3 Questions to Stop Gossip in its Tracks

gossip

Gossip is a disease in the body of Christ today.  It causes various kinds of harm to those who gossip and to those who are the subject of gossip.

I explore this and 3 questions that can be used to cut off gossip before you receive it in a new article posted today on the 3rd Race Blog.

Click here to read the article.

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Photo Credit

What the Church Can Learn from Divergent

divergent train tracks

Credit: Flickr user jhansensnaps

I recently watched the film Divergent, the first in a trilogy series based on a popular novel series by the same name.  I was intrigued after watching the movie and decided to read the book, which was also very good.

In this story, there is some kind of disaster that requires the survivors to essentially restart society.  (I’ve only read the first book, so I don’t know any more detail than that.  I hope it is further revealed as the books progress.)  The story of Divergent picks up at what seems to be many years after the disaster in the city of Chicago.  Much of the city is in ruins, and the people have organized themselves into “factions”.

Each faction emphasizes a particular quality over and above all others.

There are five factions.  One emphasizes selflessness, another bravery, another peace, a fourth emphasizes knowledge, and lastly truth.

Children are raised in the faction of their families, but when they turn sixteen, they take a test (a virtual reality type hallucination) that reveals their true faction by judging their strongest trait from their decisions during the test.  They are still able to choose any faction, but most follow the faction they grew up in, which is usually confirmed in the test.

The original idea of the factions, of course was to support each other and provide balance in the new society.  However, the factions become jealous of each other, primarily because the selfless faction was given control of the government.

It is interesting to me how this scenario compares with our Christian landscape today.  We have so many factions, each emphasizing a particular aspect of our life in Christ.  Some focus on knowledge, others focus on good works for the poor and oppressed, some focus on spiritual gifts, others focus on non-violence, while yet others focus on strictly obeying the law.  And then there are sub-factions to the factions.

And the lines are drawn.

Separated, we understand very little of each other.  Subcultures develop that are completely foreign to each other, so much that people become too uncomfortable to reach out across the not-so-imaginary lines.

Enter the Divergent.

The Divergent have no faction.

The heroin of the Divergent series is a young girl whose faction test results are inconclusive.  Her reactions to the simulation indicate multiple faction possibilities because she draws from various characteristics to respond to the test.

Being divergent is dangerous because any one faction cannot control them.  Their brains simply resist the conditioning (“initiation”) that is meant to teach them the strict boundaries and role of their faction.

The Divergent are rare and are terminated when discovered because they challenge the system that controls them, and people with power do not like to be challenged.

The Apostle Paul spoke of factions in the church:

Divisions in the Church

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

(1 Corinthians 1:10-17 ESV)

Paul reprimands the Corinthian believers who have lost their focus on Jesus Christ as the one true Head of the church and he calls them to be united together.

Surely, this is a hard road.

Getting along with folks that are wildly different from us is not easy.

Taking in other people’s viewpoints and adjusting our own is not easy.

Yielding to others is not easy.

At least, not in our own power.  But when we yield to Christ in all things, His life in us is manifested, we are made new, and we are able to do new things.

We are able to be united in Him.  We are able to lay down differences and seek and explore Him together, learning from each other, valuing each other, desiring each other, caring for each other, encouraging each other, and embracing and drawing strength from our divergence rather than being afraid of it.

Yes, there will still be arguments and disagreements and hurt feelings.  But if you really stick it out together and hold to Christ, something new and precious will be deposited in His new city.

I have been in gatherings where the life of Christ is richly expressed through many different lenses, and the vision of Christ that results is breathtaking.

I am convinced that isolating ourselves into countless factions over countless issues is not the way of Christ.

Christ is always divergent from the flesh and towards the divine.

Perhaps it is time for the church to embrace the Divergent.

Follow the Life!

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Jesus Was Raised As An Immigrant

immigrant

Credit: Flickr user coolrevolution (cc)

Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention penned a very penetrating letter on the current hot topic of immigration.

He states:

The larger issue is in how we talk about this issue, recognizing that this is not about “issues” or “culture wars” but about persons made in the image of God. Our churches must be the presence of Christ to all persons, regardless of country of origin or legal status. We need to stand against bigotry and harassment and exploitation, even when it’s politically profitable for those who stand with us on other issues.

And, most importantly, we must love our brothers and sisters in the immigrant communities. We must be the presence of Christ to and among them, even as we receive ministry from them. Our commitment to a multinational kingdom of God’s reconciliation in Christ must be evident in the verbal witness of our gospel and in the visible makeup of our congregations.

Amen!

It is easy to fall into the trap of using labels to dehumanize others resulting in a lack of compassion for those people.

This happens between different religions, different Christian denominations, different political parties, different genders, different nationalities, and so on.

Generalizing people into labels removes the human aspect.  But these are people with real stories and struggles looking for help.

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 3:28 NLT)

In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.  (Colossians 3:11 HCSB)

I’m not suggesting that there is an easy solution.  However, seeing everyone in the light of Christ seems to be a basic aspect of His kingdom, especially those who are most in need.

I hope you’ll check out the link above and read the full article.

What are your thoughts on Moore’s article?

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God Is Interested in People, Not Religion

“In Zechariah’s time [about 6 B.C.] the people of God were beginning a new day.  They were back in their homeland and they were free.  Their future, however, was unclear.  Would they return to the sins which resulted in their forefathers entering into captivity or would their future be marked by fidelity to God?  Would they be able to rebuild the Temple?  Would they be protected from their enemies?  The people were at a crossroads.  They needed to be challenged regarding their past and encouraged regarding their future.  It was into this setting that God sent Zechariah, and he came to Judah with a two-fold message.  He told them to look back with discernment and look forward with reassurance.”  (The Prophets Speak of Him: Encountering Jesus in the Minor Prophets, Anthony Selvaggio)

 

“You’re Interested in Religion, I’m Interested in People”

On the fourth day of the ninth month, in the fourth year of the reign of King Darius, God’s Message again came to Zechariah.

2-3 The town of Bethel had sent a delegation headed by Sarezer and Regem-Melech to pray for God’s blessing and to confer with the priests of the Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and also with the prophets. They posed this question: “Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the seventieth anniversary of Jerusalem’s fall, as we have been doing all these years?”

4-6 God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: “When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.

7-10 There’s nothing new to say on the subject. Don’t you still have the message of the earlier prophets from the time when Jerusalem was still a thriving, bustling city and the outlying countryside, the Negev and Shephelah, was populated? [This is the message that God gave Zechariah.] Well, the message hasn’t changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now:

“‘Treat one another justly.
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor.
Don’t plot and scheme against one another—that’s evil.’

11-13 “But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God’s revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn’t listen to a word he said.

13-14 “So [this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies said] if they won’t listen to me, I won’t listen to them. I scattered them to the four winds. They ended up strangers wherever they were. Their ‘promised land’ became a vacant lot—weeds and tin cans and thistles. Not a sign of life. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland.”

(Zechariah 7, The Message, emphasis mine)

religion wasteland

Credit: Flickr user Sam Whitfield

A Church Vision Meeting That I Wanted To Turn Upside Down!

Hidy, ho there, neighbors!  I hope you’re having a great Wednesday (a.k.a. “hump day”…).

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I’ve been wanting to share some of my own story here on the blog.  Specifically about my journey of growing into my own faith, discovering Christ in a deeply intimate way, and discovering the ekklesia (church) as I had never known it before.

As I think about this journey, there are certain events that are seared into my memory.  One such event occurred at a church that my wife and I were attending about 10 years ago where the Senior Pastor of the previous 25 years or so had recently retired.  The denomination sent in an interim pastor, who held a vision casting meeting one Sunday evening.

I don’t remember all of the details of the evening, but at one point the interim pastor asked the congregation to list the “assets” of the church that could help them reach the local community.  So the list included several things, and then we were asked to rank the top three items in order.

What happened next really troubled me, and I will never forget it.

Everyone was really excited about the results.  Really.  Excited.

And the results were:

1. The Building

2. The Pastoral Staff (which was maybe four men)

3. The Congregation

I remember sitting in my seat, wanting to stand up and shout, “WHAT!?!??!?!  That’s completely upside down, at best!”

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However, the excitement of the crowd and the approval of the staff running the meeting kept me in my seat.  Maybe it was fear of sounding different that stopped me, but I still wish I had said something.

This essentially was saying that the congregation was useless without a building and a small paid staff.

I simply couldn’t grasp that a dead, dumb, mute, lifeless building could possibly be more important than the people themselves.

I simply couldn’t grasp that four men, mostly overworked taking care of everyone in the church, were also going to find the time to reach the folks in the sprawling suburbs surrounding the church.

In my mind, each person there was a valuable member of Christ’s body and existed in a context in which Christ could be expressed, without the need for a remotely located building or the oversight of a paid staff.  Therefore, the people were the most important asset, after of course, having a unified vision of Christ as our life.

I thought that if I could only keep one of the three items listed with a mindset to reach out to the community, I would have to choose the congregation over either the building or the staff.  Without the people, little to nothing would be done.

This really opened my eyes to the off-centeredness of so many Christians’ view of the church, the ekklesia, the body of Christ, and it sent me on a search to understand what church is really about.

I’ll share more of that journey in upcoming posts.

I do want to note that I was not and am not upset with anyone that was at that vision meeting.  I’m still friends with many of those folks today and I know they love the Lord.  But it was an eye-opening experience that the Lord used in my life to nudge me in a new direction.

Follow the Life!

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All Authority is In Christ

You are worthy in Christ because He has called you Daughter.

You are worthy in Christ because He has called you Son.

Before any thing was formed, you were chosen in Him.

He is King of the universe, and all authority is in Him.

No words of demons nor mortals can alter His truth.

The King says you are of Noble birth.

And His word is beyond contestation.

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Put On The New Self

Put On the New Self

3 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ [m]rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Put on the New Life!

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Thinking the Best of Others

conspiracyFor his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  (Psalm 103:11-12)

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.  (Hebrews 8:12)

Amazingly, we have a God who thinks the best of us.  Our Father looks at us through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, and through Him sees the best that is in us.  He chooses to see us as an expression and an extension of His Son whose life indwells us.  This is what the Father does, and the Son expressed this divine vantage point in His interactions when He was on earth.  Jesus saw the best in the disciples, the sick, the lame, the needy, the tax collectors, the women, the adultress woman, and on and on.  In the stories of Jesus we find God’s Expression deeply valuing each person.

However, most of you probably know some conspiracy theorists, who typically spread their theories through deadly gossip (gossip is a fast acting poison that will kill community life).  These people are always looking for (and reacting to) the worst intentions in others.  Conspiracy theorists are constantly thinking and saying things like:

– They did that to make me look bad.

– He gave me this gift so I would feel guilty.

– She is just buttering me up so I don’t see her real intentions to undermine me.

– He only wants to help me to make himself look good – he’s using me.

– That person must be whispering about me.  I’m sure they don’t really like me.

– She missed our meeting because she doesn’t care about me.

– He didn’t talk to me because he really doesn’t like me.  He’s avoiding me at all costs!

And on and on…

Note that each of these statements is an accusation.  And by the way, Satan actually means “the accuser”.  He is one who accuses the saints, and we are following in his bitter footsteps when we do the same thing.  Not only that, but to accuse a part of Christ is to accuse Christ Himself.

Also note in the verses above that God is doing the opposite of accusing.  He is choosing to see the best in us by electing to remember our sins no more.  God is not seeking to hold us down; He is doing everything He can to lift us up.

In Jesus, He gives us every good thing.

In Christ, we are exonerated from our sins and rebellion against God.  Not that we are not responsible for the consequences and for participating in reconciliation as needed.  We are agents of Christ in the world and He often calls us to untangle the knots we make.

But my point is this: as the Father sees us in Christ, so we then see others through the lens of Christ as well.  Or perhaps put better, we yield to Christ in us who already sees everyone in that way.

Maybe some people don’t care about us.  Maybe they do want to undermine us, hurt us, ignore us, and so on.  But everyone of those people are dealing with something in their life at that very moment.  They are dealing with their past hurts and failures.  They are struggling with fears, just as everyone else does.

Many times, though, conspiracy theorists are completely wrong.  Their paranoia has caused them to find faults and motives that simply are not there.  This can then lead to gossip that is completely false.  (This is why it is always best to confirm information directly with the source, and this can save you from getting sucked into someone’s paranoid view of others.)

Of course, sometimes people are actually trying to hurt you.  Perhaps they are jealous and they want the success/position/family/happiness/etc you have.  Even so, I believe the best option is to look above the offense and see them in Christ.  Perhaps this means that you ignore their intentions and leave the situation to God, or you ask the Lord to show you how to respond through His wisdom and love.

If you have Christ in you, you can choose to see each person as He does.  And He sees the best of them, just as He sees the best of you.

Imagine being set free from paranoia.  Imagine being liberated from worrying about what or who every person is talking about.  Imagine being unburdened from “discerning” every person’s intentions.

This freedom is available in Christ.  He can teach you to learn to see the best in others, to look past the faults and offenses and hurts that people hurl at us, thereby becoming part of His healing and restoring work in this world.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.  (1 Corinthians 4:5)

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  (Matthew 7:1)

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  (Romans 2:1)

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Christian, Will You Go Beyond What Is Right?

rice paddyThe following story is told in Angus Kinnear’s biography of Watchman Nee, Against the Tide:

In another village a newly believing farmer and his friend had faced a crisis. Their strips of rice field lay close to an irrigation stream on the terraced hillsides from which they daily drew water for their paddy. But one night as they slept a neighbor with land beneath them on the slope defrauded them of their essential and laboriously pumped supply by breaching the clay of their retaining bank and running it off on to his own land. Next morning they saw what had happened but, controlling themselves, said nothing. Again they raised their water, and again next night it was all drained off. Still they uttered no word of protest when at dawn they discovered the mean trick the man had played on them. This went on for seven successive days, and they were justly irritated. Were they not Christians, and should not Christians be patient? The Scriptures speak of loving your enemies, rejoicing in sufferings, and counting it pure joy when you meet various trials, and their restraint seemed irreproachable. In desperation they went to some older believers for advice.”It is unjust!” they exclaimed. “how is it that, having suffered all this wrong for a full week and kept faith with God, we are still unhappy? Tell us in this situation what we should rightly do next.”

One of those senior brothers had some experience. First they all knelt together in prayer; then he replied,”If we do the right thing and no more, then surely we are unprofitable servants. We ourselves should go beyond what is merely right. Maybe you are not yet happy because you have not gone the full distance. Let me suggest that you try going the second mile. First yourselves irrigate that farmer’s paddy field, and after that irrigate your own. Go back and test it out, and see whether or not your hearts find rest.”

They agreed to try, and next morning were early afoot. Carrying forth their wooden trough with its “dragon’s backbone” water-lift and going to work once more on its treadmill, they made it their first task to irrigate the field of their enemy who had so persistently robbed their own field of its water. And now this amazing thing happened: the more they labored in the day’s intense heat watering their persecutor’s land, the happier they became. By the time, in late afternoon, they had finished lifting sufficient also for their own paddy field, their hearts were at perfect rest.

When the brothers had repeated this for two or three days the man came with his friends, dumbfounded, to apologize. With every show of sincerity he asked for the explanation. “If this is Christianity,” he said, “then we want to hear more about it,” and soon he too was drinking in the Word of life.

In telling this episode Watchman was distinguishing between the principle of right and wrong and the principle of life.”Those two had been most patient,” he explains. “They had labored to irrigate their paddy, and without a word of complaint had suffered others to steal their water. Was that not very good? They had done all that man could require of them, but God was not yet satisfied. They lacked peace of heart because they had not met the demands of his life. When however they conformed to his standards, joy and peace welled up in their hearts.

“What is the Sermon on the Mount?” he continues. “What does Jesus teach in Matthew chapters 5 to 7? Is it not this, that we dare not be satisfied with less than what meets the demands of the new life God has put within us? It does not teach that provided we do what is right then all is well. No, we overlook the inner life whereby his Holy Spirit moves us to further action. Many say that Matthew 5 to 7 is too difficult. It is beyond us. I admit that it is. It is sheer impossibility. But here’s the point. You have an inner life, a Person close at hand, and in a given situation that new life tells you that unless you do as the Sermon on the Mount requires (and “love” is a key word) you will lack rest. The whole question lies here: are you walking in the way of good and evil, or in the way of life?”

An interesting aspect of this story is that the brothers sought the Lord’s direction together in prayer.  Through this time together, it was realized that the life of Christ in them was leading them to do more than just not retaliate; they were being called to serve this person who was hurting them.

Without spending time in prayer, they were stuck looking at the situation through the eyes of the flesh, and were attempting to rely on their own strength to muster patience with the offense against them.  But they knew something was not right because they were not “happy”.

The solution presented was truly inspired.  It was against human wisdom that would demand justice, and it resolved the situation peaceably to the benefit of both parties, although there was suffering on the part of the Christians to perform extra work in watering two fields.

While this solution may not be directly found in the Scriptures (there are no “water your neighbor’s paddy field” verses), this echoes Jesus’ words about turning the other cheek, walking the second mile, and Paul’s words to the Corinthians who were taking each other to court: “why not rather be wronged?”.  So the Spirit-led direction could be confirmed as being in line with the life of Christ.

In the end, this created a testimony to the non-believing neighbor that drew him towards Christ.  God saw fit to use their suffering to expand His life to others!

This is a wonderful example of how we who are inhabited by the Spirit of Christ can solve problems… first come before Christ together in prayer, listen for His answer which will follow the pattern of His life, and follow Him.  Note that His answers will rarely follow the conventional wisdom of this world.

Follow the Life!

Do you have any similar examples to share?  I’d love for you to put them in the comments.

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Whoever is of a Willing Heart

heart of thomas4Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, saying, 5‘Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’S contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, 6and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats’ hair, 7and rams’ skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, 8and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense, 9and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece.  (Exodus 35:4-9, NASB)

As I write this, a few friends of mine have made great sacrifices to pursue a calling in their lives to follow the Lord in learning how to establish first century style churches that are built on a foundation of living by the Lord’s indwelling life as a community, and fulfilling the Father’s eternal purpose in creation to have a bride for His Son, a dwelling place to rest in, and a family to visibly share and express His great love.

As the brothers in our church met and prayed for one of these brothers as he prepares to depart us, my thoughts moved towards the willingness expressed in these brothers and sisters to let go of what they know and to embrace the Lord’s way.

It is interesting that in the Exodus passage above one observes that God is commanding Israel to offer precious materials for the building of His temporary, physical dwelling place on earth, the tabernacle (continue reading Chapter 35), yet His command is only for those who have a “willing heart.”  There is a condition that precedes the contribution, and it is a heart condition.  The giver must be fully yielding to the Lord and His ways.

Let us not for a moment think that the Lord’s dwelling can be built by offerings given from a motivation of fear, guilt, shame, or manipulation.  The giver being sought by the Lord is one who gives everything utterly to Him to use in whatever way He sees fit.

I believe that whatever the Lord seeks to build visibly is actually a picture of something invisible or spiritual.  The tabernacle is a picture of the Son, Jesus Christ.  Just as God desired His temporary, physical dwelling to be built through willing, loving hearts, so does Jesus build God’s spiritual temple today with those who willingly, without reservation, lay down themselves for His purposes.  Jesus is the perfect representation of God, and He also does not build with guilt, fear, shame, or manipulation.

This kind of willingness to follow the Lord requires us to lay down many things.  It may even require us to give up things that are very good in our eyes.

– Our own desires to have stuff, whatever that stuff may be.  It could be a house, a new car, an education, a career, security, living in one location, building a financial portfolio, being near family and/or friends, our reputation, our comfort, and so on.

– Giving up the easy, quick ways of the world and the flesh, for the longsuffering ways of God.  We may often not understand these ways, or even think that we have better ideas than Him; yet the deep things of the Lord only come about when His life is the source of everything.

– Giving up our control.  Giving up control of ourselves, our money, our future.

– Giving up our plans.  I’m not against planning ahead, and I think it is wise to do so; however, I believe it is essential to remain mindful of the Lord’s direction to change our plans at any time.  A person who has a willing heart will always be open to this.

Note that there is no mention of quantity in the passage above.  He does not say, “If you are really, really rich, and you are willing, then give some to Me.”  The condition is to give willingly and the Lord will use what is brought for His purpose.  In the building of the Lord’s spiritual house today, I believe He is still looking for “whoever has a willing heart”, regardless of the wealth of their spiritual gifts.  The Lord can do much more through a willing servant with little gifting than a stubborn servant with much gifting.

I believe that our fellowship has done as the Lord requested, to “Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’S contribution” for the purpose of building His house.

Follow the Life!

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What is Always on the Other Side of the Cross

new life

An excerpt from F.J. Huegel’s Bone of His Bone:

In the first chapter of the Ephesian letter, Paul utters a marvelous prayer.  He says to the Ephesians:

I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of
your understanding be enlightened; that you may know… what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us
who believe.

And this power which is to us, for us, in us who believe – from where does it come?  What actually is it?  It is the “power which [God] worked in Christ when he raised Him from the dead.”

That is the matchless power which works in you – the power of Christ’s resurrection!  Paul longed to have the Ephesians realize that fact.

When we come to consider the requirements of the New Testament as they bear upon the Christian life, we realize that they all presuppose this very oneness of the believer with Christ in the power of His resurrection. No one but a Christ-centered person, one with Him in death and resurrection, could possibly measure up to the ideal of Christ in Christian life and service.  To love one’s enemies with that divine love (Greek agape, divine-type love) without a deep participation in the power of Christ’s endless life would no more be possible for the purely natural man than for a worm to play the role of a bird.  There is not a New Testament requirement that does not immediately bring you face to face with an overwhelming dilemma.  Either you must cease to move in the realm of the purely natural – find in the resurrected Christ a new life – or you must fail as a Christian.  To the new life – the life that flows from Christ – the Sermon on the Mount presents no problems; it is all natural, easy, a spontaneous expression of principles already inherent.  The ways, customs, language of jungle savages are no more unintelligible or impracticable to the average person today than is the Sermon on the Mount to one who has not been born again (i.e., died to the self-life to rise up with Christ in the power of a new life.)

A mere mechanical doing-as-Jesus-did will never bring you to the Christ-life.  For a dead frog can be made to kick as if it were alive by the touch of an electric current, but it remains dead.  Nor can my imitation of the ways of a Frenchman make me a Frenchman.  I am an American, and I would have to be reborn to be anything but what I am.

You had to be born anew.  That is why Christ took you with Himself down into the grave and brought you forth a new creation.  He terminated your old life when there upon the Cross as Representative man He died; and He imparted to you a new life when He arose from the grave.

Christ expects nothing from your flesh.  However religious its garments, however holy its appearance, however sanctified its undertakings, it still “profits nothing.”  It is still only flesh.  It is still only the realm of the natural.  It is still self.

It is not simply Christ dying for you – it is you dying in Christ!  It is not simply Christ being raised from the dead – it is you being raised along with your divine head!  It is not simply you reaching out after God – it is God taking the form of man, and then, as the Son of Man, changing life’s entire process – bringing you out from the tomb charged with the divine life, resurrection life!  This is the Christian faith – the faith of the apostles, the “faith of the Son of God.”

My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20 NLT)

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.  (Romans 6:6 NLT)

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  (Colossians 3:3 NLT)

On the other side of the cross, there is always, new, divine, resurrected life in Christ Jesus.

Follow the Life!

*****

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Experiencing Christ as Our Life Source

Below is part of a letter of encouragement that I sent to a friend a few months ago.  The letter is based on John 15:1-17.  I thought I would share it here in hopes that it also encourages you to rest in Christ and allow Him to be your life source.

It was originally written to one person, but I have updated it to be written to the Bride of Christ since it is now going out to a larger audience.

My Bride, I want you to know that I am the real and living grapevine, and my Father is the caretaker who watches over everything and puts everything into the perfect place at the perfect time. You are a branch in Me. You are part of Me. You live inside of Me. You are nourished by Me. I carry the living water to you and all the other branches in Me. All you have to do is rest in me. The living water is already flowing to you and through you.

Drink deeply my dear Bride. Don’t get too caught up in this world around you, how good you are living, or whether or not you are pleasing Me. My Father is always at work cutting out the branches in you that aren’t producing fruit to make room for the new branches that I am sprouting. Let go of the old and cling to the new!  Focus on Me and these other concerns will be dealt with through My Life in you.

The new branches that are of Me will produce more fruit than you could ever imagine. In fact, the Father has always been pruning you as you learn of Me. This is how you experience more and more of Me, by letting my Father prune. The more you depend on Me for everything, the more I will grow in you. Only divine life produces real, living, eternal fruit. As long as you continue in Me, I will bear fruit in You.

Yes, I am the authentic, eternal vine; you each are a very special branch in Me. Everyone who draws life from Me will produce abundant fruit. Realize, though, that you cannot draw life from yourself, nor can you produce any fruit on your own. You are only branches; I am the vine, the source. The life comes from Me and flows out to everyone and everything. Those that will not drink from My living water will eventually wither and die because they have no true life in themselves.

When you are consumed with My living water, you will see things just as I see and hear them because we will truly be one vine together. It will be easy for Me to give whatever you ask because you are asking from My perspective! My branches are the ones who partake of Me and manifest and express my own nature. And this is my nature: to love you exactly like My Father has loved Me. When My nature is flowing through and out of you, you will always be doing what I desire, just as I always do what My Father desires.

Don’t get down on yourself! I’m telling you all of this because it is truly joyful to those who abide in Me. My desires for you are filled with joy and are not burdensome. I simply want you to love each other the same way I have shown you love by laying My life down for you. There really is nothing greater in the universe than this! This is the most powerful thing of all! This is like a nuclear bomb in the heavenly realms, and it shames all those that stand against Me in the natural and the spiritual world! And you will do this completely naturally when you are abiding in Me and drawing from My living waters.

People will say, “Look, there is a friend of God!” As my dear Bride, I have opened up to you all of my secrets. You used to be slaves to this world, but now you know what will conquer this world: My life and My love, which is completely different from what passes for love in the world. Maybe you think that you chose Me. Actually, I chose You long, long, ago, and have hungered and thirsted to know you fully as a cherished branch in Me, and to see the fruit grow that you have already been chosen to produce. Remember, when you are one with Me, you will long for and fulfill My desires and the desires of My Father, which is that you love each other.

Follow the Life!

*****

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His Desire Is For Me: Drawing Close to Christ

his desire book coverBob Emory’s book, His Desire Is For Me, tells the story of the greatest love song every written: The Song of Songs.  Emory tells the story in narrative form, weaving an intricate story of a monarch, King Solomon, and the maiden of his desire.  The book is also written in devotional form, with about five pages per day for thirty days.  At the end of each day’s narrative, there is a Points to Consider section and a Thoughts/Prayers section that relate the story to the Christian’s daily walk in Christ.  The author often portrays King Solomon as a shadow or picture of Christ.  The book is broken into three parts: Initial Love, Increasing Love, and Mature Love.

I really enjoyed going through the intimate Song of Songs daily and seeing Christ in new ways through the story and reflections.  Emory reveals the character of Jesus and the depth of His love for us – each one just as we are.

Here are some quotes from the book:

Finally, one day, simple but powerful words began to form within me. Like a flood, a prayer rose from somewhere deep in my being and poured out from my lips: “May he kiss me again and again with the kisses of his mouth!”

THOUGHTS/PRAYERS Precious Lord, I humbly acknowledge that you are robed in light and that you are holy and without peer. You are one of a kind: the best and beyond compare.

The temptation for the maiden was to try to make herself more beautiful for Solomon so that she would be acceptable to him, as we will subsequently see. But she was altogether beautiful to him just the way she was. His love would draw her and purify her, making her into what she could only hope, at this time, to be.

When God sees us, he sees us as having been washed by the blood of Christ, which has made us perfectly righteous and holy in his sight. He sees us “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30). He looks at us and loves us in exactly the same way as he does his precious Son. We are part of the divine family.

The Lord is passionately in love with us just the way we are. He formed each one of us in our mother’s womb. We were fearfully and wonderfully made. We were endowed with unique personalities, gift, and talents, all designed to uniquely magnify him. In Psalm 3:3, the psalmist said, “You are my glory and the One who lifts my head!” The Lord Jesus does not want us wallowing in the dust, nor looking down in shame. He wants to put his finger under our chin, lift it up, and cause us to look into his face, where we will hear the words, “You are beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you.”

You [Christ] are the one I feed upon. Refresh me. Wash the dirt that I have accumulated from walking through this world off my feet, and fill me. Thank you that, even in those times when I struggle to find you, I am still, and always, your beautiful one.

Service should come as a response to spending time with the Lord and then responding to what he is doing within you.

This is the third of Bob Emory’s books I’ve read.  His book, An Evening in Ephesus, has the Apostle John visiting the church in Ephesus and explaining the meaning of his letter, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

I am currently reading The New Covenant, in which Paul and Titus visit Jerusalem and Titus spends the day with John, where they discuss the New Covenant in Christ, and many of the shadows and pictures of Christ seen in the city of Jerusalem and in Jewish culture.

All three of these books express and reveal Christ in a deep and profound way, using narrative to put the revelation in a format that is easy and enjoyable to read.

See the interview at the link below to hear the author share about a comment that changed his view of the Song of Songs.

Links for His Desire is for me…

His Desire is for Me — Amazon

His Desire is for Me — Book Trailer

His Desire is for Me — Interview with Bob Emery

His Desire is for Me — Facebook

His Desire is for Me — Goodreads

*****

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

 

Who is Really in Control of the Church?

gathering_medThat’s one question that needs to be answered in Milt and Mary Rodriguez’s novel, The Gathering.

The new President of the United States has instituted a new organization, the United Christian Movement, which has placed an agent in every Christian church in America to make sure that everything stays in line with the government’s rules.  This new administration has forced Christian unity and is seeking to return America to a highly moral country by enforcing strict laws.  Meanwhile, the UCM is also trying to eradicate “New Agers” who actually believe that Jesus Christ lives within them and has a desire for believers to live life together and express Him to others.  Of course, any mention of an indwelling Lord is cause for swift retribution from the UCM.

But what about those who feel that God has something different in mind for His church?  What about those who feel called to something deeper?  God works mysteriously through dreams and visions to bring those believers together in secret, underground gatherings that express God’s eternal purpose while living a simple life together with Christ Himself as Head of the church.

The Gathering is very fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat with anticipation.  There are lots of characters and pieces to this story that all come together nicely in the end.  The novel reads like a thriller, but with a stunning revelation of God’s eternal purpose woven throughout.

If you are interested in simple, organic church gatherings, or want to know more about God’s eternal purpose, this novel is a great way to learn more about it.

Follow the Life!

*****

Order  The Gathering on Amazon.

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Resurrected with Christ

I wrote previously about the church being “born crucified“, but that’s only part of the story… we were also raised with Christ to new life!  The following is a paraphrase of Romans 6:1-11, written as though Jesus Himself is speaking to the believers in Rome:

In Jesus’ Voice

What are you saying to Me?  Are you going to keep on sinning knowing the richness of the gift of grace that I have given to you?  Please, never say this to me!

I want you to be confident that you are completely dead to sin and death!  Those are the old ways of life.  I have given you a new life that flows from my very being.  I have made you part of Me.  This is why you are baptized into My name.  When you are submerged in water all of your sin that was crucified by Me on the cross is buried forever; when you rise from the water you enter a new creation that is sustained by My life, including your new life!  Certainly, if you are buried with me unto death, I will not leave you in the grave to suffer and ruin the plans that were made before the foundation of the world.  My greatest desire is to fulfill My Father’s dream to bring you through that death into real life… divine fellowship with us.

Dear child of mine, please understand that My life is the only antidote for sin.  The cross was the only way for me to save you from that incurable disease.  Sin is so powerful that your cursed body had to be completely destroyed and made new for My life to take root in you.  Those of you who accept the antidote, a blood transfusion with Me, will be set free from the disease of sin.

Do not fear death!  It is good news for you because it is the gateway to living a new life with Me.  I conquered death itself.  It has no part in My new creation, and it has no power over me or you.  I want you to know through your entire being that you are surely dead to sin, and thereby are alive inside of Me!

Follow the Life!

*****

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Struggling? Burned out? Christ is New Every Morning

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

Thank goodness that our God never gives up, never throws in the towel on us.  As sure as the sun rises, and as sure as the Son has risen, our loving Father’s mercy and compassion are new every morning.  You can experience this newness in the springs of living water (Christ’s own Life) inside you (John 4:14).

May you rest in the peaceful assurance of His life and love in you!

Follow the Life!

*****

Related:   Feeling Stale? Here’s A Cure For Spiritual Dryness (New Day Book Review)

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The Church Was Born Crucified

Just as Eve was in Adam and was brought out of him at just the right time, so the church was in Christ, and she was brought out of Him in God’s perfect time.  She, the ekklesia, was not brought out from Him until He had displayed and produced crucified life for her.

This haunting quote comes from F.J. Huegel’s book, Bone of His Bone, and gives much insight into our co-crucifixion with Christ and our co-resurrection in Him:

The church, as has said the great French preacher Lacordaire, was born crucified; and until, like her divine head, she falls into the ground and dies, she abides alone. The life-giving streams cannot break forth from her bosom.

God grant you the grace to be clear about one thing: Christ does not come into your life to patch up your “old man.”  Here is where unnumbered multitudes of Christians have been “hung up.”  They thought it was Christ’s mission to make them better.  There is absolutely no biblical ground for any such idea.  Jesus said that He had no intention of pouring His new wine into old pigskins.  He said that He had not come to bring peace, but a sword.  He said that unless a man would renounce himself utterly, he could not be his disciple.

Christ does not come to you to simply straighten out your “old life.”  He has never promised to make us better.  His entire redemptive work which was consummated upon the cross rests upon the assumption (it is more than an assumption – God says it is a fact) that man’s condition is such that only dying and being born again can possibly make any change in you. He must impart to you an entirely new life.

Christ is the Vine, we are the branches. He is the Head, we form the Body.

Paul’s epistles again and again point us to Calvary and startle us with an imperative demand: We must consent to co-crucifixion with Christ. …

Two thousand years ago, there in the manger of Bethlehem, God gave the world his only-begotten son.  In Him was concentrated the infinite love of the Father.  But the full force of that redeeming love was not released upon a sin-stricken world until there on Calvary the flaming heart of the Beloved broke.  Then it was that the radium of the celestial realm was focused upon the great cancer of humanity’s sin and shame.  Radiation kills.  There is no power under heaven that can withstand its concentrated dynamic.

The Cross also kills.  The man who exposes himself to Calvary soon discovers that a hidden fire burns within his bones.  The old fallen life – so resentful, so fussy, so greedy, so touchy, so haughty, so vain, so blind to all except its own particular lust, so ready to sacrifice the good of the many if only its own glory may be secured – the old “self-life” can no more resist the impact of Calvary than can some frail canoe survive the onrush of a great tidal wave. …

Let us further examine this matter of identification with Christ. It is both a position that you take once and for all by an act of faith (in which you commit yourself to your place in the death of His Son) and a process of growth, in which you receive an ever-deepening life of sharing in the Savior’s death.  Even Paul said that he longed to know Christ and the power of his resurrection… being made conformable unto His death (Phil 3:10).  It is all summed up in the great paradox of the Gospel: “He who loses his life shall find it.”

There is not any nullification of personality involved.  Quite the contrary.  Paul was no less Paul after the realization of his oneness with Christ in death. He could, with infinitely more right, say “nevertheless I live.”  Once the cross deals with the “I-life” so that the soul becomes God-centered, personality and all of its glory and the full fruition of its powers begins to develop. You can only possess yourself when God is supreme in your life. …

Being in Christ, we are crucified. Your being a German or a Frenchman makes inevitable certain habits of mind, a certain temperament of soul.  Your being a Christian makes inevitable the crucified life.  The church did not come forth from the womb of the Eternal until, upon the cross, crucified life had been generated.

The only life given to the ekklesia, the body of Christ, is His crucified life.  This is the source of our new life, our new covenant, in Him.  This is why it is the Lamb of God that conquered death and sin, and why it is the Lamb that now sits on the throne.  Jesus Christ won the victory through His sacrifice.  The church is victorious through her own sacrifice, and in this is true Life.

What foolishness this is to our “old man”, but what life pours forth to those who embrace the way of the cross of Christ.

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What is Freedom in Christ?

From time to time, as I am reading a Scripture passage, I am moved to paraphrase the passage into my own words.  While trying to stay true to the passage’s intended meaning, I sort of journal what I feel the Spirit is working in me at that time.  I’m not trying to reinterpret the Scriptures or make up my own translation (relax).  But it is a great way of connecting with what is going on in me as I’m reading.  This actually happens all the time when someone says something like, “that passage means _______________ to me”.

Below is a passage that I paraphrased some time ago from Galatians 5.  This is a beautiful chapter that compares a life lived from the flesh (sinful nature) with a life lived from the Spirit of Christ, where true freedom is found.

Galatians 5:1, 13-26, My Paraphrase

It is true that on the cross, Christ defeated everything that stands against Him, securing our freedom in Him.  And then, Christ rose from the grave and became a life-giving seed, freely sharing His freedom with us.  Plant yourself firmly in this freedom like a giant oak tree, and do not walk backwards into the heavy chains of religious law and tradition.

Brothers and sisters, we have been granted access to Christ so that through Him we can live in this freedom.  But do not be deceived: this liberty is different from what the world views as freedom.  This is not a freedom for yourself, as those in the world devour each other to gain; rather, this is a freedom from yourself, from everything that stands between you and the Lord’s life.

Let us live by the law that Christ Himself gave us, that we would love and care for each other in the same way we look out for our own lives.  This is how our freedom grows.  Freedom in Christ is not tearing each other to pieces to protect our own interests.  This will completely destroy your fellowship with each other and the freedom found in the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ.

Because of the fall, we cling to selfishness and legalism.  The new antidote to this problem is so much simpler than the Law – give everything to Christ and live by His indwelling life.  Living for yourself destroys your freedom, but living by Christ forms the liberty of love into you.

We all know too well the fruits that comes from trying to get our own way all of the time, and there is no need to list them.  When you are making room in your life for these things, there is no room for the kingdom of God to be built up inside of you.

But if you will give room for the seed of Christ’s life to grow inside of you, He will blossom into a sweet smelling flower.  And this is His fragrance: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Legalism is helpless to produce a life that expresses this kind of beauty.  Everything in us, our old nature, that stands against this was nailed to the cross of Christ and crucified with Him – it lives no more.

Since we have chosen to live in Christ’s life by the Holy Spirit, let us not only hold this as an idea in our minds or a sentiment in our hearts – let us make this our practical way of living with each other.  May we not spend our time measuring how well other believers are walking in the Spirit, and may we not brag about ourselves because Christ is the One who does everything in us.  Instead, let’s see every person as God’s masterpiece.

 

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An Encouragement to Those Doing the Lord’s Work

IMG_0925Watchman Nee (1903-1972) was a Chinese Christian who served the Lord widely in China, often at great personal cost.  He was wrongly imprisoned later in his life because the government considered him to be the leader of many Christians and a threat to the Chinese rulers.  Nee served the Lord in China most of his life, while giving little consideration to his own comfort or reputation.  He died in a remote farm prison after serving twenty years of hard labor and being almost completely cut off from his wife and family.  After this time he was frail and sick, and was eventually transported over rough Chinese terrain to a hospital.  It is believed that he died during this trip due to its severity on his weak body.

Nee never gave up his faith, though.  His possessions from prison, including additional writings and diaries, were not turned over to his family.  They were only given his old coat, worn from many beatings.  Inside, hidden in the lining, they found a scrap of paper inscribed with these words, “Only God is ever living – only God is everlasting.”

Watchman Nee has written many books that have been translated into English.  Many of his spoken messages have also been transcribed and released as books.  While he was certainly not perfect, his contribution to Christians world wide is immense.

Angus Kinnear brilliantly captures the life of Watchman Nee in his biography Against the Tide: The Unforgettable Story Behind Watchman Nee.  In this book, there is a section about Nee’s thoughts about “how God might more widely win to himself the people of China”.  Nee was interested in how God might raise up those who could minister among the Lord’s people to develop local assemblies throughout China.

Developing this thought further, he pointed next to an item in the ark’s contents, namely Aaron’s rod that had once budded.  It had been set there as a memorial of a historic occasion: a dark night and a resurrection morning.  He believed this hinted at God’s one sure way of fruitfulness for every servant of his.  We do not accomplish God’s work merely by yielding to the appeal of open doors and great opportunities.  There is sometimes also a darkness to be endured with patience for the sake of a new dawn.  When that dawn breaks God will disclose buds and flowers beyond man’s power to produce.  In the case of our Lord Jesus that resurrection life blossomed and fruited in its fullest sense when he pleased his Father by assenting to endure, with heaven closed above him, the darkness and death of the cross.  “The Son of Man must suffer,” he had said.  While in such experiences the disciple follows his Master only at a distance, yet “the servant is in no way greater than his Lord.”

The death of ourselves (what Paul called “the old man” or the “flesh”) is usually quite painful; however, in Christ there is always a resurrection on the other side.  This is what is represented by Aaron’s dead staff that God caused to bloom new flowers (see Numbers 17).

While this principle is true for all Christians, my thoughts in this post are primarily aimed at those who are called to the work of giving up themselves completely to serve God’s people.  The cross they bear for the Lord’s sake, for the Lord’s spiritual house (that is the church, His living body, not a physical building) can certainly be overwhelming at times.  Thankfully, we always have the promise of the NEW life, fruit, and light on the other side of death.

To those of you laboring faithfully for the Lord, you have my utmost respect.

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Have You Heard Him, Seen Him, Known Him?

**I originally published this article on this blog’s previous website in 2011.  I was reminded of the same theme recently and am reposting it with a few minor edits.**

The title question comes from an old hymn we sing in our church.  It’s a beautiful hymn that points towards knowing Christ as a real and living Person.

This post also gives a glimpse into “what it is we do” as an organic expression of the church.

I’m part of an “organic” church that meets in a home.  For most of my life, I’ve been part of traditional churches where a pastor preaches on Sunday, the congregation listens, and kids go to Sunday School.  If someone would have asked me if I knew Jesus, I would have probably said, “Sure, I know Him.  I’m saved.  I said the sinner’s prayer and was baptized.  I read my Bible.  I go to church.  So, yeah, I know Him.”

(Note that this doesn’t mean that no one can know Jesus in a deep way if they have a similar experience of traditional church.  I try to avoid such sweeping generalizations.  But it wasn’t the case for me, and I think the points below apply to anyone.)

I’ve realized in the past few years that that answer seems to fall flat.  I don’t want to just know facts about Christ, nor do I want the extent of my knowing of Christ to be based on the event of saying a prayer and getting baptized.  Although those are important events, isn’t there more to having a relationship with Christ than that?

As a husband, I don’t presume to know all about my wife just because we said marriage vows at a wedding ceremony.  Knowing my wife is much deeper than that.  It takes work, sacrificial love, conversation, quality time together.  And after over 13 years of knowing my wife, I am still far from truly knowing her (which is an exciting thought because there is so much more to be explored and known).

In our church, our desire, goal, and hope is to learn who Jesus the Christ is.  Not the facts and statistics, but the Person.  Who is this Jesus?  What makes Him tick?  What is He all about?  What is He up to?  What does He want from me?  What does He want from us all together? How do we figure all of this out?

Well, that’s a long story, but it started with someone describing Him to us.  Someone who has gone down this path of knowing Him deeply before us.  Someone who could remove the veil of this world and reveal the true nature and person of Christ.  Someone who could cut through our pasts of religion, legalism, intellectualism, and self-centeredness.  And by this expanded view into who Christ is, we began to be able to see Him ourselves.  We began to share Him amongst ourselves, beholding His endless riches!

Now, imagine you asked me to describe the moon to you.  I’ve seen the moon plenty of times.  I’ve even seen it through a telescope, so I could give you some general features of the moon.  It’s usually a sort of white color, it is round, and it has craters all over it.  Now, imagine asking an astronaut who has walked on the moon what it is like.  Of course, they can give you the facts and figures, but they can also give you the first hand experience of actually walking and living in the moon’s environment.  That is what this person (actually it was a few people) did for us.

They shared with us the land of Christ through which they had actually walked. This sighting of Christ did not occur overnight, and as with my wife, there is still much more to explore and see of Jesus.  As a church, we pursue Him together in many different ways, most of which look nothing like what most people would consider “church”.  Most importantly, we pursue Him together as we live in community with each other.  We are learning to live together by His indwelling life, and what it means to be an expression of Him in this world.

So back to the original question.  Have you heard Him, seen Him, known Him?  I thought I had.  But thankfully, I listened to the still, small whisper inside that said, “Maybe there’s more.”

In time, I have learned that our Lord, Jesus, wants to be known by me and you to a deeper level than any of us can imagine. Will you respond to His simple call to hear Him, see Him, know Him?

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