Monday, June 22, 2009


I was sitting in Church, listening to the sermon, and again, I found myself disagreeing with some of what was said... not so much as a refutation but a desire for perspective to change.  And now, I'm sitting in the Library at Den Sem, reading a book on discipleship.  I was reminded of the peace God gave me yesterday of the mess it seems the Church is in.  Do we, as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ get things wrong?  Of course.  Is God frustrated with our lack of progress?  That is a more difficult question.  And herein lies a big difference between certain Christians: I presuppose that God is sovereign over all activity within the Created Realm... there is no activity or direction taken that is not authorized by God to suit His purpose.  Some do not adopt this position honestly when they hold strong convictions that Humanity has Free Will.  I recently read that Charles Finney, an American Revivalist of the 1800's, believed that we pursued God apart from any prompting on His part, and then God responded when we showed a commitment to Him.  That astounds me!  I see no biblical support for that position.  And yet, I feel that sentiment, that God waits for us to act before He moves in our lives powerfully, is taught and accepted still.  My frustration and discouragement yesterday was in light of this issue.  

Why is it that so many are just missing some of the vastly significant and powerful spiritual truths that are so vital for my passion for the faith?  

God answered that question both in prayer in the service, and through reading yesterday afternoon and today.  More or less, God asked me (isn't it funny how he asks us questions to respond, that we might have to engage all the more?... sorry - tangent) whether it took me no time or not to get where I was today.  Had I not experienced spiritual growth throughout the years that each prepared me for the next, that I might be exactly where I am at exactly this moment in time?  It was as if a lightbulb went off and I was assured.  Yeah, it is really frustrating to not have your pastors preaching the Glory of God and the significance of Christ's version of the Gospel (Kingdom come) vs. our own false gospel of salvation from Hell as if that was most important, our selfish experience.  But that frustration is worth it if God has a role for me to be a significant part of the Body for teaching and correction.  And the depth of His wisdom, that He may use us, a messed up and misguided people, centered on ourselves, is amazing to me; He will use us in all our depravity to show all how worthy of praise He is to sit on the throne and reign with authority over all creation. 

A final thought on this is that patience is important but not excuse for passivity.  I could just lie down to the circumstances of our collective lostness, saying "oh well, God will bring them around eventually to a more empowered knowledge of Himself."  The problem with that is that God would not have brought me to the place I am if He did not want me to share it with the Body, for edification and growth.  As I progressed gradually, through flawed teaching over the years, so Christ will use my obedience to the measure of faith given me to impact and teach others.  Is this not Christ's desire for us, that we may make disciples (those being taught in the faith)?  The closer God get all of us to a fuller, truer knowledge of Himself, the sooner we all will exponentially increase our effectiveness for the Kingdom, the sooner He will return because the world will actually start to hate once more what His chosen does to there comfort in sin, once more convicted and unnerved.  

May His Kingdom come to Earth as it is in Heaven, where Humanity joins the heavenly hosts in saying, 
"You are worthy to take the scroll 
      and to open its seals, 
   because you were slain, 
      and with your blood you purchased men for God 
      from every tribe and language and people and nation. 
 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, 
      and they will reign on the earth...
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, 
   to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength 
   and honor and glory and praise!...
 "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb 
   be praise and honor and glory and power, 
         for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5:9-10, 12-13)

Monday, June 15, 2009

On Conversion and Transformation

I'm reading a book for my upcoming summer school class on Evangelism and Discipleship entitled Beginning Well.  It defines the above terms (of conversion and transformation), which honestly, is refreshing because I've heard them in different contexts, but not spoken of as an integrated subject.  Almost halfway through, and I get a sense the message is an important one the Church needs to address:  Do we have a clear understanding in mind (of what occurs at conversion and what should follow) when we intentionally shepherd our "believers" toward authentic and honoring discipleship?  

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ephesians 1:10-12: A Rendering

By being "plugged" into God, we have an inheritance from Him that we yet comprehend.  We were determined by God to walk with Him before creation came to being.  God chose us in advance to serve a purpose, His purpose, that satisfies His core drive, the Sovereign Will of God.  His Will, the goal and unavoidable result is that we who are of Christ Jesus, as we hope in Him as Salvation to Mankind, would exalt the Glory of God.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Qualifying Comment or Two and the Taste of Things to Come

Shall I begin with a comment on some feedback I've received from my most recent posts?  I have been told more or less that my tone has been intense.  Perhaps that is the best way to describe it.  It is not without design, however.  I understand that I come across as abrasive at times.  What I don't think I have accounted for was the impact that has on people.  Yes, my intent was to jar some into thought.  Yes, I understand that I may have swung the proverbial pendulum a bit too far than seems necessary.  I chose to because the full balance of the message (of God's Sovereignty in combination with His empowerment of unity and relationship with Himself and fellow believers), in my opinion was not being met.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  We need to understand who God is for our understanding of the significance of our relationships with Him and others to have any impactful meaning.  To neglect God's essence and provision within the success of the relationships formed is to negate God's credit due Him and claim it as our own doing.  That to me is scary.  My intent was to share my concern and continue the dialogue, not to scare people into thinking I believed a strange doctrine or distrusted the methods of my spiritual leaders.  

That said, I wish to share another thought.  I must qualify it with a lesson I've learned from the above situation.  The fact is sound teaching is essential.  My pastor, Kevin, shared an insightful insight of how there are degrees of comprehension that the multitude of believers hold.  To paraphrase Kevin, the spiritual meat for me may be spiritual milk for another and vice versa.  I say all this because I need it to be known that I understand we are all at different stages of our journey following Christ and that is okay, and God designed.  I am not frustrated with a lack of fervor from fellow followers as compared with what I experience, nor am I (overly) concerned with a lack or abundance of zeal within myself.  It is what it is, and God will use the whole Church, every member at every step of advancement further into Kingdom living, to reveal His manifold wisdom to those in the Heavenly Realm (in fact, it is a fallacy to think God expects us all to "arrive" before He is satisfied with us).  

So there's that disclaimer.  It logically leads to my next disclaimer; that I am one at a certain stage of the journey too, with hundreds of thousands of miles to go (most likely).  What I am about to propose is a thought that still needs much study and reflection.  It may not be gospel truth, but then again, it may, which is why I bring it up, since I'm most concerned with empowering the Body of Christ to authentic Kingdom living.  That said...

What if those who place their trust in the redeeming work of Christ are no longer SINNERS, but have been set free from a sinful nature, given a new one, and we no longer should be discouraged by our failings.  In fact, what we continue to experience as sinning, could better be thought as a trespass or transgression, readily covered by the blood of the Lamb as we abide in Him.  

These thoughts spur from Colossians 2:10-15, Galatians 5:1, 13-16, and with due consideration of what seems like contradictions found in 1 John.  Speaking specifically of the 1 John usages of sin, sinning and sinner, I have done preliminary research on word meaning and read commentary that seem to give context that explains 1:8-10 as referring to non-believers.  Elsewhere in the letter John speaks of believers as sinning, and committing sin.  The word study on harmatia (the Greek for sin) shows multiple connotations, which ranges from a sinful nature/state/condition/power to the grievous act.  I would need to delve deeper into the text and greek forms to assess whether a particular form denoted a particular meaning.  The commentary I read seems to suggest much of the usage of sin in 1 John denotes a meaning synonymous with transgression/trespass.  

What does this all mean for the believer?  It speaks to our true identity in Christ, highly empowered for righteous living, and correcting of the lies of the Enemy that we are flawed, broken vessels, not yet usable by God for Kingdom impact.  The Enemy has pacified millions of believers by tricking us into doubting our true state.

Do we still sin?  Perhaps, because of the connotations attached to the word, we would benefit from using others.  Yes, we sin if one means we transgress or trespass.  Are we still sinners?  I would argue no, not those who abide in Christ.  And with that qualifier ("not those who abide in Christ") I am beginning to see the depth this study can take me.  It opens questions on the Free Will debate, whether one exposed to the graces of God can willfully rebel from God... My preliminary reading of 1 John seems to suggest it is a possibility.  Perhaps one day I will grasp a fuller comprehension of this delicate tightrope walk.  

More to come, you can be sure!  Just how soon is another issue.