Thursday, 31 December 2009

Can You really use "institutional/ organized" churches???

December 31, 2009

I was really excited and delighted about the “church Board Meeting” I was asked to take minutes at recently. “Business” was stuck to as business (stewardship rather than politics!) and the rest of the time really was a demonstration of the church in loving action – of “they’ll know we are Christians by our love” … foreign mission outreaches, interest in taking part in local street ministry, reports on individuals in the church who have various needs and how the church can reach out to them and help and support them, emphasis on praying before making decisions (decisions led by Your Spirit!), desire to work together with “other local churches” in local outreaches, and so on. I know that the speaker they’ve had over the past 3 months or so (as they are “without a pastor” at the moment) has really been emphasizing Your love and what Your church is meant to be… and has been kind of wondering if it has been “sinking in” ….

Well! I think You are giving Your word through him, and Your Spirit is softening their hearts and speaking to their spirits! What a change from the first meeting I took minutes at some time ago. Praise the Lord! Thank You, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit! Amen! I Praise You, Lord God! Yes! 

Papa, I’ve been kind of haunted by that vision or dream or whatever it was, that that man had of Your vine growing along, and then coming to that church building and climbing over it and down the other side and onward, without entering. He had asked You for direction about continuing to attend there, and took it to mean that they should move on. When I heard him describe the dream, I felt cut to the core. I wondered what it might mean, even if it might mean that they are to close down and move on to other gatherings of your family.

But now I wonder if You just needed them to get down to “bare bones” (only about 10 people or so regularly attending – down from a one-time high in the 3 to 4 hundreds), with almost no income so that they’ve been forced to use funds from capital savings just to keep the building open and pay the overhead costs) so that they would have to turn from their own ideas, and from memories of the past, and so on, and actually turn to You. And pray. And seek Your face, Your purposes, Your plans.

I do see such a difference beginning to happen. And whether or not You were leading others to leave, I know a couple of folks were led by You to stay, even though they were discouraged and wanted to move on. They gave the decision over to You and You led them to stay, to do what they wouldn’t have done in their “own wisdom.” And I know of another person who had almost totally “moved on” already, but has been led back by You, to use his gifts of practical “hands-on” involvement and friendship.

I still don’t know about that big empty building… but even there the landlord has dropped the monthly rental significantly, and agreed to month-to-month rental versus long term lease requirements.

There was a time awhile back when I myself would have thought that all the “organized/ institutional churches” should just shut down and go back to “organic” formats like the early, NT, house/community church situation. Now I’m not so sure. I’m thinking now that You can use and work through all kinds of set-ups, organizational structures, situations… and cultural adaptations and so on…

That all You really want is that Your people love You, love each other, and love the world around them, desiring “that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.” If everyone walked in true “Your love relationship” with You – and by extension, with others – the whole “church structure/ institution” question would become pretty irrelevant, I’m thinking, because the focus would be YOUR focus, and those extraneous details would either shift to become simply tools in Your work, or if they are truly wrong/ interfering with Your purposes and will, they would simply disintegrate and fall away as Your people truly walk with You.

It itself, changing “structures” and “institutions” cannot make any lasting, significant difference (and may not, in many cases, even be “possible,” even on a superficial level), unless YOU are truly the new foundation and focus. So it seems to me that that is where we must go – to YOU ALONE! And if we are truly there, the You will change what needs to be changed – starting internally, individually (and then spreading into Your family, Your church… and from there into the “world”), in our own hearts, minds, attitudes, ideas, traditions, and so on… and that internal change will just naturally move outward to make needed changes externally.

As we see the world around us through Your eyes and heart, through Your Spirit joined to our spirits, our hearts will change to Your ways… and our hands will follow through, as we hear Your voice, and see Your works, and just naturally being to “work the works of God” – as Jesus did, setting us the example, teaching us THE WAY! Your way, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – Lord God!

Eh! Thank You! (What a relief!) Praise the Lord!

The true Shepherd

December 29, 2009

I love Ezekiel 44 – the description of the true Shepherd (so many “leaders” claim to be shepherds… what a description to live up to!): 11. For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12…. so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered 13…. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. 14… in a good pasture… on good grazing ground… 15…. And I will lead them to rest… 16. I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick… 23. Then I will set over them one shepherd… and he will feed them…. 24. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant… will be a prince among them… 25. I will make a covenant of peace with them… that they may live securely… 26. I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause… showers of blessing… 30. The they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they… [are] … 31. the sheep of My pasture.”

Impulsive words; die-hard dreams...

December 29, 2009

Eccl 5:1 Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore, let your words be few… 7. For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.

(Do I use too many words? Impulsively? Hastily? Papa??)

Yesterday morning, hubby totally surprised me by dropping in to the street ministry morning coffee time. People there has been talking again about setting up a mission center – and someone joking told my hubby that when the center is built/bought, he and I could move into the upstairs apartment, and be there all the time to take care of the place. I don’t know if hubby even heard that comment… but I did, and I thought… “Oh, wouldn’t that be cool!?!” (I guess “dreams” do kind of die hard…???) (Papa??)

Saturday, 26 December 2009

a conversation about fellowship, about gatherings of Your church

December 24, 2009

A Christmas eve email conversation between a friend and me…

My friend wrote: “Our group grew out of our need to share our battered hearts with one another. As we met - little more than a 'spiritual visit' week after week - we were free to share the deeper work that God was doing in our lives, free to share our pain, our joys, our prayers, our 'half-baked' understandings of the Bible. We wondered if we were doing enough to change the world - perhaps not, we thought - but we knew that God was changing us. We experienced our wounded souls - and those of a few others - being turned to new sweetness; in some, we saw great sadness turned to abiding joy and a victorious life. It worked. God worked among us despite our simplicity. Maybe because of it.”

I answered: I have a question. I think we’ve all had periods of that kind of fellowship. But do you notice that sometimes there seems to be long dry periods? What causes that? Is it “our fault?” It seems to me like we can’t “make” those times happen. I mean, I think that’s what “churches” try to do with their worship teams and programs and all… try to “make” fellowship happen. Okay, so if WE ourselves can’t make it happen … but it definitely does happen sometimes – and in those times we do know it is from God! … does that mean that it’s “okay” if we aren’t in that state of fellowship all the time? Or not? What about “abiding joy and victorious life?” It seems to me that while I personally am aware of God’s presence pretty continually, and have joy in that, personally; at the same time it seems like that “continuous, abiding” joy doesn’t always stretch to include fellowship with others. When I write that, even think that, I feel guilty, like it must be “my fault” or whatever…

Maybe I’m just looking for fellowship “in my image” (in the way I imagine it should be)… and in doing that am missing out on the fellowship that is right there in front of me, but I am blind to because I’m looking for what I want…. I do love the coffee times and such with all my new brothers and sisters I’ve met through the street ministry… and chatting with the “church” people when they drop into the “church office” … and stopping by to have coffee with my friends at their places… and stuff like that… But too often it seems pretty “shallow” to me… like we spend a lot of time “talking about the weather” and “having fun” together… but we aren’t “sharing our battered hearts with one another” very often… and we’re not “into the word” very much… and we pray for/with each other so very little.. and of course I long for real fellowship with my husband… and my children…

My friend wrote: " ‘In those days, Mary arose with haste and went into the hill country to a city of Judah and she came into the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth’ We should meet like this. We could learn from this visit. To the best of my knowledge, this visit is the first 'church meeting' in history: two women filled with the Holy Spirit, one carrying the very life of God physically within her, both overflowing with praise as they began to understand the reality of what was happening to them: the life of God had come supernaturally to dwell inside Mary and that the angel had declared that John would be His herald. These two unusual women who stand as paradigms for all of us who today, now that the fullness of times has come, are indwelt by the same Presence, rejoicing when we realize that we too have the life of God inside. We too are His heralds. Their meeting stands as the simplest and sweetest in all the examples we find in the gospels. In every case, it was the Christ, not the creed and not the cause Who occupied the center. The meeting focused on Him. Such meetings can never go wrong!)”

And I responded: Yes, that is the thing. I feel like way, way too often we end up talking ABOUT Him but not focusing on Him. I find it easier to focus on Him when I am alone; it is easier to hear His voice… it seems like we distract each other… maybe it’s just our old “human” urge to “be at the center” ourselves, especially when we have an audience of other humans eh… But it seems oh so clear that He intends us to be TOGETHER with Him…. So why is it so hard?

My friend wrote: “To return to the house in the hills of Judea, please notice what they brought with them to the visit with all the 'right ingredients for a true church meeting: - They brought the Life of God inside them, supernaturally planted there by God Himself - They brought an understanding of what God was doing with them. - They offered their expressions of thankfulness for this inner work. - They came with hearts full of praise which overflowed into prophecy. - They uttered no religious 'lingo'; just simple words of praise and insight. - They brought a knowledge of Scripture. Mary quoted from 17 passages in her wonderful song of praise. She was 'praying in the language of Scripture’, an ancient practice which enhances any meeting. - They came with a willingness to express all of the above because the 'air was free' of religion, the environment safe and the environment full of the deepest love there is in humankind: mother-love.

And I replied: Maybe I am just being ridiculous, or self-centered, or something… but it seems to me, over and over, that we are NOT free “to express” … maybe “religion/ tradition/ whatever” is really engrained… I do find there is more freedom, myself, in a group that is just women… when there are men, it does feel like, mostly, women should be “seen and not heard” … and it seems like most people really DO WANT a “leader” (and I mean a human leader: somehow it seems like – dare I even say it – it seems like maybe they feel Jesus can’t quite be trusted… or that He only works through “holy men” … or that, I don’t know, maybe the way things were done in the New Testament “worked then, but things are different now” … or that, of course, we need to depend on people who are “qualified” with a piece of official paper to prove it… or maybe we really don’t feel safe (because we’ve been hurt / have hurt each other / so many times before)… or maybe we really still don’t trust, don’t know, don’t understand, don’t have real assurance, that JESUS LOVES US… and so we don’t… can’t… love each other….

My friend wrote: “I believe that if we could learn from these two humble women, meet as we should with Jesus truly at the center, if we could be as free as they were to share the fullness of the Divine Life within, we would do more for the kingdom than by all the formalized and sanitized meetings we have ever attended. Once more, we should learn to meet like this.”

And I asked: Yes we should. How? Why is it so hard? Why is it so easy to get side tracked? What do we do about people (a lot of them…) in our midst who (very sincerely and piously and sure they are right) attack our freedom? Oh! Paul talked about that in Galatians, didn’t he! “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” …. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery… For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? …. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough…” … For you were called to freedom, brethren… through love serve one another… walk by the Spirit… not under the Law…” … Paul ordered the churches to put out those who would teach “another gospel” … It seems so harsh… so “unloving” … but I wonder…. What do you think?

My friend also wrote: “Our little group was so simple but it was profound in one way: we concluded that the center of all our fellowship must be Jesus Himself. All our activities declared this to us. We have never since been satisfied with any gatherings - be they visits or larger gatherings - which settle for anything less that Jesus in the center, teaching the assembled few, never happy with one man sharing his theology. We were spoiled for anything less than Jesus ministering to us all through us all. His Spirit has replaced his physical presence, times have changed but the reality is still the same.”

And I replied: I have to say this… that is how I feel… “spoiled for anything less than Jesus ministering to us all through us all!” But it seems so hard to find others who feel the same….

My friend also wrote: “Recently, a fellowship much like the one I described at the top, met in our home for a weekend retreat. I was graciously invited. Within minutes, I experienced the same 'spark' I described above, the 'spark of recognition' between John and Jesus. It happened to us; I found myself sharing with near strangers at a level that surprised me. These brothers have also met for some time in an attempt to allow Jesus to be the center of each gathering. It seems to work for them as well.”

And I wondered: You said, “these brothers” … do you think it is easier for men to meet like this together, and for women to meet like this together (separately from the other gender)? Is it supposed to be that way? (Some people think so, don’t they…). What about the “family”??? Why do we seem to “function” better divided by gender and age and such? Isn’t that the way of the world? Oh dear…


commending ourselves? or adequacy from You!

Dec 23, 2009

2 Corinthians 3:9 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2. You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3. being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

I read this to Pastor P the other day, as he has been kind of perturbed that organizations and some churches want a written “resume” and “references” before they will contribute to the street ministry – a “paper proof” – I suppose like a graduation certificate to “prove” that a student has covered a certain amount of schooling (I won’t say it proves they have covered a certain amount of education or learning, however! LOL!); or like a “pastor” with a Bible School and/or seminary certificate to prove they’ve covered a certain level of curriculum (again not to say how much real knowledge of You – and even more important, real knowing You – they actually have… sad to say…) (Pastor P has also found it necessary to take courses and get “credentials”…)

Anyway, it does seem to be the way of this world… it seems that it isn’t good enough to prove by actually doing and being… one must have that official piece of paper. Even Paul had to defend himself in this area… although the results of his efforts were easily and clearly alive and recognizable!

Well, I guess that for one thing, it is probably easier (and in some senses, for some people, also “safer”) to read a written resume and reference letter than to “go out there” and actually spend time observing (which could lead down the slippery slope to participating, oh dear!) the work You are doing through Your servants (in the case I’m discussing, the street ministry Pastor P is involved in)… And that’s another thing: people want to see about the person’s OWN “qualifications and experience” – while those who are truly Your servants, taking part in Your work, themselves know clearly that they are personally NOT adequate, but that all their “adequacy” comes from YOU! But of course that too is not acceptable (or sensible) in the eyes of the world…

Love being part of the street family!

December 21, 2009

I’ve been impatient lately – wanting to “figure things out, understand them… but knowing at the same time that YOU ARE IN CHARGE – O dear God, please help me to just REST AND TRUST IN YOU!!!

December 23, 2009

On Tuesday I took my scissors to the street ministry coffee time to cut one guy’s hair – and ended up doing 3! They were all delighted! What a great Christmas gift to me – YOU helped me do a great job! Thank You! By the time I finished, all the other guys had left the tables at the kitchen end, and had moved down to the end by the door (where I was doing the hair cutting because the light was better), to watch us and cheer us on! Pastor P was taking pics!

I love being part of that family. All the street guys and gals apparently have places to stay now that the weather is so cold… but they still keep coming for morning coffee (and Sunday breakfast) in good numbers… for the camaraderie – and the Lord, I believe! Though they also like the baked goodies and stuff I bring, lol! Pastor P did barbequed hamburgers for Sunday breakfast, and so I brought along lots of sliced dill pickles, in addition to the ketchup, mustard and relish they usually have. Most people wouldn’t think that was a big deal, but to these guys it was a treat. And for Monday coffee time I made fresh peach cobbler, which they also really appreciated. Oh, and on Sunday I also brought those little cocktail wieners, which I wrapped in home made dough and baked… they really love those! And they never tire of boiled eggs… Always a great reception – and it’s so great for me: really helps to alleviate my empty nest syndrome 

being... doing... loneliness for You and Your family

December 18, 2009

Papa, You know how bad I’ve been feeling – and being/doing! I have spoken against this church’s plans to continue on even though they only have about 10 people left. I complain that they don’t “reach out” – well, that most churches don’t reach out but just are inward-looking and want to be the biggest and the best. I should NOT complain or criticize or judge! And I’m sorry!

Yet at the same time I find myself reading that denominational magazine about their goal to fulfill the Great Commission in North America by 2020 (and wherever else they can in the rest of the world with all the missionaries they support) by prayer-walking their church neighborhoods, and having a day of prayer on March 20 all day, praying for each person they met, and putting out invitations to every home in their church neighborhoods for their Easter services… and that’s just their 2010 plans. And Papa, it sounds exciting, and makes me want to be a part of it…

And then I remember all the prayer-walking (and praying otherwise) that I used to do for my communities… and I wonder if anything came of it? Because I haven’t “seen” the results myself (or perhaps I just haven’t recognized them)… though I sure have seen Your answers in my own family… and am trusting You for more…

But Papa, it does seem – again – that lately I just haven’t been paying, and haven’t been in Your word, like I used to be. And I find I am really missing You. And I am missing Your people, Your family. I like the street ministry, but I really miss studying Your word in more depth, and I really feel like my “hospitality” there isn’t enough… Papa??? … And I’d like to go to G’s gatherings to discuss You and Your word… but it doesn’t seem to work out… And I’d love to have people into my home – often – to feed them, to be friends, to show (LIVE!) Your love, to study Your word together, to jam a bit, to worship You together… but it seems mostly impossible.

Proverbs 18:2 “A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.”
(Is that me, Papa??) (I do want to understand… I do want to know You… and be like You… with You… united in spirit with Your Spirit… as Your child… You my Father, Saviour, Spirit, Guide!

Okay, Papa, I have to tell You… I am lonely. I know You are “enough.” … In fact, You are ALL… and yet, it seems You have chosen to make us with the need to live in community… and I feel that I’m not. Okay, I am, maybe at least somewhat, hospitality-wise (but not at my home hardly at all – which really does break my heart… but intellectually and spiritually – I feel alone – lonely, okay! …

I feel like my mind is “losing it” because I’m not being intellectually stimulated! At least when I was teaching I got to go to those conferences, and some really interesting ProD’s… and it was a challenge to design lesson plans and outlines… and learn a new language…

But now I feel like my brain is turning to mush. I know some (maybe a lot) of it is my fault: too much watching TV etc: but You know how that got started – and why at least some of it continues (and I don’t know what to do about that… but once it is going, I have a hard time to stop, even when “the reason” ends… You know…)

But it seems like I really need interaction studying Your word (which I really want to do!). I have wonderful times of interaction with You – but I want it with others, too.

(Or at least some deadlines – like taking a course or whatever) (or even some feedback to what I write) (I loved the feedback last night at writer’s group… and even that comment on my “family story” site today! Wow! Makes me want to get writing again!) (But I’m having a hard time settling down to it, focusing on it. Help!!!! Please???! Thank You!)

Proverbs 18:4 “The words of a man’s mouth are deep water; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (That’s how I want to be – a bubbling source of wisdom – rather than a babbling fool of many empty words…)

Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” (That’s why I want to write about You.) (And have all my writing led by You)!
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (and/or of the pen…)
Proverbs 18:24 “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Yes! That’s YOU!)

predictability... losing sight of You... judging...

December 10, 2009

We were watching some people singing “gospel” on the TV news, and we started talking about Elvis and Jimmy S… and about how they started their singing in church as children… and how they and a lot of other people have gotten distracted by the recognition of the world… and then L mentioned how Billy Graham didn’t seem to get distracted by that… and that’s right, he seemed to have had a real gift of humility… but at the same time, I wondered aloud if he ever struggled with the way his evangelism organization was so set up with a pattern… I mean, I know it was a reflection of the times, and of how the “church” “worked,” but every crusade was so predictable, it was so planned and organized, they sent out instructions ahead of time of exactly how to make it happen before they went to any city for a crusade, and every service was totally predictable, right from the songs that were sung, and the length of the sermons, and the “formula” for the invitation, and the booklets handed out to the seekers, and everything… seems like so little was “left to chance” (or to Your Spirit??? And yet… they seem to have had great results…). … Interesting, I know that Billy has passed his “mantle” on to his son, but it seems to me like we never hear about “Billy Graham Crusades” anymore… (But maybe You used that pattern at that time because it “worked” in that time and place???... and maybe things have changed now, and You are working in a different way (that some people don’t like! Change isn’t easy for a lot of folks to take) (but that is reaching a whole lot of other people – including quite a lot of people, even leader-type people, who used to be totally “wound up” into the old formulaic, patterned way)…

Anyway, we were wondering about how that happens, how people (like Jimmy S… and even Elvis) wander away from what they believe in, from where their hearts were, from really walking close with You, Papa… and how easily that seems to happen… from the world’s acclaim, and from busyness, and from just getting caught up in the formula because it seems to work so well, and losing sight of You and the fact that maybe You’ve moved on from that place… and so on… and they don’t even realize it at first, maybe not even for a long time, and then when they “get caught” or “everything falls apart,” sometimes they do repent and return to You… but it seems to be hard to do, and some just don’t… or else they get defensive and refuse to admit their problem for a long time… and, funny thing, maybe they have been at the same time “judging” others for doing the same kinds of things they are doing themselves (like Jimmy judging the other televangelists, back then)…

And that reminded me of those words from scripture: “I thank Thee, Lord, that I a not like this publican…,” and Your sad response to that, dear Jesus,” Remove the log from your own eye, before you try to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye…” … and I realized, it’s so easy to judge… but truly, only You know the heart of another… oh Father, please, please help me not to judge….

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Who is our leader/ pastor/ shepherd... king?!?

December 10, 2009

I was just sitting down to do some more Microsoft Office 2007 (Power Point) on-line training, when I sensed You very strongly speaking to me to turn to Your word instead. So I got my Bible and started reading my “chapters for today” and right away I realized there was a “theme” running through…

1 Samuel 7: 2 … and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 3. Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4. So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the LORD alone. 5. Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray to the LORD for you.” 6. They gathered…. and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel judged the sons of Israel at Mizpah…. 9…. And Samuel cried to the LORD for Israel and the LORD answered him…. 12. Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer (The stone of help), saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” … 14… So there was peace between Israel and the Amorites….

I Samuel 8:6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7. The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them, 8. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day – in that they have forsake Me and served other gods – so they are doing to you also.” …. 19. Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, 20. that we may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

(Father, Papa, I just can’t get away from the feeling that probably a lot of “churches” … the vast majority, eh! … are in this similar position… first we turned from just following You, from walking together with Jesus through Your Spirit… as members of one body walking and working together, in Your love, with You, our head, our God… to next wanting a “pastor” as a kind of intercessor – like Israel wanted Moses, and then the judges, to be … and then when those human intercessor/pastor people turn out to be, well, human… well, then we want “leaders” and “organizations” (kingdoms!) like the world around us (and/or the “churches” around us)… and in the process, we of course have to accept “the procedure of the king who will reign over them…” (1 Sam 8:9-18) (ignoring Your warnings to us)… funny thing, though… every time the “leader” doesn’t suit us, we go looking for another human to take on the “king” job… and we so rarely seem to think of really repenting and going back to You…) (Papa???)(oh dear, oh dear… oh dear.) (my stomach feels sick!)

Psalm 146: 2. I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3. Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation… 5. How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God… 10. The LORD will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Proverbs 14: 12. There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death… 26. In the fear (reverence) of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge…. 30. A tranquil heart is life to the body… 34. Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.
(A tranquil heart is ONLY found in YOU, Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit!)(You’re the only hope for tranquil hearts in Your children, Your body, Your church!)

Ezekiel 23: 45 But they, righteous men, will judge them (referring to Israel, pictured as the “bride” of God – but remember, we too are the “bride of Christ”…) with the judgment of adulteresses and with the judgment of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses and blood is on their hands…. 49. Your lewdness (running after the world and its “gods”) will be requited upon you, and you will bear the penalty of worshiping your idols; thus you will know that I am the Lord GOD.

I Corinthians 12: 4. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…. 11. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 12. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit…. 18. But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired… 20. But now there are many members, but one body. … 22. On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23. And those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24. Whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25. So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another….

Revelation 10: 5. Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6. And swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets…. 11: 15. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Messiah); and He will reign forever and ever.

"the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good"

December 10, 2009

I’ve had rattling around in my mind lately this idea to set up some kind of buy/ sell/ trade/ barter/ share group (for services/ skills/ talents/ even giftings etc, as well as things/ goods) among believers in our community and/or local region. Sort of an “Acts 4:32-35 in Action” group – with a 21st century twist… (This idea has risen out of a “data base” I have been gathering of all the churches and related organizations and outreaches in our area… it’s nice to have that data base… but what do we DO with it? How do we BE THE CHURCH together, once we’ve found each other?!?!?)

Remember those verses? “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”

This could include “buying and selling” among our brothers and sisters according to ability to pay, as well as trading, bartering, sharing, giving freely. And people sharing their homes with other believers, not just as meeting places for gatherings of the church, but also daily hospitality, sharing meals, even taking in people in need (or giving them full use of that cottage, etc, until they are “back on their feet”)… (and whatever happened to “billeting”?!?!? Why do visiting evangelists, missions teams, etc now have to raise money to stay in hotels? Scary!)

And it would also include posting up our talents and skills and giftings…. Giving the “Dorcas/ Tabitha’s” connections with those who need their skills (and opportunity to teach those skills to others who lack them)… and creating connections within the “local churches” within the “church in our community” (sharing our programs, buildings, even sharing those in “our” group who have various spiritual gifts which may be lacking in “their” group; getting together to reach out into our communities in a way that is more effective than each little group trying desperately to do a little bit alone)…

1 Corinthians 12:7 “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the “spiritual” spiritual gifts, that we tend to ignore or downplay the significance and need for the “practical” spiritual gifts (helps, administrations, hospitality, etc)… (and sometimes we do the opposite, too)… And sometimes we spend a lot of time talking about them, but not acting on them… But ALL the gifts are needed, and all are foundationally given and led by Your Spirit… and ONLY IN ACTION are they MANIFEST… only in the ACTION of the church, led by the Spirit, is the love of God manifested to the world. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” … and that love is LOVE IN ACTION… so that the world will “take note that we’ve been with Jesus” – with God, who IS LOVE! It’s interesting that in the time of the early church, the world outside the church noticed the church and admired it because of the “love they had for one another.” Love that showed itself in the amazing actions recorded in Acts 4:32-35… 24-7 daily love, lived out TOGETHER in homes and marketplace and community, not hidden away behind “sacred walls” so to speak.

I love that expression: “the manifestation of the Spirit!”

Miriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Edition, defines as follows:

Manifest (adj): from L manifestus: caught in the act, flagrant, obvious [can we say that our love for one another is flagrant?!?!?]… 1. readily perceived by the senses and esp. by the sight. 2. easily understood or recognized by the mind.

Manifest (vt): to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.

Manifestation: 1. the act, process, or an instance of manifesting. 2. a public demonstration of power and purpose [and where does the church’s power come from? “the manifestation of the Spirit!”]

Manifesto: a written statement declaring publically the intentions, motives, and view of its issuer [well, we’ve been given the manifesto: but we are also called to manifest! … which goes beyond just teaching/ preaching: “readily perceived by the senses” … “caught in the act, flagrant, obvious” ! … what an accurate description of Jesus! … can it become an accurate description of us too, as we allow His Spirit to manifest Him through us – together?!?!?!]

Friday, 4 December 2009

Wonderful time at church in the park

November 15, 2009

Took rice krispee squares, puffed wheat squares, boiled eggs, green and black tea bags, and some Hallowe’en twizzlers to church-in-the-park (basement!) today. There was a very brisk, chilly wind, and despite the fact that French toast was being made outside, most of the guys and gals stayed inside. There was also instant oatmeal, white toast, raisin-bread toast, apples, toasted eggo waffles… Put out some of the cheeze-whiz that R had brought, in addition to the usual peanut butter, syrup and jam… boy was the cheeze-whiz popular!!!! Went through 10 pots of coffee and 5 jugs of juice this morning.

Don’t know how any people came altogether, but a pretty good crowd for such a cold, windy day… maybe around 50 or so? At least 20, I think, stayed for “service.” It was the last “service” we will have there. A lady just up the street has offered the waiting room of her medical office. It has lots of couches, easy chairs, etc, so we can serve breakfast at the regular place till 9:30, then clean up, and head over to her place. “Service” will start at 10 am, and go until whenever Father wants! Cool! This is a wonderful, God-thing! Now we won’t be encroaching on the programs of the church group whose basement and yard they have so generously shared with us. We can be cleaned up, and be out, when they arrive for their choir practice, etc. Awesome! Cool, cool, cool!!! 

The atmosphere this morning was so incredibly “family.” It is amazing how more and more people are just pitching in and sharing in the set-up, serving, clean-up, etc. And the participation in the “service” - okay, I’m just going to call it the “gathering!” – is so wonderful, too! Yay!  This is “church” – God’s family meeting together with Him, caring for each other, sharing together in His word, learning from Him through His Spirit in each one. Thank You, Lord!