Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lying in the Name of the Lord

What's he going to say next? No born again believer would intentionally lie in the name of the Lord, would they? Well it depends on how you define intentionally. Join me and let's look at ourselves.

Before I go to deep, let me insert two disclaimers:
1) I'm not against any bonifide move of the Spirit of God. Whether it's laughing, crying, repenting, prophetic, apostolic, healing meetings, falling, jumping, quaking, shaking, you name it. If it's real, I'm for it!

2) The term honesty will be used several times in this posting. Honesty is of the Lord, however, the secret things of our hearts can not always be shared with everyone because some things could be overwhelming to someone who has not fully matured in Christ. There should be someone in your life that you can be honest with, like your Pastor, or a good friend, etc. The way the term honesty is used in this posting is in regard to our public actions and displays, or our heart before God.
With that said, let's jump in!

Have you ever been to a meeting where the preacher calls folks down for prayer and a long line forms? At this point the preacher begins to lay hands on folks and one after the other they begin to fall down. Uh oh, your next, what are you going to do? The pressure is on. You want to look as spiritual as the next guy, you don't want to offend the visiting preacher. You may even be afraid that if you don't fall you may be pointed out as someone who can't receive, so what are you going to do? You quickly look at your "What would Jesus do bracelet" for inspiration, but it's not working. What are you going to do? Probably what most everyone else does. ...You take the fall! You get up giving the appearance that a surge of the power of God overtook you in that moment and all the strength left your knees and you had to go down.
Have you ever done that? .....I have. I've heard it called a courtesy drop, you know, you don't want to offend the preacher or quench the Spirit for anyone else. I think we've thoroughly justified ourselves for all of our actions, but are we helping or hurting the kingdom? Does God really need our help to win them over with a little of our drama?

Here's another: At the end of a sermon of fire and brimstone everyone goes down to the altar where there's weeping and nashing of teeth. Cries of repentance are going up. People are laid out everywhere. This phenomenon occurs once or twice a week in some places. At first maybe you think, wow, these humble people love God, yet shortly you see that no one gets up changed, because three days later they have to do the same thing again, and again, and again. Their divorce rate is no different than anyone else's. Their children have the same issues everyone else's have. I think you see the pattern. If God is touching people at a level where altar services are required, sin would go into remission and peoples lives would be changed. The axe would be laid to the root. That's something that shouldn't have to be repeated bi-weekly or weekly.

This is another good one: Your at a meeting, suddenly laughter begins to break out. It starts in one corner and soon has spread over the whole congregation. People are all around you laughing with feverish intensity, and there you are. You don't feel a thing. You may get tickled looking at others laugh, but this intense uncontrollable laughter; you're just not feeling it. And you think, well maybe my heart is hard, what's wrong with me? Am I the only one who is feeling this way? Maybe you are, but maybe some of what you see is as fake as a three dollar bill.

What's really happening here? Are we helping others with these actions or hurting them? Are we making them feel self-conscious as if they are less spiritual. I believe we should be doing all we can to help people reach their spiritual potential believing that they truly are children of God.
So there it is. Are we lying in the name of Jesus for the same reason we would lie about everything else? What's that you ask? Self-preservation of course! Who else greater than ourselves are worthy of our lies. The nature of God that's alive on the inside of us doesn't need preserving by our great works of wisdom. No we are only attempting to preserve our carnal nature that was supposed to be crucified with Jesus when we were born again.
It's time to bring honesty back to the house of God. If you can't be honest, find a place where you can be. I've made a commitment not to perform anymore for any reason, and I hope I live up to that commitment. King David was considered by God to be a man after God's own heart. David made mistakes and he laid them out before God. He didn't hide a thing. Look at the psalms sometime. David's honesty before God is astonishing. Does this mean we shouldn't be radical for Jesus in our worship. Does this mean that God may not move on us in such a way that we may laugh, cry, lay prostrate and repent, or fall under His touch. He absolutely could, God is sovereign and He can do any of these things with anyone whose heart is turned to Him. To limit God would also be to perpetuate the lie that God doesn't move in Spirit and power among believers.
Let God be True and every man a liar. Just because everyone else is falling or laughing doesn't always mean that God would have you do that. There may be someone there whose faith would not fail them if they could see someone else who was not being moved like the rest of the crowd. We need to be secure in who we are in Christ. I would go further to say that some or many could be being touched by God, but I have to stay true to myself if I don't sense anything happening to me personally.
I have jumped through many hoops before designed by men in services that left me embarrassed and questioning Christianity. It's time to clean up our gatherings and wash these dishonest performances out of our midst.
To end, I would say, I hope you laugh, dance, shout, fall on your face in the deepest of repentance, cry, fall under His power, but most of all, love your brother enough to be honest in the gathering together of the saints no matter what.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Repentance: "Word De Jour"

The subject that I'm examining today seems to be the focus of a lot of attention currently in several groups and assemblies.

Repentance; What is it? What does it mean? Traditionally, in most settings, we're told that it's something a person does when they turn away from their sin. That it's not an apology, but a change from one direction to another. It's also been taught that when we repent that we must go on, that we don't stay in the repentant state. Most people use Hebrews the sixth chapter where the writer says, and I paraphrase, "not laying again the same foundation of repentance from dead works..." It is true that the writer of Hebrews was saying that we should get to the place where the foundational stone of repentance from dead works should not have to be laid into our lives again, but what does that mean?

You see the writer of Hebrews says it's a foundational stone. If it's a foundational stone, that's something that is supposed to be set into place forever as part of our being. That the other aspects of our existence in Christ rest on this foundation. This stone should be an ever present 'essence' of our personality in Christ.

We're all crying out for the manifest presence of God to be revealed in us and our church homes. But what is the manifest presence of God? What does His presence contain? What are the ingredients?

Well I don't want to be so arrogant to 'assume' that I know the ingredients of His presence, but I think He gives us clues in scripture of His nature. For example, when the Prophet Isaiah saw God, he said that he, 'Isaiah', was a man of unclean lips. He felt terribly unclean in his own heart from being in the presence of an almighty God. Think about it. If we were truly standing in the presence of our awesome God do you think there would be a distinct desire to have a repentant heart because of the holiness, and greatness of God? Would we see how little we are in comparison? Would we sense how weak and vulnerable we are? Or, would we say, "Oh hello God it's You, we need to get on with business, you know time is short!" He would probably say, "Yes We do have some business to attend to!"

I will go further to say God's presence will bring many different reactions to different people depending on the heart of the individuals. The reason for this is because God's nature contains all the foundational stones that the writer of Hebrews was speaking of in the sixth chapter. His presence is of the full stature of all the foundational stones. I hear you saying, "If that were true, you're saying God would have to be repentant?" Well in the old testament, He did repent for His creation of mankind. Who did He repent to in this case? Himself. He took responsibility for our disobedience!

The foundational stones listed in Hebrews are, repentance from dead works, faith towards God, the laying on of hands, the doctrines of baptisms, the resurrection of the dead, and the eternal judgment. So we could say that God's presence contains 'life', 'baptisms of; repentance, Christ, His Spirit, fire, water', 'that He has a tangible presence that touches us', 'that His presence contains eternal judgment', and 'the power of the resurrection'. Wow.

I would deduct from this illustration that Gods presence could provoke a multitude of reactions. So w e don't move on from repentance as it's been taught in the past, it must become part of our nature. Just because you may have to repent again does not mean that you need to again have the foundation stone of repentance laid again in your life. It's when you think that you no longer need to have a repentant heart that the stone has to be laid again. It's when you say , "We know", that your sins are held against you!

To be repentant in our nature is our goal. It is the holy fear of displeasing God being made alive in our hearts, that will bear the fruit of repentance that others can eat from.

So we don't move on in the sense of forgetting repentance, instead we make it a foundational part of our lives.