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


After the Worship Conference – Sept. 2

Posted on 02. Sep, 2010 by in The Purpose of God, Worship

A lot has been going through my mind since attending the worship conference.  It is interesting to look back at the notes that I took, and the things that I learned, and realize that the impact of the experience goes way beyond the sum total of all I learned there.  There was a very specific impartation there, which has put my mind to thinking in a different manner.  I feel that in the next month or two I will come to some new understanding on things, compared to how I see now, and that is why I am putting a date on this post title.  I believe the impact of that will be far-reaching, and want to reserve the right to return to that at any point!

I want to give links to the first two posts regarding the conference.  For some reason the Day 2 post had a pretty high readership, but either no one, or virtually no one, read the first post, or at least as far as I can tell.  There were some thoughts in the first post that were ground-breaking for me, so I wanted to share both links again, in case anyone missed the first one.

Worship Is Death

Worship Conference Day 2

After attending this conference, two blog posts I read have continued the process of rethinking in my mind.  I want to provide links, and encourage everyone to read these posts.  They are not long, but they speak to the questions that are in my mind.

Stirring Up | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine.

The Purpose of Participation | The Assembling of the Church.

So, here’s the situation.  I’ve been a vocal proponent of participatory style meetings, and very critical of traditional church models.  I still believe that the New Testament model is participatory, and that a single pastorate system is unbiblical, and harmful to the maturity of the body.  But, as pointed out by Alan and Dan in the above posts, just attending participatory meetings doesn’t guarantee that the end result will be any different than in the system we just left.  My concern for this movement, if you want to call it that, is that we will recreate a system, and never achieve the maturity of the body described in Ephesians 4.  Like Alan said, the goal is to become like Christ, or to literally become His body and bride, fully matured.  Will meeting in a circle instead of in rows with a pulpit bring that about?  Unfortunately, in and of itself, no.  The question I now pose, after reading these posts, is what do we do IN these meetings that brings maturity?  Certainly Hebrews 10:24-25 gives some insight, stating that we are to consider one another to stir up love and good works, which I interpret to mean we are to esteem others higher than ourselves, and care more for their needs than for our own.  But I am not sure that this even gives the whole picture.

I have further thoughts on this, but I fear things will get too lengthy.  I’m going to stop here and finish my thoughts tomorrow.

Worship Conference Day 2

Posted on 29. Aug, 2010 by in Worship

Today was day two of the worship conference.  We had some nice acoustic worship in the morning, with a more contemporary service this evening.  I have an eclectic selection of things to share tonight, but hopefully everything will tie together in the end!

Praise and worship has always, or at least always as long as I’ve been alive, played a prominent role in the average church service.  Some congregations still sing hymns only, some are into the latest and greatest new material, and others are somewhere in between.  No matter the genre of music played, I think there has been a general misunderstanding of the purpose and function of praise and worship in the church today.  Usually the music is seen as a prelude to the rest of the service, an introduction so to speak, maybe a means to prepare hearts to receive the message brought by the pastor.  Often times, in our time-pressed society, the music is limited to a specific time period, because “the show must go on”.  All of these views miss the true purpose of worship.

Why Do We Worship?

  1. Worship is partially vertical, between us and God.  It is us ministering to God, and God ministering to us.  As a part of this point, I want to take a little rabbit trail.  One of the speakers today was a Rodney DuCroq.  Rodney, like the other speakers for the conference, has an extensive background in leading worship, and he spoke on the 4 Faces of Worship, based on Revelations 4:7.  He taught the following regarding the 4 Beasts, and the seasons of worship they represent:
    1. The Ox (or calf)  The ox was a beast of burden, so the ox represents labor.  This is labor intensive worship, for the purpose of accomplishing things in the spirit that need to be accomplished.  This often times deals with breaking hard ground, like plowing a field that has never been plowed.  The ox also represents sacrifice, as in a sacrifice of praise.  This goes back to what I wrote about yesterday, that worship often involves dying to self, to bring about obedience to Christ.  We subjugate our own desires to accomplish His.
    2. The Man – this represents God ministering to man, as well as man ministering to man.  God wants to minister to us, so in this respect worship is vertical.  Ephesians 5:26 describes Jesus sanctifying His bride, “by the washing of water with the word”.  We need to view worship as a two way street.  We bring praise and worship to Him, but He also uses the experience to speak things into the world, either into our personal lives, or to speak things into the world that He is wanting to do.
    3. The Eagle – The eagle has great sight.  He can see for great distances, and God wants us to have His sight, His vision, concerning where we are in His grand plan.
    4. The Lion – The lion seems to represent victory, a season of praise where the people of God are exuberant in their worship, celebrating the greatness of  God.
  2. As stated above, we worship to minister to one another.  Usually in the church today, and this is true of my past worship experiences, we get into the worship service, and form our own little  ‘worship cocoon’.  We are totally focused on God, and see nothing of those around us.  God wants us to minister to one another  in our praise and worship.  Three verses bear this out.
    1. Ephesians 5:15-19 – speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, etc.
    2. Colossians 3:12-16 – teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, etc.

Why should we want to minister to one another?  Because each of us has a representation of Christ that is unique on the earth.  If I am only receiving the part of Christ that is in the worship team, I am missing out on the parts of Christ that are in the rest of the body.   We’ve discussed this issue extensively in the blogosphere as it pertains to our meetings at large, but I believe, as was shared at the conference, that this same principle applies in our worship as well.

3.  We should not be relying on the music team to lead all the worship.  In 1 Corinthians 14:26, each one had a psalm, a hymn or a spiritual song, etc.  We are all responsible to minister to one another.

4.  Worship and music are not synonymous.  Worship can be done in the context of music, but not all music represents true worship.  True worship should be an extension of a life that is lived continuously in worship of Him.

Finally, Douglas made the following point:  “”If your worship is not built into the greater context of God’s eternal purpose it lacks the ability to impact the earth.”  In other words, if we are not continually seeking to know His purposes on the earth, both seasonal and eternal, our worship will just be music sung in unison.  If we want to see our worship become truly powerful and life-changing, we must worship, again, in the context of His purposes.

So, in short form, we need to see our worship as a life-changing and world-changing interaction, between God and man, and between man and man.  It is an important ministry in and of itself, not just an intro to some other, more important thing.

Unfortunately, this is new enough information for me that I can’t provide the biblical references for all the points that were made.  If you have specific questions regarding this, please feel free to comment ad I’ll get more details.  There are probably important details I’ve left out, but if I think of other things I’ve left out or mis-stated I’ll post again later.

Worship Is Death

Posted on 27. Aug, 2010 by in Worship

This weekend my wife and I are in Wichita, KS, attending a worship conference put on by my dear brother Douglas Weaver.  Tonight we had a good music/worship session, followed by some teaching by a brother named Ian Chellan (I am not sure I spelled his name right).  I thought he made some very good points, and I wanted to share them while they are still fresh in my mind.  (Part 2 on Faith will follow next week)

He talked about Genesis 22, where the word “worship” is used for the first time.

“Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”   Genesis 22:5

Worship here is associated with death.  In this case, Abraham’s act of worship was to obey God and sacrifice his son.  In this situation I see two points, which are really interconnected:

  1. True worship brings about death in us, death to ourselves, death to our flesh.  Like Paul talked about dying daily, true worship is something we live in every day, and is part of our lifestyle.  More on this in a second.
  2. Worship is obedience.  This is connected to #1, because obedience to God results in, or comes from, dying to ourselves.

Ian also stated something like the following (paraphrased by me):  “If singing a song brings you into the presence of the Lord, why are you out of His presence in the first place?”  What I take from this is that our lives are a continual process of worshipping Him.  He is worshipped in how we live, how we treat our families and those around us, and when we make decisions to resist temptation and do His will instead of our own.  Then, after having lived in that attitude and lifestyle of worship all the time, when we come together as a body we are expressing that worship in a unified voice.   So, true worship, in the form we have always seen it (where we sing before the Lord) is really an outflowing of what we are already doing the rest of the week.

Ian pointed out that our purpose as the body is not to bring about manifestations of the Spirit, or to experience being “in the presence of the Lord”.  Our purpose as the body is simple:  to be like Christ.  Multiple scriptures testify to this.  Ephesians 4:11-13, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 2:2, etc.  1 John also talks a lot about the central importance of Christ, and how we are to be like Him (see specifically 1 John 2:6).  The Lord has been stirring this in my heart lately, and Ian’s teaching further expounded and enforced this idea.

Finally, I came to better understand the ultimate purpose of God in the earth:  to bring glory to His name, and to proclaim His greatness to the principalities and powers of the air.

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.”

Ephesians 3:8-10

So, as I now understand, our purpose on this earth is first to be like Christ.  Then, once like Christ, then what?  We are to live out on the earth the fulness of His victory over the enemy.  We are to carry out, on a spiritual plane, the battle in which the Kingdom of our God will supplant the kingdom of this world (notice that this removes all focus from nationalistic agendas, and only the Kingdom of God remains, as this victory is not being won on a political/natural level).  One other interesting point, along this line, is that our  victory on the spiritual plane may look like defeat in the natural realm.  Like someone so aptly said elsewhere, “we live in an upside down kingdom”.

OK, I lied.  One last thing.  Ian gave his definition of religion as follows (again, paraphrased):  religion is a move of God that has been dragged past its season”

Well, there will be more tomorrow.  I hope these words bless you as much as they blessed me.

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.

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.

The Lord Begins His Work

Posted on 11. Jul, 2010 by in History, The Purpose of God

I previously posted a comment to a post by Alan Knox on spiritual gifts.  I’d link to that post, but I don’t know how, and anybody that can tell me how to do that in WordPress would be a true friend.  Alan eventually turned that comment into a separate post, which can be found here .   As a follow up to my comment I wanted to begin offering further details on what the Lord has done in our lives in the last few years.  I appreciate the support of Alan Knox and Arthur Sido, both of whose thoughts I highly value, as well as my good friend Douglas Weaver, who has mentored me in Christ for the past 10 years or more.  Again, I would offer links to their respective blogs, but I don’t know how!  I’ll provide url’s below, but they are linked in the blogroll to the right.  (post-script:  Alan was kind enough to educate me on links, so I’ve changed the post accordingly)

Alan Knox – the assembling of the church

Arthur Sido – the voice of one crying out in suburbia…. and The Fo-Mo Chronicles

Douglas Weaver has two sites, Christ Life Community and his personal blog.  Christ Life Community is a community of believers in Wichita, KS, where the Lord has been doing a work similar to what I believe he is starting in my town.

OK, down to business.

My wife and I have lived in our town (Larned, KS) for almost 5 years.  We have been business owners for 3 years (started Scraps in 2007, and A Healthy Choice Clinic in 2008), each business started under the Lord’s direction.  We have felt from day one of being business owners that our businesses were the Lord’s.  This meant that the end goal of being in business wasn’t to make money (although that would be okay), but to serve as a ministry to those around us.  (With the clinic the imperative to be profitable is greater, as this will one day be our primary income.  For now I work in the Emergency Room to provide our income.)  Anyway, anyone that has owned their own business knows the difficulties involved.  The last 3 years have been filled with struggle after struggle, from fretting over finances, to dealing with opposition in the community, etc.  We felt at many times that the enemy was directly working against us.  Through all the hardships, we clung to our faith, that he had directed us in these endeavors, and determined to stand firm.  During this time two words were given to us, which helped us put things in perspective.  The first word was plowing.  The difficult work encountered in establishing ourselves and our businesses in town was like plowing hard ground that had never been worked.  We knew the businesses were His will, and we knew we were to establish them as a “beach head” of the kingdom, so to speak, but the plowing of the ground required to establish the businesses was hard, tiresome work.  The other word was a reference to Nehemiah, and how at one point in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall the builders had to fight with a sword in one hand and build with the other.  This was a great visual of our situation, as we really felt we were encountering strong opposition from the enemy.  At the time, I don’t know that we fully understood WHY we had been directed to do the things we did, but we KNEW that this was the direction to go, and through that time the Lord grew us in our faith tremendously.

In our first 4 years in Larned we had virtually no fellowship with other Christians.  As I shared in the “about” section, I had stopped “attending” church in 2000, and in Larned we had not found likeminded believers with which to fellowship.  We found no opportunity to fellowship with “churched” believers, either.  During this desert experience, we learned a lot about pure reliance on the Lord for our sustenance.  Although we knew the imperative to “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together”, we knew that opportunity had not been afforded us to fellowship regularly, so we continued on our path.  We did have the pleasure of occasional fellowship with friends in Wichita, but that was infrequent.  Overall my desert experience lasted about 10 years.  It is amazing that it took that long to rewire my thinking on church, relationships, faith, etc.  At the beginning I even questioned the very existence of God.  During that time I developed a hunger for the body, for communion with other believers, although I didn’t have much overall understanding of the issue.

The beginning of the end (of this season, anyway) came about a year ago, when we were invited to a “bible study” with some other couples in town.  Interestingly, the other members of the group are either business owners, farmers, or one sister works for one of the couples in the group.  The common thread was that all of these people had begun to be dissatisfied with church as they knew it.  Some didn’t attend at all, and hadn’t for some time.  Some still attended sporadically and I believe some still attended regularly.  The core members of the group had known each other for many, many years.  Over the next year the Lord knit us together, into a body.  I will go into more detail in my next post, but the love and care that has developed between us is amazing.  It is difficult to describe, really, but can best be described as supernatural.

I hope this post isn’t too long.  Bear with me if it is!  again I’ll post more in my next post.  for now work calls!