Unity amongst the Believers


Had to comment on an article I saw in Christianity Today where Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church suggested that ‘mainline churches need to reconcile with evangelicals.’

“The reconciliation is that in a pluralistic world…we [Christians] need to be on the same team because we share the same Saviour,” Warren, of Purpose Driven fame, contended Sunday.

The article suggests that this reconciliation needs to happen to battle ‘their mounting problem of membership decline’.

He was speaking with the dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Samuel T Lloyd III, who observed that evangelical churches are thriving and full of vitality, whilst most mainline denominations are confronting worrisome membership decline.

After Lloyd asked how mainline churches should tackle the problem, there was discourse on the ‘social gospel’ of social action versus ‘personal faith’.

100 years ago the phrase ‘social gospel’ first came out,” Warren responded. “Some people took that to mean only if we reform the social government and society and not personal faith in Christ Jesus – that is, if we make the world a better place – we don’t need personal redemption.” …. That idea led to mainline churches going “one way” and evangelical churches another way, he said.

Mainline churches focused on ‘social morality such as fighting poverty, racism and economic justice’  while evangelicals focused on ‘personal morality such as personal salvation, fighting pornography, and upholding family values.’

He contends that both sides are right. “Somehow we got divided like Jesus didn’t care about society or members of society didn’t need Jesus. I think we need both.”   He comments further that, “You can’t just love your neighbour; you [have] got to love God,” Warren said. “And you can’t just love God; you have to love your neighbours. And mainline protestant and evangelical – we need both wings.”

Sounds a lot like my last two posts!  God wants all his church to come together in unity. Lord, help us to have both wings!

 

Synapses: Connections in the Body of Christ


While going about my business recently, the word ‘synapse’ kept rising in my spirit. A ‘synapse’, as defined by WordNet , is “the junction between two neurons (axon-to-dendrite) or between a neuron and a muscle.” I was thinking about my earlier vision of the network of cords forming around the Church, connecting all of the forms of church assembly to each other – from ‘traditional’ to ‘traditional’ (as in, a cord joining a Nazarene assembly to an Anglican assembly), from ‘non traditional’ to ‘non traditional’ (as in, a Chinese underground cell church to an online web church), and from traditional to non traditional, forming a net-like structure.

My attention was placed on the connecting cords – in my vision, the cords were being formed as I watched, and as two assemblies were connected, or whenever two cords touched or crossed over each other, a light flashed, which I knew to represent the Glory of the Lord.

I sensed once again that the relationships between the parts of the Body of Christ were important. While at a meeting of one of the house churches in my network I heard the account of a vision that one of the members had some years earlier, of a house made of playing cards. It had looked quite fragile, but when a puff of wind came, instead of collapsing, it slid along the ground, still intact. In her vision, she was told, “The strength is in the joints.” In the same way, in the above vision, I felt that the connecting agent was relationship, and that the Glory of the Lord shines through right relationship to other members of the body of Christ.

The connections represented synapses, where, again via WordNet, “nerve impulses cross a synapse through the action of neurotransmitters.” If the cords represent the central nervous system in the Church, the ‘nerve impulses’ represent the divine will of the Lord, represented as ‘thoughts’ from the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. Continuing the analogy, the neurotransmitters would have to be those members of the Body of Christ who can sense the direction of that divine will, and be able to communicate it to the other parts of the Body of Christ – the apostolic and prophetic people, on whom the Word says the foundations of the Church are built (Ephesians 2:20).

The prophetic in the church takes the thoughts and will of the Lord and articulates it in language understandable by the rest of the body; the apostolic brings vision and direction based on the revelation of that will. As one of the leaders of my church network said recently, “Vision comes via revelation”, or, as Jesus put it – “…flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven… upon this rock I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:17-18)

It is significant that a synapse can connect two nerves together, or a nerve and a muscle. This is saying that the Lord’s will is not just to be thought about, but needs to be acted on. (James 2:17, 26)

God is calling his Church to real relationship, to end the division and in-fighting about who has the ‘full’ gospel and who is ‘right’ – and focus on acting on the revealed will of God, first in Scripture, and then through the revelations of the apostles and prophets.

Also, as the Church comes together in unity and relationship, that connectedness will make those outside of the body hungry for the relationships demonstrated, as those who are not fully connected to the Lord are usually lonely people hungry for genuine relationship. (John 13:34-35).

Citation – “synapse.” WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 17 Jan. 2008.

“My hands and my feet must move!” (January 6, 2008)


In the Spirit, I see a net – cords linking representations of church buildings (representing ‘traditional’ church models) to representations of house churches (representing ‘non traditional’ models), spreading from one structure to the other. Actually, it is a complex network of connections, called by biologists a ‘neural network’. A dictionary definition of ‘neural network’ is “any group of neurons that conduct impulses in a coordinated manner, as the assemblages of brain cells that record a visual stimulus.” (Dictionary.com) Research exposes an interesting capability of neural networks – the ability to learn: “A real or virtual device, modeled after the human brain, in which several interconnected elements process information simultaneously, adapting and learning from past patterns.” (American Heritage Dictionary)

As relationship, love and real unity form between two structures, a fine chain joins them together with a ‘*clink*’ sound; as the chain snaps together, the glory of the Lord flashes. I sense that the cords represent love and unity, and that the net represents the central nervous system of the Body of Christ. As divine Thoughts come from the Head, Jesus Christ himself, the whole Body can spring into action because the message of his will is communicated accurately to every area. Real respect and unity will allow the desire of Christ to be communicated to and through the Church, irrespective of the type of structure the particular assembly holds. The ability to learn will also mean that what God releases, his entire Body becomes, as it learns to follow the patterns of His Spirit.

The Church is Christ’s hands and feet. We spring into action at the command of the Head – and this in turn brings the Kingdom of God to earth. Just as Christ, while on earth, preached “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and “The Kingdom of Heaven is near you”, evidenced by healing the sick, raising the dead, etc (really, simply, evidenced by him obeying the directives of his Father in Heaven) – just as obedience to God the Father demonstrated the Kingdom then – a Church that is not infighting because one assembly looks different or has a slightly different view of theology, but is in right relationship to God and each other, and is obedient to the Voice of God, will expand the Kingdom.

We are of different forms, different locations, different giftings and different emphases – but we are joined together by relationship, and have Christ as our head. As the Word of the Lord is released, we respond in different ways appropriate to whatever facet of the network we belong to, but we all seek to respond in obedience. As the Divine Thoughts of God are released into our midst, we seek to expand the Kingdom of God through our body. This is only possible because of our relationship together – our acceptance of each other’s differences because we serve the same Lord.

Let us pray that this prophetic picture will be true of the global Body of Christ. Jesus, in praying for the church to come said, “I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, 17:21 that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one –I in them and you in me – that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.” (Luke 17:20-23)

Citations

The Prayer of A Minor Prophet


by A. W. Tozer


This is the prayer of a man called to be a witness to the nations. This is what he said to his Lord on the day of his ordination. After the elders and ministers had prayed and laid their hands on him he withdrew to meet his Savior in the secret place and in the silence, farther in than his well-meaning brethren could take him. And he said:

O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou has called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou has stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant.

My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou has said, “I knew thee – I ordained thee – I sanctified thee,” and Thou hast also said, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should be come a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.

Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen. AMEN. †


Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897 – 1963) was a pastor, author, magazine editor, and Bible conference speaker.

Prophetic Word to start the new year!


Welcome to a brand new year – 2008! I pray that it is a year of new beginnings for you as God brings to completion the things he has promised and opens new chapters in your lives!

I just woke up from a vivid dream, which brought back to mind a prophetic word a buddy of mine had for me at the end of last year. (2 days ago, yeah…) He said that he was sensing that God wanted to increase my prophetic gifting, among other stuff. He called me a general… I know that meant increased authority and being in a commanding position, but I didn’t think much of it after that. Then, I got this dream this morning Jan 2, 2008:

Just woke up from a vivid dream that ended with me giving a really detailed prophecy to a guy – ‘reading his mail’, some call it – exposing him as a closet homosexual and telling him how lonely he really was…. At the end of the prophecy, his face was on the desk and he was saying, “It’s true, it’s all true,” and then I woke up.

The parts of the dream I could remember are that I was visiting my old neighbourhood, Wildey Terrace, where I spent my early years – from birth to about eight years old. The house I grew up in looked different – actually it was another house there altogether. The neighbourhood was also different in the fact that in the dream it was now a gated community. I had been introduced to several older people who remember my family – and I had Nikao with me, so I introduced him as my son. I had gone into the gated community office and was with someone else, a girl I went to primary school with. She had to find a toilet urgently, and she ran into one just as she was getting unable to contain herself. It was so urgent that I actually pushed her into the bathroom myself and started the process of unbuttoning the fly of her before leaving her to finish the rest and shutting the door.

Afterward, there were these two people in the office, a man and a woman; the man started to speak to me on some matter, and in answering him I told him I had a word for him – then I started to tell him about his secret lifestyle in great detail – at the end of it, his face was on his desk and he was shaking, crying and saying, “It’s true, it’s all true!” Then I woke up.

I felt as though the point was the ability to expose hidden things – like Elisha exposing the secret plans of the Syrian king in the Bible. Lord, bring your power into my life. Bring your exposing power on me, first…. don’t let me be able to expose anyone else before the exposing power of your Holy Spirit turns on me and exposes and cleanses me from any and all sins in my own life. In the name of Jesus. AMEN

Interesting, huh? I’m excited to see where God is going this year!