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Exposed

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I have, at least in my opinion, have had a rather unique weakness, and that is the ability to be transparent about certain perspectives of my life. Most people that know me personally, and have had some interaction with me, know that I have a hard time “faking” certain things. I have often found it very difficult in life to pretend all is well when in actuality things are in disarray. Especially being a “minister” or “preacher” there is this sometimes silent code that “men and women” of the cloth are supposed to adhere to when it comes to the struggles they face personally. We are supposed to show this “perfect” image of ourselves even when we know deep down inside everything is far from perfection!

After years of contemplation about this, I’ve decided to go ahead and share my story! For those that may know me personally, a lot of the content in this book will be shocking, and you may be a bit surprised with some of the information I will be sharing, but after coming to some conclusions in life, I felt you all would be ok!

There seriously comes a time in your life when you don’t mind the ridicule for the rewards!
It is a challenge and risk to tell it! A challenge because I am going to expose ME, and that is the risk of it as well….EXPOSURE. You know that thing that we are at times most uncomfortable with, especially when it involves ourselves. There is often this inner excitement and joy we feel when others that we may not be too fond of our ousted! When the dirty, juicy gossip that happens to be true is revealed, within all of us, at times, is the inner smirk we have knowing they “got what was coming”. However, when the tails are turned, there is a fear, and anxiety that goes beyond our comprehension for the mere fact of what may be revealed. Sweaty palms, heart palpitations, increased nervousness, are all a part of this stare down with exposure.
There are some exposures, however, that are necessary! Exposure that not only brings a sigh of relief because it is out in the open, but also an exposure that causes others to be free from issues buried within the depths of their lives that they were merely waiting on someone else to expose it first! There are so many people that after reading this book, will not feel so bad about the experiences that they have encountered along the way simply because someone else has made a bold move to expose themselves. So many people, both men and women, are faced with things from the past that have caused them to make a cocoon that they have found comfort in and are content in remaining in that place as long as they can.

I too, was that person!
For nearly half of my life, my time was spent inside this cocoon of embarrassment, shame, and confusion. Hopeful, but I was conditioned by my environment to feel hopeless and a failure. I had no one to talk to, for those who I felt I could talk to only belittled me to the point that I knew I could not tell my story and my struggle to. The sad reality, these were “church folks”. If anyone could help me through it, if anyone could usher me from my struggles to a place of freedom, surely the people who claimed so much power and potential with God could help a young man deal with the molestation and the turmoil it had caused in his life? In the words of the lyrics from “Nobody Greater Than You”, by Kevin Lemmonds, “I searched all over, couldn’t find nobody, I searched high and low, still couldn’t find nobody”. That’s exactly what I said, NOBODY, for it was not in a person! No man, no woman, no prophet, apostle, bishop, teacher, evangelist, or pastor for the matter couldn’t help me with me! It was when I found a connection with HIM, that things began to completely turn for me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have any struggles or issues as I continue to walk in my freedom, it means now, I know that He’s got me!
Journey with me as I reveal that “weakness” of a transparent life that has not only become my strength, but my testimony as well! For those again that know me personally, this book will show a side of me that will probably cause you to look at me in a different light. Trust me when I say, it is a concern, but for the benefit of those, who like me, have spent years in “hiding”, it is worth every story, every embarrassing moment, every set back, and every defeat, so that those who flip through the pages of this book may be blessed! Wherever you are and whoever you are, at this moment, I want you to know there is no reason to feel as if this addiction is beyond the hand of God! God knows how to use anything and everything in our lives not only for His good, but for ours as well. If you are ready to take the first step, He has already taken the last! What are you waiting on? You know you want to be free!

Innocent Eyes Gone Bad (Part 2)

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We all had been raised up in Sunday School and church.  We had a grandmother that was strong in faith and a disciplinarian as well as teacher of right and wrong.  Our parents taught us right from wrong, but there was something about this magazine that was pulling me to keep it.  I wrestled for just a moment on whether to leave it or keep it, and the good that I would, I didn’t do, and I picked up the magazine and quickly hid in behind the seat in my dad’s truck.  My brother and cousin knew that I had it, but the trick would be how I get it in the house past my mother!  My mom is like Sherlock Holmes, Matlock, and Perry Mason combined!  If I would get caught, it would definitely be by here and not my dad.  The thrill of having this magazine in my possession outweighed everything bad that I could imagine happening to me.  I could care less about a punishment!  I didn’t care about getting caught!  I had found something that had awakened something in me that I would later find would be one of the hardest things to put back to rest!

I could not tell you how long I was able to keep the magazine hid in my room.  To this date, I don’t know if my mother or father ever saw it, and I can only assume that they didn’t.  As I stated earlier, my mother was sharp, and it was almost impossible to get anything past her.  My mom would have laid the magazine on top of my bed and gave me the biggest lashing had she found it, so I will just put that one “get away” in my corner.  Oops, I guess she knows again huh?  I cannot tell you when I discarded the magazine, but I do know that on occasions, just as many young boys do, we would pull it out and get our thrills.
Never would I have imagined a nude magazine, would produce a lifetime of pain, sorrow, and struggles. Of course at eight years old, I could not see what would happen in the future.  Had I known then, what I know now, I would have left the Playboy magazine at Paper Stock Dealers Incorporated in North Little Rock, Arkansas and eliminated a series of strongholds and struggles that with last what seems to be an eternity.  The adrenaline rush that I received knowing that there was a dirty magazine in my room, outweighed all of the teaching that I have received as a child. I can still recall my brother and I closing the door one of us making sure that coast was clear, and that our mother was nowhere to be found.  There is something about sin that does in fact read about a sincere pleasure if we are honest enough to admit it.  There is a psychological rush that occurs whenever we find ourselves faced with those things that we the most pleasure to us.   Far too often, as believers, we have painted the incorrect picture of sin to the world.  Of course we know as redeemed believers, that sin, in the end, can have and will have damning consequences in our lives.  However, we often forget how much fun sin was before we came into the knowledge of Christ.  At the time, being eight years old, the pleasure of looking at the naked bodies of women, mind you grown women, far outweighed the thought of any punishment whatsoever.  No wonder James in his epistle writes, “let every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust” James 1:14.  Of course this Scripture meant nothing to me at eight years old.  Now that I look back, I can see that even at such an early age, the influence of sin was already at work in me.  There was something inside that was already drawing me away to sin.  Of course, recalling now, it reminds me of one of the most quoted Psalms, Psalms 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”.  That which was an inherited trait, had become awaken too early!

One of the traps that we fall into is “premature exposure”.  There are just some things that a child can never be ready for as a child!  They may be physically big and strong and developed, but emotionally and mentally, they are not ready for certain things.  This magazine should not have been in my possession and inside I knew this, but again, the thrill of knowing that I was doing wrong outweighed the right choice I should have made at Paper Stock Dealers, and that was to leave that magazine in that pile under my feet.  Too late now!  The door was already opened, and many more doors would be connected to a door opened at nine years old from a Playboy magazine that would take a lifetime to close!

 

Innocent Eyes Gone Bad

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My dad always seemed to have my brother and I up early on some Saturdays, hustling trying to “make that cheese!!!”   Some of you know what I’m talking about!  Even though daddy worked full time, he had his hustle going to that oftentimes caused me and my brother to miss some episodes of the Super Friends, and what child wanted to miss the Super Friends and all of the other Saturday Morning Cartoons, climaxed with old school wrestling? Many a Saturday morning before 6:00 am, my brother and I would have to wake up, get dressed and ride out with my dad to help him with his “part-time” business.

My dad worked for a company called Systematics, which was a data processing company founded in 1968 by Walter Smiley, who with Arkansas super businessman Jack T Stephens, built the company to be one of the top data processing companies in Little Rock, AR during that time. You know the funny thing even as I write this book, I still don’t know exactly what my dad’s job title was for the company, as it seemed he did a little bit of everything! Some kind of way, my dad had discovered the grand old concept of recycling, and this would be the money making opportunity my dad would capitalize on for years. I can remember as early as 7 or 8 up until a senior in high school helping my dad on Saturday’s on Shall Street in Little Rock, AR, separating carbon from the dot matrix paper, placing card stock in boxes, and going through the building getting aluminum cans as well. I think this is where I actually get my drive to be an entrepreneur from, as well as my strong work ethic. Can you imagine kids today waking up at 5:30 to 6:00 am going to help their parents work? The thought itself kind of makes you chuckle huh? How far we have gotten away from teaching our children responsibility! That’s another book!!

On the Saturdays that my brother and I didn’t want to get up and go, my dad usually could count on one of my cousins or uncle going to help him out while we slept in, however, the reward of an extra $25.00 to $30.00 for an eight and nine year old back in the 70’s and 80’s was like a goldmine, so we had no problem getting up to go help our dad out. We knew that we would get breakfast, a snack from the vending machine at his job, usually a Hostess Honey Bun and Andy Capp Potato Chips, and this was also the time I would get to have a cup of coffee without my mother knowing about it. My mom thought I was a bit too young to be drinking coffee, and at every chance I would try to get some at home, I was met with defeat. I knew though, since my dad was a lot more liberal than my mom, I could get a cup of coffee and not worry about mom finding out. Well, I guess she knows now!!

Not only were the small perks of extra snacks and coffee a plus of helping my dad, my grandfather had a store that he ran from the back of his house. Thompson Confectionary! Do you realize how much one dollar could buy back in 1978? Helping my dad out, almost guaranteed enough candy and snacks to last the entire weekend and sometimes up into the following week as well.   Even though there were often struggles and attitudes of going to help my dad out, missing an episode of Super Friends couldn’t compare to the thrill of having some change in my pocket and going “Big Daddy’s” store.

I’ll never forget the day my “eyes became open” to the things that should have not been placed before them so early.  As our custom was, after we had spent at least 3 to 4 hours at my dad’s job, separating the paper from the card stock from the aluminum cans and loading them onto the truck, we would then drive to Paper Stock dealers, who were a recycling company in North Little Rock Ar. We always thought it was neat to drive the truck on the scales for weight, then unload, and daddy would then go and “get paid”. I will never forget one particular Saturday, daddy backed the truck into the bin and we began to throw dot matrix paper, newspaper, card stock, and other mixed paper into their designated areas.  We had done it so many times that we knew where each pile of papers were to be thrown. On this particular day, one of my cousins came to help us as well.   There we were, slinging papers left and right until I slipped on something shiny beneath my feet.  I slipped and fell but it wasn’t a bad fall because the huge amounts of paper had provided the necessary padding that I needed.  I can remember my brother, my cousin and I laughing about it, and as I got up, I noticed something under my foot that I had never seen before!  I always heard about it from the older boys, but I had never come face to face with it before in my life, and there it was!!  After all of the hype and the talk, there it was!! After all of the imaginations that I had about it, it was there, right under my foot, and I never thought in a million years that I would actually come so close to it.  I mean, we had heard about it, we had even seen them before behind the counters away from the general public, but it was there…RIGHT THERE IN ARMS REACH!
I couldn’t help but notice the naked pictures that the Playboy magazine was opened too.  I mean, who wouldn’t notice that image!  Though I knew it was wrong to look at it, everything in me was saying it was right.  Even at an early age, there was a rush in seeing naked pictures!  Instinctively, I knew better, but the satisfaction of viewing outweighed all the negativity that I knew inwardly!  Crazy emotions running through my head as I’m trying to look at the pictures without my daddy noticing.  I’m sharing the pictures with my brother and cousin, and here we are giggling but I didn’t realize that my innocent eyes were going bad!

 

Maybe A Little Bitter…..But Better

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There is an old cliché that is predominately heralded in the walls of the “black church” that I hear in the back of my mind, and the cliché is, “when I look back over my life and see how far He’s brought me”!   I am thrilled that after almost two years of an amazing journey in life, that I am really starting to heal!For the last year and a half, I’ve had a spirit of bitterness and ill content when it came to certain aspects of the church and leadership.  Now, I will qualify that statement by making it absolutely clear that at this juncture in my walk with Christ, I have no desire whatsoever to return to any organized denomination as a means of me qualifying my relationship with God.  As I have been out of “organized religion” for about 2 yrs. now, I have come to realize, based on what many hold as the standard for many churches, THE BIBLE, that what is being portrayed in many organized churches, is not a proper representation of the biblical standard of ministry.  (I WOULD HAVE TO HAVE 4 COMPUTERS TO TYPE THAT POST!)

One of the fallacies drilled in me from a youth in church up until the moment I decided I had had enough of ritualistic protocols, was the notion that it was “dangerous” and “risky” to not be under a “covering”, whatever that means!  As I have journeyed with God, I have learned many of the “taboos” and “uncross able lines” were actually means of control and manipulation, whether knowing or unknowing, to keep people afraid of, not God, but leadership.  HE THAT DWELLETH IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL ABIDE UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY (Psalms 91:1).  I have yet to find any Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher or Evangelist for that matter that has a WING SPAN that supersedes God’s.  Once I’m introduced to someone who can cover me better that God, I may reconsider my stance, but until then, I’m cool!  I have found, contrary to the “standard” that is very possible to have an authentic, genuine relationship with God apart from a “religious machine” called a church building.  (The premise of this article is not to bash anyone that is still in attendance at any local assembly whatsoever.  God moves and deals with each of us on our terms His way!  Some need, some don’t.  Some will, some won’t!)  It has been crazy in a sense that it seems I actually do more studying, meditating, singing, worshiping, etc. more now that I’m away from “regular church” than I did while in attendance.  God has a way of sustaining you!   As a matter of fact, it was His intention from jump to be the sole King of our lives, but so many have replaced Him with THEM and no longer are we able to hear the voice and the leading of the Holy Spirit because we allow the other voices to dominate our lives.

I decided to “walk away” after being involved in ministry and church basically all of my life.  It was the toughest decision I have ever had to make in life!  To this day, there are many unanswered questions as to why its seems like an ABRUPT exit.  There one day, and all of a sudden, gone!  Almost like a disappearing act!  There was a very valid reason for my exit that I probably will never share publically because as the old saying goes, there are two sides to every story, but more so because I’ve come to realize that sharing my side of the story would hurt more people than it would help.  Sometimes even when you are right and you could defend yourself, you have to suck it up and deal with your single casualty verses the possible damage of many to vindicate yourself!  This of course was learned after many months of frustration, hurt, anger, and “piss offness”….lol!

One of the weaknesses of the church is the ability to reach out to those who leave ministry.  As the “doors of the church” are opened each Sunday, there is a side door that many slip out with the intentions of never coming back, and many of those in the pews care less because many of the “shepherds” show little concern!  Sometimes it amazes me how some quickly refer to Matthew 18:12:

12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? When it comes to those “lost sheep” within their care, but are too occupied with other ministry needs to actually leave the 99 and go after the one!

For me personally, this was one of the roots that began to grow in my heart!  I felt that after spending over 20 years in ministry, being involved with the ministry since day one of its inception is like a security jobs.  Bringing souls into the kingdom and members into the church, developing youth ministry, praying for souls, leading praise and worship, providing musical services, and the list goes on and on, that somebody would come for me!  So as I waited, and waited, and waited, nobody showed.  It then dawned on me that nobody would!  Herein, another weakness of many churches is this attitude that many have that as long as you are a part of the ministry you’re in, but the moment you leave, regardless of your length and contributions, you mean nothing.  Now I know many that are reading this now have a difference of opinion, and my question to you at this point would be simply this: When was the last time you actually called and checked on someone you knew was no longer a member of your church that you fellowshipped with on a regular basis while they were members?   I would venture say that number is slim to none. Many people who leave the walls of ministry usually do it for valid reasons that are often played down by leadership as “isolated” or “individual choices”, and very seldom come to grip with or even entertain other possibilities that people leave because of them.

Needless to say I was hot! Angry, mad, upset, you name it, and the only thing that was on my mind was revenge! My entire focus had become tainted with poison to see others hurt as I was hurting, and through many actions it was evident.  I had become this old bitter man that even my family didn’t want to be around and the crazy thing….I COULDN’T SEE IT!  NO..NO..NO…I REFUSED TO SEE IT!   Though bitterness and anger are negative responses, they do keep you focused, however, the focus is upon things that will, if not checked, causes great discomfort to your soul.  My wife was trying to show me me, but the anger had me, and the funny thing; I didn’t want to let it go!  I had a right to it I felt! After all, I gave my time and energy.  I poured myself into countless people, I followed the rules as best as I could, was not openly rebellious, accused of so many things over the years by those who I worked with and they never knew because I didn’t treat them any different, and I can’t even get an explanation as to why I decided to remove myself?  After all, if it was explained, others wouldn’t have all of these theories, or secret meeting explanations.   Better yet, why not just call and ask me?

Day in and day out, this was my meal!  My drink!  My protein so to speak and it ended up turning me into this creature I didn’t like.  I’ll never forget one day about 4 months ago, a sister that lived in Tennessee at the time made contact with me and told me that her and her husband was in prayer for me and felt that there was something I was holding on too that I really needed to let go of that was basically hindering me.  Of course I switched into my religious role and agreed and vowed I was letting it go, but I didn’t!  A few hours later, another couple in California contacted me and basically said the exact same thing, and I put on my acting face yet again and gave them all of the church jargon I knew in order to expedite the call because I wanted my pain!  Lo and behold, another contact!  This time from South Africa, and after that, I knew God was trying to get my attention.  However, there was something in my emotional makeup that was not going to let this feeling go.  I didn’t care if Gabrielle the angel came down; I felt I had a right to be upset!  A right to feel what I was feeling!  It then hit me, even if I felt like I had a right, it didn’t make the feelings I was feeling right!  There it was, another window, another door of opportunity to let it go, and this time, I jumped on the opportunity and allowed myself to spill the poison that I allowed in my heart towards others!

You have heard it before but it is definitely worth repeating, Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you, and at that moment, I knew what I had to do to free myself from the PRISON THAT I CREATED!
If you are trying to forgive: even if you manage forgiving in fits and starts, if you forgive today, hate again tomorrow, and have to forgive again the day after, you are a forgiver.  Most of us are amateurs, bungling at times.  So what?  In this game nobody is an expert!  The important thing is to just do it and you will find out that once you forgive, your bitterness will turn into your betterment!

Welcome To La La Land

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It is 2am in the morning and how I wish the Lord would let me sleep! Father, why don’t you do your downloads during daylight hours? The truth is I know the answer. Our minds are too busy to get a clear signal so He speaks when there is no traffic.
It is the burden of the Lord’s Church again. Oh! How He loves her! How He wishes she would listen on this Valentine Day Night. I hear the same words over and over again. To obey is better than sacrifice! To obey is better than sacrifice! Oh how He is tired of our Sunday morning performances.

What I share today comes from 16 years of being king of my own La La Land. I was sincere, I was zealous, I was diligent but I was wrong. Judged by men I was a star to be followed but judged by the Lord I was a poor plastic copy of a religious system puppet. I share this to let the readers know I tread lightly when I share what I am about to write.

I know I will be making some generalizations and there are pockets of Light all over this world but in general the Church has been, is and will continue to be ineffective for another 2000 years if we do not repent and return to the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In essence the Church is living in what I call La La Land. It’s Disney Land and Magic Kingdom Park rolled into one. America is a post Christian nation! Don’t fight it! Don’t reject it! Deal with it! We have lost at least two generations and we are rapidly losing another. We need to quit trying to change the culture! We are the ones that need to change. We need a baptism of love and a Tsunami of mercy and compassion.

We have lived in La La Land so long we are out of touch with the culture and worse we are out of touch with the myriads of hurting people who are captive to this present age. While we fight, argue and divide over doctrine the enemy is tearing into the people like sharks around schooling minnows. The wounded are everywhere and while our buildings are everywhere too the nature of Christ; his essence, his perfume is sadly missing.

Ineffective Church
Here are the reasons (the modern church world ie. La La Land) we have been and are ineffective:

1. It is not a Real World-
We have followed business concepts and created our own brand of Jesus. It is a world that has no effect on the culture. It’s sterile. It will not reproduce because it’s not real.
Jesus said in John 17;15-19

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. NKJV
We have done a great job emphasizing the “they are not of the world” part. So great that we only send people into the world to take them out of the world and put them into our La La Land. While each congregation has developed its own theme it’s still La La Land. The rides, the colors and the people may be different but it is still make believe. We have developed our own “sanitize to my theme spray” and should you enter looking and acting different you will not leave without the First Happy Church of the True Believers makeover.

Those living in La La Land are instructed weekly to sanitize their environment. To do this they must first judge then alienate from the very people we were left in this world to help. The average La La Land member has no Christian friends so in essence he has been sterilized from having an effect on his culture.
It is not the real world people! Wake up!  Jesus needs spiritual paramedics who can minister to the mess in the mess not transport people back to La La Land to live with all the other un-repented, unforgiving, self-centered and self-righteous “aints”.

2. It Only Attracts High Maintenance – Low Output people
La La Land only attracts and keeps emotionally needy people. They want to be told what to do. They are not free thinkers. They want the La La Land Life but it’s a mirage that only works within the four walls. So at the end of every service they line up to talk to the king.

Sunday after Sunday La La Land and her system make spiritual eunuchs. They are “Spiritual Junkies” that live needy for their Sunday morning fix. They are addicted and their mini-kings are addicted to being needed! God Help us!

They return to the world on Mondays with two choices. They either run from it by creating a false spiritual vacuum (like La La Land) around themselves or they are lured away and enticed by what the world offers. In either way the enemy wins and the culture goes unchanged. This system only makes La La Land clones not disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. La La Land breeds Hypocrisy-
In La La Land you cannot share your heart. You must toe the line to the mini-king’s wishes. To be a team player means to sell your soul and your possessions to La La Land. La La Land is full of rules and do’s and don’ts because spiritual eunuchs can’t hear God for themselves.

The more religious La La Land is the greater the hypocrisy.  There is no place in La La Land for honesty. A failure in the ranks is against the rules. To publicize failure means to publicize that La La Land doesn’t work and oh my God maybe this Sunday morning charade isn’t real!

People and leaders (the king’s yes men) disappear in La La Land without explanation.  Nobody asks because it is not kosher to ask. Just keep smiling and keep giving even if you are dying inside.

This is why in the church today pornography, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, pill addiction, gluttony and divorce are rampant.

Luke 7:36-39 (Life in La La Land)
Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.
This woman is out of order! This is not the official La La Land worship style! Jesus receives no worship from dirty sinners like these. Only holy saints can worship! She is making us uncomfortable. Where are the ushers and the king’s security detail when you need them?
In La La Land you are taught to concentrate on others sins not you own. But Jesus was not going to let them get away that easy!

Luke 7:44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?Dumb question of course he sees her. He sees her sin! This is where we are missing it! Do you see her need? Do you see condition? Do you see her repentance and brokenness? Do you see her total abandonment to what others think? Do you see her extreme and sincere worship?

Luke 7:44-47 I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.

Hypocrisy is too busy judging to repent or have mercy. Hypocrisy can’t handle such violent acts of honesty. Honesty like that will ruin the formalism in our services!

4. La La Land doesn’t  feed the Need of this Culture-
It doesn’t feed the need because it alienates the world and judges the culture. It doesn’t provide a valid overcoming lifestyle which can move in and through the culture with a compassionate heart and a merciful spirit.

This culture wants it RAW! This means they are tired of scripted lines. They want reality. They don’t want La La Land. It does not work. It is fake and a poor excuse for the life of Christ.
La La land is waiting to get taken out of here and the people need help to stay and overcome not run away. They need help telling their lesbian daughter who grew up in La Land they are going to love her through this season. They need help confronting their son who is sleeping with the deacon’s daughter. They need help when the mini-king is not around to kelp them say no to their supervisor when he offers them a promotion for sex.

Yes, this is a dirty world and a degenerate culture but Jesus has not given up on this culture! He weeps over their pain and the results of their sin. He loves them unconditionally and has not set up a barrage of conditions and obstacles for them to have to jump through to be with Him not like it is in La La Lands buildings.

We need repentance! We need an awakening to our miserable state. We need a visitation of honesty followed by a baptism of humility.  We can’t patch up La La Land. She will not repair! We need a full demolition and a new foundation!
Until then I sound the alarm and I pray. May God be merciful because this world will not be! I am going to bed!

Jose L. Bosque
11/23/2016 Message to my Brothers
Many of you are trying to repair the church from within. You are not more loving and more merciful than God. Be honest with yourself! Can you not handle the rejection? , Can your ego not handle the loss of position?, Do you not trust God to provide for the loss of Income? Are you afraid of the lonely, narrow Way? Do you really believe the Lord will allow you to repair the mess from the inside? Did the Father send His Son into the the synagogues or into the highways and byways full of those rejected and despised by society? Will the Lord build on anything where His Son is not the cornerstone? Did the Son die on the cross to pass out titles and promote men and their ministries? NEVER. Band aids can not heal LA LA Land! Soon LA LA Land with all its budgets and buildings will come crumbling down. I pray you don’t wait till then to rightly align yourself with the Lord instead of men.
Much love,
Jose

Copyright 2012 Jose L. Bosque www.JaxChristian.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.

“Going To Church” is Not in the Bible

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There is nothing righteous about a building. There is also nothing righteous about a home or a living room. Most people agree that the building where people meet is not the church.
It’s funny though how 99 out of 100 individuals will emphatically nod their head and say “Right, the building is not the church.” But, then ten minutes later if you point to a religious building with a steeple on top and say, “What is that?” They’ll say, “It’s a church.”
Jesus said, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart….,” (Matt 15:18). Out of their mouths, all of the time people say, “We are going to CHURCH”, or “Meet me at THE CHURCH,” or “That’s a CHURCH,” – because THEY BELIEVE in their heart that it’s A CHURCH. You might say, “C’mon, Terry, what’s the big deal, it’s just what we call it, we really know that the church is the people and not the building.” I’m not so sure about that and I’ll tell you why.
Our Words Represent Our Actions

Let’s take a look at your average group of people who meet in a traditional church setting. They have services twice a week, Sundays and Wednesdays. They have a nice building they meet in. The building is outfitted with all the traditional markings. It has a sign out front with the name of the church. The sign contains a weekly, catchy, thought provoking phrase. The building has a steeple on the top. If not a steeple, then some other traditional looking top to make it look like a church. Inside, the building has long benches for the audience to sit on. It has a raised platform or stage at the front. It has a nice wooden box for an orator to give speeches from. Behind the speech making box and stage, there is a big bathtub which is raised higher than the stage.
While in this building, we are to conduct ourselves in a certain manner. There is special, extra reverent conduct expected from you as you are in this large meeting room. It is frowned upon anyone to eat or drink a beverage in this meeting room. This room is considered sanctified, which is why it is called the sanctuary – which means that this room is set apart or holy. This meeting room is viewed as though God Himself were living in it.
Let’s do some experiments. Let’s remove all the pews. Let’s also remove the speech making box called the pulpit. All it is now is an empty room. How would this affect our meeting? Would it still seem like a church? Let’s say we sat on lawn chairs and the preacher stood on top of a milk crate. Would it now still be a real church?
Let’s say we took away the entire building. Let’s say a tornado picked it up and moved it to Kansas. Now remember, we all agree that this building is not the church. But what if this building were obliterated? What would be the response of the people who met inside it? More importantly, what would be the emotional response of these people? Would they say, “Our church has been destroyed?” And if this building were gone, how would it affect their fellowship and their practice of meeting together? Do we really believe that the church is really just the people?
We all agree with the concept that the church is the people and not the building – but only in concept. If you were to take away, change, mess up, or alter people’s sacred building, they won’t really feel comfortable.

People associate the building, the pews, the pulpit, the steeple, the baptistery, a pastor – all those things are necessary with “having a real church.” If you meet outside in a park, at 3:00 pm on Thursday instead of 10:45 am on Sunday, then you wouldn’t have a “real church.” If you baptized people in a lake or a river, instead of the bath tub behind the speech making stage, it would seem like the baptism was not quite as official or holy. In 1993, I baptized a man in a bird bath because it was all that was available. Was that baptism somehow less official than being baptized in a bathtub behind a pulpit on a Sunday morning at 10:45? In Acts Chapter 8, the Ethiopian Eunuch jumped out of his chariot and was baptized in some water right along side the road. The thief on the cross next to Jesus was never baptized at all, yet he entered into paradise. Perhaps we should consider if possibly God does not care about the things we care so deeply about.
“Well, Acts chapter 8 and the thief on the cross were during Bible times. Times have changed now”, some might say. Sure, things have changed. But they have not changed for the better. Why do we think that doing things differently from scripture is all of a sudden now more correct?
When Jesus walked the earth, He met outside and taught people in the middle of tremendous disarray. There were people sitting down in the grass. There were people sitting in trees. Some people were probably on their way to the market with their livestock and saw the crowd listening to Jesus preach. They would stop to hear what Jesus was saying and had their cow or chicken there with them as they listened to the message. No one was dressed up in a formal way. When Jesus spoke, there were babies crying, people in filthy clothes, and people walking around toward the back of the crowd.
Was it considered a church meeting when Jesus would preach to the crowds? Of course it was! The church meetings throughout the New Testament include meetings outside, meetings around a fire, meetings in homes, and meetings in buildings. Paul was in a church meeting one time, and while he was teaching, a young man was sitting in a window sill. Imagine if during the next Sunday morning service somebody decided they couldn’t hear as well from the back so they climbed up and sat in the nearest window sill? Someone would probably call security.
Here’s the point. The building is not holy. But we believe it is. If you meet in a park, meet in a home, meet in a fancy Catholic building in Rome, meet in a tree house, it’s all the same. Jesus said that “Where two or more are gathered together, there I am in the midst.” Do we really believe that? C’mon, do we REALLY believe that?
Let’s test it out. Could you meet with one other person, just one, on a Tuesday night in a park? You would read the Bible together, pray together, share hearts, worship God, and touch the Lord together. Would you consider that church? Be honest now… would you still feel like you have to cover your God base by going to the official church meeting on Sunday morning? Would you still feel like you have to dress up, sit on a pew, and listen to a sermon in order to feel like you’ve been in church?
Our actions sometime betray our right Biblical concepts.
Our religiousity runs deep. It’s all we’ve known, it’s all we’ve seen, it’s all we’ve been taught. It’s what we’ve believed for a long time now…even though it is unbiblical. What about all the other things you maybe unaware of that you believe and practice…. that may be unbiblical? The Holy Spirit will help you. But it sometimes takes tremendous honesty and courage to grow.
Why did the New Testament Christians meet in homes? It is certainly not that a house is more righteous than a building. Once you see and understand the essence of body life and what church really is, you will see that THERE IS NO NEED FOR A BUILDING. In fact, it can hinder and get in the way. Also, once your eyes are opened, you will stop associating “being fed” with that of listing to a message once a week. The New Testament Christians were not “fed” by a three point sermon once a week by a paid professional.
What is the point of meeting together anyway? What is the essence of the church meeting? The purpose is to touch the Lord, to encounter Jesus, to be built up in faith, and to edify one another. When this happens, He feeds us. He edifies the church. We are built up and encouraged and He is blessed. The essence and point of the church meeting is more easily accomplished as we keep it simple and don’t include all the extras and unnecessary practices.

It’s Time to “Go To Family”

Many times in Christianity we use words or phrases which are not found in scripture. Phrases like “give your heart to Jesus, make a commitment to Christ, once saved always saved, lose your salvation, our church body, or the body of Christ here” – none of these phrases are found in the Bible.
Many times the idea behind such phrases was originally founded in scripture. But over time, we add to their meaning. Over long periods of time we create man made doctrines, and then we assume they are Biblical. Assuming that certain things are true without questioning them gets us into a lot of trouble in the church. Over time our words and phrases get packaged, re-packaged, and then packaged again. Many times the arguments and discussions we are having are not Biblical themselves. In other words, we are often asking the wrong questions. Or, the dilemmas we are trying to solve are based on assumptions that are in error themselves. Almost always, words and phrases we use that are not found in scripture are not scriptural ideas.
Huge ships are turned by very small rudders. Sometimes even the smallest error in our language (which reflects our thinking and our heart) can manifest itself with huge and consistent patterns of unbiblical practices in our lives. If you will learn to seek the Lord and examine the scriptures with no biases or assumptions, it will open a whole new world to you.

I would like to introduce to you another phrase not found in the Bible. Scripture never uses the words “go to church.” And it doesn’t use that phrase for a good reason. You cannot go to something you are. The early Christians understood this. But we don’t. Our lack of understanding in this area has caused severe and widespread damage. “But it’s just words,” you might say. If I said that God was a female, would you have a problem with those words? I would too. The words we use express what we really believe, and we live according to how we believe. Let’s look at the absurdity of our practice of “going to church” and how it negatively affects our lives.
The word church in the Bible is the Greek word ekklesia. Ekklesia means “the called out ones.” If you further study the word, you will observe some interesting meanings. The word also has with it the meanings of a family, a people, an assembly, or a council. It even has the idea of a modern town hall meeting for deliberation.
We could substitute the word “family” for the word “church”. The church is a people. A family is a people.
Let’s say that after a long day at work, you were heading home to eat supper and then retire for the evening. And, you were going to do this inside your house with your spouse and children. Would you say, “I’m going to family?” No you would not. You would say, “I’m going to be with my family.”
Erroneously, church has become a function that we do on Sunday morning. Church has become an event instead of it being who we are. The word church has lost its meaning of family; the word has lost the meaning of us being a people. Going to church has become a weekly activity that we do. We’ve taken a word that defines who we are, a word that identifies us, and we’ve lessened it to an hour and a half episode that we do once a week. After the weekly church event, we then we all go home to our individual lives. It’s like going to the theatre, or going to school, going to work, or going to the grocery store. “We’re going to church!”
Look at it this way. If you are something, you are that thing everyday and you do what you are everyday. Are you a man? Then you never stop being one. Are you a woman? Then you never stop being a woman.
If you have kids then you are a parent. Do you ever stop being a parent? No. If you go to school, go to work, or you are at home, you are always a parent. You don’t stop being a parent because of where you are or what activity you are doing.
And here’s the point: As a parent you should always be actively parenting. You should be praying for your kids while at work. You should be planning things for them, thinking about their needs even when you are not with them. When you are at work, you are working to provide for their needs, when you are home with them, you are actively engaged with them and interacting with them. If you are a parent, you are always a parent and you do at least some sort of parenting activity daily!
Same with the church! If we are the church, you never stop being the church. You cannot be the church on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. and then not be the church Tuesday at 10:45 a.m.
When we call the building a church or say that “we are going to church” we are taking away from the fact that “church” is our identity, not something we “go to”. When something is our identity, we are that thing all of the time. When we “go to something”, we are only participating in that activity while we are there.
When we say “we are going to church”, we are practicing the exact error that is really in our hearts.
We have made something we are, into a weekly event. We’ve made the word “church” into an impersonal, shallow, intellectual, 2 hour a week activity.
Erroneously, we have our life at work. We have our life at home. We have our life of activities. We have our life with our church. We have our life with our friends. It is all become separate and compartmentalized.
If God has saved you and you belong to Jesus Christ, then your new identity as a person is now with the church.
The church, corporately, is now who you are.
And you are to live the reality that you are the church 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.
We think growth as a Christian is learning more about the Lord, instead of knowing Him as a person. I can read a book all day long aboutwho my wife is, but until I share her heart, and until I spend plenty of relationship time with her, I will not know her. Learning more information only teaches you about something. Experience is where true growth occurs.
In our day and time we know very little of intimacy. We know very little of how to be joined in heart and be truly knit together as a people of God, yet deep down, we all long for it. We have traded the intimacy of true church life for the falseness of an institution.
We are a living and breathing temple of living stones who encompass the true and living God. We are alive! Corporately, we are the very Bride of Christ. We are filled with the Holy Spirit, within and without. How offensive it is to call us a dead pile of brick and mortar. How it tells and exposes our lack of revelation of who we are, to say things like, “time to go to church.” If we are not using New Testament language, it is because we lack revelation to some degree. If our beliefs are in error, our practice and what we live are in error as well.

 

Offices & Titles

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Offices & Titles

Men love titles. Men love position. Men love status. People love men of status. People love the illusion of security that comes with men having titles among them. These things have been abused in the church. This is obvious to most people. But why? And more importantly, what can we do to correct it and how can we relate to these truths in a healthy way?

Offices
 
First of all, our modern idea of an “office” is not a Biblical one. The Bible was not written in Dallas, TX. We’ve tried to interpret and apply Eastern ideas in a Western culture. When we read about offices, we interpret it as being the same as someone who has a management position in corporate America.

A Biblical office is not the same as having a title, a business card, a sign on your desk, and a salary with benefits. We cannot forget that the church is alive. She is a living organism and the church is relational. Hopefully in this chapter, we will see gifts, titles, and offices the Bible speaks of, are much different than what we’ve made them to be.

The word office simply means the “function of” or the “work of.” In 1 Timothy 3:1 the phrase “office of a bishop” comes from one Greek word. The one Greek word is episcope. It simply means to do overseeing or to do the work of an overseer. …“If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” All this is saying is that if you want to help others in their lives by watching out for them and helping them in their growth, then that’s a good thing to do. But when we typically read that verse, it runs through our filter of our Western culture. Read the verse again. When you read the word “office” this time, think of the word as “doing a work,” because that’s what the word means. A Biblical office is more of a description of activity, as opposed to a title.

Next, we see the word “office” again in 1 Tim. 3:10, 13. Here it is used in conjunction with the work of a servant or “deacon.” The phrase “office of a deacon” is the one Greek word, diakoneo. To be a deacon is to be a servant or to do the work of a servant, or “to wait upon.” If you serve someone in the church then you have just entered into the office of a deacon. Remember, the word office is a description of activity. To be a deacon is not to have a position; it just means that you are doing the work of serving others on a consistent basis.

In Acts Ch 6, the church was brand new in Jerusalem. Thousands of new believers were hanging out together, listening to teachings, and eating together. In chapter 6, verse 1 of Acts, we see that there were some widows who were not getting served food at the daily gatherings. They were being looked over. Now that could cause some real hurt feelings! What did the church do about it? The whole congregation chose 7 guys who were filled with the Holy Spirit, of good reputation, and who had wisdom to remedy this situation. Note that the same word for deacon, “diakoneo”, in 1 Tim. 3 is used here in Acts 6 as well. These 7 men entered into the office of a deacon. Or, to not be religious about it, we could just say that they were doing some serving. But why the big deal about who did the serving? Why did they have to be filled with the Spirit? Why did they need wisdom and have a good reputation just to hand out food? Why did the apostles lay their hands on them just to serve some tables?

In our day and age, we would probably choose any brother just to serve a few tables. “Hey Joe, grab a few of those teenagers over there and pass out that food would ya? The widows are getting a little upset ‘cause they didn’t get their ham sandwiches.”
Be aware that the same qualifications for doing serving found in 1 Tim 3 (office of a deacon), are the same qualifications that the 7 men had in Acts Ch 6. Same function – serving. Why the qualifications for serving? Well, look at the results.

Immediately after the passage about waiting on tables it says in verse 7 that “the Word of God kept spreading and the number of disciples continued to increase…”
Wow! Then in verse 8 it tells us more about Stephen. In verse 8, “Stephen full of grace and power was performing great wonders and signs among the people.” Remember? He was one of the guys that was waiting on tables!

The point is that the men who were serving tables were among the people. They were with the people, mixing up with them, speaking to them, and loving them. Passing out the food was a great opportunity to speak, love, pray with people, and to serve. That’s why anyone wanting to serve (do deacon work) should have a strong relationship with God. Because when we serve, it is an opportunity to increase the Kingdom. Someone who is serving half-heartedly not filled with the Spirit will eventually complain about it. Sooner or later they’ll have a bad attitude and not represent Christ at all.

I Timothy Chapter three provides us a list of character qualities for people who are wanting to watch others lives or who is wanting to do serving.
In this passage, Paul tells Timothy that they need to be living right, not addicted to wine, managing their own household well, etc. This is important because anyone who is serving or leading has a tremendous opportunity o advance the Kingdom, just like the brothers in Acts who were waiting tables. Their character should be of good quality. Let’s look at a common error however, that is made concerning those character qualities.

“Blameless .” This is the Greek word anepileptos. It simply means there is nothing in your life that needs a rebuke. It doesn’t mean that this man has never committed sin. That would disqualify everyone. It simply means that you are living a right and clean life with God. To be above reproach or blameless simply means that you are not walking in sin. Past sins can not disqualify anyone from leading out, serving, or helping others because then no one could ever be qualified to do it. If it is in your heart to help others in the church in such a way that you are watching their lives and helping in their growth, then you must have your own life working well and not be walking in sin.

Gifts Are to be Observed, Not Filled.
 
Again, the church is organic and alive. We should never force anything. We are not to try to find people to fill positions. We are not to see the lists in scripture of the various gifts and functions, and then try to fill those job positions. We see in scripture that there are teachers, prophets, shepherds, evangelists, apostles, deacons, administrations, helps, etc. We should not shop the list by saying, “Ok, we need a prophet. Who is going to be our prophet? Now, we need an evangelist. Who is going to be our evangelist? We need a shepherd. Who is going to fill the role of shepherd among us?”

These gifts and various functions are to naturally evolve and just organically operate among us. A person’s gift is, whatever it is. If a person naturally functions in the gift of evangelism, then we might say that he is an evangelist. If a person operates in the gift of the prophetic, then over time, we might say it looks like he or she may be a prophet. If a person naturally functions in shepherding, then we might say that they are a shepherd. We don’t go out and try to find a shepherd. And we certainly are not to conduct job interviews and hire a shepherd.
Let’s briefly look at Titus Chapter 1. In verse 5, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above approach as God’s steward, not self-willed not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self – controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”

This is a great passage. Paul told Titus, who was in Crete, to appoint elders in every city. Who should Titus appoint as elders? Those who were already elders! He didn’t make them elders. He just recognized them publicly. They already had the qualifications within themselves.

Look at the word “namely” that Paul uses in the first sentence. If you will read that word with understanding, you will see that Titus was to just publicly recognize what already was. Those who already were elders, the seasoned brothers who could do overseeing effectively were to be pointed out. He was not to groom men for a position. They were not to take a six week training course. He was not to run an ad in the paper. He was not to conduct interviews. He was not to form an elder search committee. The elders were already there in the midst of the people. They already had the qualifications evident in their lives, they just needed to be pointed out. The list of qualifications Paul gave was just to help Titus recognize them and find them from among the people. Notice also that the qualifications for overseeing or eldership have nothing to do with having education. It’s all character.
Whatever gifts happen to be among us, simply happen to be among us. One particular group may not have anyone who functions as an evangelist much. You may not have any apostles among you. You may not have someone who functions primarily as a prophet. That’s OK. Don’t try to create one. If your numbers are small, you will not have all the gifts and functions among you. But you will have some. As more people begin to come around, you will observe more gifts and functions operating in different members.

You cannot learn how to be an evangelist. You either are one or you are not one. You can’t go to school to become a pastor. You either have that kind of heart or you don’t. These gifts are from God, they are not skills to be learned. You cannot study and then become a prophet. You either have a gift from God or you don’t. These are supernatural, spiritual gifts. As you mature in Christ, your gifts will become more potent or fine tuned, but you can’t take a course and become a gift to the church.

You the reader, have gifts, right now from God that He gave you to edify the church. Today, there is a real over emphasis in the church to “know what your gifts are.” There is no need to take a personality profile test to discover your gifts. As you are abiding in Jesus and filled with the Spirit of God, your gifts will come to the surface and you will naturally function in them. You will know what your gifts are as you and others observe how the Lord is using you and has used you in the past. Don’t sit in a living room together and say, “you’re a this and you’re a that.” Christians are often labeling themselves according to personality types, and there is no profit in it. The overemphasis in the church today to know what different people’s gifts are largely stems from self focused, humanistic, feel good psychology.

Having a focus on labeling ourselves with gifts does not help us be more of what we already are. It only trips us up in trying to fulfill something that we think we should be fulfilling. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus. And we need to keep our eyes on the cross.

We don’t even fully know the full definition of the various gifts. Over the centuries, we’ve modified them, interpreted them, categorized them and canned them. Just look at what we’ve done with the gift of shepherding.
Looking at another example, an evangelist is listed as a gift to the church. Our modern day definition of an evangelist is someone who converts lost people to the faith. The word means “bringer of good news.” What if an evangelist really is a gift to the church, as it is stated in the New Testament? A true evangelist may be someone in the church who is always sharing good news with not only unbelievers, but with Christians as well. There is a tremendous benefit from encouraging other Christians with various messages of the good news of God, even if they are already saved. We as Christians really need good news all the time. Could we be limiting or even missing the true gift of an evangelist by defining him and categorizing him as we tend to do?

We have so many assumptions, that we would do better to not focus on what our gifts are so much and then try to fulfill them, when we may be working from an erroneous model in the first place. We are whatever we are. Let’s let the gifts that we have, organically define themselves . Our identity is in Christ, not the labels or gifts we are to the church.

An apple tree makes apples because it is an apple tree. Apple trees don’t learn that they are apple trees, and then start producing apples.

The School of Life
 
As individual Christians, how do we grow? How do people in general grow? How does a plant or a tree grow? How do childrenlearn? How did you learn to swim? How do you learn to have a good marriage? How do we learn to raise kids?

I’m not talking about gaining head knowledge. I’m not talking about the ability to regurgitate information. I’m talking about true growth. How do we get those things in us that no one can take away? How do we truly learn the lessons in life that are now rock solid in us? How do we arrive at things that are unshakeable? How do we gain those precious gems in our character that remain forever? One word:Struggle.

The way of true growth is through struggle. The way of true growth is by pain. Sorry, but there is no way around it. You can hear teachings all day long about how you need to cry out to God – but unless you feel the pain, you will not really be crying out. You can hear a teaching or read a book about how you need to be broken, but unless God breaks you, you will still have some form of ambition and self reliance.

The Absence of Dominant Men Builds a Strong Church
 
During Paul’s missionary journeys, he entered a town, preached the gospel, stayed a while, and then he left. After the early churches were planted, the apostles left them shortly afterwards. They did not recognize elders in those cities until much later. Sometimes it was months, sometimes it was years later until elders were even recognized. It was Paul’s habit to appoint elders during his second time through a town. We even see in Titus 1:5-9 Paul instructing Titus to recognize elders in Crete. This is after the Jews accepted Christ in Crete from the preaching of Peter years before.

After the apostles preached the word and left town, the new believers in that city only had the Lord Jesus and each other. They didn’t even have a New Testament. It had not been written yet. Paul’s letters came much later. How did the early churches survive without Paul staying with them? How did they survive with no leadership in place? How did they survive without a local strong leader present? Very well. They changed the course of history.
When Paul, Barnabas, and Silas preached the gospel to a town, they left it with no leadership in place because it was necessary for the church to not depend on anyone. That was the best way for them to grow and to learn how to function. You cannot learn to stand on your own two feet, unless you are required to do so. This is true both individually and corporately. If Paul would have planted the church in a city and then stayed there, they would have become dependant on Paul. They would not have become strong. They would not have thrived the way they did if Paul would have stayed for years and taught them many messages a week. Teachings and messages don’t grow us. They can only point us in the right direction.

The absence of dominant men builds a strong church. Once the foundations are established of a functioning and active church, then the church can properly relate to and continue to function with strong brothers present. This is why those who lead should slowly and naturally evolve from among the group itself. This is why Paul recognized those who were elders only after the church had time to become rooted. If strong leaders are established right away, then everyone shuts down and defers – which is what we have in the church today.

The best thing for a new group of believers is to be told the truth, pointed to Jesus and then be left to themselves to learn how to need Christ, learn how to do their share, learn how to pull their own weight in the church, and learn how to need one another. This is a crucial time when essential foundations are laid. From among this assembly of strong fellowship and intense love for one another, then and only then should organic, naturally occurring plural leadership arise and over time be recognized.

Because of our misapplication of leaders among us, we have become addicted to men leading us, instead of being addicted to Christ. We have become addicted to only certain people functioning, instead of everyone learning to function for the very survival of the group. We have become completely accustomed to a certain few taking the responsibility for the church, when we should all have equal responsibility. We will only learn to rise to the occasion, hold fast to one another, and become a strong church if we have no one else to do it for us.

You Can’t Legislate Intimacy

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The best times are intimate times. We desire intimacy with the Lord. We desire to connect. We desire to share. We desire to be one with others. We also desire to share the Lord with one another in a close way.

When we structure it, it kills it. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. The letter is the law. Structure, rules, agendas, bulletins, time schedules are all law oriented. These things kill intimacy through legislation.

Things of the heart are spontaneous. Things that are real and from the heart cannot be scheduled. “Ok, at exactly 2 pm, pour your heart out to Jesus, then stop it and shut it off when time is up”. It doesn’t work that way. When was the last time you organized and scheduled an inspiration? Or, when was the last time you planned when your next revelation would arrive? The heart is organic and made to flow.

When we get together as the church, the point is to have a very intimate time with the living God. We are to enjoy Him together. We are to love Him together. We are to love one another, pray for one another, and operate in our gifts as the Lord inspires us. As we are intimate with the Lord, it must flow and it must not be controlled – otherwise we will offend the Lord and quench the Spirit, which happens way too often.

Man has continually tried to legislate intimacy over the years. Communism for example, doesn’t work. You can’t force people to hold all things in common and work for the greater good. I’ve heard of married couples pre-determining on which nights of the week they will come together. The vast majority of worship times are too scheduled, too structured, and too pre-determined in order to foster a natural and spontaneous flow. The way of life is spontaneity. Yesterday’s manna is old stuff. Even if it was good yesterday, it’s rotten today.

The best times I’ve had in any relationships have not been planned. We in the church are a long way from it, but I believe that if we were in love with Jesus all of the time, (and therefore loving one another often) we would be thrown into many daily church life situations in which we found ourselves preaching one another a sermon for instance, while working on the car together; we would find ourselves singing praise songs on the way to the grocery store together; we would show up for a surprise visit at a family’s house and wind up spending the evening in prayer and encouraging one another; we would find ourselves confessing sins to one another while in the driveway before we go in for the night.

Most things unplanned, we would be fed by Jesus all during the week by spontaneous meetings of body life. God should not be limited to a Sunday morning time, one hour a week to teach us, to use us, and to build us up. True church life in God is not to be meeting-centered but Christ centered,  a spontaneous flow of love and unexpected blessings at unexpected times.

Life in Jesus and in the church is to be lived, not planned. Our hearts are not a water faucet to be turned on and off, but the very river of God flows through us, when and how He wishes.

It’s Time To Unchurch The Church

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In a survey conducted in Amsterdam in the 1990’s, young people were asked two questions: Are you interested in God? Are you interested in church? 100% stated they were interested God, while 99% stated they were NOT interested in church. The pastors blamed the youth.


I believe one of the greatest barriers to effectively fulfilling the great commission could very well be the Church itself. As someone once said, “The quickest way to ‘church the un-churched’ may very well be to ‘un-church the Church’.”
After spending years as a missionary, and more time in a stateside school of ministry that was born out of one of the recent great American revivals, I can tell you this: The Church needs to be reincarnated and redefined.

Christianity has become too institutionalized where the Church is seen as an institution built on the concept of consumerism rather than an apostolic organism centered on Jesus and built on kingdom values. Today’s western Church is more an extension of our own traditions and the pop culture around us, with a growing dependence on our own ability, demographic research, and a misguided desire to be relevant in order to meet people’s needs.
Unlike the beginnings of the early Church, much of the Church today is set up like a corporation with lots of organization and structure, programs and budgets, which are useful, but often with so little emphasis on prayer and the Holy Spirit’s workings, as well as relationship with one another in the context of kingdom culture. God’s culture begins with the family, the home, making disciples through life relationships, reaching and caring for others with the gospel and the love of God.

UNCHURCH the CHURCH

We need to understand that the body of Christ is not primarily a corporation, or even an organization, but rather an organism, built on relationship by the Spirit, with the Lord and with each other. For a brief time the early believers met in the temple, but they also met regularly from house to house and shared meals together. I am not proposing that everyone switch to a house church model of doing church. What I am proposing is for us to rethink our collective experience as a body and a church. Why is it that many people, especially the younger generation, are interested in God, but not so much in the Church?

The second area where great change is needed is in our relationship to the world or to the lost. One of the principles that has caused great growth in the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea (a church that nearly numbers one million people) is the “oikos principle”. Oikos is the Greek word for household or house of people. Your oikos is that group of people whom you relate with on a regular basis. This would include your relatives, neighbors, fellow employees, those with whom you share common interests, and others whom you may have regular contact with. These people make up your personal sphere of influence.

Sometimes believers discover that there are only other believers in their oikos. If this is the case, then steps need to be taken to develop new circles of relationships. Throughout the years my wife Carolyn and I enrolled our son Daniel in sports leagues, not just so he could have fun, and learn sportsmanship and teamwork, but for our family to start developing relationships with the lost.

Hear the wise words of Arthur Wallis: “There is no question that God works, often powerfully, in the old structures. But it is inevitable that those very structures put serious limitations on His working. It is all too easy for the ground gained to be lost, for the situation to revert, and for the whole process to need repairing within a short space of time. Take the 1950 Lewis Awakening. Though confined to certain Presbyterian churches in the Outer Hebrides, this was a powerful movement of the Spirit that deeply affected those communities at that time. Many found faith in Christ, and some of these are now in full-time service. But the fact remains that in less than a decade you could visit those very churches where God had worked so powerfully, and never suspect that they had ever tasted revival. Without a change of structure it is virtually impossible to conserve the fruits of revival.”

When “structure” and “organization” is emphasized above relationship, concentrated prayer, and the Spirit’s workings it will produce an institution that pays their workers to love and serve people. Everything then will become event-based, performance-based, and program-driven. A lack of intimacy and true covenant relationships keeps most people under-stimulated and actually serves to harden the human spirit. Authentic New Testament Christianity has as its core John 13:35 which says, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

When Jesus cursed the fig tree (Mk. 11:13-14), it was symbolic of the cursing of Israel’s entire religious system. Today “religion” is the world’s greatest curse because it does not deal with the places of the heart. That is why people can hide in churches. There is not enough love, intimacy, accountability, and covenant.
This generation has found no relevance in the Church. They are looking for something to die for, but institutional Christianity has ripped them off. The Church needs a revolution. The Church needs an apostolic discovery of real kingdom values.
Remember, the Church did not begin with huge buildings or large organizations ruled by the appointment of men. The Church began with Jesus and the covenant relationship He modeled with the Heavenly Father and with His disciples. All relationships begin by simply being together. That is a part of the overall pattern that we must return to.

When this pattern is more fully realized and restored in the Church, we will produce true sons and daughters and not just programs and numbers. More impartation and not just information will be given and received.

 

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, I’m A Church R Us Kid

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Hebrews 5:11-12
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
New International Version

The audacity of the writer of Hebrews  in hinting that the people of God were babies!  Immature!  Not growing!
Whether the writer of the book of Hebrews was Paul or not is not important in this particular post, but rather the tone in which is used to try and shake those who should have been further along in their spiritual development than they actually were.  I dare say if the writer of this letter were speaking to the average North American church member, I would venture to say that many would use terminology that you hear so much from those who crowd ministries week after week.  You know those cries of, “Your are being judgmental”,”you can’t tell if a person is really growing or not”, “who are you to point your finger at someone’s spiritual development”, and I’m sure you could probably think of many more.
In this 5th chapter of Hebrews, it is fair to assume because of the content of the latter part of the chapter, that there was indeed some type of measuring stick that the writer used to measure the growth of his audience.  Based on their growth, it is also safe to assume that his writers failed to come up to that measuring stick!
Growth in any living organism is generally expected.  Whether it is a human being, or a plant, we anticipate the growth of anything that has life.  We would all think it strange and unusual if our child was the same size at age 10 as they were at age 3.  We would immediately take them to a specialists and have them examined to see if there was anything that was going on in their system that is causing an ailment.  We would frantically seek help until we got the answers that we need to identify and potentially correct what ever is needed to ensure growth in our child.
It is often amazing that we do not use the same rationale in our spiritual lives as we do in our natural lives.  We have witnessed, in our own life, and in the lives of others,  stunted spiritual growth and for some reason or another we seldom stop to get a “checkup”.  After so long, we find ourselves in amazement and bewilderment as to why we have not moved spiritually in our life.  After years of “doing church” and being involved in various aspects of the ministry I attended, I found myself at a place of stunted spiritual growth because I had not taken ownership of my personal development in Christ, and had through tradition, given that power to someone else.  So many believers today, whether through voluntary or involuntary means, have given the reigns of their spiritual development into the hands of men and women and have not take ownership of our own development.
As babies, we relied on our parents to take a bottle in their hands and place it in our mouths until our bellies were full.  We moved from the bottle to baby food in jars, eventually table food, and soon we found ourselves with the spoon in our hands feeding ourselves.  This is the goal of a good caring parent, to actually lead their child into a place where the child is able to feed and nurture themselves. It is a very abnormal and unusual to have someone of a mature age that is capable of feeding themselves, to have someone feeding them on a consistent basis.  However, week after week, Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, we see countless of people who are capable of feeding themselves, yet refuse to take responsibility for their spiritual development.
The Hebrew writer seems to hint in the fifth chapter of Hebrews a sense of frustration with those who the writer says in verse 12, “..you ought to be teachers…..however,  you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again”.  It can be assumed that the Hebrew writer expected his audience to be on a different level of spiritual maturity but for whatever reason, they were still on the “milk” of the word.  Those on the milk were ” still an infant… not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.(Hebrew 5:13)  It seems as though with the amount of time the listeners had been exposed to the scriptures, teachings, and fellowship, their development should have progressed, but it didn’t.  How true the same thing unfortunately applies to the lives of many believers today in the sanctuaries of churches, ministries, and fellowships all across the globe because they are satisfied sitting in the HIGH CHAIR OF CHRISTIANITY not picking up their eating utensils, but allowing others to determine what it is they need.  Those of you who have had children and have been a part of the feeding process of babies know that after a certain time, the taste buds of babies start to change and mature.  The need for milk diminishes and the taste for something solid and more filling begins to occur in the belly of the child.  As I have eluded to earlier, this is a normal process in the development of babies.  They become very dissatisfied with the texture of milk, especially when they taste and understand there is something out there different and more satisfying.
The Hebrew writer seems to go in hard challenging the saints by letting them know that their were certain truths that could not even be discussed because they were not ready and could not spiritually handle other aspects of the word.  So true it is today that God wants to show us so much with his people but we seem to be stuck on the milk of the word and not moving on to more “SOLID” food.
There seems to be at times in the church a can’t win for loosing mentality when it comes to personal accountability in personal study,  from my experiences at least.  Many leaders challenge you to go do your homework and study the word of God for yourself and get an understanding of it,  but the moment you discover that perhaps the wrong lessons have been given you by your instructors, it is at that point that “you need to be really careful of what you allow to enter your spirit”.  Do you want me to know God and His Word for myself or not?  Many leaders, not all, seem to have certain “complexes” when it comes to how much information some of their “followers” come into.  It should never be considered a disappointment to a teacher when a student comes into knowledge that may be unfamiliar with the teacher, but rather look at the role that you make by opening the door of possibilities for the student to come into.  Many teachers do not realize how much of an influence and importance they have played on many students progress because they are too focused on the fact that the student knows something that that the teacher may not.
When this type of thing happens, especially in the church setting, we find a commonality that many teachers and leaders revert to, and the Hebrew writer seems to really stress this in the sixth chapter of Hebrews.
Remember the later part of Hebrews 5:
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The writer picks right back up and delivers another gut punch and states that there are some foundational things that we should leave behind and he lists them as follows in Hebrews 6:1-2
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Whether we will agree to what I am about to say, it is safe to say that many leaders in Christian churches consistently teach on one of these 6 foundational principles week in and week out.  We have many preachers that teach and preach on repentance every Sunday, trying to get people to turn from their sins to a loving God that is there waiting to forgive them and accept them into His love.  We have preachers that harp on faith every Sunday and Wednesday night.  Faith for healing, faith for deliverance, faith for a breakthru, faith for a break up, faith for a break out, you get the point!  Every Sunday there are messages going forth teaching on baptisms.  Baptism in water, baptism in the Holy Ghost, and that with fire!  Every weekend, there is an altar call made where members run to have someone lay hands on them in hopes of receiving something from God.  We hear emphasis on miracles of raising people from the dead, and hell is preached in some form of fashion every Sunday.  The Hebrew writer lists these things under the category of “elementary” teachings.  Perhaps this is another reason we have an over infection of immature believers!  Now the responsibility is placed on the shoulder of the instructor.  What are you teaching to mature the body?  What are you teaching to forward the “levels” of your students.  Do you have a curriculum formulated to ensure they are passing grades?
It is both the responsiblity of the teacher and the student to both do their parts in both the study and the teaching of the Word of God to fully develop and mature and go on to perfection and  an individual relationship in Christ.   When we can leave the elementary teachings and doctrines, we can move to the next level, relationship!  In relationship we learn of Him, then in turn teach Him to others through discipleship.  However, when we consistently retake the same classes over, and over, we never get to the place where we are able to effectively teach as we should be matured to do so.

Aren’t  you tired of being a Church R Us Kid?

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