Obey the Spirit’s teaching

Elvis_Presley_Jailhouse_RockThe Lord began preparing me to leave religious Babylon (man’s church) decades before I actually walked away from it. Blow upon blow, hurt upon hurt, the only way I would leave man’s church is when the discomfort of it all obliterated any hope of remaining. I could recount a hundred such abusive experiences, any one of which should have motivated me to leave, but I was deeply devoted to “the church” since it was there Jesus revealed himself to me. That’s a ridiculous notion, of course, returning weekly to the place I met Jesus. He could just as easily have appeared to me in the dentist’s office. If He had, would I make an appointment to have my teeth cleaned every week in the hope of seeing Him again?

Perhaps leaving was more difficult for me because I was a performing song-writer of original Christian tunes, so the church was my defacto performance venue for half a lifetime. Yet even that was hurtful because my home church saw me only as a guitar-player for the praise band; Continue reading

Blame the mountain

Jesus said … “if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 ESV)

Few things upset me more than believers who fault a person’s faith as the reason for unanswered prayers, especially prayers for healing some malady. How often have I witnessed or heard about some ‘anointed’ spiritual leader who laid hands on someone for healing, who then turned and blamed Continue reading

Mercy and the law

A friend sought me out for counsel after someone professing to be a brother accused him of adultery for remarrying several years after his wife ran off with another man and divorced him. He was deeply hurt and needed to talk, wherein our conversation naturally turned to judgment and mercy.

mercyAmong the scriptures we looked at was John 8:3-11, where the woman caught in the act of adultery was dragged out and thrown down in front of Jesus. Her accusers, with stones in their hands, said to Jesus “the law of Moses says she should be stoned – what do YOU say?” Jesus replied “if any of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone”. One by one they dropped their stones and left. When only Jesus and the woman remained, He addressed her. Though Jesus was without sin and therefore qualified to throw stones, He didn’t even pick one up. Instead, He said “neither do I accuse you – go and sin no more”.

The man who professed to be a brother, made the issue of my friend’s alleged sin, his business. In so doing, he effectively picked up a stone and hurled it, Continue reading

Throwing down Babylon

Revelation chapter 18 concerns the Lord calling His people out of spiritual Babylon and its ultimate destruction by fire. I believe one day spiritual Babylon will be destroyed, literally, but until then, each of us who have heard and responded to the Lord’s call to “come out of her, My people” (Revelation 18:4), must overcome the strongholds religious Babylon has within us. To that end, the Lord has often challenged me to examine what I believe and throw down to destruction that which is not of Him and His Truth.

babylonunearthedOne of the most unsettling things I’ve done to examine my beliefs, is to compare the 4 books of the gospel, with the rest of the new  testament. Take for example the word “church”; Jesus used it just 3 times (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17), whereas it is used 113 times in  Acts through Revelation (KJV translation). The Greek word “ekklesia”, which translators have rendered “church”, actually means  “assembly”, yet it is translated “assembly” just 3 times out of 116 occurrences in the New Testament; Acts 19:32, :39 and :41. That passage refers to a gathering of the Ephesians in a civic hall to address the threat that The Way posed to their profitable business of making and selling silver shrines for the idol Artemis  (Diana). Continue reading

Building with living stones

A benefit concert for a free medical clinic inspired me to write a new song for the event. The heart of the person who put it all together really touched me as one of few genuine church building efforts I’ve seen in years.

livingstoneFor the concert, the Lord impressed me with a message about Church building. Most of us have heard that the “Church” is a people, not a building. Yet it seems whenever church building is discussed, the conversation always turns to a house of wood. Concerning the things of this world we work so hard to build and maintain, Paul tells us that the Lord will test the quality of our work by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13).

Accordingly, we really need to ask ourselves whether what we are working on will survive the fire, for only that which remains is worthy of our labors. We can be certain that our church buildings, camp and conference grounds, church buses and the like will be burned up. When the ‘things of this world’ are gone, I think we will see that our only enduring work is the investments we have made in others (Matthew 25:31-46). Continue reading

Lazarus and the church

Often I have pondered the spiritual meaning behind Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and how symbolically it represents people stuck in a life-less institutional church awaiting the day Christ calls them forth from their religious tombs to enjoy life in the Spirit. Perhaps it’s because I’m a songwriter that I so appreciate the poetic metaphor and the symbolic meanings behind the miracles of Christ.

lazarusConsider some of the parallels between Lazarus, a dead man in a tomb with a stone over the entrance, wound in grave clothes and buried under a mountain of fragrant spices to mask his stink; and the unregenerate who are entombed in man’s church where the Spirit that gives life is shut out by tradition and only the spice of programs mask the stench of dead religion. One by one Christ calls out to them saying “COME FORTH” from the tomb, where the living in Christ are waiting to help remove their religious grave clothes and set them free to soar with the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

How to manipulate God

Q: Can any 2 believers gather together, declare their gathering is “in Jesus name” and thereby compel the Lord to join them?

Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you. (Matthew 18:20 CEV)

When I was young in the faith (read: immature), my approach to God’s Word was like that of an attorney who pours over the fine print in a contract to identify beneficial provisions and hold God accountable to fulfill them for me. In so doing, I was trying to use God in a selfish and manipulative way to do my will.

Bricklayer

The Bible software I use, has available 32 English translations for exploring scripture, some of which are mapped to the Greek texts for further study. Often while studying, the Holy Spirit will prompt me to compare all 32 translations to get a better understanding of a scripture. His Spirit prompted me to read every translation of Matthew 18:20 and one in particular jumped out at me; a subtle difference from the other 31 translations. Continue reading