Church can be like a full 747 sitting on the tarmac with no fuel

Having church without the active leading of the Spirit is like sitting on the tarmac in a full 747 with no fuel. A plane full of people won’t go anywhere without fuel. Neither will a church without the supernatural working of the Spirit.

When the fruit of the Spirit isn’t present in abundance, somebody’s quenching the Spirit. (Love, joy, peace, patience . . .) There’s no such thing as “church as usual” when the Holy Spirit is free to work.

Preachers talk to you, but the Holy Spirit wants to freely flow from inside you. (See John 7:38.) The biblical purpose of preaching is not endless proclamation to the same passive people but radical and disruptive transformation. Pentecost was an abrupt and disruptive interruption of the norm, turning bankrupt believers into world changers. Do it again, Lord! The events of Pentecost show that the Holy Spirit doesn’t follow a program!

Isn’t it odd that although Pentecost was not liturgical, programmed or controlled; church services commemorating it are? Pentecost as a religious service is benign; but Pentecost as present reality is revolutionary! To celebrate Pentecost without God’s surging power is like swiping a phone that doesn’t have a battery.

What is the “cost” of a new Pentecost? It is stepping away from programs and human-control, into the spontaneity of the Spirit! Pentecost is Christ’s power working in and through all His people, not programs & preaching for the passive. (See Acts 2.)

The devoted religious leaders of the time rejected Jesus in the flesh. Today we must be careful not to reject Him in the Spirit! The Pharisees were Bible-believers; the Sadducees were Bible-repudiators. Both saw a living Jesus as a threat and wanted Him dead.

When church established a clergyopoly it confined “ordinary” Christians to the role of spectators. Too many Christians today feel like they are nothing but spiritual spectators; passively sitting through a church service, listening to Christian music and radio, watching Christian TV, attending a conference or concert.

Christianity is about direct revelation from God and living demonstrations of Christ more than about religion, regulations, and ritual! Christians are called “the body of Christ,” not “the organization of Christ.” There’s no place for vanity in Christianity. Celebrate Jesus, not a preacher or a program or a particular organization.

Being Bible-taught without the Spirit, can dry up in textualism. Being Spirit-taught without the Bible, can blow up in deception. Hearing Christ explained is nice, but it can’t compare to Christ continually experienced in everyday life.

Listen to hope; not to discouragement. Heartily hunt for hope; determinedly dodge discouragement! If you aren’t finding the inner peace you’re looking for, get close to Jesus.

I find hope in a relationship with the risen Jesus. It is the most absorbing, addicting, and amazing thing on earth! (Christ loves us so much that He gives us the freedom to not love Him back.)

Church attendance without heart and lifestyle transformation is religion without results. Perhaps the question, “What do you do when not in church?” is more important than the question, “Do you go to church?”

The Bible never says, “You in church, the hope of glory.” It says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Perhaps when Jesus said, “Occupy till I come,” He didn’t mean to occupy a church seat every Sunday.”

The gifts of the Spirit can’t work through the body of Christ if one man does all the talking. We need to stop ignoring this Bible verse: “Now to each one (not just to 1 pastor) the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

I can’t find anything in the Bible that gives pastors a monopoly on preaching. Can you? I think early Christian preaching was more facilitation than lecture. (See 1 Corinthians 14:26) Jesus opened up “a new and living way” so we can all “draw near to God” (not just hear a talk about Him).

If after Pentecost Sunday we have no more power from God & passion for God than we did before, we somehow missed the point! “Ekklesia” is to meet with and interact with the living Jesus, together with others, letting Him directly lead the gathering. Let’s go back to ekklesia!

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Posted in another Pentecost, church program, clergy, clergy laity, discouragement, Feast of Pentecost, first Pentecost, flowing in the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit, gifts of the Spirit, inner peace, pentecostal experience, Quench not the Spirit, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ekklesia, like a support group, helped me heal

(I first wrote this for ONE Body Life’s blog @ this link.)

Too many people feel like Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean-French filmmaker. He said: “I am not a normal person. I am living in a normal body, but my mind is not normal.”

That’s how I used to feel. I grew up emotionally insecure and self-conscious, believing that I was strange and abnormal — never feeling like I really fit in with “normal” people. Then I started meeting with a non-denominational group of Christians that met something like a support group (what the Greek New Testament calls ekklesia).

As people opened up and shared in the group, I saw that they had the same “abnormal” insecurities and thoughts that I did. (Comedy writer Joe Ancis put it this way: “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.) Soon I begin to feel a real sense of oneness and unity with them.

The truth is that all human beings are basically the same. The Good News Bible puts it this way: “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

The problem is that most of us try to get other people to believe that we are better off than we really are. We’re all weird. Some people just hide their weirdness more than others do.

We usually don’t want other people to know how messed up we are and how much we struggle. However, Christians are told to “walk in the light” — to open up and be completely honest about what we are going through, so that we can encourage and help one another.

You are not strange or alone. It’s normal to struggle and mess up in various degrees. We need to open up and lovingly help each another get back on track. That’s the key to unity and healing in the body of Christ. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Posted in Christ-centered recovery, Christian recovery, emotional honesty, honesty, Isaiah 53, recovery groups, recovery quotes, self-discovery, self-esteem, self-help, self-worth, small groups, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fresh insights on royalty

A British Royal Wedding is a huge, world-wide event. But what is royalty really? Could you be a royal — born to royal ancestry?

Royal–a king or queen or a member of their family. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”

Posted in bride of Christ, events, humble, humility, king, King of Kings, kingdom, kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, kingdom of priests, kingdom values, kings and kingdoms, marriage, royal family, royal priesthood, Uncategorized, weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Story Of “Blest Be The Tie That Binds”

In 1765, John and Mary Fawcett went to minister in Wainsgate, a rural English community, described as: “farmers and shepherds, poor as Job’s turkey; an uncouth lot whose speech one could hardly understand, unable to read or write; most of them pagans cursed with vice and ignorance and wild tempers. The established church had never touched them.”

They began to minister from house to house and built a small congregation. Eventually they had four children, but at Wainsgate they struggled with very little money. Eventually John was offered a pastorate and a very good salary at a famous church in London. They decided to accept the offer.

After preaching a farewell sermon, John and Mary and their children had a cart loaded with all their belongings. People gathered around them and were crying and hugging them. Mary said: “I can’t stand it John. I know not how to go.” John responded: “Lord help me, Mary, nor can I stand it! We will unload the wagon.”

Then John told the people: “We’ve changed our minds! We are going to stay!” And everybody began to rejoice and celebrate. Later John wrote a song about the unity and love that his family experienced with the believers at Wainsgate.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts is Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder past
It gives us inward pain,
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

The Fawcetts stayed with the people in Wainsgate for the rest of John’s life letting the rivers of living water flow there for 54 years in all. John said: “The Lord is a fountain of life, of strength, of grace and comfort.”

Here’s one of John’s prayers: “O blessed Jesus, Your love is wonderful! It is the admiration, joy and song of glorified saints. The experimental sense of Your love on earth sweetens the bitterness of life and disarms death of all its terrors!”

Here is how John taught people to stay strong in the love of God: “Love to Jesus is maintained and continued in its warmth and fervor – by frequent meditation on His adorable person, His dying love, and His infinite excellence and preciousness. If we lose sight of Jesus as the spring of all our happiness, and of His ineffable glories, the fervency of our love for Him will be abated.”

Posted in bear one another's burdens, Christ-centered community, Christian community, Christian unity, church community, fellowship, love, one in the Spirit, prayers, praying community, the beloved community, Uncategorized, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond sermon-hearing to Spirit-hearing

Christ experienced is much more powerful than Christ explained. The “let the preacher do it” mentality has crippled contemporary Christianity. However, Jesus never said: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the preacher says.” (He said, “Let them hear what the Spirit says.”)

If church would teach Spirit-hearing rather than sermon-hearing, it would transform the world! Sermon-hearing can give you a weekly heads-up, but Spirit-hearing gets your continually heart fired up.

“Today’s sermon” is usually tomorrow’s amnesia. And what good is a sermon heard if you don’t do the word? A sermon is a preacher’s formal talk. The Spirit’s inner voice is revelation. It’s easy to hear a sermon an miss out on revelation. Try not to do that!

Today great sermons are electronically available anytime and anywhere, so why spend our time together as Christ’s body, sermon-hearing? It’s time for church to begin pioneering the ignored, 1 Corinthians 14:26, alternative to sermon-hearing!

Church is about sermon-hearing — showing up, sitting passively, and going home after enduring till the end. Early in its history church substituted a sermon for the Spirit’s spontaneity.  However, look at the Great Commission. Christians are called to preach the Gospel; not to listen to sermons. Perhaps we could go beyond sermon-hearing and meet to practice praying, testifying, teaching, and our spiritual gifts.

Sermon-hearing is informational. Holy-Spirit-hearing is transformational! Go beyond sermon-hearing to Spirit-hearing–listen to and obey the inner promptings of the risen Jesus!

Sermon-hearing hears what a preacher says. Sprit-hearing hears what the Holy Spirit says. They are not the same thing!

Sermon-hearing continually instructs people, but doesn’t hold them accountable (or help them) to carry out the instructions. A sermon a week often makes Christians passive and weak. (Compare contemporary sermon-hearers to 1st century believers.)

Creating sermon-hearers is easy. Making disciples is much more complicated. Acts 2:42 says early Christians “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.” (“Doers of the word” not just sermon-hearers.)

Sermon-hearers are the most underutilized human resources on the planet–sitting and listening when we could be changing the world. Perpetual sermon-hearing seems to produce a lot more boredom and passivity than it produces spiritual growth.

In some ways sermon-hearing is like inoculation. It can expose us to just enough Christianity that we build up resistance to it. Christians miss out on so much because we have been trained to trust in one-man sermons rather than the Spirit’s presence.

No sermon can ever determine your relationship with God. That’s up to you! Jesus is speaking directly to you. You don’t need to go through a preacher to hear Him!

If preaching only informs us, it misses the mark! It needs to connect us with the Spirit, not make us dependent on a preacher! Sermon oratory is auditory. The Spirit is revelatory. Listen to the Spirit.

Instead of saying, “Listen to me explain the word,” perhaps preachers could say, “Listen to the living Jesus!” Prechurch Christianity transformed a cruel, violent, pagan world. I think we need it again!

Sermon-hearing requires no thought, no action, no obedience, no response. It’s totally passive. It’s much easier to get bored and to nod off when you’re hearing a sermon than when you’re doing the word! I’ve always preferred reading the Bible for myself and directly interacting with Jesus, much more than sermon-hearing.

People learn to pray by praying together more than by hearing a sermon about prayer. People get to know the risen Jesus by directly listening to and obeying Him, more than by sermon-hearing.

Is there anywhere in the Bible that tells Christians to listen to a weekly sermon? I can’t find it. It is much easier to be a sermon-hearer than it is to be a Christ-follower.

Daily dare to let the Holy Spirit weed-eat your heart and cut down anything ungodly. Then the fruit of the Spirit will flourish. God’s love ≠ God’s approval of wrongdoing.

The body of Christ is a collaborative community of collectively hearing from and obeying the Holy Spirit. All Christians are to be functioning parts of the body of Christ and need to both minister to others and to receive ministry. To regiment and program Christianity is to unplug it from the Spirit. Love’s not a program, it’s from the heart!

Christianity isn’t about how much you know; but about how freely you flow with the Holy Spirit. Too many Christians live in the ebb while missing out on the flow of the Spirit!

The best worship CD is Christ’s Dominion — to let the living Jesus dominate and direct us when we gather in His name! Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.”

“There is a fine line between a long sermon and a hostage situation.” –from a cartoon I saw.

cropped-scott-rainbows1.jpg

Posted in art of listening, Bible reading, body of Christ, church programs, cost of discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, disciple making, discipleship, Great Commission, homiletics, homily, how the body of Christ functions, how to be a disciple, listening, listening to God, preaching, spiritual growth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dare to lovingly pray for Christians you disagree with

Should we pray for Christian groups that hold beliefs that we disagree with and/or that do things we don’t approve of? Jesus did. In John 17, Jesus didn’t just pray for His first disciples, “but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one.”

To me, that means all true Christ-followers, in all time periods, in all nations, and in all Christian groups. Perhaps you and I also should pray for all Christians (and Christian groups), too. God wants to reach the nations. I believe that He also wants to reach the denominations.

In Luke 6:28, Jesus told His disciples to: “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you.” If we are commanded to do that, surely we can pray for other Christians. (Those who have ever been hurt by church know that Christians are sometimes the ones who despitefully use us.)

The book of James tells Christians to, “pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Of course we can pray for individuals, but we can also pray for groups of Christians other than our own.

Here’s how Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

So how can we pray for the Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox, house churches, Pentecostals, megachurch attendees, Anglicans/Episcopalians, charismatics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Dones, nondenominational, and thousands of other Christian groups? Here’s a sample prayer we could use:

Father, I ask You to bless the (fill in the specific name a Christian group here). I pray that You will give them Your wisdom and supernatural revelation through Jesus. Enlighten the eyes of their understanding. Let them know and experience the hope that Christ has called them to, the inheritance that He has given them, and the exceeding greatness of His power in them.

Father, let them have the unity of the Spirit among themselves and with other Christians. May they deeply love one another and all other Christ-followers, so that the world will know that You are from the Father.

May they have a harvest of souls in their midst. Bring their nominal and/or non-born-again members and attendees to full salvation and transformation through Christ. And use them to bring multitudes of people, who have ignored or rejected Christ, to repentance and freedom in Jesus.

Fill them with your Spirit. Give them all a supernatural love for You and an all consuming passion to follow and obey Jesus every day.

Empower them to live godly lives. Renew their minds and keep them from being conformed to the world.

I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in body of Christ, book of James, Christian community, Christian unity, Ephesians, intercessory prayer, James, Jesus prayer, love your enemies, pray for your enemy, prayers, praying community, Uncategorized, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A meeting of Jesus’ people should be like a mighty waterfall

The “gifts of the Spirit” are really “flows” of the Spirt–not handed to you externally, but flowing from within you. (John 7:38) You can’t grow strong in Christ if you have given a no-go to the Spirit’s inner flow.

Jesus said; “My sheep hear my voice.” The churches’ most inspiring sermons pale in comparison to that. Listen to Jesus.

A church service is a program and a program can never take the place of the Spirit freely flowing in your heart. Church should be like a mighty waterfall–the Spirit’s rivers roaring out of Christ’s people as we gather in His name.

Christianity that doesn’t freely flow in the Spirit, is mundanity. Have you let beavers dam the Spirit’s rivers in your heart and turn it into a swamp?

Water that doesn’t flow stagnates. That’s what happens when you shut down (quench) the Holy Spirit’s rivers inside you.

Watch our for the world’s influence. It gradually creates plaque that will harden your heart and eventually shut it down.

Dammed hearts that have shut down the Spirit’s flow are in danger of being damned. Open your heart to the living Jesus.

Too many Christians row in the flesh when they could flow in the Spirit. Church trains people to shut down the inner rivers of the Spirit and rely on the preacher instead. To only hear a preacher is one dimensional Christianity. It misses out on the direct witness of the Bible and roaring of the Spirit.

Talks about whitewater rafting can’t replace running the Colorado. Talks about God can’t replace flowing in the Spirit. Jump in!

waterfall

Posted in church programming, church services, God's flow, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit flow, inner flow, sermons, Spirit's flow, spiritual flow, spiritual formation, spiritual growth, spiritual innovation, spiritual intoxication, spiritual movement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment