Persecution

Was reading from one of my favorite chapters in the Bible this morning, Acts 8.

It starts off by describing Saul’s consent to Stephen being stoned, and how he further persecuted the Church by going house to house, making havoc of the church, throwing people in prison.

Then Acts 8:4 … “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word.”

It got me wondering… what is the difference?

In the early Church, when the government said, “sit down and shut up” and the religious leaders said, “you can’t be out here healing the sick and raising the dead” the Church did so all the more.

Here in America, if the government says, “you can’t pray in school” or the preacher says, “just wait for the rapture”, most folks sit down and “behave” themselves. Even very minor persecutions result in complacency for the sake of comfort.

What’s the fundamental difference between then and now?

The simple answer would be “experience” … but I suspect that it’s simply not that simple.

Thoughts?

Starbucks, the AFA, and you

Witch_Hunt Someone forwarded me an email from the American Family Association this morning with this headline:

Starbucks CEO to Christian shareholders: Buy stock elsewhere
Let Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz know you don’t agree with his company’s aggressive attempts to re-define marriage.

May I point out, first of all, that this is NOT QUITE what the Howard [1. I’ve always called Howard Schultz “the Howard”… so do other partners] said?!

May I also point out that Starbucks has been very consistent in their stance toward the gay agenda? It hasn’t changed… it hasn’t even grown, though the individual causes change from time to time… when I was a partner at the company, six years ago, the Howard was talking about “equal rights” for the QC[2. QC=Queer Community/Queer Culture]. This is nothing new. The “outrage” is politically expedient. That is all.

stoneIt’s also nothing new that the AFA is taking the very disingenuous step of telling partial truths to advance their agenda (not just on gay rights, either). I didn’t have a lot of good things to say about the AFA prior to this debacle… had distanced myself years ago on nearly all topics… but with this current obfuscation of the truth, I’d advise all Christians to ditch the AFA… immediately. 

Ken noted last night that he finds it astonishing that the AFA wants to boycott Starbucks…that for them, this is a legitimate action to effect social change… but when the QC said they were boycotting Chick-fil-a because of their stance on homosexuality, the QC was evil for boycotting. REALLY. How fascinating.

It’s also nothing new that Church culture feels that the best way to influence the world is through economics and not through love. And, I guess if you just want a world without gay marriage, it might be a good way to go about it. But is morality through the force of law what you REALLY want? You don’t even need Jesus for that. (oh wait… that’s been tried already… it didn’t work, did it? So why are we still trying it?)

The Church is still trying to go the way of the disciples before Pentecost: “Lord, will You at this time restore the [political] kingdom to Israel?” [3. Acts 1:6] Is it any wonder that Jesus said to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world?”[4. John 18:36] … and He promised us power, the promise of Father, our Comforter, Holy Spirit…

What would happen if, instead of taking action in the second heaven to prevent gay marriage, we partner with the 3rd Heaven to disciple America?

I do want to say, I’m not condoning QM’s.There’s no reason why we can’t simply and lovingly state what the Bible says.  I believe that homosexuality is a behavior choice and a sin. It’s a choice that I made myself, before I met Jesus… and I will testify that He sets people free. I’m not advocating sitting down, politically. Politics is one of the mountains… however, will we occupy that territory by force or by honor, love, and truth?

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What it comes down to is this:

  • Is gay marriage even the issue here? Is this the hill you’re wanting to die on? (If it is, even if you win, that’s all you will get…then you’ll be on to the next issue-of-morality-by-force)
  • If you prevent gay marriage from happening by the force of law, how many will come to Christ and be set free as a result of it?
  • If Jesus and the disciples had used this strategy in the gospels, what would have happened?
  • How will we bring change?  Force or honor? Bullying or hope? Obfuscation or truth? Old Covenant or New Covenant? Law or grace? Word or power? Church or Kingdom?
  • What values do we REALLY stand for? What life do we really live in Christ? They’re watching… what are you showing them?
  • WHO are you showing them?

 

We can’t have it both ways. If your hands are full of stones and a need to control, you won’t be able to give a person a hand up from the dirt and sin in their life, as Jesus did. 

PS: I’m not sure why my blog is not allowing new comments… apparently, Disqus and the Social plug-in do not play well together. Please go to my facebook and comment there! 🙂

Who are you?

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, where do you fit into this picture… and why?

who_am_i_

The Church: “only deal with Christian people, or at least those that seem to have good morals that uphold the Laws of God! If you don’t, you could become contaminated! Don’t you know that the Bible says that if you touch a leper, you become unclean? That sin could rub off on you! It’s best to not even go there… it’s just not safe. Those nasty, nasty sinners… ”

The Kingdom: “You are a child of light, the light of the world, a son of God, made in His image, restored to His innocence, and in you resides the fullness of the Godhead bodily. You are complete in Him. You have the power to overcome darkness, indeed, power over all the power of the enemy. Your commission is to love radically, sozo boldly, and make disciples of nations. Kiss the leper and make him clean.”

Who are you? 

Borders and Boundaries

My morning reading took me here:

imagesRemove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. Proverbs 22:28

This may be the first time ever that I’ve come out in favor of the KJV being the best translation for a particular verse. The ones I’ve compared with it really lose something in the translation; they all say, “Do not move the boundary stone”… and hence comes our problem. I believe we have taken this verse all wrong.

The word translated “remove” in the KJV and “move” in modern translations is nacag, and it means “to move back”.

So the verse says, “Don’t move it back“. But generations have taken it as, “Don’t move it at all. Ever. This is our standard. This is our place.”

Always remember that Proverbs is given as instruction to the one who would be King (that’s you and me, dear reader)…it’s training for reigning. Kings who do not take new territory for their Kingdom are stagnant… even dying. Kings who settle into complacency and comfort are vulnerable to attack… and even to losing ground.

For generations, the Church was stuck at “do not move it” … don’t go forward, don’t go back… do not grow, do not change, hold to the holy tradition of our fathers…is it any wonder the world has perceived Christian people as being “a stick in the mud”? We’ve stagnated, we’ve let the dust settle, and we’ve become professional waiters… perpetually waiting on God to do something. We’ve created entire doctrines about waiting in safety within the boundaries that the Lord has set. We’ve collectively lost our sense of adventure!

This has, of course, bred disappointment and death. That has brought about the current cultural slide that much of the Church is engaging in: relevance. We thought that all would be well if we maintained the boundary at all costs – but many grew weary in that fight. Many gave up. You can’t walk in triumph if you’re standing still. The constant unanswered pressure from the adjoining kingdom caused some people to say, “OK, I’ll remove the boundary… I’ll retreat to a better spot. Yeah, you’re right, that boundary was set generations ago, it’s no longer relevant today.”  We even see boundaries being moved back that were already moved back a few generations ago and we don’t even realize it. We see this again and again in the Church with issues like homosexuality, abortion, universalism, cessationism, monergism, and many more.

The boundary stones were “set by our fathers” not to limit us, but to invite us! They were never meant to say, “stand behind this line”. The landmarks our fathers set are starting points for us as pioneers of the Kingdom of God. Their ceiling becomes our floor. Their borders become our starting lines. Our job in life is to advance those boundaries to the very limits that we are capable of advancing them to… and then give those invitations for expansion to our children and our children’s children.

We were never meant to stand still.. and we were certainly never meant to retreat. Our destiny is to advance… to take territory from the adjoining kingdom… to destroy works of darkness… to bring light to the world. We have to pick up that boundary stone and move it forward into new territory. Every heart, every healing, every deliverance, every prophecy, every miracle advances that boundary… and as momentum builds, the depth of penetration increases so that the boundary advances through cities and then nations!

Destroying darkness, rebuilding ruined cities, and discipling nations is the call and destiny of the sons of God. In order to do these things, we must pick up those boundary stones and begin to walk, and put them back down again in the farthest place that we may, so that our children may have an excellent place to begin and do the same.

When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson

There’s probably no book other than the Bible that has brought Kingdom change into my life more than When Heaven Invades Earth. It was introduced to me by my spiritual Dad, Pastor Bill Perdue, about 3 1/2 years ago… and, like most truths, it made me mad before it set me free. In fact, it made me SO mad, I showed up for a class at church one night, cornered Pastor Bill, slammed the book on the table, and said, “Do you really believe this stuff?”

He looked me in the eye… and said yes.

In the next few moments, as I got alone with the Lord, Holy Spirit began to unveil the Kingdom of God and the Bible to me. That moment utterly transformed my life.

Bill Johnson announced a few moments ago that When Heaven Invades Earth is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Here’s the announcement:

Bill Johnson Ministries is pleased to announce the release of the 10th Anniversary Edition of When Heaven Invades Earth! Available today at Sam’s Club in the USA. This expanded edition includes a 40 day devotional.

“Bill Johnson’s book, When Heaven Invades Earth, contains a message greatly needed for the Church today. This book is not about some theoretical possibility, nor some pie-in-the-sky theology…instead it offers practical, tried and proven strategies for pushing back the kingdom of darkness and advancing the Kingdom of Light.” – Randy Clark, Founder, Apostolic Network of Global Awakening