Category Archives: Church

Forgive One Another

“Father, forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6)

“If you don’t forgive others from the heart, you will be handed over to the tormentors. ” (Matthew 18)

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4)

We have the same power to forgive people who sin against us that our Father has to forgive people who sin against Him: the cross that became an altar.

There is no alternative to forgiveness for sons and daughters of God to respond to others’ sin with. There are additional things I could or must do, but forgiveness is the power of God to build a bride for His Son. We are involved in the process by spreading the power.

You won’t have to think long usually to find your list of unforgiven people if you have one. Forgive them now. And the next time you think about their sin, forgive them again. You have to go through the process over and over as many times as you feel the pain until the pain heals and all you have for them is the agape the Spirit puts in you for them.

You can do it. He says so. He’s always right.

Pruning

I just pruned most of the back yard. It took a long time and I got hurt a few times. I ended up with enough clippings and cuttings to be a few bushes. Now, the pruned bushes and trees look nicer and the ones that produce flowers will produce more flowers than they would have.

When we get sick, it could be that a random demon has bumped into us and attacked us. It could be that sin has opened a door through which unclean things have become fastened to us. A human could be hating us and agreeing with some demon, opening a door to our pain. Maybe we just got sneezed on by someone who didn’t care.

Or, it could be that a sickness, or a hundred other problems, could be a pruning operation. Yahweh understands pruning better than most observers. He is the Designer. He knows that when we finally start to bear fruit, pruning us will cause us to bear even more fruit. Once we grow back…

I imagine a fulfillment of the idea Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 being that fires come to test our work and our character. If we avoid the flames, we avoid having Christ formed in us, and our building skills don’t improve. When we face that final pruning by fire that Paul described, what’s left of us is a well refined tooth pick.

If we don’t avoid the flames, but allow them to burn off carnality and immaturity, as we grow back from the searing, we are stronger and more fruitful. We are better because of the challenge, attack, sickness, or whatever the pruning is, not in spite of it.

Our first response to adversity should be to ask Dad what He is doing and how to cooperate so that it happens quickly and effectively. Usually our first response is to call the devil a liar and start banging on him. Our enemies can’t touch us unless our God allows or commands it (see Job…).

Be transformed by having your mind renewed to see all things from Yahweh’s perspective, especially difficulties (and prunings.) Look for the prize in the box. Don’t waste time being discouraged that there are so few peanuts… Get the prize!

 

But the Church was Praying

Acts 12 begins with James the brother of John dead – beheaded by Herod. Herod knew that he was barely seated on the throne Rome had given him, because he was a Jewish convert, and Jewish law was clear that only a descendant of Jacob could be king. When he saw how happy it made the Jews when he murdered James, he arrested Peter, and announced that after Passover, he would kill him too.

But – there was fervent prayer happening at Mark’s Mom’s house. Therefore, Yahweh sent an angel to un-arrest Peter. Herod was so embarrassed and angry that he had the soldiers executed who had been assigned the impossible task of keeping Peter arrested.

Luke wrote that Herod then went to Caesarea. There, he gave a public address to the people of Tyre and Sidon. When they responded to it with cries of “This is the voice of a god, not a man!”, because Herod did not give praise to Yahweh, an angel of God struck him down and he was eaten by worms.

The chapter started with James dead, Peter in prison, and Herod triumphant. But – because the church prayed, it ended with Herod dead, Peter free, and God’s word triumphant.

It (God’s word) continued to spread and flourish.

Supper with The Lord

I suggest that if you aren’t eating meals with other believers very often that you aren’t very connected to the body of Jesus.

The church is not made of congregations. There are families and tribes, but the church is made of relationships – Ephesians 4 style “joints”.

India is not a nation. It is thousands of tribes who speak thousands of languages. The false national identity was imposed by people from Britain who wanted to control it and live off of its wealth.

The western church, with denominations and congregations that resemble orphanages instead of families, works a bit like that.

Build families and tribes. Build real relationships. You don’t have to leave the congregation if you have work to do there, but don’t pretend it’s the real thing and wither up from lack of Life giving Fellowship.

Invite people over. Take them out. Go visit.

Be awesome.

 

Strength in Your Ear

The last time I checked the statistics, almost all new believers stayed in a congregation less than 4 years before moving on to something else. 96% or so. Some reasons for that:

The congregation they found themselves in was not culturally relevant to them. Contrasts of age, financial status, music preference, clothing style, dialect of English, etc. made the new people not fit into the congregational relationships that could have held them.

The congregation had leadership that was not pastoral. If the person behind the pulpit was an evangelist or a teacher or a prophet, pastoral ministry was not likely to be happening. There are people in “the pews” who sometimes fill in to do some shepherding, but sometimes they are not welcomed or encouraged to do so by the people who are “credentialed.”

There was pastoral leadership, and, therefore, weak teaching ministry. If “the minister” really is a pastor, but held responsible for also (without the spiritual gift of “teacher”) preaching every Sunday, the teaching will likely be dry and lifeless.

The congregation is full of people who have no heart to serve or develop relationships with new believers. The picture Paul drew in Ephesians 4 of the Church doing things right was that She is built up in love by what every “joint” supplies. A joint is a relationship between two body parts. The church is not made of congregations. it is made of relationships.

New believers found Christian fellowship somewhere other than the congregation they tried to connect with. Either they ended up in other congregations, or outside the traditions of men and in places and gatherings that were made up of believers, but were not “Sunday Services.”

New believers found that they had no purpose, and felt that there was no point in the trouble of attending “services.” When assisted in finding their spiritual identities, based on what Yahweh has called them to, people become connected and responsible. When their identities seem to fit into the “laity” and the important work is done by the “clergy,” people sometimes grow disinterested in watching the show and stop buying the tickets.

Some representatives of Jesus so terribly misrepresent Him that some people simply decide that following Him was a mistake made in an emotionally low condition and leave to find something else to live for.


You need love. You need to hear through your ears that you are important, that you have a God-inSpired identity, and that you are likely to succeed at the profound calling He has on your life. You need to be equipped by the combination of multiple gifts operating around you that can draw who you are out of who you used to be.

If you are not finding that where you “go to church,” pray for connection to the Body. If you have some sense of who you are in Christ, take responsibility for speaking success into the ears of others who also need more courage than they can muster alone.

God sets the solitary in Families (Psalm 68:6). Men drop them in orphanages. Let’s do what our Father is doing.

Being Different

While you are learning how to be the eye or toe or heart that you are called to be in the Body of Jesus, it is good to be encouraged on days by other eyes or toes or hearts.

It is awesome to find comfort from an eye who has already been poked by a finger when you get poked for the first time. It is empowering to be taught how focused an eye really can be so that you can do it at the highest level of ability.

As you mature, it is wise to venture out of the eye tribe into the dangerous and scary place of the rest of the gifts. An eye is most useful when it is helping guide the body. Prophets or evangelists have great parties when no one but other prophets or evangelists show up, but when they start to party with pastors and teachers, the Body starts to be built up.

Hob nobbing with the rest of my tribe, I can learn a lot. If that is where I stay, it is possible that I will become satisfied with knowledge, which puffs up. I need love in scary places so that I can be built up.

When the Body really gets together, it is built up – by what every joint supplies. Joints are relationships with other Body members.

Ephesians 4.

Church Growth

If you ask an Evangelist “What produces Church Growth?”, the answer you get will likely sound like, “Leading people to saving faith in Jesus.”

If you ask a Teacher “What produces Church Growth?”, the answer you get will likely sound like, “Teaching believers how to rightly divide the Word of God and live by it’s commands.”

If you ask a Pastor “What produces Church Growth?”, the answer you get will likely sound like, “Surrounding new believers with fellowship and accountability so that they become responsible members of God’s Family.”

If you ask a Prophet “What produces Church Growth?”, the answer you get will likely sound like, “Confronting sin and holding carnally minded believers accountable for increasing in righteous behavior.”

If you ask an Apostle “What produces Church Growth?”, the answer you get will likely sound like, “Finding a way to get Evangelists, Teachers, Pastors & Prophets to equip the Saints to be the Body of Christ in the earth in effective ways.”

Super Vision Advisory

Scary toys usually have a disclaimer printed on the packaging: “Adult Supervision Required.” Another one made famous when TV was young was, “Kids, don’t try this at home! We’re trained professionals. You could get hurt!”

Those warnings were probably imposed by a board member’s lawyer, not his mom. The concern was likely for the company’s safety, not  for the safety of the targets of their marketing campaign.

My warning is because I love you, though! Super Natural makes sense to you – it defies natural laws. Super Rational may seem useful to you by now – it defies popular or typical rationales. Super Vision is what you get when you are born of God (John 3:3).

You need Perspective – the ability to see from more than one source. It is why you have two eyes. The result of two sources of visual data passing through your brain produces the ability to discern depth and distance. You have two ears’ data coming into your brain so that you can discern direction regarding sources of sounds.

Having other believers around you who see you as Yahweh does, who can see some of the future and interpret some of current situations, who love you and want you to succeed – this adds even more “perspective” to your input.

The fact that they are born of God means that they have Super Vision, and having them Supervise you in love and in prayer increases the likelihood of your destiny becoming real-ized. They can ask questions that help you find details or direction from the Spirit of God.

Invest in them and pray often for their ministry to you. Thank God for them.

Good Friends

Friends love all the time. That’s Proverbs 17:17. Agape. They don’t have to want to be around you all the time to still be loving you. Agape.

Friends will help you become your full level of awesome. They won’t let you quit. Your mistake doesn’t offend or alienate them.

Until we teach a generation of believers how to skate past religion and love one another it will be miraculous if you are loved by 5 friends your whole life. That is going to change.

You can’t effectively engage with more than 20 people at the genuine friend level at one time – in a way that you know what is going on in their lives. Invest heavily in the ones you can reach. Teach them how to do it.

When the unbelievers see us loving each other it will be such a contrast to what they have seen in the past that they will turn aside to see why the bush burns.

They will take off their shoes and meet the Lord.

Followers of the Way

Being a Believer in Jesus, a follower of Jesus, involves me in a WAY of doing things, a WAY of valuing relationships, a WAY of Life.

In Ephesians 4, Paul wrote prophetically about a time of maturity in the Body when every joint is supplying what it should to the Body, and therefore we are built up to the full stature of Jesus – an appropriate Bride for the Wonderful Son. A joint is a place where two parts come together and therefore can do something.

Failing to be assembled, as referenced by the writer to Hebrew Believers, means just being present in the box, not looking at all like a new bicycle or train track or doll house. Just showing up for all the meetings is not being assembled together. Becoming a fun or useful item is.

If I am not in new relationships, or deeper relationships, or more effective-in-ministry relationships than I was 2 years ago, I am failing to be assembled with other Believers.

I am just dressing the set.