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Bible study, prayer, going to church, accountability groups, singing praises, book studies, witnessing, giving, serving, and on-and-on.
All good things? Perhaps. But the “good” part of the tree of knowledge was still death. So, all these things can be death? Yep, for sure. Practically all religions have these same “good” things in their “to do lists”. The pharisees were masters of the scriptures and strict religious practices, but they chose their “good” over the Life that was before them, and also hung Life on a cross in order to protect their “good” religiousness.
So could it be wrong to encourage bros “to do” these things, when they’re seeking advice or counsel? Yes, it could be wrong, bcs just doing these good things could actually lead to death.
Jesus said “eat my flesh and drink my blood”, and that “rivers of living water will flow from those that drink of Him”. And that *knowing* (a deeply intimate word) IS eternal life. He also said that many folks who “do” a lot of things “in His name” will hear “away from me, I never *knew* you”.
So if we do all these “good” things, and encourage others to as well, for the sake of amassing spiritual/biblical knowledge and refining our religious practices so as to appear more holy than everyone around us, then we are destined for weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It feels good to be able to tell another brother what he should be doing. But is it really leading to Life to just constantly advise bros to read their bibles and pray? Probably not. If doing those things really worked, then there we be a whole lot more victory in the camp, and way less problems & struggles.
I pray we all learn how to give each other Christ. Christ is the difference. He is life, victory, healing, wisdom, inspiration, transformation, deliverance…everything. Those “good” things can perhaps serve as plates on which to serve/eat Christ, but if He’s not the substance of food on the plate, then the nourishment is actually death instead of life.
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the *preeminence*. [Col 1:18 NKJV]
God’s plan for each of us includes premeditated & strategically designed trials. Pits, prisons, enslavement, mistreatment, betrayal, slander, theft, abuse, wilderness seasons, loneliness, service-to-the-ungodly, and on and on. The key is turning from trying to get out of them, and learning to respond to them in faith & the Spirit. In this, we are transformed from depressed whiners and complainers into overcomers.
God’s not raising spoiled brats, but mighty sons to send as ambassadors into the world to take dominion in Jesus’ name and for His glory.
[Jas 1:2-4 NKJV] 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
[1Pe 1:6-7 NKJV] 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, [being] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
Problem solving: a wrench or a flow.
Many times, we prefer to reach for a “wrench” when we “need to ‘fix’ something”. The wrench makes us feel in-control, and gain a sense of accomplishment, if it works. Even though the wrench-fix may just be a temporary fix. And wrenches can be good tools for small fixes. But for really big problems, I think we need a flow.
Years ago the Lord gave me a vision of His version fixing big problems. I saw a river that hadn’t seen any rain in a very long time. It was flowing, but quite shallow; and there was a lot of exposed banks. Lodged all in the banks were dead tree trunks, rocks, all kinds of trash & debris; and even some big stuff like chunks of barns and old cars. The amount of junk lodged in the banks was overwhelming. Wrenching each huge thing out one-by-one would be a lifetime endeavor, even with a crew to help.
But then the rains came, and a flash-flood overwhelmed the river. The soil in the banks loosened up, and the debris became less and less stuck, and eventually just washed downstream by the dump-truck load.
So, the lesson to me was when I’m facing big problems, to resist the urge to reach for the wrench, and fast and pray until the big rain-of-His-Spirit
1. Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings. 2. Rise up, O men of God! The kingdom tarries long. Bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong. 3. Rise up, O men of God! The church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great! 4. Lift high the cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod. As brothers of the Son of Man, rise up, O men of God!
Text: William P. Merrill, 1867-1954
Music: William H. Walter, 1825-1893
Tune: FESTAL SONG, Meter: SM
- John 10:7-10 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
- Door – A portal or entrance. Gate.
- Jesus Christ IS the door of faith, by acceptance of the gospel [Acts 14:27]; the door of “openings” for preaching and teaching the Word of God [1 Cor 16:9, 2 Cor 2:12, Col 4:3, Rev 3:8]; the door of “entrance” into the Kingdom of God [Matt 25:10, Luke 13:24-25]; the door of Christ’s “entrance” into a repentant believer’s heart [Rev 3:20]; the door of the nearness of Christ’s returning [Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, James 5:9]; the door of “access” to behold visions relative to the purposes of God [Rev 4:1].
- Son or daughter of our Father, do you want something from God? Do you need something from God? Then KNOCK! [Luke 11:7, Matt 7:7] But realize, that the door upon which you knock is not an impersonal, thick piece of wood or iron gate. The door is a person, who knows you and loves you, and waits joyfully for the impressions of your faith-knuckles on His chest. Knock and keep on knocking…and the Door will open. He has promised.
- So many in the world are knocking at the door of the Doctor’s office, the banker’s office, the pastor’s office, the therapist’s office, daddy or mommy’s office, spouse’s office, children’s office, a friend’s office, the movie theater, the sports center, and on and on. Brother or sister, YOU are a doorkeeper in His kingdom. Boldly proclaim that Jesus IS the door, and teach them to knock on Him!
- Romans 11:26 – …The deliverer will come from Zion…
- Deliverer – One who draws out for himself. A rescuer. One who sets free. One who saves another from certain peril or doom.
- There are numerous examples of David being delivered from destruction due to Saul’s relentless pursuit of him in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Psalms. But the quintessential example is when Israel was trapped on the shores of the Red Sea. After 400 years of crying out to God to save them from the cruel slavery building Pharaoh’s monuments to his ego, God sends Moses. Moses wrestles God’s children away from Pharaoh and begins leading them towards the land of milk and honey by following the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, but ends up trapped on the banks of the Red Sea. Pharaoh, in an insane fury, has sent his entire army raging after Israel, who is sitting like an animal with its leg caught in a trap. A bloody slaughter is imminent. But with a glorious display of His delivering power, Jesus parts the Red Sea whereby Israel walks across on dry ground. Jesus even punctuates the deliverance by having the sea drown the enemy in the same stroke.
- Chosen and blessed child of God, it was Jesus who wrote the script for the Red Sea drama; and He is the one who is writing the script for the pressures, captivities, and bondages that you are facing. All because He wants to display to-you and through-you, and to everyone who is watching your life; His magnificent glory and power. Are you “stuck” in some way? Raise your hands and cry out to Jesus “SAVE ME FROM …”, and don’t stop until the waters part.
- Has Jesus already delivered you from some insurmountable peril in your life? Then this is your area of ministry. Be on the lookout for people who Jesus shepherds across your path who seem to be struggling for freedom. Let His loving compassion well-up from within you, move towards them with empathy, and boldly testify to what Jesus did for you when He delivered you. Encourage them to believe Him, and to keep on believing Him until, like the woman with the issue of blood, virtue flows and everything is different…forever.
Do you fear the force of the wind,
The slash of the rain?
Go face them and fight them,
Be savage again.
Go hungry and cold like the wolf,
Go wade like the crane.
The palms of your hands will thicken,
The skin of your four head tan –
You’ll be ragged and swarthy and weary
But – you’ll walk like a man.
- Luke 1:76-79 – “And you, child, [John the Baptist] will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
- Dayspring – A rising light, the dawn, the sun coming up over the earth in the east, the first light of the new morning.
- Jesus Christ is our first light-of-day. He gently rises over the horizon of our life, and with unstoppable power, He progressively dispels darkness from our lives. As His light dawns, His creation comes alive with freshness and hope in a new day.
- Child of God, whether your horizon is a vast ocean, a great plain, or a high mountain; the light of Christ has already crested your horizon. And like the sun continues to rise until it’s magnificently positioned at high-noon, He will continue to rise in your life, until the work that He began in you is finished, and there is no more darkness. He started the day’s dawning light, and He will finish it; and when He is done, the darkness is turned from a time of evil to a time of rest. Hallelujah!
- Son of God, let the light of Christ shine-forth from your life, so that this awesome darkness-to-light transition can be sparked in someone around you. Release words and deeds that speak of soon coming new-hope from the Light-Source that dwells within you. As you see others enveloped in darkness, pierce it with rays Light; and boldly continue until you see the sun rising over their horizon.
I’ve had a number of conversations with folks about some of the male-female relational dynamics that are being discussed and/or pondered as a result of their perspectives gained from reading a book titled Sacred Union, Sacred Passion. And so I wanted to throw a few (hopefully, balancing) thoughts out there for consideration.
Warning: This is not a light read. It’s more on the “meat” side than the “milk” side, and so will require more time to consume, and more digestive energy to process.
Up front, I want to say that I haven’t read the book and don’t intend to. And my limited understanding of it only comes from conversations about it, listening to others speak about their take-aways from it, and reading blog posts about it. And so basically, the main concept that I wanted to chime-in on is that of male-female relationships; and the idea that fleshly religion has erected false boundaries and hindrances from experiencing the fullness of relational intimacy that God has for His children. And that in Christ, there is no male-female distinction, giving in marriage, etc; and so we are all free to go deeply into intimacy with any believer, regardless of gender, age, marital status, etc.
On the surface, I totally agree with this concept. Removing all humanness and fallenness, and picturing absolutely pure spiritual union; then I believe any and every believer can have the deepest of fellowship by the spirit at any time and any place and with anybody, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, socio-economic status, etc. And the rigid, religious boundaries put on us by our parents or past-church-life are not “life”. But they are like the law, that acts as an schoolmaster/tutor/escort to Christ (Galatians 3:24). The rules and laws are like guard-rails that keep us from driving into the ditch and killing ourselves while we’re young and foolish, but leave us longing for something life-giving to govern us from the inside instead of bouncing off things on the outside. When we mature to being governed from the inside (by Christ in us), then the guard-rails are still there, it’s just that we’re able to stay in the middle of the (narrow) road (that leads to life), without constantly slamming into the guard-rails.
Underneath the surface, a potential problem with this teaching is that none of us are absolutely pure spiritual beings yet, and have lots of humanness, brokenness, unhealedness, selfishness, neediness, lustiness, and-the-like that we are bringing into every relationship. And I believe it’s VERY UNWISE AND DANGEROUS to throw out lofty, overly-spiritual, idealistic teaching about a future, full, perfected, completed state of being; along with repeated encouragement to “be free” and “fully explore” this new-found intimacy with anyone and everyone who’s willing, regardless of spiritual maturity-level, gender, marital status, etc. Additionally, to me, repeatedly pressing this concept in multiple formats actually smells like an “agenda”. Christ is our only agenda.
Add to the truth that we’re a “work in progress” and not fully mature/perfected, the reality that the Lord ordered His eternal plan to include different ages (time-periods) in which He is working out His eternal purpose by specified administrations during each age, then it’s important for us to consider which age we’re currently in, and which age is coming. And how the Lord plans for us to live in each age. In this age, there IS male & female, marriage, humanity mixed with spirit, fallenness, crying, trees without leaves that heal, zero streets of gold, etc. In the NEXT age, there is no male/female, no marriage, trees with leaves that heal, streets of gold, etc. I realize that the Lord has called us to “bring heaven to earth” by faith, and that He gives us glimpses, visions, and tastes of the next age in all of its glory (with no brokenness and sin-tainted flesh to deal with), like He beckoned the Israelites with the vision of a “land flowing with milk & honey”; but the promises (of the next age) are inherited little by little, step by step, throughout this life, by “faith and patience” (Heb 6:12). If we try to rush forward, casting off all restraint and wise relational boundaries; then we can easily end up like the prodigal son, wasting our inheritance (which was meant to be in-part now, and in-fullness later) in worldly living .
Regarding the truth about the ages, 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 has always been a comfort to me when life is hard and I don’t seem to be experiencing the amount of the next age that I’m desiring. It’s ok that we “earnestly grown” for more. It reminds us that we’re in desperate need of Him here and now, and presses us to go deeper and deeper into Him; but it also leaves us unfulfilled enough so as to long for the next age. Verse 5 specifically states that the Spirit is given to us (here and now, in this age) as a GUARANTEE (deposit), for the fullness that we’ll receive in the next age. Think of the guarantee/deposit like a down-payment on a 10 million acre farm filled with endless fresh water supply, livestock, oil wells, and gold mines. The down-payment on something this huge would be above and beyond our imagination, but it’s still a small measure compared to the whole farm.
2 Corinthians 5:1-8
5 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee (DEPOSIT).
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
I see this teaching about male/female relationships as like the story of young Moses, when the Lord called him to be Israel’s deliverer. The call to deliver was of the spirit and a true and powerful unction from God. And in Moses’ youthful & impatient zeal, he struck out and killed the Egyptian. God put a powerful vision of a future work that HE was doing in Moses’ heart, and Moses didn’t wait on the Lord to show him what that looked like in his day & time & daily-life. He leaned on his own understanding, bypassed the spirit’s leading & restraint, and executed PROFOUND, LIFE-CHANGING, WRONG, ACTIONS. It cost Moses 40 years in the wilderness (to learn to not only hear the Lord, but to also FOLLOW the Lord instead of his flesh). And it cost an Egyptian man his life, and Egyptian woman her husband, and some Egyptian children their dad. Take a lesson from Moses brothers and sisters: just because we’ve heard the Lord, doesn’t mean we automatically know exactly how to walk-out what we’ve heard right here, right now. We hear/see the vision, but then we walk it out slowly, carefully, and patiently; as the Lord guides each step; discerning the spirit vs flesh/soul; without jumping to conclusions based on youthful zeal or carnal (but spiritual sounding) reasoning’s.
I also see the temptation around this teaching as akin to the years of transition that a teenager goes through in the years of going from his parent’s house to being on his own. As a teenager begins to develop into an adult, he has a strong desire to know who he is and begin exercising his adult freedom. He wants to test his father’s teaching and life-style, and decide for himself if they’re for him or not. He wants freedom and independence. All this is natural, good, and healthy “sprouting of wings”. But the teenager also seems to fixate on their freedoms, and be oblivious to their responsibilities; and totally clueless as to the true magnitude of what taking full responsibility for their life really entails. So, in their drive to experience freedom, coupled with their immaturity around responsibility: 1) on the positive side, they venture out and life begins to come to the forefront as their main teacher and they begin to gain wisdom and experience for living; 2) on the negative side, they do lots of goofy things, and potentially do some very dangerous, life-altering things. On the positive-side, it’s great when they discover their personal identity, advance their education & training, get jobs, explore new territory: basically grow in productivity/fruitfulness. On the negative-goofy side, it’s funny when they come out dressed like a clown and think it’s “cool”, or smell like a rotten fish bcs they forgot to put on deodorant, or get fired from a dink-job for being on their phone. On the negative-dangerous side, it’s tragic (and potentially life-altering) when they have sex with someone who’s not their wife and create a life that they’re not ready to raise, try hard drugs that can kill or addict on one dose, drive faster than their skill-level can handle and have a wreck, etc. You get the point. Many of us have been told what-to-think and how-to-live by the institutional church all of our life, and now that we’re “free” and in organic church, then we could be tempted to blast past all wise boundaries to experience all of life that we can handle, and end-up deeply damaging ourselves, others, and the church. One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control, and God’s word encourages us to be sober-minded. All “restraint” is not religious, and we are foolish if we don’t think that we are not like a horse in the Lord’s bridle. We’re “free” to follow the Master, not our flesh.
Lastly, I want to highlight a very real & living warning around this teaching that I believe the Lord has allowed me to see, around 2 couples that I’m aquainted with who recently swapped spouses with each other after several years of marriage. I have no idea if they read the book or not, and doubt that it had anything to do with the wicked and depraved wife-swapping that’s occurred. However, the necessary and vital wisdom around guarding our heart and handling relationships with proper boundaries was obviously not employed, and the fruit of the lack spiritual maturity and vigilance has resulted in life-long tragedy. There’s no way to throw a coat of paint on this development and call it “good”; it’s a full blown manifestation of sin and depravity around improper male/female relations. I have zero condemnation for the these couples and lots of love for them; but Proverbs 24:30 shows that wisdom can be gleaned from looking at the fruit in another’s life, and that’s the only reason that I’m highlighting this situation. Get wisdom from the bad fruit of improperly handled relationships brothers and sisters, and let it guide you to having appropriate walls around your gardens (relationships), so that any old beast can’t just roam in and devastate your crop of good and godly fruit.
I saw a hallway, and down the length of the hall were periodically spaced latex walls that went floor-to-ceiling, and wall-to-wall. The latex was very thin, and looked like the kind that surgical rubber gloves are made of.
Once the scene registered in my mind, I was compelled to take-off running straight into the 1st latex wall. When I hit it, the resistance was small; but because I was running fast, it quickly became stronger and stronger. Eventually, it was so strong that I was just able to bend my head forward like a bull, take most of the pressure on my forehead, and put one foot in front of the other until…POP! The latex broke, and shattered into powder.
After the first wall, the rest of them became invisible; but I “knew” they were there.
Since the 1st wall became very difficult so quickly, and since I couldn’t see the walls anymore; I slowed my pace to a steady walk down the hall.
As I encountered the 2nd wall, I instinctively entered into “trudge mode”; which was the bulldozer-like hike that pushed me through the very end of the previous wall. Sure enough, after bulling-down my head and pressing-in until it got extremely difficult; it POPPED too.
I walked through a couple more, and realized that the Lord was showing me a pattern. Seasons of easy walking, and seasons of difficult pressing. Then He said “this is what getting the breakthrough is like”.
In that statement, I realized that He was showing me that normal life will be interspersed with obstacles, tests, trials, resistances, mountains, valleys, and on-and-on. But that He is with me, His grace is on me, and that He is calling me to set the gear-shift to “forward”; so as to “take the land”, “break the chains”, “run the race”, and so on. And that I am not to run away from, try to avoid, or try to get out-of or around the trails when they come; but instead to get the victory, overcome, break the chains, and go-through.
This is how we learn to walk-by-faith, and be vessels through which heaven comes to earth.
We are called to be “more than conquerors” in Christ, and that only manifests when we become willing to go-through.