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Good People, Careless Stewards

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“…Just-as each has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the various graces of God. If anyone is speaking, speak as oracles of God; if anyone is ministering, minister as from the strength which God is supplying; that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ: to whom is the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 4:10-11 MLV)

This is a very radical scripture, with a simple message: we must be careful, as “stewards” of the exceedingly precious grace (divine influence) of God, to not let anything carnal/fleshly/natural mix in with the spiritual, because God is increasingly glorified as flesh is increasingly absent.  It may sound easy to walk like this, and it can be, but it’s also costly.  Many of us must learn to embrace humility, long-suffering, and even a “carrying of the cross.”

The more we’ve built ministries, emotional attachments, habits, and lives on non-spiritual foundations, the more we stand to lose if and when these foundations are destroyed. I recall reading of a man heavily involved in a certain religion who began to realize that the teachings of his religion were not true – a very difficult thing to see and accept when your belief system has permeated your entire life and world, as his had.  Being very troubled by this, he went to one of his religious leaders and expressed his doubts and the reasons for them.  This leader essentially responded: “I know the church’s teachings aren’t necessarily true, but still, we promote and practice many good things, and think of what you have to lose. Stay in the church anyway!”  This is an example of what can happen if one builds extensively on a “mixed” foundation of flesh and spirit.

As I detach from religion and fear, the clearer I see just how foolish it is to resist new ways and understandings from the Spirit. The last time I checked, the Kingdom of God is so much bigger than us – bigger than our individual approval, individual comfort, or our individual anything!  Isn’t the Kingdom of God about God?  About His will being done on earth as in heaven, about magnifying, honoring and glorifying Him, instead of natural man?  In the passage at the top, Peter actually wrote that we are to minister pure Spirit so that God is glorified.  Isn’t the Kingdom and the way of Christ all about self-sacrifice, servanthood, and elevating others ABOVE yourself?  Wasn’t Jesus’ single new commandment to love each-another as ourselves, just like he loved us?   If so, then our individual selves are not really in the picture at all, and so realizing you have been deceived isn’t something to resist, but to celebrate!  It’s true many have a lot to lose by letting go of their religious ways, but if we are truly desiring, as Jesus did while on earth, that the will of God be done on earth as in heaven, then we will be EAGER to correct whatever has not been lining up with that desire.  Resisting new revelation of the Father’s heart and purposes only makes sense in the light of self-centeredness, which often hides behind religiosity and is empowered by disguised fear.  The religious desires to “do” or “be” are typically not from the Spirit, but from a selfish need to feel important or recognized, or on a fear-based obligation of some sort which the Spirit has no part in.  

One of religion’s subtle dangers is that it actually hinders the expression of divine love, because it’s emphasis on outward behaviors and “correct beliefs” allows one to feel justified without genuine Spiritual encounter or the expression of the Spirit’s love and Life.  Recently, I was talking with a friend about how, over the past several years, as our understanding of spiritual things would change and grow, we would gravitate toward different teachers and ministries.  Each time we thought we had “found it,” only to see later that flesh/Adam/carnal was still mixed in somehow (including in us).  Many of us have moved from church to church or ministry to ministry, but we have not moved from flesh to spirit.  In going from one mixture to another, we have changed expressions, but not substances.  That said, some of these changes may have been positive, with a little less flesh and a little more spirit present each time.  I suppose the main thing is that we remain humble and correctable.  I’m no one’s judge, nor do I condemn anyone – I just grieve at how the body of Christ, of which I am a member, has been deceived and hindered.

It seems that what has happened in many cases is, rather than admitting we’ve missed the boat, we have “moved the goalposts” and accepted the idea that the world and even the church is destined to get worse and worse until we’re “raptured.”  But this is not accurate, for so many reasons.  There is going to be a new earth, which I think is this same earth, only remade after the “fire” of God’s presence, as ministered by His people, has burned up what was founded in man.  We need, and I think are beginning to experience, a revolution within the so-called church.  I do see more and more that hard questions being asked, and if we are willing to accept the answers from the Spirit of God in a place of humility, then great things will happen.  Jesus’ own ministry was actually quite small, and he usually resisted those who tried to expand his following.  What seems good, and even what “gets results,” has NOTHING to do with the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom/Reign of God is nothing more or less than the will of God being known and done.  It’s HIS inward Life being expressed outwardly.  This is ONLY going to come as the body of Christ yields to Christ it’s head.  I can tell you this – when the body of Christ stewards and pours out only pure Spirit on a global scale, it will look far, far, different from Christianity and all the other religions we see today.

Let’s determine to value the expression of God’s Life above even our religions, friends, and families.  Not that we disown those who don’t agree with us, but that walking in agreement with the Spirit takes precedence over agreement with anyone or anything else.  Let’s not put our own ideas or ways into anything, even if this means we go “radio dark” for a while, ceasing all religious activity and waiting upon God.  Did you know that when God revealed Himself to Paul, who was a deeply ingrained scholar of Judaism, he went into obscurity for several years to commune with Him before beginning his ministry?  This isn’t to give a formula for everyone, but for many of us, something similar is probably needed – a “detox” of sorts.  

Again, let’s not go by appearances or canned reasonings, let’s not just parrot what we are familiar with, but let’s allow the spirit be the spirit.  Maybe His ideas and ways are different from ours.  In that way, and only in that way, can Jesus Christ truly be glorified and the Reign (Kingdom) of God truly begin to materialize on earth.  Amen!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Go and Learn

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ (Matthew 9:13, ESV)

In the gospels, Jesus or his disciples often violated the customs and laws of the Jews. In Matthew 12:1-2, Jesus’ disciples flagrantly violate the sabbath law.  The Pharisees, enraged, confront Jesus about this, but he defends them.  I believe Jesus’ response to their accusation holds a key to the new covenant, to understanding God’s heart, and to avoiding the immaturity, blindness, deception, divisiveness, and judgmentalism the law brings.  He quotes from Hosea 6:6 (in bold): “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”  What a beautiful statement. They clearly broke the law, yet Jesus said they were “guiltless.”

I know a man who said: “God is love, not law.” That is so true. Law was always intended to be temporary, useful for showing man his weakness and sinfulness, and as a “foreshadowing” of the law’s fulfillment – Christ himself.1  Christ, not law, is the revelation of the Father’s heart. But how were the disciples guiltless while clearly breaking the law?  The answer is too deep for me to elaborate or see fully, but consider this: you can’t break a law which doesn’t apply to you. According to United States federal law, if I buy and drink a can of beer at age 20, I break the law. Once I turn 21, that law doesn’t apply to me anymore, and I can drink the very same beer without being a law-breaker. True believers are “in Christ,” have died and risen with Christ, and the law does not apply.  As well, in Christ the law is fulfilled, done away, and supersededYou can’t break a law when in the presence of the one who fulfills and supersedes that law, and walking according to his heart.  This is partly what Jesus meant when he said he is “Lord of the Sabbath.”2 

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus actually tells the Pharisees to “go and learn” what God truly desires, as stated through the prophet Hosea.  This is the only time in scripture Jesus tells the Pharisees to “learn” anything, implying he is pointing out something essential for religious, law-minded, fearful people to understand if they are to mature. Here’s the full statement Jesus quoted from: (Hosea 6:6, NKJV): “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”  Like Jesus, I encourage you to “go and learn” what this means from the only true and trustworthy teacher: the Holy Spirit of God.

Remember, God is love, not law. I believe God has spoken to me, more than once, that He is grieved by the way religion has represented Him; as some sort of unmerciful tyrant who will either eternally torture or severely punish those who slip up.  That’s not His heart.  Look at Jesus’ life. He refused to condone or allow the stoning of a woman caught in adultery, though the law said that was the punishment. He refused to attribute any wrong to his disciples, though they clearly broke the Sabbath. He welcomed various “sinners” into his presence.  He taught love for enemies, doing good to those who mistreat you, loving one-another as he loved us, to honor the Father, to deny self, take up your cross, and follow him. He shows us the Father, as he and the Father are one.  Jesus’ life and way were spiritual and free, being of an entirely different sort than the common Christian way of trying to act good, “stop sinning,” and acquire correct beliefs.  Change can be scary and hard, but He’s worth it.

 

  1. Galatians 2-4, Ephesians 2:15, Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 7:18, 8:5, 10:1, Rom. 3:21, 4:14-16, 7:4, 10:4
  2. Matthew 12:8
 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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True Insight on Transformation of the Soul

“Knowing the truth with true spiritual light transforms
the soul because it puts out of your heart what God has
already put away from Himself through the cross. In His
light, what is dead to God becomes dead to you, and what
is alive to God becomes the only life that you know.
 
To illustrate, imagine that you are locked in a completely dark
room where you are constantly tormented by a fear of
crocodiles. You have obviously never seen a crocodile
because there is absolutely no light in the room, but you
have heard suspicious sounds and once or twice thought
you felt something brush up against your leg. Days, weeks,
perhaps months go by, but your fears will not subside. You
continually reason with yourself saying, “Don’t be silly,
why would there be a crocodile in this room?” Or, “If there
were really a crocodile in this room, it would have eaten
me by now. I’m sure I’m quite safe.” But all of the self-talk
and intellectual reasoning has little effect on your
emotions. Logical or not, you think what you think and
you feel what you feel. One day, however, as you are
curling up in a ball on the floor to escape an indistinct
crocodile-like noise, your hand happens upon a box of
matches. You frantically pull out a match, strike it on the
side of the box, and a flame lights for a second and then
goes out. For just one second you see the room in the dim
light of a single match, and a wave of joy and relief strikes
your heart. You couldn’t see clearly, or for very long, but in
that one flash of light there was definitely no crocodile in
sight. Still fearful, but now at last with hope, you reach for
the box and light another match. This one stays lit long
enough for you to discover a shelf on the wall filled with
candles which you excitedly light one by one. After only a
few minutes, all the candles are lit and the entire room is
flooded with light. It was true what you thought you saw in
that initial flash of light – there are absolutely no
crocodiles in the room and there apparently never have
been. After so many months of fear and trauma it takes a
while for your nerves to settle. But after sitting in the light
for some hours and examining every square inch of the
room, your emotions begin to calm, the fear fades away
and becomes meaningless, and your heart at last begins to
rest.
 
This analogy is helpful in a couple different ways.
First, it illustrates to some degree what seeing or knowing
the Lord feels like to the human heart. It is not an external
light, an angelic voice, or a prophetic vision. It is like a
new and foreign light that shines in our heart and brings
something real into view. That is what all light does – it
shows us what is real. Natural light has this immediate
effect on our natural senses. In a flash of natural light we
become conscious of our surroundings; we become aware
of what is there. Like a flash of lightning on a pitch black
night, suddenly the world around us comes into view.
Spiritual light does very much the same thing, but it shines
“in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory
of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”9 As the light of life
flashes in our soul, we are brought to an ever increasing
awareness of what is spiritually real. It’s not like a dream
or vision that uses symbols or words to represent spiritual
realities. There are no figures that need to be interpreted
or words that can be misunderstood. It is as simple as
seeing in the Lord’s light what is true in Him. It is like
waking up from a long adamic dream, rubbing our eyes,
and slowly recognizing what is real.
 
The second thing that this analogy illustrates well is
that the natural byproduct of seeing what is real in Christ is
a progressive liberty from all that is notreal. Just as the
light made it impossible to continue fearing a crocodile
that was not in the room, so too it becomes impossible for
us to feel, think, and hold onto the fruits of darkness that
have no place in Christ. Light shows us where we are, what
God has done in Christ, and all ideas and feelings contrary
to the truth begin to fade away and lose their meaning.”

 

-The above is quoted from “Not I, But Christ” by Jason Henderson, pages 290-292.  Full text can be found at http://www.marketstreetfellowship.com/static/assets/books/not-i-but-christ/Not_I_But_Christ.pdf   There are many more free teachings, including a fuller teaching on sanctification which I look forward to reading, at marketstreetfellowship.com

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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