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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Brutal honesty (the remix)

8 days after generating a list of discouraging things...
It is time to allow a flow of gratitude...
I am grateful for the truth of suffering that leads to glory.
It is showing up in more lives and more blogs and my Pastor's
latest encouraging word for our Daniel Fast. IT is a foundational
truth and God is mercifully teaching it to us, in preparation, for
the time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken.

Work, causes gratitude because soon another nurse will be added to
each shift to lessen the work load.

Home has been encouraging, because my nine year old son is choosing
to participate in the Daniel Fast and my wife is being blessed by
what God is showing her during the Daniel Fast. One teenager is
transitioning to a job at Pizza Hut. The other, no outward change,
just a growing trust in God's plan.

Marriage has been encouraging, because, there is grace from God to
grow in love and give and receive mercy. "A joining of two forgivers."
is how I heard marriage described once, and it is true.

Church has been encouraging, many people have joined together with
a wonderful attitude to participate in a Daniel Fast. There is a depth
that is being revealed and worked into our hearts that speaks of God's
faithfulness to build strong foundations. I can feel that many people
are going to experience a deep and lasting breakthrough as a result of
this time. Glory to God, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue
A favorable and especially unduly high opinion of one's own abilities or worth.
excessive high regard for oneself

I love the fact that our church is doing a 'corporate' Daniel fast.
I love the fact that He loves me enough to point out my sin.

with it I judge others
with it i keep myself at the center of my thoughts

I repent of it and desire to love as He loved.
Onward with the fast.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Romans Bible Study #39 Romans 12:3-8

Romans Bible Study # 39
Romans 12:3-8

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. NASB

3 I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

6-8 If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
The Message

Just a reminder that Paul both here and in Ephesians, put in a “Therefore” (Eph. 4:1 and Romans 12:1,2) because all that has gone before is the foundation for the behavior changes that are to come. Christianity is not out to improve your morality, it is out to make all things new, so that the basis of your actions is a heart that has been changed and connected to the living God.

Jim Newheiser outline (I have used this guys outlines before, but ran into trouble at the end of this section)
III.Understand how your gifts function in the body (church). v. 4-5
A. The body is an important metaphor for the church. I Co. 10:17 12:27 Col. 1:24 2:19
3:15 Eph. 1:23 4:4,12,15,16,25
B. God has made us purposefully diverse.
1. There is a great diversity of grace gifts among God’s people.
2. Every believer has a unique function in the body.
3. We should enjoy the diversity among us.
4. There is even diversity among those who have a particular gift.
5. I believe that there is also a diversity among local churches.
C. God has designed our diversity to organically unite us. I Co. 12:12-18
1. None of us has all of the gifts.
2. None of us is independent of the others.
3. The body functions as a whole.
4. Your gift is given so that you might edify (build up) the body. I Co. 12:7 14:12
5. Our interdependence reinforces humility.
D. You must be a committed member of a local body in order to function properly.
1. If you aren’t in a local church, you cannot be built up by the gifts of others.
2. If you are not a member, your gift is not being used to edify others.
3. Is church membership biblical? Heb. 13:17 I Th. 5:12-13 I Co. 12:12
4. Church membership alone is not enough.
E. These truths have implications for how the church is to be run: plurality and
opportunity. I Pet. 2:5 I Co. 14:26,40 Eph. 5:19 Col. 3:16

B. Revelatory gifts were foundational in the early church. v. 6b Eph. 2:20
1. Prophets served as God’s mouthpieces, through whom He revealed infallible truth.
Ex. 4:16 7:1 Dt. 18:18-22 13:1f Eph. 2:20 4:11 I Co. 12:28 14:1 Acts 11:27-28 21:9f
Prophets were to prophesy in accordance with the faith. I Th. 5:19-22 I Co. 14:29
2. Revelatory gifts ceased when the Scriptural canon was closed and the Apostles
passed off the scene. Eph. 2:20 Heb. 2:3-4 II Co. 12:12

Right there, is where I ran into trouble and I would like us to look at another person’s perspective on this issue.

“The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to the church to edify the body of Christ and to cause every member to be an important and useful part of the body. To this end the so-called revelatory gifts are for edification, exhortation and consolation (1Corinthians 14:3). This does not mean predicting the future or bringing spiritual information to the church that was not written in the Bible.” Bob Dewaay

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (1Corinthians 13:8-10).
Cessationists interpret "the partial to mean the incomplete revelation available through the gifts while the Apostles finished writing the New Testament and "the perfect to mean the completed canon of scripture. However, the context shows that Paul is contrasting the temporary and provisional nature of "gifts" with the eternal nature of agape love. Chapter 13 is about love as a necessary but missing foundation in a situation where the gifts were being abused. The Corinthians believed that gifts confirmed the presence of a superior spirituality in certain persons. Not the case, says Paul. The gifts are for building up the body of Christ, not exalting one over another. If the Corinthians were operating in the love of Christ they would have been concerned about the welfare of others, not selfishly parading their own spirituality before the church hoping for glory in the eyes of others.

1Corinthians 13 is not a chapter about the completion of the New Testament canon. Instead, Paul is discussing agape‘ love something we have now that will endure even into the age to come. In 1Corinthians 13:12, he contrasts "now" and "then": "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known." Paul (who had many revelations from God and wrote much of the New Testament) was not saying that his partial knowledge would be changed to full knowledge if he lived long enough for the canon to be available in written form. He he was saying that "then" he will "know" and "[have been] fully known." Clearly the object of Paul’s knowledge is capable of also "knowing him. The written canon of Scripture cannot be said to fully know Paul. It is Christ who Paul now knows and then will know fully. Consider what the Apostle John says about this: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is (1John 3:2). What now is as seeing "in a mirror dimly shall be completed when we see "face to face. This personal, relational knowledge that is characterized by love and completed at a future date is nothing less than the knowledge of Christ. He fully knows us now, but when we see Him face to face our partial understanding will be completed, matured, perfected. Charles Hodge comments on 1Corinthians 13:9,10: "This is the reason why knowledge and prophesy are to cease. They are partial and imperfect, and therefore suited only to an imperfect state of existence. The revelations granted to the prophets imparted mere glimpses of the mysteries of God; when those mysteries stand disclosed in the full light of heaven, what need then of those glimpses?"
Bob Dewaay

The Bible does not teach that spiritual gifts would cease before the return of Christ and does not teach that they only validate apostles and fill in missing revelation. The primary passages that talk about the Acharismata@ (the Greek word translated "gifts" in key passages such as 1Corinthians 12:4,9,28,30,31 and Romans 12:6) have to do with the edification of the body of Christ. Bob Dewaay

Cessationism-the idea that the spiritual gifts are no longer in effect, comes from bringing to the scripture a thought that you then try to prove. We can not approach scripture that way. It leads to error.

Back to our study.

Barth thoughts:
Verse 3: The grace, that is his emphasis, and the accompanying knowledge that all that we are about to talk about is from grace.

Verse 4,5,6 “Fellowship is communion. It is, however, not a communion in which the ‘otherness’ of each particular individual is blurred or limited or dissolved, but that ONENESS which both requires the ‘otherness’ of each individual and makes sense of it. Fellowship is the ONE which lies beyond every ‘other’. 1 Cor. 12:12,13 One new man.

Verse 6b-8 Tolerance is, no doubt, a virtue without which none of us can live; but we must, nevertheless, at least understand that it is, strictly speaking, destructive of fellowship, for it is a gesture by which the divine disturbance is rejected. The ONE in whom we are veritably united is Himself the great intolerance. He willeth to rule, to be victorious, to be--everything. He it is who disturbs every family gathering, every scheme for the reunion of Christendom, every human co-operation. And He disturbs, because He is the Peace that is above every estrangement and cleavage and faction. (All that to say that this is not about ‘look at me’ I have a gift’, it is about ‘the gift has me’ and without Him and the giving of His gift I am nothing, but because He loves His body so much, He chooses to use me in this way.
This means that it is not in spite of a man’s particular gifts that he is a particular person and can think and do only what is particular, but precisely because of HIS particular gifts. It consists not in a man’s strength, but in his weakness; not in his possession, but in his deprivation not in his rightness, but in his wrongness not when he ascends his High place with all that is his, but when in order that God alone may be exalted, he descends from his height, and every secondary ethical action--even this negative action -- is bent back to its Primal Origin.

Prophecy; by faith a person is so given over to God, that God is able to speak through him, as though he were not. The receiver hears THE ONE.
Ministry/Serving; Meeting physical needs without any false motivation, led by God in such a way that the person does not feel, ‘less,’ but they are drawn to the power and love behind the action.
The receiver feels THE ONE.
Teaching; A person so given over to God that the person who is receiving encounters truth, he comes away knowing THE ONE.
Preaching; A stating of the “Krisis” of being one who does not know God, along with the promise of God’s redeeming love, in such a way that the hearer submits to the truth of THE ONE.
Giving; Giving so lovingly and freely as one who has been given to by THE ONE, that only THE ONE shines through.
Ruling/Authority; Knowing that authority has been given and exists in me by grace, I do not strive or fight or try to prove, it is just a ‘being’ in THE ONE.
Mercy; Giving mercy as a person, who has been shown mercy by THE ONE, realizing that at that moment he is being shown mercy there is a humor in the situation. Kind of like someone hands you a dollar and you turn and hand it to another, knowing that it had just been handed to you and was just passing through your hands from THE ONE.

Verse 3 - do you want to think ‘rightly’ of yourself, think of yourself as one among many who has received a gift that is not whole or complete until it is joined with other people who have been given other gifts and who have been given faith. Spiritual gifts can lead to pride, unless we are very aware of our own need of God, and the fact that all that we have is a gift.

Verse 4,5 - Receive what you have been given and give it away, and receive what others have been given and they are giving away. We are each inter-dependent. Our concern is a concern of love wanting the Giver to receive all glory for what He is doing in us.

Verse 6 - Do you have faith to speak God’s words and heart to a person, small group, church, co-worker, county, state, nation, world. Go as far and as wide as God puts in your heart.

Verse 7 - Same with serving, teaching or exhorting, God’s grace by faith plants a thought in your heart and you go and do according to that thought. Obey in little things and bigger things come.

Verse 8 - Now there is a change in the tone, there is an extravagance in the words. If you do ______ do it, with all the joy of a person who has been given an immense gift, a gift that you have to give away massively! Many people can give, the gift of giving, looks crazy. Many people have been called to lead, but gifted leaders, understand that what they are doing is eternal, so they have more diligence than any others. Many people and organizations show mercy, but sometimes it comes off as condescending or as a person who is just doing their duty. But to be showing mercy with cheerfulness, brightens the day of the person who is receiving and they no longer feel like they are being a burden. I see this every night at work. Some people can make a person feel better just by the way that they help them... and then there is the “paycheck person” who is only doing this to get a paycheck and it shows to everyone.

Gifts have fruit. If what you are doing is your gifting, it will flow and it will have fruit. If every time you serve, the situation gets worse, service is not your gift.

Gifts encourage humility, we all need what we all have, we are intert-dependent.
And we “know in part.” We don’t know it all. Our words do not get tacked on to the Bible as infallible, direct speakings from God. What ‘prophecy’ a person brings forward is to be ‘judged.’ We never do that with the word of God, but it is clearly directed in scripture that we do it with a word of prophecy that comes through one fallible human being to another.

This is a good word picture to understand the differing giftings and how they might operate differently in different people. We, as people, are the vessels delivering the message, service, teaching, or faith that God wants to bring into a situation. Those vessels could be like an oil tanker, a satellite dish, a hand truck, a fork-lift, a C-5 airplane, a pick-up truck, a train, an 18-wheeler, a clothes basket, and on and on. Each vessel was created for a unique purpose. Unfortunately, in the Body of Christ, if a person does not recognize this, they could become very angry and offended when the ‘oil tanker’ does not pull into their driveway. Well it is obviously not meant to make deliveries like that, but if people are judging based on their limited understanding of the person and the situation, they could easily become offended.
We are given differing gifts and when we resent others, we allow bitterness to take root. They are supposed to be different. It encourages humility and inter-dependence. They only have to answer to God for the how and when of using their gifting.

Do we really get the overwhelming weight of not forgiving others? Do we really hear what this scripture is saying?

Matthew 18:32 “Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

Let us not be offended at our differences, but humbled by them.

“I get all the mercy--and God gets all the glory!” James Smith

Friday, January 13, 2012

brutal honesty

"honest open view into my mind, heart and life as God works His work in my life"
This is the phrase underneath the title of this blog. I like the cello, mainly because the sound that it makes can not be electronically duplicated. As people search for God they often come across "spiritual experts," (idiots) self-serving guru's teaching 'ancient principles' that may or may not work for days or weeks or even years, if you do them with 'all' that you've got, because, anything is better than BOWING. Repentance, is the door way of entrance into this life. Electronically generated, harmonics can "catch" most other instruments, but the cello, played by an expert has emotion and depth, beyond imitation. True and deep conversion has a moment of contact with the holiness of God, that cannot be faked. Unfortunately there is so much "electronic imitation" in the interest of the 'quick conversion' that a great number of souls are ushered into the 'kingdom' on the fast track of 'Jesus loves you and has a great plan for your life.' No bowing there, no contact with the holiness of God, just a quick self-centered prayer that puts you in touch with the great 'candy man' in the sky, who wants to meet all your needs. In cultures where baptism equals a death threat, there is a natural sieve that eliminates the self-centered, and demands that evangelists have a deeper message. So yes, I love the cello.

Work has been discouraging, more and more is piled on the donkey's back, good nurses who try to take "care" of their people are crying, literally crying, under the load of stress. Management, happily divorced from reality, marches on, just one more piece of paperwork, just one more change, just one more expectation piled on top of all the others, each being microscopically monitored by a paper pusher who cannot see one millimeter beyond their specialty. Who survives? Those who adapt to this style by becoming experts at lying and giving management what they want. Giving up on 'care' they sarcastically move on to transforming the 'call' of nursing into a job. This weekend, while I am off I will be working on a letter to my direct supervisor on the current state of life in the trenches. The favor of God has been on my efforts to do this in the past and I hope it will be again. The danger is to be led by frustration, to let 'pent up' anger spill over. "Just the facts, mam." Sergeant Friday from the show 'Dragnet' was right. Emotional arguments with high-pitched, high-decibel voices do not allow for a true investigation and resolution.

Home has been discouraging, the path to healthy, independent adults has a huge bump in the road along the way called, the teen-age years. It takes more energy, love, and perseverance than any human has, I guess that is actually the 'good' point. It is a time that forces the parent to drop their, "If I do this, all will turn out well." mantra and join reality, a harsh reality that demands time spent in prayer and seeking wisdom and grace from the Father and the Body of Christ.

Marriage has been discouraging, I'm not very good at the whole, "husband thing." I can give many books that call for a perfect, understanding, kind, patient, person who has as the center of his world the happiness of his wife. "Husbands love your wives, as Christ loves the Church." Really, could You have set the standard any higher? Could You have made the task any more impossible. Nope. Again that was the plan, and that is the good part, because it forces me to drop the mantra, "I can do this, I am patient, loving and understanding," and makes me face the ugly reality of my own self-centered existence and again, sends me outside of myself to the Father and His Body for grace, wisdom and prayer.

Church has been discouraging. I am different. I have walked a different path to get here. Diversity within the body, is one of the things that makes it beautiful. Each one brings something that further displays the manifold beauty of our God. Each one realizes the need for the 'other.' Each one reads the sentence, (Romans 12:10)
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;" It is entirely impossible, once again. Humans, build towers to make their name great. Humans do everything from a motivation of self, no matter how noble or twisted, that is the motivation, the noble get praised, the twisted get held up to the blinding light of the media, so that we can all feel better about ourselves. 'Thank you Casey Anthony, we all feel better about ourselves now, move along, next!' God pushes the truth in our face, 'There is none righteous' and in case you didn't get it, 'No, not one.' And it is to these people that He says, 'give preference.' True the people have been changed, are in the process of transformation, are becoming more like Christ, have the life of Christ within them, but this is yet another impossibility. Yet another call for grace and prayer, submission, returning good for evil, overlooking, extending love, exposing your own flaws, risking love. One area of difference that 'breaks' me, is my view of the end times, it colors a lot of my other thinking on the Church. I can not teach on this view within my church, because it is at odds with the Pastor's view. I respect that, the sheep are his sheep, and I am to serve in such a way as to make his 'call' a 'pleasure,' not a burden. (Hebrews 13:17) "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." I get it, when God, the Lord of the universe, says something would be 'unprofitable,' it is a good idea to back off.

I could counsel myself now... gratitude is the way out of this pit, silly boy, grumbling is for kids, you have been with God long enough to know better, but this was a time for brutal honesty, don't say I didn't warn you. Going back to my cello music now.