Monthly Archives: August 2018

Slaves or Sons: Attitudes and Actions as Heirs of the Kingdom

As disciples in this world we live in the dominion of a reality of what we see and can touch, but at the same time we are residents or citizens of a “Kingdom” we cannot always see or touch which is also a reality. It seems we live among two kingdoms in contrast:

In John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” And in Colossians 1:13 Paul explains “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…”

So, here’s a real clarification by Paul; one is a dominion (of darkness) and the other is truly a kingdom (of light). The words used here are totally different. A dominion is a power or authority, but a kingdom is altogether different. A kingdom is the power and the authority. Satan has a dominion, but no “kingdom”. He has authority because man has allowed it by falling into deception, but Satan is not The Authority.

We live in a time in between what has been and what will be:

John Wimber,  of the Vineyard Movement often used an analogy of D-day:  Similar to the D-day landing that signaled the end of WWII Jesus’ 1st coming signaled his 2nd coming, and the end of Satan’s dominion. In Jesus’ first coming He set in motion the events that will ultimately end in the final overthrow of Satan’s dominion and initiate what will be. Just as D-day signaled the beginning of the end of WWII, so with Jesus’ 1st coming, it’s the beginning of the end of the dominion of darkness. We’ve begun, but we are not there yet. We live “in between what has been and what will be”.

Slave or Son? So you and I are faced with many “realities” in this world that seek to keep us in slavery. This could be lies of the enemy to keep me down, or many situations to dash hope and make me give up. They pursue you, like in a rear view mirror which says “object in mirror are closer than they appear” the dominion of darkness seeks to over-run you and I, keep us in fear, and keep us imprisoned (even though the cell door is standing wide open)

A great story that clarifies this is found in Exodus chapter 14: The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. -Exodus 14:9-10

So with us; as we begin to step into freedom, the situation, issue or lie wants to come after us and keep us down. Intimidation is always used and objects in the rear view mirror may seem very close to overtaking us. We can easily lose heart and give up. This is the mind-set of a slave.

Fear & Complaining

They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” – Exodus 14:11-12

Human nature is the same no matter what century you live in…

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:13-14

He calms the people and leads, settling their fear and reassuring them to trust God. But then God says something interesting, :

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. – Exodus 14:15-16

He calls them not only to trust and reliance but also to action. This is characteristic not of a slave, but of a son. They too were in between what had been and what would be. They were no longer slaves, as they left Egypt and slavery they were regaining and reclaiming their place as sons and daughters (though they didn’t comprehend it yet)

Check out what Galatians 4 says:

…When we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. – Galatians 4:3-5

Attitude & Action- So both our attitude and our actions need to grow to be that of Sons and Daughters, and not that of slaves! The prison door is open and we are free if we will simply walk out of the cell and into freedom as a son!

Galatians continues…Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. – Galatians 4:6-7

ATTITUDE: That is to be our attitude; not pompous or prideful, not spoiled but never the less a son or daughter of a king and therefore a responsible son who acts like his big brother, Jesus, who didn’t come to be served but to serve and was humble, and took appropriate action as a child of the king.

ACTION: Augustine said “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

God was delivering the slaves from Egypt but all they could see was what was in the rear view mirror. Even after seeing at least 10 miracles that would ultimately set them free, all they could do was complain when what they should have been doing was walking or even running to freedom. Ultimately Moses had to lift his staff, divide the sea and the ex-slaves had to take action to gain the freedom that was already theirs. Slavery behind, the promised land ahead, they were in between what had been and what would be, but their attitude AND their actions had to change.

Frederick Douglass, ex-slave and abolitionist, 1800s, said: I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

The sailors say: “Pray… and row away from the rocks…”

As ex-slaves who are now Sons and Daughters of The Kingdom what pursues you and wants to overtake you or enslave you? “Pray…  and ____(fill in the blank)_”

When I was diagnosed as diabetic, the first week I was in shock,  I suffered overwhelming depression, I was enslaved. (The objects in the rear view mirror seemed much larger and closer and were overwhelming me) But then my attitude and actions began to change. I believe God will keep me, even heal me because He has before. I still fully trust in him).

As a son I also had to change my actions. I changed my diet, I take my meds regularly, and I am exercising daily. I’m putting legs to my prayers, I’m working as if it depends on me, as a son. I have to. But I also want to.

Always remember “you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir!” – Galatians 4:6-7

Repentance Must Begin In The Church

Something has gone terribly wrong. Headlines of the failures of individuals and institutions shake you and would make you lose heart. We have seen it in bits and pieces for years like looking at the details of a much larger and darker grotesque work of art. In recent history, possibly even your lifetime, leaders of the church have fallen one by one through the many various scandals over the decades. I’ll not name names, they are infamous enough that a simple internet search will produce plenty of tabloid material to choke on.

Francis Schaeffer, in critiquing the church’s understanding of culture said:

“The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.”

It’s a kind way of saying we’re somewhat blind, but this is also true of the church’s self evaluation. Inside of the church it kind of makes sense, currently speaking, many are disowning the Evangelical side of the family for being too right wing, (for example) or, Protestants have disowned the Catholic side of the family when situations like the Pennsylvania clergy scandal arise. Who can blame anyone for wanting to distance self from these atrocities and say “They are not actually a part of our family” like the weird relative no one really wants to own up to at Thanksgiving. But we’re still looking at smaller details instead of the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that something has gone terribly wrong in the church, and society, as screwed up as it is, has noticed.

It is a double standard to expect society to be one way and the church to be another. So be it. But all to often the church has conformed her ways in an unhealthy manner to the standards of the world (greed, sex, fame). Sometimes men in the church have held no standards at all. Some men in the church have been simply evil. All too often denominational leaders have valued gifting instead of character, and all too often that is a losing proposition. All too often the church has simply tried to maintain the status quo only to find serial offenders and manipulators taking advantage of people in their midst. It is a tragedy when it is a rogue operator and a travesty when it is systemic.

Setting aside the dark tragedies for a moment, the church in general has tainted herself too much by flirting with the world. Did Jesus eat with sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors? Yes. Did he come feasting, and drinking wine? Yes. Yet, He was without sin. He did not condemn the woman in the street, he told her to “Go, and sin no more.” To be a disciple is to follow Christ, to call others forward on their journey, and to carry whatever responsibility Jesus assigns to you. Some have outright fallen into sin, and too many are never held to account. In addition the church has been a poor student of what has been given to it; Marcionic with the scriptures, not very prayerful, and not very holy.

What does the world need? For the church to be the church. Don’t expect any thanks for it. Everyone complains when it’s right to complain, no one compliments when you do a good job, but the world desperately needs the church to be the church…to be holy and good and light in dark places. But don’t expect compliments or acknowledgements. If the church is doing its job right it will still be despised, but not for the reasons it is despised for today.

In order for the church to be what it needs to be, the church has to repent. As Americans we have a strong sense of what does or doesn’t apply to us, individually. So, I may say “I haven’t been greedy, I haven’t abused power, I’ve not had an affair… so this doesn’t apply to me…” let me remind you of Ezekiel 22:30

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”

Stand in the gap means to intercede for the benefit of another. Here, literally to stand in an area where the wall is completely knocked down, with sword and shield drawn ready for battle.

The church needs to deeply and wholly repent, some of us have to start “guilty or not.” Those who seek to faithfully lead the church must first lead by repentance and then by seeking the transforming holiness of God. We need to pray, be literate in God’s word, and return to our post and our work, and be faithful. This is the only answer.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, – Acts 3:19

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'” -Revelation 7:17

The Church, The Last Days & The Holy Spirit 1

When we hear the term “Last Days” it often conjures up travesty on the evening news, or perhaps some poorly made disaster film.

But if you look in context that’s not all there is, in fact the signifier of the “Last Days” is something different; In Acts chapter 2 we find Saint Peter speaking:

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

-Acts 2:14-21

Saint Peter quotes the prophet Joel on the day of Pentecost 400 years after Joel spoke those words. Peter said The Holy Spirit being poured out is the signifier of the Last Days.  Joel said Something is going to happen, God is going to do something in the last days… God is saying “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” all who will receive I will pour out my spirit on sons & daughters, old & young… regardless of age, race, sex, color, background…

In the old testament the Holy Spirit “came upon” people at particular times for particular tasks: Gideon, David, Ezekiel, others. In the new testament, Joel foresaw and was prophecying, there will be a new ability to hear God, to prophecy, to have dreams and visions, this would not be limited but a great and new opportunity.

John the Baptist was the last old testament prophet proclaiming the coming of Jesus. He said “I baptize with water, but he baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire!” Jesus said “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” – John 14:6

Comforter, “paraclete” in Greek, means ”One called along side of.” Look at Saint Paul’s story: Knocked to the ground, he encountered Jesus then was filled with the spirit after being prayed for.

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 9:17

People encounter Jesus and then encounter the Holy Spirit, I love the fact that Ananias said “so that you may see again  be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

So, in short there are 3 ideas for us to grab this week:

I) The Holy Spirit has been given

  • Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. -Acts 1:4-5
  • The Samaritans in Acts 8:17 – Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.
  • Cornelius & Co. in Acts 10:44- Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message.

II) The Holy Spirit teaches

  • But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. –John 14:26
  • But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true–it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. – 1st John 2:27

III) The Holy Spirit enables and empowers

  • Peter has a vision up on the roof –Acts ch 10:19-20 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” The Spirit informed and empowered Saint Peter.
  • The Spirit enables us, we do not direct the Spirit: ‘Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:21

The Last Days have begun, God has poured out His Holy Spirit on daughters and sons, and We want to be “carried along” by HIS Spirit as we go.