Is Christ Enough? Power and Wisdom

In case you don’t follow the blog of Milt Rodriguez, I want to share with you this brother’s latest post. This post is part of a series called “Is Christ Enough?”. I pray that we are reminded over and again, how big and all sufficient our Lord is.

The Blog of Milt Rodriguez

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For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

(1 Corinthians 1:22-25)

Here, in this passage, Paul sums up the gospel that he preached in the face of insurmountable odds and extreme opposition.  It is a gospel that is so radical and so extreme that it called down unbelievable persecution upon his head everywhere he went.  This persecution was not only dished out by the heathen but more so by the religious folks, namely the Jewish nation.  It is a gospel that is so different and so outrageous that you can really only tag it…

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Living A Simple Life In Christ

target-1414788_1280There seems to be a recurring theme coming up and staring at me lately and its the theme of simplifying our lives for Jesus. Now, that might sound like some kind of ‘Jesus People’ slogan (what’s wrong that anyway?) but it is really quite a profound call to God’s people, in my opinion. It’s a call for the church to let go of the materialism and pull of the spirit of this world and to live simpler lives that are devoted to Christ.

I’ve read blogs on this topic on 3rd Race 🙂 . Milt Rodriguez is doing a series of blog posts on the subject, (which I thoroughly recommend reading). It is also an ongoing theme of casual discussion amongst the saints here in NSW Oz, and it is an ongoing reality in my life.

A year or so ago, some of the saints here, organically, just started de-cluttering their own homes. Some were even reading books and blogs for tips on how to declutter, while at the same time Derek and I were working toward a garage sale to get rid of more stuff. This energy seems to have continued in our individual lives and even this week I have thankfully, managed to sell a few more items.  Just today I’ve finally completed that dreaded task of culling all my sentimental papers such as letters, cards, what-nots from my childhood. Time to go! Why? Because I’ve changed and they’ve lost meaning.

Getting rid of stuff really feels great. It’s really freeing. Seeing the pile in the garage getting smaller and smaller is great. Throwing out things that don’t relate to who I am in Christ anymore is wonderful! It’s almost like there is a physical sense of having offloaded something spiritually and I genuinely feel lighter. And of-course it’s an awesome physical representation of what the Lord is doing internally in His church.

I believe God is calling us, His church, to declutter from the religious things that have taken away our simplicity of living by faith out of the indwelling life of Christ. God Himself, when Jesus was being transfigured on the mount as He stood with Elijah and Moses, was decluttering the religious practises of all believers for all time by saying “Here is My Son, listen to Him”.  Right there, God was telling us to listen to Jesus. In that very moment, God cast His dart right onto the centre target for all of us to see and take note.  The centre of His target is Christ. Christ is God’s one obsession.

Since we are seeing and learning deeper God’s Eternal Purpose, His Magnificent Obsession, His Greatest Desire, His Eternal Goal, our lives are becoming more sharpened to His one purpose and we don’t need the traditions and rituals, of the institutional church, the law, man-made religion. And we don’t need so much material stuff to lug around with us. When Christ is our focus, we really don’t need to dance to the tune of this world by filling up our houses or wardrobes with the latest trend in furnishings or clothes. What are these things to Christ?

I love that God has a purpose, don’t you?  I just love it. I love that He’s not an aimless God, just going with the flow and changing with the tide, just waiting for the next thing to happen. I love His focus isn’t on a million different things. I love that He’s a very simple God.  Simple doesn’t mean not smart, oh no! Simple IS smart!

It’s like looking at that target symbol. Having time, focus and energy taken up with all the other things that just clutter our life such as works, ministries, religious practises, theologies, consumerism, entertainment, education, climbing the corporate ladder etc., is like focusing on all the red swirls on a target symbol. But God has revealed His One Purpose, His One Goal, His Target, and so we are able to focus on that Centre of the target symbol, which is Christ our Lord.  As a result,  everything becomes lighter, sharper, easier, simpler – because there’s only one goal – Christ! God only has one goal for Himself and so definitely has only one goal for us and it’s the same one!

How refreshing, replenishing, rewarding, satisfying, joyful, pleasant and wonderful it is to have only one thing to focus on in this life! When we focus only on Christ, as God’s Magnificent Obsession, everything else takes a back seat, loses it’s pull, its significance, it’s appeal. I know this to be true because it’s an increasing reality in my life and it’s actually bringing me joy. I can hardly believe it myself!

That’s not to say that we don’t go through hardship, trials, testing and difficulties. Rather, the fact is that when we do face those times we know exactly what the goal is in each one. The target is the same, it is Christ. More of Him. We don’t have to wander aimlessly through our trials anymore.

Christ becomes our All and in all. In other words, He becomes our everything in everything! And ultimately, this is the call to the church and the reality of the church all at the same time. He actually IS ALL in all of us!

Christ fulfils and satisfies EVERY desire in our hearts. He Himself fulfils every purpose and ambition that ever could be in us. He fills our cup to overflowing with His very own life. To simplify our physical lives is just a picture of what it is to simplify our Christian lives.

So let’s de-clutter, saints! In more ways than one.  Let’s declutter from all the physical old junk in our lives, the things that don’t relate to who we are anymore since we are now a new creation, and all the stuff we’ve held on to for years for ‘just-in-case’.

Let’s get rid of the old religious ways, the old traditions, the old ways of thought, the programs, the burdens, the expectations, the spiritual junk we’ve lugged around for years, the myriad of things that draw our attention and focus away from the Centre of God’s heart.

Let’s get with God’s program and live a simpler life in Christ who has done it all and achieved it all and completed everything in Himself! Let Christ alone be our focus. Let us listen to Him.

May Christ be our Central and Only focus and may He transform our lives into simplicity of faith in Him who is becoming and who already is, our All in all.

Are You Feeling Backed Into A Corner?

The movie ‘Invincible‘ starring Mark Wahlberg is based on the true story of an average guy, Vince Papale, who at the age of 30 earned a spot on the 1976 Philadelphia Eagles American Football team. The movie is available on Netflix if you have it.

Papale and his mates used to play football in the backyard on a regular basis and his mates thought he was so talented at it, that when there was a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles team open to public try-outs, they urged him to give it a go.

But Papale was down and out and had no belief in his capacity to do any such thing. He had just lost his job as a teacher and his wife of 15 years had just left him the same week and he went home to a literally empty house.

There is a scene in the movie where Papale is in his little empty house, and it had all become too much for him emotionally. He started bashing and kicking the walls and the only piece of furniture he had to throw was the telephone. After he’d blown off some steam, he sits on the floor against the wall in the corner of the empty room.

Instinctively, as an avid movie watcher, I knew this was his crisis point otherwise known as a turning point. He had no wife, no job, no means of paying his bills other than his few shifts at the pub – he was literally backed into a corner. He only had one option – to try out for the football team.

How many times have you experienced being backed into a corner? That corner is where everything we have tried has failed. Every direction we thought we were taking has closed. There’s nothing to turn to, to the left or the right and we can’t go back. We’re backed into a corner. The only direction we have to look at is the one right in front of us, which is the only way out of that corner.

It looks different for every person of-course, according to what direction it is that God has been trying to get us to go all along. For Papale, the only opportunity left for him was the one staring him in the face. It was the one that seemed the most ridiculous.  It’s the one in which he would have no self-belief.

Are you backed into a corner right now? Is there only one direction left that you had thought was ridiculous?

I firmly believe that God backs us into corners. We can try and be all about 101 different things. But when God is on our case to get us on board with His will for our lives, He’ll do whatever it takes to get us there. That means He’ll permit a lot of things at different times. He’ll permit hard times, failure, suffering, frustration, marriage breakdowns, sickness, bankruptcy, prison, homelessness, isolation, obscurity. He’ll do and let happen whatever needs to happen.

But you know what? The thing with God is that He’s always for us who are His, and never against us. Poor Papale’s wife was against him, she told him he’d never amount to anything.

Well, God knows who we really are. He knows that in His Son, we are something very special for God. He’s just gotta get us to that place where we see who we are in Christ, and we see what God is really about, what He’s really interested in and then get on board with that. And then it’s the most incredible existence we could ever have imagined.

So what is God really interested in? What is it that He wants us to get on board with? His will of-course.

And he made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. Eph 1:9,10.

The Headship of Christ – that’s the will of God. Of-course, that’s easy to say or write. But goodness me, what it entails!?! I could never comprehend all the applications and to the extent that Christ’s Headship reaches – must reach – will reach.  All things in heaven and on earth?! That’s a lot of things!

What about my things? What about your things?

That corner, or crisis, is what took Papale out of his comfort zone, out of his focus on his own self and his own failings, out of his ‘small’ thinking, and got him headed in the right direction.

Could that corner or crisis that you’re in right now, be God’s sovereignty in your life, to get you out of your focus on yourself, your failings, and out of your ‘small’ thinking and into His direction, even if you don’t understand it or you’ve been avoiding it or if it seems impossible or even too much to ask?  Could it be you’ve been going down all the wrong tracks and God has a certain track that He will not let you miss out on even if He has to shut everything else off?

If you’re backed into the corner at the moment, can I encourage you to really ask God what direction it is that is on His heart. Remember, our lives as believers, do not belong to us any longer, contrary to what many believers would think. There’s not one part of our life that belongs to us anymore. We went through the waters of baptism, the outward display of the reality of our having died with Christ and now living only in Him and out of His life.

Corners are crisis. Crisis are turning points. God is for us and not against us. God is faithful. God does the miraculous. God grants the desires of our hearts. God is trustworthy. Nothing is impossible with God. Seek first the kingdom of God and then He will take care of the rest.

 

 

 

Letting Go and Not Looking Back!

woman-737439_1920This post has been a long time coming. It is one of those posts I felt would be shared as a result of some of the things I learned in and about the Lord, whilst going through the transition from our old house to the one we’re in now.  In my blog post “An Abundant Land“ I mentioned a few thoughts on posts that I might write and so finally, four months later, here’s another one of them.

Sometimes God puts us in a place, geographically and/or environmentally that we just absolutely love. It has everything wonderful about it. For me and Derek, it was the wide open space, animals and the quiet of rural life on acres. The house we lived in at Wyee from 2013 to 2015 was an absolute God-send. It was a blessing beyond our wildest dreams.

When it came time to move at the landlord’s request, we were expecting it but nevertheless pretty sad about it I guess.  The Lord had done a lot of healing whilst living there and the peace and beauty around us was certainly a massive part of that.

As you may recall (if you follow my blog), the landlord of the property there and his son who worked diligently toward their goal of developing the property, were an incredible picture to me of the Father and Son relationship as they are, from eternity past, working diligently toward their purpose of developing their kingdom! It was amazing and awesome and will never ever leave me.

By the time we were preparing to leave, the Lord had revealed so much through the father and son landlords of the relationship with Jesus and His Father, that almost all their actions that were visible to me, seemed to reflect something of God’s nature.

The track/road they would drive along ran from the road next to our driveway and along- side the house and up to the hills to the other end. So I would always see them whenever they were driving past.  When it came to the last day of cleaning and handing in the keys, as I looked out the back windows of the sunroom I could see the landlord’s son driving up the paddock toward the house. He’d done this a number of times during that day, looking over and I suspected he may have been checking that we were on the move.

When Derek and I finished the final task of the cleaning, I saw him driving up and so I went outside to wave him goodbye. However, this time, he never looked over once. I stood there waving, in full view, but he didn’t even offer a glance. He had his hand on the wheel, eyes fixed straight ahead and he was eating an apple. I’ll never forget it.

This reflected the heart of our Lord to me in a way that took my breath away. It was as though God’s fingers took the corners of the invisible curtain of this earthly realm and pulled them back to reveal the Son of God just getting on with His work of the Kingdom. As a reflection of Christ the Son of God, there was no sign of sentiment. There was no sign of looking back. There was no sign of giving me any glory in the matter. He was getting on with his task, the will of his father. And he was delighting in the fruit he was eating.

Just like with the landlord’s son, Jesus knew I was there alright. God knew what I was looking at and what I was seeing. He had seen all that had taken place whilst living there and He knew that this final event was good and right.  I needed to see that He wasn’t sentimental and He wasn’t stopping what He was doing in order to get what He is after. And He was telling me that neither should I.

The earthly realm would say to me “You’re so sad to leave this place, it’s been so wonderful, and you’re so ripped off to have to leave. Think and dwell on how sad you are that you’ll never have this place again. Look back on it, look back, look back!” 

But the spiritual realm, the heavenly realm in which you and I are already seated in Christ, says something altogether different. It cries out “DON’T look back! Don’t be like Lot’s wife. Put your hand to the plough and be faithful with what is in front of you right now. Keep your eyes set on the Kingdom of God and God will take care of everything else.”

In Matthew 8:28 and Luke 9:60, when they told Jesus they needed to go to a funeral before being able to follow Him, He replied “Let the dead bury the dead”. That might sound harsh and He may have been commenting on their spiritual condition as being ‘dead’ but it sure shows Jesus’ focus. In the account in Luke 9:60 He says “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God”. Jesus had His hand on the wheel, His eyes fixed straight ahead to do the will of His Father, and He enjoys the fruit of that and only that. He wasn’t interested in looking back and He was calling them to the same attitude.

What’s more, once those who were called to follow Him actually did leave everything immediately and follow Him, He didn’t stop to congratulate them and tell them how wonderful they were for doing so! He didn’t stop and analyse with them what it was like for them to leave people, places and things behind, He just kept walking and they just followed.

I like this. Sometimes Jesus is so incredibly simple, it’s a relief. He’s uncomplicated. I like that Jesus is so fixated on His Father’s will and isn’t sentimental about earthly things. And I love the image forever burnt into my spirit, of the landlord son eating an apple. It speaks to me of the simplicity and joy of Christ’s life in following His Father’s will. And since we’re called to live by Christ’s life just as Christ lives by His Father’s life, then perhaps this is a good indication that our life in the Spirit is also meant to be simple and a joy.

I don’t pretend it’s an easy life but ease and simplicity are two very different things. Of-course none of this Christian life is easy for us, that’s why we can’t do it. But if we realise we are inside of Christ and He is inside of us, it becomes ‘simple’. Looking off unto Christ, having our eyes fixed on Him, we have one direction and one goal that we are working towards, by His life in us. Our hand is to the wheel, to the plough, we’re fixed on the goal, the prize. It’s seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness! And the fruit of this is joy, joy, joy! 

 

Do you feel like leaving church?

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What’s ‘church-hopping’ all about?

“Don’t be a church-hopper” I was always hearing. “Oh you know them, they’re church-hoppers, they never stay in the one place for long….”people would say. “They’re not stayers….they’re always moving around”.

*By  the word ‘church’ in this context, I am referring to the building/denomination where you attend a Sunday or Saturday service to hear a sermon and sing worship and praise songs etc, in the company of a congregation where there are positions of authority and programs and man-made traditions.

I realise there’s a myriad of reasons why people ‘leave’ or ‘change churches’ and many of those reasons are let’s say, less than Christ-like. Things like,  not liking the music or some of the people there or there’s not enough activity for the children or there’s a disagreement with someone and so on. Jesus and His apostles teach us in the Word of God to love our enemies, to daily encourage one another in the brethren, to bear with one another in patience and forgiveness, and to love others as Christ has loved us and we could go on. I myself, am guilty of ‘changing’ churches for such reasons. But is there a right reason to leave church?

In my humble opinion, the best reason to leave church is because you are dissatisfied with your spiritual growth.  Brother or sister, do you feel like you need to leave church for good because no matter how many different churches you ‘check out’ or ‘sow into’, as they say, you remain spiritually dissatisfied? Are you at your “this is my last try” and find you have not experienced any significant spiritual growth?

A lack of personal spiritual growth might be interpreted through not finding the sermons meaty enough, finding the worship shallow, feeling controlled by the leadership, feeling stifled in being able to move freely in the Spirit, feeling unable to contribute, feeling you just don’t fit in, having a sense that all is not well in the church but feeling it must just be you with the problem. All these things can be indicators that you are not growing spiritually and would leave you feeling that this church thing just isn’t working.  At that point, many up and go and look for another church congregation to see if they offer something more (note the emphasis on ‘my’ needs) and hence the term ‘church-hopping’.

However, if you are of the conviction that you are not growing spiritually in church life as you’ve known it and have a deepening holy dissatisfaction, and if you are sensing that it is in fact the Lord who is calling you out, (though many you fellowship with would contend this – especially those in leadership) then I’m excited for you! I am excited for the Lord and for the whole body of Christ! Because that calling out will ultimately lead to a calling in! And the ‘calling in’ will be into the Life of the Body of Christ that fulfils the Father’s deepest desire – the full expression of His Son through the Church!

Well 13 years ago I was called out too! And after some years in the ‘wilderness’ (ie not going to or being part of any church fellowship yet deeply desiring to know God more) and then being called in to an organic expression of Jesus Christ amongst other believers, man, things have changed for me. Or should I say, ‘in’ me.

Someone asked me the other day, has my view of Jesus changed since leaving the organized or institutional church system 13 years ago. My answer was an unequivocal and resounding yes!

So here are just four ways I see Christ differently now, since He called me out to call me in.

1.I used to see Jesus as external to me.

I saw Him as the Son of God, my invisible friend and I loved Him because He was God’s Son and I loved God.

Now I see Jesus as this Christ who lives in me and through me. He expresses His own life through me and He fills my being. He lives and breathes through every believer! So I have millions and millions of brothers and sisters who He lives in and through as well!  He is no longer external but has become this Life giving spirit who indwells all believers, His church, His body of which I am just one member.  I see Him as enormous and filling all things with Himself, and whose life, peace and government will continue to increase throughout all eternity! (Isaiah 9:6-7) He is huge!!

2. I used to see Jesus as a figure

Now I see Jesus as a person, the Son of Man as well as the Son of God, and a person whom I know very well but am still getting to know and to whom there is no end. We are in relationship with one another. He is closer to me than anybody could ever be and we are intricately connected as one! We can’t get any closer than that! He knows me completely and because He dwells in me, He knows me from the inside out! I now see that this person Jesus Christ, is my purpose, my whole heart and my whole reason for existence.

3. I used to see Jesus as God’s Son but not much more to God than that

Now I see that Jesus is God’s obsession! He is God the Father’s consuming passion and desire! The Father is captivated by His Son and wants all things for Him. The Son is equally captivated with the Father and wants all things for Him! The two are inseparable! They are completely one – as Jesus has now made me (and you, believer) one with Him! (John 17…)

4. I used to see Jesus as the middle ranking member of the Godhead

Now I see how the Godhead dwells inside Christ! It pleased the fullness to dwell in Him! Christ contains the Father and the Holy Spirit, they are both inside of Him and it is their pleasure to have it this way.  I see now that they are not separate from one another, there is no hierarchy because their relationship is love and this love is giving their lives for one another. There is no jealousy within the Godhead, they love to dwell inside the Son and the Son loves to dwell inside them – just the same way that Paul describes us as being in Christ and Christ in us! The whole of the fullness of God dwells inside the Son and the Son dwells inside the fullness – they are One!

Brother or sister, I share this with you to encourage you.  If it is the Lord who is calling you out, you can be assured that it is to call you in. He will take you through a wilderness experience more than likely (it seems to be the way of every believer I know who has walked this path) and He will eventually but in His good time, bring you in.  What will He bring you into?

Just like the Israelites, which are a shadow and type of the church, they were brought out of Egypt through the wilderness and into the Promised Land (though only two of them remained faithful and received the Promised Land – yes, the Wilderness is a time of testing our faithfulness).  This place the Lord is calling you into is the Promised Land of His Son Jesus Christ.

Whilst you and many others you may be ‘in church’ with, are already in this Christ since you are born again, there is a mystery that is this gospel we live by and that mystery revealed is Christ in you (that word ‘you’ is plural, it’s corporate), the hope of glory!  We have a Promised Land to inherit, the mystery of God revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God the Father, Christ indwelling His body, His church,  and we therefore can live by His indwelling life.  This is more than attending church services and singing 3 fast songs and 3 slow ones!  This is an indwelling Lord living in and through His church! Now, that’s a vast expanse of land flowing with milk and honey!

A holy dissatisfaction with where you are should lead to a desperate heart and intentional pursuit of the Lord, to seek to see Him and know Him more. There has to be a ‘seeing’ before there is a ‘knowing’. This desperation will delight the heart of the Father because it is His desperation in you. It is the Father’s heart-cry! God the Father, wants more than anything (it is His ultimate intention and His eternal purpose) to have you, me and everyone who is called, see and know Christ the Son of God, the Son of His love in His fullness and this life of Christ in His Church. In fact the scriptures tell us that the church IS the fullness of Christ!

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything FOR the church, which is his body, the FULLNESS OF HIM who fills EVERYTHING in EVERY way (Ephesians 1:23).

Wow!! Is that our experience of the church?

So once again, may I encourage you brother or sister, that if you sense the Lord is calling you out of church as you’ve known it, with its hierarchy, traditions and programs, He has put a cry in your heart for the very thing that is the obsession of His own heart and that is for you to see and know Christ Jesus in His fullness.

There is a holy exodus, people, and those who thirst and hunger for the Promised Land, remaining in Him, will find it because it is the Father’s good pleasure to reveal His Son in us.  It is not about us, it is about CHRIST IN us. Amen.

Be bold and courageous!

Please go to this link to read more on this same exciting subject with great richness of insight from a sister in the United States at 3rd Race.

 

What is the Meaning of Life?

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Are you looking for meaning in your life? Are you wanting to know why you exist? Are you desperate for understanding in making decisions and what direction to take in your life?

Well, before reading on, if you’ve never heard or read about this vital truth, which is knowing What is the Eternal Purpose of God, please read through the New Testament books of Colossians (focuses on Christ) and Ephesians (focuses on the church).  These books have been greatly overlooked but hold the answers to eternity past before creation and to eternity future. If you don’t have a bible you’ll find them linked on the two names of the books and to continue reading the chapters just click on the tab in the bottom right corner that will have the next chapter number.

Might I suggest praying before you do so, even if you’ve never prayed before, and ask the Holy Spirit to bring alive the scriptures to your heart, giving you insight and understanding into the knowledge of Christ through what you are about to read there. I pray that the Lord will grant you and me, and all of us, a massive revelation into the knowledge of Jesus Christ in whom we find all meaning.

Now – to the blog post………

Today I simply just want to proclaim Christ to you.

When the Lord was pleased to reveal His Son in me, I was done. Done like a dinner. Done like Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus – fell off my horse so to speak, and was never the same.  When He gave me just the tiniest glimpse into the fact that He has only ONE purpose, only ONE will, only ONE object of His whole heart, ONE purpose and intention behind all of creation including my puny little life and that this ONE everything for God is the exaltation and increase of His Son Jesus Christ ….. He answered everything for me.

Recently Derek and I listened to a message by Frank Viola on the Eternal Purpose of God, and in it he gave a little illustration but one that for me, captured God’s ONE purpose beautifully.  Imagine for a moment, a mum of toddlers. You may be one, so this will be easy for you. This is the general gist of what Frank said – You mums know that with your child, you are inseparable. You cannot separate yourself from your child, your child is completely part of you and who you are. 

I’ve never had my own children but I have the privilege of witnessing a shadow/type of this obsession that God has with His Son, through the lives of some mums I share life with.  Just this week, I told a friend that I would be at a certain place baby sitting for another friend and invited her to come over for a cuppa.  Her immediate response was that her son would love to play with the kids I would be baby sitting!  My friend’s first thought, her complete desire and heart was for her son.  She was looking at the invitation in light of her son’s pleasures, needs and fulfillment and to see these met in him would give her the greatest joy.  And so it is with God.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

God looks at everything through the lense of His Son. Everything we do here is to be for His Son, but led by Him, born out from Him, done in Him, for Him, to Him and by Him. It is to be Christ’s life through us. His Son Jesus is the object of God’s ONE will, desire and purpose and the increase of His Son is established through the church!

How brilliantly freeing it is to know that God doesn’t have multiple wills, desires and purposes! In the old days I remember pining for knowledge into what God’s will was for my life – as though every individual that ever existed had an individual specific will set for their lives by God and had to search it out with a fine tooth comb as though it were some mystery hidden from them.

There’s millions of books in Christian book shops tackling the subject of how to know God’s will for your life on this basis. You might have even read some of them. But to know God only has ONE will for my life, your life and the life of every person who ever did and ever will live, is something so profoundly simple and liberating for the believer that changes our lives forever and takes my breath away.

With Christ as our compass, our Bethlehem star, our True North, our whole life is given absolute direction and clarity of will in every single circumstance from the seemingly insignificant decisions to the seemingly most paramount ones.  In all things, we only need ask ourselves and ask of our brethren, will Christ be exalted and magnified through this or through that?

Imagine for a minute, the sport of orienteering. Orienteering is a sport centered around the skill of navigation using a map and a compass.Imagine yourself with your compass and map in hand, making every move in accordance with a deference to True North and finding your way to the treasures.  Well Christ is the treasure and that True North! He’s the way there and He’s the destination.

When it is given to us  to see that Christ and Christ increased through us IS the Eternal Purpose of God, (and it is given, it is not something we can see by our own spiritual or intellectual capacities, lest we boast, and I certainly do not profess to have full revelation because Christ is way too big) we realise that we can align our every move in life to the will of God. Again, is Christ being exalted and magnified through this or through that?

Every choice, decision, move is to be made with the understanding that the essential goal and purpose is to see Christ made manifest, increased and expressed as He desires. And this often requires denying our own soulish preferences, giving up or bearing the cross.  In fact, it pretty much mostly requires this. Our lives become completely given over to Him and His needs, His desires, His wants, His intentions, His heart. Even our fellowship with other believers stops being about meeting our wants and needs and becomes simply about meeting His needs! (go figure).  Beautiful stuff.

Knowing that Christ is GOD’s everything, just like the example of my friend with her son (not that her son is her everything, but you get the example) answers all my inquiries in life.  All my questions and problems of where I live, how I live, what I wear, how I carry myself, where I go, where I don’t go, what I do, how I speak, where I work, how I work, if I work, career aspirations, what I study, how I fellowship, what I sing, how I sing, how I manage my finances, how I pray, how I handle a faith crisis, how I read the scriptures, what I permit in my life as entertainment, how I eat, facing depression, anxiety, fears, incompetence, weaknesses, failures, what are my goals, ambitions, dreams and desires….EVERYTHING is answered in Him.

In fact, personal goals, ambitions, dreams, desires, career aspirations, study aspirations, interests etc, have pretty much gone out the window, except for Him! Some folk would find me incredibly boring I’m sure! Like I said, I’m done. He did me in. He did me in at Calvary, and this came alive to me when He was pleased to reveal His Son in me in 2010 even though I entered His kingdom in 1973 (see Psalm 116). He did it. He has done all of it. I can’t even explain how He’s done it. I didn’t even do anything to warrant what He’s done. It’s all Him.

If I look back over my life, I can see how God’s ONE desire, purpose and will for me has always been wrapped up in His Son.  God’s ONE Eternal Purpose is in His Son and has determined who I married, when I married, where we’ve lived, our career paths, our interests, who we do life with and how we live on a daily basis.

If you look back over your life to this point as an observor, can you see the same thing?  Even if you feel you’ve failed in areas, like I definitely have, can you see that even those decisions seeming to be failures  are still caught in the net of the greatest fisherman that ever lived, that Fisher of men? (Luke 5:1-11)

Since time began people have asked the question “What is the meaning of life?” If you knew that answer, what impact would it have on you?

What if you were to answer that question with Christ? Can you see the impact on one’s life when the good Lord reveals Christ as the all consuming passion of God’s heart? How all encompassing is this Christ, how all consuming, how unfathomable, giant and vast, how deep and wide and eternal is He? How amazing it is that everything is summed up in this Christ? That this Christ is the ONE desire, passion and intent of the Father for all time past, present and future? And….that we are in Him??!! Whoa!!! No wonder God loves us so much, we’re in His Son!!

Seriously, we have to ask ourselves, what other purpose could God possibly have outside of His own Son?

Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to love? But He gave us Christ who IS the complete object of His love!

After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)

… Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen (Luke 9:34-36).

Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to see that the gospel is preached? But Christ IS the gospel!

God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you (Romans 1:9).

…to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God,… I have fully preached the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:16-19).

Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to reveal His glory? But Christ IS the glory of God!

… “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (John 17:4-5).

Or could we say that God’s eternal purpose is that we would know Him? CHRIST is the way we know God. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life! No-one comes to the Father except through CHRIST!

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves (John 14:5-11).

And how profoundly and extravagantly loving and gracious is our God, to invite us INTO this Christ, His only begotten Son, and to make the way for Him to live and dwell inside of us?  So now we are included in this heavenly, glorious relationship of love between the Father and His Son.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)

And now because of Christ and who He is and what He has done, the church is the display of the manifold wisdom of God to the powers and principalities of the air. This is our purpose people, this is why we exist.  We exist to increase this Christ. Christ is to be given the room to express Himself fully, to be displayed to the heavens and to the shame of the opposing powers of the air, for Christ alone is to be exalted.  And how will He be exalted if we do not exalt Him? How can He be increased if we do not decrease in our own self-life.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10).

The increase and exaltation of Christ answers every desire and need in humanity. It directs our every path and at every cross road. It is our True North. It is the glory and delight of God. It is our very purpose.

Christ is the reason we live, breath, walk, talk, move, sing. We sing of Christ, of who He is. We declare and proclaim this Christ in our words, songs and deeds.

One day ALL things will be summed up IN CHRIST. Doesn’t that say it all?

 

 

Why is God called the God of the eleventh hour?

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This post is a little more lengthy and detailed than normal because I want to highlight how Derek and I have experienced an aspect of the Lord we had not understood before – that is God as a God of completion – down to the final hour of the final day. So if you’ve got the time to read through, I hope you can appreciate the fullness of this testimony.

Story:

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll recall that my family and I were given notice to move out of the rental property we lived in by Friday 27th November.  We had been given 3 months’ notice (plenty of time right?) to find somewhere else but the 27th was our absolute final date to be out by, although we had permission from our landlords to take the weekend, that would be the 28th and 29th to clean the old house and hand the keys in.

Having unique needs to house my mother, my step- daughter, Derek and I and three inside dogs, the challenges were great whilst looking for a new place.  In order to give greater glory to God, let me share what was on our hearts to believe for…

  • Close proximity to my sister
  • Close proximity to the rest of the saints we fellowship with
  • Separate living area for mum
  • Room for mum to keep her baby grand piano
  • Mum to have her own bathroom
  • Mum to have her own external access
  • Preferably an ensuite for us
  • Single level and flat block to allow easy access and safety for mum
  • Fenced yard for dogs
  • Approval for dogs to be inside house
  • Parking for 3 cars
  • Preferably not straight out suburbia since mum has lived on acres since 1989

Just a small order, right? But we have a great God, right?

Now, with our last move 2.5 years ago I had distinctly heard the Lord’s whisper calling me to come and ask Him for what I wanted for our move. I told Him all the things I felt in my heart that we really needed, especially in taking mum with us from her family home less than a year after my dad had passed away.  The very next day I drove past a real estate I’d never called into before and felt to do a u-turn and go inside. They had one rental that had just come up and wasn’t on their list yet. It was the house we lived in for the last 2.5 years, just around the corner from my dad’s grave at a christian camp facility called Bethshan, where he had given his life to Jesus at age 14. The house met beautifully, all of our needs on a practical sense and the Lord taught us many precious things while living there.

Derek and I both felt strongly that this time, the Lord would do a different thing. We had no doubt He would provide for our needs but we had a strong conviction that the Lord doesn’t always do the same thing in the same way. Just because He did something a certain way once before, doesn’t mean we can hold Him to a formula for every similar event in our lives. We knew this time would be different.

We’d also come to understand the value of losing our preferences in order for Him to get what He wants in us. So whilst we would pray for and believe for the Lord to meet all our needs, we knew that He was the only one who truly knew our needs. We went through all the ups and downs of surrendering our preferences whilst holding onto faith that He would provide what He knew was best.

Somewhere in those last 3 months, we applied for 3 houses that really didn’t float our boat. However, as time was running out we were beginning to realise that we might just have to take something that wasn’t all we had hoped for and make the most of it, believing that it would be the Lord’s choice for us and He would have much to teach us through such an exercise.  And so with each of these applications, there was a resignation in our hearts to the point of giving up and being prepared to take whatever He had in mind.

In fact, each time our application was rejected, there was a sense of disappointment for us, particularly for me. With each house I had gone through the process of disappointment, then acceptance and learning to embrace whatever it was and then mentally I would imagine living there and how it would work until faith entered my heart to be happy about it. So when we were knocked back, there was a little episode of grief each time as I had already gone through the process of embracing it as our new home.

Well, we got down to the final three weeks, still not having found anything that ticked all the boxes, and not approved for anything that even ticked some of the boxes. Derek had said at one point that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Lord took us right down to the 27th November, so that we would truly take the current land for all it’s worth, as He had told us to do, in April of this year (2015).

Personally, I was horrified at that thought! He suggested a few times that I book the removalists but I said I couldn’t book them because I didn’t have an address for them and they will need to quote on where we have to travel to and consider the access to the new place.  However, with just over two weeks to go, I decided to get some removalists quotes and eventually booked one for the 27th without an address. I simply told them the general whereabouts we intended to end up!

I also booked the carpets to be cleaned and the lawns to be done the week before the 27th. I made a list of things to do and Derek and I worked off that list. The list included a garage sale (as we had felt the Lord tell us to hold one), packing last minute things, cleaning and undoing furniture the night of the 26th in preparation to move on the 27th.

Well, on Sunday night the 14th, I received a real estate alert email with a new listing. It was in the suburb of Narara and it provided the following; (Hint: it’s the same list…)

  • Close proximity to my sister
  • Close proximity to the rest of the saints we fellowship with
  • Separate living area for mum
  • Room for mum to keep her baby grand piano
  • Mum to have her own bathroom
  • Mum to have her own external access
  • Ensuite for us
  • Single level and flat block to allow easy access and safety for mum
  • Fenced yard for dogs
  • Approval for dogs to be inside house
  • Parking for 3 cars
  • Rural/suburbia on large private block

It also had a pool and air conditioning and it was only $50 per week more than what we had been paying. And it’s availability date? You guessed it …Friday the 27th November.  So toot sweet, I got hold of the agency to arrange an inspection.

For a myriad of reasons that I won’t bother you with, we were unable to view the property until Friday 20th. This would mean that the real estate wouldn’t even begin to look at our application until Monday the 23rd, , in turn meaning, that we wouldn’t have an answer until at least the 25th. What if the application was rejected? How would we find somewhere within 2 days, knowing how lengthy the application process is? Still, with boxes packed, garage sale complete, carpets cleaned, lawns mown and removalist booked, we felt sure that God would provide in time.

On the afternoon of Wednesday the 25th, the real estate called and said “Well, I have good news, I’ve put your application to the landlord and you’ve been approved but on one condition….that you can move in this Friday”. What? Who says that? I worked in property management in real estate for 12 years and I’ve never heard of such a thing!

What a glorious God! So through all these weeks the Lord has been walking us through learning to live by faith and not by sight, to cast our cares upon the Lord, to not be anxious, and to trust Him right up to the last minute, and to find joy in Him no matter how impossible circumstances might appear.

So, we moved out and moved in on Friday 27th November. J  My mother and step daughter hadn’t even seen the place. I was so impressed with their trust. On Saturday and Sunday the 28th and 29th, Derek and I went back and cleaned the old house to hand in the keys to the landlords on the Sunday.

Now, if you recall, the Lord had shown us much of Himself and His Eternal purpose whilst living at the old place over the last 2 years, through the actual land we were living on. He did a lot of work in me and Derek during that time and we needed Him to! He still is of-course and we still need Him to! And during those years, we as a little group of saints that are being built together, have really walked through some body-life and experienced the Lord in increasingly beautiful and meaningful ways.

After walking together with these precious brothers and sisters for a good time now, and experiencing the Lord’s leading and teaching in my own life and in my life together with Derek, I can see how each of us walk through things in our personal lives, that reflect the life of the corporate church but on a smaller, individual scale.  It’s become a fascinating exercise for me to reflect on personal circumstances and see what it is the Lord is showing us through them, concerning His church. What we have walked through as a little ekklesia seems to have given more room for the Lord and we are certainly seeing His life increased in and amongst us.

So it was interesting, that a few weeks prior to us moving out, one of the sisters enquired as to why Derek and I were planning on cleaning the house when we moved out, since it was supposed to be pulled down for development. I then informed her that we had only recently been informed that the old landlord’s son was intending to move in there while he used the place as a site office, for selling off the vacant blocks for the development.

However, it wasn’t until Derek and I were pushing the mop across the dining room floor and working our way down the hallway to back out the front door, (our final task to the big clean-up), that it hit us both. We were in essence, preparing a place, where the son could lay his head.

Selah…..

How can the Lord be so intimately and intricately involved right up to the last half hour of the last day? How could He reveal such an intensely and breathtakingly beautiful insight? Needless to say, we both stopped the mopping and wept, praising our Lord who had opened His heart to us to reveal the condition of this little group we are being built with – that as a tiny ekklesia here on the Central Coast, NSW, Australia, the Lord has finally got a place to lay His head.

Even reading this again, I find I have to pause and reflect on what the Lord has done. He has taken our breath away.

So. What we have learned and experienced of the Lord, is that when He speaks, there is Life in His words. When the Lord said in April to take this land for all it’s worth before He moves us on, He sure meant it. And in following His instructions, He has more than satisfied and fulfilled our hearts with more of Himself in ways we could not imagine and in even more ways than I have shared.

There is not a minute or even a second wasted in God’s economy. He is the God who fills every breath, every moment, every season, to the full. He is the God of around the corner, and the God of right here and now. And yet somehow, everything He does and says has to do with His Son. His obsession is His Son – Christ.

We didn’t come to the last hour of cleaning and find the Lord reveal something to us about our future, jobs, or finances, or goals, or anything else, but He revealed more to us about His Son Jesus Christ. He revealed the heart of the Father, which is for His Son.

I think God is often the God of the eleventh hour so that He can display Himself in more glory. And now, He has brought us to a land covered in shade, fruit trees, a well and a pool for refreshment, yet coupled with its own unique challenges. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this too, is a reflection of His Son yet to unfold.  🙂

 

 

 

Why Being a Christian Can Seem Hard Sometimes

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Being a Christ one, is all about a surrendered life, isn’t it? And so there are costs we never even knew of. Sometimes I sense the Lord doing something in me and I can’t even really tell what it is. I’m generally experiencing some kind of discomfort, pain or suffering in a way that I can’t put into words. It’s not necessarily that my external circumstances have changed and by anyone’s account my life appears to be going along swimmingly. But there is an apprehension that something is being pulled at, perhaps pulled out, or prodded, deep within me. Perhaps it’s another death of some kind, more learning to let go of my own soul-life on a deeper or further level.

However, I’m learning that during these times I can remain confident and assured that He is right beside me and is in fact leading me in it all because it’s as though I can hear the craftsman busy at work. Chiselling, bang- bang! with the hammer. I can just imagine Him there covered in dust from the stone He is carving into, sawdust from the timber He is sanding. I can even imagine power tools grinding away at times and all the while not knowing what He’s up to. But He is working away diligently without telling me anything.

He might be breaking things apart in order to change the shape or chiselling away at a better design. He might be hammering in nails to connect pieces to other pieces. He might be sawing off sections that need to be discarded. He might be sanding and polishing. Whatever He’s up to, He’s working to a plan. And that plan is ‘Him’. HE is the plan. God the Father, by His Spirit, through the life of His Son in us, is always conforming us more and more into the likeness of His Son Jesus, the Christ.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:29)

He has one goal in mind and that is to see His Son gloriously expressed as head over all things.

And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

God has already achieved this outside of time, since He is not subject to time and dates, though we may not yet see it manifested with our earthly sight. This is why the scripture above says “when the times will have reached their fulfilment”. This is also why we must live by faith and not by sight.  We remember the words Jesus spoke on the cross when He breathed His final breath, “It is finished”. How has God done this already? What did Jesus mean when He said “It is finished”?

…by setting aside in his (Christ’s) flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two (Jews & Gentiles) thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross… (Ephesians 2:15)

God has created this one body, this new humanity, this one new man in His Son, through Jesus’ death on the cross. There Christ conquered the power of sin and death thereby making the way open for all who believe in Him as God’s Son, to be reconciled with God the Father. This new humanity is the body of believers, i.e. the church – whether Jews or  Gentiles i.e. Greek, Chinese, Australian, Italian, Lebanese, African etc, male or female.  This is a new race in which Christ dwells as it’s head.

And in Him you (plural) too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22).

We see and experience with our physical senses a fallen world all around us that is rapidly increasing in darkness. So one could ask just how is Christ manifested as head over all things in the heavens and the earth?

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10-11).

It is through the church that God displays His manifold wisdom to all powers and dominions, and this has been accomplished in Christ because it’s only in Christ that the church exists.  As members of His Church, His body, this one new man, this new race – we are the bearers of Christ’s image. This is the plan. Christ is God’s plan. And God, through Christ, is having each one of us, each member of this one new man, being conformed more and more into His image so that Christ is expressed for who He is, head over all things.

Now Christ is the head and no head exists without a body just as no body exists without a head. So the head and the body are one. Just as your head and your body are all part of you, so Christ’s head and his body are all part of Him. So He is in fact both the head and the body. So it stands to reason that we, who collectively are also His body, are being conformed into His likeness. 

This means ongoing work inside of us as individuals. Is it any wonder Jesus’ earthly vocation before going into ministry was as a craftsman? Some say He was a carpenter, some say a stone mason, but either way He was a craftsman, a builder. It was a reflection of His spiritual ministry. Jesus created new things while working as a young man for his earthly adopted-father Joseph. In Jesus the Christ, the resurrected son of God, we have been made a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV)

Our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ are all about being conformed into His image. This means being spiritually chiselled, broken, repaired, refined, re-shaped, hammered, sanded and polished so that His church becomes a glorious masterpiece. Not displaying us, but displaying Him!

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10)

Jesus showed us the way of the Christian. He worked as a skilled craftsman. He ministered as a skilled craftsman and He still does. What is He building? He is building a dwelling place in which He and His Father can live and He can express Himself as Head, to the glory of the Father.

Lord, build Your dwelling place. Help us to both corporately and individually, live a surrendered life in the hands of the Great Craftsman, that we the church might be Your masterpiece so that Your manifold wisdom is displayed to all the heavens and all the earth. Amen.

Christ our Ever-Rest

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Well, I went to see the movie “Everest” last week and in 3D. Wow. I really recommend the 3D version on the big screen.

It’s the true story of a team of hikers on their trek to the summit of Mount Everest. Pretty soon into the film, I began to see and hear the Lord in it and this progressed throughout the film.

For us believers, Christ is our summit. Like the summit of Mount Everest to these hikers, Christ is our ultimate, He is the glory and majesty of the mountain of God. There is nothing as glorious than to know Him, to stand with Him in the heavenly places, to be one with Him. As on that mountain, in Christ, we view the world like never before and our breath is taken away. Just as the individual hikers in this story were driven to reach the summit, we too are driven to know Him as our greatest reality.

And Christ is not only the summit but He is our Ever-Rest. Christ is the Eternal Rest of God that we enter into. He is the Sabbath of God. He is the Seventh Day. He is the completeness. In Him, it is finished. In Him, God has now ceased from His labours. Wow! What a mountain! What a summit!

The main crux of the story is about a team of individual climbers that come together under the supervision and expertise of an exploration group that climbers pay to help them fulfil their ultimate dream of reaching the summit. The group was headed up by a man named Rob. As the team met for the briefing in the beginning of the story, Rob pointed to a picture of the mountain. Pointing to a certain height which was lower than the summit, he said to them “Human beings simply aren’t meant to function at the cruising altitude of a 747. Our bodies will be literally dying”.

I instantly thought of us in our ‘trek’ into Christ our summit. Of-course we don’t ascend and reach greater heights as perhaps some of us in previous religious environments may have thought. We realise that Christ lives in us, He is not external to us. We as believers into Christ, are not like the Tibetan monks and those of similar persuasions who believe they are to attain to a certain level or height in their ‘spiritual’ journey. No, for us it is the ‘knowing Him more deeply’ that is our summit. As Paul said “That I might know Him”.

However, this knowing Him requires a sacrifice, a dying to our self-life. Our flesh has in fact, already been crucified on the cross with Christ, because God knows our flesh cannot withstand His glory. Our flesh cannot pass from this life into the next for our flesh (physical and soulical) is unregenerated but our spirit is alive in Christ. Now, having been crucified with Christ and raised with Him in His resurrected life, we are born again by the spirit and able to enter in.

Rob’s role was to brief all climbers prior to the climb, to prepare them in practical training, to go ahead of them by making sure safety elements were in place before they got there such as ropes, oxygen tanks and supplies, to encourage them and spur them on along the way, to guide where they place their feet and to keep them heading in the right direction against the risk of snow-blindness, to watch out for their physical and mental conditions on the climb, to send them back down to base camp for rest and medical attention if they were at too great a risk, and ultimately to get them to the top of the summit. He was with them every step of the way.

This guy reminded me of the Holy Spirit. Our counsellor, the Spirit of God that goes before us and prepares the way. The one who comforts us, prepares us, looks out for us, spurs us on and takes us deeper into Christ. The one whose hand is always on our shoulder, and who speaks words of encouragement into our hearts. The one who equips us for the journey into knowing Him. The one who leads us and points us to Christ, our summit, encouraging us always to keep our eyes fixed on the prize.  How beautiful.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV).

As the climbers reached higher in altitude, breathing became extremely difficult as the air thinned to a point of there being almost no oxygen at all. In a way, the oxygen tanks supplied for the journey up the steep slopes of Mount Everest, resemble the Spirit of God in us. It is only by His Spirit that we are able to survive the journey, to enter into the depths of knowing Christ. It is a spiritual life, not one lived out in the capacities of the flesh, human ambition or intellect. He is the air that we breathe and without Him we cannot go on.

The hike up the mountain was and always will be a fierce one. It is a stumbling block for many, and many do not survive the journey. It is a narrow and dangerous path and few will make it to the top.

 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it”. Matthew 7:14 (NIV)

Christ was often described in scriptures as the stumbling block by which many would fall, because they look for something else, something more in line with their own faulty expectations of who the Messiah would and should be.

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NIV)

But like Mount Everest, Christ is not predictable. As Rob states in the movie “the mountain has it’s own weather patterns”, so it is with Christ. His Kingdom is not of this world’s ‘weather patterns’. And so for many, it is a journey that seems to ask too much of them just as the rich young ruler unable to give up all his possessions to follow Jesus (see  Matthew 19:16-24). Christ, like the mountain, requires us to give our all, our very lives, as He Himself gave His life for us.

As you can imagine, the hikers climbed this mountain in extreme conditions of snow, sleet, high speed winds, descending black clouds filled with thunder and lightening, extreme below zero temperatures, incredibly narrow cliff ledges and on ridiculously steep slopes in high altitudes. I was not surprised that so many lost their lives.  At one point two of the climbers after a day’s climbing, speak to each other in their tent of the suffering and their acceptance and surrender to the fact of it, all for the glory of reaching the summit.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him … I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV).

When we read through the old testament, we read the lives of the prophets and those sent by God. In the New Testament we read the lives of the apostles and those called by God to follow Him. We see their lives are ones of great human loss and sacrifice, for the glory of knowing Him.  Of-course we read of Christ, the sacrificial lamb, the one who was slain for all mankind. We are told that no servant is greater than his master. So we come to understand that a life lived for the glory of knowing Christ, is also a life of suffering, trials and tribulations whilst on this earth. But we are also given exhortation in that our current sufferings cannot compare with the glory that awaits us.

…Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV).

As already mentioned, Rob is a shadow and type of the Holy Spirit in many ways throughout this story. He is a constant source of strength and hope. However, he is also a shadow and type of Christ. He goes the extra mile for the sake of keeping one climber safe who loses his way and this ultimately costs Rob his life. Yet, He did not die before leaving new life as his pregnant wife later gave birth to a baby girl. Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd. He goes after the one that is lost. He lays down His life for His friends. He gave His life up for all. But He did this in order that the Father would have offspring and His family would multiply and grow, increasing His expression on the earth through His body of believers.

We also see the body of Christ at work in this film. Rob does not choose to work as a lone wolf. Rob works as head of a team of many. As Christ is the Head of His Church, He has constrained Himself to His church and the Head is not separate from the body. The team of climbers was made up of experienced climbers, sherpas and amateurs. It was one team but many parts, and all functioned according to Rob’s direction.

So it is with the body of Christ.  One Head, one body.  One Spirit. One goal. One Purpose. One glory. One mountain. One Summit. Christ.

 

 

 

 

So it’s ‘organic’ church but God still needs a facilitator, right?

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Organic meaning: relating to or derived from living matter; living, live, animate, biological, natural

So some of us who have stepped outside of the traditional and institutional system of church life as we have known it, call our meeting together ‘organic’ church. Now, I know there are many brothers and sisters in the body of Christ who meet this way and although once described their meetings as ‘organic’ are turning away from the expression ‘organic’ church.  This is because as they rightly say, it has become a term used to label a whole lot of different ways of meeting together that are actually not truly organic at all!

Now ‘true organic’ church is not a denomination or a model, it’s not even a name or a noun. The word ‘organic’ is an adjective, it is a description of the ekklesia  NOT a brand. Therefore, by calling our meetings ‘organic’ church we are describing the way in which the Lord Himself functions among us, the members of His body.

Organic by its very ‘nature’ (it is NATURAL or in this context Supernatural) is not interfered with by man, just as organic food is not interfered with by chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides! That means there’s no need for man or woman to facilitate in a truly organic expression of Jesus Christ. Jesus can do it ALL Himself because the ekklesia IS Himself just in many parts being brought together.

In 2012 seven of us here on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia embarked on meeting together as an ‘organic’ expression of Christ. We had spent some time with Milt & Mary Rodriguez who are workers in planting groups like ours and most of us had read Pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church and Finding Organic Church.  Still, none of us were sure how to do this without having a leader or facilitator although knew that the absence of such a position was key to it truly being an ‘organic’ expression of the Lord.

Well, here we are, coming up to our third birthday and we’re all still here. No-one has the position or responsibility of leader/facilitator/preacher/prayer/worship leader/pastor/elder/teacher. It’s a miracle. And it’s taken a lot of ‘dying to self’ and it still does and it always will.

We are not in any way perfected in this ‘organic’ church life together, and we are always susceptible to returning to old ways of organised Christianity because that’s our background and our human nature. However, having walked this journey together now for this long, I’m pretty secure in the fact that if one of us were to wander into doctrines and leadership tendencies etc, the rest of us would gently steer that brother or sister back to focussing on Christ and letting go of all the ‘self’ stuff. In fact, we’ve seen this happen and it has been graciously received. Another miracle.

Now, all this isn’t to say that when we gather together there isn’t preaching, ministering, prayer, singing, scripture reading, teaching, prophecy, or even leadership. On the contrary, there are all of these.  I used to think of ‘organic’ church in terms of there being no leadership which I had trouble believing (knowing myself and the nature of humanity). However, now what I see occurring is that EVERY member leads at different times, but UNDER THE HEADSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST AS THE HOLY SPIRIT FACILITATES. (I know capitals means shouting but I’m not really shouting, I’m just trying to make my point very clear 🙂 )

So we say it’s ‘organic’ church but God still needs a facilitator? He already has one – His Holy Spirit.

You see, God doesn’t need any one of us to be facilitator. He can do it Himself. He really can! How do I know this for certain? I’m experiencing it. I’ve been experiencing it for three years. It’s no longer a hope, it’s now my testimony! Woo hoo! (Click on this link for another brother’s testimony ( http://www.marklake.org/christian-communities-hierarchy-exclusive-clergy-exist-possible/)

Do you believe Jesus can do it Himself?

Sometimes we, just like our little group when we started in 2012, cannot fathom that Jesus can actually run a meeting.  We seem able to fathom that all creation was made by and through Him and that He fills the universe but can He really run a church meeting? (sounds pretty silly doesn’t it?) We get all caught up in questions like;

  • How will we know when to stop eating and start getting spiritual?
  • Who will set the agenda?
  • Who will tell us when it’s time to sing, if we are going to sing, and what we will sing? Who will start the singing?
  • Who will read the bible and when should it be read? Should it be read at all?
  • How will we know when to pray or stop praying?
  • How will we know what to talk about?
  • Don’t we have to learn something?
  • Don’t we have to have some teaching?
  • Who’s going to address any issues?”

…etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! (in the words of the late Yul Brynner!)

Folks, I’ve gotta tell ya, Jesus can do it all. Yes He can.

“But how?” you ask. Good question.  The answer is Jesus can lead a church meeting/gathering by us laying down all of our agendas. In other words, if we decrease He can increase. This means laying down our preferences, doctrines, practises, talents, traditions, dreams, spiritual ambitions etc, and bearing the cross with one another. By bearing the cross I mean preferring one another over ourselves, giving up the rights to our own lives.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). The word ‘life’ in this verse is the Greek word ‘psuchè which means soul-life).

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4).

So do we think this is easy for us to do? No way! It goes against our very human nature and that’s why something organic can’t be mixed with man’s touch and still be organic. That defies all sensibility. Either a thing is organic or it is not. Either Christ is the Head or He is not. Any mix and it is no longer organic or no longer led by Christ.

Of-course, Jesus has now constrained Himself to His body, which is the church. So Jesus has chosen to live in and through us to express Himself so that He will be exalted and His sovereignty will be displayed as a witness to all powers and principalities. He expresses Himself, THROUGH the members of the body but it is HIS Headship, HIS life, HIS personality that is being expressed as the Holy Spirit facilitates Christ’s Headship. That means, not our charisma, talents, skills, abilities.

This is great news people! Christ is able! God has it all sorted in His Son. But it’s through the laying down of our own lives, that He has the room to function as He wants to. So let’s let Him be Head and trust Him, as we take our hands completely and utterly off His Church.

Let’s let go and let God be God, He really is pretty clever 🙂

Comments welcome 🙂