Thursday, March 31, 2011

Entering His Rest by Chip Brogden

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28, NKJV).

"Come to Me." Come to Me. Not a church. Not a man of God. Not a teaching. Not a group. Come to Me, and learn of Me. I will give you rest. No one else can give you the rest. You cannot earn the rest. The rest is the gift of God.

If you are a born-again, child of God then you have done this at least once in your life. The moment you said, "God, I cannot save myself. I trust in the finished work of Christ to save me, Jesus be My Savior and Lord," that is when you stopped trying to earn your salvation through works. You entered into rest. You "retired" from being your own savior. And most people have learned that it is settled from that moment on. You would not dream of going back to the days of trying to work for your salvation. You're saved and you know it.

That is how you begin the Christian life. But there is more to the Christian life that just getting saved. That is the first step into a larger world. Jesus is continually calling out to you, saying, "Come to Me, and I will give you rest." That is a progressive thing. It is a daily thing. Every day we come to Jesus, everyday we hand over something else, every day we learn to rest in Him, and trust in His life.

What does it look like? Well, so many Christians struggle with sin. They struggle with their feelings, their emotions, their memories. They worry, they fret. They are in bondage to fear. They are in bondage to bad habits. They are in bondage to their past hurts. They experience many defeats and very few victories.

Can we not trust Jesus to give us rest from these things as well? If we can trust Him and believe Him for salvation, can we not trust Him and believe Him for victory? That is what He means when He says, "Come to Me, and I will give you rest." This rest that we enter into is intended for every area, not just salvation. How very pitiful if we can only rest in salvation but we have no peace, no rest, no freedom from the constant stresses and disappointments and fears of this present time.

The principle of the Sabbath rest is applicable to every area of your life, not just salvation. Are you ever troubled with anxious thoughts? Of course, from time to time we all worry about something. But when we have entered into His rest we no longer worry about it. Outside of Him there is plenty to worry about; but when we come to Him, and stay in Him, He gives us rest, and it is impossible to rest and worry at the same time. A worried person cannot sleep, and certainly cannot rest. A person who is resting in the Lord does not worry.

Mark 3:14 is a special Scripture for me, and it illustrates this very important point. It says that Jesus called twelve disciples, that they should BE with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach. We are anxious to go out, to be used, to go to work; but Jesus is more interested in the relationship, in being with Him, in learning to rest in Him. Remember the Sabbath day, get that principle deep down in your spirit, before you launch out into the doing.

Of course I come into contact with a great number of people who are coming out of the religious system, and they are usually full of a lot of anxiety and excitement. When they ask me for advice, I counsel them to take a year off and "do nothing" for awhile. What I mean is, religion has kept you doing, doing, doing for God. There needs to be a season of rest. You need to experience a Sabbath day and just "be" with Jesus in terms of spiritual activity. Oh yes, that sounds so nice, but I have seldom met anyone who could do it. They come out of church, and before you know it they start a home church, or they go looking for fellowship with others, or they get restless and end up going back to church where things are more familiar. The idea of just being with Jesus and resting for awhile is completely foreign to their understanding.

Regardless of where you are in your journey - a new Christian, someone who is just coming out of religion, or someone who has been in the wilderness for a long time now - you cannot get away from this principle of the Sabbath day. It is about relationship. Being with Jesus. Coming to Him and resting in Him.

Are you content to just be with Jesus? Is Jesus enough? When Jesus is enough then you are resting. We you feel something more is needed, and you start looking outside of Him, then you become rest-LESS.

What if we took a position with the Lord that says, "I am content to just be with You. If you see I am lacking something, I trust you to bring it. But I am not seeking anything outside of You. That includes fellowship with others, ministry, spiritual experiences, or anything else. You are enough for Me." God can do something with that. Now you are getting aligned to the Sabbath principle. I'm not seeking, or striving, or trying to make anything happen. I am content, I am resting in the Lord. And that is the life of faith, the life of trust, the life of rest...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Elitism -Impaired Vision Through Filters by Milt Rodriguez

“When the days grew closer for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, he was determined to continue his journey to Jerusalem. So he sent messengers on ahead of him. On their way they went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. But the people didn’t welcome him, because he was determined to go to Jerusalem.

When his disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them, as Elijah did? But he turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.” Luke 9:51-56

Elitism: the Corporate Filter

Now we come to one of the most powerful filters around: elitism. What exactly is elitism? You could define it this way: the consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group. It’s when a group starts believing their own reviews and begins thinking that they are special. This filter is a little different than most because of it’s corporate nature. It’s a group mentality and a group deception. And it tends to go something like this:

We are special because we have deeper revelation or more accurate doctrine than all of those other groups.
We are special because we are more anointed with gifts, instances of healing, and miracles.
We are special because we follow so-and-so leader or preacher and they have more revelation, are more anointed, or sell more books than others.
We have a special calling and place in history that no one has ever had.
We are special because we know the Lord better than most and love the brethren more than most.
We are not really that interested in anything or anyone outside of our own church or movement.
We love all true believers but we are much more advanced spiritually than they are.
We look strange to most Christians because of our maturity level in Christ.
We follow so-and-so because he is the only man God has truly raised up for this generation.

I have personally heard all of the above statements (and more) come out of the mouths of some of God’s people. Once I was at a conference and there was a tiny group there that was spouting off some of these statements with reckless abandonment. No one could stand to be around them. It was a very graphic demonstration of what my co-worker Frank Viola calls the B.O. of the body. Everyone else knows you have it except you! And it really does stink to high heaven.

Of course, this is the basis for every sect, denomination, and just about every movement within institutionalism. The “we are superior to you” attitude is the very foundation for every denomination and that includes the groups that call themselves “non-denominational”. They have camped out around a particular truth, person, or way of doing things and told everyone within and without the group that this is the best (and really) only way. But this particular malady is not only found within the institutional church.

Elitism in Groups Outside the Religious System

This spiritually cancerous filter isn’t only found within the institutions. It is also widely spread throughout house churches, simple churches, missional churches, emergent churches, and organic churches. I have personally been in one house church and one organic church where this disease had been propagated as leaven in a lump of dough. This attitude caused untold damage to the saints of God and resulted in isolation, broken marriages, division, immorality, poor health and much more. Some have even left their faith completely.

Some of the history of groups throughout the centuries that stood outside the religious system is tainted with such stories. Some of these had awesome revelations of Christ with wonderful teachings and strong churches that dared to walk the line of the centrality of Christ and His Cross. And left all to follow Him so that He would have the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. But they fell into the trap of believing they were special and therefore superior to the rest of God’s people. That heart attitude will kill a group or movement faster than anything I have seen.

Safeguards Against Elitism

Now we all think that what we are currently doing is the best way, right? Of course we do or we wouldn’t be doing it! I honestly believe that the way that I am going is the way that God has directed me and firmly will hold to this position no matter what. I would be a fool to do otherwise. However, I cannot say that “my way” of following Christ is superior, therefore I AM SUPERIOR. This is the best way FOR ME. I cannot say if it is the best way for you or not. For me, authentic organic church is the only way to go. But that doesn’t make me superior to anyone. There must be grace, acceptance, and freedom within the Church of the living God.

So here are a few ways that we can help to safeguard ourselves against the plague of elitism:

    * Promote and encourage a healthy attitude of love and acceptance for all of God’s people.
    * Learn to abide in Him so that His humility is displayed through us
    * Visit other groups, attend conferences, and read books by other authors than those of your own movement
    * Develop and maintain relationships with believers outside your own little group
    * Always think the best of other believers and treat them as you would want to be treated

A Vanishing God by Frank Viola

Jesus often comes to us in unexpected ways and unexpected means.

Think about how He came to Earth. For centuries, Israel had waited for a political Messiah. They expected Him to lead a rebellion and free Israel from Roman oppression. But how did the Messiah make His entrance? He came in a way that made it easy for His own people to reject Him. He came as a frail baby, born in a feeding room for animals. There He was. The promised Messiah who was expected to overthrow the Roman Empire and set Israel free from oppression. A needy Nazarene born in a manger.

When Jesus grew up, He ate and drank in their presence and taught in their streets (Luke 13:26). Yet they didn’t recognize Him. He was unassumingly modest. A mere craftsman; the son of a craftsman. He grew up in the despised city of Nazareth, fraternizing with the despised and oppressed. But more startling, He befriended sinners (Luke 7:34). As such, the people of God didn’t recognize Him. Why? Because He came in a way that made it easy for them to reject Him. And what about the disciples?

Read the story again. Jesus continued to break out of their expectations. He couldn’t be pinned down, figured out or boxed in. The Twelve were constantly confounded by Him. His teachings were offensive. His actions scandalous. His reactions baffling.

But the greatest offense of all was the cross. It offended everyone—both Jew and Gentile. The only crown the promised Messiah-King would accept was a crown of thorns. Look at Him again. A suffering Messiah, a defeated King. It’s easy to reject Him.

One of the Lord’s most faithful disciples teaches us this principle well. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus after His death and resurrection. Do you remember what she did as soon as she recognized Him? She grabbed Him, and she wouldn’t stop clinging to Him. Jesus responded, “Stop clinging to me” (see John 20:17, Greek text). Why did Jesus tell Mary to stop clinging to Him? Because Jesus had somewhere to go. He was on the move. Jesus was poised to go to Galilee to see the other disciples and then to ascend to His Father.

Note the principle: He was moving forward, but she was clinging to Him. Jesus was in effect saying to her: “Mary, stop holding on to me. There’s a new way to know me that’s different from what you’ve experienced thus far. Let me go. I must move on.” Do you remember the disciples who walked on the road to Emmaus?

Their hopes were shattered by Jesus’ horrible death. Suddenly, the resurrected Christ began walking beside them, yet their eyes were blinded from recognizing Him. However, when He engaged in the very simple gesture of breaking bread (something He had done frequently before them), their eyes were opened. He then quickly disappeared from their sight.

These stories hold a critical insight. You cannot cling to the Christ you know today. He will vanish from your midst. Jesus Christ is an elusive Lover. Seeking Him is a progressive engagement that never ends. He doesn’t dance to our music. He doesn’t sing to our tune.

Perhaps He will in the beginning when He woos us, but that season will eventually end. Just when you think you’ve laid hold of Him, He will slip out of your grasp. He will appear to you as a stranger. But on second glance, we’ll discover He’s no stranger at all. Emmaus will be repeated.

We all wish to cling to the Lord who we know now. We all wish to hold on to the Christ who has been revealed to us today.

But mark my words: He will come to us in a way we do not expect—through people we’re prone to ignore and inclined to write off. Perhaps they don’t talk our religious language. Perhaps they aren’t theologically sophisticated. Perhaps they don’t use our vocabulary. Perhaps they don’t share our insider knowledge nor parrot our religious idioms.

So we cling fast to the Lord we recognize—receiving only those who talk our language, use our jargon and employ our catchphrases—and all along we end up turning the Lord Jesus Christ away.

What, then, does Jesus do after we fail to receive Him when He comes to us in an unexpected way? He moves on. And the revelation we have of Him ceases to grow. Jesus Christ is richer, larger and more glorious than any of us could ever imagine. And He comes to us in ways that make it tempting to reject Him.

When Peter, James and John saw the transfigured Lord on the holy mountain, Peter wanted to build a tabernacle for Jesus, Moses and Elijah and remain on the mountain to enjoy the encounter. But God would not allow it (Matthew 17:1-13).

There is something in our fallen nature that, like Peter, wishes to build a monument around a spiritual encounter with God and remain there. But the Lord will not have it. He will always break free from our frail attempts to pin Him down, box Him up and hold Him in place. And He does so by coming to us in new and unexpected ways.

Excerpted from REVISE US AGAIN, Chapter 10, Your Christ is Too Small

Sunday, March 13, 2011

America Ripped Asunder by Regis Nicoll

Look at the society we have become: We are a bi-polar nation, a bureaucratic, centralised state that presides dysfunctionally over an increasingly fragmented, disempowered and isolated citizenry.” Phillip Blond, quoted by David Brooks

The United States is breaking apart. That, according to a bracing piece earlier this year by New York Times columnist David Brooks. As Brooks tells it, public disdain for politicians and widespread cynicism about the political process have combined to tear at an already enfeebled social fabric.

It began with two revolutions from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

Brooks writes,“First, there was a revolution from the left: a cultural revolution that displaced traditional manners and mores; a legal revolution that emphasized individual rights instead of responsibilities; a welfare revolution in which social workers displaced mutual aid societies and self-organized associations.

“Then there was the market revolution from the right. In the age of deregulation, giant chains like Wal-Mart decimated local shop owners. Global financial markets took over small banks, so that the local knowledge of a town banker was replaced by a manic herd of traders thousands of miles away.”

The first created a welfare state and the second a market state. Together they displaced small, local businesses, “weakened families, increased out-of-wedlock births and turned neighbors into strangers,” all which required a gargantuan government to administer programs and audit the market. Ironically, both revolutions, which were aimed at increasing personal freedoms, ended up putting the individual under greater state control. Of course.

Once traditional morality is jettisoned, so is moral duty, leaving only legal rights and a litigious society overseen by a Leviathan state to adjudicate disputes between competing interests.

Whether of the right or the left, libertarianism, removed from external moral standards, atomizes society into self-interested individuals alienated from each other, fearing that any loss of personal autonomy will result in a little death to self.

Great Britain is a case in point. Phillip Blond, director of British think tank ResPublica, notes that in Britain, these two revolutions have led to a bloated centralized government and a country with “rising crime” and “four million security cameras.” His solution? In a nutshell, “subsidiarity.”

Subsidiarity

According to the principle of subsidiarity, the responsibility and authority for any action should be left to the lowest level competent to handle it. In civil society, the levels are three: the individual, “mediating” institutions, and the state.

As the name implies, “mediating” institutions are those that stand between the individual and the state, protecting the former against the overreaching tendencies of the latter. They include churches, schools, civic organizations, volunteer associations, and, foremost, the family.

Subsidiarity is the basis of federalism, whereby the powers of government are divided between the central authority and its constituent parts (e.g., states), recognizing that civil affairs are most effectively governed by those closest to them and most directly affected by them.

Subsidiarity means that the concerns of the individual (like whether or not to buy health care insurance) are best handled by the individual, concerns of the family (like decisions about the rearing and education of children) are best handled within the family, the concerns of the neighborhood (graffiti, gangs, and feral teens) are best handled within the neighborhood, and likewise for the city, county and state.

For instance, recognizing that charitable institutions are closer to the needs of people than the state, Blond recommends that more state-run services be run by charities. Blond doesn’t give specifics, but consider welfare and entitlement programs.

Such programs have greatly benefited individuals who are permanently disabled or temporarily in need of assistance. But administered by bureaucrats in the withdrawn centers of governmental power, they have created an underclass held captive in a perpetual orbit of dependence and idleness. It is a condition helped along by misery merchants who secure their messianic role by keeping the downtrodden in their back pocket.

For most of its history, the Church took responsibility for the comprehensive care of its own. But with the social programs spawned by the New Deal, the Church began abdicating that responsibility en masse. It is time that the Church, along with other faith-based organizations, reclaim its role from the overweening state.

Subsidiarity requires a virtuous society, where character informs the space between what the heart desires and what is morally right. Without virtue, law, not character, must fill that space. When individuals renege on their pledges, when companies operate unethically, when parents fail to exercise responsible parenting, the state, using the full force of law, must step in.

For example, when disagreeing parties fail to reach a decision over their disagreements, the magistrate can be counted on to impose a decision guaranteed to further alienate and embitter. Hence, the timeless warning of Jesus: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.”

But when people take seriously their moral duties and resolve their disputes at the lowest levels, the need for a paternal state is reduced. Regrettably, that is far from our current situation.

A mosque and a convent

In the ongoing brouhaha over the mosque at Ground Zero, we've heard a lot about rights and a lot about wisdom. But one thing that we haven't heard much about is responsibility.

Rights are about what we can do, wisdom is about what we should do, but responsibility is about what we are obliged to do. Responsibility is doing what is morally right over what is legally allowed. It is character operating in permissible spaces of social action.

In a free society, rights and responsibilities go hand-in-hand. Honoring our individual freedoms while serving the common good can only work when rights are exercised responsibly.

For example, although the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations has the rights of free speech and assembly, it has the responsibility to refrain from exercising them in front of the Holocaust Museum. Likewise, adults have the right to own and view sexually explicit material. But they have the responsibility to do so away from the eyes of children.

In the same manner, Muslims have the constitutional right to build a mosque anywhere they desire, consistent with local zoning laws. However, those who would do so in lower Manhattan, especially those who claim that the motives are to promote tolerance and better interfaith relations, are obliged, as citizens of a pluralistic nation, to build one with sensitivity, compassion, and respect for the victims of individuals whose actions were informed by Islamic teaching.

Which begs the question: If Muslims should refrain from building a mosque near ground zero, should Christians do the same in communities that would be upset over the building of a church? They should, and have.

In the 1980’s, a group of Carmelite nuns set up a convent at Auschwitz. A Christian presence on a site where over 1.5 million Jews were executed was an immediate affront to Jewish sensibilities. The Jewish reaction was understandable to many, but others wondered how a mendicant order devoted to contemplative prayer could offend anyone. Sound familiar?

For years the convent was a festering sore in Jewish-Christian relations; then Pope John Paul II stepped in. Although everyone agreed that the nuns were acting within their legal rights, the pope knew that they were not acting rightly. So in 1993, he ordered the Carmelites to move to a different location in the province. In his statement, the pope expressed regret that the decision to do the right thing wasn’t made at a lower ecclesial level. Did I mention that subsidiarity is a core principle of Catholic social teaching?

In the same way, if the Muslim community does not stand down from its decision to build a mosque near the sacred soil of the fallen towers, what it’s doing is sure to be anything but salve to American-Muslim relations.

The controversies over the convent and mosque are emblematic of our sad condition: a fractured society of self-concerned selves, straining against the little death of putting the concerns of others above the desire to exercise their untrammeled freedoms.

While the first controversy was settled, eventually, by what was morally and civilly right, it remains to be seen whether the second one will, or whether it will only widen the crack in Humpty Dumpty’s shell.


SOURCE: www.breakpoint.org

Transition and Change by Stephen Gray

What is God saying? This question has been raised a great deal lately as I travel. It seems like everyone knows there is a transition under way. To answer the question of “What is God saying," we must understand that often God is speaking about things that are coming and deal with future movements. We see this in the ministry of John the Baptist as he preached repentance and a coming kingdom. I personally find that God speaks on different levels. Such as He speaks to me personally and then about the things he wants me to do and then about the things He is doing.  I also believe God wants to share many things with us if we will take the time to press in and listen. My word to you is that God is speaking profoundly right now and you need to know what He is saying to you. So many struggle in the matter of knowing how to hear God. When in fact the real problem is taking the time to hear from God.

God is speaking directly to the church about change! There is a powerful move of transformation moving in the body of Christ today. Your spiritual growth is under God’s microscope and He is making the necessary changes to bring about faster and greater growth. Two words I heard this morning were sovereignty and providence.  It means God is everywhere and involved in everything. God does not cause tragedy although He does allow it even to His people. It is perhaps the greatest change agent not just for his people but also for civilization itself. Always has been and always will be. Today for the Christian trials and testing is epidemic in the church at a rate never before seen. Why? Because God is growing faith at an incredible rate because we will need it for the days ahead. Not to survive but to become the fruitful bride He desires. It is a time to examine your fruitfulness!

We must understand the pull of religious works and performance for value is at an all time high. Song of Solomon 1:6 warns us of the danger of such action.

“Do not look upon me, because I am dark, because the sun has tanned me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards,
But my own vineyard I have not kept. “

“Mother’s sons” is a reference to man or religious people. They are angry because you desire intimacy from the king (Jesus) and are not caught up in their worldly pursuits. They put pressure on you to keep the “vineyards” plural meaning the works of man. “But my own vineyard, singular, I have not kept, meaning your true purpose.

Here we are warned of religious exercise that causes us to run around doing things for God and all the time forgetting that God’s priority for each of us is to be “CHANGED.”

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29

Stay Teachable! by David Orton

To fear the Lord is to be taught of the Lord.


In fact, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.


But this wisdom is so beyond human ken it must be supernatural. Therefore, only by imbibing the “spirit of the fear of the Lord” (Isa 11:2) will we be filled with the desire and the ability to learn His ways.


But how does the “spirit of the fear of the Lord” work?


The majesty of God


First, confronted by the majesty of God, my stubbornly held autonomy is broken and I inwardly bow.


In awe of Him I yield and lose myself in the divine embrace. Relinquishing to Him my very personhood He becomes my King and I his slave. My rebellion dissolves and I am given a new spirit – one that trembles at His word. And so, every futile attempt at self-salvation is relinquished. Laying aside my rights and my will, even in the face of injustice, I entrust myself to Him as a faithful Creator. And finally my broken and contrite heart becomes a sacrifice that is acceptable to God (see Psa 51).


Teachable relationships


Secondly, the spirit of the fear of the Lord flows through into teachable relationships, especially with those whom God sets in Christ’s body as spiritual overseers and shepherds of the flock.


If our hearts have been conquered by the fear of the Lord we will pursue wisdom and counsel. We will seek out teachable relationships with authentic men and women of God in whom we can confide. The habit of our lives will demonstrate the humility of heart that seeks out the wisdom of the wise.
As the wisdom writer declares,


The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7


Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22


The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
Proverbs 12:15


Whether we are wise or a fool is shown by whether we have heart relationship with spiritual teachers who are intimates of God. The wise are always teachable, seeking out the wisdom of the wise. Fools, on the other hand, are wise in their own eyes, preferring their own counsel. In fact, they scoff, making light of the teaching of the wise.


A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Proverbs 13:1


The loss of the fear of the Lord and consequent refusal to engage in teachable relationships is the source of much demonic disorder in the body of Christ.


Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion (disorder) and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
James 3:13–17 NKJV

The anointing that teaches



Lastly, you may exclaim, “Aren’t I a priest of the new covenant, with direct access to Christ Himself? Why do I need relationship with spiritual teachers?”
The answer is, “Yes”, to the first question and, “Because you are proud”, to the second. The kingdom of God operates on laws of humility and interdependence. This is why the ecclesia functions as a body, each member connected and dependent on the other.


Even so, as John explains there is an anointing that teaches.


As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
1 John 2:27 NAS


Clearly, the Holy Spirit is the divine Teacher operating through human teachers who are given, according to Ephesians chapter four, as gifts to the body. Otherwise, John, as an apostle and teacher, would not be writing these very words.


If you have imbibed the spirit of the fear of the Lord and received those whom God sends as wise teachers the Holy Spirit will witness as to whether their words are true or not.


And so, the believer’s greatest ability is always their teachability.


SOURCE: www.lifemessenger.org

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Important Insight from President Obama by Frank Viola

A few weeks ago someone posted a vicious comment on this blog which personally attacked a friend of mine who is engaged in serving the Lord. It wasn’t approved, of course. The person who posted the comment claims to be a Christian. I responded to the person privately with an opening question:

“How long have you known [my friend’s name] personally, how well do you know him, when was the last time you spent time in his presence, and what did he say when you shared these things with him face-to-face over coffee?”

I then went on to defend my friend.

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. are very dear to me: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

When Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Obama earlier this year, he asked him this question: “Does it disturb you that so many people hate you?” Obama answered: “You know, the truth is that the people—and I’m sure previous presidents would say the same thing, whether it was Bush or Clinton or Reagan or anybody  . . .  the people who dislike you don’t know you.”
“But they hate you,” O’Reilly probed.
“The folks who hate you, they don’t know you. What they hate is whatever fun-house mirror image of you that’s out there, and they don’t know you,” Obama said. “And so, you don’t take it personally.”

Whether you support Mr. Obama or not, his words contain searing insight. And they are worthy to be remembered.

Here are some related thoughts to keep in mind. This is especially for those of you who have put your hand to the plow of God’s work . . . or you plan to someday:
  • People write things on the Internet that they would never dare say to any human being in person.
  • If you love and serve God, some people are going to hate you . . . no matter what you say or do. Sometimes it will be because of jealousy. Sometimes it will be for some other fleshly reason. Accept it, and don’t try to please everyone. Be faithful to your Lord. His opinion is what matters most. If you are walking with Jesus Christ, those who know you well will love and support you. Accept all opposition as coming from the hand of God. Satan may mean it for bad, but God means it for good. Romans 8:28 is still valid.
  • Historically, Christians have suffered the edge of the sword at the hands of their fellow Christians far more than by the hands of non-Christians.
  • Remember the words of Aristotle: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
  • When someone thinks the worst of you and judges the motives of your heart, they are virtually always reading what’s in their own hearts back into yours. They are unwittingly exposing what’s inside of them (Matt. 7:1-5). (The person who wrote the vicious comment about my friend was imputing evil motives to his heart. Whenever a person does this, they are playing God. We have not so learned Jesus Christ. “Love thinks no evil,” Paul said, but always believes the best of others. “Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto the defiled, nothing is pure.”)
  • Most of all, keep in mind the words of your Lord: “Beware when all men speak well of you” . . . “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”
http://frankviola.wordpress.com

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Tribes by Seth Godin - Video

    Converging Zone uses the word tribes often to be inclusive in our uniqueness. Seth Godin does a great job of describing tribes and how we are all a part of them in some way. This is from a marketing perspective, but also applies to many areas of life. We are all part of creation, many tribes, but part of one big tribe called humanity.

    Why Discipline? by Dudley Hall

    "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." 
    Hebrews 12:5b-6 (ESV)

    The idea of being disciplined by God has been banished by our culture. We don't seem to mind being coached to achieve athletic or business success, but spiritual discipline sounds too harsh. After all, the god we have created in our minds is one who pampers us and finally takes everyone to heaven where we never have to work again.

    In the book of Hebrews we are told that God created mankind to be crowned with glory and honor as the governor of God's creation (Hebrews 2:6-9). When sin came into the dynamic we became slaves to the creation we were designed to rule. But God sent another Man to pioneer the way back to the original destiny. He has identified with his younger brothers and rescued us to restore us to the roles of kings and priests. Since that is our designated role, we must be equipped with the needed tools to rule and represent.

    To the degree that we are not naturally equipped to fulfill our destiny as "God reflectors" on this earth, we need divine discipline. God has not given up on his plan to have sons on earth who work with him in displaying the order of heaven on earth. Jesus came to make it possible for there to be a people fully equipped to represent God accurately and to intercede for creation in the presence of God. He was the first man to fulfill his destiny. In him, a new age arrived. Now those who are in him are being trained to live as he does in the life of the future.

    While on earth, Jesus never faced a situation that conquered him or even baffled him. He demonstrated that mankind, in partnership with the Father, is capable of ruling. However, he didn't rule the way others did. He ruled through love. He vanquished his enemies with love and forgiveness rather than the sword. One of his most ardent enemies was Saul of Tarsus. Saul hated Jesus and his followers. He was passionate about putting them in prison or in the grave. Jesus met him and loved him into submission. Saul/Paul became the leader of the early church's mission.

    Today the news is full of reports of unrest and revolution as people in many countries are protesting the rule of autocratic regimes. Wars are being fought on many fronts, and it is tempting to conclude that things will never get any better on planet earth. But that is not the case. Jesus came to restore a people equipped with three weapons that will finally bring the world to its destiny. These weapons of faith, hope, and love cannot be stopped. Guns and spears or even lasers can't stop their power. We who are believers in Christ are being equipped to use these weapons. Where we aren't familiar with them, God is arranging circumstances for us to learn. He is intent on getting us fitted to fulfill our calling. It is not always comfortable to have unbelief, hatred, and doubt exposed and eradicated, but it is absolutely necessary.

    We are not victims in a world gone out of control. We are sons under the loving hand of God the Father who is removing our previous programming and restoring us to the roles he designed. He will activate our faith, hope and love by placing us in positions that require them. We can embrace our discipline as an honor or we can fight it and delay and even deny the process.

    The new creation has begun, but it has not been consummated. We live in the between time. We can learn to rule while we eagerly await the consummation of all new created things. Get your chin up. Walk straight. Look forward. This is our time to shine. (Take the time to read the rest of Hebrews 12.)

    You Give Them Something to Eat by Francis Frangipane

    (En EspaƱol)

    "Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision." ---Acts 26:19


    What I have come to believe concerning the Lord's glory and its manifestation in the church is supported by many Scriptures. Yet, it was through a night vision in 1971 that God granted me insight into His plan. In this spiritual encounter, I saw a great metropolis languishing under the weight of a deep and terrible darkness. Chiseled upon the faces of those in this wretched society was the image of hopelessness. The place was desolate of real life and the time for a recovery seemed long past.


    I was with a group outside the city. We were not part of the darkness, but had been "baptized" in a glorious and powerful light. During the vision, I actually experienced the power of this light surging up from my innermost being. It coursed out through our hands like streams of laser light; a visible splendor shone from our bodies, especially our faces.


    Suddenly, out from the city the great multitude began to grope their way toward us -- thousands of people. Soon all were calling on the name of the Lord. As we laid our hands upon them and prayed for them, they also received the light.


    The vision passed, and though I continued to lie in bed, I did not return to sleep. As dawn broke, I opened to the book of Isaiah. As a new Christian, this was the first time I was reading through the Bible. I turned the page from the previous day's reading and there, for the first time, I read Isaiah 60. The words bolted into my mind like lightning, then shook my insides like thunder.


    Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
    For behold, darkness will cover the earth,
    And deep darkness the peoples;
    But the Lord will rise upon you,
    And His glory will appear upon you.
    And nations will come to your light,
    And kings to the brightness of your rising.
    ---Isaiah 60:1-3


    It says, "darkness will cover the earth." This was exactly what I saw in the vision! It proclaimed, "the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you," precisely describing what I had seen in the vision! It was as though I had actually stepped into the future and experienced a fulfillment of this prophecy. The Holy Spirit and the Word, working in divine symmetry, revealed that the glory of the Lord would be manifested in His people at the end of the age, and that "nations," currently languishing in darkness, would come to Christ!


    Today many people are excited about the harvest. However, in the early seventies and through the eighties the idea of "multitudes coming to Christ" was not a common expectation. With the threat of nuclear war ever present, most Christians were not thinking, praying, or acting like revival was coming. What most expected was a nuclear war with the USSR and either the rapture of the church or the beginning of the great tribulation.


    It was against this backdrop of fear and unbelief that the Lord spoke to me of the harvest. Today several hundred thousand souls each week come to Christ worldwide. Still, even this is small compared to what God is going to do in the days ahead.


    As important as the harvest is, however, the primary focus of the vision was not winning the lost; it was on the ascendancy of Christ's presence in the church. The Father's priority is that the Lord Jesus be lifted up: The coming great harvest will be the result of Christ's presence! It will not be our programs or methods that bring this harvest into God's barns; it will be the glory of the Lord.


    A Third Witness
    The vision released within me lofty expectations for the future, while the text in Isaiah grounded my feet on the firm path of God's eternal Word. Still, the Lord was not done with me, and one more witness was about to come. After I read Isaiah, my next reading in my daily progression took me to Matthew, chapter 14. As I read, I paused after verse 15, which reads, "The disciples came to Him, saying, ‘The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away.'"


    This Scripture recalls the time when Jesus miraculously fed the multitudes. As I read, I noticed similarities between the vision of the multitudes in darkness and this scene from the Gospels. Both depicted a place of desolation and both communicated the sense that the situation was beyond remedy. Yet in spite of the apparent hopelessness of each, multitudes were ministered to in both.


    Of course, there was no theological connection between the two texts; not even the most imaginative Christian would ever reference Matthew 14:13-21 with Isaiah 60:1-3. Yet, the Lord was speaking something that would personally affect me for the rest of my life. In response to the disciples urging Jesus to send the multitudes away, He answered,


    "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!"
    And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."
    And He said, "Bring them here to Me."


    The result was that "He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward Heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes" (Matt. 14:16-19).


    Jesus had taken bread, blessed it, and then broken it. Again, I paused. This time it was because of a peculiarity concerning my last name: in Italian, Frangipane actually means "to break bread." Was the Lord using the meaning of my name to connect the feeding of the multitudes with the the conversion of the city in the vision?


    Later that morning, I related the vision and the Lord's promise from Isaiah to my wife, Denise. I then told her about the feeding of the five thousand. I mentioned how I felt, that during the time of the end, when the world would seem utterly desolate and lost, the Lord would use us like He used the loaves to feed the multitudes. Then, in an effort to truly amaze her, for the first time in our young married life I explained that our last name, Frangipane, actually meant "to break bread." It was at that point my wife told me the meaning of her maiden name, Piscitelli. Incredibly, her name meant "little fishes."


    Little Is Much With Jesus
    Long before God had called Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many others in the Bible, He had affirmed the foreknowledge of His eternal purpose in the meaning of their names. For us, He did likewise: He revealed the DNA of our destiny in the meaning of our names!


    Between the vision, the text in Isaiah, and the meaning of our names, I am convinced that a period of great glory and harvest awaits the church. Through the account of Christ's feeding the multitudes, the Lord also warned us to expect people without a similar vision to try to dampen our spirits. In this regard, you may have read criticism of this ministry on the Internet. Every critic is angry about one primary doctrine: the teaching I present that there is one last great outpouring coming before the church is raptured. I love it that I am persecuted because of a vision from God! Hallelujah! The fact is, while the critics seek to distort and slander, the vision of God and the great harvest is continuing in nations around the world.


    Thus, when Christians complain the harvest "is already past," or that society has become too "desolate," it would be an error for any of us, either by our words, doctrines or actions, to ask to "send the multitudes away." The Lord has made it plain: it will not be too late or desolate for Him.


    The Lord has proven many times that, as Christians, we do not need to stockpile resources before we attempt the "impossible." As long as we remain "blessed and broken" in the hands of the Master, our few loaves and fish are enough. What we have learned is that Jesus does not need a lot to work His miracles; He just requires we give Him all we have.


    Scripture Cannot Be Broken
    To my wife and me, the prophetic meanings attached to our last names tell us that the purposes of God are preordained. However, for all that these things mean to us personally, it is upon the Scriptures that faith must rest. Dreams, visions, and supernatural "coincidences" are still subjective experiences which must be confirmed and established by the written Word of God. We rest upon God's Word because Jesus said, "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).


    Thus, the Lord assures us that His Word ". . . shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it" (Isa. 55:11). Regardless of the current spiritual condition of Christianity, every promise God has made concerning His glory in the church, His purpose with Israel, and the harvest at the end of the age -- every word will have its day of fulfillment! With the Almighty, it is never a matter of if His word will come to pass but when and with whom.


    Yes, the hour is late; true, our cities are desolate. Yet Jesus still speaks powerfully to my spirit. As little qualified as we may be, if we truly give our all to Christ, He will bless us and break us, and then fill us with glory to reach multitudes. Indeed, what He said to His disciples, He says to all: The multitudes do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis' book, The Days of His Presence published by Kingdom Publishing and available as an eBook for $6.75 now through March 31.
    For ordering information, please visit the Arrow Bookstore at www.arrowbookstore.com.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    If today's message from Pastor Frangipane stirred your heart, he wants to personally invite you to consider his online training course: In Christ's Image Training. Pastor Francis has poured forty years of ministry into this six-month course on the foundations of conformity to Christ.

    The text-only training is free, and the upgraded course comes with 39 messages on 24 CDs. For more information, please view this short video and visit our website.

    Robert Ricciardelli Interview Solminod TV - "Convergence in the Marketplace"



    Fit & Fun Game with Coach Robert Ricciardelli

    Please listen to my 3 minute video below and consider joining myself and others as we kick off a month of getting fit and having fun. If you cannot make one of the webinar at 7PM CST on Monday and Thursday nights that describe the opportunity in more detail, you can express your interest to me at agaperoad@gmail.com and we can schedule a brief call together. I will be coaching a new session each week. Come along for an impact filled journey to a new you...


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    Fit and Fun Game is first and foremost about having FUN with others who, like you, want to increase their overall health, wellness and vitality.  We accomplish this by making the process of overall fitness fun by turning it into a game that you play in an exciting and engaging way! 

    You can see the live presentation of what we are doing every Monday and Thursday evening at 7PM Central time by going to this website http://www.fitfungame.com/live.html

    Here is more information on the revolutionary Isagenics nutrition we are using in the Fit and Fun experience. Isagenix Scientific Natural Solution

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Why Hurt People Hurt People by Joseph Mattera

    There is an old adage: “Hurt people hurt people.”

    It is well known that those who have been emotionally damaged tend to inflict their hurt and pain on other people. For example, a large percentage of those who have been sexually abused become the abusers of others; those who suffered under an alcoholic parent often themselves cause their future family to suffer because of their drunken stupors.

    Until we as a church deal with the whole person as shown in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 our congregations will be filled with people who are spiritually gifted but act like emotional infants. As in other words, the church must deal with emotional health and not just spiritual health and power.
    The following are common traits hurt people display in their interactions with others.

    I.    Hurt people often transfer their inner anger onto their family and close friends

    Often those around them become the recipients of harsh tones and fits of rage because they have unknowingly become the vicarious recipients of transferred rage.

    II.    Hurt people interpret every word spoken to them through the prism of their pain

    Because of their pain, ordinary words are often misinterpreted to mean something negative towards them.

    Because of this, they are extremely sensitive and act out of pain instead of reality.

    III.   Hurt people interpret every action through the prism of their pain

    Their emotional pain causes them to suspect wrong motives or evil intent behind other people’s actions towards them.
    IV.   Hurt people often portray themselves as victims and carry a “victim spirit”

    Often hurt people can cry “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” or often use the words “unjust” or “unfair” to describe the way they are being treated, even if there is no truth to this. (That is not to say that sometimes there really is racism or sexism in some instances; this is just used as an example.)

    Hurt people have a hard time entering into a trusting relationship.

    Hurt people often carry around a suspicious spirit.

     V.    Hurt people often alienate others and wonder why no one is there for them


    They often continually hurt the ones they love and need the most with their self-destructive behavior.

    VI.    Hurt people have the emotional maturity of the age they received their (un-dealt with) hurt

    For example, if a girl was raped by a man when she was 12 years old, unless she forgives that man and allows Christ to heal her heart and allay her fears, in that particular area of her life (sexuality with a man) her emotional growth will stop. Even when she reaches her later years she may still have the emotional maturity of a 12 year-old.

    VII.    Hurt people are often frustrated and depressed because past pain continually spills over into their present consciousness

    In many instances, they may not even be aware of why they are continually frustrated or depressed because they have coped with pain by compartmentalizing it or layering it over with other things over time.

    VIII.    Hurt people often erupt with inappropriate emotion because particular words, actions, or circumstances “touch” and “trigger” past woundedness

    I have been in situations with people in which there was a gross overreaction to a word I spoke or an action that was taken. Although I was shocked and thought this reaction came “out of left field” it was really the person responding to an accumulation of years of hurt and pain that could not help but spill over in various situations.

    I myself have been in situations where I felt hurt, troubled, or overreacted to something because it touched a nerve with what I was still dealing with because of a wound I received in the past. In these situations I have attempted to reason through the situation as objectively as I can with much prayer and introspection so I would not say or do anything damaging to another person or myself.

    IX.    Hurt people often occupy themselves with busyness, work, performance, and/or accomplishments as a way of compensating for low self-esteem

    Often ministers are not motivated by a love for Jesus but a drive to accomplish.

    It is important that pastors and ministers be led by the Spirit instead of being driven to succeed.

    A minister should not preoccupy himself with making things happen. He or she should walk in integrity and humility and allow God to open up doors and provide a ministerial platform according to their assignment for their life and ministry.

    X.    Hurt people often attempt to medicate themselves with excessive entertainment, drugs, alcohol, pornography, sexual relationships, or hobbies as a way to forget their pain and run from reality

    Until the church learns to deal with and emphasize the emotional life and health of the believer, the church will be filled with half-Christians who pray and read the Bible but find no victory because they do not face the woundedness in their souls.

    XI.    Hurt people have learned to accommodate their private “false self” or “dark side” which causes them to be duplicitous and lack integrity

    Often their private life is different from their public life, which causes hypocrisy and compounds feelings of guilt, condemnation, and depression.

    XII.    Hurt people are often self-absorbed with their own pain and are unaware that they are hurting other people

    They are often insensitive to other people because their emotional pain limits their capacity for empathy and their capacity for self-awareness.

    I have been in numerous situations when someone hurt me and kept on going in the relationship without ever apologizing because they had no clue what they were doing.

    XIII.    Hurt people are susceptible to demonic deception


    I am convinced that most of the divisions in the church are caused by saints who lack emotional health and project their pain onto others.

    Satan works in darkness and deception, and stays away from the light. Hurt people often have destructive habit-patterns that are practiced in the dark. Hence, their mind becomes a breeding ground for satanic infiltration and deception.

    If the church would deal more with the emotional health of the individual, there would be less of a foothold for demonic infiltration. Also, there would be stronger relationships, stronger marriages, healthier children, and a more balanced approach to ministry with less of a chance of pastoral and congregational burnout.

    XIV.    God often purposely surfaces pain so hurt people can face reality

    Whether it is because of a marriage problem, or continual personal conflicts on the job, God often allows conflict and spillover because he wants the infection to stop spreading and the person to be healed.

    Often Christians are fighting the devil and blaming him for conflict when in essence God often allows conflict so that people would be motivated to dig deeper into their lives to deal with root causes of destructive thought and habit patterns.

    God’s purpose for us is that we would all be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This does not just happen with Bible studies, prayer, and times of glory but also in painful situations when we have to face what has been hurting us for many years.

    I have noticed that these periods of surfacing woundedness often take place when people transition into the mid-life years of their upper thirties and later. Perhaps this is because by then they are old enough to understand by experience that there is something wrong and also that it is not too late to redeem their pain and restore relationships and maximize their purpose. Rarely is a person able or even willing to deal with and face pain when they hit their senior years (in their sixties or older). Most at this age have already become cynical, hard-hearted, and/or become so depressed they have become hopeless even though God is able to help them at any age.

    XV.    Hurt people need to forgive to be released and restored to freedom


    The Gospel of St. John 20:23 says that we have to release the sins of others if we are going to be released. This means that if we do not forgive others then the very thing we have become victimized with will become a part of our life. For example, alcoholic fathers breed alcoholic sons if their sons do not forgive and release their fathers.

    The good news is that, through the efficacious blood of Christ, we can all be healed and set free from all past hurts so we can comfort others with the same comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4).

    Truly our mess can become our message!

    Jesus: The Word of God by Steve Hill

    Friends, It is common for many to refer to the Bible as "The Word of God" .  However, this is not how the Master identifies it.  In John 5:39- 40 Jesus confronts the religious scholars of His day, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life."

    In the scriptures the designation "The Word of God" applies only to the Living Word, Jesus.   This same Jesus declares that the purpose of the scriptures is to testify of Him and that it is entirely possible  to study them and miss Him.  If we make the Scriptures "The Word of God" rather than Jesus, we have created an idol.  Your faith is not to primarily be  in the scripture, your faith is to be in Jesus.   That is why Jesus opened the understanding of the disciples so that they could see all that was written in "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" concerning Himself (Luke 24:44- 45).  The primary purpose of the scriptures is to create a history and a context in which Jesus can be clearly seen.  The scriptures are not the Word of God.  The scriptures testify to the Word of God.

    Actually the only words that scripture records God writing directly are the ten commandments.  The testimony about the rest?  " All Scripture  is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:16).

    Now here it can get technical but "by inspiration of God" is a very different reality than "by the finger of God".  For example, under inspiration the gospel writers wrote four very different accounts of the life of Jesus.   Those accounts highlight  their different personalities,  educational backgrounds, life experiences and writing styles.   Yet we do not say one or the other was more inspired.  The Word had become flesh in them and was expressed through them.  God did not posses them.  God did not control their pens.  God inspired them.  They testified to Jesus.

    If we understand that the scriptures are primarily about bearing testimony to Jesus (even as we are to be primarily about bearing testimony to Jesus!) that changes how we read them.  The scriptures were not intended to present a rational system about God but a relational story about Jesus.  Rational systems are rationally determined which leaves the mind in control.  That is why we can argue systems of theology forever- they are controlled by our minds.  A reality controlled by my mind makes my mind god.  Not a good story.

    Relationships are morally determined, that is, they are determined by our choices to love and serve.  The purpose of the scripture is to introduce us to Jesus so that we might know and love Him and in so doing love and serve one another.  If we love Him, we obey Him.   That is a good story.  It leaves Jesus as God.  There is no true knowledge of Jesus without relational obedience to Him.

    If we talk about the scriptures as the Word of God there seems to be a tendency to take little bits and pieces, cut and paste them and declare that little bit to be "the Word of God".   That way lies deception. There are enough bits that you can make the scriptures say almost anything you want.   Your favorite little bit is not "the Word of God" .   It is a portion of the scriptures that testify of Jesus.  It only has meaning in the whole of the scriptures and ultimately only has meaning in relation to the revelation of Jesus.

    Sand is little bits that have broken off the mountain and  washed to the sea.  To build upon sand it to build upon bits of the scripture broken from their place in the Rock.  If we wish to build upon the Rock and know that our house will stand,  we must build upon the Rock who is Christ Jesus.

    When Jesus opened the disciples minds to understand all in the law, prophets and psalms concerning Himself there was, of course,  no New Testament.    One portion that would become the New Testament began to circulate around Paul spoke to Timothy about studying to show your self "approved unto God"  by "rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15).  There can be discussion about what this means but  it seems to me that the most important division is between Old Covenant and New, Law and Grace,  the nation of Israel and the Body of Christ.  Many of the present errors of doctrine and practice amongst believers come from taking Old Covenant practices and teachings and dragging them into the New where they replace grace and the life of Jesus.  What do I mean?


    Tithing taken out of its Old Covenant context and applied as "the Word of God" for today.  Giving 10% in order to be blessed, makes God a miserly book keeper rather than a generous Father.  But how does tithing speak of Jesus and His kingdom?  If you actually study the three tithes of the Old Covenant and the other financial laws around them, it becomes clear that the focus was not just  on provision for the priest and temple but on social justice for the nation and the care of the poor.   Jesus came to set the captives free not put a legalistic financial burden upon them and then tell the poor they are cursed if they do not tithe.


    Worship in the Old Covenant had its 24/7 practice and its experience of God who came and went  from the tabernacle or the temple.  When we drag that practice into the New Covenant we have people shouting at the ceiling for hours and asking God to come down and touch them and send revival.  That is totally destructive of New Testament reality which is "Christ in you the hope of Glory".  Such practice makes mockery of the words of Jesus who said that He had given us all authority and that we were to go and make disciples of the nations.  Jesus cannot come down. He is already in your life if you are His.  Jesus will not send revival.  He has sent you.  Such 24/7 shouting and crying matches are manifest rebellion against the words of the Master.  They are traditions that make his words of no effect.


    What does Old Covenant worship teaching and practice show us about Jesus? It shows us a contrast.  As was prophesied in the Old Covenant, God no longer dwells in temples made with hands but in His people.  When God dwells in His people, they never thirst again- they have nothing to cry out for.  Their task is to take water to those who do not have it.  When God dwells in His people, they have His indwelling presence to take to the world.


    We could go on but, please, let us stop using the phrase "The Word of God" for the scriptures.  Let us stop using bits and pieces of the scriptures as "The Word of God".  Those bits and pieces are sand.  Let us know that the scriptures testify of Jesus and that testimony is divided into two Covenants.   Let us divide the two correctly.  Let us discern what is Old Covenant practice and terminology and let that speak to us of Jesus. It is there to reveal Jesus, not for us to practice.   The One who is the fulfillment has come!


    Let us understand clearly that their is no life in the scriptures but that they testify of Jesus who does give life. He is the only Word of God.


    Contact Steve at stevehill@harvest-now.com

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Decisions That Define Us by David Crone

    “These are some of the decisions that define who we are as a community and how we choose to live our lives. These decisions are not destinations, but rather journeys…”
    • We have decided that teaching the gospel without demonstrating the gospel is not enough. Good preaching, good doctrine, and being good people are not enough.
    • We have decided that having a good church club is not enough, good fellowship is not enough, and just being a member of that club is not enough.
    • We have decided that having good Bible studies is good, but not good enough, that just making it to heaven is not our goal, and that knowing about God without truly knowing and experiencing God is meaningless.
    • We have decided that having good programs is not enough, that change without transformation is intolerable, and that staying where we are is not an option.
    • We have decided that gifting without character is futile.
    • We have decided that singing songs without worshiping is empty, and having meetings without God showing up is pointless.
    • We have decided that having faith without works is not enough and having works without love is not acceptable–that our function comes out of our relationship first with the Father and second with each other.
    • We have decided that reading about the book of Acts without living the book of Acts is unthinkable.
    • We have decided that confident faith is good and bold faith is better.
    • We have decided that hearing about the Holy Spirit without experiencing Him is silly, that believing in His presence without seeing it manifested in signs and wonders is hypocrisy, that believing in healing without seeing people healed is absurd, and that believing in deliverance without people being delivered is absolutely ridiculous.
    • We have decided to be Holy Spirit filled, Holy Spirit led, and Holy Spirit empowered–anything less doesn’t work for us.
    • We have decided to be the ones telling the stories of God’s power–not the ones hearing about them.
    • We have decided that living saved but not supernatural is living below our privilege and short of what Christ died for.
    • We have decided that we are a battle ship not a cruise ship, an army not an audience, Special Forces not spectators, missionaries not club members.
    • We have decided to value both pioneers and settlers: pioneers to expand our territory and settlers to build on those territories. But we are not squatters, people who take up space others have fought for without improving it.
    • We have decided to be infectious instead of innocuous, contagious instead of quarantined, deadly instead of benign.
    • We have decided to be radical lovers and outrageous givers.
    • We have decided that we are a mission station and not a museum.
    • We have decided that it is better to fail while reaching for the impossible that God has planned for us than to succeed settling for less.
    • We have decided that nothing short of His Kingdom coming and His will being done in our world as it is in heaven will satisfy.
    • We have decided that we will not be satisfied until our world cries out, “Those who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6, NKJV).

    Right Or Wrong - 2011 by Morris E. Ruddick

    "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." 1 Kings 19: 10,14

    Years ago, as senior partner in a consulting firm I founded, I had an issue that needed to be addressed.  It was a recurring situation with one my partners. It was a matter I had broached politely and gently on more than a couple of occasions.  This time I came down hard on my partner.  He deserved it; and I was right. 

    Afterwards the Lord very simply said to me, "Morris, do you know you can be wrong when you're right and right when you're wrong?"  Immediately I knew what the Lord meant.  Although I had been right, my approach had sown the wrong kind of seeds.

    The Issue of Being Right or Wrong
    Being right when you're wrong and wrong when you're right. 

    The matter of being right can involve operating according the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law.  It may involve an idolatry tied with a position you consider as right, but with an overriding condition of the heart that negates the premise on which you stand.  It may also relate to what 1 Corinthians 13 has to say about love or the lack of it; which potentially can reduce our gifts and positions of "rightness" to nothing more than a hollow, unharmonious clang.

    Right or wrong?  The stance of those of us who operate prophetically deserves a closer look as we genuinely strive to be right about things.  Nothing wrong with that!  Precision accuracy!  Watching our words.  Like Samuel, "letting none of our words fall to the ground."

    Right or wrong?  Or is this bi-polar perspective always the issue?  There are times when one with a keen sensitivity to the Spirit says something that simply may not seem to fit.  It may not, seemingly, line up with the facts.  But there comes that gentle witness of the Spirit, which prompts the need for more clarity. Then with the simplicity of inquiring of the Lord, it is found to lead to another insight, which in turn leads to another, which then opens up a truth we would not have arrived at otherwise.  Were they right?  Maybe or maybe not! The issue may have been beyond our grasp of what might be right or wrong. 

    There are some who seem to worship at the altar of right and wrong.  There are predispositions that have long passed the issue of righteousness, and have almost become obsessive.  Sometimes it's arrogance.  Sometimes it's a mask and the NEED to be right.  It can be a need resulting in not seeing the forest for the trees.  It may be a deception that has perverted the otherwise genuine operation of the gifts of the Spirit.  It can be an illusion of "rightness" that shoots itself in the foot.  Right or wrong may not always be the issue.

    Walking by Faith and Not by Sight
    What is at issue is a dimension of walking by FAITH and not by sight.  Walking by faith involves FLOWING in the Spirit.  It involves connecting the dots, when the dots aren't that recognizable or readily connected.  It is not about forcing issues; but rather, a flow of the Spirit that involves bypassing our linear approach to the way we process cognitive information and being willing to make inferential leaps.  Inferential leaps that bypass the obvious, which are prompted by the Spirit of God that show us something or get us to a place that has no context or bearing with our current frame of reference or perspective.

    We KNOW that God is not limited by the parameters of our minds.  The issue is whether we are, if it reflects where we dwell or becomes our modus operandi?

    "Being right" can indeed be turned into a form of idolatry. The illusion of "rightness" can cast a blindness into prophetic gifts or create a brittleness of self-righteousness. It can digress into a perverted sense of holiness. Prophetic words without wisdom and prophetic words without love are empty. Very possibly right, but also wrong.

    The Maturity Factor
    All of which brings us to that fine line of maturity.  Maturity is marked by the dividing asunder between soul and spirit.  It is genuinely walking by faith and not by sight; with a commitment to being a God-pleaser rather than a man-pleaser, but not as with any hint of arrogance or self-righteousness.  That would be wrong. 

    The fine line of maturity involves the way we handle the truths entrusted to us. It reflects hungering and thirsting after Him to such a degree that there is not one vestige of variation between His will and our will.  It is guided by humility and a love that operate with wisdom.  In Romans 14:21 and I Corinthians 8:13, Paul makes the point although he had the right and liberty, that he would do nothing; illustrating with the example of eating meat or drinking wine, that might cause his brethren to stumble.  Paul is making the point that that which was right could be wrong.

    Elijah the prophet lived his life and was an example to us all in the level in which he walked by faith and not by sight.  Yet there was an awesome cost for the life he led. 

    Elijah and the Real Issue
    Elijah was a man of incredible faith.  Elijah, stood against the idolatry and sorcery that ran rampant in the seats of power of his day.  He raised the dead.  By his word, the heavens were closed.  Angelic interactions were common in his life.  Then in one culminating event, Elijah came forth into the midst of those who hated and despised him when he confronted the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. 

    The drama of that situation must have been off the charts.  By his word, fire came from heaven.  The courage and faith it took for Elijah to stride into that situation must have been akin to marching into the heart of darkness.  Was Elijah right in what he was doing?  Of course he was.  Still he sure needed to be MORE than right in that situation.  He needed to be walking by faith.  He needed to be operating in the Spirit. 

    In years past, I spent over two years in combat, some of which was deep within enemy territory.  Sometimes I think the glamour of the outcome of Elijah's encounter with the prophets of Baal tends to mask what it took for him to come forth into the presence of King Ahab, the prophets of Baal and Asherah, and the gathering of the people of Israel for this encounter.  Yet Elijah KNEW Who was with him.  He knew the timing.  He knew what he was supposed to do and he was walking by faith.  His was a faith that superseded any fear or doubt.  His was a faith far beyond reason.  It was a faith operating beyond whether Elijah was right or wrong.

    A very seasoned man of God who was a mentor to me early in my walk with God, once shared with me that nine-tenths of faith is patience.  That is where faithfulness comes in to play.  It's also where the rubber meets the road in a walk of faith.  There is something in the waiting process that begins to birth the promises.  Along with the promises this process of waiting yields an authority and power. 

    It is an authority and power that has no need to be right. It is an authority that operates in a realm beyond human reason. 

    It's not an authority that demands.  It's an authority the very presence of which commands.  Somehow, it seems to work more for those who have been through unusual fires; whose dedication to the Lord is such that their dreams, desires, hopes and the like have become submerged in His. It marks those who flow in Him.  Not just occasionally, but in the manner they normally operate.

    It's more than a territorial authority.  It's the type of authority that makes demons tremble.  It's the type of authority that serves to usher in the presence of the Lord.  The type of authority that Joseph flowed in at the time he was first brought into the presence of Pharaoh.  It has nothing to do with position or status.  It has everything to do with our walk of faith; in the genuineness of our relationship with Him.

    The Fine Line
    Those who operate in this realm with this authority, walk a fine line. Paul noted that it was in his weakness that God's strength was manifested. There indeed is a fine line between the time we spend alone in God's presence and the balance that's needed from our connection to community.

    It is in this balance that the strength that paves the way into this type of walk and authority is manifested. Spending time alone in His presence is foundational to shape and bring into fullness our calling and destiny. Yet, we need one another and the God-ordained diversity and perspectives of those the Lord has put within our sphere.  It is in community that the higher levels of our callings will be manifested.  It is within a community who walk by faith; who are called to make a difference, that God's supernatural power is multiplied.

    Elijah's confrontation addressed each side of power in this equation; the political, spiritual and community: with Ahab, the priests of Baal and Asherah and the people all present. His remarkable encounter against the seats of power and forces of darkness carried a cost. Operating far beyond the realm of human effort, he pierced the veil to turn the tide spiritually.

    Afterwards, in what seems comparatively as a minor encounter, yet in his depleted spiritual condition was his tipping point, he crawled into a cave and asked God to let him die.  God had to twice speak to him in that cave; and ask him what he was doing there. 

    Elijah twice recounted his fixated perception leading to his awesome victory against the prophets of Baal. 
    "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." 1 Kings 19: 10,14

    "I alone am left." 

    Elijah's response to the Lord did not have any basis in fact. Yet, he believed it! It was the perception he was operating from. The recent event was so over the top that Elijah was over the edge and became wrong when he was right. He did want to die. At that juncture, Elijah needed something more.  Despite the fire from heaven, with the people falling on their faces, proclaiming that "the Lord He is God, the Lord He is God," Elijah needed something more. 

    So after this momentous face-off with the powers of darkness and the achievement of this astounding victory on the Lord's behalf; when Jezebel sent a message threatening his life, Elijah fled. Even though the job was done, he fled in terror. Later, Jezebel, without much to-do, was disposed of by an army commander.  But at that point, Elijah fled and when God asked what he was doing in that cave, his response might be summed up that "he alone was left."  Not even that was correct, as the Lord advised him that He still had 7000, a remnant, who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

    "I alone am left."  Elijah's greatest strength had become his Achilles' heel.  That strength was his solitude with the Lord.  From that low point, the Lord reoriented Elijah and tasked him with anointing new kings over Israel and Judah, as well as preparing the man who God selected as Elijah's replacement.  Then God honored Elijah by sending angels and the chariots of fire to take him to heaven.

    For Such a Time as This
    For those called for this season, to bring change beyond the ordinary, the message is this.  This is a time in which we will see increasingly greater manifestations of God's power.  The nine-tenths of faith being patience and its tie to faithfulness plays out in a very intense one-tenth of the times the Lord has prepared us for.  During those times, we need to recognize our need for one another.  We also need to recognize when to stand alongside those within our sphere who are entering the times they have been prepared for. 

    We will always need those times alone in His presence.  Always!  But we are entering a time in which we are going to have to stand alongside one another.  THAT is not only wisdom for us individually, but as a community.  We need to be connected.

    Our victories will be side-by-side with others within the Body.  These victories will be beautifully orchestrated by the hand of the Lord as he prepares and leads us individually, but side-by-side connected in community, in a way that fits with the big picture of His purposes and agendas.

    We walk by faith and not by sight.  That means we can be right when we are wrong and wrong when we are right.  We need to discern that fine line.  We need to be tough with ourselves in discerning the dividing asunder between soul and spirit. We need to stand alongside one another.  Above all, we can never take ourselves so seriously that we conclude, that "I alone am left."
    "A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.'  He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second son and said likewise. He answered him, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? They said to Him, 'The first.' So Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees, 'Surely tax collectors and harlots will enter the kingdom of God before you.'" Matt 21: 28-31

    The Prayer
    Father God, in the mighty Name of Jesus, enable us to recognize when we are wrong when we are right and right when we are wrong.  Lord, deliver us from getting stuck by the parameters of our own thinking.  Keep us from the idols of our own minds.  Lord, keep us in balance so that we can be genuine God-pleasers while maintaining the love and wisdom needed to build up and strengthen one another.  Keep us far from the NEED to right, O Lord. 

    And Lord God, keep us connected.  Keep us from allowing ourselves to become isolated, in either thought or deed.  Give us right attitudes in our relationships, as well as toward ourselves.  Lord, give us the wisdom to appreciate and embrace the diversity and perspectives of those around us.  As we cry out to You to be more sensitive to Your Spirit, grant us that same increase in our sensitivity to those within our sphere.

    We want to walk by faith and not in any way slip into the religious mode reflected by what your Word describes as "what we began in the Spirit, is now being worked out in the flesh."  Lord, equip us to operate beyond the wrong or right dimensions; beyond the limitations of our sensory levels.  Forgive us where we've stumbled.  Anoint us afresh and give us wisdom and love so that our words will bring Life.  May we be genuine ministers of Yours, as Your Word say: "not of the letter but of the Spirit." 

    Indeed, let us walk in Your Truth.  But, give us the balance between Spirit and Truth.  Make us able ministers of Spirit and Life.  Keep us far from the deceptions and the arrogance and the fear.  God, grant us the grace to be able to speak truth in our own hearts.  Within ourselves, as well as with You.

    Keep us from deviating from that fine line.  Enable us to handle aright the authority that You're entrusting us with.  Give us the steadfastness to operate faithfully and effectively in that realm where the only thing we have to go on is Your direction to us.

    Lord God, we indeed want to hear You more clearly than ever before. We do want to operate with precision accuracy.  But Lord, let us not obsess on it.  Keep us sensitive and caring for one another.  Give us listening hearts. Oh Lord, we want to be ones who consistently flow in You.  We want to be making a difference, for You, in our own spheres.  We're crying out to You for balance Lord, as we proceed and press more deeply into that place of Your presence.  Help us in abiding in You, dear Lord. 

    And Lord, we want to truly walk by faith, always being sensitive and obedient to your Spirit.  Always rightly discerning the input we are constantly getting, always operating with a right perspective in that dividing asunder between soul and spirit, always being a blessing to those around us.

    Thank You Father for equipping us for the days we are entering.  Thank You for calling us.  Thank You for being with us.  Thank You for hearing this cry of our hearts.
    _________________________________________

    Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the call of God in the marketplace. He is author of "The Joseph-Daniel Calling;" "Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;" "The Heart of a King;" and "Something More," which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders called to impact their communities with God's blessings. They are available from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other popular outlets.

    Mr. Ruddick is also the founder of the Global Equippers Entrepreneurial Program, which imparts hope and equips economic community builders where God's light is dim in both the Western and non-Western world. To schedule a speaking engagement, sponsor a workshop, make a donation or to get more information on how you can help, contact Global Initiatives at 303.741.9000.

    2011 Copyright Morris Ruddick - response@strategic-initiatives.org

    Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor.  Since 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis.  For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check:  http://www.strategicintercession.org