The Real Church!

“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. “(Ephesians 1:22,23)

For the most part, whenever someone makes a reference to the church, they are inevitably thinking about a building or a denominational religion. As such, the congregants–those who gather together on a regular basis–become the focus of much religious teaching. We missed the entire point–of the church–when we think of it in this manner.

God, when He raised Christ from the dead and set Him at His right hand in heavenly places, put all things (everything–religion and unbelief) under his feet and made Him to be the head over all things to the church (body of believers) and we who are part of the body are filled with Him and everything He is.

That’s a mouthful. If the fullness of Him (everything He is–primarily–love) fills all (of us) in all (situations), then we who believe (no matter under what banner or denomination) are The Real Church!

Forget about the denominations who are not filled with love because many teach “their superiority” over another denomination which becomes religious dogma. If there is no love abounding from the leadership, and no one encouraging love of all–it is a religious dogma that has no value or worth in heaven. With that said, here’s something to chew on a few days or months–however long it takes for one to swallow (the bitter truth)–that none of our religious posturing matters to God.

If there is no love–Catholicism is wrong, Protestantism is wrong, all the denominations that espouse religious teachings that negate the importance of all believers and loving one another are “wrong.”

The Real Church–the body of believers over which Christ is the head–is all who know how to love, unconditionally–and teach the truth of God’s Word, encouraging others to love and live according to God’s Word, not their opinions or religious dogma.

How does one know the difference? Religious dogma’s goal is to control–everyone and what they do. Religious dogma focuses on the importance of the organization instead of the importance of relationship with Jesus Christ. Religious dogmas hold people in high esteem more than Jesus. Religious dogma refuses to admit there is no one group of believers who is greater than the other.

Relationship with Christ and other believers is important in this journey called life. Relationship is far more important than religious dogma that limits–what one can do with the knowledge of Christ and in how to treat fellow human beings. Those in true relationship with Christ and the Father, allowing Holy Spirit to guide in all things are the “real church” and it is a church without walls or boundaries–abounding in love, overflowing, in constant communication with God on behalf of all people, loving all.

Lord Jesus, help us to get to the place where we understand that we who believe are the real church when we know how to love and are in relationship with You instead of being in religions that do not know You or teach Who You are–Love.

Called For a Purpose!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

I have probably used this verse of scripture in a previous post, but I’m moving in another direction–hopefully–from the one used.

When God “calls us” into His service, we are called to fulfill His purposes–not our own.  And when we acknowledge that call, enter into His service to fulfill His purposes, everything we do–works for our good. Now, the opposite of what was just stated is also true. If He did not call us or we do not fulfill His purposes, then nothing we do works out well. We can say we love God from daybreak until sunset, pray without ceasing, and if we never venture forth to do what He has called us to do, we are wasting our time.

Some people are called into service for God by other people–their mothers, their fathers, their pastors, or even their own greed to be seen or to pimp a pulpit. First of all, a call to serve God by Him–does not mean a person should be standing in a pulpit preaching the Gospel–especially when they are not equipped to do so. “Who God calls, He qualifies and equips to get the job done.” When I see foolishness reign in a church, I question the call of God on the life of the leadership because I see no evidence of God being involved. How do I know God is not involved?

Through Holy Spirit, God anoints and appoints those He desires to use. Holy Spirit leads and guides us into doing all things according to The Word of God, not our feelings or current trends or popular belief. When the leadership cannot read the Word, has no clue as to what The Word means, and has never attempted “to study to show themselves approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed,” then I know God is not involved. God is true to His Word and it is man (or woman) that makes a mockery of God’s callings by trying to be something they were never intended to be!

Will those who counterfeit God’s calling have a measure of success? Usually, they do–a manufactured success that once exposed, falls apart as quickly as it was contrived. How quick is quick? God determines time and with Him–one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day–but it will come and all will see who contrived their calling.

We can fool people–sometimes, but we can never fool God. Little by little, things begin to be exposed–mismanagement of money, abuse of position and authority, scandal of all types and magnitudes, prophe-lying prophets who can’t predict the next rain, let alone what God is going to do for someone. If they really knew what God was going to do, they would run and hide out of fear of being exposed and experiencing God’s wrath. Church dwellings become more like the night-clubs and the praise-dancers are more pole dancers without the pole–the seductive moves are the same as being on the pole. The elder women in the churches don’t bother to teach the younger women anything because the younger women don’t want to learn anything. The young women act like they are on the street in a club more than they act like they are in a church. When people can be heard cussing, found in hidden niches of the building making out and doing all manner of evil–in the church–I know God is not involved. Where the Spirit of the Lord is–we would be too afraid to do such things.

God’s callings and gifts are without repentance–He does not take them back even when we abuse or misuse them, but we open the door for Satan to reign when we do. God’s purpose in calling us into service for Him is for Him to be glorified and for us to be blessed so we are a blessing to others.

Know your calling and God’s purpose for using you and do all to His glory. Magnify the Lord in all you do so no shame is ever felt and watch God work out all things for your good!

Father, in the name of Jesus, if we have not acknowledged our calling from You or understand Your purpose in calling us–reveal it to us and give us wisdom in all things so we will glorify You.

Any Faithful In The House?

“Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him” (Psalm 4:3 NIV).

“When I call upon the name of the Lord, He hears me.” Do we really believe this?

The question is asked because of observations made when listening to people pray. The first thing we must remember is when we pray–we are talking to God–not people around us, in front of us, over the telephone or even on the Web. Since we are talking to God to ask of Him–is there any need for us to have long, repetitious conversation with God? Do we need to moan, groan, or screech or pierce ear drums to get His attention? The answer very simply is–no!

God is not deaf and He does not have a memory problem, nor is He distracted by our noise or other superficial modes of conversing with Him. He knows who we are and whether we have been faithful to Him or not. Do we know if we have been faithful or not? Perhaps–we don’t. Hence, this is why some go through all the machinations of presenting oneself to be holy or righteous in the sight of others. Perhaps, if we truly read the Bible with understanding we would know this and church services could be cut in half.

When Jesus is teaching, He uses the story of the Pharisee (religious one) and the tax collector who were praying in the temple (Luke 18:11-13). But now, this is the response that Jesus gave His disciples regarding the one who understood they were talking to God. “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14 NIV). For those who may still be lost on the inference–Jesus explained that the tax collector was more justified with his simple request than the Pharisee who has a feeling of superiority and therefore thinks God should hear him.

Public prayers should be simple and get right to the point. We should not pray in an attempt to impress others with our wordiness or emotional state.  When we know we are faithful to God (not so concerned with man), we can pray effective prayers that God will hear and answer. An offering prayer (before or after) should be about the offering–not the sick or government or anything else. A prayer to ask God’s blessings over food should be just that--not everything and everyone else. A prayer for the pastor should be about the pastor–not everyone else. A prayer for leadership (all types) should be about that. A prayer for the sick should be for those who are incapable of praying for themselves and when possible–accompanied with the laying on of hands and/or anointing with oil. A prayer to receive Holy Spirit does not take all night (just moments), nor does a person have to be in a specific position or mode of prayer to receive--the gift–just a willingness to receive. A prayer of repentance should be just that–an acknowledgment of turning away from sin. People have repented of sin when they were alone and God responded. I know–I did! We need to understand the purpose of specificity in our prayer lives rather than trying to impress others.

We make too much of a public spectacle of ourselves during times of prayer because of our lack of knowledge. God does not respond to emotionalism–He responds to faith. The faithful, He has set apart for Himself. The next time you pray, be faithful and know that He hears the first time–even if you whisper.

Father, in the name of Jesus, thank You for hearing and answering prayer. Holy Spirit guide us in everything we do that glorifies God, and keep us focused on being faithful to Him.

Who Called You?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

“Johnny, take out the garbage!”

“Carlos, go find your brother!”

Remember when you heard someone calling you; especially your mother? You could tell by her tone what mood she was in. And God help us if we were called by our ‘full names’. We knew we were in trouble. But mothers are not the only ones who call us to do something.

God calls us to do specific things in life and when we do what He wants us to do, He honors our efforts and good things happen. What has He called us to do? That depends. Every believer is called to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but some have been gifted to operate in specific offices of ministry. “He gave gifts for some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers (of The Word)” (Ephesians 4:11). Here’s something to think about God’s gifts–they are without repentance. In other words, whether we live right or not, the gifts He has given, will not be taken from us; they simply won’t be as effective as they could be.

When God “has called us” into a ministry office, it does not matter what others think since we should only be concerned about pleasing God. If God is pleased, nothing and no one else matters.

The real problem with ministry in the church is when “other people call someone” into an office. Some fathers call their sons into ministry; some mothers call their sons into ministry; some pastors call their children into ministry; some showing favoritism call people into ministry that God has never even considered. When this happens, the gifts are counterfeit and the anointing is manipulated to make it appear as though God had a hand in it. How do we know?

Listen to those with “counterfeit gifts” and see if what they say aligns with The Word. Can we find anywhere in The Word of God, preachers condemning people for how they dress or other such nonsense? Can we find the preachers of the bible, lining people up to give an offering based on the amount for which “they” are asking and then belittling those who have nothing to give? Can we find preachers in the Bible who promote dancing and shouting over hearing The Word, so by the time they stop dancing and shouting, they are too  tired to hear The Word? Can we find preachers in the Bible who promote worldliness over godliness? Can we find preachers in the Bible who always “have a word of wisdom” for the people they know, but never have anything to say about those they don’t know? This list could go on and on, but there is not enough space or time to continue. Do you get the point?

God knows those He has called–He knows what gifts they have been anointed with to help move the body of Christ forward; not backwards. Those who God has called may not pastor a mega-church, but they have mega-influence over all who know them. Those who God has called, always give God credit for everything they accomplish in life. Those who God has called, understand the importance of only saying or teaching what God has already said. Those who God has called, “Study the Word so they can rightly divide (explain) it to others”. This is how we recognize the difference between those who God has called, from those who others have called.

Who called you? Or better yet, who called the person to whom you’re listening and following?

Father, grant us all the gift of discernment this day so we will not make a mockery of the gifts You have given us, to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Holiness (excerpt)

How does one define holiness?  According to Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary, “personal holiness is a work of gradual development.  It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance” (I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:23, 24).  Simply put, true holiness is being as much like God as we can.  We can exhibit love for all, compassion for all, and maintain a right relationship with God so that He may guide us in all that we do.  If we refuse to obey His Word, we cannot be in a right relationship with Him.  We must also remember that we are not gods and we do not have the right to tell Him what He can or cannot do either with others or through others. 

Holiness is not defined by man’s inept attempt to keep people bound to legalism.  “If a woman is truly holy, her clothing will completely cover her extremities; her hair will be covered, and she will be void of make-up and jewelry.”  There are no specifics as to how to define how a man is holy as far as how their dress goes.   So says legalism.

What is legalism?  Legalism is the way of the Pharisees and Sadduccees.  These are the rules by which people determine (not by the Word of God) who is holy and who is not.  Legalism is another word for bondage.  Bondage hinders and prohibits the Holy Spirit from directing and guiding an individual and keeps people controlled by other people based upon their traditions.  Jesus gives us warning about such people when talking about the Pharisees.  “Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on.  And many things of this kind you are doing” (Mark 7:13 Amplified).  In this particular passage Jesus is referring to how the

Pharisees attempt to control men as it relates to the care of their parents.  It also holds true for much of the church world’s attempts to establish rules.

How many rules does a church have?

There are rules for dressing in order to come into the sanctuary.

There are rules for committing a portion of one’s income to support the church.

There are rules for what one can do outside the church building.

There are rules for which one can hold associations or affiliations.

There are rules for when to come to church.

There are rules for who can teach or preach.

There are rules for where one can sit in the church.

There are many rules for the women.

There are some rules for the men.

There are rules for the young people.

There are rules for the rules.

Does all of this sound familiar?  If one looks closely at all the rules, the majority of the rules are directed towards women.  [Remember when the Pharisees brought the woman who was “caught in the very act” to Jesus?  What happened to the man?  The “law” states that both should be stoned to death.]  This discovery should not be a surprise since the majority of churches are established by men for men.  Women simply become an after-thought in the consideration of everything that goes on around them.  This is a fascinating phenomenon since most churches could not continue to function if it were not for the women involved.

 

This is an excerpt from Holiness, Not A Look, But a Lifestyle! available on amazon.com

Happy Father’s Day!

I pray for every man who is a father after God’s own heart and especially for those are not.

There’s more to being a father than being part of the process of making a baby.  Fathers provide for their children and spend quality time with them, teaching them how to do things well, and guiding them in the right direction.  Fathers after God’s own heart, live the life of a father by patterning themselves after the greatest example of a Father.

Father, in the name of Jesus, I ask that You bless all the men who are living with a relationship with You, and treating their children the way You treat us–with love in all things, guiding, teaching, and correcting when needed. We give You praise for You are the only One worthy of it.   Speak to the hearts of those who don’t have a relationship with You and turn their hearts towards You so they will hear You.  Bless this nation and continually speak to the heart our president as he strives to do what is best for every American.  Speak to hearts of all those who oppose him and guide them into a right relationship with You so that none in this country suffers needlessly.  In Jesus’ name I thank You for it all being done!  Amen!

First Sibling Rivalry

After being forced to leave the garden, Adam and Eve had to find a place to begin, anew. They knew that life was not going to be as easy as it had been because they had been disobedient, but they had no idea what was really in store for them. Everything they had taken for granted—the beauty of the trees, the coolness of the water, the abundance of herbs and fruits and vegetables—was now understood to be a necessity and they had to learn to use what they had proficiently.

They scouted out the land and chose a spot near a well of water.  They claimed it for themselves before anyone else could come along and use it, exclusively.  Adam and his other children managed to hew trees and find huge stones they could use to build houses to protect them from others who now, appeared to be a bit suspicious.  It didn’t matter that they were all related.  That change in the atmosphere (penalties for disobedience) was now leading every man down a different path and it was not always a path of cooperation.

Adam discovered that tilling the earth was not easy; especially since he had to create some tools to use to make it easier.  He shaped pieces of rock by rubbing them together until he had a sharper edge on one side and then he tied that piece of rock to a piece of sturdy broken branch.  He had to bend over and push the tool along the earth to turn the soil in order to get the soil ready for the seeds he had ready to plant.  This was hard work and he really didn’t get very far each day.  But every day, he rose with the sun and when the sun went down, he went to sleep, tired and his eyes burned from the sweat that poured down his face.

Eve’s life was not any easier.  They still enjoyed following the mandate to be fruitful, but now, having a baby was miserable work.  Just as God had promised, she brought forth her children in the midst of agonizing pain and there was nothing anyone could do.  They had a number of children after being evicted from the garden and most of them learned to help her and Adam; the girls in the house and the boys in the field either tending the animals that had been domesticated or in planting the fields. When Cain was born, there was an air of expectancy—something about him was different and his parents knew—they would never forget about him. Cain was competitive and had an angry, dominating spirit that often got him into trouble with his parents. A hot-head who didn’t want to listen to anyone because he always thought he was right. Then, Abel was born and once again, there was air of expectancy about this birth as well. Abel was compliant and totally obedient.  He listened wisely to everything his parents said and learned that pleasing them always brought with it a reward.  He loved getting rewarded for doing the right thing. The children grew and were trained to help sustain the family.  Cain was trained to be a tiller of the soil, while Abel was trained to keep the sheep.  For a long time, they were satisfied with their roles in life and with their family, until they decided to bring offerings unto the Lord.

During those years, Adam and Eve had taught their children to respect and worship God, the Creator of all Things and without Whom, nothing would have ever been created.  They had also taught them to bring an offering unto God.  Apparently, their parents had established a scheduled time for which these offerings should be made and when it was time to make that offering, Cain brought unto God an offering from the ground he tilled and Abel brought unto God an offering of the sheep he tended. He remembered the story his parents had told them and the sacrifice that God had made of the animals to clothe his parents.

God was pleased with Abel’s offering and not so pleased with Cain’s.  He took Cain aside and tried to explain a few facts to Cain, but Cain was angry and would not hear what God said.  The only thing he cared about was Abel winning God’s favor.  He had totally forgotten about the story about how his parents had been kicked out of the Garden of Eden and didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that God was not happy with his offering—an offering from the land He had cursed. He found an opportunity to confront Abel and that’s when things went awry.

When Cain got to the field where he knew he would find Abel, resting against a tree.

“Abel,” Cain asked, “You got a minute?”

“Sure, Cain. Anything for you brother,” Abel responded lazily, twisting a piece of straw in his hand.

“Why is it that God always likes your offerings and never cares about mine?”

“I don’t know.  Did you ask Him?”

“He tried telling me something that didn’t make any sense so I stopped listening.”

Abel looked at Cain, wondering why they were having this conversation.  “Cain, if you didn’t want to hear what God had to say, what makes you think I can explain things any differently?  Why would you listen to me?”

“I thought you might know something other than sitting around on your butt all day being a smart…!”

“Whoa!  There’s no need for that kind of language.  I only do what Mom and Dad said we should do.  I actually listen to them.”

“So, what are you trying to say, I don’t?  Cain was heated by now and not by the sun.

“What I’m saying is that we both heard the story about how they got kicked out of the garden and how God cursed the ground as a punishment for Dad.  The way I see it is, if God cursed the ground, why would He want anything from it?

“So, now you’re saying I’m stupid?  Cain had moved closer to Abel by now and Abel had to stand up to try to get out of the way.

“I didn’t say you were stupid.  I said that I listened.  Now, if you get my calling you stupid from that, that’s on you,” Abel smiled teasingly.

Holiness

Not a Look—a Lifestyle

How does one live holy? As much as some people attempt to make it difficult or impossible, living holy is possible or God would not have asked us to do so. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15,16).

How does one define holiness? True holiness is defined by being as much like God as we can. We exhibit love for all, compassion for all, and a right relationship with God so that He may guide us in all that we do. If we refuse to obey His Word, we cannot be in a right relationship with God. We must also remember that we are not gods and we do not have the right to tell God what He can or cannot do either with others or through others.

Holiness is not defined by man’s inept legalism. If a woman is truly holy, her clothing will completely cover her extremities, her hair will be covered, and she will be void of make-up and jewelry. There are no specifics as to how to define how a man is holy as to how they should dress. So says legalism.

What is legalism? Legalism is the way of the Pharisees and the Scribes. These are the rules by which leaders determine who is holy and who is not. Legalism is another word for bondage. Bondage hinders and prohibits the Holy Spirit from directing and guiding an individual and keeps people controlled by other people. Jesus warns us in The Word when talking about the Pharisees, ”Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on. And many things of this kind you are doing” (Mark 7:13 Amplified). In this particular passage He is referring to how the Pharisees attempt to control men as it relates to the care of their parents. It also holds true for much of the church world.

How many rules does a church have?

1) There are rules for dressing in order to come into the sanctuary.

2) There are rules for committing a portion of one’s income to support the church.

3) There are rules for what one can do outside the church building.

4) There are rules for whom one can hold associations or affiliations.

5) There are rules for when to come to church.

6) There are rules for who can teach or preach.

7) There are rules for where one can sit in the church.

8) There are rules for the women.

9) There are rules for the men.

10) There rules for the young people.

11) There are rules for the rules.

 

(excerpt–Holiness–not a Look, but a Lifestyle)