Feed me! Feed me!

I woke up musing on how many Christians feel like “they must be fed” — there are some in network marketing or traditional jobs who want their upline or boss to do it for them — many adult children perpetually living at home without a legit reason to do so — and so on.

It would be easy to dismiss that as a spirit of entitlement or greed, or codependency, but I believe it’s bigger than that … People who do this feel unworthy to do it themselves or they feel unwanted in a situation, and so by demanding that someone feed them, they give themselves a false sense of security – and then if someone doesn’t, it validates the orphan spirit within them.

What would happen (in any setting – church, business, families) if EVERYONE brought food, came to the table, and sat down together to share food and eat? Some will bring a main dish and some will swing by Bojangles, someone will make a banana pudding from scratch (including milking the cow to get the milk to make the pudding) and someone else will run by Walmart for a bag of Oreos, but that isn’t the point – all contribute. And then, upon being seated together, each one picks up their own fork and eats.

It’s not up to your leaders to feed you.

Let’s take this to a church setting. It’s not the pastor’s job to slap a bib on you, buckle you into a high-chair, and spoon-feed you for 30 minutes once a week. It’s the job of five-fold ministry to equip the saints for the work of ministry (which is actually to go and teach others to feed themselves).

To continue my analogy from above, you should show up at church on Sunday morning with a green bean casserole. Your spouse might have an apple pie. You sit down with folks who’ve brought the potato salad and slaw, pitchers of sweet tea, bottles of cokes, bags of chips, cold fried chicken…The worship leader, teachers, preachers, prophets will bring main dishes. (now I’m getting hungry – aren’t you? Doesn’t this sound use like a church potluck?).

Over the course of that service, every item on the menu will be tasted. YOUR gift will be enjoyed by all. Some people’s gifts will be enjoyed by others over a microphone or through hands-on prayer, and some may not be seen so directly – like those who clean up all the tissues on the floor after the end of service, and those who stay in the secret place and pray.

What’s more, people were never designed to eat only on Sunday mornings.

Many churches operate more like an orphanage – it’s the leader’s job to cook all the food, and to purée it, and to spoon-feed it to each and every congregant at each and every service. Though the institution might have been founded out of love and concern, quickly the leader starts to get worn out, resentful of those they’re called to care for, and disinterested. The meals get simpler and simpler and the children become more and more malnourished.

When people feed themselves and others, everyone is healthy and well nourished together.

Are you getting this?

The everlasting party

Jesus went and called a sinner – “Come, Matthew. Follow Me.” And Matthew followed.

Next thing you know, Jesus was in the house, and a bunch of folks just like Matthew had been followed him in and sat down with Jesus and shared a meal and hung out with Him, causing outrage among the religious. Then He told them that if they felt they didn’t need Him, that was fine – He’d come to call sinners. (Matthew 9:9+)

A couple of thoughts from this …

*** Matthew heard the call and simply followed. A movement begins with one person who says and acts upon, “Yes.”

*** This happened immediately after Jesus forgave the sin of, and healed, a paralyzed guy. The multitudes were marveling, but I can imagine, in that culture just as ours, some would say “oh that poor man” and not fully realize that the guy was a sinner. So Jesus went out immediately after and found The Biggest Sinner In Town, Matthew, and called HIM and saved HIM and gave him a new identity as a son of God.

*** The first thing Matthew did upon acting upon that “yes” is throw a massive party and invite all his friends.

*** Jesus loves parties. Throw Him a party, and He’ll be there with bells on.

*** All those soon-to-be-former-sinners came and SAT DOWN with Jesus. There’s an intimacy implied here. Sitting down, especially in this culture, is more like “reclining” implying that they were comfortable with Jesus. Food creates fellowship, unity, community.

*** When we say “Yes” and we enter into fellowship and union with Him, we become “seated together in heavenly places in Him.”  We join the eternal party and recline with Him at the table, forever.

*** The religious wanted to challenge Jesus about allowing this. I see this – and I’ve lived this – over and over again. Some Pharisees try to say “This isn’t right” and others couch their words carefully, to convey “we really care about you” and “don’t you know it’s dangerous?” And I’ve even heard, “Bad company corrupts good character” … “You shouldn’t associate with them.”

*** Sinners tend to admit that they’re sinners and even if they aren’t ready to come to Christ, they tend to know that something is lacking in their lives. Religious people exalt their religion above Christ.

*** He desires mercy, not sacrifice. It’s all about the heart. That’s what He’s after in you, in me, in all of us … Will we allow our hearts to be seated, and remain seated, with Him?

*** When we say yes, we should throw a party and invite all our friends. He’ll come and be in our midst. Lives will change forever. His party goes on forever.

*** This is one expression of what the Gospel of the Kingdom looks like with “skin on”.

 

A time to plant …

It’s time! It’s finally time!

The Lord brought us to Wilmington for a purpose – to plant, nurture, grow, harvest, and plant more. He’s given us a passion for this city and the surrounding region, and a plan for bringing true Kingdom transformation to this place.

We’re going to be gathering people – all sorts of people.

You may be a “lifelong” Christian, you may be a recent convert, you may be wondering what this Jesus stuff is all about. You might be lost, or you might be found. You may have been relegated to sitting in a church pew, or you might be a minister yourself. You might be from a different sort of church background. You may be walking wounded, or you may be wholly restored. Maybe you’re black or white or Asian or Hispanic or … Whatever. Maybe you’re rich. Maybe you’re poor. Maybe you’re somewhere in between. You might work with your hands, or work in an office.  You might be a musician (feel free to bring instruments and join in the flow of worship) or you might not be able to carry a tune (it’s ok you’re in good company with us) … We will make a joyful noise unto the Lord! Everyone is welcome.

We’re meeting every 2nd and 4th Friday nights at 7pm at our home in Wrightsboro (just a few minutes from downtown Wilmington). Our first meeting is this Friday, September 9th. We will not be meeting in Wilmington on Friday, September 23, we are instead inviting everyone who is able to come with us to the Eyes & Wings Conference with Wes & Stacy Campbell at our “home” church, New Day the Church at High Point. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for all the details! 

Aside from a starting time, we don’t really have a format or structure (on purpose). We’re not sure what it will look like! It’s His time, not ours.

Here’s an idea of what we’re anticipating:

Jesus said to pray, “On earth as it is in Heaven” and we have prayed for years, “right here, right now, as it is in Heaven.” We know that our commission as believers in the right-now Kingdom of God is to bring transformation.

We know that God is present in every believer and in this place, and so we will invite that raw presence to be fully manifest, and we will follow His agenda each time we meet.

We’ll worship with reckless abandon and exuberant freedom and passionate reverence.

We’ll give and receive words, healing, hope.

We will love Him and one another fervently and passionately. We will “do life” both as a community and IN the community.

We’ll teach and be taught.

He will speak strategy, wisdom, and timing for the outreaches and ministries that will bring Kingdom transformation to our region.

We will function according to the five-fold model outlined in Scripture. People will be fully equipped for the work of ministry and will be launched into their destiny.

This will be a house of healing, restoration, hope, worship and joy.

We will exalt the Lord and make Him famous. This is His church.

Reactions to temperature

When it’s too hot or too cold in a room, do you

a) Walk out and go somewhere else where the temperature is more to your liking

b) Put on/take off a sweater as needed

c) complain loudly to anyone who will listen. Blame the people in charge. Blame the enemy. Assert vigorously that the people in charge are controlled by the enemy.

d) pray fervently that destruction of the room and rescue of all within will come quickly, and that many will join you in this ongoing prayer.

e) wish fervently to be miraculously removed from the situation, and wish for your friends and family (well, the ones that you like) to be removed as well (but not those bad people, they must die.)

f) get up and adjust the thermostat. 

 

Church, it’s time … what will you do?

Hyper-Wrath

Yes, there IS such a thing as the “hyper-grace” movement (lousy term, in my opinion) – and yes, it’s dangerous and should be avoided (don’t get it confused with the REAL grace of God and those people who embrace and promote it). For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, there are a few in the Body who believe that grace negates a need for self-control and holiness, that we can sin flagrantly and rejoice in our sin because we are forgiven, and in fact we should pursue more sin because then we get more grace. Like I said – a few. I’ve met one or two who believe that way, but it’s growing.

There is also an equal but opposite error that I’ll call the hyper-wrath movement. It is perhaps even more dangerous than “hyper-grace”. These folks preach the impending doom of most of the world (except for them and their few friends) any minute due to the well-deserved wrath of God. Fireballs from heaven, earthquakes, famines, floods, boils, diseases, tornades – all because God is REALLY REALLY TICKED AT US. Their message – “Be afraid, be VERY afraid of our angry, revengeful God.”

How do they reconcile that with the simplicity of the Gospel? With even the simplest of scriptures, like John 3:16-17 and “on earth peace, good will to men”?

Friends, we must stop living in the wrong sort of fear. Yes, there IS the fear of the Lord and it’s real, it’s right, and it’s wonderful. If you’ve never experienced it, I suggest that you ask Father for that experience. It’s delightful. The fear of the Lord is empowering; it doesn’t leave you cowering like a kid who just got smacked in the head a couple of times. The fear of the Lord is clean; it doesn’t leave you ashamed. The fear of the Lord leaves you in wonder, not wondering “what next”.

The hyper-wrath movement never talks about that kind of fear – they earnestly believe (and would convince you) that you should “fear the Lord” – and by that, they mean be disempowered, discouraged, ashamed, and following the rules and toeing the line so that you don’t get smacked again by that angry guy up in the sky.

This is the highest form of nonsense! Both hyper-grace and hyper-wrath assign to God attributes He does not have. Both malign His character. Both take the eyes completely off from Jesus; hyper-grace says “lookie at what I can do” and hyper-wrath says “look at all the bad things I’ve done”.

How about looking at Jesus and what He did and what He does in us today? How about seeking first His Kingdom & His righteousness, and then advancing that Kingdom through the earth? How about living in the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in us bodily? It’s time for the Body to step boldly into His plan and quit being sidetracked by nonsense.