Have you ever sat back and thought about how much fear affects your life? Do you operate out of fear or love? Dale, my husband, as done another video. This one on the subject of fear.
My husband, Dale, has started a series of videos. We are calling them “Table Talks with Dale”. His first one in on the topic of forgiveness. Being able to forgive is such a freeing gift both to the forgiven and the forgiver. The anger we hold against another is like an illness inside that is both physically and emotionally a killer. Watch Dale’s video and may Christ minister to you through it.
My experience in the institutional church taught me that Christ was somewhere far off and I needed to do something to draw Him near. I needed to perform certain actions for Him to come closer. My worship and prayer needed to be done in the right way for Christ to come and be with me. If I couldn’t focus or I was bored then I was bad and Jesus wasn’t going to come. When I was into the music and focused on worship then I was good and Jesus would come. This idea of Him being with me was signaled by a certain feeling in worship. I would feel a certain way when Christ drew near. I have discovered that idea looks an awful lot like the Old Testament worship of the Jews or a tamer version of the pagan worship. What I was experiencing there wasn’t necessarily Christ, they were emotions either about Christ or about the song we were singing.
The pagans felt they had to repeat things in order to get their gods to come. They chanted over and over phrases. They would offer sacrifices of something to get the gods to bless them.
In the Old Testament the Jews had many practices they had to perform to be clean and ready for worship. These were ordained by God through the Old Testament Law. They bathed and cleaned themselves both physically and spiritually. Yet what was God’s purpose in ordaining these? In the New Testament through our brother Paul we learn that the Law was a tutor to show us our sin. Without the law I wouldn’t know that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. In chapter 7 of Romans Paul’s dilemma isn’t in Christ, but in the Law. “Why can’t I keep the Law?” is his cry. Romans Chapter 8 reveals the relief from the dilemma, it is Christ!
Jesus truly is the focus of our faith. Jesus is the center of our salvation. I have tried to be perfect all my life in order to be loved by God and others. I have finally figured out, as my brother Paul did, that Christ took my place and now I am free of condemnation. Sin no longer has a hold on me…meaning that I am no longer marked by it. It doesn’t mean I wont sin again but it means that Jesus’ blood has taken care of the sin. I don’t have to do anything to make myself cleaner. Does that mean I have a free ticket on sin…may it never be. A person who is in Christ will be transformed. We will be changed. Our hearts will become like His heart. It may take time but Jesus and God the Father will do the work to transform us into His likeness.
So the Old Testament Contract or Covenant has been completed by Jesus…it is finished (Read 2 Corinthians). A new Contract or Covenant has been established through Christ (read 2 Corinthians). So here is where the closeness of Christ comes in. We as believers in Christ have become one with Him. He is in us and we are in Him. As the Vine is connected to the branches so is He connected to us. As the Head is connected to the body so is He connected to us. The curtain was torn in half and taken down in the temple. We don’t have to do anything to be in His presence anymore. We are already there if we are in Him.
What I am not saying is that worship is wrong. What I am saying is that Christ and we are one. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is among us. We are His body and He is our Head. We are His branches producing fruit that He has ordained us to produce and He is our Vine.
Be at peace my brothers and sisters in Christ…He is there among you already…enjoy Him. Stop calling Him to come and start enjoying Him.
This last week I had an extraordinary experience…love that word “extraordinary”.
It is defined as:
- Beyond what is ordinary or usual: extraordinary authority.
- Highly exceptional; remarkable: an extraordinary achievement.
- Employed or used for a special service, function, or occasion: an extraordinary professor.
I mean it here as something unusual. I joined a dog group on Facebook this last week. They have them for every breed possible, I joined, a English Springer Spaniel one, because I just got a new puppy and just love the breed. Something extraordinary was going on there. These people were loading up pictures of their dogs: puppies, adult, senior dogs. They uploaded videos of their dogs. Pictures with dialogue with their dogs. Under each picture or video was about 50 or so comments from the others in the group. The comments were so positive, encouraging, loving, rejoicing with, sympathizing and sometimes they would speak the truth in love to one another. Now I know that these people are human beings so I am sure they hurt one another once in a while. Yet as I have been following the group so much positive love is flowing around for English Springer Spaniels and one another. That is the focus of their love, their passion, my love and passion. We share this in common.
There are several groups for Organic or Ekklesia church expression and as I have been in those groups, something seems to be lacking. They are boring and just not as much fun as hanging out with the dog people. Why is that?
I love to talk about what Jesus is doing in my life. I love to hear what others are experiencing in Jesus. It would be so much fun if I could have a group like the dog people group that just want to talk about Jesus experiences. There would be so much love and positive expression of Christ going on.
Frank Viola in his book “Reimagining Church” has this wonderful “I have a dream…” at the beginning of his book. A adaption of Martin Luther Kings’ “I have a dream” speech. I would like to give you that quote
“I Have A Dream
I have a dream that one day the church of Jesus Christ will rise up to her God-given calling and begin to live out the true meaning of her identity–which is, the very heartthrob of God Almighty–the fiancée of the King of all Kings.
I have a dream that Jesus Christ will one day be Head of His Church again. Not in pious rhetoric, but in reality.
I have a dream that groups of Christians everywhere will begin to flesh out the New Testament reality that the church is a living organism and not an institutional organization.
I have a dream that the clergy/laity divide will someday be an antique of church history, and the Lord Jesus Himself will replace the moss-laden system of human hierarchy that has usurped His authority among His people.
I have a dream that multitudes of God’s people will no longer tolerate those man-made systems that have put them in religious bondage and under a pile of guilt, duty, condemnation, making them slaves to authoritarian systems and leaders.
I have a dream that the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ will be the focus, the mainstay and the pursuit of every Christian and every church. And that God’s dear people will no longer be obsessed with spiritual and religious things to the point of division. But that their obsession and pursuit would be a person–the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have a dream that countless churches will be transformed from high-powered business organizations into spiritual families–authentic Christ-centered communities–where the members know one another intimately; love one another unconditionally, bleed for one another deeply, and rejoice with one another unfailingly.
I have a dream today….”
See that dog group is very nice but it doesn’t give the life of Christ to me. Only another believer, a group, of believers can do that. That group of believers needs to have the expression of Christ as the center of their hearts…just as, those dog lovers have, English Springer Spaniels, as the center focus of their hearts. Oh how my heart longs for that. That is why that group is so attractive to me…their love and devotion is poured out on their breed of dog…it is a twisted expression of what the church was meant to be. A group of people, gathered together with Jesus as their focus, loving on one another.
I have a dream that one day Jesus will build His church expression in a group that I am a part of.
I would have to say that relationships are hard. They are hard to maintain, grow, keep alive, survive, and almost impossible to make extraordinary. That has been my experience…is yours different? My life has had patterns that have made relationships difficult. I have issues inside of me that makes lasting extraordinary relationships hard, but I also have to say that I’m not the only problem in the equation. As the old saying goes it takes two to tangle or is that tango? It takes two to make love and two to make conflicts.
One of the keys things, I want this blog to be, is a place where I share my journey. Not a place where I preach or teach. I am really tired of being preached at and even more tired of reading everyone else opinions. I want to share my heart and if in that process Jesus opens your eyes to something in your own life…wonderful. That is what this is about. If you have a insight you want to share please do…in love.
So I have been learning a few of my own issues, that keep me from having extraordinary relationships.
- I have my own agenda in life and I can’t always see beyond my own nose. So conflict happens and I tend to defend my position rather than listen.
- Things don’t go the way I want them to go and I tend to interpret the other person motives as being uncaring or unloving.
- Boundaries? What are those?
- Insecurities of my own worth and value.
I am sure that there are more but for right now I leave the list as so. I have been learning so many amazing things in this journey towards extraordinary relationships, and because that is what I truly want, I am pursuing learning how to have them. So here we go my learning moments in Jesus.
Jesus said two mind boggling things. (He said many more than two but for right now I am going to deal with two of them) He said, “Love as I have loved you.” John 13:34 and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Mark 12:33 There are some variations on those like: Do for others as you would want done for you. The golden rule. The 58 one anothers in the bible are all about how to demonstrate love to one another.
These two mind boggling saying sound so simple…but are they really easy to do? Haven’t been in my life. How about you? In my institutional (my mean the institutional church not the mental institution) days these would have taken on a sense of impossibility and condemnation. It would have felt like if I am not laying down my life for another then I just wasn’t getting it right and I needed to try harder. I certainly could act like that externally for a while but something in my heart wasn’t right. Jesus is all about our hearts.
John 15 is all about extraordinary relationships.
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
It wasn’t until recently that Jesus opened my eyes to something absolutely amazing in this passage, please read verses 4 & 5 again. We can’t produce fruit by our own efforts. I can’t produce love without Jesus. Wow. My self efforts get me no where. I can’t do it. This whole extraordinary relationships thing is impossible for me to do by myself. What a relief. I can take a big breath and let it go. The stress of the effort to do it on my own is gone. I am not alone in achieving this desire and not only that but Jesus wants me to have extraordinary relationships, so I am right in the center of His heart. Yeah!!!!
My role is to abide in Him and since I am in Him and He is in me…we’ve got something going. (Colossians 1: 25-27) Shame and condemnation no longer have a hold on me. That is a truth. Now to walk it out. Here is what I have learned about the two simple, mind boggling, verses I shared earlier.
- I can’t do either one of them by myself. Love is a fruit that is produced by Christ in me.
- I can’t love others if I don’t love myself. This is the act of accepting who you are and loving yourself as Jesus loves you.
- I can’t love myself or others if I don’t know or have experienced the love of Jesus. What I mean here is not just His incredible act of love on the cross but all of it. From the being He has loved me, choose me, accepted me, died for me, rose again for me, lives in me, forgave me, forgave me, loved me, accepted me, choose me, live in me. He will never leave me or abandon me. He won’t reject me if I don’t get it right. He believes in me. He believes in the idea that His work in me is going to produce fruit.
So if I want to have extraordinary relationships I might want to practice the following in my life:
- Accept people for who they are right now and not try to change who they are. I don’t have that power, only the Christ who is in us both can do that. (if they are a believer and I can’t know how Christ is working to bring about their faith) So accepting those who aren’t in Christ is really important. Loving them for who they are: a human being created in the image of God.
- Differentiate myself from others. Differentiation is the understanding that you are you. Your different from others. You can stand in your own circle and be who you are. You don’t need to lean on another to live life. A really good book to read on this is “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Another good book is: “Extraordinary Relationships, a new way of thinking” by Roberta M. Gilbert. This is the action of maturing.
- Listen, when we listen as a differentiated person, we can hear. This means the other person is express their experience of something. If they are hurt or angry…it is their hurt and anger, not mine. This takes a lot of work and practice. Since I am married I am getting lots of practice on this one.
With each of these, can you see, that Jesus has done this for us? I have experienced His love in these ways. He accepts me just as I am. He is in me and I am in Him but that relationship is one of boundaries…He never crosses mine and He wont allow me to cross His. Jesus always listens without getting defensive.
Here again I am not doing this on my own…Jesus is at work in me to perfect His love in me so I can love others as He has loved me.
Steven Curtis Chapman’s Free