Archive for February, 2009
Ft. McDowell, Arizona
If anything good comes from this economic tsunami it might just be that Christian people become Kingdom people. Kingdom people, by definition are citizens of a nation ruled by The Almighty-Jesus. We do not find our hope in economies, presidents, stock markets or even churches. We are focused not on what we can see but on what we cannot see, except with eyes of faith. Kingdom people see things that are not as though they were. (Hebrews 11) Kingdom people know their King to be strong, able and willing to do far beyond anything we can ask or think.
Unfortunately the last 20 years or so we haven’t had to depend on our King and live by faith, we were able to do it ourselves.
Oswald Chambers wrote: The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is Almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ. When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to reach the bottom of our own well, trying to draw water for ourselves.
This I think, is the legacy of the last 20 years of church ministry. We are good people, we have done good things, we have built some big buildings and paid some great staff and often without ever having to depend on the King for much of anything. We have done just fine drawing our own water. We have never really gotten to the bottom of our own wells.
I think the days of drawing water ourselves are all but gone. If we are not at the bottom of our own wells, we are real close. Now we will see what The Almighty can do. Bad for the economy perhaps, but great for the Kingdom.
Chambers writes: The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we (Kingdom people) ought to believe He can do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is The Almighty.
We will begin to live as Kingdom people when we begin to live as if our King is unlimited in power and stands ready to use it.
If you would like to read the entire Oswald Chambers daily reading for February 27th, from which this post was taken, you can find it HERE.
Ft. McDowell, Arizona. Eagle View RV Resort.
We are back in one of our favorite RV parks where we stayed for over a month last winter, but this time it will only be for 3 nights. Sunday morning we will drive up the mountain to Payson, to the home of our friends Chuck and Nancy, where we will be for a while. More on that later.
I have always been one who has tried to keep our finances in a place where I didn’t have to concern myself with how we were going to live or take care of our family and other responsibilities. For the most part, over the years, we have done well in that regard. However, the last 3+ years have been very different related to finances, more so than anytime in the last 20. Neither of us have had a full time salary for several years and the small income we do have comes from a variety of sources that, like all incomes today, are not as secure as they were.
So these last years have been teaching me some huge lessons about money, about what I am willing to do regardless of whether it pays anything or not and forced me to get serious about whether I will trust my Father and go where He leads or only go where I know there will be provision. Am I willing to serve my King regardless of the salary or will I only go where the question of income is settled first?
A good steady income is one of the surest ways I know to put our trust in ourselves and not in our Father and an income that is not so steady or secure forces the issue of faith to the front. At least for me.
For several years, Linda has been a steady reader of the Oswald Chambers classic My Utmost for His Highest. I am more of a read in spurts kind of Chambers fan. His writings are consistently anointed in ways few others are and yesterday and today’s are dead on related to the above subject. It is amazing how often the daily reading is appropriate for where I am living on that day.
Here is the one for February 25. I trust it will catch your heart as it did mine.
THE DESTITUTION OF SERVICE
“Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” 2 Corinthians 12:15
Natural love expects some return, but Paul says – I do not care whether you love me or not, I am willing to destitute myself completely, not merely for your sakes, but that I may get you to God. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.” Paul’s idea of service is exactly along that line – I do not care with what extravagance I spend myself, and I will do it gladly. It was a joyful thing to Paul.
The institutional church idea of a servant of God is not Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of other men. Jesus Christ out-socialists the socialists. He says that in His Kingdom he that is greatest shall be the servant of all. The real test of the saint is not preaching the gospel, but washing disciples’ feet, that is, doing the things that do not count in the actual estimate of men but count everything in the estimate of God. Paul delighted to spend himself out for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost.
We come in with our economical notions – “Suppose God wants me to go there – what about the salary? What about the climate? How shall I be looked after? A man must consider these things.” All that is an indication that we are serving God with a reserve. The apostle Paul had no reserve. Paul focuses Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint in his life, viz.: not one who proclaims the Gospel merely, but one who becomes broken bread and poured out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for other lives.
You can read each days offering HERE if you would like a daily blessing..
Bob Mumford’s presentation of the Kingdom as Father and the church as Mother is controversial and perhaps for some, irrelevant, but it does force clear thinking about the way in which the church as become the end in itself, causing many people to “seek first the church…” rather than the Kingdom.
The Kingdom must always be sought and embraced as Father God’s ultimate source (Matthew 6:33). The Church, as Mother should be seen as the “birthing place” of the purposes and people of the Kingdom. The church is necessary but always subservient to the eternal purpose of the Kingdom (Ephesians 3:10)
Mumford says: Attempting to take refuge from wrong theological content and self-referential practice by appealing to the authority of Mother will simply no longer suffice. We do this all the time. In an attempt to make right what is obviously wrong we simply say, “my church (my mother) says it is OK.” How many arguments in the home are solved the same way! Mumford goes on: Neither will wrong kinds of submission to the Church as Mother suffice, as a way to ensure our personal comfort, personal advantage, or to avoid conflict. Many of us feel like the church is there to serve us and go to Mother to have our needs met, hence the church hopping or opting out of church when it doesn’t meet our needs. One of my friends refers to the institutional church as the “nipple” ministry because of the way in which we are prone to look to the Mother church to meet all our needs.
- Mother’s milk has radiation-that which should give me health may be injuring me. It may be oderless and tasteless, but it is deadly, nonetheless.
- Mother has been “sleeping around” with other lovers besides my Father.
- Mother has Her own agenda and it is causing distress in our family.
- Mother has not stewarded Father’s money correctly and my siblings suffer.
- Mother’s only concern may be her own success, retirement, and well being.
Every church, Mumford writes, wants its people under its authority. Some churches are more overt in their demands while some are covert. A member is considered as the church’s property, and everyone else needs to keep their hands off. Moreover, a member should be docile and do as he is told by the church. Thus we are “Mothered” and destined for eternal childhood.
Is it possible that what I have done (by placing myself in submission to a Church) in my innocence or ignorance, is place myself in a position where I feel compelled to get Mother’s permission to do the will of my Father? Remember, that in any ideal Church circumstance this would not be an issue. Mother’s will and the Father’s will would be identical. How many Kingdom advances have been thwarted or held back because Mother didn’t want her children leaving the nest?
It seems obvious that Mumford wants to awaken the Church to its role in advancing the Kingdom. He admits to some concern that he is too harsh or too arrogant. He knows he is taking a risk in being so forceful about what he sees and the danger the Church is in. However he writes: Failing or refusing to take the risk (speaking out) could mean that many more believers like ourselves will be consigned to a domesticated existence in Mother’s house. Of all things which the Church is responsible, it is to show me the way to Father’s House. This is Jesus stated goal and purpose, “Take me to the Father” (John 14:6)
I close with this from Bob Mumford: I have an increasing sense that we are facing a terrible shaking. a dismantling, perhaps even a revolution in what we now see as the visible and institutional church. God has done it before on several occasions. See Jeremiah 1:1 to 7:2 for a clear, biblical example. My purpose, says Mumford, is to make it understood that a shaking of the Church or a shaking in the Church must never be equated with or identified as a shaking of the Father’s Kingdom. His plans and purpose remain unshakable. Each of us must know and live in the difference.
Anyone who attended the Summit have anything to add? Are these recaps at all helpful? Anyone?
One more day here in Benson and then up to the Pima County Fairgrounds outside Tucson. It is closer to the Tucson Rodeo grounds where we will be for a couple of days.
Item one. We have done some tourist type things while in this area, though we don’t really do the sites that are just tourist focused. For example we went to the town of Tombstone to see the historic courthouse but skipped the gun fight at the OK Corral. We just don’t want to spend $20. to see that sort of thing. Our son-in-law Brandon loves the movie Tombstone so we sent him a few pictures of things we thought he might like. More to come. I want to start getting more pics up on this site but just haven’t taken the time.
Item two. A few years ago we got started reading the mystery novels of JA Jance. She has two major series of novels, one set in Seattle featuring a detective named J.P. Beaumont and another featuring Joanna Brady, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona which happens to be where we are. Bisbee is the county seat and many of the stories are set in and around this mountain city. So we had to visit there and see it for ourselves. We walked around this historic copper mining city and ate lunch in the Copper Queen Hotel, who you Joanna Brady fans will recognize.
Item three. Yesterday we went to Tucson for the Tucson Rodeo, or known by it’s Spanish name, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. We went as the guests of our friends and Convergence students Corey and Melissa Navarre. Corey is a bull rider and Melissa a trick rider and both were part of the rodeo. Melissa actually opened the rodeo with her trick riding and then stood on the back of her horse as she rode in carrying the American flag. It was really great to see them and to watch them do what they do so well. They are from Weatherford, Oklahoma, not far from Sayre. We will see more of them later this week.
I am determined to get some pictures on this blog. It isn’t hat big a deal but I just need to do it. I think I have bored people right off the site! Can’t have that. Enjoy your week.
I leave you with this prayer that seems very appropriate for these days of uncertainty:
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who cares for us: Preserve me from faithfless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from me the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns wiht you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever, Amen.
Back in November nearly 100 of us gathered for the first Convergence Summit, a 10 day intensive time of teaching, relationship building and worship. It was a huge event for us and now and then I have been attempting to recap some of the times of teaching that were memorable for me. I want to get back to that today. Even if you did not attend the Summit I think you will still be able to get something valuable from these recaps.
The Shema is the way in which the Father’s Love for us is revealed and it tells us to respond to that Love by loving Him back and by refusing to give our Love to any other being or thing. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) By doing so we enter into personal freedom and intimacy with the Father. Receiving the Shema presupposes that when we Love Him we will prove our Love by keeping all the “Laws and prophets” summed up and fulfilled by Loving Him and Loving others.
How have we, the Body of Christ, departed from the Shema? Mumford says we have fallen in love with Mother-the institutional church and lost our love for the Father represented by the Kingdom. Observe the conflict described in Revelation 2-3.
Any searching Believer is being pushed all the time to choose between the Agape Love and Will of the Father represented by the Kingdom and the eros love and wishes of the Mother represented by the institutional Church.
This choice between Father and Mother has been forced upon us due to the imperfect response of the Mother to the wishes of the Father-an abuse and misuse of Her discretionary authority. To refuse to see this analogy and avoiding the truth it presents will be very expensive, in fact it already has been huge in cost to the Kingdom.
There are more than 20 million believers who love Jesus, seek the will of the Father and yet have nothing to do with their Mother (the church). Mumford says the reason is Mother has deviated and essentially disengaged from Father. This disengagement can be done deliberately, as we have seen in many mainline denominations moving in the exact opposite direction from Father, but the disengagement happens almost without notice in those churches that are more conservative and Bible based. Perhaps the most obvious way we see this clinging to Mother by the fundamental churches is their unrelenting protection of the institution when attacked from within or without rather than caring for people and relationships.
There are two important points to remember when we are examining this issue. The first is the fact that the Kingdom cannot and will not be shaken. That is our ultimate refuge. The second is the Church will ultimately prevail. The gates of hell which are presently the spiritual and undiscovered cause of this tension between Father and Mother will not succeed. Jesus has promised this. Our responsibility is to survive and prosper in the presence of conflict. We are promised and unshakeable Kingdom but not an unshakeable church.
We cannot, Mumford says, allow the Kingdom-the revealed will of the Father-to be sublimated and subjected to a Mother whose life and conduct is subnormal and who is in trouble, whether She knows it or not (Rev.3:17). Given the opportunity, a troubled and confused Church will attempt to seize the Kingdom and claim it as Her own possession. There are literally hundreds of movements which have attempted to appropriate the Kingdom in order to use if for personal advantage and self-aggrandizement. Every time a church seeks to preserve and protect itself rather than to extend the grace and mercy of the King Himself, they are turning to Mother’s milk and away from the Father.
Next we will turn to the prescription for this disease.
For those who may desire a full transcript of this teaching you may contact me by posted comment or email.
We arrived in Southern Arizona yesterday afternoon, after spending nearly a week in Texas and New Mexico visiting our friends and students of the Convergence Ministry School. We have lots of things we need to get done the next few days but we will find some time to see some of the history around here. The weather is, as you would expect in Arizona, quite good.
There just wasn’t time to blog over the last few days and obviously it is not Monday morning but here are a few things to meander through, catching up. Perhaps, as Linda says, we should call this post Wednesday Wanderings.
Item one. Maria Esteves is a little lady who was born in Mexico but has spent most of her life as a citizen of the United States. She has raised a family, ministered in her church, worked hard, lost her husband and along the way found herself ministering to the poorest of the poor across the border in Juarez, Mexico, from her El Paso home. Over time she has planted a couple of churches and now pastors a growing and thriving Family of believers deep inside the Mexican city. She travels back and forth several times a week, enduring 1-2 hour border crossings back into the US, to counsel, mentor, disciple, bring in clothes and food, preach, teach and pray with/for her vibrant Family.
Linda and I were honored to travel with Maria into Mexico and to share a few hours with some really wonderful people whose language we didn’t know, but who share the same love for Jesus. Worship was sweet, even though I understood very little, the hugs and handshakes we received and gave were the same in both Spanish and English. I was privileged to share some of what I have been learning from Hebrews 13 as Maria provided interpretation. Along the way I felt a strong leading to call the leaders of the church up front for prayer and that was a very special time.
The stark contract between the relative wealth on one side of the border and the poverty on the other always shocks me. No matter how bad a person’s life is in this country, it cannot be compared to a few feet inside Mexico. But these are strong people who have built a strong family life and a way of life, built not on accumulation of things, but on relationships and faith. We could learn a lot from them for these days of uncertainty.
Item two. Another friend and student Luis Escuedero, invited us to park our trailer on his small ranch north of El Paso, along the Rio Grand River, in Vado, New Mexico. It was the perfect place to stay a few days and it gave us the opportunity to meet Luis’ family and spend some good time with him. He is really fun to be around, is growing in the Lord and doing a great job as a single father to his two daughters while he waits in prayer and faith for his marriage to be restored. Luis kept saying how blessed he was to have us at his place, but we know we were the blessed ones.
Our time in West Texas, Old and New Mexico was very special and a place we hope to return to. Thank you Maria and Luis.
Item three. I am not economist and certainly no expert on anything that is happening in the world economy but didn’t we somehow know that spending fueled by cheap and easy credit would not last forever? Did we really think that the huge upward curve property values were on, driven by low mortgage rates, could not just keep going up. Didn’t we know we could not keep refinancing our homes to fuel our insatiable desire to buy more stuff, on the bet that our property would escalate in value? Surely we knew that buying and collecting multiples of everything, storing them in bigger barns for no real reason except we could, would have to come to an end? Of course we knew all of that, we just chose to ignore it and make “hay, as they say, while the sun shines”. And, of course, our leaders didn’t want to step up and say “no more” before it was too late.
Now our leaders are all looking at each other, acting as if this is a big surprise, while pointing the finger at us. And the only solution they can come up with is to borrow more money and throw it at the problem. Isn’t that what got us into this mess? We have now added 3 trillion of more debt to the 3 trillion we already were committed to and no way to pay it back. Many Americans are in the same boat, way more debt then they can pay off.
It is time to hunker down, save our money, give to others, especially the “First Fruits” to our Father. We do know, don’t we, that we are blessed according to our faithfulness to the tithe and offerings? There is nothing better to do, during these days of uncertainty, than to keep on tithing and giving to others, or to get started if we haven’t been. This is the pathway to real blessing. We must learn to take care of each other, to live out what it means to be a citizen of a Kingdom that is not of this world but will, if we submit to It’s King, change this world.
Item four. Jake the Dog has two new posts at his blog. You and especially your kids will enjoy what he has been up to. Find Jake HERE.
And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him. (Hebrews 13:20-21a)
Lake Brantley State Park. North of Carlsbad, New Mexico
Stayed a couple of nights at Palo Duro State Park south of Amarillo, Texas arriving here in New Mexico Wednesday afternoon. We came this way because we wanted to see some of our Convergence students who live in the El Paso, Texas area. We will spend the weekend with them, perhaps we will even be able to go into Juarez, Mexico to church.
Started a devotional series a few days back that flowed out of a Bible study with a few of the guys. Hebrews 13 is full of good Words that speak well into the new day, I believe we are living in. Here is Word #3
Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. (13:4) Jesus said, Do not commit adultery. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
I am not going to spend a whole lot of time on the negatives of these verses. We all know the devastation, some better than others, adultery brings to families and circles of relationships. But we are all guilty.
There is no better way to live out the example of Jesus faithfulness to His Bride than to honor marriage. For whatever reason, even those who are “faithful” in their marriage do not always give it the honor it demands. Lots of people are married, are even faithful in the strict sense of the word, but do not honor their marriage. I see very few marriages where both individuals are connected at the heart level and are moving along together in joy and love.
Personally, my marriage has been rocked but we are more together then most of the people we know, of our generation, who have not gone through what we have. Why is that? Could it be they do not honor their marriage? Sometimes, though I sure don’t encourage it, a marriage needs a little shaking in order to see how important it is to not only remain faithful in their marriage, but to give it honor.
I know many men who are better friends with other men than they are with their wife. Women who would rather do things with other women than with their husband. They may be “faithful” strictly speaking but is it honor? I know many couples who have never committed adultery but are so angry with each other, they rarely speak. Couples who honor the marriage bed but dishonor every other part.
Did you notice this phrase in v.4? ..remain faithful to one another in marriage. If the writer had intended to speak solely of honoring our own marriage, he could have written it this way; remain faithful to each other in marriage. Instead the writer chooses to write one another. Our group agreed the injunction was to honor marriage in a more global way. This I think is why this is an old word for a new day.
Protecting ones own marriage relationship is critical of course, and bringing honor to our personal marriage is our first responsibility, but we need each other to care about what happens to each others marriage. Our goal should be to honor and protect all marriage and do everything we can to help others find wholeness in this most intimate of relationship.
Can there be a better witness to a world craving intimate relationships than to show them what it is to honor marriage?
Might be the last post from this location for a while. We are heading west on Monday and will surely post along the way as well as when we are settled into our Arizona “home”. I will miss our friends here in Oklahoma and probably even miss Oklahoma, but we are looking forward to a new adventure in following the Spirit and ministering to those He brings us. While there are some ups and downs in this life, as there is in any life, we are still enjoying the freedom we have to do what we are called to do. We will return to Western Oklahoma the middle of April.
Here is another Word from Hebrews 13. Read the previous post for a little background.
Don’t forget about those in prison. Suffer with them as though you were there yourself. Share the sorrow of those who are being mistreated as though you feel their pain in your own bodies. (13:3) I don’t think this is a reference to the general prison population of the day, nor all those who were suffering mistreatment, though as followers of Jesus we need to care about those in prison and those mistreated, wherever we find them.
I think this is a reference to those who are suffering these things, for their faith. Google or Yahoo! persecuted Christians and you will have a wealth of info in front of you, if you sense this Word is for you. I could link a bunch for you, but if you are called to care in this way, you will find what you need.
But here is the Word as it came to the 7 of us the other morning. These three exhortations point us to embrace other peoples pain. Suffer with… as though you were there yourself. Share the sorrow..feel their pain in your own body… If we are to really, I mean really make a difference in this world, during these days of declining everything, we are going to have to get involved at a level most of the church has never invested. Most of us give well, some even sacrificially and we need to keep doing that as we are led, but this Word goes deeper. Can you remember the last time you were moved to tears by the plight of someone else, the last time your heart was broken by someone elses pain?
A few days ago I wrote a post called Dear Ted and Gayle. It was an open letter to the Haggard’s, who have been much in the news these last few weeks, even months. Not long ago they were on top of the evangelical world, with fame, “fortune” and everything going their way, but it all came crashing down when Ted’s dark side was revealed to the world. Did we care? Did we take some sort of pleasure from someone getting busted for behavior that repulsed us? How could a pastor do that!? Were we glad he got what he did, or did we suffer with them…share their sorrow…feel their pain?
I know that is an extreme case but sometimes we have to see things in the extreme before we can apply them to our own little sphere of influence. This Word is here to tell us that when we enter into peoples lives at a level that evokes emotion and touch we make a world of difference.
This new day begs for a new kind of investment-ourselves. Who needs you to suffer with them, share their sorrow or feel their pain? Yes, some of you can give money to those in desperate need. If you can, do it, generously, sacrificially, but please don’t do it at the expense of this Word.
Meditate on these Words. Suffer with them, share their sorrow, feel their pain. It will change our lives, for the better.
Monday morning I met with 6 of my young friends to study the Scriptures for a while. We haven’t done this since Christmas and we all missed it. The goal is to help these young men learn to mine practical truth from whatever section of the Bible we are studying in a transferable way. In other words, what we learn together, they are to share with someone else. Yesterday we spent nearly two hours in the first 6 verses of Hebrews 13 and I thought I would share several short posts of what we learned during our time together. The more we listened the more we felt the Spirit was giving us fresh Words from this ancient text.
Hebrews is a difficult book to really grasp. It’s author is unknown, though most think it came from the pen of the Apostle Paul. Until you get to chapter 13 you aren’t given a lot of reasons to think Paul, but chapter 13 lends some weight to the argument. I won’t take the time to write the things in Hebrews that I find hard to understand but will say that most of chapter 13 is easy to understand and so important to live out during these days of change and uncertainty.
With that short introduction let me cut to the chase. I will try to keep these 5-6 posts short so we can get on with living it out.
Word #1 Continue to love each other with true Christian love. (13:1)
There is nothing more critical these days then to hold on to love. We talk a lot about Family out here and we do practice it better here than any where I have been, but we still come up short in what we aught to do. Every where you look there are people in crisis, people who are afraid, people who are losing the things they have worked a life time to gain. We may not be able to help in a concrete way, that is meet the financial need, but we can love them. We can extend real, caring love and it will make a difference. Knowing some one cares, even if they can’t solve the problem matters. Love wins.
It is interesting that the author moves to verse two with a very simple but powerful way to really show love. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! (13:2)
We will show the love of the Father in the most powerful way when we invite people into our homes who we do not know as well as others. It is that simple. I cannot imagine someone who is struggling who would not enjoy a home cooked meal in our homes. We get together with some of our friends in their homes and it is great but think what it would do to include a “stranger”. We have beautiful homes, with great kitchens and dining rooms that we never use. One of the great declarations of Scripture, not just here in Hebrews but in several other places, including the charge to elders in 1Timothy, is to practice hospitality. In these days of declining resources and the need to find ways to do things in a less expensive way, hospitality now needs to get the emphasis the Father always intended it to get.
Hospitality to strangers. It’s one strategic way we love each other with Christian love and it is easy. Besides, you never know who is really coming to dinner! (see the end of verse 2)