walking as Jesus walked

While My[His] Guitar Gently Weeps…

 

(The inspiration to finally put these thoughts “on paper” grew out of a conversation my sis and I had about the words of an old favorite Beatles song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps…”!)

Wanted to share with you what the words of that Beatles song really mean! (To me ūüėČ )

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” really is–are you ready for this?–Jesus singing to “the church”. Yep. It’s true, I can’t help but hear within it a message to “the church”, accompanied by his guitar gently weeping for the church (Could it possibly be a post script to Rev. 2 and 3; His messages to the 7 churches?!). O.k. Maybe not! But to me at least, it is a lament to an entity that has gone amiss. An entity, commonly called, “the church”,¬† The song does an amazing job of stating what has gone wrong, not with Jesus’¬†Bride to be, but what has gone wrong with what became an institution called the church. Without the Beatles realizing it, there is much truth being spoken out in their song¬†“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” about an¬†institution which since long ago has been known as “The Church”.¬† In their song “Revolution”, they say, “You say you want a revolution? Well you know, we all want to change the world. You say that it’s the institution?….”

I say, Yeah… I say that institution needs a revolution.

For the past several years I’ve been re-thinking “church”, that is, the entity¬†called “the church”, and my part in it. Interestingly one of the definitions of “entity” in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary is: “An organization (such as [a church]) that has an identity separate from those of its members.” Exactly.¬† ¬†The identity of the true members of Jesus’ bride and body is entirely different the the identity the institutional organized church has taken on, it’s identity is separate from that of it’s members.¬† The members of Jesus’ body and bride have been given the Life of a Person who promises that his load is unburdensome and light, while the entity called the church historically has immersed it’s followers into being conformed within a system so loaded with burdensome and extra heavy baggage that it squashes the very Life right out of them.¬† So, for some time now I’ve looked at what is called “the church” with a growing sense that something truly is amiss, realizing that I too, needed to set aside a whole lot of baggage that I had been carrying around about the church I grew up in (Still working on that…). I began to understand that it’s function and purpose had morphed into something different then that of the original gatherings of the followers of Jesus.

I’ve had to re-think and re-evaluate that “normal” experience which we grew up in; our church experience which we knew then, was not what it should have and could have been. ¬†During that time of re-evaluation and transformation there gradually came a time for me when the Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” took on a whole new meaning as it moved from being just a hauntingly beautiful¬†love song to an epic lamentation sung by Jesus himself, accompanied by his weeping guitar! (Stay with me here- maybe I can ‘xplain what I’ve heard…!) It became Jesus weeping over what what had become of something that men were identifying him with, something they called His “Church”, but, it was instead something that had been hijacked long ago by mere men who were sure they knew better than He how it was supposed to function, how it was supposed to be built, and what was supposed to to be it’s focus. The simple conclusion;¬†church as we now know it is not¬†functioning as it originally functioned.

Looking back in history, by the time of Constantine, men had stripped it of it’s original Love and Life and the heavenly power of God which it had been given at it’s birth, gradually and subtly institutionalizing it and politicizing it with the earthly powers of men. It devolved through the centuries from what it was intended to be:¬† A beautiful bride reflecting and radiating Jesus Love to a broken world, a love that draws the world around it out of it’s own brokenness by an amazing relational experience of God’s kind of love (Agape love) which they, his bride, had with their Groom Jesus as he was restoring them with his Life (Zoe life:¬†God’s¬†Life.). He shared with them/us the love, joy and peace of a Life which could only be experienced by our relationship with Him as a bride and body dwelling in the Son.

Church as we’ve known it, church as it devolved through the centuries to become what we now know and experience, is a poor reflection of that reality. It had become draped again in the robes of “religion at it’s best(worst)”, which Jesus so boldly confronted while he was walking upon this earth. He brought us a new way to walk: He is the Way to walk. He brought us truth, which turned the religious world of his day upside down, because he is the Truth. He brought back to us the Life which we lost in the Garden long ago, back to himself: Life itself.¬† Our 1st parents ate of the wrong tree in that garden and passed on to us a deception– that now as our own god’s we get to decide what is right and wrong. That we now have Knowledge so we can decide for ourselves what is good and what is bad. We in essence, tossed God out of our garden, saying like any “normal” person (2 year old!), ” I can do it myself!” Except what really happened was, we got tossed out of the garden and were separated from the Tree of Life.

Jesus came back to restore that. He came to restore Life. He came so we could eat of that Tree again. He offers Himself as our Life, our Bread, and our Living Water. Jesus came back as a gatherer, to gather unto himself the community of God: a family, a bride and a body. And a new Temple for Himself to dwell in. And so now, we are His temples . Church in it’s beginning was called ecclesia, it was a gathering, a people gathered in the name of Jesus, as his temple. It was and is a people, not a place. We are his gathering place.

Here is the good (startling?) news: What has been commonly called “church”¬† is not the place where he gathers. He does not gather in a place. He instead gathers in the hearts of men and women when they gather in His name, because for those who are born again, he already resides in the hearts of those men and women, not within the walls of institutions called “the church”.¬† “Church” as we’ve come to experience it, for the most part has become a place you go to to be a part of a religious event. Depending upon where you go and who is going there with you, it may be a “good experience”, but is it God’s best experience of His presence in the church? Within that question is a hint of what is amiss with our old/normal understanding of “church”. The picture that automatically comes to mind with the current usage of the word “church” is a place or a¬†building (As in the question that’s commonly asked, “Where do you go to church?), or a denomination with this¬†commonly asked¬†question, “What church do you go to?”¬† Church has become a thing or somewhere that you go to, to “do church”. And church there is done with an “order of worship” passed down through the century’s. You can count on it: Introductions to the mostly passive listening audience. Singing. Bible reading. Standing. Sitting. Offering. Etc. If you are Protestant your main focus is the Sermon. If you are Catholic your focus is the Eucharist. With all that, you’ve been to church. It’s been this way for decades. It’s been more or less this way for centuries. We have been going to an entity called the church with a separate life of it’s own which tends to tug us away from the Life Jesus wants to give his people.

You can search all around and find some “good” churches, some with a little life. You can search further and find some “better” churches, some who have better life. If you search really really hard you may find and experience the golden thread kept intact through the centuries by Jesus himself; the¬†genuine functioning¬†faith and practice of the early ecclesia which has survived the devastating effects of “The Church”. The ecclesia, the gathered “community”¬†is still linked by a golden thread back to what Jesus originally intended and built, and has preserved through the centuries: The Ecclesia actively functioning under Jesus’ headship. I see our time as ripe for the rebirth and renewal of the faith and the¬†function originally given by Jesus’ disciples to the early followers of Jesus.

So here we are today, The Church remains as it is; The Church, with it’s perceived “normal” function as we’ve known it, built upon the traditions of men.

Jesus’ guitar is gently weeping over church as it is. Much good is contained within it. Much good flows through it because God is gracious and good to his children within it whom he loves. But still, as it is, it¬†functionally remains built on a foundation of man’s traditions, man’s “good”, not God’s best.¬† There is a better way. There is a best. He is trying to remind us. Jesus intends for us to have his best, something much better than “our good”.

So enough of trying to set the scene.¬† Here are the words of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and what I think it is saying from this new perspective:

 

“I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping¬† while my guitar gently weeps”

The 1st line speaks a simple truth: The love of the church is sleeping… He is telling us that we have become the Bride he spoke of in Matt. 25:5: (“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”) Startlingly true, and more so when we compare the current church love with the first love of the early ecclesia/gatherings.¬†¬†

“I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps”

Continual sweeping and correcting was always a part of the growing, maturing process of the early ecclesia.¬†To say the church floor today needs sweeping is an understatement, it is in a mess! A mess which, for the most part, we don’t even see; We’ve swept¬†the mess under the proverbial rug for centuries. What was hidden¬†there is not pretty…

“I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love”

We were told, we just didn’t get it. We didn’t hear it with ears to hear.

“I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you”

We didn’t have ears to hear and because of that we slipped under the control of someone other than the Head…¬†¬†

It did not take long in the history of “the church”, before it was corrupted and controlled. What had been known as the ecclesia was soon bought and then sold into slavery; enslaved to this world’s political power and the power of money. The other worldly ecclesia was persecuted¬†and enslaved by a worldly ecclesiastical¬†monarchical¬†institutional system run by the whims of men, instead of the Spirit of God.¬† The history of “The Church” was not kind to the followers of the Lord Jesus. It served a different lord which literally put to death those who did not conform to the system. ¬†

“I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps”

Time has passed but it is now time for a turning. Time to get radical, i.e. , time to get back to our roots.  Time to follow the golden thread back in time to re-examine and understand what our new birth into His new family, into this new community of God, really means. Time to re-examine what being the bride of Christ really entails and how we are intended to function within that new reality.

“With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps”

With every mistake we must surely be learning. Surely, at least, we who are the called out ones, we who have been gathered into the Lord Jesus, must be willing to learn.

“Well…

I don’t know how you were *diverted
You were *perverted too
I don’t know how you were *inverted
No one alerted you”

The church was Diverted; it was distracted and it was turned aside from it’s only purpose: To love and glorify and point with joy and gladness to Jesus.

The church was Perverted; it deviated from it’s roots and it’s original, simple, Jesus honoring practice, into practices that were far removed from the life and love of Jesus. It slid into distortions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations. And what was abnormal became normal. “Church” history, if we are honest, is an incredibly¬†sad history.¬† Jesus’ guitar should not just be gently weeping over it, it should be screaming(for crying out loud!).

The church was Inverted; it turned inward, it became all about itself and about perpetuating itself and it’s own (political)power with it’s own prestige and earthy glory. It lost it’s first love. It removed Jesus as it’s Head and instead sat him out in the wings of the church as only an “honored guest”, and thus only had a form of godliness but not the power of his presence in it’s midst.

~~~

*Diverted 1. To turn aside from a course or direction.
2. To distract.

*Perverted
1. Deviating from what is considered right and correct.
2. Of, relating to, or engaging in… practices that are considered abnormal or deviant.
3. Marked by misinterpretation or distortion:

*Inverted
1. To turn inside out or upside down.
2. To reverse the position, order, or condition of.

~~~

“I look from the wings at the play you are staging.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†While my guitar gently weeps”

Jesus looks at this church from the wings where the church has placed him. Looking at the men who have taken his stage and replaced him. Men who for the most part do not yet know how to truly equip the gathered saints, because they themselves have only been trained to stage the play and act the part. And church people too, are trained and conditioned to watch the show that leaders lead as they are taught how to act their part.

Could this Jesus be wanting to teach us how his unfolding of our love for Him unfolds his Agape Love… We have by default been taught that it is mostly up to “the trained” to make Love and Life happen within the church. It’s not. God’s Spirit within us desires to train us all how to walk as Jesus walked and do as he did… so that¬†all of us are participating together with him¬†in the Life and Love of a gathered community of believers.

“Look at you all¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Still my guitar gently weeps”

Look at us all! We need to look back to Him, get off the stage, invite Him back to the center, and let Him make Love and Life happen in us and through us.

“Oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh, ooh”

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

His guitar continues to weep,

~~rob

 

 

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“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 meet in the 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 an opening prayer and some announcments songs soon fill the open 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 familiar, sorta…

Two different era’s mixed up together sounds sorta strange: Church as we know it today mixed into a gathering of early believers.

Putting pews in¬†Jerusalem’ Temple Court? ¬†¬†In a pew? ¬†Uh… What’s a pew!? ¬†The scroll of Ephesians? Scroll holders?¬† It’s only A.D. 48, Ephesians hasn’t been written yet.¬† ¬†And what’s a pulpit? Or a Senior Pastor who stands up behind one and delivers his [three¬†point] sermon to the people sitting in the pews in the temple court? It’s all mixed up like scrambled eggs.

Yep it is. Can scrambled eggs be unscrambled? Take away the scroll; they didn’t have Ephesians on a scroll to read. They didn’t yet have Bibles. But even if they had, most of the early believers were illiterate. Take away the pews with the Bible holders… and the sound system, and the Pastor speaking behind the pulpit, and the worship team… The early church gathering didn’t have any of that.¬†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…?

 

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:

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

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? ‚ÄúOur father is Abraham!‚ÄĚ they declared, and protested, ‚ÄúWe aren‚Äôt illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.‚Ä̬† 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)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
**Uh… wait. To say “church gathering” is a redundant repetition! ¬†ūüėČ ¬† 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). Consider this:¬† Lack of desire for divinely conferred power 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 our quenching of the Holy Spirit 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, as¬†our Father, has been, to gather for Himself a family for himself,¬†¬†and a bride for his Son which, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, would be built together into a glorious (and 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:¬† Christ in 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 ironic really, them singing it once again… Is it really their declaration of freedom, or is it a cry for freedom? Is it singing out and giving a voice to that deep¬†longing for real freedom that has been planted by our creator within our souls? ¬†We say we’re free, but we’re not really; 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 the truth is, we’re not. 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¬†then, 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, unless and until the Son has set us free indeed.

But here’s the twist. ¬†Many Christians 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, set me free… ¬†I’m¬†free now, I¬†was caught up in the darkness but now I have seen the light. I’m free now,¬†’cause I am a new creation in Christ.” They are saying they are living “free”, but unwittingly, their freedom has fallen prey to the line from that old[est] Meme**, ¬†they are living out the new Corolla anthem,¬†“I’m free and I love to be free, to live my life the way that I want, to say and do whatever¬†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.

(What do you mean, “I’m not¬†my own?¬†¬†¬†I don’t own me?…

I’m free! I’m turning up the radio in my new 2017 Corolla and I’m singin’ it¬†out loud,¬† “I’m free to be me and do what I please…”!)

 

Do you not know you have a New Meme… ¬†

…your body is the temple 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…

When we do that, then we are free. Truly¬†free. And then truly we love to be free, free to walk as Jesus walked, free to accept the cross just as he did, ¬†laying down our “godness” our own self determining ¬†lives, so that in exchange, we can live by¬†his¬†Life. We have been freed to live right¬†now in and by His Life, ’cause Jesus now, truly, 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…

***Our New Meme is our Father’s counter cultural truth:¬† (1 Cor. 6 19,20)¬†¬†¬†Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit¬†who is¬†in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?¬†¬†¬†For you were bought at a price; so glorify God in your body¬†and in your spirit, because they belong to God.

 

~~~

 

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‚Äôs say creative license does¬†allow a movie like ‚ÄúNoah‚ÄĚ ¬†to re-create¬†Noah into a new mythology. Then let‚Äôs¬†say it‚Äôs O.K. to create a new story. Even if it‚Äôs Different from the Old Story.

Bill Mahr, of late night T.V. fame, who doesn‚Äôt like God, ¬†when reviewing the movie ‚ÄúNoah‚ÄĚ, figures¬†both¬†stories are made up, that both are impossible fantasy. He said Christians are mad at ‚ÄúNoah ‚ÄĚ (the movie) because ¬†‚Äú‚Ķthis made up story doesn‚Äôt stay true to their made up story.‚ÄĚ He‚Äôs saying you don‚Äôt like the new myth because you still believe the old myth.

‚ÄúNoah‚Äôs‚Ä̬†director,¬†Darren Aronofsky, says, ‚ÄúHere‚Äôs a New story. It is¬†a bit different from the Old story.‚ÄĚ (O. K. maybe he didn‚Äôt ‚Äúsay‚ÄĚ that. The¬†quote ¬†is an example of creative license.)

And so ‚ÄúNoah‚Äôs‚Ä̬†director,¬†with (re)creative license, makes up a‚Ķ

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.‚ÄĚ (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, ‚ÄúIf 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‚Äôs hand.

Heb 13 :5 leans one way: “He Himself has said, ‚ÄúI WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,‚ÄĚ
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‚ÄĎd¬†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!”, if,¬†we¬†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?!”