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Archive for the ‘christian living’ Category

by Jim Gordon

It is sad that Christianity is divided into so many different groups. We all have a little different interpretation of the bible and a little different understanding of doctrine. Obviously we are not going to agree on everything, but we certainly should be able to love one another and accept each other even when we differ on these things.

It is hard to understand why this happens when God tells us we are to be one as Jesus and the Father are one. Yet, we understand that we are human and it is easy to lose sight of our first love. If we could only stay focused on Christ, listening for his voice and the guidance of the Spirit, loving God and loving others as God intended, then we could look past our differences and accept one another.

acceptOneAnotherNew2019The problem seems to be that we are unwilling to see any other viewpoint other than our own. There are those such as my wife and I that do not attend an organized church. There are those who attend a church every time the doors are open. Some attend a house church, some meet with fellow believers at cafe’s, parks or restaurants and others meet in their homes over dinner. We should accept these differences and love one another rather than argue over who is right and who is wrong.

There really is not a right or wrong way to assemble together and we need to stop expecting everyone to do things exactly the same way. We should respect others views and focus on loving them rather than expecting them to see things our way.

Things will not change until we start focusing on what is common in our lives rather than the differences. The common focus should be on Christ, the head of the body. After that we should focus on loving others rather than arguing about the differences in interpretation.

We also need to keep in mind that we are all constantly changing as God brings new truth to us. We are all learning and changing as we are ready to accept new truths. The interpretations I had five years ago are completely different from some of the interpretations I have now. I am sure in another five years they will change again as God leads me into more truth.

Sometimes we are afraid to accept others interpretations because we feel if we do not hold to our way of thinking we are compromising and not standing up for what we believe. We do not have to give up how we interpret the bible, but neither should we think everyone else is wrong. Besides, we really are not responsible for convicting people of sin,  leading them into truth or even saving them. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. We are told to love God and love others.

When we realize we are each equally important functioning parts of the body, and Christ is the head, we can start to change how we feel about those who do not see things exactly the way we do. We can begin to accept our brothers and sisters in Christ just as they are as we realize we are walking as one together with God.

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by Cindy Felkel, Guest Blogger

Religion Seeks to Manipulate People

I sat through the Sunday morning service in disbelief. The preacher presented his plan for a huge building project to the congregation. Everyone was all caught up in his dream. His incredibly expensive, massive building project, dream, that was supposed to be supported by our tiny working-class congregation.

The sermon he preached was about when Jesus called Simon Peter to be his disciple. The preacher talked about how Peter caught the biggest catch of fish in his life and just left it to rot on the beach so he could follow Jesus. I wanted to stand up and shout about how illogical and emotionally manipulative the pastor was being, but I settled for exchanging eye rolls with my husband, followed by the heavy despairing sigh of “this is what church does”.

It makes no sense to think the other fishermen just cut Peter out of the profit, after all, it was Peter’s boat. But the pastor’s twist on the story fit his agenda. Thinking Peter left wealth on the beach to rot seems extreme and calls religious followers to pious extremes like digging deep to support this pastor’s vision. It makes us feel good about ourselves to think we are doing something similarly extreme to please God. It just isn’t what the story is actually about.

The real story is much harder to wrap our brains around and it’s much more freeing!

Peter Was A Religious Follower of Jesus Before he Became a Disciple

Before the catch of fish, the first encounter that is recorded between Jesus and Peter is when Jesus went to Simon Peter’s house. In the ancient world, going to someone’s house was a huge deal, it was a sign of acceptance. The people you ate with were the people you were associated with.

While Jesus and Peter were hanging out at his house. Jesus started healing people. He healed Simon’s mother in law who immediately got up and started waiting on everyone, because there was a crowd of people in the house to see Jesus. Peter was using providing for all of them.

The story goes on to say that Jesus stayed up all night healing people of various sickness and casting out demons. Peter had a front row seat to all of this.  He was obviously impressed with Jesus. At this point in the story, he was already serving Jesus by having him in his home and letting people visit Jesus there.

In the second part of the story, Jesus walks up to Peter after Peter had been up all night, fishing. He was washing his nets. He had worked all night and caught nothing. He was tired, discouraged and still had a lot of work to do before he could go home and rest. Jesus asked Peter to take him out in his boat so he could preach to the crowd of people on the shore.  Peter shows a tremendous amount of devotion to Jesus by taking him out in the boat and staying with him while he preached.

HOW IMPRESSED WAS SIMON PETER?

Chew on this for a minute: I’ve never heard any preacher that I’d stay up for after working through the night. Why? Because I can hear preachers whenever I want. America is inundated with preachers. I have gone to church most of my life. However, my exposure to religious teachers is probably nothing compared to how much Peter heard. His whole culture was built on the Rabbi system. So, he was surrounded by religious teachers and wannabe teachers. And generally, hard-working men who are tired, don’t want to hear someone preach…I can’t say how much Peter’s heart was in this particular act of service, I can just tell you, it was indeed an act of service.

THE OVERWHELMING TRUTH OF JESUS’ LOVE

After Jesus finished preaching, he told Peter to take the boat out into deep water and fish some more.

I love Peter’s reaction of explaining the obvious to Jesus: He basically said, “So, yeah, about that. See all my fishing partners over there, washing their nets? That’s what we do after we’ve been fishing all night, you know, when fish are feeding! (I imagine him speaking loudly, so everyone would know that it was Jesus’ idea.) I will do this because you told me to.”

Then Peter went out, threw his nets out and caught so many fish that he had to call to his partners (the ones who took care of the fish later in the story!)  for help. His fishing business partners brought another boat out and they filled both boats so full of fish that they were about to sink.

When they got to shore, Peter looked at the huge, miraculous catch of fish and then fell to his knees in front of Jesus.  Peter, freaked out. He said, “Get away from me. I’m unclean.

unbelievable-runandcoleforthesoul

Before this, Peter had witnessed miracles. He hung out with Jesus. He served Jesus, He obeyed Jesus. He seemed to be ready to follow Jesus.  Peter witnessed multiple demons come out of people and declare that Jesus was the Messiah only to be silenced by Jesus. That had to be more impressive than a big catch of fish.

So, what happened? Why did Peter react in such an extreme way? Why did he fall at Jesus’ feet and beg him to get away from him?

 

THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT RELIGIOUS LEADERS TEACH:

In order to understand why Peter was so completely freaked out by the catch of fish, you have to consider what Jesus actually did for Peter.

Before he called these fishermen to follow him, Jesus provided for their needs. The story clearly indicates that they had partners working with them. James’ and John’s father was one of the people working with them. Obviously, the partners took the fish and sold them. The huge catch of fish was a blessing for Peter, James, and John. It freed them to follow Jesus.

BUT WHY DID PETER TELL JESUS TO GET AWAY FROM HIM?

Because when Jesus provided for Peter personally, it changed everything.  Jesus entered into Peter’s life and cared about his needs. Religion finds it easy to follow Jesus when he is fixing everyone else. It’s easy to want to serve him when he’s making the world better. It’s comfortable to follow rules. Religion gives us security.

But for some reason, truly letting God love us is scary! As soon as we realize we have right standing with GOD, we know we don’t deserve it. The second we realize that he actually cares about us. He cares about you, as an individual, reading my blog, looking for freedom from religion. He isn’t a celebrity to entertain, or a deity to control, he is GOD and he wants to walk through your life with you.  That is a truth that we can’t handle. If you begin to glimpse it, there can be no response except an overwhelming sense of how much you don’t deserve it.

But that is the beauty we find when we free ourselves from religion and start to see who Jesus really is. He loves us so much that in Ephesians 3:17-19, Paul prays for believers to have POWER to comprehend this truth.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

When we truly see who Jesus is and how much he cares for us, as individuals, it’s overwhelming. If we actually understand it, there is no response possible except: I don’t deserve this!

MAKING IT PERSONAL…

I still get uncomfortable with the reality that Jesus is with me and wanting the best for me in everything I do. I constantly battle my own religious tendencies to try to gain control in this world. I want safety, comfort, and fame. But when in those moments when I  grasp just a little, that Jesus is with me, I am overwhelmed with how much I don’t deserve his presence and I’m extremely grateful that he gives it anyway. The more I see this, the more it frees me from my religion and the more it makes me want to know God’s love and share it with others.

MY PRAYER FOR YOU…

I’m praying for everyone who reads this that you understand a bit of how overwhelming Jesus’ love for us is; that you understand why Peter said, “Lord, get away! I don’t deserve your care.” I pray that you allow this love to heal your heartaches and give you purpose, joy, and peace. I hope it frees you from the control of religion. I pray that you grow in this love every day. I pray that we all represent this love well.

Blessings,

Cindy (rumandcolaforthesoul.com)

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By Mike Edwards

It doesn’t matter if you believe the biblical writers/editors didn’t always understood God perfectly, or whether you believe God inspired every word of the Bible. Literature requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and application to personal circumstances. The greatest sin among Bible people may be the sin of biblical certainty.  Scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree on major concerns. Some believe the Bible teaches God elects certain people to go to heaven while damning others; others believe the Bible teaches God eventually saves all to enter Heaven and the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t biblical.

Does the Bible really declare some are in danger of going to a fiery pit such as Hell after death?

If such a place exists why did Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, never once warn this dire fate? Why didn’t Noah who had to warn of tragic consequences for evil inform people at least once of the danger of Hell? It is questioned by scholars whether there is any Hebrew or Greek word translated as Hell that pictures what our word Hell suggests.

Does the Bible really teach that God proclaims leadership roles are based on gender than gifts?

When the Bible says: “Women should remain silent in the churches” (I Cor. 14:34), maybe the writer would encourage men to be silent in certain situations for the sake of peace. Why did the Apostle Paul say practically in the same breath that women could prophesy just like men during worship (I Cor. 11:5)? Is prophecy not speaking?

Does the Bible really teach God condemns monogamous gay relationships?

It is not natural to think a loving God condemns gays who can no more choose who they have feelings for then straights can. Scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree God condemns same-sex relationships which don’t violate anyone’s rights. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t gay! How we think we ought to treat gays is how God thinks about gays. Take the more loving road? Don’t push people away from God when you could be wrong.

Does the Bible really say that God is coming again to destroy the word in the future?

Why did Jesus tell his audience that supposed predictions about the world ending would happen in their lifetime: “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass way until all these things have happened” (Mt. 24:34)?” If Jesus is coming again down from the sky why did the disciples ask Jesus: “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age” (Mt. 24:3)? Only non-visible, spiritual comings are missed.

Does the Bible really teach God only lets certain people get into Heaven?

Why does the Bible say: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22)? That would only exclude those who have never died, but last chance I checked all have or will die. The Bible clearly teaches forgiveness is unlimited (i.e. Mt. 18:21-22), but is that not true of God? Might there be second chances after death where one wishes to spend eternity?

I can’t claim because the Bible says so but personally, I am convinced Hell doesn’t exist; God wants women to pursue any role their gifts allow; God doesn’t condemn gays; God isn’t going to destroy the world; and we don’t know if there may be second chances after death when one meets their Creator and all misconceptions are done away with.

When our views of God are stumbling blocks for others, let’s admit we could be wrong. Let God work in the hearts of individuals to reveal what God is really like!

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by Jim Gordon

It seems we hear a lot about change and becoming a better person in the way we live and believe. We often hear from some christian people about judgment and condemnation of others because they do not live the way they think the bible says.

I think it is time we accept people for who they are beginning with ourselves. We need to remember that we are all made in the image of God. The bible says God saw all that he had made and it was good!

BeYourself for 3-13-19

Rather than judge someone and tell them they need to change, why not do what Jesus said to do. Love God and love one another. We do not always agree but it is not up to us to tell people what they need to do or how they should live. Accept one another for who they are.

Rather than worry about what everyone else thinks just be yourself, accept yourself. Do not let anyone say you do not matter or make you feel like you need to be someone you are not.

You are not a mistake. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God created you and loves you just as you are.

Of course, we all want to better ourselves in this life but as far as the real you, whether gay or straight, white or black, male or female we are unconditionally loved and accepted by God.

There are a good many of his followers out there that feel the same way. Ignore those who judge and condemn, they will only bring you down. Move on and seek out those who will love you with the unconditional love of God and who will accept you just as you are.

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By Mike Edwards

It isn’t always easy to believe in an invisible God; it isn’t always easy to know how an inaudible God is speaking or guiding us. If God was more visible or audible, wouldn’t our spiritual journey be easier? Jesus established a 24-7 relationship with twelve men and they struggled to believe everything that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Today, God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. I am convinced the road traveled of learning and reflecting better leads to lasting convictions. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

We are right to look for God’s direction through God’s spirit.

It is reasonable to imagine that since God is invisible that God’s Spirit resides in us and somehow guides us. There is rightly an emphasis in Christian circles that God guides up by their Spirit as opposed to the Bible (i.e. Holy Spirit). When Jesus was leaving this earth, He said the Spirit not some Book such as the Bible guides us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). How do we discern such guidance?

We have more freedom than we realize if God truly created genuine freedom.

We often seek God’s voice in important decisions such as career or marriage. It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems, but creating freedom requires an undetermined future. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future which makes freedom nonsensical. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God is in life with us. We are free to make our own decisions while being open to the Spirit’s influence to act in the best interest of not just ourselves but others.

Doesn’t God mainly guide through influence?

The example a parent sets, than direct commands, is often how best to guide children to make wise decisions. Doesn’t the Spirit mostly speak through influencing? We know the Spirit’s influence when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down despite our constant failures. We know the Spirit’s influence when we recognize violence begets violence and respond non-violently. We know the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends. That just isn’t always natural. All we have to do is being open to the Spirit’s influence.

Isn’t the Spirit’s voice only human impressions or thoughts so we can never be certain?

I mentioned Jesus left this earth saying we would be guided by God’s Spirit in discerning Truth (Jn. 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem overly concern that Truth requires discernment. Jesus didn’t spell out what those specific Truths are. Which decision to make depends on individual circumstances. What may be best for one person about their marriage may not be best for another person. Relax, there is practically universal agreement on most moral matters. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. Certainty when it comes to politics or God has only led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Keep an open mind to what God is like!

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by Rocky Glenn

As I sat down to write this week I had many false starts and failed attempts as I began to tear into the keys of my laptop fed up with infuriating examples I’ve observed of assumptions and presumptions of folks so assured and self confident of being correct in whatever cause, debate, or argument in which they are currently embroiled.  From social issues such as the latest decision by the United Methodist Church to everyday issues in the workplace, there is nothing more off-putting than encountering the smug attitude of another who is more concerned of being right than treating others right.  For several days I have pondered and meditated how best to combat the self-centered “looking out for number one” mentality which seems to fuel those who not only insist their way of thinking is the right and only way of thinking but also subscribe to the delusion it is their responsibility to insist everyone not following their line of thought is in error and must be corrected.  I realized simply writing a few paragraphs lashing out and spouting how wrong they are and how right I am would do nothing other than add just another pointing finger of judgment and would be furthering the problem at hand.

If you follow my writings at all, it will come as no surprise my favorite author is Brennan Manning.  For the last five years I have annually worked my way through Reflections for Ragamuffins, a collection of his writings formatted as daily devotionals.  It is not unusual for the same writing to speak to me every year as I read it and I normally discover this as I have often caught myself off guard when I go to share a quote, excerpt, or screenshot via social media only to find I had previously shared the identical idea in years past.  This past Wednesday was one of those encounters only this time there was a slight exception.  Being aware of what I was intending to write about this week one of Brennan’s statements leaped off the page at me as never before like a mirror held to my face:

“My struggle to cope with certain people has a simple explanation: they represent to me precisely those elements that I have refused to acknowledge and accept in myself.”

Ouch!! Did that hurt you as much as it did me?  I recoiled from the statement and sought to find a layer of untruth in it.  Is Brennan saying my annoyance at assumptions others make in reality an annoyance at the assumptions I’ve made?  Does he really mean when I get angry if someone is throwing their weight around and trying to control a situation I’m actually angry because I’m seeking control myself?  When I seek to exclude those who are exclusive, unloving, and unwelcoming, am I really just as exclusive, unloving, and unwelcoming to them as they are to others?  What a harsh realization to make!  Surely Brennan is mistaken on this one.

Unfortunately, it would seem Brennan has an ally in this line of thinking in the Apostle Paul.  In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul shares these words:

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. – Romans 2:1 NLT

We judge others based only on our own understanding and assign our own self-designed motives to words and actions without pausing to consider the motivation or contributing factors to their behavior whether known or unknown.  An assumption is simply something accepted as true without any proof.  To assume we understand what another is thinking and why they act a certain way is to place ourselves in a position of knowing them often better than we know ourselves.  Such assumptions turn into presumptions when taken for granted as truth and judgments are made.  Too often we place our self in a position of judge, jury, and executioner of another and determine who they were is who they are and it is who they will always be.  In the words of Jesus, we are more concerned about the splinter in someone else’s eye rather than the log sticking out of our own.

Christ taught us the most important thing after loving God is to love our neighbor as our self.  None of us are pleased when judged and placed in a box and it certainly does not feeling very loving.  If it is so upsetting and unloving to us when dealt with based on assumptions and judgments, why are we so quick to treat others in such a manner?  In order to understand, we must learn to listen. We must remember we are all human and truly none of us are better than the other.   Whether online or face to face, we must learn to allow others the freedom to be who they are and express themselves with only one caveat . . .  that freedom ends at the point it is harmful to others.  Recently I came across a Facebook post addressing this very idea by author Steve Austin addressing why certain comments or responses were being deleted from articles he shared on social media.  Steve’s explanation was beautiful:

For the first 30 years of my life, I was steeped in toxic, exclusionary theology that was more focused on the rules and red tape of religion than the unconditional love of God.

When I woke up after a serious suicide attempt, and God whispered to my soul, “I’m not finished with you yet,” everything changed. I had researched and done everything in my power to try and end my life because I hated myself, but Love would not let me go.

Love is stubborn.

I had spent all my life in church pews and behind pulpits, striving to be “good enough” for God to tolerate me.

That’s right – “tolerate.”

I believed God loved me, but didn’t like me very much. And it’s because of the kinds of churches I was raised in and employed by.

These days, I’m investing all my energy in love-based theology that makes room for everyone. I have no more time for fear, shame, or guilt. And I won’t tolerate it on my page.

So if you bring your toxic, fear-based, shame-rooted, guilt-steeped theology onto my page and try and throw the Bible at me or anyone else in an effort to prove your point or push people out of the circle, your comment will be deleted without warning. Full stop.

I believe we are all loved and approved by a God who is WILD about us. I firmly believe that NOTHING can separate us – none of us – not me or you or the neighbor down the street (or across the globe) from the LOVE of God.

Steve goes on to say if he removes a particular comments, it’s not because he is angry.  He is simply ensuring no one feels unwelcome or threatened by another’s extremely limited view of love.  Steve’s post can be seen in it’s entirety here, but in closing I’ve chosen a few more of his words below:

Love makes room.
Love draws the circle bigger.
Love casts a wider net.
Love includes the outcast.
Love includes the rebel.
Love includes the minority.
Love includes those you don’t understand.
Love even includes your enemies.

And God is love.

Assumptions limit love, but love avoids assumptions.

Rocky

 

 

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by Jose Bosque, Guest Blogger
https://godsleader.com

I can’t begin to tell you how important it is for you as a believer to find freedom from the religious system.  What I am about to share is not just another teaching for the Body of Christ to read. It is the squeezed and pressed nectar of almost 30 years serving my King. This teaching was organically (by the Holy Spirit) produced in much fire, testing, and trials. I say this not to exalt myself as a great overcomer, but to give glory to God whose love and favor was predisposed towards me before I was in my mother’s womb. Many preachers talk about the high price they paid to come to maturity and wisdom. I would rather say like Paul that everything I lost looking back was rubbish compared to the excellency of knowing Christ. This is my journey; it doesn’t have to be yours. If in sharing these crossroads you find that there are similarities, maybe the Holy Spirit will bless you to know that you are headed in the right direction. Here are the 12 steps to finding freedom from the religious system.

  1. The Lord dwells in His people not in buildings.

There is no greater idolatry in the religious system than human being’s fascination with buildings. While God is looking at the internals (a pure heart), we are busy dressing up the externals (Sunday clothes and lavish buildings). Most Sunday morning church-goers have heard that we are the temple of the Lord, but they continue to say they are going to church or the House of the Lord. They ask me all the time, “Where is your Church, and where do you go to church?” It just breaks my heart. That explains why people act totally different when they are inside a church building than in their regular life. It’s that their God lives in a building they call the church. So they act like one thing in the church building and something else when they are not “in Church.” Shamefully for many believers the masks come off even before they make it out the back door. The church The Lord Jesus is building isn’t made of brick and mortar. God is not impressed with our elaborate sanctuaries, stain glass windows, golden altars, and 30 million-dollar arenas. All the lighting, mega stages, and expensive sound systems with dry ice clouds doesn’t do anything for Him either. He is not interested in people who just come to worship Him for an hour or two on Sunday. He is looking down at a people in whom He dwells and who release His fragrance wherever they go daily in this fallen world.

  1. The Church is about the people, not my Ministry goals.

This particular focus helped me take my eyes off the ministry and my personal goals and begin to understand I was there for the people; the people were not there for me. I was trained to attain goals. I used to tell people, “The few cannot affect the good of the many.”  My translation to that was no one was coming between me and my goals. In my heart I thought I was doing the right thing, but many were hurt on my road to achieving the success and the values of the religious system. I had no trouble loving the many because those ideals usually lined up with my goals. It was the few I had trouble loving and being patient with especially when something they did came against my idol “the ministry.” If you messed with the ministry, you messed with me, and to my shame, I had no trouble laying hands on you. Another problem was most of my church leaders had the same sickness I did. So rarely did someone call me out concerning my sin. Even the spiritual fathers I had at the time had an agenda to keep me close, so they wouldn’t rebuke me either. I suspect that birds of a feather flock together, so we chose each other according to what was in our hearts. If I had to put the spotlight on the greatest problem in the Lord’s Church today, it is the lack of authentic, no agenda love. That is why it is so important to get freedom from the religious system. It rewards performance and breeds a lack of love.

  1. His presence (The Holy Spirit) is always with us.

I spent most of my 16 years as pastor trying to conjure up the presence of God inside of the four walls. Everything we did was about calling down His presence, whether it was with our modern worship and high praises or my “super anointed” preaching. We worked hard for it every time we met.. Today we claim to be even more “advanced” because we have digital sound systems and lights, giant screens, and dry ice to move people emotionally. In essence we teach people that we live in hell and heaven is inside our church buildings. We even tell the people that it is “in His presence” where they can get their healing. A study of the New Testament will reveal no example of a Christian gathering searching for His presence or teaching about how to get His people in His presence. The Holy Spirit is with us 24/7 and never leaves us nor forsakes us. The Holy Spirit is not some goose pimple, emotional, ecstatic feeling. He is our friend and comforter that comes alongside us to lead us to Christ.

My friend Don Nori Sr. founder of Destiny Image press says:

“The glory of ‘Union with God’ IS His presence Whose final resting place is within your heart. This is where He IS. “This is My rest forever. Here will I dwell. For the Lord has chosen Zion (you and I), He has always desired us for His ultimate habitation. (to live within us!) Worship doesn’t bring glory from the sky. Prayer does not convince glory to come. Fasting does not capture glory’s attention. Glory is Christ within. Surrender consumes the soul with His Life.”

Notice this verse about a gathering of the church:

But if ALL prophesy, (profess Christ), and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you. 1 Cor 14:24-25 NKJV

He worships because he is moved by the love, peace, and unity of the saints. Saints you don’t need to get in His presence! This isn’t Star Wars and “may the force be with you.” He hasn’t gone anywhere. If anything you have moved in your heart away from the Lord. Jesus Christ did all the work necessary for us today to constantly be in His presence. This in no way rejects a sovereign move of God or advocates for boring gatherings.

You can read more on the subject from Steve Crosby’s Book on New Testament Worship

http://www.stevecrosby.com/Praise-Worship-Presence-New-Covenant-p/pwpsc.htm

  1. The Clergy-Laity division is a worldly invention.

When I pestored (that’s not a misspelling) I didn’t know that I was teaching this lie because of “how we did Church”. The system feeds the system. I was always calling “our” people to go deeper, to be holier ,and to be more committed. They would answer me, “You’re the Pastor, and you get paid to do nothing but that. We have a job and we have a life; we just don’t have the time you do.” How did we get like this, or why does this perspective exist you ask?

As soon as the bible came into the hands of the public in the 1500’s and common people began to learn to read, the Catholic Church instituted this teaching to protect the office of the priest and the existence of the religious system. The Protestants and evangelicals also jumped on this bandwagon. They too needed to maintain the existence of a religious upper class so they could authenticate before their governments their qualification to exist apart from the Catholic Church outside the rule of the State.

What good are the Charismatic renewal and revivals if we never deal with the foundational problem that keeps Christians from seeing themselves as priests unto God? Christ is the Head of the Church, not Pastors and Priests. The church gives lip service to the Priesthood of every Believer but then denies it in practice. This article is too short to explain how the religious system twists (today we say Spin) two words to get their desired result. Suffice to say, many leaders have put on very faithfully the religious system given to us by our predecessors since we have never seen anything else. Unlike David when confronting Goliath who told the King Saul:

38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. 1 Sam 17:38-39 NKJV

If you have a calling from the Lord, do not compromise and don’t let them put the religious system on you!

  1. Every Christian is a minister of the Gospel.

We have invented church membership even though the bible clearly outlines that we are all members of one Body. We are told that some of us are paid ministers, and the rest of us are just members. Members attend (to be counted), and they give money to support buildings and staff (professional ministers) salaries. We are challenged to share the gospel and invite others to our buildings once a week. That pretty much sums up the spiritual life of a modern Christian believer. If a believer is part of a mega church, it’s even easier to get lost among the crowd so you can enjoy all the benefits without having to be responsible or accountable. Until we begin doing things biblically and return to the Lord’s definitions, we will be fostering weak, shallow, and immature Christians.

Here is a couple of verses;

6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6 NKJV

10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10 NKJV

Imagine the power available to the Body of Christ and to each congregation if the 80% who consider themselves weekly spectators ever wake up out of this error? The problem will come when on-fire Christians outperform the paid staff. Then the question will have to be answered, “Why are we paying paid professionals to do what every Christian should be doing?” Oops, but now we will have people out of work and much more money to help the poor, widows and the orphans.

  1. There is no such thing as Spiritual and Secular time.

My greatest joy as a Christian came when I realized I was a 24/7 minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. My work at my company improved because I began to do everything unto my God, not for my employer just as scripture says;

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Col 3:17 NKJV

This concept of dividing things into secular and spiritual is a concept right out of hell. This is probably the number one reason most Christian ride the roller coaster of ups and downs in their Christian testimony. When they are in the church building or doing “church things,” they wear their “goody-two-shoes” mask, but when they are away, they live like and act like devils. What good is it to sit in a weekly service without fail Sunday after Sunday and then whenever you get behind the wheel of your car, you fight with and curse every other driver on the road? This concept of dividing time between spiritual and secular breeds hypocrisy in God’s people. There is no such thing as secular time for those who carry the living Christ in their heart. If you want to find sick, demonized people who are in denial, there is no better place than the church. Weekly religious observance has no power over the flesh, but works great to deceive God’s people concerning their true spiritual condition. Some day we will give account for every second and every breath here on earth.

  1. We congregate whenever 2 or 3 are gathered not once a week.

When the Lord began to wake me up to get out of religious system, I began to read revival books. Having almost no examples around me, I feasted on the stories and biographies of great men. I remember reading about John Wesley keeping a record of His daily sermons which had numbers like “67 sermons today” in his diary, and I would wonder what is he talking about? In those days I traveled much to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, and the most sermons I ever preached in one day was 6, and by the last one I was dying. The more I read the more the emphasis on daily instead of weekly came alive to me. Also these men considered any meeting anywhere if two or three saints gathered to be a gathering of the church. I hear you saying yes, but that is not a service. Who says and where do you find it in the New Covenant that God requires services? Do you know why Christian pastors and priests do not consider you to be congregating if you are not in their weekly services? Do I have to spell it out for you? The religious system must come down hard against anyone or anything that is subversive to the continual existence of the status-quo.

I could run a congregation of thousands today if I would just play the religious systems games. I could do just like many of my peers who live a very fat, happy, and prosperous life. The problem will come on judgment day when I face my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On that day many mini-kingdoms will go up in smoke and only that which was really built upon Christ will stand. Real Christian leaders know they will give an account, and they walk with a Holy fear of the Lord.

  1. Christianity is a daily lifestyle and was never a Weekly Observance.

Christianity today is such a far cry from what Christianity was in the first century. Today the church is in the world, and the world is in the church. Every religion that exists compels their followers to worship a deity in a building or sacred place. Every religion that exists demands that rituals be done to maintain in good standing with that deity. Only Christianity passes the believer from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light by faith in the once-for-all work of Jesus on the cross. Scripture says we are pilgrims and strangers just passing through this world on our way to Eternity. That means nothing in this world controls us, and we don’t live for anything permanent down here. Check your life and see if it reflects a just-passing-through lifestyle. If Christ is your life and you have a daily growing relationship with Him ,most likely your heart is focused on pleasing Him. If your Christianity is a “punch the clock” once a week observance or service, you probably have your heart focused on self and your desires. You only attend the slotted time because you think it keeps God happy. This is not confessional time, but Christianity as you have found out doesn’t work weekly. Either Christ is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.

  1. Christians are to feed daily on His Rhema not on Bible verses and Sermons.

Are you aware that more than 95% of people in the 1st century could not read or write? Are you aware that books (including the Bible) did not get into a commoners hands till after the 1500’s. So if people could not read and write and most of the church including its leaders were poor and at the bottom of society, how did the church exist without Bible verses to quote? There were no seminaries until the Catholic Church built the first one in 1567. How were leaders trained for the first 1500 years of the Church? Let me just quote one Bible verse that has been misquoted for years and has mislead many to prove what I am about to say. Millions of tracts and Bibles have been printed and distributed based on just this one verse;

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Rom 10:17 NKJV

As a normal every week modern church goer if you were asked “What is the word of God in this verse?” you would respond “the Bible.” Well, guess what – it isn’t the Bible! It’s the Greek word RHEMA which means a fresh word from God. RHEMA is what the Lord is saying to us through the Holy Spirit. This word RHEMA is what guides and directs His children daily. This daily communication is the basis of our intimate relationship with God. It’s what kept the church going for the first 1500 years and what allows true Christians to walk with God today. The Greek word used for the Scripture/the Bible is only found twice in the entire New Testament. Today when people talk about a “Word from God,” they are talking about a sermon or a Bible verse. The early saints had a personal 24/7 relationship with Christ the LOGOS, so when they heard a RHEMA in their Spirit, they obeyed it. The religious system has created a Christianity that cannot exist without the system. If Christians are taught to relate to God themselves instead of getting their truth through a mediator once a week, the religious system of men would come tumbling down and Christian maturity would multiply.

Want another Bible verse that has been misquoted? Believe me there are many. You heard said that as Christians we are to put on the full armor of God from Ephesians 6:

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Eph 6:17 NKJV

You can die saying the Sword of the Spirit is the Bible, but you would be wrong. It’s RHEMA! Memorize all the Bible verses you want, but if you haven’t received a fresh word from the Lord, you don’t have your full armor on. In the Spanish world they leave an open Bible in the house to ward off evil spirits. The devil laughs at goofiness like that. My brother’s house is full of wooden crosses in the design, and the floor planks are lined underneath with pages from the Bible so the preacher who built it could “walk on the word”. None of that helped him when he got caught in adultery with his secretary and lost his home, wife, family, and his ministry. You say the number one need of the Church today is we need disciples. Make them the way the Church did for the first 1500 years. You don’t make them pointing them to a book; you make them pointing them to a relationship with Christ their Lord and Savior.

  1. Unity in the Body is based on Agape Love, not Doctrinal Conformity.

In Seminary I was trained to teach people doctrine so they could get into right standing with God. The problem came when I began to teach what had been taught to me by the religious system. I found that believers were full of Bible verses and head knowledge about what was right, but somehow it didn’t always translate into their daily life and character. First, the truth without love is not the truth. It doesn’t matter how much truth (Bible verses you can recite) you think you know if you don’t have the character to obey them you, will fail time after time. I confess to you it is a strong deception, and I was blind to it for a very long time. No more, I am free and getting freer every day.

When I saw the division created by denominations, race, language, and people coming from so many varied backgrounds and levels of maturity, I asked the Lord how could we ever come into agreement?  He revealed to me that it was the bonds of His love that keep His people together and not our uniformity and conformity to a set doctrine. Everything improved when I taught what the Lord had revealed to me. The Bible speaks of only one test for true Christianity

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NKJV

I love the words of this old gospel song:

I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

The son of God discloses.

And he walks with me and he talks with me

And he tells me I am his own

And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known.

For the record; I am back in the garden! JLB

  1. Mature and Tested Relationships are the backbone of the Church.

I have always been impressed by the testimony of the first disciples. The example of how they cared for one another, how they shared their belongings, how they cared for the poor and the widows among them is truly extraordinary

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. Acts 4:32 NKJV

How can we do those things today with the shallowness of relationships of so-called Christians today? How do you go from looking at the back of someone’s head to knowing what is in their refrigerator?

I have watched hundreds of leaders and diverse Christian groups working together over the years. I observed them in their highs and lows. I watched how they operated, what kept them together and what caused them to blow up. Sometimes I see myself as a Christian Church sociologist because I love to dig deep and see what causes things to work as they do. Real relationships are formed by the Love of Christ. Relationships can’t be hurried or legislated from a pulpit. The best a leader can do to help others is to model the power and strength of true relationships before those who watch them. I can tell you this, only those that see the church as a family and actually make time to allow life to create mature and tested relationships will be able to stay together in the days to come.

It is not easy but today I maintain new covenant relationships with a handful of men and women. I am convinced that at the drop of a hat we would move heaven and hell to come to each others aid. This is not an “apostolic” network, or a religious society. This is family, the foundation of the New Testament church.

  1. Jesus Christ performed the last service unto God the Father 2000+ years ago.

No more services are needed nor required. We don’t come together for Christian maintenance. We cannot add anything to the final work of Christ on the Cross. We are justified based on His final work and purified by His blood shed once for all. No amount of man-made rituals can improve your position before God. The Lord is not impressed with your weekly attendance or the amount of money you give. Jesus Christ did all the work necessary for us today to immediately and constantly be in His presence. See below;

19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, Heb 10:19-21 NKJV

The idea of services is a copy and leftover of the Protestants who protested against the Catholic idea of working for salvation and performing rituals weekly to be found right with God. Every seminary spin of the present biblical record in scripture for the existence of services is a lie and a twisting of the truth to maintain the religious system.

So you say you come to worship Him. Don’t you know that you began to worship him the moment your feet hit the ground this morning. You worship as you care for your family or work hard in your business. Washing dishes with a glad and thankful heart is worship. Real worship doesn’t need one of those professional celebrity christian cheerleaders. The greatest worship comes from simple thankful believers who raise their song to heaven in the midst of loneliness, suffering, and persecution just like in the first century.

The New Testament reason to gather is for Agape. Agape feasts were for the establishing of relationships and the caring of one another as they were moved by the compassion and the love of Christ. These were not scheduled or calendared, and certainly were not weekly. So what would happen this Sunday if the only reason people could attend would be as described above? No performances, no entertainment, no showing off, no business networking, no getting the word from the preacher, no rituals ,and no self-anything. I think we would have a lot of almost empty buildings.

Freedom from the Religious System

You have a chance to be a pillar in the coming revolution of the Church as she breaks free from the bondage of the current religious system of men. Simply speaking, what is coming will bring Christianity to its knees and only that which is His will remain. Already the exodus has begun and we have only been feeling the early tremors. No man can lead it since the Head of the Church is just taking back what belongs to Him. The greatest days of the Church are ahead of us, but for many it will not look like anything they have seen before. No, the church is not leaving earth like a wounded puppy with its tail between its legs whom the Lord had to pull out of the fire. The Kingdom of God reigns and King Jesus is preparing His Bride to shine like the stars in the sky. Her brilliance will come from her being purified in the fire like Gold. She will have the fragrance of the King upon her which will dwarf the incense of men. And she will be draped in such a Cloud of His Glory and Splendor that no dry ice machines or digital light shows will able to to imitate it.

Be a pillar in the coming revolution!

Much love,
Jose Bosque

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