Thoughts on Worship

Why is it so important to worship with other Christians? Many believe that one can consistently worship God alone, individually and have no spiritual need to include others in this intimate act of love and adoration. Worshipping the Father is, by its very nature, a communal act. We, as individuals, can only offer a small reflection of the Father’s characteristic as we worship with others. But together, we can offer each other a much bigger (fuller) picture of the divine Father.

But thinking corporately brings up another issue. If the church is the human community that lives by divine life (Galatians 2:20) and participates in and reflects the divine fellowship (2Peter 1:4), and I am counting on my brother and sister to be a resounding board for revelations from the Lord then it is incumbent upon us all to first of all allow space for the believing priesthood and then strengthen it so that when we come together new revelations of Jesus will permeate our time together.

Can God Still Heal Us Today? (Part 2)

The answer is a resounding – yes! The Father cares about us with a burning passion. He wants us to find His peace, His joy, His love and healing touch. I think I’m a typical Christian in that my thinking about healing has been shrouded in my conformity to the world’s patterns. It has taken many years but I see God totally different than I did almost thirty years ago. I’ve added layers and layers of conformity to my character but as I begin to shed these ill-fitting ideas I’ve begun to see the world through His eyes.

Take for instance suffering. The world has taught me to run away, avoid and even hide from suffering. I complain and ask God why must I suffer? But look at it through His perspective. In God’s economy, suffering is not negative. We see it that way but He doesn’t. He uses the negative effects of the fall from our lofty heights in the Garden of Eden and turns them into something very useful. He is shaping our character so that we become like Jesus. This is not an easy process; considering the lump of clay that we have become, into something that is beautiful and glorious – just like His Son.

We have conformed to the world’s standards that says suffering is bad, therefore avoid suffering. But the Father says yield to suffering, embrace it, learn from it, and eventually find joy in your suffering. If we deny Him this part of our lives we are denying His sovereignty. We are saying that we do not believe He is here in our pit of despair when all the time He has never let go of our hand. If we can go through that process we will find that nothing can ever again disturb our peace that we have in Christ.

I’ve found that once I’ve yielded myself to suffering, healing takes place on all levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It takes His Spirit down into the darkest areas of my being, where I’ve hidden myself from His loving hands since the beginning of my life.

Does God Still Heal Us Today?

Years ago I was suffering from some long forgotten problem and friends of mine asked me if they could place their hands on me to bring healing. I said sure and sat for their prayerful manifestation for healing of my body. Unfortunately nothing changed and they advised me that it was my lack of faith that prevented the transformation. That stuck with me for a long time.

Many Christians can’t allow themselves to consider the question because it places them in the uncomfortable position of confronting their faith. After all, if a Christian believes in God shouldn’t healing of disease (physical/mental/emotional) be ingrained into our DNA? But it may not be faith that needs to be examined but how He heals. There are deep dark secrets hidden in all of us, most carrying these burdens throughout our lives. These are areas that are not only hidden from our loved ones but also from ourselves. 2Corinthians 4:16 says outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. This tells me that the process of healing may not only be miraculous in nature (Jesus raising Lazarus) but also unremarkable (at least to the casual observer) in the realm of prayer.

But inwardly renewed; how? Matthew 7:7 says we are to ask Him. Can it be as simple as that? Yes and no. Yes, because we must ask first if we are to receive but no because we must pray and ask The Father to show us where we are hurting and in pain. It seems obvious, but I believe that we do not know why we are in pain and consequently need His healing presence to touch us. Ask The Father to show you the long held and now hidden areas of your heart that need renewal. Ask the Spirit to cascade down into your heart and wash it of those seemingly intractable strongholds. He will come and show you what to pray and how He can bring you back to a full and vibrant life that He has held out to us since the beginning.

More to come in my next blog post.

Rich man poor man

I heard a celebrity say the other day that if you are poor you are invisible. That may be true in the world but not in The Father’s kingdom. To Him, you are perfectly visible and extremely valuable (Mt. 10:31). But the real issue goes back to the values of this world and what we believe about those values. The world teaches us (and especially in the United States) that value comes from what you have, what you earn, one’s position in a hierarchal structure. Out of the overflow of a Christian’s heart comes their beliefs. What has the world taught and what have we believed? The world barges in and takes over one’s life at a very early age. It tells us what to value and consequently how we are to live our lives based upon those learned values.

But the scripture forces us, as Christians, to confront these beliefs. In God’s kingdom we should pray for the rich, not envy or attempt to take their wealth. Why? Because wealth tends to inoculate people from reality. The rich can live behind a purchased lifestyle and basically say to God; I don’t need you because I have everything right here. Not an enviable position to be in, hence we need to pray for the wealthy that they can open their eyes and see what is really true.

On the other hand being poor and “invisible” presents other issues altogether. If a poor person looks around and sees everyone getting their share but they remain poor, their heart can easily become embittered, frustrated and full of anger as they feel they have been overlooked. We must continue to pray for the poor so that they can open their eyes and see what is really true.

Freedom Part II

Christians are seeking the freedom that is promised in scripture but even as it extends its olive branch it remains elusive to most. If the believing priesthood (where all, not just a few, are considered worthy) is real then the obvious next question is – how? How would it function? I think it is best if it is illustrated in anecdotal form.
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A woman in our group told the story of her experience with the Lord one night. She felt Him so strongly that it caused her to awake from her sleep. The pressing message from the Lord was that she become involved with a young girl that needed refuge from a tumultuous home situation. She recounted the experience to the group and even though this was not a topic anyone expected to talk about that Sunday every member (functioning as a priest as described in the New Testament) responded with a willingness to help (either logistically or through encouragement or financial) her family deal with the extraordinary responsibility. This is Jesus leading His church. The Holy Spirit spoke and Christians listened and responded.

Within this interaction one finds the freedom that is promised (1Corinthians 12) in that every member has the freedom to express themselves as the Holy Spirit intended. In this way a fresh revelation of Christ is manifested within the body revealing His will to lead His church.

Freedom

Life is full of difficulties and as Christians we are encouraged to release our problems over to The Father. I’ve done this and feel completely liberated from the stress I was inundated with.

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But I’ve also seen another thing happen to me; I begin to grind, think, contemplate over the very same issue I just released to The Father. What I’ve done is effectively taken back the issue from The Father to make it mine all over again. The Holy Spirit allows this to take place because of the never ending love that God has for us. He will not violate our free will, even if we act in a way that is demonstrating our faithlessness. 1Peter 5:8-9 is directly coupled with verse 7 in that we must be alert to how our enemy attempts to disrupt and control our lives. Once we release our problems be alert and restrain our minds to never again taking back what we have once released.

The love of God or the world?

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The Father created us first and foremost to glorify Him but this does not mean we are the center of His universe as many are in the habit of thinking. As Christians we become part of His family, if we are in Christ, thus becoming the objects of The Father’s love through His Son. God is love but this is a reciprocal relationship and He asks that we love Him back. But we cannot love Him and love the world at the same time. With His hand and heart extended He asks; Will you love me today?

UNITY

Today’s blog is a slight divergence from my normal topics but I thought it was important.

A lot of conversation is being bantered about these days about unity or being unified with each other. The idea of unity is very appealing to most people. If we were unified we could come together as a people living in the U.S. and live in peace with one another. But perhaps the real question is not do we want to be unified but rather what is unity? Most people would describe unity as an ability to come together in agreement with one another. While that is true it is another thing altogether to accomplish it.

Why is it so hard to come together in unity? Maybe a better question is why is it so hard to yield to one another? Yielding to one another is the inner core of unity. You simply can not be unified with someone that you refuse to yield to. It requires listening and listening requires respect and respect requires love. Unity is a by-product of love for one another. The hard work of unity if found in love. If you can honestly say that you love your neighbors; even if you disagree with them politically or socially then you are well on your way to becoming united with them.

Love is a deliberate act to force your self to yield to another in order to be able to listen to who they truly are as a person. If one is successful for a period of time in this self denial one would find that there is a place for love. It really is a simple formula but difficult to accomplish because our natural tendencies as people are to be distrustful of others that are not like us. What will happen if I yield myself to another? Won’t they take advantage of me? Good questions and possibly even true. However if your goal is to accomplish unity there is no other way. The other person must actually feel your love. In this way they can begin to respect you, which in turn leads to listening to your side of things with patience, which leads to unity.

Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations that offer a quick fix to society’s problems. It takes time to listen to another person in order to gain understanding. Dropping our disagreements with each other sounds like an incredibly good idea but are we willing to do the hard work to accomplish this task?

If we are unified and in community with one another great and lasting changes can be made within our society. But if we (or our leaders) persist on discussing the issues that divide us no progress will be made in the national discussion. We will continue to be separated from one another. The courage and conviction it takes to humble oneself is the measure of great men and women and those leaders that show us by example that this is the way forward are to be followed, admired and emulated.