A Social Gospel

Some believers, probably with the gift of evangelism, are very upset over something they call the “Social Gospel.” It upsets them because it is not focused on evangelism. Of course…

Some believers, probably with gifts of teacher or pastor, are upset that the church is seeming to be irrelevant to the culture it encounters in our towns and cities and schools and states and nations and businesses. Even in situations when we are effectively leading people to Christ, we are not changing their lives or the lives of the people in their communities or families.

It isn’t just a problem that is related to the difficulty differently gifted people have of seeing each others’ points of view and value. It is, at its core, a Kingdom / Church issue. My gift may be pastor, but my work (ministry) might be at a high level of a multi-national business. Or, it may be to a congregation in a remote area of Montana, with 21 members in a community of 38.

When we begin to discover that every believer has an important work to do (ministry), we still have the hurdle to jump of the church leaders of the ages pretending that ministry only happens through church leaders in the church. Don’t be mixing with those unclean unbelievers…

When we are properly led, we will be equipped each to do the work we have been ordained to, in the sphere we have been privileged to influence, and we will change our cultures and communities and families. We will be manifesting Jesus – lifting Him up, and He will draw all to Himself who are willing to receive life that can be spent blessing Him.

The Church will be revealing the Kingdom.

Too Tense

Have you ever suffered the effects of what people call a “tension headache”?

How often does it come from the tension between what God has said to us He desires to see happening in the earth, and the contrast of what we actually see happening in the earth?

My Sin Against You

When Jesus was being tortured to death by soldiers employed by Rome, something else was happening in another dimension. Jesus had ordained a few acolytes to help Him offer a Sacrifice.

The soldiers became the acolytes. They became part of the process of offering an Eternal Sacrifice. The Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world entered that event into the flow of seconds and minutes and hours and days and caused it to affect the world. One of the priestly assistants caught a glimpse into that other dimension, and in awe uttered, “Surely this was the Son of God!”

That Eternal Offering became sufficient payment for the sins of all humanity except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Jesus, thrashed between the dimensions of Heaven and Grave and sky and Earth  and life and death cried out what He had inspired David to write about the occasion in Psalm 22: “My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

In that forsaken place, He suffered what I owed. He paid for my sin – all of it – against you, against parents, teachers, friends, and heaven. My sin against you is paid for. And yours against me. Count it so, and proceed in life with freedom from bitterness and fear. Enjoy the cleared debts His payment has created!

Think Like Yahweh

C. Peter Wagner, in his book This Changes Everything – How God Can Transform your Mind and Change Your Life (Regal Books, ©2013 Peter Wagner), offered this list of American Jewish people’s leadership accomplishments:

Jews make up only 2% of the American population, yet

  • 45% of the top 40 Forbes richest Americans are Jewish
  • 33% of American multimillionaires are tallied as Jewish
  • 20% of professors at leading universities are Jewish
  • 40% of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington are Jewish
  • 30% of American Nobel Prize winners in science are Jewish
  • 25% of all American Nobel Prize winners are Jewish

Wagner is basing his interpretation of this data on the Scripture “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” (Romans 12:2). His suggestion is that the reason more Jewish people succeed at business and science and other leadership is because they have been influenced culturally and by the Scriptures to think like Yahweh.

The application of the Yahweh-influenced thought style is pretty much limited to earthly things in this case, but if it is true that thinking the way the Holy Spirit wants me to think will bring me more success than my neighbors will experience, I need to let Him change my mind, and use the changed one a lot.

Recognizing True Value

I am convinced that one reason why Yahweh never seems to be upset by the fact that Jacob stole his elder brother’s inheritance is because Esau insulted Yahweh by not valuing it.

The heritage that we have received from believing parents or grandparents is part of our spiritual inheritance. The character and mindset that our mentors had as they influenced us to maturity is part of our spiritual inheritance. The opportunities for ministry that our Father has laid out in front of us for us to walk in is part of our spiritual inheritance.

The more we display the value we believe it has, the more we experience benefits of favor and grace as He blesses us without regard for our failures, just as He did Jacob. As Jacob walked in the identity of the heir of God’s promises, Yahweh changed his name from “Usurper” to “God’s Prince.”

Running Out of Time

If we knew we only had one day to live, that knowledge would likely affect the choices we made about how to spend that most valuable day. Wisdom would demand that we seek the Spirit of the Lord for advice about how to spend that day, and we would count it off in hours first, but soon in minutes.

Any day could actually be our last, though! If we knew that in advance, it would change our day. If we only found out after it was over that it was our last, what would that change? Would we be disappointed in our choices of activities that day?

Two ideas challenge me from these thoughts:

Why not live each day with the desperation we would have to get it right if we knew it was our last?

What difference should there be in the last day in contrast to the third from the last? Why shouldn’t every day have the same astonishing value: we are privileged with 24 hours of opportunities to serve the King of glory and to praise His name and bless His honor.

Today is the only day you have right now. Squeeze it. Squeeze every opportunity out of it. Leave it completely spent and used up like the last drop of fragrant ointment from the alabaster box that broke open one second after midnight last night, and apply the whole thing to Him as an offering of love.

There is a Prophet

Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a great man in his master’s sight and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a brave warrior, but he had a skin disease.

Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.”

So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. Therefore, the king of Aram said, “Go and I will send a letter with you to the king of Israel.”

So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 10 changes of clothes. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read: When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease.

When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Think it over and you will see that he is only picking a fight with me.”

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel tore his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.
(2 Kings 5:1-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

We live too often in little pens of our limited imaginations. Our world views are as small as our experiences or they are shrunk by others’ lack of imagination. Even worse are our expectations that there might be someone around whom we could trust to have abilities or wisdom that we need.

Joram, the king of Israel, could only think from his little pen of suspicion and fear when king BenHadad sent him a letter that sought a miracle for his general, Naaman. The servant girl in Naaman’s household had a worldview that stretched far beyond her captivity and limits. Her hope was as big as Yahweh.

Pastors can’t trust prophets without a supernatural dose of the fruit of the Spirit. Evangelists can’t trust pastors or prophets to raise up the new believers they lead to the Lord without a dose of faith from the Spirit that makes them able to see over the fence of their pens.

We will soon begin to grasp that as we work together, trusting each other because we have prayed over each other’s ministries, that God can actually use the rest of His silly people just like He can use us – by transforming us into His likeness.

We will bless each other and expect that when someone comes forth with a need, no matter how great it is, that there is a servant in God’s household who can manifest the Lord of the house and meet that need.

Waiting to Understand

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation;
because by Him everything was created,
in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.
For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
(Colossians 1:15-20 Holman Christian Standard Bible®)

Who can understand our God? Who can explain mystery? A puzzle can be worked out a few times and then no longer holds anything that is hidden from us – the mystery disappears. The things that are too great about our God to fit between our ears may remain mysteries forever.

People who claim to be able to explain what they call “the Trinity” become objects of my suspicion regarding other things they claim to know. If I feel led to challenge them rather than just let them be, I may ask them to explain how it is that Jesus called us part of what they are calling “the Trinity,” (John  17:20-23):

May they all be one,
as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us,
so the world may believe You sent Me.
I have given them the glory You have given Me.
May they be one as We are one.
I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me
and have loved them as You have loved Me.

My challenge is not meant to prevent people from believing that there is some true concept they could properly call “the Trinity.” It is to challenge the thought that our pride must drive us to pretend to those we lead that, as proper theologians, we have all of our doctrines in order and can explain everything. There are many mysteries that we cannot explain. We must lead anyway.

Don’t wait to act or to lead until you understand everything. Be one with Them. The world won’t know us by our doctrinal accuracy. They will know us by our fruit – the fruit of being one with our God in all the ways He has revealed Himself, including through the rest of His people.

A Proverb a Day

Happy the person who finds wisdom,
the person who acquires understanding;
for her profit exceeds that of silver,
gaining her is better than gold,
she is more precious than pearls —
nothing you want can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand,
riches and honor in her left.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who grasp her;
whoever holds fast to her will be made happy.
(Proverbs 3:13-18 Complete Jewish Bible)

There are 31 chapters of Proverbs in the Bible. There are 31 days in many months. If, for even 4 months of your life, you read a chapter a day, the subsequent months of your life would be changed for the better, as your thoughts and values become influenced by the Wisdom of Yahweh.

Satan and the Pit

Many of my charismatic and pentecostal friends have a habit of commanding satan to “go back to the pit” where he came from. This prompts me to enjoy on days when I see someone about to eat a peach or cherry or apricot to warn them to be very careful with the pit, looking very serious. When they ask why, I respond that you can never tell which pit a careless pentecostal might have cast a demon into…

Actually, satan came from heaven, not from a pit of hell. He still has access to heaven, and he has power in any place in the earth where humans are silly enough to honor his ways or to serve him. Examples are nations or cities or businesses or congregations or false religion meeting places such as North Korea, Somalia, San Francisco, Berkeley, Washington DC, Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Masonic Halls, Mosques, and even congregations of the Church that are being controlled by witchcraft or fear.

One day, satan, a very powerful false prophet, a being called “the Beast,” death, and the grave (sheol or hades) will all be thrown in a place John saw that is called the lake of fire. Some spirits are already bound in darkness, according to Peter (2 Peter 2:4) and Jude (vs. 6), but satan is not one of them. Those spirits are described as having abandoned their places, and Lucifer is described as being removed. Satan is on the loose, prowling about – looking for a soul to harm:

Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.

Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. To Him be the dominion forever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:8-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible® © )