Saturday, May 27, 2006

Our Standards

Some further times of sharing with others in the past, but speak loudly while it is yet called...Today!


"You will begin to see who you truly are in Christ and it will look nothing like what the world told you it should. You will never look the way they wanted you to. It will be all of his life and nothing of your efforts. You will never be that false image of what they said you should become."

I gleefully agree, adding, You will never be that false image of what YOU THINK you should become, either.

As grace believers, we're still tempted to do the same thing. We look at other believers and measure them up to our standards of what a gospel believing Christian should look like. But perhaps, just perhaps, their life of freedom will look differently than the freedom in Christ that you experience. Does that mean they're less free or does it confirm that fact that they're free to be exactly the person God has created them to be…?

'Measure them up to our standards of what a gospel believing Christian should look like.'

I’ve been thinking about what you referred to as ‘our standards’ and suggest the following:

The gospel of Christ eliminates any of "our standards". It has no bearing on the one Life that indwells all believers. I wonder if Paul was trying to "measure the believers up" to Paul’s standards? I don’t think so! The standard was Christ! He is the only standard. Because we are individuals uniquely expressing His life through our mortal bodies, we can’t help but look different.

Maybe the longing of Father God’s heart that seemed to be so evidently displayed in and through Paul was for each and every believer to be brought to a place of "knowing" all that was already theirs in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:16, 17, Ephesians 4: 13-16)

Was Paul seeing something (Someone) that others were not yet seeing, meaning the standard of Christ, not the standard of Paul? He knew that he could not impart this knowledge to other believers. There are six recorded times he prayed for the believers, that they would come to know, that the eyes of their hearts would be opened and flooded in the true knowledge of Him.

Of course our freedom just might look different, no two people being the same. Though the expression is different, what is revealed is Christ - the One who is our freedom – our standard – the same life in every believer!

The means whereby we have fellowship is based on that One Life that indwells believers, but to the degree that we see that Life as a Baptist Life, or a Pentecostal Life, or a Catholic Life will determine the depth of our fellowship or the lack thereof.

Is it possible to be a Christian yet not see that there’s only one life in the believer, and that it has nothing to do with a denominational bent/slant/belief system, wearing makeup or not, talking in tongues or not, black cars with no chrome, black cars with chrome…from the sublime to the ridiculous in terms of what we have measured in standards as what is ‘holy’?

Maybe like the song says, 'Holiness is Your Life in me', maybe my life is to BE a living extension of the Holy One?!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yes I Am Promoting a Gospel of Works!!

The following is some heart to heart exchanges made a few years back.


Yes, I Am Promoting a Gospel of Works!

I've met some Christians who would enjoy doing a study of good works, but not many. Most would rather visit their dentist for a root canal. There's a reason for that. Most Christians have never studied good works. All they've studied is their inability to perform them.

The fact that we've been struggling for so many years with competing answers only makes it clear that we haven't even begun to ask the right questions. It seems Christians should be experts when it comes to understanding good works and how they fit into the Christian life. Unfortunately, opinions vary so widely to suggest exactly the opposite. No, we don't understand good works very well at all.
Are good works required to please God so we can obtain his approval, blessings and protection? If so, which works, how many and how often?

Having received grace, are we now obligated to respond with good works, or should we expect good works to be a natural result of knowing we have received grace? If we think that the end purpose of grace was to perfect our performance, doesn't that kind of miss the whole point of grace?

We promise salvation by grace to new believers but then we demand good works as the fruit by which we discern genuine conversion. Justification by performance doesn't confirm that one has received grace--it is a denial of grace.

Christians have been trying to solve the problem of works for a long time but as Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Maybe we just aren't approaching the problem from the right perspective. The problem of works is hard to solve because we're thinking the same way we did when we created the problem. We are focused on our own self-centred performance. What we need to do is turn our man-centred view of works upside-down and begin to see things from God's perspective.

The really interesting thing about us and good works is neither us, nor the works themselves, but the fact that they are "good" works. The New Testament speaks of two different types of good works. God uses earthly rulers to bring about works that are a good "benefit". However, Christian works are presented very differently, using a form of the word that implies "beautiful" works. Christian works should be viewed not so much as labour or obligation, but more like creative works of art.

The reality of life in Christ is not about what you do, but who you are. You are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works (Eph 2:10). Your faith is not a measurement of good works vs. your bad works; it is a display of the work of Jesus Christ for his own name's sake. You aren't doing his works for him. You are his works of art displayed by him before all of heaven and earth as a testimony to his love (Eph 3:10, 11). You are the divine art gallery.

Now, focusing on the beauty of Christ in you, consider some of the New Testament passages regarding works: It is proper for those who profess Godliness to display good works (1Tim 2:10). Good works are obvious to all who see them and cannot be hidden (1Tim 5:25). God has made you rich in good works (1Tim 6:18). You are a pattern for the world to see and understand what good works truly are (Titus 2:7). Being redeemed and purified by God makes you zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Those who have believed should be careful not to lose sight of this knowledge, using it to meet the needs of others (Titus 3:8, 14). We are to stir one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24). And good works can even cause those who deride you for your faith to glorify God (1Pet 2:12).

So, yes, I am promoting a gospel of works but not the one you're used to. The next time you're tempted to think of good works in terms of the pass/fail scenario, turn your heart to remember the work of God's grace in you. Christ alone is qualified to live the Christian life and he alone is the source of all good Christian works. Good works are not burdensome efforts or a measure of performance; they are beautiful, creative works of art. God has done glorious things--and Baby, you're it!

* * * * *

For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship),
recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

I’m convinced that as a believer comes to experience the “true” knowledge of God’s love inwardly there is corresponding expression of it demonstrated outwardly.

Love being the full filment of the Law is a done deal carried out by only one man, the Man Christ Jesus on behalf of all men.
The reality of this finished perfect work was designed to be an imparting and impacting “knowing” within us that we have measured up because of what he has done.
We no longer have to prove ourselves, try to better ourselves. We can as we are recipients of this “true” knowledge of His love just “be”.
His Life is a life that not only worked the miracle of apprehending us but is the same Life working deep within to bring us to the place of “knowing” this all consuming stubborn love he has for us.
It is the same Life that will work out through us in a myriad of ways. The outer things that we do, work,s are but an expression of something far more significant.
Our conscience being purged from dead works, the love of God being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit etc. Wherever we go His life is dispersed from our being His children.

If in fact no matter how wonderful things were when Paul experienced the Life of God at work amongst the believers and it touching the lost, why was he being directed to pray even more so for these believers to come to an even greater knowledge of Him?

Ephesians 3
and to know
the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Monday, May 22, 2006

You need to temper your expressions, lest you become too exclusive

Church In Asia Minor

Committee on Missions
Paul the Apostle
c/o Aquila the Tentmaker
Corinth, Greece

Dear Paul:

We recently received a copy of your letter to the Galatians. The committee has directed me to inform you of a number of things which deeply concern us.
First, we find your language to be somewhat intemperate. In your letter, after a brief greeting to the Galatians, you immediately attack your opponents by claiming they want to “pervert the gospel of Christ.” You then say that such men should be regarded as “accursed”; and, in another place, you make reference to “false brethren.” Wouldn’t it be more charitable to give them the benefit of the doubt---at least until the general assembly has investigated and adjudicated the matter? To make the situation worse, you later say, “I could wish those who trouble you would even cut themselves off.” Is such a statement really fitting for a Christian minister? The remark seems quite harsh and unloving.
Paul, we really feel the need to caution you about the tone of your Epistles. You come across in an abrasive manner to many people. In some of your letters you’ve even mentioned names; and this practice has, no doubt, upset the friends of Hymenaeus, Alexander, and others. After all, many persons were first introduced to the Christian faith under the ministry of these men. Although some of our missionaries have manifested regrettable shortcomings, nevertheless, it can only stir up bad feelings when you speak of these men in a derogatory manner.
In other words, Paul, I believe you should strive for a more moderate posture in your ministry. Shouldn’t you try to win those who are in error by displaying a sweeter spirit? By now, you’ve probably alienated the Judaizers to the point that they will no longer listen to you.
By your outspokenness, you have also diminished your opportunities for future influences throughout the church as a whole. Rather, if you had worked more quietly, you might have been asked to serve on a presbytery committee appointed to study the issue. You then have contributed your insights by helping to draft a good committee paper on the theological position of the Judaizers, without having to drag personalities into the dispute.
Besides, Paul, we need to maintain unity among those who profess a belief in Christ.
The Judaizers at least stand with us as we confront the surrounding paganism and humanism which prevail within the culture of the contemporary Roman Empire. The Judaizers are our allies in our struggles against abortion, homosexuality, government tyranny, etc. We cannot afford to allow differences over doctrinal minutiae to obscure this important fact.
I also must mention that questions have been raised about the contents of your letter, as well as your style. The committee questions the propriety of the doctrinaire structure of your letter. Is it wise to plague your Christians, like the Galatians, with such heavy theological issues? For example, in a couple of places, you allude to the doctrine of election. You also enter into a lengthy discussion of the law.
Perhaps you could have proved your case in some other ways, without mentioning these complex and controverted points of Christianity. Your letter is so doctrinaire, it will probably serve only to polarize the differing factions within the churches. Again, we need to stress unity, instead of broaching issues which will accent divisions among us.
In one place, you wrote, “Indeed I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” Paul, you have a tendency to describe things strictly in black and white terms, as if there are no gray areas. You need to temper your expressions, lest you become too exclusive. Otherwise, your outlook will drive away many people, and make visitors feel unwelcome. Church growth is not promoted by taking such a hard line and remaining inflexible.
Remember, Paul, there is no such thing as a perfect church. We have to tolerate many imperfections in the church, since we cannot expect to have everything at once. If you will simply think back over your own experience, you will recall how you formerly harassed the church in your times of ignorance. By reflecting on your own past, you might acquire a more sympathetic attitude toward the Judaizers. Be patient, and give them some time to come around to a better understanding. In the meantime, rejoice that we all share a common profession of faith in Christ, since we have all been baptized in his name.


Charles Phinney
Coordinator, Committee on Missions.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Opening the eyes of the heart

Being Soldiers

By Lynette Woods

Another great thought to consider/ponder!


While many of us may see the parallels of religion with being in bondage, there are other bondages that we may still need freedom from including self-righteousness and bondage to Self. Even when we have been freed from religion, our own laws and opinions can still blind and bind us just as much as religion because we can very quickly and easily make a whole new set of laws which we feel we must fulfil in order to please God. Our freedom and liberty are very, very precious. They are also very, very costly. True freedom can be quite frightening because we must relinquish control in order to be free. Control makes us feel secure. Rules, regulations and laws make us think we are doing fine when all along, Self is still on the throne of our lives. Simply trusting God can initially make us feel very uncomfortable and insecure because we must truly trust Another...

Our enemy often feeds us the exact same lie: that we cannot survive by trusting God alone! "If you no longer follow these rules and do this or that and no longer go here or there, you will not get fed, you will be alone, you will not be protected. Escape is impossible. You would die." And the result of this lie is that many people are limited and bound by fear instead of being released to live by faith in trusting a Father Who is more than able to take care of His own children!

May He give us the Grace and Ability to escape the many things which bind and blind us by opening the eyes of our hearts to see ourselves for what we are, and to see Him as All that He is!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Warefare....but not as we've known it

An excellent article dealing with warfare by Lynette Woods....Warefare....but not as we've known it


"What is often referred to as "spiritual warfare" in this day and age usually amounts to nothing more than religious flesh; it loudly assails an enemy who is ALREADY defeated (but doesn't want us to know it) while ignoring the enemy within: us and our flesh - in particular, our religious flesh which delights in the illusion of having power and in doing things and being seen to be doing things. This so called "spiritual warfare" seems to be more motivated by preservation of self and fear of our enemy than by trust and faith in our Victory who is Christ! We have NOT been given a spirit of fear yet the way some people speak sounds as though they think satan is in control and not God and they are in fear of him; but God desires us to know HIM and to not be deceived by the many illusions that the deceiver uses to distract and intimidate us."

Also, some wonderful connecting over at the God Journey forum dealing with the same subject matter and much more!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Religion or Life

If familiarity breeds contempt, could that be one of the main reasons those with religious mind sets were the ones who opposed Paul and his message the most?

Words are very often synonymous with meanings that are totally askew. Paul sharing the Message of life in Christ was not going to be confined to a place, meeting or time. Right from the start Paul was testifying of a Person-Life, not an institutional setting to meet or connect with God.