Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Hint of Resurrection

“For dust you are, and to dust you shall return,” Genesis 3:19

Spoken graveside these words do little to ease the pain and grief of a loved one's death. I believe God had something else in mind besides a final benediction. He called for a resurrection. “How so?” you ask.

If this appears to be a stretch, bear with me. In verse nineteen God said Adam was dust now and in the future would return to dust. How’s that possible…a change in molecular structure.

At that moment, the dust which comprised Adam’s composition was corrupt and subject to decay. At creation that wasn't the case. Before sin Adam and Eve's spirits were alive. Clothed with God's glory, all changed with one bite of the original un-Happy Meal. Instantaneously their spirits died, the glory departed. They were naked and ashamed.

God prophesied in verse nineteen a future return to their original state. His words foretold of salvation through Christ's death. God and man would be reconciled. Paul, the apostle, understood this mystery. In his letter to the Colossians he wrote:

“Since you died with Christ,” Col. 2:20;

“For you are dead and your life is now hidden with Christ in God,” Col. 3:3.

The recipients of Paul's letter were alive naturally but he called them dead men. Why? They hadn't expired physically and been resurrected. They were now the new creatures Paul described in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come!”

The church at Colosse experienced a metamorphosis. Their once dead spirits were brought back to life. They surrendered their lives to Christ, died to self, and received new life through Him. They returned to their original condition as living, breathing, speaking spirits. The transformation process was in place. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul talked about a future resurrection of our physical bodies. The apostle wrote that these would be raised imperishable, in glory, in power and also as spiritual bodies. Adam and every believer will return to the original dust of creation.

Christians understand that death does not necessarily mean a permanent separation – it can be a temporary state, painful but not eternal. Those who've receive God's gift of salvation through Jesus experience resurrection of their spirit from death. In due season the entire package: spirit, soul and body will be returned to God's original intent. Death is not to be feared, its stinger has been removed. Like Paul we can confidently confess:

“...to live is Christ and to die is gain,” Philippians 1:21.

How about you? Can you look death square in the eye confident that it's not the end but the release from life in this temporal world? If not, why not? Why wait another moment to accept God's free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. It's more than just fire insurance, it's admission to what is really the “Greatest Show on Earth” and in Heaven.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Make Them An Offer They Can't Refuse

“Freely you have received, freely give” Matthew 10:8

A few months ago I attended my first new age expo. Note to “the church,” go where the fish are. A friend who participates in street and marketplace ministry took out a short term loan and in a step of faith, rented a booth for this event. He recruited volunteers from various churches and fellowships to help. At the suggestion of his church he asked those working the booth to chip in $20 a piece to help defray expenses. God had a better idea.

Two days before the expo a local prayer group was asked to pray for those who would minister at the outreach. Besides praying that God's love would be poured out in great measure, they took up an offering. Almost the entire entry fee was collected!

My husband and I were scheduled to work the first shift on Saturday morning. Rising early, Joe went to spend quiet time with God. He anticipated serious resistance and was pleasantly surprised when the Lord said that this would be a Holy Ghost fun time. So much for the doldrums, break out the party hats.

When we arrived, the Original Territorial Spirit came with us and He immediately established supremacy. From the opening we had a steady stream of people who took advantage of our free services: healing (physical, emotional and spiritual), spiritual cleansing (salvation), spiritual alignment (deliverance), spiritual readings (words of prophecy and wisdom) and spirit art. As the day progressed the crowds swelled and spilled out into the aisle and the empty space across from the booth. The keynote speaker, presenters, vendors and their customers all came to receive ministry.

My friend Arvin flows freely and powerfully with words of wisdom and prophecy. He opted to walk around and engage vendors at their booths. On practitioner offered him a check up. She was accustomed to “cutting cords” from people, but Arvin had none. “They” told her that he needed an alignment, but she couldn't see anything out of whack. She also specialized in resurrections but Arvin assured her that he was already resurrected!  Arvin then asked the woman who “they” were that she made reference to. She replied she had two spirit guides: a shaman and a gypsy fairy. She was astonished that Arvin could see and describe her shaman.

Curious she asked why we did everything for free. She paid for any information gleaned from her guides. When Arvin asked what they charged she avoided a direct answer. He discerned that every time she got something, they took a piece of her mind causing her to have difficulty “connecting the dots.” Her husband and daughter confirmed this was true. Arvin explained to her that we have a river that flows freely out of us all the time. There’s never any lack and because we receive freely, we give what we have away at no cost. The vendor next to our booth told Arvin he needed to be grounded. Arvin responded that he was firmly grounded on The Rock. This vendor wanted Arvin to send his excess energy back into the earth because he sucked it out of those he came in contact with and interfered with their abilities.

For two days we freely shared God's love to people who not only paid an entry fee to the event but who also were prepared to spend money for help. Some received healing, others words of encouragement, comfort and direction. Some even received Jesus as Lord. Many were surprised to find Christians in that type of venue and doing the kinds of things we did. When my friend went to purchase the booth the promoter told him that he anticipated Christians to show up and make a scene. That didn't happen but God came and He stole the show.

Most of the attendees and vendors we interacted with were sweet, gentle people looking for something they should find, but often don’t, in most churches. Many sampled a form of Christianity they never knew existed, and they liked it. Put down the placards and discard the angry rhetoric. They don't work. Make people an offer that's hard to refuse. Pick up the love of God and give it away liberally, for free. You'll be surprised how well it will be received.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The "F" Word In Church

For several months my church's mid-week service was a cover to cover reading of Clark Whitten's book Pure Grace. One night we talked about our notions of what God is like.

First we looked at Holy Spirit. Truth be told, there's no scripture that says He's a gentleman. He can be grieved but He's not so super sensitive and fragile that any little deviation sends Him into a tizzy. A situation was shared where the “F” word was used several times and Holy Spirit didn't tuck tail and run. A little profanity didn't keep Him from healing that hurting individual. He's got pretty tough skin, after all He has to deal with us.

We turned our attention next to our Heavenly Father.

While most Christians agree that God is our Spiritual Father, they do not think He is a very good one. Many think He is demanding, stern, distant, unyielding, uncaring at times and more interested in our good behavior than anything else. If truth be told, many of us believe He is unfair in His judgments and often rewards people who are not as deserving as others. He punishes us when we sin and withholds His presence and fellowship as a means of correcting us. He is always serious, and having fun is beneath Him. His sense of humor is strongly controlled at best and absolutely lacking at worst. He is big and fearsome, and scary and unknowable. He demands deference and humility if we show the temerity to come into His presence. Many see the 'Fear of God' as the one human quality that impresses Him most. Frankly speaking, He seems to be unappeasable and almost abusive in His relationship with His children. He always demands a little more than we are presently giving or doing, and we see no end to it until we get to Heaven.”
Clark Whitten, Pure Grace page 152

After reading this paragraph one participant chimed in, “Looks like the “F” word in church should be fun!” How sad and true. For many the church is like the NFL – the No Fun League. God the Father's been relegated to the role of a grumpy old ref who has nothing better to do that eagerly search out infractions and administer punishments. What a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

Our Heavenly Father invented “Name It and Claim It.” He speaks and expects what He says will come to pass. Psalm 32.7 states that God will, “surround us with songs of deliverance,” not gloom and doom.
Zephaniah 3:17 elaborates on this. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

The word rejoice in Hebrew means to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion), be glad, be joyful, and to dance. God dances over us with singing – so much for Grouchy God.

Much ado was made over the laughter that broke out during Rodney Howard-Browne's revival meetings. Imagine, people laughing hysterically in church – sacrilege! For many who attended, their merry hearts did them more good than any medication.

I'm not advocating throwing the baby out with the bath water. There is a proper place for quiet and reverence, but not to the exclusion of God's mirth spilling over and touching people. It's time for the church to let the “F” word be the original, unmentionable, not-fit-for-use in any company word and allow fun back, in it's rightful place, within the four walls. Our Father God knows how to have a good time. Shouldn't we?