What Should Our Standard Be?

Posted on 09. Apr, 2011 by in Community, The Body

Last night I had about a 2 hour conversation with a good friend of mine. We talked about a wide variety of things, but one thing in particular really stuck with me. I am curious what others think about this topic, however, so I want to ask a question, and then later I will give my own answer. So, the question is:

Should the New Testament church be our standard for how the Body of Christ or the Kingdom are supposed to function?

After the Worship Conference – Sept. 3

Posted on 03. Sep, 2010 by in The Body, The Purpose of God

Like I said in yesterday’s post, since attending the conference there is something stirring on the inside of me.  As stated, I haven’t fully processed all of it to know exactly where He is leading me or showing me.  What I do understand is that there is an even greater purpose than becoming like Christ.  We are certainly to grow into maturity in Christ, but as we do that, what changes?  Once we are matured in Christ, and have achieved the fulness of Him, what happens then?

I now more clearly understand that God has a purpose in the earth.  I have mentally assented this point for some time, and understood it in a limited fashion in my spirit for a shorter period of time.  Now, however, I more fully see that there is a grand plan.  On the cross Jesus secured His victory over the enemy.  The whole world legally belongs to Christ, but for whatever reason He has allowed Satan to maintain control.  I can not give chapter and verse at this point, but I believe He has done this, because he wants to work out that victory in the earth through us.  He has chosen to use us in His master plan, only we haven’t cooperated.  We’ve been too busy playing church to get busy with the work of the kingdom.  From Paul’s writing I believe he thought that the end of this age would come in his lifetime, or shortly after.  I do not think he anticipated it taking 2000 plus years, and I don’t think it needs to have taken this long.  Satan is cunning, however, and has consistently thwarted the plans of God, and we, God’s instrument on the earth, have let him.  I see through this how very patient God is.  He could’ve wrapped this thing up Himself, but he had chosen, from the foundation of the earth, to use us in His eternal purpose, to bring about the defeat of the enemy.  It is time for the church, the body of Christ, to get SERIOUS about our place in the kingdom.  It is time that we let the trappings of this life fall to the side, and focus our minds and hearts fully on Him.  2 Chronicles 16:9 says:

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Psalm 149 says:

1Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
2Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
3Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
4For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.
5Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.
6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
7To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishment on the peoples,
8To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron,
9To execute on them the judgment written;
This is an honor for all His godly ones.

Praise the LORD!

I do not believe that the nations mentioned in this Psalm are physical nations.  Ephesians 6:10-12 makes it clear who our enemies are.  I think we need to see this more as a war, and in Ephesians 6 Paul seems to treat it as such.

I am speaking to myself in this post.  There is so much in Him that we don’t understand, and I think part of the problem is that we don’t see the big picture.  We need to understand that God has a purpose in the earth, and the ultimate purpose is to supplant the kingdom of Satan with the Kingdom of God.  The more I see the truth of His ultimate purpose, the less this world means to me, and the more willing I am to forsake all and follow Him.  It really is THAT simple, if we can just see it!

So, here’s the summary of all my thoughts for these two posts.  We need to practice a model of mutual edification in the body, as we’ve discussed before.  We have to go beyond that, however, and commit ourselves fully to His purposes, being willing to give up all we have to see that purpose accomplished.  I am not implying that I have arrived in this respect, because I have not.  However, I believe that the more we die to ourselves, and allow His purposes to reign in our lives, the more we will accomplish towards His purposes, and the closer we will be to the end of the age.  As one brother said at the end of the conference, “Let’s get this thing wrapped up!”  We can’t do it apart from Christ, but Christ has chosen NOT to do it apart from us!  The ball is in our court, I believe.

As always, I welcome comments or criticisms of my thoughts here.  I do not claim to have it all figured out, and I find definite value in what the Lord is showing others.  Thanks to Alan and Dan for their active questioning, as these two posts mentioned previously sparked some of this in my heart.

Peace to all of you


Community is Hard Work

Posted on 02. Sep, 2010 by in Community, The Body

I love blogging, both the act of blogging, because it helps me develop my thought processes more clearly, but also reading others blogs, because it exposes me to the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit has planted in others.   I just finished reading a post by Keith Giles, at Subversive1.  If you haven’t read Keith’s blog, check it out.  He really has great things to say, and the post linked to below is no exception.


In this post Keith talks about his service to a gentleman named Robert, that has cancer, and it brought to mind something I’ve been kicking around in my head for awhile (there’s a lot of space up there).

I talk plenty about community.  I long for community.  I love relationships and desire to develop relationships in Christ.


You see, I find that my flesh gets in the way of my experience of community, because I am either selfish, and don’t want to share those I am close to with others, or I am afraid to reach out for fear of rejection, or I would just rather be alone and not mess with other people.  I know, it sounds awful, and it is.

Something else I noticed at the worship conference I attended is how difficult it is for the body to relate to one another.  I think there is an instinctive lack of trust in others, at least there is in me.  I am quick to think the wrong thing of others’ actions, and am afraid that others will think wrong of mine.  Its like we’re all trying to dance together, but can’t get in the same rhythm, so we just keep stepping all over each other.  I think it will take some serious commitment to community to break through these barriers, and this is why Keith’s post spoke to me.  Keith has gone to great lengths to serve another human.  Interestingly he finds that the longer he serves the easier it becomes.  I think serving others changes us, and brings about maturity, because, as Keith notes, in serving Robert, Keith has learned a lot about himself and about Christ.

In dealing with my own difficulties with relationships and community, I find the source to be from my childhood (a very freudian thing to say, but true), where I decided at some point to not rely on others, and just take care of myself.  I have struggled with this, and prayed for understanding and deliverance, but the problem has remained.  While going to get groceries for lunch at the conference, the Lord spoke something to me.  He said (not audibly) that I just have to do it.  I can not let my insecurities stand in the way.  I have to approach, love and serve others, and as I do, that barrier inside me will be destroyed.  But, as it so often is, the next step is mine!  It also helped just to understand the shift that took place so many years ago, to be self-reliant, because that is an untenable position in the body, and in my conscious mind I strive to have my full reliance in Him.  I see in this an opportunity to trust Him more, and that is what I want.

Thanks for bearing with my ramblings.

Walking Worthy

Posted on 29. Jul, 2010 by in The Body

OK, one last post for the day.  My most prolific day ever!

I have been reading in Ephesians, lately, and today ventured into Philippians.  The following verses caught my attention:

1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:1-6

27Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Philippians 1:27
Both of these texts discuss “walking worthy”, and both give very similar descriptions of how we do that. Maintaining our unity is seen in both passages as being a central part of “walking worthy”.  I am sure there are other scriptures as well, but these were the ones that struck me today.

Church of the Ring-Necked Pheasant?

Posted on 18. Jul, 2010 by in The Body

Last Wednesday our group was gathering for our weekly fellowship.  Our “class clown”, so to speak, is Buddy, who walked into our living room and stated “Welcome to the church of the ring-necked pheasant”.  For us this is funny because we have all come to an understanding how the organized church fails to fulfill the purposes of the God, so it is fun on some levels to poke fun at what we have come from.  He later coined the term “the royal order of the ring-neck”, which I also found funny.  Just thought I’d share it.  It may be a case of “you had to be there” to find it funny, and I’m not the best story teller.

Anyway, on to business.

One of my favorite albums recently is Across the Earth, by Hillsong United.  Recently I was listening, and the words to “Desert Song” really spoke to me.  I’ll paste them below (emphasis mine).  (I tried to embed the YouTube “video” into this post, and even clicked over the the “html” view of the post-editor.  It didn’t work.  Any suggestions would be appreciated, as I’m still learning  how this all works).

Verse 1:
This is my prayer in the desert
when all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

Verse 2:
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

Verse 3:
And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it’s way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Verse 4:
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be empited again
The seed I’ve recieved I will sow

after listening to this, one passage that we discussed at our fellowship struck me.  We read from Romans 8:28-39, with the gist of the passage summed up in verses 35-37:

“35Who will separate us from (CB)the love of [e]Christ? Will (CC)tribulation, or distress, or (CD)persecution, or (CE)famine, or (CF)nakedness, or(CG)peril, or sword?  36Just as it is written,


37But in all these things we overwhelmingly (CI)conquer through (CJ)Him who loved us.”

The other important piece was verses 29-30:

“29For those whom He (BI)foreknew, He also (BJ)predestined to become (BK)conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the(BL)firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He (BM)predestined, He also (BN)called; and these whom He called, He also (BO)justified; and these whom He justified, He also (BP)glorified.”

The final verse I wanted to mention is Ephesians 1:19-23:

“These are in accordance with the working of the(BF)strength of His might 20which He brought about in Christ, when He (BG)raised Him from the dead and (BH)seated Him at His right hand in (BI)the heavenly places, 21far above (BJ)all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every (BK)name that is named, not only in (BL)this age but also in the one to come. 22And He (BM)put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as (BN)head over all things to the church, 23which is His (BO)body, the (BP)fullness of Him who (BQ)fills (BR)all in all.”

Since we are in Christ, we are with Him, seated at the right hand of God.  Our victory is already guaranteed.  Romans 8 speaks to the fact that He’s already glorified those whom he foreknow, predestined, called, etc.   We know that no weapon formed against us will prosper, and no attack of the enemy will prevent the fulfillment of His plan.  The only thing that can derail the plan of God is our failure to continue in faith (salvation is by grace, THROUGH FAITH).  This doesn’t mean we’ll never doubt, but that we’ll continue to stand (I’ll have to discuss this further in the future) in spite of our doubts and emotions.

The battle is over, the victory is won, we must only see through what we already know to be the end result!

Achieving an Accurate Expression

Posted on 17. Jul, 2010 by in The Body

I just finished reading the post “Everyone” at The Ekklesia in Southern Maine, which I mentioned in my previous post.  After reading the post, and the subsequent comments, something really stood out to me, that I’ve come across briefly once before.  I think the tendency is to pattern ourselves after the NT church, and certainly this is better than the alternative.  I loved the comment by Dan, the post author:  “New testament church was doing it right as far as they emulated Christ’s example.”  I think the example of the NT church is a good place to start, but our focus has to be on Christ, and allowing Him to build His body.  Certainly even with the understanding we can gleam from the NT on how believers gathered, there are still a lot of “how’s” to be answered, and we only find those answers by seeking after Christ.  The second point I wanted to make, following after the first, is that there is no cookie cutter way to “do church” or “be church”.  I don’t think you can write a book with the 5 steps to creating ‘organic community’.  I think, as stated, that there are guidelines, but it may not always look exactly the same in each location, because each body has different personalities, gifts, etc.  I will be adding several new blogs to my blogroll, based on recent readings.  I’ll link to them now.

The Normal Christian – by Anthony Verderame.

My Church Journey – by Norma J Hill

The Ekklesia in Southern Maine – Dan Allen

The longer I live the more I see the beauty of the design of the Body of Christ.

A Wonderful Expression of Community

Posted on 17. Jul, 2010 by in The Body

I just finished reading a post by Norma Hill, at Pen and Paper Mama.  She wrote a post entitled “whole-body participation in our meetings“, that links to another post entitled “Everyone” at The Ekklesia in Southern Maine.  The discussion is concerning other ways, besides in our sit-down meetings, that the body functions AS the church, and doesn’t just GO to church.  The thing that struck me, about this post and this blog in general, is the great lengths Norma has gone to find fellowship and community.  In the grand scheme of things this probably isn’t really “great lengths”, but it seems so from my perspective, and its more than what many Christians, myself included, would’ve thought to do to find community.  Basically, Norma has found or created fellowship among “street level” people in her home town, and her fellowship is with them.  Read this post, for a description of what a typical meeting is like, and see if you are as intrigued as I am.  As I commented on her blog, the ultimate expression of the body would be for the wealthier among us to begin providing a hand-up for these individuals that have fallen on hard times.  I believe the time is coming when these types of things will happen, as we become unfettered by the financial drags of salaries and buildings.  Thank you, Norma, for a great post, and a wonderful heart.

History Lesson Part 2

Posted on 15. Jul, 2010 by in The Body, The Purpose of God

In my last post I gave the history of my coming to Larned, KS, and what the Lord did through us after we moved here.  I left off with the Lord having brought us into fellowship with likeminded believers, each from different backgrounds and with different things to offer.  As I mentioned, there is a strong preponderance of business owners in our group, and one couple farms.  I find this interesting as I wonder if the Lord is beginning to lead His people into a “business as ministry” paradigm.  It certainly seems to be the case in Larned, anyway.

As stated, we have been meeting as a group for over a year.  In that time there have been people come and go, but the core group has remained.  The connection and bond that has grown between us is really hard to describe.  It is a deep brotherly/sisterly love, that I can say I have never experienced before, and to be honest there is a certain part of me that has to get used to that.  It really is a thing of beauty, if I haven’t said that already!

Recently we have found ourselves wondering what is next.  We have really caught a vision for the body of Christ, for the mutual caring that was exhibited in the New Testament, and that we have seen the Spirit building in us.  We have felt that there was something more out there for us, but didn’t really know what that was.  We now feel that the Lord has shown us what is coming.  I firmly believe that the Spirit is calling people into a “new thing”.  It is not actually new, as it was experienced in the early church, but it has largely been lost in the last 1900 years or so.  That new thing is an accurate expression of Christ on the earth, where His people walk together in unity in their pursuit of Him, where each person supplies physically, emotionally and spiritually to every other person, and where His people persevere with each other in spite of personal differences and hardships.  Christ alone serves as the head of this body, and all leadership from within the body is done in humility and in service to the Saints.  He is calling us to allow Him to build his body, something I think mankind has been hesitant to do, what with our propensity to need to be in control.  This body will truly be different, will truly be salt and light to a world that desperately needs it.  We don’t know how the Lord will build, but we know He is going to, and we have committed ourselves to allow Him to build.

As part of this process we felt the need to come up with a core belief statement, so to speak:  the things we found the Lord dealing with us on, and that we felt were integral truths to how He was working in our midst.  I want to share this here, as maybe it will be a help to someone else.

Core Beliefs

  • God exists as an omnipotent, omniscient being, and has always existed.
  • There is one God, but the person of God has 3 distinct expressions, the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit, all equal.
  • Christ represents the fullness of God in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)
  • God created all that is, seen and unseen.  He created Mankind in His image.
  • Man lived sinless before God, until the Fall.  Because of the fall, man is born a slave to sin, and is dead in sin, dead to God.  (Romans 5:12-14, Romans 6:17, Ephesians 2:1)
  • God sent His son, Jesus, to die for man, thus redeeming man back to Himself.  Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and thus further sacrifice is unnecessary.
  • Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary (we do not impute any special value to the person of Mary.  She is not worthy of special honor or worship, nor do we pray to her.  Special emphasis on Mary detracts from the central importance of Christ).
  • Jesus was at the same time fully God, and fully man. (Philippians 2:5-11)
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law, the written code.  The law is summed up in Christ, and we are now released from the written code.  (Romans 6:14, Romans 7:6)
  • Having accepted the sacrifice of Christ for our sin, we have died with Him, and therefore we are free from sin.  We are now free to resist the power of sin, and are called on to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies (Romans 6:1-14)
  • Salvation is by grace, through faith.  There is no amount of works we can do to obtain salvation, or gain further favor with God. (Ephesians 2:1-9)
  • We believe that a follower of Christ will have fruit as evidence of the internal work of the Spirit.  Although in Christ we have been made perfect, in this life the inner-working of the Spirit results in a gradual transformation (sanctification), as described in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
  • As Christians, our faith should be evidenced by our works, or by how we live our lives.  The works talked about in James 1 are not a basis of salvation, but more like evidence of the salvation we already have.
  • Jesus is the head of his body, or church (called out ones), on the earth.(Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 1:18, Colossians 2:18-19, Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
  • Each individual member of the body is responsible to function in his/her individual  pursuit of Christ, and the body matures as each individual expresses their graces or gifts to other members of the body.  The body grows by “that which each joint supplies”. (Ephesians 4:7-16, 1 Corinthians 12:7-27)
  • Christ is the head of His church, and beyond that there is no other hierarchical authority given.  We are all priests, with Jesus as our High Priest. (1 Peter 2:5-9)
  • Leadership in the body should be modeled after the example of Christ, who gave His life for His church.  There are those who function as elders in the body, who by their lives exemplify maturity in Christ.  These individuals lead by their example, and by their service to the Saints. (Hebrews 13:7,17)
  • Eldership in the New Testament was always plural.  There is no example in scripture of a single individual being over a particular body (1 Peter 5:1-4, Hebrews 13:7, 17, 1 Timothy 5:17)
  • Division among the body is not allowed.  The only reason to distinguish among different “churches” was based on geography.  Paul might talk about those who meet here or there, but the church was all-inclusive.  Paul stressed preserving that unity, as in the following scripture:

1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”  (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Our unity should not be sacrificed because of differing beliefs on non-essential items.  Part of the beauty of the body, and part of what sets us apart from the world, is our persistent love one for another, in the midst of personal differences, hardships and trials

I welcome any comments on the above points.