not realized this or taken action to bow to the king yet.

If you have surrendered and have become a subject and child of the king, it means you are in the kingdom and under and on the side of the king.  The only other side is the side of God's enemies.  People are either with God or with God's enemies, even if they don't know it.  When God arises, the enemy is exposed and must flee and the peoples who are not in the kingdom, under the king, but have been captives in the enemy's kingdom, get to be delivered or set free.

And when God comes, people get to choose if they are in or out, get free and become king's kids, or stay in bondage.

I declare, let God rise up!  God arises!  Up with God!


Loves Me Live A Rock

My mama loves me
She loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
And she loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me

-Paul Simon

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is a rock for all ages.

-Isaiah 26:4 (CEB)

So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.

-Luke 15:20
 



Love is pretty much the antidote or answer to everything.  That makes sense when you consider that God is love.  The whole message is that God loves us, which is why Jesus Christ came.

God's love.  Father's love.  And we love because God loves.

Loving our children teaches them about God's love.  My mom has told me hundreds of times, "Remember your mommy loves you".  Sounds silly, but it is a blessing.

Raising children?  "Train up a child in the way he should go", is what the Bible says, so that is what we do.  Training means 'dedicate' or 'consecrate' and in the way he should go means 'according to their individual temperament, disposition, talents, or destiny'.  We help our children discover their design and who God has destined them to be.

Love is the foundation of parenting.  The parent walks in the love of God and loves their children with that love.  Loving others comes from receiving Gods love and living loved, and we train our children in loving God and knowing the Father's affection.

We do good after we have received the love and we train our children in the love of God and they learn right from wrong in the atmosphere of love.  Consecration or dedication of children or infants is not just an event, but a process that may or may not have an event occur within it.  We need to walk in God's love daily, and we need to train our children in God's love every day.

The love of God is the essential ingredient in everything God does.  The reason Jesus came was love.  The whole Old Testament rules, guidelines, or law is founded on loving God, and fleshed out in loving God and then loving people.  And Jesus' command, to the person who would follow him and let him live that life of loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength; through them, is to simply love others.

We stand on Christ, the solid rock.  The essence of Christ is his love for his dad.  In Christ, we are all about loving Father.

This is what The Rock of Ages is.  Christians are people 'in Christ'.  To be 'in Christ' is to be cleansed and forgiven of sin and to be living out of his love.

Many of us were not raised or trained up this way by loving parents.  Many of us were raised by godly Christian parents, but we missed out on this foundation of love.  What then?

A few thoughts.  Your history is not your destiny.  Life in Christ is a new history, filled with new beginnings, and a pioneer-spirit life of going out and going in.

We are to honor and love our parents, even as we live in Christ differently than they do or did.  Same Christ, if they are Christians, but Christ calls you to follow him.  And our love for Christ is so great, that we 'hate' our parents in comparison.

You may not have had a very loving mamma, but God will compensate you.  You do not live 'ripped off' or 'one-down' for life, as a child unloved.  No.  Father loves you and adopts you into a relationship that your earthly mamma and papa may have not at all reflected.

Father loves you and me the way that he designed our mothers to love us.  Father created mothers and he will love you in all the ways that your earthly mother did not.  God is waiting and willing to love us, but we have to come into his embrace.

I love the story of the father with two sons in Luke 15.  When the prodigal ("wasteful and extravagant") son returns home, the father runs to meet him and embraces him.  Jesus is sharing that this is how God is.

This son was reckless and very disrespectful and unloving towards his dad.  But his dad still loved him anyway.  The dad was on the lookout and saw the young man returning and ran down the path to meet him, which was very untoward, culturally; which means that he did not care how it looked, but his running was about his compassionate love for his lost son.

The other side of that story is the 'good son' who stayed with his dad, but was not enjoying his father's affection, but had the mistaken idea that he was in good standing through his own merit.  When the story ends, there is a huge celebration for the return of the lost son, while the other son is seething.

Both sons have the opportunity to learn about their father's unconditional love and unmerited favor and about just being with their dad in his love.  The Father has always been the compassionate loving God.  We are the ones who have either gone astray.

We go astray overtly or covertly.  People who strive in their religion of Christianity and delude themselves that even part of being saved is through their own merit, do so thinking that God is with them and is affirming that lifestyle.  They are living in "The Father's House" with completely wrong assumptions about how the life works.

The 'kicker' is that God seems to not correct or fix them, and lets them keep doing their (wrong) thing, in his name and make disciples who make more disciples.  And they say they are 'for His glory', as they live unlovingly and represent God as something other than compassionate and loving.

Why or how can this be?  Free will is a huge value for God.  He lets people blaspheme him and misrepresent him in all sorts of egregious ways without stopping it.

God has spoken and God is speaking and God is alive and well.  Jesus is building his church.  You can recognize it, in it's infinite number of unique expressions by his character in it, that mirrors his father's character.  The great war plan against God has been to distort his character and what he is towards humankind.

The whole OT told a story of God's love and in Jesus, God showed what he is like.  There have been distortions from the beginning about what God said and who God is and what God requires.  But we know that God's way, God's character, and what God is to us is about Father's love.

He loves me: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love me.  And I love them back because they loved me first.  And I join in on their love mission in this world.

That is the love we love our children in, that sets them on the path.  That is the love we live in as Christians.


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Loves Me Like a Rock, by Paul Simon

When I was a little boy
And the Devil would call my name
I'd say "now who do
Who do you think you're fooling?"
I'm a consecrated boy
Singer in a Sunday choir
My mama loves, she loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
She loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me

When I was grown to be a man
And the Devil would call my name
I'd say "now who do
Who do you think you're fooling?"
I'm a consummated man
I can snatch a little purity
My mama loves me, she loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
She loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me

If I was President
And the Congress call my name
I'd say "who do
Who do you think you're fooling?"
I've got the Presidential Seal
I'm up on the Presidential Podium
My mama loves me
She loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
And she loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me