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Archive for February, 2015

Several times I have talked about modern day church and the way it is way off base from what it should be.

It is not that I am against church, but it is a matter of being clear on the proper meaning of the word. Not that we have to be politically correct in description, but I feel we need to be clear on the matter in regard to our mindset.

Normally when the word church is mentioned, we all think of a building we go to on Sunday to learn about God. We also think in terms of how much we go to church as being a guide to how spiritual we are, or how close we are to God. We think of the doctrines, rules and regulations placed on us by the church as ways to make us better Christians.

church people

We need to reset our thinking. The Church is not a building. The Church is the bride of Christ, all of us who are saved by grace. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Each of us are equally important and useful parts of the body, and Christ is the head. The building is just a place where we can meet and conduct spiritual meetings and Christian social events. As the Church, we can assemble together any day, any place and any time with fellow believers and enjoy real fellowship while talking, eating a meal or just sitting around relaxing.

Just as the mindset we have when we talk about the word of God. We first think of the bible. Of course the bible is special, it is inspired by God. Inspired, not hand-written. God inspired men to write, and that means men still had their twist on it, their thoughts, their background and way of life. 2 Timothy 3:16  says, ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness’. The word of God is useful, but it takes the Holy Spirit to breathe life into the words we read.

Jesus word of God

The perfect, inerrant, living Word of God is made plain in John 1:1…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the inspired words of God in the bible, but we need to focus on the fact that the Word of God is alive and living within each of us as born again people. To many times we want to make the bible seem like it is part of the trinity and equal with God.

Although sometimes it may seem unimportant of how we think of church or the Bible, it is very important that we understand what is really meant. The old mindset of a building and a book need to be replaced with the fact that the Church are those of us who are redeemed through the blood of Christ and the Word of God is Christ Himself, alive and living within us.

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Ephesians 1:22,23 — And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

What stands out most to me is the description of what true church is, which is His body. It is not a building. It is not someplace we go. Christ is the head of all of us who are saved by grace. We are the church.

Body of Christ

I don’t see separation in this statement. I don’t see denominations, buildings and formal services trying to get people to come to us. I don’t see places based on doctrine.

I see a living, active group of people going out into the world day by day in the love and strength of God. I see a united effort seeking to show the love of God to all we meet each day.

I see people looking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit for truth and guidance. No more looking to a man/woman or a group of elders for teaching and guidance. Christ is our head and the Spirit is our teacher.

This leads me to think it is time to stop arguing over doctrine and interpretations. It’s time to stop looking to other brothers and sisters whom we elevate into a higher position and realize we are all kings and priests and able to teach and give a word to uplift one another. We need to allow God to live through us daily as we go out into the world and show His love to people who are hurting.

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I contribute to the Synchroblog site on WordPress, and this month’s topic is about renewal. When thinking about the word ‘renewal’, I had always considered it a time when I realized I had drifted away from God. It was a time when I decided to make things right and get back close to Him.

The dictionary describes renew as: 1. to revive, reestablish. 2. to recover (youth, strength); 3. to restore to a former state, make new or as if new again.

renewal

When I really think about it in regard to these terms, I wonder if renewal is even a correct term.

God is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, he will never leave or forsake us. After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, the Spirit was given and God came to live within us. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you, and Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Since God is within us and never leaves us, why do we feel the ongoing need for renewal?

I understand from our end, we think we drift and get away from God, and we think we have to do something to revive or restore the former state we were in with our Father.

The only thing wrong with that thinking is, we do not have to do anything to be restored. God never left us. There are times when we feel we have left God, but that is not the case. Jesus did everything necessary for us to have a continual, lasting relationship with the Father. We cannot do anything anyway. It is grace through faith, and Jesus already took care of everything necessary.

Many couples, after many years of marriage want to renew their vows. There is nothing wrong with doing this, but does renewing your vows make you any more married, any more a couple in love than if you did not renew your vows? Same with God, we are children of God because of grace, and Jesus only had to die once to provide grace for all time.

Another aspect of renewal is the idea of renewal of membership, or our vows to God. We feel we have to renew those every once in a while or we may no longer be a part of God’s family. We have our renewal weekends or renewal (revival) services and think we are going to make a new commitment to God and do so much better. God does not accept us one moment, then get frustrated with our actions and disown us. No, God accepts us forever. We are holy and righteous because of Christ, and children of God for all time… no renewal necessary. It was his work that made us holy, not our works. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works.

I truthfully feel our thinking is wrong. We have always been taught that God is up in heaven, and if we do the right things, he will hear us and be happy with us. That idea is wrong. God is within us. We are holy and righteous because of what Jesus has done. God loves us and accepts us no matter what we do or do not do.

There is no real need for renewal in our relationship with God. It does not make a difference how we feel, God is right there with us each and every day. In the story of the prodigal son, the son certainly felt a need for renewal. He had a speech all prepared to try to get back in good with his father, but it was not necessary. His father never saw his son as anything other than a son. He watched and waited for him each day. As soon as he saw the son, he ran to him and loved him. He took him in as a full-fledged son, no questions asked.

That is the way our Father sees us. There are times when we get away from the Father in our thinking because we are basing our relationship on our actions. Only thing is, our actions do not affect our relationship. God is right there with us every day. Jesus provided everything for us, and the Son/Father came to live within us. Jesus asked the Father that he and we would be one as he and the Father are one. A time or renewal is no longer necessary from God’s point of view.

If anything, it is time to renew our minds to the fact that God is within us all the time. Through Christ, we have been crucified and resurrected as new creatures….the ultimate renewal. This renewal was a one-time thing. It is not necessary as in the Old Covenant, to continually come to God seeking forgiveness and renewed relationship.

The only renewal we may need is in our thinking. Talk to your Father constantly, trust what Jesus has done, once and for all, and stop thinking you have to renew your relationship with your Father. He loves you continually, he lives within you daily, and he will never leave you.

 

This post is part of the February synchroblog “Renewal”

Abbie Waters – It is Well with My Soul

Mark Votova – 30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal

Jeremy Myers – I am Dying … (So I Can Live Again)

Phil Lancanster – The Parable of the Classic Car

Susan Schiller – Renewal by Design

Glenn Hager – Repurposed

Wesley Rostoll – Why I no longer pray for revival

Clara Ogwuazor-Mbamalu – Renewal of the Spirit

K. W. Leslie – Those who wait on the Lord

Lisa Brown – Momma’s Kick Off Your Shoes and Stay For A While!

Jenom Makama – …Like An Antivirus

Leah – Renewal!

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Do you find yourself questioning things more than you used too? I know I do.

As Christians, we’ve always been taught that we need to have the answers. Study to show thyself approved meant, you must have an answer for everything people come up with so you can prove your beliefs are right.

I remember having questions in the past, but I basically blew them off and buried them, thinking I was wrong to even think such things. As time went on, the questions kept popping up and I began to realize that questioning was not wrong.

I believe God accepts us, questions and all. I am hoping that one day I’ll have more answers, mostly for my own sake and not necessarily to defend my beliefs.

Welcometochurch

I think the modern-day church and religion in general do not like questions, at least not hard questions. Especially questions that make us wonder about the basic beliefs they teach. They like to have all the answers, and answers that fit into their particular belief and doctrine.

In his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire: Giving up Our Religious Rites and Legal Rights’,  Jeremy Myers makes a statement that is oh so true: “And as is the nature with questions, asking hard questions rarely leads to answers, but only to more questions”

I think God is much bigger than what the church makes of him sometimes. They try to fit everything into a box and don’t like people asking questions that require out-of-the-box thinking.

It seems to me the spirit within, the spirit of truth, brings up questions that the religious system taught us and we always just accepted. Now, rather than suppressing these questions, I have allowed them to surface and truly seek God for guidance.

On February 9, 2015, Mick Mooney posted an article on Facebook, part of which says: “But who has the faith to ask questions with the intention of seeking the answers to them? Who can let their foundation be not a doctrine or dogma that must be defended, but Christ himself who needs no defense? For it is those who have their foundation solely upon Christ, who can walk in their faith without fear of questions, but rather they walk in their faith knowing that God is lighting their path with questions, and it is these very questions that are paving the path that the Spirit of God is guiding them upon”.

If you are feeling guilty for having questions, I have found it best to stop feeling that way and keep asking the questions. That is the best way to continue growing and learning in our walk with God. Even when we don’t get the answers, we should continue to be asking and seeking the truth from our Father.

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Most of us were taught to pray when we were just little kids. We were taught that God is up in heaven watching and listening, and we should pray to him every day.

As we got older, we found out that praying was actually talking to God. We were to take our praises, our needs and our concerns and tell God about them. After we did that, we should then read our bibles, because that was the way God talked back to us. I do believe he speaks through the writings of the bible by the Spirit, but I don’t think this is the only way he speaks. Certainly it is always by the Spirit no matter what he uses to communicate.

We were told to pray without ceasing, to pray with the correct style and order, and to always end our prayer with ‘in Jesus name’. If we didn’t, our prayers may not get through to God.

Why is it, at least for me, I always have a weird feeling if I don’t end my prayer with ‘in Jesus name’? Do we really need to add this phrase to the end of our talk with our Father? I know it’s not really necessary, but a lot of us always add that at the end of our prayers like it makes everything we just said official. I feel that praying in Jesus name really means that we pray in the power and authority that Jesus gave us under the New Covenant. It really isn’t a phrase that needs to be said, but an attitude and privilege we have through him.

We also have this concept that God is way up in heaven, and our prayers may not get through right away. Have you even been told that demons can interrupt our prayers and hold them up as they pass up to heaven? I always used that when I didn’t get an answer when I thought I should.

The thought of praying without ceasing always gave me a problem too. After all, how could I pray when driving a car if I had to have my eyes closed? Obviously, we don’t have to close our eyes, but that is one of those things we were taught when young, bow your head, close your eyes and fold your hands. Praying isn’t about any of those things.

I think praying without ceasing is an attitude. Since God lives within us, everything we do, everywhere we go, he is with us. He is involved in our thoughts, and our interactions with others. He loves us and is interested in every part of our lives. So, in that way of thinking, since prayer is talking with God and he lives within us, we can pray without ceasing. We can talk with him any time, any place, in any position and in any style. There really isn’t a right and wrong way to talk with our Father, who loves us and wants to communicate with us.

Sometimes I think we make prayer to religious. It has to be done a certain way, in a certain order and in the right attitude. We need to have ourselves prepared and ‘cleaned up’ to come into God’s presence.

What happened to the fact that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, that we are one with God, that the Father and Son have come and made their home in us? The way I see it, there is nothing that can hinder us talking with God (not even taking prayer out of schools). He is right here within us, there is no need to worry about our prayers getting interrupted.

I have been thinking, if prayer is talking to God, it really doesn’t have to be in a certain order or style. It doesn’t have to be when we are feeling holy, it is a daily talk with our Father, no matter what our mood. Our earthly fathers didn’t required we come to them at a set time, or in a set place, or speak to them in a specific way, so why would we expect our heavenly Father to require all these things?

Talking to God

We can be ourselves, we can just talk, question, complain, praise, request, and know that God is listening and concerned. We aren’t going to upset him with our bad attitude, poor choice of words or even our questions. After all, he loves us and accepts us just as we are.

So, I’m finding that prayer is not a religious act, but a daily attitude, talking and communicating with God our Father who lives within us. And since the Spirit lives within us, we will hear and know his voice which comes from within. It is the Spirit that speaks and teaches us, no matter what method he uses to do so.

I think it all boils down to this, God wants to communicate with us. I’m not sure there is really a right or wrong way to talk with Him. If we are formal, informal, if we feel good or bad, holy or not, if we say ‘in Jesus name’ or not, God loves us and wants us to talk with Him all the time.

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