First and Foremost – Part II

This is the second installment in this series. If you haven’t read part one, I definitely recommend you do so now.  Click Here

When focusing on Christ and His church becoming first and foremost in our lives, it is imperative that we look at the teachings of Christ on the kingdom of God. This will clearly show us what God is looking for in His people regarding His eternal purpose. Nowhere in the teachings of Christ is this made clearer than in Luke 14 and Luke 9:58 – 62, especially concerning obstacles and distractions to the kingdom (His purpose).

“Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but first permit me to say farewell to those who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”    (Luke 9:57-62)

Let’s take a closer look at those verses.

Verse 57: Notice here with me that someone approaches the Lord Jesus and tells Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Following Jesus is the key to fulfilling His purpose for your life. The Lord’s purpose is to have a kingdom, a family, a bride, a body, a city that will fully express His person and life. But in order to have this purpose He must have a people who place Him in His proper place, that is Lord and Head and Center of their lives! How can He have a kingdom without being the King (Lord) over His people?

“I will follow you wherever You go…”

That person had no idea what he was saying!

Then Jesus makes it clear with the statement: “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Wow! Do you realize what He was saying? Basically He was telling and asking this would-be follower if he was willing to follow a homeless Lord! Obviously, the conclusion would be that a follower of a homeless Lord would also be homeless.

Dear reader…are you willing to be homeless to follow your Lord? Or is your home something very precious to you that you hold onto with clenched fists?

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but first permit me to say farewell to those who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”   (Luke 9:59-62)

In these verses the issue is obviously family. This is a biggie! Certainly the “Lord” would not ask us to lay down our family for the kingdom! Would He? Absolutely! That’s what the word “Lord” means: He is First and foremost!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you ignore your family at all. It doesn’t mean that you love them less. But it does mean that when making decisions for your life and family…Christ and His kingdom (the church) comes first!

“Seek first His kingdom” Matt. 6:33 means exactly that! First in order and priority. In other words: First and Foremost.

But that’s not all…the Lord doesn’t just end there with our homes and families.

“Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat dinner in the kingdom of God!” Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great dinner, and he invited many, and he sent his servant at dinnertime to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I bought a field, and I must go and see it. I ask you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you, have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'”
(Luke 14:15-20)

Ah! So now the Lord touches upon not only home and family but also business and marriage. The acquisition of possessions, financial security and marriage are all included within this passage. What a thorough Lord we have! He didn’t leave even one stone unturned.

Now some of you may be thinking “well Milt, when the Lord said to seek first the kingdom He was talking about me (individually) seeking God’s will for my life.” And I would have to say that is true, but not completely. Notice He is referring emphatically to a “kingdom,” not just God’s will for you personally. Yes, if you are a believer then you are part of the kingdom of God. But there is so much more to it. What is a “Kingdom”? Is it not a whole civilization of people who live under auspice of a King? It is a society, a corporate people, a city, a government, in fact this particular kingdom is also a new humanity, a new creation, and a new body of people who all live in the life and under the headship of King Jesus!

Brothers and sisters, if these words of our Lord do not get practical in your life then they are powerless to bear fruit for His kingdom. And what a glorious kingdom this is!

And THIS kingdom is to come first and foremost in our decisions, our homes, our families, our jobs, and every aspect of our lives.

But again…I must ask you some searching questions.

* Does this King and His kingdom come first and foremost in your personal life?

* Is this first and foremost in your family, your home, your decisions, and your relationships?

* Is the goal of everything you do geared toward this heavenly kingdom coming to earth as it is in heaven?

* Is this kingdom made practical in your decisions such as who to marry? Where to live? What job to take? How to spend your time?  How to spend your money?

  • Is the Lord speaking to you right now through this blog post?  Or are you making excuses why you cannot comply with the King’s wishes?

May His kingdom come (through you and I) on this earth as it is in heaven.

Please contact us directly if you are serious about God’s eternal purpose and want to know how you can get involved.  The Rebuilders

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For audio messages on this topic:

http://www.therebuilders.org/audios.html

More resources on this topic:

http://www.therebuilders.org/books.html

Read the next part of this post here.

 

First and Foremost

As I travel around this country (the U.S.) and others helping and planting organic New Testament style churches I have learned many things. One of the questions I have asked is why do organic churches fail? Now of course I first need to define what I mean by “fail”. I’m not just referring to groups that “fall apart” in the sense that they no longer meet. But what about the groups that continue to meet for years and yet are failing to exist for their original purpose?

The Eternal Purpose of God

And He is the Head of the Body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that He Himself might have the first place in all things.” Col. 1:18

This verse, in a nutshell, summarizes the eternal purpose of God. God, the Father, wants all positive things in the universe to find their center in and through His Son, Jesus Christ. That Christ would be the All in all. That He Himself (not just things about Him) would be the First, the Center, the Source, the Life, the Beginning, and the End of all things.

Wow! What an awesome purpose!

The Eternal Plan of God

But how is He going to accomplish this glorious purpose? In other words, what is the “method” by which He will get His purpose? There is only one way. It is in and through His people, the Church. Paul called this a “mystery.”

Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:25-27)

There it is! God’s eternal purpose. The reason for everything.

I don’t know about you but it sounds to me like God has a purpose (goal) and a plan to achieve that goal. He wants to make his Son the Center and Life of all things. That is, the Son Himself, His very Person. And the way (plan or method) is to place that Son into humans. Those humans (the Church) will then express His Life to all creation (visible and invisible).

Now, here is the all important question:

How do you, dear reader, fit into that plan?

Well, if you are a believer then this purpose and plan are your purpose and plan! In fact, it’s the very reason you exist!

Next question: if all this is true, then how does this purpose and plan get lived out in your daily life?

You see it’s very easy to simply declare to yourself and others that your life is first and foremost for God and His purpose. It’s so easy to say that. But does your life practically reflect that statement? When the rubber meets the road is Christ and His Church the first and foremost in your everyday life?

Or are you too busy to make that a practical reality in your life? You see the Christ-life is much more than your personal testimony of faith, your doctrine, your church attendance, or your morality.

It’s about the way you live!

Is Christ and the Church first and foremost? You see the “litmus test” will come out in your daily life. As I stated at the beginning of this post; the number one reason organic churches fail to fulfill God’s purpose is that the people in those churches are just too busy! What are they so busy doing, you may ask? They are going about living out their natural lives. Getting married, building careers, getting an education, raising families, going on vacation, accumulating wealth and material possessions, etc. etc. The lifestyle in this world system (especially in America) is an extremely fast-paced, success driven, high-stress, comfort-driven, self-driven, busyness-driven whirlwind of confusion and pressure. This is for the purpose of taking care of our “needs” (though a lot of wants are usually included). Keeping up with the Jones’s definitely plays a part as well.

But wait…stop everything…

Wasn’t there someone who walked on this planet a while back who claimed that he would take care of all our needs?

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

Just think…the Lord of all things promised you and I that He would take care of all our needs if we would just put His kingdom first! Do you, dear reader, actually believe that He will do that?

In essence He said that if we place His purpose and desire (kingdom) first then He would take care of all those things that we spend so much time, energy, and thought worrying about! He greatly desires a Bride, a House, a Family, a Kingdom, a Civilization where all the citizens are completely centered and focused on the awesome All in all!

But instead most Christians are just too busy!

Dear reader, are You too busy?

Too busy to place His purpose first and to seek after it with all your heart, strength, and mind?

Too busy to make Him first and foremost? Think about it.

If this blog post has touched you in some way then I would love to hear from you. either place a comment or email me privately at: milt@therebuilders.org

If you like this blog post then you will love these resources:

The Gathering a novel by Milt and Mary Rodriguez

The Mystery of God – Christ All in All by Manfred Haller

The Master Craftsman

I have a good friend and brother who is an excellent builder and mechanic.  In fact, I would even say that he is a master craftsman.  He has grown up being exposed to the building trades and definitely knows what needs to be done and how to do it.

Recently, he came to visit us to help with some projects around our house.  As I watched him work, I was amazed at the accuracy, the speed, and the quality of his work.  I have honestly never seen such a worker who was totally committed to his work.  Getting the job done and getting it done right was evident in every move he made.  He would quite literally work sun up until sun down without taking many breaks at all.  All of this with the utmost integrity and quality of work I have ever seen.

This brother had a plan and then executed the plan with extreme precision.  Nothing could dissuade or distract this worker from fulfillment of the plan.  And not only that, but he has an unswerving commitment to the fulfillment of the vision no matter what it cost him.  The purpose and the plan are everything and the expression of that purpose is the ultimate goal.

Well, as you may have figured out by now, this post is not really about my friend.  Though I must say that God used my friend to show me some of these wonderful aspects of our Lord.

Builder

Our God is definitely a Builder.  He has had something in his mind to build since before eternity.  And that building is a house and a temple.  He “drew up” the plans for this House before he created anything.  The physical temple in physical Jerusalem was simply a fore-shadow of the Real House and the Real Temple!

Planner

Our God is a Planner!  He always has a plan for everything he does.  He plans it out in detail.  You could say that when he has a purpose, that is a building project, he always conceives it in his mind and then makes a detailed plan.  Of course, we know this is true because of His creation of the physical universe.  Every detail is pre-planned and fore ordained.  Not only of the physical universe but also the invisible universe, something Paul calls the “heavenly places”.

The Purpose

But what is the Plan for?  It is to execute the Purpose.  At my little house we had a purpose to build a deck.  My friend made a plan (a detailed map) on how to execute the purpose, or goal.  The ultimate goal was to have an outside space that would be relaxing and inviting to us and our guests.  That was the purpose.  But to see that purpose fulfilled we needed to have a plan to execute the purpose.

The Expression

Then, of course, after the building is complete the goal is realized of seeing and experiencing the fulfillment or expression of the purpose.  Stay with me folks, this post is about much more than my deck!  God definitely wants to have an awesome, beautiful, wonderful expression of His glorious Son.  That expression is also to bring heaven to earth and to reveal all that Christ is through a people, a new race, and a new humanity.

The Vision

Now, please understand me that the deck would never have been built if my wife and I didn’t have a “vision” of the deck.  This is also extremely important.  The scriptures tell us that “without a vision the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18)  What are we to have a vision of (for)?  The Purpose!

This is a major problem among believers today. 

There is no vision for God’s eternal purpose!

It all begins with the vision.  The vision can only come from God to the heart that is seeking Him.  And the vision will be the driving force behind everything you do in your life!  It will be the reason you get up in the morning…the reason you wash your face or comb your hair.  It will be the reason why you go to work, have a family, make a living.

It is the reason you are breathing air right now!

In other words, if you are a believer, the Purpose is the reason you are alive!

It’s also the reason why Jesus told us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven, Holy is your name.

Your kingdom come…

Your kingdom come…

Your kingdom come!

On earth as it is in heaven.

There it is!  There is the Purpose!

And brothers and sisters you will find it all throughout the whole New Testament.

You know, we are always asking God for things, but does anyone ask him to fulfill his own desire and purpose?

So…putting it plainly…

God wants:         A Building, a house

A Family

A Bride

A City

A Body

A Kingdom

A Community

And this building will only be built upon one foundation

His Precious Son!

Only Christ will be the Foundation

Only Christ will be the walls

Only Christ will be the roof

Only Christ will be the windows and doors!

Only Christ will be everything in the House.

Bottom Line

Brothers and sisters, do you personally have a vision of this purpose?  Are you personally willing to live and die for this Purpose?  This Purpose should be the all-consuming drive in your life.  But is it?  I ask you to examine yourself, dear reader.  If your answer is “no” or “I don’t know” then I would advise you to spend some serious time with your Lord.  Ask him to give you a spiritual vision of his eternal purpose.  Give your life totally over to him for this purpose.

I can tell you in complete confidence that your Lord is waiting for that prayer!

If you follow through with this with a sincere heart, I would love to hear from you.  Please email me at milt@therebuilders.org.

I would also like to thank my good friend and brother (who is a builder) for showing me more of our Master Craftsman!

Note: If you liked this post then you will love this book!    Order Here

The Intentionality of God – Part 3

Three Colorful Figures Dance in a Shape of a Heart This is my third and final installment for this series on the “Intentionality of God”.  In this post I am going to get much more practical and to the point for the edification of the saints and the churches.  If you have not already read parts 1 and 2 please do so by clicking here.

So first of all, let me share my initial motivation for writing this series.

There is an erroneous teaching that is currently circulating throughout the following expressions of the church: house church, simple church, missional church, organic church.  All of these forms of church life share one thing in common; they have rejected the so called “institutional” forms of church.  This means the most prevalent church structure that has dominated the western world for the last 17 centuries or so.  I think it will become very clear to you why this erroneous teaching is becoming popular in some of these home churches who have rejected the traditional, institutional systems.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”  (2 Peter 2:1)

I really don’t know what to call this current wave of false teachings.  For the purpose of this blog post I am going to call it: “non-church” or perhaps “random-church”.  Though, of course, the proponents of this teaching would not like that name at all!

From what I can gather, this idea has come from folks who have left the institutional church system and now have rejected ALL structure, ALL planning, ALL leadership, and ALL order altogether.  It is definitely an over reaction to the religious system.  To these folks, church is something that just happens.  You happen to meet a friend at Starbucks who is a believer, you have some fellowship, that is “church”!  You have a “network” of friends in this city and in that other area, and in another part of town, or perhaps at work.  When you happen to be in that section of town you may visit with them … and that’s “church” as well!    It’s a willy-nilly, random, meet-by-chance situation.  There are no scheduled meetings.  Everything is left “up in the air”, or they would say, “by the Spirit”.  I have heard it said: “Well, if we all love Jesus then why do we have to plan, schedule meetings, and so on?”  They will also say things such as: “Why do we need church planters when the church already exists?”  “I’m the church, you’re the church, just be the church!”

Hopefully, this series of blog posts will irrevocably answer these questions.

The statements made above (and the like) reveal a mindset that is completely foreign to the New Testament.  As you read the story of the New Testament (if you are open and honest about it) you will see local churches or bodies of believers that were committed to one another and completely attendable.  In many instances Paul names people in the churches (see Romans 16; Philippians 4:2,22; Colossians 4:4-18; 1 Corinthians 16:15-19).

Now, let’s take a quick look at some clear and concise statements made in the scriptures about the Church of Jesus Christ.  And then, we will test those “images” or types used by God himself.

  • The Church is a Building (temple, house)

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”  (Ephesians 2:19-22)

So, let’s approach these concepts with “if… then” statements:

If the church is a building… then it would require structure.

It’s very clear from Paul’s statement here (especially in Ephesians 2) that the church is built together as in a physical structure (temple).  Everyone knows that without a purpose, plan (design), and an administration for that plan, you will never be able to build any kind of solid structure!  Notice with me that Paul gets very explicit in using words like “fitted together” and “being built together” to show us God’s intentionality for the church.  He actually “fits” the living stones together and into each other.  This is not some vague “cosmic” idea of church, but rather a very practical building and setting of people together by God!  He actually places the stones into the positions that He wants them.  In another place Paul uses the phrase: “being knit together in love” (Col. 2:2)  Now, I don’t know much about knitting, but I do know that in order to knit a sweater you need to have a pattern (design/plan) and some training on how to execute the pattern so that you end up with something that is both pleasing to the eye and functional (the expression).

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

  • The Church is the Body of Christ

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”  (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

“But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”  (1 Corinthians 12:18)

“Which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance], so that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the parts [share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members [share in] the enjoyment of it. Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].”
(1 Corinthians 12:24-27)

If the church is a body, then it would require structure.

The human body is made up of eleven major organ systems.  These include: circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, endocrine, immune, integumentary, skeletal, muscle, and reproductive.  And this doesn’t even include microbiology!  What about our 30 billion cells?  What about our DNA?  All of these systems work to do a very specific function and yet all work together to express the person who lives inside.  What an incredible testimony to our intentional God!  And Paul called the Church the Body of Christ!

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

  • The Church is the Family of God

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”  (Ephesians 5:25-32)

If the church is a family, then it would require structure.

Obviously in any functional family there are certain requirements for it to meet in order for the family “life” to be expressed.  There needs to be a father and a mother.  They need to produce children.  The parents need to manage the household so that the children are protected, taught, and raised to be decent adults.

“He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”   (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Did you know that your God has an administration?  He also has a purpose and a plan!  Actually, the administration (or economy) is the working out of His plan or purpose.  The purpose is to sum up all things in Christ!  He is going to do this in and through His Church, His Building, His Body, His Bride, and His Family.

“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,”
(Ephesians 3:8-11)

The Greek word for “administration” here literally means the economy of a household.

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

  • The Church is the Community of God

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:26-27)

If the church is a community, then it would require structure.

Mankind was originally created to be a corporate entity.  That is, the image of the community life of God.  God is a community of three Persons who are one.  Each Person is distinct with their own characteristics and roles, but there is only ONE God.  God spoke in the plural when he created man because he wanted man to be, live, and function as many persons who are one.  Of course, we see this exemplified in John chapter 17.  Is there relationship in this community?  Is there structure in this community?  Is there mutual submission and love in this community?  Do the Father, Son, and Spirit meet randomly and without purpose?

Can you image if the community of the Godhead was run like a “random-church”?  Wow!  We would all be in a heap of trouble!

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

What About Meetings?

Should we have regularly scheduled meetings of the church?  Is God concerned about the content and expression of our gatherings?  Should we take the time and effort to actually plan before hand for the assembly?  Should we spiritually prepare to bring our portion of Christ? Interestingly enough the word “church” (ekklesia) means the called out assembly.  It was a secular word used for town meetings or assemblies.  In a sense, Jesus told us that he would build his own “town meetings”!  These town meetings happened on a regular basis in the first century and always had a plan and purpose.  They were not random!  Besides that, it absolutely amazes me when I read the amount of detail that Paul goes into when he describes a meeting of the whole church.  Why not read it for yourself right now in 1 Corinthians 14?  He gets into incredible detail about what should happen and what should not happen in a meeting of the saints.  And then there is the clincher line at the end:

“let all things be done decently and in order.”  (1 Corinthians 14:40)

There is an order for every meeting!  Did you know that?  

Yes, God has a purpose, a plan, and an order for every single meeting of the church!

Now here is the BIG question:

How do we find out what His plan is for the church meetings, community life, work, seasons, and so on?

There is only one way…  by seeking Him together!

The Headship of Christ can only be executed by the Body as we find His Mind together!

So we can see that God definitely does have a purpose, plan, design, and detailed execution of that plan for every local church.  However, this requires the members of the Body to all seek God’s will (mind) together and then gather to make decisions according to His mind.

In Conclusion

There are some definite conclusions we can arrive at about “random church” after considering all of the overwhelming evidence in Scripture and in God’s creation.  Our God is definitely a purposeful planning God and the idea of a random church just doesn’t measure up at all to His nature or to His revelation found in the Bible.

In fact, this whole concept that is currently floating around  those who have left the institutional church system is playing right into the hand of God’s enemy!  It actually reeks of the “spirit of the age”.  I would call this spirit and culture the “whatever” culture.  There is no commitment, no responsibility, and no mutual submission.  Just do whatever!  Everyone is just too busy to actually spend the time required to be built together into a close knit community, house, body, bride, and family.  After all, social networks of friends don’t interfere with your busy lifestyle.  You don’t need to invest your life into others, just text them or Facebook them!

In other words:

The random church is a cross-less church!

The work of the cross in the life of believers is circumvented because they never have the opportunity and responsibility of laying down their lives for one another.  And yet it is this very life of the cross that transforms us into spiritual people!  (see the first letter to the carnal Corinthians)  The idea of the random church is actually and totally of the flesh and from the evil one!

Brothers and sisters, can I make it any clearer?

How can our precious Lord ever get His expression with such a loosely-knit and cross-less people?  Where are the believers who are totally sold out to Christ and his eternal purpose?  Where are the “reckless” ones who will throw all caution to the wind and believe God and totally live for Him and His Kingdom?

The Bottom Line

It seems to me that most Christians want to jump from one extreme to another.  First, we adopt hierarchical leadership forms and oppressive structures.  Then, we jump to the other extreme of absolutely no structure, no planning, and then jump onto the random church bandwagon.  When really the answer lies in the truth that our God is an intentional God who has an eternal purpose, and He has a plan and and administrative order to fulfill that plan.  The Church is to be His expression (image) so shouldn’t we also be very purposeful?

But Here is the Key to it All:

That purpose, plan, and administration must all come from His very own Life!!!

The institution is a result of human life.  The random church is a result of human life.

The true Church of Jesus Christ plans and functions only according to His Life.  She executes decisions only by the Life of the Head according to His will.  That only comes as we lose our own lives and come together to find His mind for the Church!

 

And I leave you with an excellent quote from T. Austin-Sparks:

From observation of the maladies which come upon the people of God and bring arrest to His work through them, we have been much impressed with the fact that the violation of a Divine order is the cause of much trouble. If it is true that what God is doing in this age is not just saving individuals as such but in constituting a “Body” and building a “House” by the addition of each saved one, then the right position in each is vital to its perfect functioning and its heavenly order. There is an order, and there is a position for each member. It is not given to us – let us say it with emphasis – it is not given to us to appoint the place or to manipulate into position. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. What we do say is that each member has his or her place and God knows what it is. Under the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit each member should come into that place. If they fail to do so or get into a wrong place, they fail in their essential ministry and upset the effectiveness of the Body.

“God hath set.” Articulation is essential to life. “Unto each is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7).

“Having therefore, gifts differing according to grace” (Rom. 12:6).

There are not a few illustrations of dislocation and irregularity in the Scriptures:-

Dathan and Abiram and their company (Numbers 6).
Aaron and Miriam (Numbers 12).
Saul going over the head of Samuel (1 Sam. 13:9).
Uzziah presuming into the priest’s office (2 Chron. 26).

Paul has very much to say on matters of order in the Church, and it is not merely the individual position which is of importance, but the relative factor and element. Independent action is as dangerous as dislocation, it robs of covering and protection and exposes to enemy forces. There is a heavenly order, a spiritual system, and the relationships and ministries of believers are to be upon those spiritual principles and a reflection of that heavenly order.

taken from:  Chapter 4 – The Paralysis of a Spiritual Irregularity

 

 

The Intentionality of God – Part 2

pillar-cloud

This is part 2 of The Intentionality of God blog posts. If you have not read Part 1 I strongly suggest that you do so by going to this page: Intentionality Part 1.  (The link will open a new window so when you are done reading it you can come back to this page.)

In part one of this series I attempted to illustrate the intentional nature of our God by using several examples within the created (physical) universe. Obviously, the creation will reflect some of the aspects of the Creator Himself. As you read this post I am sure you can see how intentional God really is. He doesn’t do anything randomly or by accident. He always has an intention (or purpose), a plan (or administration), and an expression of that purpose, which is the fulfillment of the intention.

As I pointed out in part one, the first creation (of the physical universe) is just called “creation” in the scriptures. However, we see in the New Testament, that God also has a New Creation which was actually a precursor to the first creation.

“remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:12-16)

It is apparent through this passage (and many others) that what God wanted all along was one new man. The word “man” here can also be translated “mankind” or “humanity”. This is the new creation. God wanted a new race that was neither gentile or jew but a whole new creation. But was God still intentional with this new race? Did He have a specific purpose, plan, economy, and goal in mind with this new humanity?

YES!!! Even more so than the first creation. Remember I told you that the whole reason God created the physical universe was to “house” or provide an “environment” for the new creation (or humanity)? If this is true then wouldn’t it stand to reason that the shadows and types we see in the Old Testament would point us to the spiritual reality that we see in the New Testament?

For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15)

Here, Paul is telling us in one sentence that God’s whole intention behind creation has to do with the New Creation. Here, he is pointing us to the spiritual reality behind God’s intention not merely the foreshadows we see in the Old Testament. However, those shadows (or types) can reveal to us the spiritual principles behind the New Creation, that is, the Body of Christ!

See Israel according to the flesh! are not those eating the sacrifices in the fellowship of the altar?” (1 Corinthians 10:18)

Here Paul is calling the physical nation of Israel: Israel according to the flesh.

“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29)

Here, Paul reveals that the true Jew is a spiritual reality, not one of the physical, natural nation. So therefore, is it possible to see aspects of God’s intentionality with his new creation in the “shadow” of the natural Jewish nation? I believe that it is. All of the features that we see in the old physical nation of Israel show us spiritual principles and features that apply to the true new Israel, that is, the Church of Jesus Christ!

“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)

Features of the Nation:

Separation

God strictly forbade the intermarriage of the Jewish nation with any other people or nation. The main reason for this was the fact of the “other gods” and the opening up of the door of the spiritual realm concerning those “gods”. God considered this to be “fornication” because his relationship with Israel was one of a spiritual marriage. The nation of Israel was to be separate, they were to be distinct, they were to be wholly for God. This was to preserve the seed!

Cohesion

Because of their natural blood line, the nation of Israel was to be one. They were one (naturally speaking) because they were all natural born descendants of Abraham. They were from that same seed. They were from that one family. Even though they may be scattered all over the earth, yet when you meet them you can tell they are still of one clan, one family, one nation. This is because of the “seed” of Abraham. But remember that Paul tells us that the spiritual reality of Abraham’s seed is Christ! (Gal. 3:16). In the New Testament we see that spiritual seed having one origin, one source, and one life-principle. That is the meaning behind John 17!

A Common Food

Notice with me that Israel in the flesh has a common diet! They all eat the same things at the same time. Their diet is mainly determined by the law of Moses. It is a healthy diet that gives them all strength and vigor. We can see that through the eating of the lamb before leaving Egypt.

As spiritual Israel we all are to eat and drink the same thing… Christ Himself!

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

The Tabernacle, the offerings, and the priestly functions

Our very intentional God left nothing to chance! He gave them very detailed instructions on how to build and erect the tabernacle. He also gave explicit instructions on how to perform the priestly ministry along with all of the offerings. If you don’t believe me you can read it for yourselves in Exodus through Deuteronomy. God had a purpose, a plan, a design, and an execution. And all of those things speak to us of Jesus Christ and His Church!

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” (John 5:39)

The Law of Moses

The law given to the nation of Israel in the flesh also speaks of our new life in Christ. It is the same law for all believers, for everyone who is part of the true spiritual Israel. In fact, it is the only way that any of the other features will be expressed in the nation of God’s people. Without this law, the Body of Christ will simply be another social club, “do-gooders”, or “network” of friends. This law is the glue that holds it all together. It’s the source by which all decisions are made. It’s the vehicle by which seasons and directions are determined. It’s the heart pulse of this corporate people.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:2-5)

You see we, as the new humanity, we live under a law as well. It’s not the law of Moses and it’s not written on tablets of stone. Rather, it is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And it is by His Life within us that we find the mind of Christ to make decisions. And it is by this law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (who lives within us!) that we live our lives individually and corporately.

All of these features (and many more) concerning Israel in the flesh are “pictures” and “shadows” of the Israel of God, the true Israel, the New Humanity, the Church!

“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:15-16)

In the next blog post (part 3) we will look at the point of all of this intentionality and purpose and how this is practically worked out in the New Testament house of God, the true Israel.

You won’t want to miss this one!

Read Part 3

The Intentionality of God – Part 1

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May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be eulogized, the One who conferred benefactions upon us in the sphere of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as He selected us out for himself in Him before the foundations of the universe were laid, to be holy ones and without blemish before His searching, penetrating gaze; in love having previously marked us out to be placed as adult sons through the intermediate agency of Jesus Christ for himself according to that which seemed good in His heart’s desire, resulting in praise of the glory of His grace which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved, in whom we are having our redemption through His blood, the putting away of our trespasses according to the wealth of His grace which He caused to superabound to us in the sphere of every wisdom and understanding, having made known to us the mystery of His will according to that which seemed good to Him, which good thing He purposed in himself, with respect to an administration of the completion of the epochs of time to bring back again to their original state all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him, in whom also we were made an inheritance, having been previously marked out according to the purpose of the One who operates all things according to the counsel of His will, with a view to our being to the praise of His glory who had previously placed our hope in the Christ, in whom also, as for you, having heard the word of the truth, the good news of your salvation, in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Spirit of the promise, the Holy Spirit, who is the token payment of our inheritance guaranteeing the full payment of all, looking forward to the redemption of the possession which is being preserved with a view to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14 Wuest Translation)

This blog post and the next will cover two aspects of the intentional nature of God. This first part will cover the intentionality of God’s nature and character. The second part will cover the intentionality of God’s eternal purpose in Christ. In essence, the way that I am going to show these two aspects is by referring to the two creations; the old creation (the physical universe), and the new creation (Christ and God’s purpose in Christ).

Our God has an intention. He has a purpose. You could say that he has a goal in mind. The above passage in Ephesian chapter one is absolutely mind boggling in both it’s fullness and it’s scope. It gives us an incredible insight into the very nature of our God. Everything God does is absolutely pregnant with purpose and intentionality. To make it easier to understand let’s map it out this way:

https://miltrodriguez.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/intentionality.jpg?w=1462

This basic map shows the process of having a purpose, designing and planning toward that purpose, taking practical steps towards the fulfillment of that purpose. And then the actual realization or consummation of that purpose. This is how we approach every project that we tackle. But where did we get this from? Did we just make it up? Of course not! Since we are made in the image of God we approach the completion of a project in a similar way. Now let’s take a look at how our endlessly creative God approached the creation of the physical universe. But before we do, it’s very important that you realize that God had a purpose before the physical universe. In fact, it was that purpose that motivated God to create the physical creation. We will call it the first creation for that is exactly what it is in the mind and heart of God. He created the second creation, that is the physical universe, in order to facilitate and create an environment for the first creation. This first creation is called the New Creation in the New Testament. However, it’s actually older than the Old Creation. Is that confusing or what? Let me put it this way: since the first(new) creation is eternal, that means that it actually existed inside of God before the Old Creation (the physical universe). This will make more sense in the next part of this blog post! For now, let’s just say that the physical universe that you see around you was created for this new creation.

Now, let’s take a very brief look at the degree of intensity of God’s intention, design, planning, and structure inherent in this created physical universe.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

Our Atmosphere and Outer Space

Did you know that during a lightning storm two gases are combined? The lightning bolt produces nitrogen and then combines it with the hydrogen in the water to produce fertilizer. The fertilizer falls to the earth to cause plants to grow!

“Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)

Our sun produces more energy in one second than all of mankind has produced since Adam and Eve. The sun also drives all weather on the earth.

The visible universe contains more than one hundred billion galaxies. Each of these galaxies has a diameter of millions of trillions of miles wide. Each galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. And yet the scripture says that God has given them all names and calls them by their names! Just think, our God not only created all those stars, he also named them all and keeps them all in their places to function properly.

In the twentieth century it was discovered that the universe is expanding all the time. Scripture tells us that God stretches out the heavens like a garment. Isaiah 40:22

Inner Space

Look at the structure and intention behind a single atom! Or further yet, the properties of water. This one element supports all life upon the earth. It makes an excellent solvent, coolant, and transporter.

How about the complexity of a snow flake crystal? They are complex, symmetrical, and beautiful. And each one of them is unique! What an amazing and creative God! They are structured and patterned. Just like we humans are each unique and different.

DNA – the blueprint for all life

It is by far the most dense information system known to man. For example, the amount of information contained within one pinhead of DNA would fill a stack of books five hundred times higher than from here to the moon! The program code and design of such a system shows us a God who is an extremely intelligent and a structured designer.

All human life begins with one single cell. How does that tiny cell know how to reproduce itself and grow into a body of one hundred trillion cells? It is by the genetic code. This DNA is the manufacturer’s manual. Not only that, but there are also “editorial” enzymes that travel up and down the DNA strands checking for damage and repairing it.

Seeds

The seed is the reproductive structure that God made for all of life. All seeds (whether plant, animal, or human) are complex systems to reproduce life. Everything needed for the future life is contained within the tiny seed.

How does the seed know how or when to grow? How does it know which way the root is to grow and which way the stem is to grow? How does it know that it needs the soil, water and warmth in order to grow? Obviously, God purposed, planned, and designed these tiny “embryos” to do what was needed.

Animals

How does a school of fish know when to turn or to dart into another direction? How does a flock of starlings fly so close together and change direction so quickly? (These movements are called murmurations and you can view them on youtube.com). Actually, there is no one leader who controls the flock. Instead, they move together instinctively. It’s usually initiated by a predator nearby and each bird communicates (very quickly!) to the seven birds immediately around him. Then those seven birds communicate to the seven birds around each of them. This is how they can make a decision to move so quickly. It’s corporate communication!

Conclusion

Obviously, I could go on for pages and pages about seeing the nature of our God in his creation. But I think you get the point! Our God is extremely intentional and purposeful. He is an incredible planner and designer. He planned and planned and even micro-planned! This was all according to his divine intention. His Ultimate Intention which we will explore in part two of this post. Look for it soon. I am building toward something here folks so please stay with me!

Resources:

“God of Wonders” video:
Watch on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/God-of-Wonders-291921489991/

The Ultimate Intention
book by DeVern Fromke

Read Part 2

Is Christ Enough? Headship

 

The Body of Christ

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  Ephesians 1:22-23

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Eph 4:15

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Col. 1:17-19

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:9-10

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” Colossians 2:18-19

The headship of Christ is not something you hear or read about very often.  Why?  I believe it’s because we really don’t understand what it means.  Obviously, why would you talk or write about something that you yourself don’t understand?

The Abuses

In my experience in the institutional church the only time I heard about the “headship” of Christ was when the preacher was referring to authority structures in the church.  Usually, they would be referring to some kind of hierarchical authority structure such as the clergy/laity system.  You would be instructed to submit to your pastor or elders as unto the Lord.  These people were the ones who would “run” the church.  Sometimes there would also be some kind of trans-local authority that you would need to submit to such as traveling “apostles” or “prophets”.  And then at very rare times you may hear about the headship of Christ referring to the authority of Christ over your life as a member of his body.  That was about it.

This post is an attempt to correct some of those ideas and add to our understanding of the fullness of Christ in reference to his headship.

The Meaning of “Head” in the New Testament

First of all, we need to understand the meaning of the word “head” in the Greek language.  This is no simple task and I am definitely no Greek scholar!  There is much controversy surrounding the original meaning of the Greek word: kephale (head).  Some say that it strictly means (authority, or person in command) and others say that it means “life source“.  I believe that it means BOTH!  And I think you will clearly see that as I bring out the context in a few of the passages I cited above.  There are a few important aspects of Christ and his Church that I would like to bring out of these passages.

Life Source

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Eph 4:15

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” Colossians 2:18-19

These passages clearly bring out the aspect that Christ, as the Head supplies the body with his Life.  First, we see in the Ephesian passage that we (the body) are to grow up into the head (Christ).  This obviously speaks of him as our Life Source.  We grow (by his life) into him.  Secondly, in the Colossian passage we see that the entire body is supplied and held together and grows with a growth (life) that comes from God.  Therefore, we can see that this word “head” clearly means life-source by the context of these passages (and others).

Authority

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Col. 1:17-19

The idea of before, beginning, firstborn, and first permeates this passage.  The head comes before the body.  He is the head because he is first.  The other aspect is the idea of all things.  He is before all things; all things hold together in Him; He will come to have the first place in everything (all things).  He is the head because he is the “all things” of God!  He comes first because He is the Beginning!

He is definitely Large and in Charge!

Both Life Source and Authority

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph. 1:22-23

Here we see both the authority of Christ AND the life flow (or source) of Christ.  Everything is under his feet (in subjection) which speaks of his absolute authority.  But that is to the church, his body, which is his fullness.  Christ filling all things with his fullness speak of the flow of his life source into the church.  He is definitely Lord of lords and King of kings.  Make no mistake about that.  But his authority can only be actuated by him being the Life Supply of the church.  Both work together!  We cannot have the King of kings unless we have the Vine!  We cannot have the Lord of lords unless we have the flow of Christ’s life throughout the Body.

The Most Beautiful Picture of Christ as Our Life Supply:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing–life forever.” Psalms 133:1-3

Wow! God, the Father’s life flows down (via the Spirit) from the Head (Christ) to every member of the Body (the Church).  Is this a picture of Life Source or what?

Practically Speaking

Okay, so this is all great and wonderful.  Jesus Christ is the Head of his Body, the church.  This means that he is both the Life-Source of the Body as well as the Lord (King) of his kingdom.  Both of these truths are wrapped up in the fact that he is the Head of the church.  I think that most Christians would agree with these statements.  However, here comes the clincher:

How does his headship play out practically within the life of the Body?

One thing is for sure; he does not express his headship through top-to-bottom or chain-of-command style leadership.  There is no one human person who leads or directs his church.

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
(Matthew 20:25-28)

What Jesus was saying here is that his church would not function the way that those in the world system function.  That is, with chain-of-command top down authority.  His kingdom would function in a totally different way.  And that way is that they would become the lowest, the least, and the servants of all.  This message from our Lord came about because the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John) wanted to know if her sons could be given the right hand and left hand place next to the king.  He told that she had no idea what she was asking.  This was her only concept of authority.  It’s a chain-of-command top to bottom system.  But this is not how the kingdom of God would function at all!

All of the Members Seeking the Mind of the Head

Paul said that “we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor.2:16).  Notice that he didn’t say “I have the mind of Christ”.  Having the mind of Christ is a WE thing!  We all together as the Body have the mind of Christ.  Did you know that the human brain sends a message to the whole body when it makes a decision?  Actually, its more accurate to say that the whole body has a part to play whenever the brain activates something.

In organic churches, we take the Headship of Christ very seriously.  We hold it in very high esteem by the practice of the whole body seeking the Head for his direction and decisions.  This is a very long and arduous task, believe me!  In fact, you may be asking how is this even possible?  Well, it’s actually very simple to explain but not simple to do.  The brothers and sisters in the church get together for a specific purpose of making decisions and planning.  If the church is healthy then the members of the body will have already been seeking the mind of Christ about the matters to be discussed ahead of time and will come to the gathering with a sense in their spirits of what the Lord is saying.  They will already have spent time in fellowship and prayer with the Lord about the matters to be discussed.  Sometimes these practically meetings can last a long time and sometimes not.  But they do not move ahead until the body agrees on what the Lord wants.

Is this difficult?  You bet!  Is there a battlefield happening?  Absolutely.  Why?  Because there is a whole realm of creatures who are resisting and even battling against the Lord Jesus having his full headship in his church!

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” (Colossians 2:9-10)

We see the church seeking the mind of Christ together in Jerusalem concerning the decision to not place any additional burdens on the new believers who were Gentiles.  And the statement is made that:

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas–Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,”  (Acts 15:22)

And in another place:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:” (Acts 15:28)

So there you have it!  Those who have itinerant ministries, the more mature saints (elders), the whole church, and the Holy Spirit all agreeing together on the mind of Christ!  That’s how decisions were made under the headship of Jesus Christ.  His mind was discovered in the midst of believers who had humbled themselves to the Lord and submitted themselves to one another (Eph. 5:21) under his direct Lordship and Headship.  Those who sought out his indwelling, eternal, uncreated, divine Life so that he would fully be expressed on the earth again!

Is this difficult?  NO!!!  It’s actually IMPOSSIBLE!!!  Only by God’s grace and in his Spirit and Life can this happen.  Will there still be problems in the church?  Absolutely!  Just read the New Testament letters!  I have come to the conclusion that problems in the churches are normal.  As long as they are the right kind of problems.  Notice with me that in the N.T. the problems are all people problems.  One guy was committing incest.  Another had problems getting along.  Some were dividing up over their favorite workers.  Some were following erroneous teachings.  But none of these problems were institutional in nature!  They were never fighting over who the next “pastor” was going to be.  There were no controversies over how much money to spend on the new building project.

But the kinds of problems an organic church will have are totally different.  One of them is laziness and atrophy.  The church may (at times) stop seeking the Lord together to find his mind for the seasons, decisions, and plans of the life of the church.  When this happens the headship of Christ is being circumvented.  Usually, those issues that need to be address won’t magically disappear and they will rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune times!

But when you have a bunch of crazy people who are simple enough to actually believe that Jesus Christ can in reality be the spiritual and practical Head over his church then all hell will break loose!

You may be asking: How in the world can this happen in reality?  I mean how can a group of believers get together and really be able to discern the mind of Christ in oneness?  How can this happen without a human leader (or group of leaders) running the show?

My answer would be to take a look at nature.  God has wonderfully built into creation this principle of corporate oneness under the headship of Christ.  Did you know that many species of animals and insects migrate to completely different areas of the world?  They all gather at the same time and at the same location!  Some travel thousands of miles and even to a different hemisphere!  How is this possible?  It’s something called “instinct“.  It’s actually built into their DNA by God himself.  Guess what?  God has also built into the spiritual DNA of his Church the instinct to gather.  Not only to gather but to express his Son and live by his Life-Source.

It’s there in your spirit, the deepest part of you.

It’s so that you will know him intimately and deeply.

It’s so that you will live by his life.

It’s so that you will live together with his people and display his kingdom!

This is our calling saints.

There is no compromise on this matter at all.

 

For more information on the headship of Christ:

Building Up the Body: One Man or One Another?

The Clergy/Laity Distinction: A Help or Hindrance?

Kephale (Head) by Laurie Fasullo

The Gathering Swarms

 

 

 

 

Is Christ Enough? Changes

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A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
(Acts 10:13-15)
“As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
(Acts 9:3-6)

The Lord has been dealing with us lately with such things as flexibility as opposed to rigidity.  Especially in the midst of change.  Now we have said for many years that the Lord deals with us (both individually and corporately) in “seasons”.  Just like in nature there are seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter; so there are seasons in God’s dealings with us and also in his work.  However, these “seasons” aren’t nearly as predictable as the natural ones!  At least not for us.  Obviously, God knows what is going on and planned these things from before time.  But the problem is that our vision just isn’t that eternal yet!  Our flesh, our natural man likes things that are predictable, revealed way in advance, and things that we are already comfortable with.  But God just doesn’t operate that way when he is dealing with us.  He operates in this completely “other”, eternal realm called faith.

Endless Variety

We must remember that our God is a God of endless variety and beauty. Just a look at the natural world will show you that! Just take a look at all of the varieties of plants, animals, and people. And that’s just the visible creation on this planet alone! Even within the seasons there is variety and changes. What about the “unseasonable” weather we have all experienced?  Even within the seasons that God takes us through there is variety.

Timing

Then there is the whole area of the timing of the Lord.  We know that his timing is not our timing and his ways are not our ways.  He does things his way and in his time!  Most of us reading this post right now agree with and understand these things.  But there is a huge problem.

We so quickly get settled, and even cemented, into the ways that we have been in or are in right now!

God is moving on and we are now stuck in the last movement or enlargement of God.  You see, I am not here even referring to missing the Lord in his timing or ways.  I am referring to getting “stuck” in the past (or current) situation that he himself took us through.

Comfort Zones

I find that the older I get the quicker I am to settle down into a comfort zone.  It’s really quite remarkable.  God is always moving us ahead in him.  But many times (especially if we like the season) we will want to stay where we’re at.

This reminds me of the children of Israel wandering in the desert.  God wanted them to take the promised Canaan land but they wandered around in a wilderness for forty years that only takes two weeks to cross!  Of course, the manna is a classic example.  God (for a season) fed them with the manna from heaven.  It would daily come down to provide their food.  However, they could not store it up for the future or even the next day!  They needed to trust God for their daily bread every single day.  Then, the time came when the manna was no longer being provided and now God was sending quail.  But they were used to manna!

Outside the Box

Then there was our friend Peter.  God wanted to include the Gentiles in his eternal purpose to have an expression of his Son on the earth (the Church).  Actually, he always had included the gentiles, but most of the Jews could not see the true spiritual Israel that Paul writes about in the letter to the Galatians.  Peter had to receive a dramatic rooftop vision to get the picture.  Even then, he was refusing to rise up and eat those “unclean” animals.  You see God was doing a new thing.  At least it was new in the eyes of Peter.  The apostle had always only thought within a very limited Jewish “box” and anything outside of that box was unthinkable.

But then there was our friend Paul! Now this guy was much more ingrained into the Jewish religion than Peter.  He was a real Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the righteousness found in the Law, completely blameless (Philippians 3).  So you can see why God needed to knock him down and strike him with physical blindness in order that he would receive a vision!  He had to see that the church he was persecuting was the actual Christ Himself! (see Acts 9)  Saul was transformed into Paul and changed from a persecutor of the church to a master builder of the church.

In both of these examples (Peter and Paul) God had to break them out of their comfort zones in order for him to do something new.  It wasn’t something either of them expected or ever considered.

The Main Point

The main takeaway of this post is simply this:

God doesn’t want us to follow “ways”, he wants us to follow the Way!  Jesus Christ IS the Way.  Brothers and sisters, don’t get stuck in ways of knowing Him or doing things for Him.  Those “ways” will change and what worked today may not work tomorrow.  That’s because the way of the Lord is Christ, Himself, the Person!  Knowing Him and following Him and abiding Him is the key to every day and every work.  The true Foundation is only Christ and He is to be everything in our lives.  Not only individually but also corporately.  That’s why seeking him is so important for every step along the way.  Waiting upon him and not moving ahead of him is equally important.

Don’t be afraid of change

Don’t get stuck in a rut

Don’t get comfortable in past ways of doing things or systems of thought and procedure

Be flexible, be open

God’s change always brings about enlargement!

God’s new thing always brings in an abundance of Life!

 

Bread and Wine: A New Ebook

 

Bread and wine

Eating and Drinking Christ

This, unfortunately, is a very strange sounding phrase for most Christians today.

The reason for this is that the idea of knowing and consuming a Christ who lives deep inside of you (in your spirit) is not something we normally hear much about.

After watching a few hours of Christian television recently (which I hardly ever do!) I have concluded that most teaching comes under the category of “Christian Living”; in other words – how to live the Christian life.  We are told that it’s very important to live the Christian life now that you are one.  But the problem is that most bible teachers tell you that the “Christian Life” is something you do by: reading the bible, praying, going to church, paying your tithes, witnessing, doing some kind of christian work (usually by volunteering at the church), and so on.  This, we are told, is how one learns to “live” the Christian life.  So, most of us (myself included) spend years of our lives trying so hard to be good Christians using these methods.

But I propose to you that living the “Christian Life” is not the way at all!  It is the totally wrong premise!  It is the totally wrong foundation!

So… how do we live the Christian life?  Short answer:  WE DON’T!

There is only ONE who can live the life of the Father and that is the only begotten Son.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
(Galatians 2:20)

So now the question becomes one of an inward fellowship with an indwelling Christ. Dear saint, know that He lives within you and desires to have a deep intimate relationship with you internally. When we plant organic churches the first thing we do is preach Christ to the brothers and sisters. A much bigger and greater Christ than they have ever seen or heard before. The second thing we do is teach and equip those believers to know this glorious Christ intimately and inwardly.

A Great New Resource

This brings me to the point of this blog post.

A few years ago my wife and I started training new organic church planters. RC and Bridget Babione were part of that training. They are now part of a planting team in Austin, Texas. Bridget just released an ebook called: “Bread and Wine: 20 Recipes for Eating and Drinking Christ“.

I cannot recommend this book more highly.  It will help you to know an indwelling Christ is ways that you never thought of.  These helps are very practical and easy for anyone to follow in their everyday lives.  You can find out more about the book and how to order from this website link:

Bread and Wine

Is Christ Enough? Your Life

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Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’

(Matthew 16:24-25)

Here is the problem with the quote from Jesus above:

1.) We over-spiritualize it

2.) We disregard it

3.) We disdain it and avoid it at all costs

4.) We take it to mean that we must be willing to sacrifice for Jesus.

Matt 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.

CAUTION! Hang on to your bloomers… this blog post is going to be as blunt as I can possibly get in order to attempt getting through to you, my readers (all ten of you!).

I honestly believe that when we read passages (like those above) about the Lord’s call for us to follow Him that we really don’t get it.  That’s also true when we hear these things preached or written about.  That’s why my prayer for this blog post is that your eyes (spiritual) and ears (spiritual) would be opened to truly hear what our Lord is saying.  Are these statements important?  Yes! In fact they are everything!

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So Lord Jesus, I ask that those who will read this post will be touched by your Spirit to see and hear these things as perhaps for the first time.  Lord, may they not think: “oh yeah, I know that!” but instead humbly (like a child) receive what you have said as if they had never heard (or read) it before.  And Lord, may it cause a complete revolution to take place in their hearts and within your Body throughout the world.  Amen

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You might think I’m crazy, but I honestly believe that I can boil down the problems within Christianity and among most Christians today in one simple statement.

We don’t really believe what Jesus and the New Testament writers said!

That’s because if we did, then our lives would be very different than a typical Christian of today.  We would be radical, even revolutionary people.  Instead, what we see around us today is this insipid, anemic, lukewarm version of so-called Christianity.  For the most part, a people who are not willing to lose anything, let alone their very lives!

I can speak this way because I have been a believer for over 43 years and have seen a lot of Christians in that time.  My wife and I have been working for 25 years of that time to help start and plant something we call “organic” churches.  And in that time I can honestly say that I believe I have the main problem with believers who are attempting to return to a genuine, authentic, New Testament expression of the church.

They are just not willing to lose their lives!

And yet Jesus said that you could not even be a follower of his unless you were willing to lose your own life.  But I ask you dear brothers and sisters: IF WE ARE NOT EVEN FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST YET HOW CAN WE BE HIS CHURCH?

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone is desiring to come after me, let him” forget self and lose sight of his own interests, and let him pick up his cross and carry it, and let him be taking the same road with me that I travel, for whoever is desiring to save his soul-life shall ruin it, but whoever will pass a sentence of death upon his soul-life for my sake, shall find it. For what will a man be profited if he gain the whole world but forfeit his soul-life. Or, what shall a man give as an exchange for his soul-life? For the Son of Man is about to be coming in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall recompense to each one according to his manner of acting.” (Matthew 16:24) (Wuest)

But whatever things were to me a gainful asset, these things I have considered a loss when it comes to my acquisition of Christ, and still so consider them. Yes, indeed, therefore, at least, even I am still setting all things down to be a loss for the sake of that which excels all others, my knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord which I have gained through experience, for whose sake I have been caused to forfeit all things, and I am still counting them dung, in order that Christ I might gain, yes, in order that I might in the observation of others be discovered by them to be in Him, not having as my righteousness that righteousness which is of the law, but that righteousness which is through faith in Christ, that righteousness which is from God on the basis of faith. Yes, for His sake I have been caused to forfeit all things, and I count them but dung, in order that I might come to know Him in an experiential way, and to come to know experientially the power of His resurrection and a joint-participation in His sufferings, being brought to the place where my life will radiate a likeness to His death, if by any means I might arrive at the goal, namely, the out-resurrection from among those who are dead. (Philippians 3:7) (Wuest)

As I hope that you can clearly see, all of these statements hinge upon one thing: A LIFE LAID DOWN!

If our individual relationship with God is hinging upon us laying down our lives then how could we ever think that His Church would operate by any other principal?

People all over are asking for “organic church” life but they haven’t even totally given their lives to the Lord yet! I ask you, how can this work? It can’t, it can’t, it most absolutely cannot!

The Great Contradiction

As I stated earlier in this post, my wife and I have been working in the area of helping and planting organic churches. We have noticed a very strange phenomenon concerning this. Many of the people who are helped by us in the churches we plant and others who hear or read about our work make statements such as those below:

  • “I really appreciate all that you have done to help us”
  • “You folks have sacrificed a lot to help us”
  • “We really honor and look up to you because of your sacrificial service”
  • “You have given up so much to do this work, thank you!”

Now, please don’t misunderstand me, we really appreciate these statements made by precious believers where we have worked.  We take their love and encouragements to heart in every way.  There is a special and strong bond between us.  We thank the Lord for that every day!

However, there is also something very strange about all this …

We are not special Christians!  We are just “normal” Christians.

Yes, we have laid down our lives for the Lord and His House.  But that is just what a normal believer does!  Now, not everyone is called to his work of planting churches, traveling, preaching, etc.

  • But we are ALL called to follow Him completely by giving up our lives and living His life.
  • We are ALL called to forsake all to follow Him.
  • We are ALL called to take up His interests and His purpose and lay down all of our ideas, dreams, hopes, agendas, programs, wants, and even needs.
  • We are ALL called to take up His all-encompassing interest which is His Church!
  • We are ALL called to go wherever and do whatever He needs for His eternal purpose (the expression of Christ in His Body).

In other words: A true follower of Christ is someone who has given up all rights to himself and his/her own desires, wishes, dreams, and goals.  That’s just a normal Christian.

But we are so used to living a sub-standard Christian life that we actually believe that those who are “sold out” for Christ are either fanatics or called to the ministry!

But wait!  Our Lord Jesus even went beyond that!

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s. (Matt 16:23)

 

Do you “see” it? Do you “get” that? Here our Lord makes such a terrible and frightening statement that our minds tend to either blot it out or minimize the statement.

Let me put it in other words.

Jesus is telling Peter here that because he is setting his mind on man’s interests (his own) and not on God’s, he is not only a stumbling block to Christ, but he is also functioning by the life of Satan, the enemy of God!

Folks, I really don’t know how it could be stated any clearer:  When we put our own interests above that of Christ and His Church we are a satanically inspired stumbling block to Him!

You see, it’s either going to be your life or His!  Both will never work and will actually work against God’s purpose.  That’s why the Lord told us to leave all to follow Him.  That’s why He told us to deny (literally: to disown) our lives.  Organic church won’t work if you try to retain your own life!  It will end up being some watered-down version of the true expression of Christ.  It may be better than institutional church in some ways but it will not be what the Lord wants or live up to His own vision and passion.

The Foundation

When we come to plant a new organic church we always tell the believers that they will need to clear their schedules and simplify their lives.  We also tell them that the Church cannot be just a adjunct (add-on) to their lives.  THE CHURCH MUST NOW BE THEIR LIVES!  The biggest hindrance to organic church life is not the devil, the religious system, or even your background.

The biggest hindrance to true organic church life is your own life!

I get people coming to me all the time wanting to join an existing organic church in their town.  They tell me that they have earnestly wanted this life for many years and are willing to do whatever it takes to find it. When I tell them that I don’t know of any such churches in their town but that I do know of churches in other cities then they begin to make excuses why they could never relocate to another town or state.  I’m sorry, but I honestly don’t have much compassion for believers in this condition.  They say one thing with their mouths but their hearts are far from the Lord and His purpose.

I can honestly say that most people don’t experience organic church life simply because they are willing to live without it!  You MUST be desperate for this life!  I mean REALLY desperate!  My wife and I were not willing to live without it.  We were willing to go anywhere and do anything to find it!

The Bottom Line

One of my favorite movies is The Untouchables with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery.  It’s about the taking down by law enforcement officers of one of the most notorious criminals of all time; Al Capone of Chicago.  Costner (Elliot Ness) works for the Treasury department and has been commissioned to put Capone out of business.  Connery is an older Irish cop on the beat in Chicago.  He has obviously been around the block several times and knows what is really going on with crime in the city.  Costner recruits Connery to help him put Capone down.  However, Connery’s character makes one thing clear to Ness by asking him one simple question: “what are you prepared to do?” He then goes on to tell him that this is an “all or nothing” endeavor.  That if he goes after Capone it will cost him everything.  Then he tells Ness, “here endeth the lesson.”

Brothers and sisters, what are you prepared to do?  Are you willing to go wherever and do whatever your Lord wants?  Don’t answer too quickly!  It’s so easy to say “Yes” to such a proposition without having counted the cost.  So… what is the cost?  The cost is simply everything!  Your Life!  Living organic church life means that you no longer hold any claims to your own personal life and now He IS your life.  And believe me, this rabbit hole goes much deeper than you ever imagined!

Is Christ REALLY enough?

“Here endeth the lesson.”

 

Special Note:  If this message (and the Lord’s dealings with you) have been tugging at your heart and you are willing to lay it all down for His calling and His purpose then you may be ready to engage in the most glorious adventure ever – true body life!  If this sounds like you then please email me at: milt@therebuilders.org and I will give you information on some possible new organic church plants that you can get involved in.