Self-fulfillment is a fantasy (a recipe for misery)

Self-fulfillment is a fantasy. Our self-desires are never fully fulfilled. Self always seeks something more. Even when self gets what it wants and the “rights” that it demands, it immediately cries out for more. Self is continually discontented and constantly craving. It cruelly compels us to conform to its compulsions and to dance to its endless, destructive desires. Therefore, a culture and belief-system based on the pursuit of personal happiness is a recipe for misery.

So what is the key to happiness? We have to go beyond self — to find a cause greater than self. Peace Pilgrim put it this way: “Forget yourself, and concentrate on being of service as much as you can in this world, and then, having lost your lower self in a cause greater than yourself, you will find your higher self; your real self.”

Jesus said: “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.” Since compulsive self-desires can never be fulfilled, they need to be courageously resisted and continually denied. To lay down our self-desires and die to them is the key to joy.

If we daily and persistently follow and obey the living, resurrected Jesus Christ and no longer obey our personal cravings, compulsions, or desires; we begin to experience victory in life. Paul of Tarsus put it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Paul also said:  “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Are you walking by the Spirit?

There’s nothing like walking in the flow of God’s Spirit — sensing the Holy Spirit moving within you and letting yourself go with His flow that releases peace, love, and joy streaming through your innermost being. Flowing in the Spirit is not just a one-time (or even an occasional) experience. It is a way of life. Christ calls us to daily live and walk in the Spirit’s flow. We don’t learn to flow with the Spirit by reading a book or by hearing a sermon. We lean to deny self and walk in the Spirit the same way we learn to walk physically — by doing it over and over until it becomes the norm for us.

It also helps to regularly meet with a group of Christ-followers that sets aside programs and agendas, and begins to just flow in the Spirit together. If you would like to experience a group like that visit The Salvation Army Berry Street in Nashville, where instead of a one-man sermon, everyday people share as they are prompted by the Spirit — Sundays @ 10:45 am., 225 Berry St., 37207.

peace pilgrim

 

Posted in Christian spirituality, crucify yourself, deny yourself, desires, flesh, flowing in the Spirit, Follow Me, Galatians, Holy Spirit, human rights, I am crucified with Christ, in the Spirit, rights, Salvation Army, self, self-denial, self-destructive behaviors, self-discipline, self-focus, self-importance, self-indulgence, self-mastery, self-regulation, self-restraint, self-sacrifice, self-surrender, self-will, self-worth, selfish desires, selfishness, spiritual formation, spirituality, take up your cross, Train yourself unto godliness., Uncategorized, works of the flesh | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gloria Gaither reviewed “Beyond Church”

homecoming beyond church

In the current issue of Homecoming Magazine, Gloria Gaither reviewed Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible — Ekklesia. Here are some excerpts from Gloria’s Library column:

“The way we worship and get our souls fed is changing. Oh, I don’t mean ‘church worship styles’ are changing. No, it’s much deeper than that, and in a way the deconstruction culture is the best climate for God to do a new thing, a new thing that is very old–as old as the New Testament and the book of Acts, as old as the way God spoke to people before people insisted on a king and a temple of stone in which God was expected to come and ‘dwell.'”

“In his book Beyond Church Steve Simms talks about his discovery that ‘church’ as the word chosen to translate the original Greek word ἐκκλησία in the King James translation was unfortunate because it came ‘from the Middle English chirche from the Old English cirice, both of which meant ‘a religious building or religious place or the Lord’s house and often referred to pagan worship circles.’ This was a far cry from ‘the called-out ones’ or as Simms says ‘people who have been invited to gather together. Everyone was considered an equal in the Greek ἐκκλησία and any citizen present in the assembly could participate and share his ideas opinions and concerns . . . However, Jesus’ ἐκκλησία, unlike the Greek ones, is made up of all His followers both male and female.'”

“With this distinction Simms begins to share the story of his own personal search for the kind of no-hierarchal model so beautifully and organically powerful in the fellowship of the fresh gatherings in Acts and beyond. This kind of ecclesia was (and is) immediately responsive to needs, a place where everyone listens to Christ himself and then speaks her/his insights to the ‘body gathered.’ Citing the historical examples of the pure but often messy model, Simms encourages this simple church practice in our own contexts.”

“Shedding engrained forms, authoritarian hierarchies and power structures, followers of Jesus have taken to heart and practice Paul’s 1 Corinthians 14:26 insturction: ‘What shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.'”

“. . . perhaps God is preparing us in the West for a season of persecution that drives us underground and to each other–back to the raw, real, messy and organic ἐκκλησία, an assembly of free, ‘called-out’ citizens of a Kingdom, gathered for the strengthening of a government that is not of this world.”

(Beyond Church is available at this link.)

Posted in 1 Corinthians 14:26, Acts, Because He Lives, body of Christ, book of Acts, church, church meetings, family of God, Gospel, Gospel music, Greek New Testament, Greek word, I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God, kingdom of God, music, organic church, participatory church, persecution, simple church, Southern Gospel, Sweet Sweet Spirit, Uncategorized, Western Christianity, Western culture, Western society, When you come together | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Preaching’s not enough says a $1.00 book . . .

We must go beyond preaching! Wow! Such power, conformation, and fireworks from a book I found for $1.00 at at Book Warehouse in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It doesn’t look too impressive, but I’m so glad I bought Discovering Who We Are Together (Community), by the Center For Christian Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary and published by NavPress. Check out the fireworks!

community book

  • “Preaching has never been and never will be the only element needed for the transformation of Christians into Christ’s image. . . Therefore, a movement has grown that emphasizes formation of the believer’s inner and outer life and not just transformation of the intellect.”
  • “Allow group members to exercise their spiritual gifts. See their development not as a threat to your leadership but as a sign of your success as a leader.”
  • “The great force we want working for us is the Holy Spirit through authentic community. Our words lose power, are easily misunderstood, or fall on deaf ears when spoken in a superficial or surface community.”
  • “The  basis of effective communication is mutual involvement of sender and receiver. It must be the special concern of the initiator of communication to ensure the involvement of the participants.” –Donald Smith
  • “Effective communication that leads to deep comprehension and response occurs only through involvement in each other’s life and interests. Without involvement the most skilled use of media and techniques may be only an imitation of communication.” –Donald Smith
  • “Stories can communicate meaning far more powerfully than most people realize. When people begin telling stories from their own life experience, you can sense the emotion in their voice. Often you can observe more excitement or intensity in their words when they tell personal stories. That’s why telling stories about experiences that have most influenced your life is a deeply personal exercise. . . Do you realize that you have a story? Even more important, do you know that your story reflects the authorship of God?”
  • “In order to genuinely be a part of a community, you must be able to tell your story. People must be exposed to your happenings and your heart. But in a Christian community, telling personal stories will always include, as a crucial component, your experience of God’s providence, salvation, and sanctification. To tell stories in this manner, you need to learn to observe what God has been doing in your life. The result will be an act of worship as you express and respond to expressions of God’s goodness and love.”
  • “Creating a community isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.”
  • “To understand our need for transformation, we must understand who we are currently, both as individuals and as members of the body of Christ. . . We cooperate with the Spirit when we reflect on what our values are and how well they line up with our identity in Christ as described in Scripture. One very significant characteristic of our identity in Christ is that we are part of the body of Christ. The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation. So while talking about my place in Christ, I need to pay attention to our place in Christ as a community. Understanding our corporate identity in Christ is crucial.” (To better understand Christian community check out my book Beyond Church.)
  • See these ideas in action at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., Nashville 37207 on Sundays @ 10:45 am. Check out this interview where I share about the way we meet at Berry Street.

Berry street chares from side

Posted in alternative to preaching, body of Christ, Christian community, Christian leadership, church community, church leadership, communication, community building, Holy Spirit, how the body of Christ functions, how to create community, lay testimonies, leadership training, media, personal testimony, preaching, Salvation Army, salvation testimonies, servant leadership, simple church, spiritual gifts, testimonies, testimony, Uncategorized, word of their testimony | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you (don’t follow your heart)

heart Jeremiah 17

 

cheatin heart hank williams

We humans continually hustle to hide the hurt and hideousness of our cheatin’ heart behind religion, self-righteousness (self-justification), and/or rebellion. We deny the scathing seriousness of our sin and the evil nature of our heart, even though the Bible declares that: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

God’s grace calls us to repent — to replace our religion, self-righteousness, and rebellion with His gift of radical recovery, restoration, and reconciliation. You don’t repent by “following your heart.” (Your heart is even more confused, corrupt, and cheatin’ than your head. It will continually frustrate you and run you through the gates of hell on earth!)  You repent by opening yourself up to the inner conviction of the Holy Spirit and allowing God to break your heart (by showing you the scathing seriousness of your sin) to the point that the only thing you want is God’s mercy and forgiveness.

We need to open ourselves up to the gracious conviction of the Holy Spirit and allow God to reveal the real condition of our heart. Are you courageous enough to do that?

“The human heart is greedy. It will use religion, color, or any other excuse to justify its greed. Blame the human heart.” –Bono (Are you ready to blame your own heart?)

“It’s easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than ‘My heart is broken.” –C.S. Lewis (Are you ready to admit that your heart is morally broken?)

“The truths that I know best I have learned on my knees. I never know a think well until it is burned in my heart by prayer.” –John Bunyan (Are you willing to get on your knees and seek God’s forgiveness with all your might?)

“Your cheatin’ heart
Will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry
And try to sleep.
But sleep won’t come
The whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you.”
–Hank Williams (also sung by Patsy Cline)
Posted in Amazing Grace, broken heart, brokenhearted, burning heart, cheap grace, country music, Create in me a clean heart, from the heart, grace, hard-hearted, heart is deceitful, heart is desperately wicked, heart-felt, heartbreak, heartfelt, human heart, Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:9, love God with all your heart, next heart beat, sinful heart, speaking from the heart, the door of your heart, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Are we the walking brain-dead — mindless media zombies?

Could our media be polluting our minds and turning us into the walking brain-dead, who mindlessly mimic media messages. Advertisers seem to think so. Advertisers have made TV networks, cable companies, Netflix, YouTube, Google, and Facebook some of the wealthiest companies in the world, because advertisers know that media messages change people’s thinking and behaviors. If media had no influence, advertisers wouldn’t spend a dime and Netflix would be nixed, YouTube would be yanked, Facebook would be finished, and Google would be gone!

Therefore, you are being influenced by the messages contained in the media you consume — whether you know it or not! And those messages aren’t just the commercials and other ads. Everything media puts out has a message. Nothing is neutral.

Do you ever ask, what is message am I consuming in this show, this movie, or this post? Do I want my life to become what I am watching, hearing, and/or reading? If you don’t ask questions like that, then you are surrendering yourself to the manipulation of media like a mindless zombie.

Your media will mold you into its image. Day by day you will gradually become what you watch, listen to, and read. Movies about misery will make you miserable. Posts about anger will cause you to be angry. Shows based on disrespectful people will make you disrespectful. Programs full of raunchiness will make you raunchy (at least in your thoughts). Consuming evil will slowly release evil in and through you.

Is that what you want? If so, then keep on consuming poison media. However, I don’t believe that you really want misery, anger, disrespect, and evil. I believe that you want happiness, peace, self-respect, and goodness (unless you have been so brainwashed by your media that you have lost hope for a joyful and fulfilling life).

It’s not too late to change channels (or even power off). Positive, uplifting media does exist. You just have to search for it and then choose to consume it instead of corruption. The choice is yours. You are what you watch.

“The nature of man was not constructed to harbor evil. Sin is an intruder. Conscience, the fear of God, the capacity of memory, all want to acknowledge what is wrong, to expel it, and to get rid of its sting. But men knowingly violate all this. They hide their sin. Thus they make untold misery for those about them and bring final ruin upon themselves.” –Bramwell Booth (2nd General of The Salvation Army)

Is it a sin to entertain yourself by watching shows that promote and/or exalt sin on TV or a computer? Is it a sin to be a fan of a TV series that parades and glorifies immorality? (If it is morally wrong to do something, then surely it is morally wrong to enjoy watching other people doing that thing!)

 

 

 

Posted in abc, American media, Bramwell Booth, cable companies, CBS, choice, electronic media, facebook, garbage in garbage out, influence of words, media circus, moral choices, morality, netflix, PBS, persuasion of media, positive thinking, power of choice, prochoice, right and worng, TV, TV network, TV series, Uncategorized, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Air Dancer Christ-followers

air dancers

As I was with a group of Christ-followers who were praying and sharing as they felt prompted by the Holy Spirit, the image of a large Air Dancer came to my mind. Are Christ-followers called to be animated like Air Dancers? I believe we are.

Air Dancers (also known as Sky Dancers, Floppy Guys, or Air Puppets) are long, inflatable plastic (or fabric) tubes (usually with a happy face and two other tubes coming off the side like arms; giving them a friendly, human appearance). Each Air Dancer is attached to and powered by an electric fan. Air Dancers stand up and energetically move about in response to the air being blown through them by the fan.  Everything they do is prompted by the wind within.

Far too often, present-day Christ-followers look like the deflated Air Dancer below. We are drained and aimlessly wandering around struggling to survive. Why? Perhaps we can learn something from Air Dancers.

air dancer deflated

  • In order to function, Air Dancers must be attached to a source of inner wind — a blower. If they are unattached to a blower and/or the blower is not sending wind through them, they can do nothing. The same is true of Christ-followers. Jesus said: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” We must be attached to the wind of the Holy Spirit. If not, our faith is merely a deflated form of religious tradition, and not the powerful faith of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
  • Air Dancers must be yielded and flexible. If an Air Dancer gets stiff and/or won’t bend according to the blowing of the wind, it will no longer work and will be a disappointment to anyone needing to be encouraged by its dancing. Unfortunately, we Christ-followers have been taught just the opposite. We have been trained to sit still and not move — to depend on a preacher talking to us rather than on the wind of the Spirit blowing within us.

So what can we do? Learn to surrender to, hear, and obey the wind of the Spirit — the still, small voice of God speaking withing us. But how can we learn to do that? We won’t learn it by listening to lectures. It can only be learned by hands-on experience.

We need to begin to personally listen to Jesus and then do what He says. As we do this more and more we will grow in both our ability to hear Christ and our willingness to obey Him.

We also need one another. More than 50 times in the New Testament Christ-followers are told to encourage one another in various ways. Therefore, when we meet together as believers, we need to be free to hear and obey the living Jesus. Rather than being like rows of deflated Air Dancers lined up in front of a pulpit and doing nothing, we need to be like a group of Air Dancers freely and unashamedly responding to the wind within them. When we do that, we will once again begin to see the powerful Christianity of the New Testament in action.

If you have never experienced a group of Christ-followers responding to the Spirit like Air Dancers, come and visit The Salvation Army Berry Street in Nashville, Tennessee on Sundays @ 10:45 am. — 225 Berry St. 37207. Also check out my book about how Christ-followers can learn to be His Air Dancers.

Posted in animation, apart from me you can do nothing, bouncy houses, Christ in you, Gone With The Wind, hope of glory, mighty rushing wind, the wind blows where it will, Uncategorized, wind, wind of the Spirit | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts from the Bible & the General . . .

expect change auxilary

I read some statements that General André Cox made at The Salvation Army National Advisory Organizations Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, April 21-24, 2016. The theme of the conference was “Expect Change.” The General’s comments reminded me of these biblical concepts:

Christ-followers are called to come together as His body to listen directly to God and then allow the Spirit to freely flow among us, using each one of us to build up one another. (1 Corinthians 14:26) Then we are called to go back into our daily lives as Christ’s witnesses and let the Spirit freely flow through us, wherever we are, as we: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

What the General said at NAOC 2016:

“We have seen so many testimonies of God at work in people’s lives. God is intervening in the world, even amid the chaos because He wants all to experience change and transformation. And God expects us to be part of the process — not spectators sitting by watching things happen.” –General André Cox

“Never has there been a time when people were more engrossed with communicating, but who is really listening? The virtual environment cannot replace looking someone in the eye, talking directly to them and knowing that they listen. God must get frustrated with us because He keeps talking, but do we listen? He speaks through nature, through experiences and other people, and of course, though His Word. But He has spoken most clearly to us through Jesus. When God sent Jesus, He gave us a clear example of how to order and live our lives. But it’s never been harder to listen to Jesus. Yet He continues to speak to us through all the days of our lives. The fact is, we are always in the presence of God. Our problem is that we are not aware of Him.” –General André Cox

Perhaps it is time for Christ-followers to gather in Jesus’ name, become aware of His presence in our midst, listen to His voice, and allow ordinary people freedom in the meeting to say and/or do whatever Jesus tells them to. This would build them up in holy boldness so that they could go and be aware of God’s presence in their daily lives and say and/or do whatever He tells them to.

Here are some more thoughts from General Cox. And here’s more about learning to flow in the Holy Spirit.

general cox

 

Posted in 1 Corinthians 14:26, change, change agent, change in church, change management, changes in worship, each one has a psalm, evangelism, makes change, Phoenix, preach the gospel, Quench not the Spirit, Uncategorized, witnesses, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment