Thursday, June 25, 2009

Speaking of Weed Trees

I was talking with someone today who was sharing real victories concerning understanding the truth of the gospel, our union with Christ and specifically how "the New Man is not just the Old Man repressed. " After we talked for a bit they said, "I understand it, I believe it, but how do I get this to work in my day-to-day life?" On the spur of the moment I explained that it was less like a formula or checking off a "to do list" and more like breathing in and out. Out of the state of union with Christ, we as brand new creatures breathe in His nature and breathe it out as our character. It was a sincere and honest question, one that has had me in reflection mode ever since.

The issue is control. Who is in control here? I am amazed at how much the Lord wants us to let go of control, to let go of our agenda for Him in our lives. Even when it comes to the expression of the full character of the New Nature we are still not in control! Often I think that when we look at our lives our perspective is different than the Lord's. His priorities for us differ from ours, or at least His time table for "addressing what when". I find that often He has an indirect holistic approach to life - when we just want an answer NOW!

I've been doing a lot of gardening this summer. I have also been passing along these skills to my fourteen year old son. He is learning to identify weeds and "friendly plants" from their leaves, long before they bloom or seed, and I am teaching him to deal with weeds. Last year the concept of not just "snapping the weed off" but getting out the full root was lost on him. Hence the weeds were a continual problem. This year he is more mature, and ready to deal with the weeds in a different way. Sometimes that's the way I think we treat the Lord. We want this weed out NOW! Whether its an answer to a question, a financial or physical miracle or a change in our character. We find ourselves praying prayers like, "I NEED MORE PATIENCE NOW! Why am I still struggling with all this anxiety if I'm a new creation? Why? Why? WHY? Am I doing something wrong???!!! What do I do? What? what? why? what?"

The Lord, in response waters us and says feed your mind, and soul on the truth. "But what about the weed, Lord??" we fixate, "Can't we just snap it off? Wouldn't that be easier? faster?" But He says, "No, marinate your mind and emotions in this, just believe it, breathe it in" . . .
. . .that you have put off once for all with reference to your former manner of life the old self who is being corrupted according to the passionate desires of deceit; moreover, that you are being constantly renewed with reference to the spirit of your mind; and that you have put on once for all the new self who after God was created in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph. 4:22-24 Wuest)

You died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3, NIV)

How can meditating and praying into, breathing in, receiving a truth change our character in the day to day? How can it cause us to lose our temper less? to have less anxiety? As we focus on the truth, trust that what Jesus did was effective, simply believe --- even if the "whoosh" doesn't come in that moment and we are still dealing with knots in the stomach, or the fact that we've lost it once again with a defiant toddler or teenager, somehow all on its own the gospel is working. Believe that God with His own energy is working inside us, changing us. That the gospel is effective in dealing with the sin of the Old Man, completely, perfectly. As we focus here it is like the rain (or the sprinkler) softening the ground all around the problem weed. Suddenly while focusing on the truth we find that the weed is gone. We look back and say, "Wow, I'm different than I used to be. I no longer feel pressure to perform and so the anxiety has lost its grip, and is simply not an issue." Or we begin to see the full picture of what's happening in our children, receiving God's insight into their development, receiving His authority and confidence and so we no longer lose our temper, but walk in true authority.

When we cooperate with God in His process those weeds that we were obsessed about are gone! It feels so natural to act as the New Creation --- and it is! It is who we are. We find that we are now believing in the One whom God has sent --- believing that the work of the Cross was effective, and its now penetrating all levels of our personalities, family systems and circumstances. We are just not in control of how, when and where the breakthrough comes. But surely as the sun rises it will come!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Take to Yourself the Full Regalia of God

I am astonished that you are hastily shifting like this, deserting Him, who called you by Christ's grace and coming over to another gospel. It simply means that certain individuals are unsettling you they want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Gal. 1:6-7, Moffat)

Sometime this week while exploring my union with Christ I began to feel like I was nothing. It was awful. It was as though a cloud of distortion had settled over me, confusing me into thinking that becoming one with Christ, loosing my life in Him meant that I was completely obliterated. Wait a minute! I kept saying, "Something is not right here!" But it was difficult to find my way through because religious voices kept saying, "You died and your life is hidden . . . " so hidden they implied that you ceased to matter, count, or have a personality. . . . you've lost your personhood they continued. . . . you've completely ceased to exist. . . .

What rot! But it completely ruined my morning! How can I love and serve God if I don't matter, count, exist? Certain individuals (in this instance - demons) were trying to unsettle me, trying to distort the gospel of Christ. The nerve! About this time Pete and I sat down for a cup of coffee and I shared the thoughts and feelings that were going through my head and heart. I said, "I'm having a hard time sorting this out. I just need a scrap of truth. Got something?" Sometimes that's all we need is a shard of truth to cut through the enemy's nonsense. He shared with me what he had been meditating on that very morning:
**Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:13, RSV)
**Therefore take ye the armour of God, that ye be able to against-stand in the evil day; and in all things stand perfect. (Eph. 6:13, Wycliffe)
**For this reason take [to you] the panoply of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having accomplished all things, to stand. (Eph. 6:13, Darby)

Take to myself the panoply of God????? This is the answer to warfare? What is the panoply of God? What is a panoply period?
Panoply defined:a complete and impressive array; a complete suit of armor; a full, magnificent, splendid, radiant or striking array; something forming a protective covering; turnout, attire, garb, insignia, regalia, raiment; splendid or radiant display.

WOW! So rather than becoming nothing, rather than being obliterated, I have become one with the King of the universe! I am now charged to take to myself, to ingest, to breathe in, to let emerge from our oneness the FULL COMPLETE RADIANT PANOPLY, the MAJESTIC REGALIA, STRENGTH OF GOD! Ha! Take that distortion! Take that oblivion!

Jesus, today as I work with my sons in my backyard be glorifed! Let it be like Eden where You clothed Adam & Eve with radiance. Clothe me, cover me, surround inside and out with the fullness of Your radiant strength, the complete majestic regalia of YOU! You are awesome! Your work finished and effective! I walk with You. I garden with you. I teach my sons horticulture and landscaping with You. I'm one with You. How glorious! Even if I'm just hauling dirt around in my backyard. Hey, angel alert on Ravenscroft, perhaps people will get a glimpse of the Living God!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

LIfe-changing translation of Luke 9:23

Here are the results of my father Dave Dresser's study of Luke 9:23 in the Greek.   He ends up with a translation of this verse that is so powerful and capturing the essence of who we are and how the Holy Spirit is leading us to live. Enjoy and be transformed!  -- Pete Dresser

Luke 9:23  If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (New International Version) 


  • Jesus' true identity has just been revealed to Peter: He is the Jewish Messiah, the Son of the living God
  • Jesus immediately tells his disciples He must be crucified and will rise the third day
  • It is in amplification of this fact that Jesus gives the above quoted instructions (Luke 9:23)

A look at the Greek

ελγεν δε προσ παντοσ 

  • Translation: he said and    to all        

Ει τισ θελει οπισω μου ελθειν, απαρνησασθω εαυτον και αρατω  

  • Translation: if anyone would after me to come, he must  deny himself  and  take up  
τον σταυρον αυτου καθ ημεραν, και ακολουθειτω μου

  • Translation:   the cross of him  daily  and  follow  me

θελει (thel-lay)

  • Person - 3rd person singular = anyone
  • Tense - Present = continuously, habitually
  • Voice - Active = sbject acts
  • Mood - Indicative = normal action
  • Meaning - θελεω "to be resolved, to determine, to purpose"
  • Translation - "If any one is continuously determined ..." 
οπισω μου  
  • of time, to make your appearance (publicly) subsequent to (as a preposition with the genetive case )
  • Jesus speaking to his disciples of a truth applicable not only to them but also to those whom they would teach  
  • Translation:  "If anyone is continuously determined to make his appearance publicly as my disciple after my death ..." 

  • Person - 3rd person singular = anyone
  • Tense - aorist = once for all
  • Voice - middle = subject acts on himself
  • Mood - imperative = a command, it is essential
  • Meaning -  απαρνεομαι "to affirm no one has connection 
  • Translation - "It is essential he affirms once for all no connection with his old self" 

  • Person - 3rd person singular = he
  • Tense - aorist = once for all, completed action
  • Voice - active =  the subject acts
  • Mood - imperative = command, it is essential
  • Meaning - "to take upon ones self"
  • Translation - "he must (it is essential) take to himself ... ' 
τον σταυροϖ αυτου καθ ημαιραν 

  • Translation:  "his cross throughout the day"  From the context it is obvious Jesus is referring to their connection with his cross which he has just announced.  Jesus understood that connection which he later revealed to Paul but he could only prepare his disciples at this time by saying they had a cross.  They would discover later that their cross was His cross.  Future disciples were instructed by Paul in his letters.  
  • The preposition with the word for "day" indicates "throughout the day" 
και ακολουθειτω μου 

  • Person - 3rd person singular = anyone, he
  • Tense - present = continuous action
  • Voice - active = subject acts
  • Mood - imperative = command, it is essential
  • Meaning - To cleave steadfastly
  • Translation "he must continuously cleave steadfastly to me"
Complete translation of Luke 9:23  
If anyone is determined to come forward publicly as my disciple after my death, he must once for all affirm no connection with his old self, and he must take to himself once for all his identity with my cross throughout the day and continuously cleave steadfastly to me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shouting from Rooftops

Last week, God brought a verse from Matthew 10 up to me. It's been rolling around in my spirit ever since.

"What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” Matthew 10:27 (Amplified Bible)

What does He want me to proclaim from the rooftops? What is He whispering to me in my ear in the darkness or the night seasons?--The Gospel.

I read through Matthew 10 again, and a great scene from the Matthew Visual Bible Movie played through my memory. Here in the movie, Jesus is instructing the 12 disciples in their first evangelism trip out in the world. His instructions are so amazing. . . don't bring food. don't bring your wallet. don't worry about what you are going to say. don't even bring extra underwear!?

Was Jesus implying that the Gospel and it's ministry is under the covering of Total Dependence? Sounds like it to me! Here in Matthew 10, Jesus is instructing the 12 to go out and tell everyone that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and here is what it is going to look like: heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead, cast out demons. Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is going to look like “THIS”: All things coming together and Life that is in Heaven coming to earth. The Kingdom of God is going to have THIS kind of impact through those that speak from a place/state of oneness with Him.

I love this verse from Matthew 10:32 in the Amplified Version:

“Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will also acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and confess [that I am abiding in] him."

Do you ever suppose that the disciples experienced conflict in their identifying with Jesus? I guess I had always romanticized their experience in dropping everything they ever known to follow Him. They didn’t know who He was in completion. They hadn’t read the New Testament yet like I have. Why would I think they didn’t grapple with leaving their old life behind. Giving way to heaven’s perspective on life instead of the world’s. Letting go of pleasing parent’s expectations. Giving up on being “Normal” according to the world’s understanding. Allowing God Himself to take his Holy scalpel and cut them away from the world’s financial physics. God defies time and space with His will. He created it. He can cause a dead man to sit up and go back to taking care of his family and he can cause a coin to come from the fish’s mouth. The Gospel deals diligently with all these things, these inner conflicts of the mind and outward pressure of the culture, until the one communicating it [The Gospel] is a living example of the Kingdom.

I’ve been grappling lately with provision. Not just provision for groceries, or a bill. I’m planning to go to China in the fall. I’m not going to make friends with a foreign culture, or finally get together with pen pals, or do something kind--like build an orphanage. I’m just planning to go and preach the Gospel to people who want to hear it.

I’ve been questioning my “responsible role” in my family’s income to spend several thousand dollars on a trip to share The Message to a small group of people. And I have been asking God’s perspective on this. I have been crying out for God to just give me a word. Just a word. Then I will know I am supposed to go and I know provision will follow.

So what answer did God have for me? It dawned on me this morning as I began digging into Matthew 10:27 again in a few translations.

"What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!" (NLT)

"Don't be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don't hesitate to go public now." (Message)

"That which I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light, and that which you hear at the ear, proclaim on the house-tops." (YLT)

I read through this verse this morning in the translations I listed above. And now I feel fresh fire boiling inside of my spirit and an awareness of a deep conviction for the Gospel. Jesus sent out the 12 that day, as recorded here in Matthew 10, and he gave them instructions. These instructions not only defined what they were to do, the importance of their mission, and the scope of their mission, He actually spelled out how dependence on Him would be a key in experiencing Oneness as they went out to preach The Good News to the poor. What I am seeing, is a group of men who were sent out to release the impossible…..the very Kingdom of Heaven…into the earth realm, but within the context of a life that demonstrates Oneness with Jesus Christ as well.

When I married my husband, I left my family and cleaved to my husband. I left my family name. I left my family’s household, fridge, and cupboards. I left my dad’s checkbook. I left my household rules. I left my old life and my old room there. I no longer return to that house the same as I left. Now I identify with my husband. We have a new life in a new land and a different house in which to live. This is my life now. I am identified with Tony Williams now. I am legally named Mrs. Tony Williams.

These men, the 12 disciples, were learning about oneness through trust and demonstration as they were sent out to share the Message and Purpose for Jesus coming to earth. “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! And here is what it is going to look like. … ..the sick made well, dead raised, demons gone, lepers cleansed.” Jesus was on a mission to alert the world that their Messiah had come. That the Kingdom of Heaven was so close to them they could reach out and touch it. He wanted the disciples to be one with Him in that mission; therefore, total dependence on Him was necessary. They had to walk in a state of oneness in identification with the One the Father sent. They had to identify with Jesus Christ. ….even if persecuted, even if rejected, even if they were living against the flow and the norm of culture. Otherwise, they would hold tight to their abilities, their own methods of income, their own persuasive tactics in communication, their own band-aids for helping the hurting. To cling to independence and still try to communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom is double-mindedness and it simply doesn’t work.

I feel such a strong conviction today, as I read through Matthew 10. I feel so connected with the 12 disciples even where I sit today. I feel like I’m standing in the group, robes and all. Standing on a precipice again, way out there on the edge, and Jesus is getting me ready to believe in the One God has sent all over again . Allowing me to experience the death of the Cross in how I live out life here this world--this world system that goes against everything the Kingdom represents. This death is thrilling and scary. No extra tunic? No purse? No extra pair of underwear? This IS a narrow road and yet it cuts deep and wide in my consciousness. It wants to undo patterns of thinking oriented to the world’s methods. It will only produce deeper dependence on the One living inside of me, so that His life in me will produce life in others. The Kingdom of Heaven at their hand, just waiting to live inside of them.

Jesus Himself revealed His Gospel to me. The perfect, effective, and mighty work of the Cross. This Gospel, revelation upon revelation, is fire in my bones. I can’t help but shout it from the roof top of my life. It is more important than the money I make. It takes precedence over all things. It is why Jesus broke into the time continuum to reconcile us to the God of the Universe. And now I am feeling faith to believe that God really does not only desire us to go and shout about the Gospel in China. He wants to provide for it. It’s part of the mission. Oneness revealed through dependence, Jesus living his life through us and His Kingdom Comes. It HAS to look different than what the world can produce.

The best part about all of this is that I’m not just a disciple walking around in a group with Jesus on a dusty road outside of Jerusalem, waiting to understand how Jesus would become King. Because He has revealed to me that I died with Him on the Cross, because I experienced His burial, because I now live in the power of our resurrection together, I get to live out my life with Christ IN me. I am ONE with the Kingdom of God. It HAS come. It’s not just at hand anymore. It’s in my DNA. Wow. That’s something to shout from the roof top.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thinking Differently

I have been meditating on and challenged by Pastor’s Lisa’s recent message to us regarding our definition of success and letting go of a worldly point of view. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for these revelations to “settle-in” on me, as I grapple with these truths and ask the Lord to make these truths my own personal encounter with revelation.

I was reading in Mark 10: 32-45 recently where Jesus again tells his disciples what kind of death he is about to endure. There is no indication in the scriptures as to whether the disciples understood what He was telling them, but James and John immediately afterwards start asking Jesus whether they can sit on His right and left hand in glory. They are not conversing about the death of their beloved master that he has just told them about.
Jesus replies with this question and statement:

Mark 10: 38 “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

Mark 10: 39 “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with”

Jesus indicates to them that the original question they had been asking was the wrong one! They were all concerned with their own self (the “I”) and how their success was to be defined. Jesus redirects them to the Plan, the plan that was from the beginning, before time began. The Plan was that we would drink His cup and receive His baptism. The Plan was that we would be partakers of this death and resurrection. It is this that defines our success! Our success is defined by our engagement, consumption and absorption of, yes obsession with, the death and resurrection of Christ and our union with Him. This is such an “other-worldly” point of view and demands that we think differently about our daily lives.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ruining what's already ruined...

It’s amazing how the Cross really affects every part of our lives. Yesterday at our staff prayer meeting we were talking about how the Cross just takes over your life. It’s so true! But if you don’t have eyes of faith, it can seem like the Cross is ruining your life. This is because God has to lead us down paths of undoing old ideas and belief systems in order to reveal to us new truths based on His Kingdom and our New Creation selves. Unfortunately, this undoing can be painful and sometimes when the Cross is taking over your life, it feels like everything is getting ruined. But the truth is, that which we perceive God as ruining was already ruined. We were ruined because of the Fall and Jesus came to make it right. Through the Cross God is undoing our being ruined. God is ruining us being ruined! Ha! Two negatives make a positive right!?!

"by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" - Hebrews 10:14

Monday, June 8, 2009

The State of my Union

Last Wed., during worship service, God asked me a great question: "What is the State in which you live?"
"Now, of course," I thought, "I reside in Michigan!"
I then began to think about the State of Michigan. It is a famous state in the world right now, for many reasons of economic challenges. It was noted several times during the last Presidential Election for it's financial struggles and housing market. I remember being amazed at seeing a clip of people gathered in a tent in a remote area of Africa, watching the U.S. election and hearing about the economic problems in Michigan. The whole world is watching the State of Michigan. And here we are, right in the thick of it. In fact, we relocated our family right here, smack-dab in Detroit, right when the market got really interesting.

Tony and I live and work and raise and educate our children in Detroit, Michigan, and can't help but see how the economy is effecting the people around us; You can't help but hear it on the news, or see it in the foreclosure listings, or "For Sale" signs littered all over our neighborhoods; HOWEVER, Michigan is not the State in which we and our children Live and Move and have our Being. Oh no! Quite the contrary! As I mediated on this question during the worship service--"What is the State in which you live?"-- The Holy Spirit answered with a statement that filled me with hope and the Right perspective. Christ's perspective. He answered this question through experiential revelation.

My spiritual senses suddenly became aware of my Union with Christ.I felt the very covering of my Life in Christ surrounding me in an impenetrable force-field of Holiness.

Remember Colossians 3:3? "For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new,real] life is hidden with Christ in God." (AMP) Do you see it? This "State" in which I live is so much more important than the residential location of my house and it is more real than the sidewalk on which I stand. It's effectiveness is far more reaching than the heavens. This is literally Christ, who is my LIFE, appearing, so that I can be with Him in His Glory. (Colossians 3:4 my paraphrase)

This statement immediately began setting my mind and re-orienting my emotions in The peace of Christ's perspective. It is what has held me together through this week of my husband looking for work and wondering about the future. This experience gave me something very solid and trustworthy to cling to in the midst of a Michigan that has its ear to a negative report on the 'state of their union'.

God whispered this revelation to me during the worship service to set my mind on what is above--on what is going on in His neighborhood-- NOT on the things that are on the earth. "For I have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead,] and [He wants me] to aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:3,AMP My paraphrase in italics)

Before this service, Ryan Fleutch had just challenged us all to prophesy Truth about our lives in this State of Michigan. In the midst of all this, I heard Jesus say to me, "Prophesy about the State of your Union with Me". .. ..from Isaiah Chapter 9:

Chapter 9:2 (AMP) "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the land of intense darkness and the shadow of death, upon them has the Light shined. You [O Lord] have multiplied the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You like the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil [of battle]. For the yoke of burden, and staff or rod of their oppressor You have broken as in the day of Midian. .. . .. . .

vs. 6 (my paraphrase) For to Me, Melissa, Jesus was born! To ME, God gave His Son. And the government of all in my life and my surroundings shall always and in all circumstances be upon His shoulders. And I, inheriting all through our Holy death together, our Burial together, and our Glorious Resurrection as One, have the right to call on His name as. . . MY Wonderful Counselor, my Mighty God, my Everlasting Father [of Eternity], my Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government on and in my life and everything around me and the peace of my existence in Him there shall be no end. . . "

So, My God and Father of Eternity, through Your Son's Death, You have accomplished an inseparable Union for me with Jesus, that can never again be penetrated by the World and its darkness. Not even the rumors of darkness. For I have seen and experienced This Light. Thank you God, for the State of My Union with You. My life is now hidden in Yours. And you have the eternal last Word, because there is no end to You.

"Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Ministry of Reconciliation

I was talking to my friend the other day and the Spirit just got me preachin’ to him about preaching the Gospel! As Pastor Pete has said so many times, it is the ONLY message we’re supposed to preach!

“What!?!?! How can this be? Surely there are other things that God wants us to talk about!?!?”

Nope. Not really!

“What about the end times? What about worship? What about love? What about being a Proverbs 31 woman? What about the Psalms? What about spiritual gifts? What about serving the poor?”

Those things are great! And they’re quite important. But if we preach those things apart from the Message of the Cross, then those things are just things and our preaching about those things is incomplete and lacks power. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power” (I Cor. 4:20) and again, “For the Message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18).

The Cross of Christ pertains to every aspect of life. It must! My good friend Ryan Fluetsch just said to me today, “The Cross applies to everything or nothing at all”. Wow. But yes, the Cross does apply to everything, which is why Paul said in I Corinthians 2:2, “I resolved to know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified while I was with you”. That means the death and resurrection of Jesus can be applied to and experienced in every aspect of our lives. The good, the bad, the ugly, the mundane and also the beautiful! The other night we had a meeting for the Audio/Video team for our church and our worship pastor gave a message about the Cross and how it applies to audio and video. What!?!? How?!?! Huh!?!? What does the Cross have to do with that stuff?!? What foolishness it is to think that the Cross could apply to that area of church and life! And if you are of the world, if you are thinking out of your old dead man, then it is foolishness. But to us who are being saved, the Cross is the power of God! Indeed, the Cross is what powers the Audio/Video team at MDCC!

Anyways, I was talking to my friend and I took him to 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, which is perhaps one of my favorite passages of the Bible. It talks about how God has given us the “ministry of reconciliation”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard that preached/taught a few different ways. One time someone taught me that this passage talked about how we’re supposed to love and forgive each other and that we’re to encourage love and forgiveness amongst each other. “The ministry of reconciliation is to forgive freely and promote forgiveness amongst each other.” That is true on many levels, but that is not really what this passage is talking about. This passage is talking about the GOSPEL!!! It’s talking about being reconciled with God, because HE RECONCILED HIMSELF TO US OUT OF HIS OWN WILL AND ACCORD! This passage is talking about forgiveness yes, but it’s talking about God’s forgiveness to everyone and just exactly how God forgave: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). To be an ambassador of Christ, to be a minister of reconciliation, is to preach the Gospel! THERE IS ONE MESSAGE!

Apart from preaching Christ and Him crucified you just have topics and Christian-themed world philosophies, all of which lack the power of God. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, but more often than not I hear them preaching on topics and subjects that are viewed as relevant to society and those coming to their church. To be sure, they insert some Christian themes like love, worship, integrity and maybe the Cross. But the Cross AIN’T NO THEME! It is what we’re to preach. I remember being in Bible college and my teacher saying, “Preach what Scripture says. Don’t preach on a topic and try to apply Scripture to it.” WOW. I didn’t realize how powerful a statement that was until now. We’re basically being lazy when we pick a topic and try to apply Scripture to it. Man, that whole viewpoint is just whacky. Scripture is not to be applied to a topic, Scripture is to be the source of inspiration, not a support for whatever you can come up with. And of course, all Scripture is pointing to Christ and Him crucified!

This is my rant for today (even though I started this on 6/3). Amen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Believing - What's the Formula?

I've been thinking a lot about the questions posted by "Anonymous" to my last post. They were great questions. What is "believing"? How does it work? How is what I'm saying different than what I heard from the Faith Teaching years ago? YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH! Just use your faith! Here are more of my thoughts, and a scripture that I've been meditating on regarding these questions:
. . . declaring the purpose which He had from the beginning, and that which He intended before all time, and His infinitely powerful and capable wisdom in ordaining these things in Christ Jesus our Lord, for it is in Him that we speak so boldly and clearly, it is in Him that we are ever drawing nearer to God with such perfect confidence and faith . . . (Ephesians 3 St. Paul from the Trenches)

"Believing in the One whom God has sent" implies so much! (see last post: The Work of the New Creation) Its not a formula. Example: I'll just keep saying "My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory . . . " until my anxiety subsides. Its not mind "retraining" or "behavior modification" ---- its so much deeper.

The crux of the matter is entering in. If I believe that Jesus was the Messiah, my sins were completely forever removed, I stand righteous and holy in God's eyes, that I in fact DIED with Christ, becoming one with Him on the Cross, was buried and raised up with Him --- forever one, joined to the Lord, one spirit with Him then believing is NOT a formula. Believing is not an act of "thought replacement with scripture". Its going inward to our place of union and being still. Its knowing that He is God. It's knowing Him. Listening. Watching. Abiding. Feasting. Believing is not static, its relational and experiential. To believe that I've been made one with Him and not enter in, not enjoy, not explore Him - is NOT believing. Rather it's some form of mental assent to an abstract philosophical concept. Believing IS KNOWING on a moment by moment basis.

Oh, come on! Is that even possible? You might ask. That sounds like "pie in the sky". Get real. That's what I would have thought even a year ago. Oh! But its true! Jesus is offering and invitation to know Him much more closely that we've experienced. To know Him like John who laid his head on Jesus' chest. When I am hearing the Lord's heartbeat - believing is not hard work at all.

I am not describing cultural Christianity. No, the door is open for all who will enter in. Those who through identification with His death will lose their life to find Him. Knowing Him - truly, in reality, for real is life eternal! What a joy! What a privilege!

Dive Deep into the place of oneness, don't pull away. Don't disconnect. Lay your head on His chest. Take Him up on His invitation to come closer. Lay down your independence, your "I central" life, and come close to your Lord. Knowing Him here equals believing. There is no fear when you can sense His breath.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Letting Go of a Human Point of View

From now on therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (RSV)

You, however were deprived of life, involved in transgressions and contradiction of His laws, in sins and errors, living merely as members of an age, a universe not under God, but under a power working invisibly in the air as a ruler of the world by means of a spirit, a leaven that handles the minds and souls of those who exist in disobedience. in this condition which you shared with the rest of the blind world, a condition to which are attached all the desires of the flesh, motions of the will, and of thoughts belonging not to the children of God, but to children of the wrath of God, denizens (def: inhabitants) of a misbegotten state --- in such a condition the charity and kindness of God which abound beyond all measure, making continual proof of the compassion and mercy that flow from Him, saved you and me from this death, this subjection to sin. The Christ who reigns so gloriously above all that is averse from him, he gave us life -- for giving is his law, and by a gift we live. (Ephesians 2, St. Paul from the Trenches)

Today, as I face my circumstances, I am challenged again to not view them from a human point of view. but to view them from the alternate universe of the New Creation. Yes, I said, alternate universe. I am no longer orienting my senses to the physical universe of the Old Order, the Old Creation. I have been translated into a brand new universe. I am looking at my life through the lense of believing that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Jesus was sent into the world by the Father on a mission. He accomplished that mission --- and it WAS EFFECTIVE!

When Jesus hung on the Cross he drew me into himself. We became one, as he absorbed my sinful, self-central life into his own. In this act we were both forever altered. We were permanently united in death and resurrection. Now from this place inside Him, my life is Christ-central. The blessing that is on Him permeates my existence. This blessing affects everything. Its "infinite and far reaching, beyond the bounds of all mortal vision" and this blessing is now working overtime to bring every single detail of my life into complete subjection to His rulership --- to the perfection of heaven's purpose on earth. So, that's how I am. I am coming into complete alignment with Christ, every detail, every circumstance, every relationship, every dollar, every day.

Believing is now what I do - its my job, my work as a New Creation. So, how's your job going these days?