How To Have a Home Where Children Are Not Discouraged

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged.
-Colossians 3:21

Many kids today are discouraged because they are exasperated.  And the source is their dad.  Many dads do not know how important their role is with their kids, and are messing up.

I know from experience, because I am a father and have exasperated my son.  When it has happened, it was like, "Wow, there's Colossians 3:21...  that exasperation thing...  how did that happen and what did I do?"

The "What did I do?" part is oh so important.  Hold that thought.

Exasperate means "irritated to anger."  Your child is angry with you, and you caused it.  We dads, at first, are defensive and say, in our minds or with our lips, "My kid is not supposed to be angry with me, so my child must be wrong, because I am the parent, I am the authority."

Buzzzzz! ------------> That's usually the wrong conclusion.

This verse says that dads can cause their kids to get angry.  Both parents can infuriate their kids and it's the parent's fault.  So "listen up" as we say.

To help us with what exasperating is, here are some synonyms:
aggravate, anger, annoy, bother, bug, burn (up), chafe, embitter, irritate, gall, grate, harass, irk, make resentful, peevepersecute, provoke, rile, ruffle, and vex.
These are what you, dad or mom, can do to your children.  Stop and reflect.  Let go of your defenses.  Take responsibility.  You can create lifelong problems for your kid if you don't get this and let Jesus help you be a good parent.

The first thing to realize is that you are capable of these things, because you are so important to your child.  You have a God-given role and function.  You, your behavior, words and actions affect your children; so, be careful.

What exactly do we do that is exasperating to our children?  Here are a few examples:  fault finding, harshness, and unreasonable demands; harassing, being annoying, raging, bugging, and pushing them beyond their young limits.

The big missing ingredient in all these is graciousness.

"No grace" translates to "no love" because love is expressed with gracious actions (1 Cor. 13).  And this is how a child ends up saying, "I thought you hated me," and the astonished parent cannot believe these words, because in their mind, they have been a good parent.

Parents are mandated to nurture their kids.  That means graciousness.  Pushiness, harassing, aggravating, irritating fault-finding, critical, micro-managing, and in-your-face bossy is not nurturing grace.

Kids need a fail-safe environment to explore and learn.  Failure is part of learning.  Experimenting, within boundaries of safety, is good.

The end result of exasperation is discouragement.  Children are naturally playful, curious, experimenters, risk-takers, and trusting.  All of these can be crushed by an exasperating father (or mother).

The boy or girl who is discouraged by their over-bearing father (or mother), goes into the world as an adult who does not know how to play, lacks curiosity, does not experiment, fears risk-taking, and does not trust.  This sounds like an adult child of an alcoholic, except your parent may have been a "dry-drunk" which is someone with a "jekyll and hyde" personality who did not drink.

How can a dad repent of exasperating his child?  If you do this and want to stop, what is the cure?  This verse is in the context of a chapter where Paul is writing about the Christian's life.

Being a good father or mother requires good behavior that is the result of the man or woman being in Christ.  The admonition to not exasperate your kids comes in the context of Paul's "application section" of his letter to the Colossians.  In the preceding chapters and verses, Paul has been expounding on Christ.

The Cosmic Christ

This text, Colossians 3:21, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won't become discouraged," has a context of a book and a chapter.  The book of Colossians is about the cosmic Christ.

Chapter one has a hymn that Paul wrote about Christ:
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.
For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Christ is head of the universe, the church, the home, and each disciple.

Notice that Christ is creator and sustainer of the cosmos and head of the church.  Put out your two hands and consider each of these.  It gives you an idea that Christ is a big deal.

We need to have very high Christology, our belief about the importance and power of Christ.  The fact that he is head of the church should always give us pause about how we run and conduct our churches.  We need to not act like he is the founder who is long gone, but the living head; and there is a huge difference.

Christ holds the universe together and heads up the whole church.  He is not working at a distant headquarters, but he is working in all the branches of the living church.  On the one hand he created everything and holds it together, and on the other hand he is the head of the church.

Christ reconciles everything.  God's fullness dwells in him and he has the power of God to reconcile everything to himself.  And he did it through his shed blood on the cross.

That song above, with those points, is the Christ we serve, the Christ who has saved us, the Christ who is redeeming us and making us sanctified.  He is the one who dwells in us to live the life, his life.  That is the context of my text about not exasperating your child.

You can only live the Christian life in Christ.

You can only obey his commands, the first and highest of which is to love, if you have him living through you.  You cannot live the life without being his disciple and he calls his disciples to bear their own crosses and die so that they will live.

You have to die so that you may live.

You have to have death and burial, funeral and grief, in order to have resurrection life.  To try to live the life, bypassing your cross, death, and resurrection is to try to live the Christian life without Christ, "in name only" and not the authentic deal.

That is like the Pharisees, having a "form" of godliness, but denying the power of God.  It takes God to raise the dead, to have resurrection life, and that is the only life we can have in Christ.  It is not the carnal nature obeying God, but the new life in Christ that has been raised from the dead, and there is a massive difference.

Christ the foundation, high Christology, and a powerful Christ, is the center, the key and the door to our lives, including how we talk to our children.  Let's look at the preceding twenty verses of Colossians chapter three to get the steps, the building blocks, that lead up to this verse, and give it context.

Sky Links 4-19-15

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

Your Mountain

I believe that God wants to take us to The Mountain, His Mountain for us.  Lance Wallnau wrote about how we need to hear God's voice calling each one of us up into our mountains, and how God's voice is the key:

There is much theology about the Word of God, but less is taught about the VOICE of God.
Exodus 19:20 “The Lord CALLED Moses TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, and Moses went up.”
Like Moses it was the voice of the Lord calling John up higher that caught him up into the throne room. (Revelation 4:1) And that voice brought John, like Moses, to the top of a high MOUNTAIN where he saw God’s plan (Revelation 21:10).
The voice takes you to the top of your mountain of destiny.
Read the whole post by Lance, God's Voice Will Take You To The Top of Your Mountain, here.

The Synagogue Model

Miguel, at Pathways International, asks the question, "Are Contemporary Church Meetings ‘Built
On’ the Synagogue Model?"  Good question!  Miguel wrote:
The word “assembly” in James 2:2, and the word “congregation” in Acts 13:43, is translated from the Greek word sunagógé, which is translated as “synagogue” in all 56 other places that it appears in the New Testament books.

Ideal Church?

Are you an idealist?  I have been told that I am an idealist about the church. But, I have realized, like the authors at "church in a circle" that there is no ideal church. There can be a real disillusionment, if you think that making changes in how you "do church" will make your church perfect. They wrote:
Organic church life can be amazing. In fact, institutional church life can be equally
amazing. However, just like a marriage, any of these relational settings needs to be honesty,authenticity, acceptance, kindness, patience, love. The problem is, these things come at a cost. They require effort and truckloads of maturity. They are not always easy and they don’t always feel good.
...approached with the right mindset and commitment to playing our part. There are certain characteristics which will create the transformational community we long for.."
Very well said.  The whole post, "the myth of the perfect church", is here.

The 6 Tough Questions for the Church

Guy Muse and Roger Thoman both posted Reggie McNeal's, 6 Tough Questions For The Church, from his 2003 book of that title that is still pertinent:
1. The collapse of the church culture.
  • Wrong question: How do we do church better?
  • Tough question: How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?
2. The shift from church growth to kingdom growth.
  • Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
  • Tough question: How do we transform our community?
3. A new reformation: Releasing God's people.
  • Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
  • Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?
4. The return to spiritual formation.
  • Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
  • Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
5. The shift from planning to preparation.
  • Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
  • Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?
6. The rise of apostolic leadership.
  • Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
  • Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?

Calvinism -The Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin

I, personally began my faith in the Presbyterian church.  I am thankful for that church.  The majority of my classmates in seminary were Presbyterians, and they were all nice people who wanted to serve God.

Frank Viola has done, or is doing, a series of posts on shocking beliefs of various Christian leaders.
...Even the most influential Christians who have changed the lives of countless people for good — Calvin being one of them — believed things that were surprising, shocking, and even outrageous.So tread carefully the next time you come across another follower Jesus who doesn’t believe just like you do on every doctrinal point.

Frank lists seven shockers and he has the footnotes to back them up:
1. Calvin believed that executing unrepentant heretics was justified.
2. Calvin believed that the Eucharist provides an undoubted assurance of salvation.
3. Calvin believed that the Reformed Church (his church) was the true Church and there was no salvation outside of it.
4. Calvin believed it was acceptable to lambast his opponents with vicious names.
5. Calvin believed that the Old Testament capital offenses should be enforced today.
6. Calvin believed that Jewish people were impious, dishonest, lacked common sense, were greedy, and should die without pity.
7. Calvin believed that God did not create all humans on equal terms, but created some individuals for eternal damnation.
Each of these seven points are filled out by Frank in the whole posts here.  The point of the post, is stated by Frank:
Again, as in all the posts in this series, the point is not to put the greatest influencers of the Christian faith in a bad light or disregard their legacy.
Rather, it’s the opposite.It’s to show that even the most influential Christians who have changed the lives of countless people for good — Calvin being one of them — believed things that were surprising, shocking, and even outrageous.
So tread carefully the next time you come across another follower Jesus who doesn’t believe just like you do on every doctrinal point.
And when you’re tempted to burn them over a slow spit because of their “bad theology,” remember John Calvin — the man whom Charles Spurgeon said had a near flawless theology — and consider some of the other stuff the great Reformer believed.
Point taken that we sit at a big table.  I had to think about Frank's point for a while to really get it.  I think the big picture is that we follow God, the "theo" not the "logy".

We may disagree on a theological point.  But, let's not throw bombs at each other, but sit down and talk; dialogue, debate, discuss, discern, and even disagree.  But let it be done in love.  We can be one and not agree on some things.

What if we had unlimited grace and forgiveness towards brothers and sisters, while having the courage to be straight and say what we believe?  When the other party can receive a contrarian viewpoint with grace and forgiveness, even if they think the other is wrong, that is the love Jesus was telling us to have for one another.

If you want to learn more about Calvinism, I highly recommend  listening to these (21 total) lectures on "God's Sovereignty and Man's Salvation" by Steve Gregg.  You can find Steve on YouTube giving these same talks on video.  You can also watch and hear Steve debate Calvinists, which he has done many times.

Are you a writer?

I mean, do you aspire to be a writer?  I think I might fit that category of people.  Do you maybe have a calling to write that has not taken off or come to fruition?  Did you recieve a personal prophecy that you would be a published writer?  Todd Hiestand, wrote about, "My Journey into Never Writing":
I struggle as a writer. Wait, there are already problems here. I am not sure its fair to call myself a writer. I think it would be more accurate to call myself an “aspiring writer.” I mean, I do not really ever write. I am now, of course, but this is literally the first time I’ve intentionally sat down to write anything in the last three or four months.

Widows, and Widowers Married to Ministers

Arthur Burke wrote about the troubled pastor's wife, who "lives as a widow", or is married to someone who is married to "the ministry" and is in reality, a bigamist.  Very sad and common in today's Christendom.  Arthur wrote:
...Football widows. Golf widows. Or the non-wives of the hard driving corporate climbers who love the rough and tumble of the marketplace and allocate an occasional dinner and flowers for The Little Woman.
In reality, there is no difference at all between the hunting widow and the pastoral widow. One is just easier to gloss over.
So what to do?
In a dream scenario, the husband and wife are both deeply vested in the ministry, are partners together and have great boundaries so that the church does not devour their personal life.
Happens at times, but not too often.
I love seeing couples who are happy and do not like it when I see a spouse who is living in an empty shell of a marriage that is a bit of a facade, while their spouse is out there "saving the world".  The lonely spouse (female or male) is in the awkward position of not being on the side of "the ministry" if they ask for more, which was really what their spouse promised or covenanted to give them at their wedding.

Podcast Interviews by Shane, the Seminary Dropout

Shane Blackshear is an awesome podcaster who has been interviewing Christian authors and posting the audio.  I have thoroughly enjoyed his interviews with:

What Is Church?: Scott McKnight & Neil Cole

If you are like me, you might be living out the question, "what is church?".  Scott McKnight wrote on Three Terms For "Church" today.  Scott confirmed my suspicion that "hanging out" is not church (see his response in the comments section).  Scott wrote that church is:

Leitourgia  That is, church is worship service. The Germans calls this Gottesdienst, and many Americans when they say “church” mean “going to a church building on Sunday morning for a worship and sermon service.”
Ekklesia  That is, church is gathering together on Sunday morning. The central idea here is not just worship but gathering together. The word “church” comes from the Greek term ekklesia, which some think derives from the idea of being called out, but it means more those who are gathered into assembly. The term refers to the gathering of citizens in a Greek polis to discuss and govern the polis.
Koinonia  That is, church is a group of people who live with one another through the power of the Spirit under the sign of King Jesus. The central idea is that it is a fellowship of people, who know and love one another and who seek to grow into Christlikeness both personally and corporately with one another, who know and care about one another’s children — to nurture them as they can alongside parents. They also share life’s ordinaries with one another: food and table and wisdom and cars and time and dinners and even holidays.
The whole post by Scott is here.

Neil Cole has been writing a series of posts on "What Is Church?"  Neil Wrote:
Francis Chan has used an analogy to shake up our view of church. He says: “Imagine you were alone on a desert island and had no experience at all with Christianity, and a bible washed up on shore so you read it cover to cover. If you then decided you would do church, do you think you would do church the way we do it?” The obvious answer is of course not! What this tells us is that much of the way we do church is more wrapped up in church historical tradition than in what the Bible says....
The Bible does not define the church. Instead it is described with helpful pictures: a flock, a field, a family, a body, a bride, a branch, a building made of living stones...
...The church we have all experienced looks more like one of these: a building with an address, a concert with a motivational speaker, A public meeting with religious practices, a business that provides spiritual goods and services, an organization with bylaws and business meetings, a school teaching people about the Bible and its author, or a hospital for the sick and broken. Contrast those two lists. We have replaced an organic and life producing view with an institutional one that does not produce life but at best simply tries to preserve and contain it.
Neil's whole post is here.

Leadership (the priesthood of all believers)

Winn Griffin has some very good notes on leadership.  It is interesting that it seems that God's plan has always been for all believers to be priests.  In other words, not a special hierarchical priestly office that rules and runs religious activities:
...The First Testament does not appear to have what one might call an office in which ministry occurred because the intention was that all would be priests.

Winn also writes that Paul's churches did not have hierarchical leadership, the "synagogue ruler" model, taken from 1st century Judaism, which seems to be what the institutional (Catholic) church adopted (then importing the OT priest into the NT pastorate).  It is also notable that synagogue rulers seemed to have been elected for one year terms of office.  I don't recall Jesus giving a sermon against synagogue rulers.  Winn writes:
It is fair to conclude then that a hierarchical system of church government was not created by Paul for the churches he planted, rather his was a charismatic form.
We love to quote Paul, but we don't want to be like him.

God is Coming

Sell Art Online
Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers.  Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.  By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.
-James 1:16-18 (HCSB)

I believe that God is about to "come to town".  I believe God is coming.  What is going to happen and how to get ready is expressed well in the song "Santa Claus is coming to town": 

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
You may not know that Santa is based on a 4th century person named Nicholas, who was a Christian who prayed and God did miracles through him.  Nic also loved to give people gifts, secretly.

The fame of God's miracles through him and his generosity gave rise to a special day on the Greek calendar for him, on December 6th.  How his holiday combined with celebrating Jesus birth and got moved to December 25th is another story.

Watch out, don't cry, and don't pout.

I found eleven verses that say, "watch out".  Watching out is not passive, but has to do with carefulness.  It is like the "caution" sign on a road.

Watch out for:
  • Watch out and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matt. 16:6).
  • Watch out!  Beware of yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees and the yeast of Herod. (Mark 13:5)
  • “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
  • Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Don’t follow them. (Luke 21:8)
  • Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing securely should watch out so he doesn’t fall. (1 Cor. 10:12, ISV)
  • Watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. (Rom. 16:17)
  • But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. (Gal 5:15)
  • Watch out for “dogs,” watch out for evil workers, watch outfor those who mutilate the flesh. (Phil. 3:2)
  • Watch out for him yourself because he strongly opposed our words. (2 Tim. 4:15)
  • Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. (Heb. 3:12)
  • Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. (Gal. 6:1)
Don't cry!

Why would we say to someone, "don't cry"?  There is healthy crying when we suffer a loss.  If someone does not cry, we sometimes wonder if they are out of touch.

When Jesus said, "don't cry", to the widow, who's only son had died, in Luke, chapter seven; he was not delegitimizing her grief.  He actually was completely their with her in her sorrow, and he was asking her to stop crying and turn her attention to him and what he would do.

Children cry more easily than adults, which is normal.  But when children cry too much or too easily, other children might call them, "cry babies".  Babies cry a lot and it is completely normal.  When a kid cries a bit too easily, that is when the "cry baby" moniker comes out. 

Now, some adults also cry too much.  Self-pity and weeping over your self is not good.  There is something called "crying in your beer", which is the picture of a person sipping on beer and feeling sorry for him or her self.

If you are suffering, God's remedy for you is not weeping over your self in a compulsive manner.  God is in the redeeming business.  He transforms our sorrows into laughter and turns our mourning into dancing.  And the laughter is not the laughter of the world, but joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet. 1:8).

  • You who now weep are blessed, because you will laugh. (Luke 6:21b)
  • When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. (Luke 7:13)
Don't pout:

Pouting is different than crying.  Pouting is grumbling.  I touched on grumbling and murmuring in my previous post.  Grumbling is when complaining turns into bitter judgements.

The pouter is fixed in a posture where their arms are folded and they are frowning and are putting down roots in unbelief.  They are not in a place of weak faith ("I believe, but help my unbelief"), but rather, are having faith in God's so-called badness.
  • They refused to enter the Promised Land, for they wouldn’t believe his solemn oath to care for them. Instead, they pouted in their tents and mourned and despised his command. (Ps. 106:24-5 TLB)

Ministry to Discouraged Failures

Draw Near To God, By Gwen Meharg, http://www.drawneartogod.com/
He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick; He will faithfully bring justice.
-Isaiah 43:2

Jesus is gentle and kind.  He is not overbearing.  If you are bruised, his intent is not to break you.  If you are like a smoldering wick, a light just barely flickering, his intent is not to snuff you out.

We can get all mixed up in ascribing the suffering of our lives to God.  We get stuck on , "why did you let this happen to me?", when the Lord wants to enter into and come alongside us in our suffering.

The bruised reed is a picture of something that people pass by or discard.  Jesus, the Servant, does the opposite.  He takes the bruised reed and cares for it.  He mends it and nurtures it back to strength.

Smoldering wicks are usually snuffed out.  The candle may have melted or the lamp's fuel may be spent.  But Jesus, the Servant, does the opposite.  He is going to care for that wick and get its light burning again.

Jesus teaches us to be gentle like he is.  He does not crush or break people.  He and we encourage the discouraged.

He also redeems failures.  He does not discard people who fail, but redeems them.  I love what Dallas Willard wrote about Romans 8:28:
Irredeemable harm does not befall those who willingly live in the hand of God. (1)
Are you living in the hand of God?  Christians help each other walk with God.  He gave us life, now we walk in his ways, living in his life, being learners of his words, together.  That is discipleship.

Jesus heals discouraged failures.  Are you a discouraged failure?  Come to The Servant and be healed.  Walk with him and let him encourage you and fan your fire.

The artwork above is by Gwen Meharg, found here.
1. Dallas Willard, Renovation of The Heart

May They Be One: Oneness Between Christians from The Glory

Photo credit, http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/blind-artist-jeffrey-hanson/
I pray not only for these,
But also for those who believe in Me through their message.
May they all be one,
As You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us,
So the world may believe You sent Me.
I have given them the glory You have given Me.
May they be one as We are one.
I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
So the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
-John 17:20-23 (HCSB)

In my previous post, I wrote about how the marker of Christians is that they love one another (John 13:5).  There are many things a Christian does, but loving fellow Christians is something Jesus commands us to do and says that the world will know he is real because of that love.

Three chapters later, in John, Jesus is in the garden of gethsemane, praying.  One of his prayers to Father is the one above where he prays, "that they may be one... completely one, so that the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me."

This is similar to his command to, "love one another, that everyone would know that you are my disciples", in John 13.  We have love, and thereby, oneness.  We are one because of our love.

The kicker is that this word, from Jesus, is for Christians today.  We can not read this in a detached manner, as if we are reading interesting history  We can not be entertained, enlightened, or taught and remain passive.  Because Jesus is praying about us.

We have to ask ourselves, "how is the answer to Jesus prayer taking shape in his church today?"
"I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.  May they be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You."  
Are we one, not just spiritually, but practically, with all the other Christians?
"May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me."
If we can love each other, then we can have a witness to the world.  If we can not love each other, taking God's love to each other and becoming one with all other Christians, then we will not be a witness for of Christ to the world.

The opposite of oneness, being made completely one with the whole church, is sectarianism.  Sectarian Christians lead with what they divide over, rather than unify over what they are one in.

Do we Christians identify ourselves with our special brand, or do we identify ourselves with our savior who is the savior of all Christians?  Are we preoccupied with our name or the namesake of all Christians?

We can become so enamored with or proud of our brand that we lose sight of the whole.  We define ourselves by ourselves rather than by our savior.

It is easy to become a member, congregant, or seat filler of a church, but much harder to be a Christian.  Christians follow a person, die to themselves, take up their crosses, and leave everything to be his disciple.

Christians see themselves as members of the whole body of Christ, welcoming diversity and infinite creativity.  Fellowship is based on Christ.  We gather in Christ.  Every tradition is flexible and expendable.  But The Lord Jesus Christ and his words are the rock and foundation of our lives.

Sectarianism is the enemy of God's mission in Christ through his people.  Being one and honoring all the creative expressions that God has in his people and being many but one is part of God's ministry to save a broken world.

The church and it's gatherings should be the most creative, spontaneous, and most open place to fresh ideas in the whole world.  If part of God's essential nature is creativity, then mankind will worship the creator creatively.  The church should be the cradle of the most creative artistic expressions of worship.

There is false unity and true unity.  Spiritual unity is not uniformity.  Every church grouping can and will be different.  The oneness that the church needs to have is not based on homogenization but on the glory of Christ:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one, just as we are one." (John 17:22 ISV)
The oneness or unity of the whole church comes from the glory of Christ.  "It's the glory!"  The antichrist, false unity plan does not have as it's impetus, the glory.  The glory is not doctrine or a belief, but the unspoken manifestation of God.

The artwork above is by Jeffrey Hanson.

A New Commandment

Photography Prints
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.  This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
-John 13:34-5

Being a good Christian means that we obey God's commands or God's laws, right?  Living a holy life means that I don't do things that non-Christians do, right?  Being a Christian means that I now have the power to be good, right?

The answer to these questions is that Jesus did not come to start a new religion.  Anthropology seeks to categorize Christianity among the world's religions.  But Jesus never came to set up a new religion.

Websters dictionary describes "religion" as, "an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods."

Jesus got rid of the priesthood (every Christian is now a priest), the temple (every Christian is now the temple of God), and the sacrifices (Jesus was the once-and-for-all sacrifice).

Judaism was a religion, that included the Mosaic Law.  It served it's purpose until Jesus came and fulfilled it (1)

Christians are people "in-Christ".  When you are in Christ, you are in the one who fulfilled the law and has obeyed the law.

Unlike the word's religions, Christians are people who are all about a person.  They are not only followers of him, but have given their lives to him, so that he can now live through all his followers.  Christians have God with them 24/7, and so do not need to do something at a religious edifice to get God's attention.

All Christians are lights, lit up by The Light, and attracting others to that light, in their daily lives.  So, people who do not yet know Christ meet him through his people whom he is indwelling,  and not at a some special place.

And the marker of the people who Christ is in, is their love for each other, in deed, in servant-hood, in being as a slaves to one another, as first modeled by The Master.

Christians are not anti-law or somehow above it, but now under Christ's law (1 Cor. 9:21).  Christians fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2) by obeying his command.

Jesus is the example for us to follow in loving each other (John 13:15) as servants, serving one another out of his love (John 13:17) and walking in the blessing of God.

The artwork above is Love One Another by Ivan Guaderrama, found here.
1. (Romans 10:4Galatians 3:23–25Ephesians 2:15)