walking as Jesus walked

“Take Out Your Scrolls And Roll Them On Down To The Letter To The Ephesians…” (Part 1.)

 

 

Imagine with me…

…It’s shortly after Pentecost. The church is getting ready to assemble in the outer Temple Court. The pews are all set nicely in their rows with the scroll of the day neatly tucked in the scroll holders. The sound system is ready and a mike awaits the speaker behind the pulpit. The worship team is ready… and after the opening prayer and some announcements songs soon fill the air.  And then the Pastor steps up to the mike. “Take out your scrolls and roll them on down to the letter to the Ephesians… we will continue where we left off last week in chapter 4, at verse 11…

Sounds sorta familiar… in a scrambled up kinda way.  ‘Cause two different era’s got scrambled together.  Like eggs from different birds, scrambled together “turducken” style…?

Sounds strange putting pews in Jerusalem’ Temple Court.  And the scroll of Ephesians?  It’s only A.D. 48, Ephesians hasn’t even been written.  Scroll holders?  In the pew?  Uh… What’s a pew!?  And what’s a pulpit? Or who is a Pastor who stands up behind one and delivers his (three point!) sermon to the people sitting in pews in the temple court? It’s scrambled eggs, amplified and mixed for your consumption, with a sound system…

a sound what?

This is mixed up.

Yep it is. Can we unscrambled scrambled eggs?  Take away the scroll; they didn’t have Ephesians on a scroll to read. They didn’t have Bibles! Take away the pews with the Bible holders… and the sound system, and the Pastor speaking behind the pulpit, and the worship team. They didn’t have any of that back then. Now, how in the world did they survive without them?

Actually the question should be, “How was it that they thrived and grew by leaps and bounds without any of that?

Take that all away, roll the time back to the Day of Pentecost and put Peter in his place, speaking the truth with amazing boldness… What did he have? When the 120 in the upper room went out after Pentecost what did they all have?

Simply (radically)…

…they had Jesus.

They had Jesus within. They had the Life living within them and they were living by that Life. They were the new dwelling place of God. They were the new temple, the living stones, being built upon the Cornerstone,  filled with all His power by the Spirit’s anointing. They had within them the living Word, and they were living by the Life of that living Word.

But wait, we have the word too, right? Now we have the Word, The Holy Bible. We now have something the early New Testament church didn’t have, namely, we now have the New Testament, and hey, not only that, WE have the Whole Book.  And unlike most of them back then, we can read!        So we should be better off right?  We now have the Book. We must be better equipped than the early church was right?                                                And for sure more mature… 

Well, lets see… Take your scrolls out of your scroll holders and roll them on down to the letter to the Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11…”

11 And [Jesus] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the  knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature  which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness  in deceitful scheming; 15 but  speaking the truth in love,  we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together  by what every joint supplies, according to the  proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Jesus gifted the church with  apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor (and) teachers, given in verse 11 to function as the equippers of the saints; to equip the individual parts for their work together with Jesus, the head of the Body, in service and ministry. We have pastors… And… let’s see… we used to have traveling evangelists. (But have you met any lately?) We do have pastors, lots of pastors to equip us. Does it seem some of those listed are missing in today’s church in America…? If that is so, why is that? And without them are we better equipped than the early church was? Can we be? Are we better off? If some of the equippers who were gifted to the early church are missing how can we, the latter church, be properly equipped and better off without them?

And how then can we attain to the unity of the faith? And a true knowledge of the Son?

Well… we do have 33,000 (and growing) examples of the “unity of the faith”.  33,000 denominations denominating; giving a name for and founding their identities upon the winds of the different doctrines found in and out(!) of the Bible.

We do have a lot of knowledge. We been taught a lot of stuff, we know all about a lot of things in the Word, in the Book. Is that knowledge the equipping we’re talking about? If it’s not then what do we need to know? Who then do we need to know?

Jesus. (Yeah, I know, of course…)

But do we really fully know Him? Do we really know the Word, the living, breathing, nail scarred Son? Are we hungry enough to seek his Bread? Are we really thirsty for the Living water that satisfies? Are the equippers of today asking us this: Is He the one we are living by; are we living by a Life not our own?  Isn’t that where we find the true knowledge of the Son? In picking up our cross and laying down our lives and partaking of His Life?   Is our knowledge of him merely conceptual (“Biblical” even, doctrinally correct even.) or is it truly personal and relational? Do we just know all the stuff (we may think) there is to know about him or do we really know Him?  If we know Him have we then been filled in full measure with “the fullness of Christ”? Have we grown up in all aspects unto Him? Are we letting Him be our head? Individually? And corporately?

So many questions… Hard questions… I gave no answers ‘cept one. (you noticed…?)

Do you ‘Got Jesus’?  He’s got the answers… What is he saying to you…?

Please tell me.

 

O.k., now roll up your scrolls and place them in the scroll holders…

 

 

Part Two (in part, I hope, from you…) is coming: Eph 4: 15,16:

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Jesus is building his church; How do you think the church is doing?!

 

 

 

Church As We Know It… (part 2)

Church As We Know It… (part 2)

It was high noon and His blood had been spilling down to the ground for 3 hours.  At the same time Caiaphas, arrayed in the splendor of his high priestly robes, was beginning the procession where he would enter the temple courts to slaughter a pure, spotless Tamid lamb, a lamb whose spilled blood would represent perpetual sacrifice. Little did he know that God’s final perfect perpetual sacrifice was also about to happen.

Jesus, the true Tamid, the true perpetual sacrifice died at 3 p.m., at the same time the Tamid lamb was being sacrificed*

From the cross he cried out with these last words, “It is finished”.   Suddenly the earth shook violently and the sky turned black. This was no natural eclipse of the sun. It was Passover which meant the moon was in full phase on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. A supernatural darkness was covering the land, rocks were being ripped into pieces, graves were being opened and (not zombies but…) holy people were walking forth. Creation was acknowledging the death of it’s Creator at the same time His Resurrection power was about to overcome death!

And something even more amazing was happening.  After the moment when Jesus cried out and gave up his spirit, the veil of the temple, a veil 50 plus feet tall, so stout, thick, and heavy, it is said it took 300 men to lift it into place, was being torn in two from the top to the bottom.

When Jesus died, the veil, the partition that separated us from our God was torn apart.  God was on the move, out of the Holy of Holies!  That place, that temple made with hands (Acts 17:24), was never to be dwelt in by Him again. God the Father by his son’s sacrifice on that cross was making himself directly accessible to his people. God was done with that temple and its religious system and was replacing it with a new temple, a temple made of living stones. His new dwelling place was to be in the hearts of men… At Pentecost He entered His new temple, the redeemed and sanctified hearts of men and women and by the Spirit began the work of building His new dwelling place1Pe 2:4,5  

And… At Pentecost a new way to gather was instigated. And it was contrary to the old and broken religious system. Within the community of God– the Father, Son, and Spirit– their family, bride, and body was now to have direct access to the Godhead without a human mediator! The veil that had separated them was torn by God from the top to the bottom! Direct access had been granted with our new High Priest, Jesus directly making intercession for us.  Heb 4:16

(But then something not so amazing happened)

Paul’s writings contrasted human traditions with Christ’s and pointed us to His New Way of doing things. He encouraged us to maintain Jesus’ new (Covenant) traditions which he had taught to the apostles. Those new traditions were taught and passed on to us by the apostles in word, in deed, and by their letters. They remain the standard of teaching that was to be maintained for the Life of the Body. Jesus was now the active head of his body and through his Spirit each member of his body participated in his Life, by the building of itself up in love as the Holy Spirit empowered them. It was the normal Christian’s church life. The standard was set for each member of the body to actively participate in the ministry of this new way of church gathering**, each member, each living stone of his new temple, coming with the Spirit’s indwelling presence and tuned in to the Spirit’s prompting, were listening and ready to participate within the gathering with a song, a word, etc (1 Cor. 14: 26)  as the Holy Spirit would direct them. God now was not only directly accessible to each and every one, but was fully capable and ready to reveal himself through each and every one of his new living stones which made up his new living temple.  

This new but standard practice was exactly what slipped away from the church within the 1st 200 to 300 years of her existence: The traditions taught by the apostles, the radical New Covenant way of gathering under the headship of Christ, and participating with one another on common ground empowered by the Holy Spirit was a revelation! It was a practice unlike any other in the world. Men and women, Jew and Gentile, freemen or slaves, rich or poor, all were equal in this new kingdom way of gathering. All were ministers and priests in the gatherings and that directly contradicted the religious norms of hierarchy, power and politics that were foundational in the world’s systems. But this New Kingdom’s dunamis power was too radical for those who coveted earthly fleshly power, men who did not understand the full meaning of the cross, men like Constantine who proceeded to set in stone the manmade traditions the ecclesia had gradually slid into. As they increasingly conformed themselves to the mindset of the world’s system, they turned away from Spirit lead organic Life back, to the hierarchical, political and institutional death traps of this world. To a form of godliness…

We have carried the baggage of those manmade traditions with us down through the centuries, and have rarely opened those bags up to examine what’s inside. And so, without giving it much thought, normal remains normal. We are still trapped in the trap, in that cage we have built around ourselves which we, to the best of our abilities, have covered with our finest veneer, in the attempt to make it look cathedral, like a temple fit enough for God himself to be contained in. But unfortunately, even our best edifices are nothing but man made cardboard shacks that cannot contain the glory of God. God does not dwell in the edifices we have built. But He still does, to this day, dwell in the gathered hearts of men and women who acknowledge His Lordship and Headship. It is through them, his true temple, that he reveals his love and his glory.

If the above is true, that our normal quenches rather than enhances the glory of the Godhead in the community of believers, we then need to heed the words of Paul to Timothy. Paul prophetically told Timothy that in our days, the last days, we would face perilous times, that all around us men and women would be lovers of themselves, and etc., more than be lovers of God… having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Ever learning…but never learning the truth 2Ti 3:1 2Ti 3:5 2Ti 3:7 

Is that us!? That can’t be us!

So we protest, ” That can’t be us. The context of that verse would put us within the company of some really bad people… We are the church! We are God’s own chosen people.” (But Ooo…That sounds an awful lot like the Jews reaction to Jesus when he told them they were unwilling to hear his words of truth: What? “Our father is Abraham!” they declared, and protested, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”  Jhn 8:38ff) “We are His Church. His Spirit comes and visits us… How can this be?”

Some time ago, if you shopped for garden hoses at Ace Hardware you could find them in three grades of quality: Good, Better, and Best.  The least costly was the  “Good” hose which would last for maybe a season. The “Best” and most expensive hose would last for years. You got what you paid for. As God’s temple we have a choice: Good, Better, or Best. For the church of the western world there is a cost if we are going to have the Best.   We’ve gotten what we’ve paid for. We have settled for Good. And Good is Normal. Good has lasted for a season. But I submit, there is a Better, and there is the Best. But the Best is costly. Are we willing to pay the cost for the Best?

So here we go again, supposing and examining…

Let’s suppose we as the church (carrying all of our man made traditional baggage which the term church implies) have bought the Good form, a practice, which years of tradition have caused us to see it as Normal. But let’s suppose our good normal practice causes us in practice, to quench the Spirit, to give Him less than our best, so that we are experiencing less than his Best. We may truly be learning, ever learning “orthodoxsoly speaking”(!) but  what if we have yet to rediscover what His truth in practice is?  

Examine this: If what we are learning and what we believe is the truth, then correct belief (orthodoxy) would compel us to move towards correct practice(orthopraxy) .  “Correct belief” would compel “correct action,” but incorrect action would be the ongoing result of our old (normal and traditional but) incorrect beliefs. If we believe that church as we know it is Good and our Good is Good Enough, we have no compulsion to ask the Builder, or search the scriptures to see if our actions and practice, match the Builder’s new traditions given by the apostles to the early church gathering.**     If what we are presently doing doesn’t match the actions and practice of the early church given to them by Jesus himself through his apostles, are we,  just like the religious people of Jesus’ day, denying his words of truth? If Jesus, the builder, truly is setting before his body his first Best choice, His normal for His ecclesia, what do we do?

The question is: “Does normal “church”, church as we know it, have the correct form in belief and in practice and thus have God’s divinely conferred power (i.e., charisma) to validate that it’s belief and practice is correct? Or does it have an incorrect belief  (in it’s traditions) which results in an incorrect form in it’s actions and practice, which, in turn, quenches the charisma (i.e., divinely conferred power) of the Spirit, stunting our one another call to disciple, and ultimately robbing the Son of his full Glory? The latter leaves us with only a (Good) form...    The former would change our normal and give us the Best.

 

 What does His “Best” cost?

(More to come)

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**Uh… wait. To say “church gathering” is a redundant repetition!  😉   In the Bible the word “church” properly translated is ecclesia, which means gathering. Using the word “church” to replace the word “ecclesia” or gatherings of God’s people is one of the traditions of men passed down to us.
King James, the “Pope” of the Church of England– long after the hierarchical ecclesiastical church had, by the traditions of men, separated itself into the clergy/laity divide and had ceased to be the participatory gathering (or ecclesia) of fellow ministers and priests– wanted to retain his hierarchical and political power over the institutionalized church, as well as retain the Bishop/clergy ecclesiastical/political power over the so called laity, so he at that time, prohibited the translators from changing the word “church”, which by now meant the political institutional church organization, i.e., The Church of England, of which he was the head, to it’s true meaning: a gathering, or congregation (of the people of God who had the Lord Jesus as their Head). The power struggle continues to this day…

Church As We Know It Is Normal, Right?

 

Church As We Know It Is Normal, Right?

Church as we know it is normal (good and biblical), right? …

It should be normal for you, if you are normal and are a normal church goer you have learned to accept and  enjoy how church today is being done. You are not ‘one of those’ who would even question whether or not how we’ve been “doing church” is normal.  Church as you know it today is good and biblical; it’s normal.  But… have you ever wondered, have you even considered this: there is more to “doing church” than we have been led to believe? What if today’s normal church function is not it’s best function, and its normal function is less than the best of what the earliest church’s normal was?

What, you ask? Is that possible? Should we even question how we’ve been “doing” normal church?  Asking if our normal might not be so normal!? Saying that what we have, for all these years considered to be normal, isn’t? That our good isn’t God’s best? That His normal would be be better than our best!? And did I hear you correctly? You’re implying that it’s maybe, “…less than biblical!”?

If that’s what you heard, you’d probably say, “You must not be normal! (And you‘re not very good!) You must be one of those (rebels?) with a critical spirit… Because church as we practice it is normal and is good and is biblical. Right? Right. It’s what we do. It’s where we go. This is how it is:  If you are a normal Christian you pick a normal church in your normal town which, if you are normal, you would want to be a part of. Normally you would go there and get involved. They need you and you need them. It’s the norm. What other options are there for a normal Christian’s church life?

But what if you’ve been there and done that, or what if you’re still there and still doing that,  but deep down in your spirit you’ve been wondering if maybe, just maybe, our good is not God’s best, something seems to be amiss? (Maybe you’ve been looking in the Book, checking out the blueprint!) What if you are one of those among others, who do have a growing understanding that something is not quite right with church as we’ve known it? But wait, can it ever be made quite right when it’s made up of [not] normal people like you and me!?  But what about this? What if that growing sense of “not the best” is not about [not] normal people, but about a [not] normal practice?

Not normal church practice.

That is something which repeatedly will come up if we dare to look in the (History) Book and compare how the church today functions, alongside how the gatherings in the New Testament functioned. The something that the early church gatherings practiced was lost within 300 years by the introduction into the church of “traditions of men” contrary to the traditions that the apostles passed on to the earliest church from Jesus.

So, what if our cultural American normal is not the biblical normal, is not the same normal as the traditions that the apostles passed on to the earliest church from Jesus, but is instead largely made up of the added “…less than biblical” traditions of men passed on down to us through the centuries? Do we even dare to consider it? Consider that our normal is that normal? No. Tell me it’s not so. But what do you do if what you are sensing is truly a “holy discontent” with the status quo, with normal as we’ve known it; a nudging in your spirit and through the Word from the Teacher, the Spirit of truth? What if that truth is: something is amiss; there is something that needs to change? Listen… Are you listening? Do you hear it? If you’re hearing it, you are not the only one.

You then, along with many others, are beginning to see that there is a need for a change in how we do “church”, and are sensing with anticipation that something is changing, that Jesus, the builder of his church is up to something better!  Sensing that a reformation from Him is coming. Realizing that Martin Luther’s  “Great Reformation” was not as great as it’s billing. That it’s “orthodoxy” was incomplete, that a new Great Reformation of how the gathered church is supposed to function is still needed. (Orthopraxy is the Big word that is used for the study of church practice, of how it should function.)  How does one change status quo church practice which for close to 2000 years has been considered normal and orthodox?                       How would you change it?     Yeah…      If  you really understood that how we practice church does need to change, what would you do to change it?

Well, you could do this:    (Nicely) nail your own “95 Point Church Reformation Critique”, er… I mean, 95 Point Church Reformation Thesis” on the normal church’s door, and run for cover, hoping and praying that something good comes of your New Reformation. (OK, maybe not.) Besides, Martin Luther wasn’t the first to duck for cover when he tried to change it. And thousands since have presented their own ideas of how to change it, and have denominated us into thousands of differing “normal” churches. So maybe first, instead of reforming the normal church you should begin to pray for your own personal reformation? Pray for the Builder of the (Big) temple to repair and transform your own temple 1Co 6:19 first!?  And pray for more love and a sweet(er) attitude… I’m serious you critical rebel! What are you doing even considering criticizing normal church practice? (Don’t get upset, I was talking to myself !)

 

Ah, but the Truth is, the matter does need to be examined
…the church and the traditions bundled with it have come full circle to the point where a critical (oh, that word again… sorry) examination of it is needed.  Jesus confronted the religious traditions of his day enforced by the religious leaders of his day; traditions of men which clouded rather than clarified the truth of His coming kingdom. We should examine this question: Has the same problem, the traditions of men, which clouded and corrupted the Old Covenant religious system come full circle to cloud and confuse our understanding of how we are intended to function under the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ within the gathering of the church?  And has it quenched and clouded the free functioning of the Holy Spirit within the church of the New Covenant? Has it given us a form but quenched the power? Let’s (uncritically, of course) suppose that in the gathering, i.e., in the church, it has. Really?  Yeah really, it’s time to suppose…

…let’s suppose. Let’s examine what has happened to church as we’ve known it here in America. Are we only the church with a reputation of having power, but have instead been caught, by years of tradition, in a form that dampens the power of the Spirit more than it enhances it? We should not desire that. Could the quenching by the western church world of the Holy Spirit not so much be a matter of the lack of desire for divinely conferred power (charisma) , or fear of the excesses of charisma(divinely conferred power). (Lack of desire may stem from a lack of a true early church experience of divinely conferred power, and excesses happen when divinely conferred power gets mixed together with men’s own fleshly power, when men lay down the cross of Christ and trust in their own power Jhn 15:5.)

Could it instead be this: Quenching by the western church world of the Holy Spirit is the result of and the fruit of our lack of understanding what the full measure of God’s intent has been from before time began:

God’s eternal purpose has been, as our Father, to gather for Himself a family, and a bride for his Son who, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, would be built together into a glorious (Big) temple for the Godhead to dwell in, a temple made without hands.  That very mystery was revealed to Paul and passed on to us:  It is the Father’s’ purpose that in us and in all things Christ Jesus, his son, is to have preeminence. That includes preeminence in our personal lives (Which are his temples) as the Lord of our lives, and preeminence in our gatherings (His bigger temple) as the functioning Head of that gathered Body.

 Preeminence as the functioning head of the gathered body.

That very thing confronts the western church world with this reality: That functionally the Head of the church is but given lip service (ouch! Really? Isn’t that a bit harsh?), because while he is invited to be the Special Guest and is asked to bless our traditional church service worship endeavors (which he graciously does to a large degree)…  we are still holding on to our man-made traditions in our church “services”; our liturgy and form is based in centuries of tradition, little changed by Luther’s reformation: the Priest and eucharistic still being the focal point in Catholic tradition, with the Pastor and the Sermon and/or Bible becoming the focal point in Protestant traditions… In both another head other than the Head is in the forefront and is in charge.

    So we give not a second thought to this: that maybe, just maybe the Head of the Church would like to put the Holy Spirit back in charge of the gathering making Jesus the focal point once again, like the earliest gatherings of the body and bride of Christ were!  Right there is where we have quenched and grieved Him. We, by our customs, have remained preeminent. We have not learned how to surrender our gatherings to Him. We have not yet learned within our gatherings how to listen fully to his voice, yield to him, and participate with him. Thus we have minimized the Holy Spirit’s power and  his  teaching  capabilities. He is the Teacher and should actively be that in our gatherings through one another. But our traditions have quenched the participatory “one another” ministry which when orchestrated by the Holy Spirit would be flowing through the gathered saints to disciple one another, build the body up, and more fully reveal the glory of the Godhead in his Bigger Temple not made with hands  1Pe 2:5. We instead, by our custom, are (mostly) content to sit there and watch the show, watching (a titled and specially trained) someone up front tell us what we need to know

…Meanwhile, our Special Invited Guest graciously remains present, there in our midst. He knows what we need to know, but He, by our custom, is (mostly) forced to sit on the sidelines and watch our show

 

How is it, and when was it that we, once again, placed someone between us and God? (More on that in Part 2… “Having A Form Of godliness…”)

 

~~rob

*One option would be to check out Watchman Nee’s book, The Normal Christian Church Life! (And his companion book, “The Normal Christian Life.”)

 

The new 2017 Corolla theme song “You Don’t Own Me”, was sung a long time ago in a Garden….

The song ” You Don’t Own Me!” goes so far back (1964) that Toyota is again introducing it, via commercials for their new Corolla, to a new generation as a new (but very old) anthem for the young. Yeah, they did tweak the original meaning and context a little… to help them sell cars.  But here’s what they really did, they passed along the same old American independance meme(*see below)  that we sang so loudly way back when (we were young and free),  the same meme*, but now with a new audience. Come on everybody, sing along, LOUDLY:

“You don’t own me. Don’t try to change me in any way. You don’t own me. Don’t tie me down ’cause I’ll never stay.  Oo ooh, don’t tell me what to do, don’t tell me what to say. Just let me be myself, that’s all I ask of you.  I’m young and I love to be young. I’m free and I love to be free, to live my life the way I want, to say and do what ever I please. You don’t own me.”

It’s funny–it’s ironicreally, them singing it once again… Is it really their declaration of freedom, or is it really a cry for freedom; that deep longing for real freedom that has been planted by our creator within our souls, singing out?  We say we’re free, but then, just like in the commercial, after we sing”…don’t tell me what to do”, the Corolla’s lane departure warning tells us what to do…! And we do it.

We sing we’re free but we’re not. We pretend we are, but we’re not,  ’cause the Son, the one who created us,  says only knowing the truth will set us free (and He ought to know!).  And then he tells us if and when we know him we are free indeed. Because he is the Truth.

Until we know the Truth we are slaves to the meme** we inherited way back in the Garden. There is where we said to God, “You don’t own me. Don’t tie me down… Don’t tell me what to do…” Right after the serpant said, “Did God say… Don’t?!” “Don’t let Him tell you what not to do…”. So Adam said,  “I’ll eat that proverbial Apple from that tree of the knowlege of good and evil, if I want to. And I do want to, ‘cause I’ll get freedom, freedom for Me, freedom to decide for Myself, what is good and what is evil.”

And because Adam ate of that apple, I too have taken a bite out of the Apple.

There’s a bite out of your apple too.

So… We are not free, until the Son has set us free indeed.

But here’s the twist.  Many Christains after having been born of the Spirit, proclaim, “Now, finally, I’m free.  ‘Cause I’ve been redeemed. You know, the Blood, and the Lamb who died for me…  I’m free now, I was caught up in the darkness but now I have seen the light. I’m free now, I am a new creation in Christ.” They are saying, I’m living “free”, but unwittingly, their lives have fallen prey to the line from that old[est] Meme**,  they are living the new Corrolla anthem out loud, “I’m free and I love to be free, to live my life the way that I want, to say and do what ever I please. (You don’t own me.)“…

…unaware that the new Meme as a new creation in Christ is this:

Do you not know… you are not your own? You have been bought with a price. (1 Cor. 6 19,20) 

(What do you mean, “I don’t own me?  I‘m free! I just turned up the radio in my new 2017 Corolla… and I‘m singin’ it loud,  I‘m free to be me…”!)

Do you not know…  

…your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; You have been bought with a price: so glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, because they belong to God…

Then we are free. Truely free. And then we love to be free, free to walk as Jesus walked, free to accept the cross just as he did,  laying down our “god”/self determining  lives so that in exchange, we can live by his Life. Freed to live right now in His Life, ’cause Jesus, truely, is setting us free.

~~~

*Meme: *1 : an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture… horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by… [commercial!] entertainment media.

**Meme: **2: A condition and pattern of rebellion against our creator that has spread throughout every culture vertically, an inherited fallen spiritual nature that has been passed on from parent to child since the time of Adam and Eve…

 

 

~~~

 

Noah blew it!

Noah (The movie) returned to the screen last night, not the big screen this time, the T.V. screen thing. Did you see it!? Check this out, how Noah, in the new movie, Blew It.

wilden words

Noah blew it.
Let me tell you how. First let’s say creative license does allow a movie like “Noah”  to re-create Noah into a new mythology. Then let’s say it’s O.K. to create a new story. Even if it’s Different from the Old Story.

Bill Mahr, of late night T.V. fame, who doesn’t like God,  when reviewing the movie “Noah”, figures both stories are made up, that both are impossible fantasy. He said Christians are mad at “Noah ” (the movie) because  “…this made up story doesn’t stay true to their made up story.” He’s saying you don’t like the new myth because you still believe the old myth.

“Noah’s” director, Darren Aronofsky, says, “Here’s a New story. It is a bit different from the Old story.” (O. K. maybe he didn’t “say” that. The quote  is an example of creative license.)

And so “Noah’s” director, with (re)creative license, makes up a…

View original post 388 more words

A retired friend (didn’t ask me if I believed in Social Security, he) asked me,” Do you believe in eternal security”?

Uh, how about asking me an easier question. I’m squirming a bit here… A less dangerous question would be better. (Hey, they used to kill each other over wrong answers to certain questions.) I don’t want to be wrong (I only want to be different, just like everyone else ;-).

Ever been asked that question, “Do you believe in eternal security?”

[I was asked the question in our men’s small group. We do purpose to keep our eyes fixed on the Word, but because we do have different theological backgrounds in that gathering I’m a part of, of course things come up and we give one another good humored teasing about our leaning tendencies towards this or that theological persuasion and how it colors how we interpret scripture regarding that question (or any other…). I did manage a reply and then wrote this followup]:

“I thought again tonight as I was reading in the 8th chapter of John of your question…, “Do you believe in eternal security?” and of the answer I gave…” “This is where I land on that one: I really do believe in eternal security. But I don’t want that belief to be resting on the theologies of a Calvin or a Arminius, both being mere men, and neither one of them being our Teacher. Somehow we’ve got to get better at looking at what we call “biblical theology” differently, we’ve got to look at it through a different lense:

Jesus said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8: 32) The Word there is the focal point and truth’s freedom is the result, and the lense by which we can perceive it is the Spirit. But can we really set aside our baggage… our presuppositions… our theological bent?

Can we ever be free enough? Can we “handle the truth”?  The Spirit of truth?!

John 8:31 catches my attention: “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine…” The question is still, “Do we have eternal security?” So what does this scripture say about it? And… can we answer the question in light of the word and the truth with the freedom to see it clearly…?

John 8:31 leans one way with that conditional “If… “,  John 10: 28 leans the other:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Heb 13 :5 leans one way: “He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”
Heb. 2:1-3 leans the other way: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

What happens when we put them all together?

Well, we have eternal security.

But the [begging] question is:
Is our eternal security conditional or is it unconditional? We have scriptures in tension:
Assurance and warning: Seemingly unconditional security, countered by an “If…”.  Can we be snatched away?  (No.)  But can we drift away?  (We have been warned.)  Will we continue?  (Jesus said,”If you continue you are truly disciples…”)  So can we dis-continue?

Ahh… what is the truth that sets us free?

If you want to pin me down on this, I’d simply say, our eternal security is proven by this: by our continuing to abide in Him.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

It’s all about abiding in Jesus. He is our Security.  Let’s keep on walking in Him.

 

~~ a neitherarminiannorcalvinistbro…

 

I Dragged It Across The Border

Let’s suppose that I had just read the book called Acts and after reading it had to ask this question, “Does the church I last went to look and function like the church I just read about?”

Now, suppose you just read the book too..
Does your church look at all like the church* of the book of Acts?

Maybe a little bit? Or…

…maybe not?

If maybe not, then oh no. We’d better look the other way and push that picture out of our mind. We better push it out of reach and shove it across the border. Because, to really face that as reality might just push us out of our comfort zones. What if what we are currently doing in “church” hardly resembles the way the early church functioned? What if the traditions we’re holding on to is a dream of our own making? Shouldn’t we wake up?

Or… does it even matter?

Maybe it’s just too discomforting to contemplate, even for a second. If it is then we’d better walk away.

Come on. Let’s walk away.  Let’s not go there…

Sorry.

I went there.

I took a look.  And I am discomforted.

I took a look,  I walked over to the edge and I dragged Normal Church, kicking and screaming, back across the border. I had to take another look, just in case that what I had thought and what I had been taught was normal, might not be normal;  that just maybe, according to Acts, normal American church is not so normal…

The dream is still haunting me.

Like a nightmare.

But I have managed to suppress the screaming, and the kicking doesn’t hurt as much as it used to.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I had another dream.

In my dream we, the “church”, that is, the body and bride of Christ, had discovered what it means to live in the fullness of Christ and walk as he walked, by the Spirit. When the people gathered as His ekklesia Jesus actually functioned as their sole head;  His Holy Spirit was ever present and completely in charge. When the people came together they brought with them their spiritual gifts and each person was encouraged and given time and place to share what the Spirit was doing and saying in and through him or her; they came together and sang and prayed and prophesied… and the Spirit of God Himself orchestrated and directed them. The people gave place and precedence to Him by laying down their own lives and by honoring others as better than themselves.

The people gathered together often, they ate meals together, and shared the Lord’s Supper as a Love Feast of praise and worship in an atmosphere full of  joy and celebration.

And the people gave freely as the Spirit directed them, without limitations or man made expectations. They willingly laid down their lives for one another, they knew how to lay down their lives, to deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow Jesus, and so they gave everything they had, everything they were, and every spiritual gift they had received from the Lord back to Him and to one another. Because they so loved the Lord and each other no one among them lacked for anything.

People saw themselves as equal partners in the Faith, each person being needed, each and everyone one uniquely gifted with something to contribute, so that no one would contemplate surviving  in Jesus without the others. And no one among them lorded anything over any other, but each one submitted themselves one to another as unto the Lord.  Each one was seen as an essential and equal part of the whole.

People acknowledged that the only hierarchy among them was this, that some had been walking in Jesus longer than others, they had grown deeper and had more to contribute, so those more mature ones were afforded the honor and life experience the Lord had given them. But Jesus alone was the head, and all others were fellow members of the Body, each one called and chosen, each a saint, a priest and minister, and fellow sojourner.

The people lived in and by the Life of Jesus, who was in the Father and the Holy Spirit as well, all experiencing the fullness of true fellowship and intimacy.

And among the people love ruled, with each person lifted up by the other,  joined in unity in the Lord. And that love was so compelling that nothing in the world could compare to it, not even a little. And it was that love that was drawing others to Jesus and changing the world.

I had a dream…

It seemed so impossible.

But then again it seems so possible…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Then I woke up.

To this nagging nightmare:

I realized it had been mostly me that had been doing the kicking and screaming; it was mostly me that made the church not so normal.

~~rob

 

~~A special thank you to Dan Edelen. <http://ceruleansanctum.com/2012/01/i-had-a-dream.html#.VAWEo_ldVCh>
His dream(plus more) is my dream…

 

  • *   Most of our bibles mistranslated the word ecclesia as “church” but ecclesia is really a gathered congregation or assembly of believers in Jesus. It is the gathering of a people, the people of God, the 2 or 3 and more, gathered with Jesus in their midst. If the word church (You know… Church, as used in this “normal” question,”Where do you go to church?”, i.e., What’s the location, where’s the building, what’s the name of the place you go to.) If the word church seems to you to be the acceptable and normal Book of Acts thing, I challenge you to do this: Check out the origins of the word church.
  • “Church” (not ecclesia) is found in the Bible only two times. William Tyndale translated it properly the two times it occurs in the New Testament where it refers to pagan buildings used as a place for pagans to worship their lords or gods… It cost Tyndale his head(!),  because by his time “church” was the politically empowered hierarchical institution centered around buildings, as if they were the temples of the living God, the same God who in the New Covenant (Testament)  revealed that his new dwelling place would not be temples made by men but would instead be a Spirit directed ecclesia, the gathered saints! That idea does not sit well with the traditions of much of, or maybe most of, the Church(so called).

The origin of the word “church” is kuriakon or kyriakon in Greek. The meaning is a building (the house of Kurios, or Lord).

Dictionaries give the origin of “church” as the Anglo-Saxon root, circe. Circe was the goddess-daughter of Helios, the Sun-deity. The word circe is related to “circus,” “circle,” “circuit,” and “circulate.”

Circe was originally a Greek goddess whose name was written and pronounced as Kirke. The word “church” is known in Scotland as kirk, in Germany as Kirche, and in Netherlands as kerk.

May The Fourth Be With You…

It’s May 4th!

Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished at what he saw and said to his counsellors, “Didn’t we tie up three men [Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego] and throw them into the fire of the furnace? They answered, “That’s true, O king, and it killed all the men who threw them in!”

To that the king replied, “Then why do I see four men loose down there, walking around in the fire? They’re not hurt; and the form of the Fourth is like the Son of God.” (~~from the Book of Daniel.)

 

~~~~~

 

May the Fourth be with you!

And you… and you…

and you, too.

(1 John 5:11, 12a)  “…the testimony is this, that God has given [you] eternal life, and this life is in His Son. If you have the Son you have the life, if you do not have the Son of God you do not have the life.”  

Again I say,  “May the Fourth be with you!”

 

The Customs We (Still) Keep: or, How Actually Does A Temple Wear A Hat!?

She smiled as, without a word, she took off my hat and handed it to me (hats off, to me!). We were in a building. A Church building and it wasn’t during a church Service, but still… Silly me. I should have known better!(?)  Didn’t I know it’s the customary thing to do, when, as she said,  we are “…in the Building”?…

My head is just like Elijah’s, so I wear a hat all the time ( News flash:  42 kids were mauled to death by two mad mother bears after they made fun of Elijah’s bald head.).   I wear a hat to protect me from the sun, to protect me from the cold, and to protect me from those kids. I forget that I have one on most of the time. When I don’t have one on people wonder who I am. I would be totally unrecognized if I was hatless and had shaved off my beard!

I kept my hat off. Was I supposed to give “… custom to whom custom was due.”? (Rom 13:7) Was custom due here?  No hats in the Temple? I couldn’t help but wonder about hat customs, and since I don’t want to be accused of “talking through my hat”, I dug up some research on hat customs, and… I won’t keep that research “under my hat”.  Instead, I’ll share it:  

Hat customs go way back. Some hat customs go back to Medieval times,  like “hats [helmets] off”. If you were a knight in shining armor meeting another knight in shining armor it meant you had no hostile intent. “Doffing your hat” and saluting, comes from flipping up you helmet visor to show respect and show that you were not a threat. Shaking hands with your right hand, your sword hand, meant the same thing.  Digging even further back, I discovered this old custom: Jewish law required men to cover their heads as a sign of respect and reverence for G‑d when praying, studying Torah, saying a blessing or entering a synagogue, and priests in the Temple were instructed to wear a head covering. There.  An older custom puts hats back on the head…

Customs: Some fade away , while others like the “weaponless” right hand shake, stay. Some grow old and die. Most we give little thought to. I didn’t to her’s, until I was put in my place; until I was given “my hat in my hand”!

Jesus many times broke with old (religious) customs. Like the day Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem, a temple 46 years in the making.  (If indeed he had a hat, did he have his “hat in his hand” in the Temple or did he have his hat [properly] on his head?) His Father’s house was a central part of the Old Custom(the Old Covenant). It was considered to be the dwelling place of God. And  Jesus was angry, because his Father’s dwelling place was being desecrated. He was angry but, unlike mad mauling mother bears, Jesus, with controlled anger fashioned a whip with the intent of driving the money changing thieves out of his Father’s house. He was consumed by it.  He was on a mission. He was about to upset the tables, about to “turn the tables” on an old custom and institute an astonishing new one.

After his mission was accomplished the Jews asked Jesus what evidence he could give to show them he had the authority to do the things he had done. His answer unveils something New, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He wasn’t speaking of a building. A temple built with human hands. He was speaking of himself. His human body was the first human temple, the first to be filled by the Holy Spirit, the prototype new dwelling place of God.

God was revealing through his Son his mysterious plan, hidden until that time, but conceived from the foundations of the world, to make the hearts of men and women His new dwelling place. God does not dwell in [buildings] made by human hands.” (Acts 7:48) God now dwells in the hearts of man.

What do you think would happen if Jesus came today and visited one of our Buildings that we call Churches? (Would he have his hat on his head or would he come “hat in hand”? Or would he have a whip!?!) What would Jesus say if he were standing in one of our Buildings made with hands? Would he need to gently remind us (without the whip!): 

“Have you forgotten? Or do you not yet understand?”  

Help me out here. I’ve got questions: Do we not yet understand that his New Covenant moves us beyond customs; the mere customs of men?  If we are the church, if we are the temple, why do we continue to ask this “normal” question of God’s people, “Where do you go to church?”.  By doing so are we not still buying into the old custom that the Building is the Temple, that “Church” is a place that we go to?  How can the Body of Christ only be some place that we go to, rather than something that we are? When we “go to Church” why do we still hear things like, “Welcome to the house of God.” or, “It is so good to be in the house of the Lord today!”, ifwe really are the house, the temple of God? (1 Cor 6:19)

“Do [we] not yet know that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, and whom we have [received] from God…”?  (1 Peter 2: 4,5) “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, a temple of the Spirit, to be a holy priesthood…”  So, whenever and where ever we, as his temples, gather in the name of Jesus, we together can become a living temple for, and the embodiment of, the very presence of God.

And that brings me to the really BIG question: “Can a temple wear a hat?!”

What I REALLY was trying to say when I said Noah blew it!

Daily we are bombarded from every direction with new mems and mythologies. On the internet Anything and Everything is Truth. (I don’t care what Snopes says, I saw it on the internet…it must be Truth.) “What’s yours?   Oh really!?   Fascinating!”  “Tell me about it (until I get bored about it and move on).”

It’s like the Mars Hill platform that Paul spoke from, but now it’s like it’s on steroids. It’s accessible (NOW), changeable (already), and mind boggingly deceptable.(Did he mean to say it makes your brain prone to twisted deceptions?) Oh. Yeah…

When Paul introduced a One True God to the Mars Hill culture they (thought they) had every god covered. They were drowning in an endless sea of god mythologies, but, just in case they’d missed one of the god’s, they built a shrine to the “Unknown god”. So, wouldn’t you know it, along comes Paul who claims to know that their Unknown god, their missing god, is the One True God.

“What, Paul… Fascinating. You think you know who the “unknown god” is?  We’re all ears (for a while).”

Paul’s New Story meets their Old story: There is only One True God who is now making himself known through his son Jesus. Paul’s new revelation of a Creator God meets their old deceptions. Many listened to his New Good News Story (Which was God’s Old Story, the plan he had set in place before the creation of the earth.). They listened for a while, but most rejected it and moved on, content with the foundations of their “What’s New” culture.

Here in the West it’s been flipped upside down. And it is much more subtle. The foundations of this culture were built on the Old Story. But our post Christian culture is bored with the Old Story. Discontented. So, what’s New? Now there are so many New Stories, so many newer and cooler mythologies to choose from. And we can check it out now, it’s just a click away, or it’s coming soon to a theatre near us, or we get it whenever we choose through the T.V. or radio next to us.  Choking, thistle like choices, like our New Noah, with licensed creativity it boggles us and twists us, as it is presented to us with all the power of the Big Screen, and it’s big time marketing. Giving all of us new, less boring ways of thinking. Giving us New options. Drowning us in a sea of new mythologies;  new Mythologies(properly capitalized as new Truth) which give ear to the Old Lie, the first lie to cast doubt upon the Old Story:

“…did God say!?

If you eat of that tree you will not surely die!

You will be as God.

So eat.

And then You yourself can determine what is good and what is evil!”

 

Jesus told us over and over, “Be alert…”

Because Deception is subtle.

 

There once was a garden

with a Tree by a lake

til’ along came a sneaky snake…

~~~

…and that’s all I was really trying to say with how Our New Noah Blew It!

 

See, Noah Blew It:  https://wildenworks.wordpress.com/category/rwrite/