How Lies Control Us

lives-truth.lies
Image source: JeffVanderstelt.com 

What I have noticed in walking with clients…

If you know the truth but don’t live it out, this is living a lie.
 
Believing lies, makes liars of ourselves and makes it possible for greater deception to ensnare us more deeply.
 
When we believe lies, we are more easily frightened and anxious and worried. When we believe lies, we are more easily hurt, wounded, and resentful. When we do not believe truth, we believe we are more important than others, and resort to controlling other people.
 
When we believe lies, we insist on being right and making others wrong. We do not listen to others properly. We hear only what we want to hear. We use sarcasm and cynicism to respond to other people.
 
When we believe lies, we dominate people. We control others. We believe God has given us people to help us succeed. We use and discard people for our own benefit.
 
Sometimes God gives us relationships and partnerships for different seasons, but when we live in lies, we dominate people rather than relate to them.
 
When we live in lies, we go along with people and circumstances even though we hate what is happening and we fail to confront abusive leaders in love.
 
When we believe lies, we find our identity in being a victim.
 
When we believe lies, we blame others.
 
When we believe lies, we delete, distort, and generalize as a way of life.
 
When we believe lies, we justify our own bad behavior by the negative behavior of others. Reacting to people’s behavior, instead of responding to God’s nature, means that we do not live out what is true of Jesus.
 
Believing lies is expensive. It costs us deeply, it damages our relationships, our relationship with God, and our own identity.
 
This is what I see daily when people come to my office for help. When they walk through truth in our sessions, I see re-birth!
 
Just recently, a client said she felt like she went to the spa! She said her head was so much brighter!! Together, we asked Jesus what lies she had been believing around a specific memory. Along came a huge list! When she stood back and looked at the list, she saw how it had paralyzed her for years. In prayer, we did an exchange of lies for truth from God’s Word about her identity.
Yes, God’s truth sets us free!
(Helpful resource: I recommend reading: “Manifesting Your Spirit” by G Cooke)

Church? Spectators vs Participants

baseball-stadium

Dear Church,

Are you a spectator or a participant in building God’s kingdom?

Years of sitting in traditional church has not prepared us to be the church in the manner described in the New Testament.

We have been taught to come.

To sit.

To watch and listen to what others have prepared.

(Someone described it as “sit, soak and sour”.)

This is Spectator Church. And it is no way to train believers to be priests.

By contrast, the churches described in the Bible engaged in Participatory Church. This kind of church requires preparation on the part of all of it’s members.

This is new.

We haven’t been taught how to do this.

Therefore, some retraining is in order.

Read: John White’s article –  How to Prepare for Simple Church

The Prayer of St Patrick

shamrockThis morning on St Paddy’s day, my family and I gathered for communion and then reflected on a portion of his famously penned prayer…

I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Then, we did a little reflection together…

What follows is a reflection based on the second half of St Patrick’s Breastplate (Prayer). We may not wear combat gear in our daily lives but this prayer/reflection on St. Patrick’s Breastplate may function as divine armour to protect against the difficulties we may face in life.

Silently, become aware of what is going on around you. Close your eyes and sit in a comfortable upright position in their chair. Become aware of your breathing. Once you are in a prayerful state, keep your eyes closed and listen openly to the reflection.

Christ with me – Invite Christ quietly into your heart.

Christ before me – Think about events or things coming up over the next few days/weeks that you may be worried about. Ask Christ to help you face these challenges that lie ahead.

Christ behind me – Consider moments in your past that you may have found difficult. Spend a few minutes thinking about how Christ was present in these moments.

Christ in me – Do you spend quiet time in the day deepening your relationship with Christ? Make a commitment to set aside some time each day to talk and listen to God who is always with you.

Christ beneath me – All of us need help at points in our lives. It is at the lowest points that Christ is there carrying us through. Ask God now if there is anything you need help with.

Christ above me- Just as an umbrella protects us from the rain, Christ protects all of us. Think about somebodyclose to you that needs God’s protective care at thismoment. Ask God to help them.

Christ on my right hand – Christ uses your hands to helpand comfort others in today’s world. How can you use your hands to further God’s kingdom here on earth?

Christ on my left hand – God is always by your side even though you might not realise it. Thank God for never giving up on you even during those moments when you have turned away from him.

Christ when I lie down – Even when we sleep God is there watching over us and protecting us. Thank God quietly for his loving protective presence in your life.

Christ when I arise – When you wake up in the morning do you notice the beauty of the world around you? Thank God for his beautiful gift of creation.

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me –

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me – If someone who knows you really well were to give an honest answer to the question – What is the best thing about your friend? What do you think their answer would be? Would others say the same about you?

Christ in every eye that sees me – Imagine that somebody took a photograph of you this morning interacting with your family/friends without you realising it. Do you think you would be happy with what the image captured? Did you speak kind or harsh words to a loved one? Did you help your family member/friend or were you angry with them?

Christ in every ear that hears me – Think back over the conversations you have had with others this week. Have you been kind and thoughtful in what you have said or have your words been hurtful or damaging to others?

Dear God,

St. Patrick came to Ireland to help people discover your loving presence. May I take comfort from the fact that whatever challenges I may face in life you will always be there at my side to help and guide me through. Help me to be your witness in the world, showing others your loving presence through my words and actions.

Amen

 

 

Source: https://decandsusan.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/st-patricks-breastplate.pdf

A Culture of Honour – Men and Women

honour
Photo credit: YWAM

Tears of healing began to roll down my face. I didn’t know what was happening in me at the time, but I found myself in a culture of honour – observing and experiencing men honouring women and vice versa. It was so powerful JUST WITNESSING IT.

I wept deeply… healing much of the diagnosed psychological, emotional, and spiritual abuse I had experienced with certain male leaders in my church that led to my health crash years ago.

(It had gotten so bad, my medical team and insurance ordered me to rest for 2 years. In fact, my doctor wept when I initially answered her intake questions.

Clearly, I had endured more than I thought.

I had no idea I had been putting up with abuse, giving grace to the men over and over around their behaviours with women. I had loved my brothers in leadership. Looking back, I saw the potential in the men and kept forgiving them – until it caused my health to crash when I witnessed their treatment of another woman.

Seeing how they treated another woman with public dishonour was a shock to my system; literally.

I was assigned a medical team to interview me. Learning that the behaviour was abusive was a shocking realization. My brothers had started off so encouraging in the beginning but, over the years, looking back I now see how their fear of man replaced their fear of God and this turned their behaviour into control, manipulation, and abuse of women.)

When I left that church environment several years ago, I entered a time of rest and detox.

My time of rest included a visit to a different church – one with a culture of honour. It was there, tears rolled down my face when I saw it was indeed possible for men to honour women in leadership. I sensed Jesus smiling over it all. My heart, my mind, and my spirit began to welcome the healing.

Today! Years later, after some incredible healing rest…

I get to walk pastors, ministry leaders, and lay people (both male and female) through healing of unfortunate ‘church’ experiences.

When we try to ‘do’ church led by fear, instead of ‘being’ the church led by Holy Spirit, the damage is painful. When we walk in fear, rather than Christ-like love, we unknowingly or knowingly cause damage.

When a church is led by fear, the fruit is damage.

Thankfully, Jesus loves to restore and heal – revealing to those who are wounded and doing the wounding, that He has so much more!

Men who honour women, and women who honour men – is what Christ calls us to!

Let’s choose to walk in love and honour…

Recently, I was blessed with this…

Honor All People

Transcript:

Hi, this is Bill Vanderbush. I pastor Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration, Florida. I want to talk to you a little bit about honor. When you think of honor, people think about academia, or academic achievement. The honor roll, honors society, or maybe you are one of those people where the closest thing you ever got ot honor was, “Yes, your Honor, no, your Honor.”

I want to define it a little bit differently today. Honor is where you live to make somebody else like a genius. It is where you actually treat somebody as if they were Jesus. You may think, “That sounds kind of blasphemous. I can’t treat anybody like that.” We are all image-bearers. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. I believe God is calling us to be a culture of honor, to release honor everywhere we go.

1 Peter 2:17 says, “Honor all men.” Honor all people, actually it means. That is actually where he stops. He finishes that thought. Honor everybody without reservation. Honor is not to be given as a reward, it is given as a gift. Think of it like this, God doesn’t honor us because we are good. He honors us because He is good. He doesn’t love us because we are good, He loves us because He is good. He releases love, and honor, and grace because that is what He is like. That is what He has called us to do. He has called us to release honor because we are an honorable people.

How do you release honor over somebody that is dishonorable? That might be a difficult thing to do, but the reality is that when you release honor, you are actually digging for the treasure that is inside of a person. You are seeing them from Heaven’s perspective. In Matthew 13, Jesus goes home to His hometown – the Son of God. He tries to perform miracles and people get offended at Him. It says they became intellectually offended at Him. They said, “We know His mom, we know His brothers, we know His sisters.” They said, “How is this guy doing what He is doing?” They became offended at Him. Jesus responds and says, “A prophet is not without honor except in His home country, in His own town.”

I think a lot of times God calls us to begin ministry at home because He wants us to learn to do it without honor. He doesn’t want us to stay in a place of dishonor. The result of that is He could do no mighty work there because of their unbelief. Here is the thing about dishonor. Dishonor shuts down the anointing every time. In 25 years of pastoring, I have never seen a revival birthed in a culture of dishonor. Dishonor often times shows up in the middle of a revival and we wonder why the revival shut down. God is calling us to protect one another, to speak encouragement over one another.

There is a thin line between honor and flattery. We don’t want to get into flattery. Honor is calling out the gold in a person. It is coming into agreement with how God sees a person and shifting our perspective to Heaven’s perspective. Beginning to speak honor over their life. In doing that, we suddenly become a culture where from the outside looking in, there are people who are orphaned in their mind and their heart. They look at the Body of Christ and say, “I want to be loved just like that.” If we grab a hold of the culture of honor like this we would see the nations shaped and changed. In a generation or two there would be people that would once again know that God is to be famous for love.

I pray that you would become a person of honor. You would release honor in your words and your declarations. In everything you do, you would demonstrate the honor of Heaven. From a prophetic standpoint you would put Heaven on display in all that you do. I believe we will see revival breaking out all over our nation. Amen.

Source: God Today – http://www.getgodtoday.com

How do you know if you’re in a false ‘church’?

720x405.jpgHow do you know if you’re in a false ‘church’ ?

Today’s lent devotional (below) was extremely timely as I walk several clients through ‘church’ abuse in multiple churches in my area. When churches practice witchcraft – control and manipulation, there is even trauma around reading God’s Word.

Breaks my heart.

Thankfully, Jesus loves to heal! His message to a very religious culture of His day was freedom! 

This reminder was good: “…rule of thumb: if someone arrives claiming to be a prophet, but asking for money, they are false. We might expand that into the usual trio: money is so often linked with sex and power.”

Hmmm…basically : “Do as I say… and give me your money.”

I often find myself saying to clients – “What does the fruit tell you? That gives you clues as to the kind of tree.”

My prayer: Jesus, Thank you for freedom through your shed blood on the cross! Pour your Spirit on all churches and burn up what is not of you! Yes & Amen! 

Here was the devotional today… (Source at the bottom.)

WEEK 1: WEDNESDAY

One of the great lies of our time is to suppose that because Jesus brings forgiveness, and urges us to be forgiving people, meek and gentle, there is no sharp edge to his message. To hear some people, you’d think the whole of the Christian message was simply a call to accept one another, never to judge another person. Indeed, doesn’t Jesus himself tell us not to judge, at the start of this very chapter (Matthew 7.1)? That verse is quoted again and again by people who would do well to ponder this present passage.

Jesus is quite clear that there are such persons as false prophets, as people who appear to be his followers but who in fact have never known him. Life would be a lot simpler if we could tell at a glance who the true and the false prophets were, but the only guide Jesus offers is the picture of the tree. Sooner or later — and it may be a lot later, or it may happen quite suddenly — the fruit of someone’s life will appear, and then you can tell whether they were real or whether they were fooling themselves and others.

In Jesus’ own day there was no shortage of such people. Jesus spoke more than once about people who would turn up and declare that they were prophesying in his name, or in God’s name, and would lead people astray. The second and third generation of the church faced the same problem, and developed an interesting rule of thumb: if someone arrives claiming to be a prophet, but asking for money, they are false. We might expand that into the usual trio: money is so often linked with sex and power. Some false teachers offer their followers sexual licence in contrast to Jesus’ rigorous standard, as in 5.27—30, 15.19—20 and 19.3—12; part of the lie, today, is that Jesus didn’t mind about such things. Others are eager for personal power, as you can tell when someone challenges them. And, yes, some today are in it for the money.

When Jesus uses the image of the tree, he is drawing, as so often, on an ancient biblical picture. The first Psalm speaks of God’s true people like trees planted by streams of water, which will produce fruit at the right time, while the wicked are like chaff blown around by the wind. Jeremiah develops this picture (17.8), thinking of the tree that sends out its roots to look for the water it needs. Lent is a time when we should be doing that: sending out our roots to look for the water of life. The challenge of these verses isn’t simply one of learning to recognize true Christian teaching from false. The challenge is to become, ourselves, trees that bear good fruit, people who not only say ‘Lord, Lord’ when it suits us, but who apply ourselves to the much harder task of discerning and doing God’s will.

Read this beautiful passage: (Interestingly, Jesus gave me this passage over and over on my Sabbatical in 2015 when I was in pastoral ministry.) Here it is… (Matthew 7:15ff)

The Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

True Disciples

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Building on a Solid Foundation

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.

PRAYER TODAY:

Gracious Lord, draw our roots to yourself, the living water, so that we may grow strong and bear good fruit.

SOURCE: day 8 of the YouVersion plan ‘Lent For Everyone’. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/83-lent-for-everyone

RELATED POST: Tears of healing began to roll down my face. I didn’t know what was happening in me at the time. I found myself in a culture of honour… https://followingtrusting.com/2019/03/13/a-culture-of-honour-men-and-women/

RELATED: Six Marks of a Church Culture That Deeply Changes Lives
By Peter Scazzero

 

Countdown to the Cross and Open Grave! (Lent 2019)

cross-sunset-sunrise-hill-70847.jpeg
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love the Lenten season! 🙂

Passover (some call it ‘Easter’) is the most important event in our world history, and yet it can sneak up on us. We often spend so much time focusing on Christmas, that we forget Part 2, …the dying to self-part and receiving new life in Christ! Christmas is receiving God’s gift under the tree and Passover / Easter is opening it!

It is a season, not just a week or a day, and it all starts on a Wednesday. The countdown to Easter Sunday is called “Lent” referring to a lengthening of days as the days get longer with Springtime! Lent is a time that we remember to die to our selfishness, and to choose to live free in Christ!

This year I look forward to using the daily verses (see Year C below) and the Divine Reading template. Come and allow Jesus to bring you new life through these daily readings…

1. List of Scriptures – Year C – Lent : Revised Common Lectionary

2. Your Guide – Reflective Reading Template (Lectio Divina) 

What is Your Eternal Inheritance?

ocean landscape.pngThe following intro from “The Triumphant Church”:

The believer’s inheritance in Christ is the wisdom of God, and it was hidden throughout previous ages until it was revealed through Jesus Christ. Grasping that truth and walking in the reality of God’s inheritance for us as saints is the key to taking our place as the triumphant Church, reigning as kings in this life.

The riches of our inheritance are revealed more fully in the Book of Ephesians than in any other book of the Bible. In Ephesians chapter 1 and 3 are Spirit-inspired prayers, which apply to believers everywhere because they were given by the Holy Spirit to the Body of Christ.

EPHESIANS 1:16-23

EPHESIANS 3:14-21

If you are a believer, you can pray these prayers for yourself by putting “I,” “me,” and “my” where Paul says “you” and “your.” (I’ve made these changes for you at the end.)

In these prayers, the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to believers “the spirit of wisdom andrevelation in the knowledge of Jesus” (Eph. 1:17). What is the wisdom and knowledge God wants to reveal to the believer about Jesus Christ?

The Holy Spirit wants the eyes of our understanding opened to understand Jesus’ complete victory over Satan in the triumph of the Cross. He wants us to understand what Jesus’ seating on High really means to the believer. The wisdom and knowledge the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us is the believer’s joint- seating with Christ as a benefit of our redemption. Joint-seating with Christ is a position of authority and triumph over Satan. God wants us to see what we have as rights and privileges by being in Christ.

The Holy Spirit, writing through Paul, wants you as a believer to pray for the eyes of your understanding to be enlightened. The word “enlightened” means illuminatedor flooded with light. Another translation says to pray that the eyes of your heart will be flooded with light.

After praying these prayers for a number of months, one day I was praying at the altar and the Lord spoke to me and said, “I am going to take you on to revelations and visions.” That came as a result of praying these prayers thousands of times for myself. Revelation from the Word of God began to come to me and kept on coming. I am talking about revelations in line with the Word.

Finally, I said, “What in the world have I been preaching!” I had been in the ministry fourteen years, but in six months of praying these prayers for myself, I received so much revelation from the Word of God that it seemed like I was a brand-new person.

That’s what Ephesians 1 is talking about—insight into the knowledge of Jesus and understanding of the knowledge of His Word.

Believers have been ignorant of Satan’s devices, so he has been able to take advantage of them. But the Spirit of God wants believers to get the wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Jesus and His Word so the eyes of their understanding will be enlightened to know their authority in Christ.

God wants believers to know they are no longer subject to Satan because they have been delivered from his dominion and authority (Col. 1:13). God wants the Body of Christ to know that we aren’t a defeated Church—we are a triumphant Church.We are to reign in life through Jesus Christ because we have a position of authority over the devil. When the eyes of our understanding are enlightened, we can stand in our place of authority as the triumphant Church upon the earth.

From Kenneth Hagin, “The Triumphant Church”

Remember: If you are a believer, you can pray these prayers for yourself by putting “I,” “me,” and “my” where Paul says “you” and “your.” (I’ve made these changes for you below.)

 

  1. My prayer for Divine wisdom and revelation

Ephesians 1:16-23  (TPT)

17 I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to me the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation[b] to know him through my deepening intimacy with him.

18 I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of my imagination,[c] flooding me with light, until I experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling[d]—that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones!

19 I pray that I will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to me through faith. Then my life will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through me! This is the mighty power 20 that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him[e] to the place of highest honor and supreme authority[f] in the heavenly realm! 21 And now he is exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government, and realm of power in existence! He is gloriously enthroned over every name that is ever praised,[g]not only in this age,[h] but in the age that is coming![i]

22 And he alone is the leader and source of everything needed in the church. God has put everything beneath the authority of Jesus Christ[j] and has given him the highest rank above all others23 And now we, his church, are his body on the earth and that which fills him who is being filled by it![k]

 

2.  My prayer for Love to Overflow

Ephesians 3:14-21 (TPT)

14 So, I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, 15 the perfect Father of every father and child[a] in heaven and on the earth. 16 And I pray that he would unveil within me the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods my innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.

17 Then, by constantly using my faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside me, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of my life.

18–19 Then I will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude[b] of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into meuntil I amfilled to overflowing with the fullness of God!

20 I will never doubt God’s mighty power to work in me and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than my greatest request, my most unbelievable dream, and exceed my wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes me.

21 Now I offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!

 

 

What Are We Trying to Revive in the Church?

What are we trying to revive when it comes to the Church?

“I was at a prayer meeting for revival in England. For three hours, people prayed for God to do something. Then suddenly, a young teenage boy stood up and gave a prophecy. I shall never forget it. In a penetrating voice, this shy boy— I found out later that he was quite retiring, not the sort who would get up, raise his voice and correct his elders — just got up and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will not revive what I never built,’” and he sat down.

It transformed the entire prayer meeting; it came with such authority in the Spirit.

That word came ringing through. We realised we were really asking God to revive what we had built.

God was telling us that he would not revive what he never built and I cannot help but believe that while the Church is deliberately disobeying the commandments of the Lord, and has compromised in so many areas, there is no reason why he should answer prayers to revive it.

That is my problem.

The state of our nation is due to the state of the Church and we must take responsibility for what is happening around us. We are to be the salt and light but we need to acknowledge that we have not lived up to this ideal, and that we have compromised on the Word of God in so many ways already that it is almost impudence to ask the Lord to revive us.”

COMPLETING LUTHER’S REFORMATION  – David Pawson

 

Theology: Are you a Settler or Pioneer?

pioneer wagon

This is from Brennan Manning’s book Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus. (As read in class by Murray Dueck of Samuel’s Mantle)

There are two visions of life, two kinds of people. The first see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are called settlers. The second see life as a wild, fantastic, explosive gift. They are called pioneers.

These two types give rise to two kinds of theology: Settler Theology and Pioneer Theology. According to Wes Seeliger in his book, Western Theology, the first kind, Settler Theology, is an attempt to answer all the questions, define and housebreak some sort of Supreme Being, establish the status quo on golden tablets in cinemascope. Pioneer Theology is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life. The Wild West is the setting for both theologies.

In Settler Theology, the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small and this makes things dark inside. Within the courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse is the settler’s symbol of law, order, stability, and—most importantly—security. The mayor’s office is on the top floor. His eagle eye ferrets out the smallest details of town life.

In Pioneer Theology, the church is the covered wagon. It’s a house on wheels, always on the move. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love and die. It bears the marks of life and movement—it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with baling wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves toward the future and doesn’t bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn’t comfortable, but the pioneers don’t mind. They are more into adventure than comfort.

In Settler Theology, God is the mayor. He is a sight to behold. Dressed like a dude from back East, he lounges in an over-stuffed chair in his courthouse office. He keeps the blinds drawn. No one sees him or knows him directly, but since there is order in town, who can deny that he is there? The mayor is predictable and always on schedule. The settlers fear the mayor, but look to him to clear the payroll and keep things going. Peace and quiet are the mayor’s main concerns. That’s why he sends the sheriff to check on the pioneers who ride into town.

In Pioneer Theology, God is the trail boss. He is rough and rugged, full of life. He chews tobacco, drinks straight whiskey. The trail boss lives, eats, sleeps, fights with his people. Their sell-being is his concern. Without him the wagon wouldn’t move; living as a free man would be impossible. The trail boss often gets down in the mud with the pioneers to help push the wagon, which often gets stuck. He prods the pioneers when they get soft and want to turn back. His fist is an expression of his concern.

In Settler Theology, Jesus is the sheriff. He’s the guy who is sent by the mayor to enforce the rules. He wears a white hat, drinks milk, outdraws the bad guys. The sheriff decides who is thrown into jail. There is a saying in town that goes: those who believe the mayor sent the sheriff, and follow the rules, they won’t stay in Boothill when it comes their time.

In Pioneer Theology, Jesus is the scout. He rides out ahead to find our which way the pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. The scout suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians. Through his words and actions he reveals the true intentions of the trail boss. By looking at the scout, those on the trail learn what it means to be a pioneer.

In Settler Theology, the Holy Spirit is the saloon girl. Her job is to comfort the settlers. They come to her when they feel lonely, or when life gets dull or dangerous. She tickles them under the chin and makes everything okay again. The saloon girl squeals to the sheriff when someone starts disturbing the peace.

In Pioneer Theology, the Holy Spirit is the buffalo hunter. He rides along with the covered wagon and furnishes fresh meat for the pioneers. Without it they would die. The buffalo hunter is a strange character—sort of a wild man. The pioneers can never tell what he will do next.

He scares the hell out of the settlers. He has a big black gun that goes off like a cannon. He rides into town on Sunday to shake up the settlers. You see, every Sunday morning, the settlers have a little ice cream party in the courthouse. With his gun in hand the buffalo hunter sneaks up to one of the courthouse windows. He fires a tremendous blast that rattles the whole courthouse. Men jump out of their skin, women scream, dogs bark. Chuckling to himself, the buffalo hunter rides back to the wagon train shooting up the town as he goes.

In Settler Theology, the Christian is the settler. He fears the open, unknown frontier. His concern is to stay on good terms with the mayor and keep out of the sheriff’s way. “Safety first” is his motto. To him the courthouse is a symbol of security, peace, order, and happiness. He keeps his money in the bank. The banker is his best friend. The settler never misses an ice cream party.

In Pioneer Theology, the Christian is the pioneer. He is a man of daring, hungry for a new life. He rides hard, knows how to use a gun when necessary. The pioneer feels sorry for the settlers and tries to tell them of the joy and fulfillment of life on the trail. He dies with his boots on.

In Settler Theology, the clergyman is the banker. Within his vault are locked the values of the town. He is a highly respected man. He has a gun, but keeps it hidden in his desk. He feels that he and the sheriff have a lot in common. After all, they both protect the bank.

In Pioneer Theology, the clergyman is the cook. He doesn’t furnish the meat. He just dishes up what the buffalo hunter provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the trail boss, scout, or the buffalo hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned how to cook. The cook’s job is to help the pioneers pioneer.

In Settler Theology, faith is trusting in the safety of the town: obeying the laws, keeping your nose clean, believing the mayor is in the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, faith is the spirit of adventure: the readiness to move out, to risk everything on the trail. Faith is obedience to the restless voice of the trail boss.

In Settler Theology, sin is breaking one of the town’s ordinances.

In Pioneer Theology, sin is wanting to turn back.

In Settler Theology, salvation is living close to home and hanging around the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, salvation is being more afraid of sterile town life than death on the trail. Salvation is joy at the thought of another day to push on into the unknown. It is trusting the trail boss and following his scout while living on the meat furnished by the buffalo hunter.

However, this image below is key…

“Some people want to be slaves…”

…and what it means if we are not yet experiencing freedom…!

(Read the whole page below…)

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Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning, Chapter 3, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, NJ, 1986.3

Letters to the Church – Francis Chan

Francis Chan – Letters to the Church ( #paradigmshift )

letterstothechurch.francischanA few quotes from Francis Chan that will get you thinking…!

“God designed the Church to be much more than what the majority of us experience in America. There are many of us who believe this and want change. The good news is that God wants this change even more than we do.

The early church didn’t need the energetic music, great videos, attractive leaders, or elaborate lighting to be excited about being a part of God’s body. The pure gospel was enough to put them in a place of awe.

If you think that sitting back and letting the church staff feed you will bring you the most fulfillment, you are so wrong. God promised that those who give will be most blessed (Acts 20:35).

When the Bible describes the power available to you, doesn’t it sound like hyperbole? It seems so extreme, yet we see so little of this in our own lives and in the Church. The discrepancy could challenge your faith in the Scriptures—how can the Bible promise things we never experience in real life? But are you willing to consider that the Bible is accurate and the Church has domesticated us to the point where we doubt our power?

Church, the answer is not to build bigger and nicer cages. Nor is it to renovate the cages so they look more like the wild. It’s time to open the cages, remind the animals of their God-given instincts and capabilities, and release them into the wild.

Alan Hirsch said, “In so many churches the mission of the church has actually become the maintenance of the institution itself.”

It’s time to train people to live in the wild again.

There are elements of modern churches that on the surface seem like good ideas, but they can actually keep us from the biblical vision of unity, true fellowship, mutual love, and pursuit of the mission. Too many look at these elements and insist you can’t have a church without them.

I believe God is leading a movement in this country toward simple, smaller gatherings, and I long to see this movement gain greater traction. I get so excited when I dream about the Church spreading in small, invigorating expressions that look and feel like the early church. My goal is to get you dreaming about this as well.

My hope is simply to convince you that there are compelling ways of living as the Church that look nothing like our traditional models. My goal is to get you dreaming, to keep you from settling, to affirm that nagging sense you can’t shake that God wants something more for His Church than what you’re experiencing.”

Learn more about the book: ‘Letters to the Church’ by Francis Chan