thoughts that challenge the status quo of modern, western christianity

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Website

Please note, much of my writing is being done now on

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Many Plates Are You Spinning?

As a kid growing up, I remember seeing the juggler who would spin plates. They would place an individual plate on a thin stick and spin it; then repeat this process over and over. Periodically they had to return to a previous plate and give it an extra spin to keep them from falling off the stick. So the idea was to see how many plates they could keep spinning before one fell and broke.

Do you ever feel like this juggler? We all have our plates: jobs (sometimes multiple plates here), spouses, kids, friends, spirituality, hobbies and the list goes on. It seems our lives can get to the place we are running from plate to plate, giving it just enough to keep it spinning, then run to the next one. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how many plates we can spin and how long we can keep spinning. How do you know those limits? It is when the plate falls and breaks.

One of the first plates that usually breaks is our spiritual relationship; we find that we are either do not “have” time or are too tired. Matthew 13, Jesus speaks the parable of the sower. In this story, seed is sown on four types of soil: hard, stony, thorny and good. The applicable part to us now is the thorny soil. It states that the seed begins to grow, but then thorns grow around it and choke it out. In verse 22, Jesus gives the insights of this scenario: The seed is the word of God (consider it our spirituality) and he defines the thorns as “the cares of life” and the “deceitfulness of riches.”

The application could be something like this; the “cares of life” are the “things” we are busy doing just to live. They are not necessarily evil or sin, but the are so time consuming they produce pressure or stress on us. It is the never ending list of social engagements, the multiple practices for various sports or arts performances, the non-stop business meetings we believe are necessary, and the list goes on and on. Add to this the laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, yard work, car maintenance etc. All these add up to the care or weight of daily living.

The “deceitfulness of riches” are the wealth and “things” we think we need to possess. We ceaselessly pursue them because we believe they will some how satisfy, complete or fulfill who we are. (Now i know we may not say this, but it is really what we think deep down.) In fact there is a whole industry that their purpose is to show us how we are not complete unless drive certain cars, wear the right clothes, use the latest technology, drink or eat the “in” foods or use the certain cosmetics or personal hygiene products.

What makes these deceitful, is that we think we need them (we rationalize) and once they are obtained, the expected fulfillment is short lived, so we move on to the next. We are always pursuing that mirage on the horizon.

Jesus warns that these two things choke out our spirituality because they become the focus of our daily lives. The consume our time, energy and focus, leaving us at the end of the day, maybe even a life, exhausted and empty.

The answer - reevaluate our purpose. Refocus on Him and His purpose. When you are in alignment with what He created you for, you can learn to say no. You will not be consumed with the mundane of life and your fulfillment or completeness will come from Him.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Captivity Of Thoughts

Thoughts are powerful things: they can be liberating and empowering, or limiting and demoralizing.

A common story told regarding the captivating power of thoughts is that of the training of elephants. As it goes, young elephants are taken and using heavy chains are tethered to stakes driven deep into the ground. The young elephant continually pulls and struggles against the chain, eventually giving up and “learning” it cannot get free. Once this has happened, even as a full-grown elephant, it can be tethered with a rope and stake because the elephant “believes” they cannot get free.

We find the same process happens in our lives when God sends us illumination of His kingdom and it’s power. We have a series of thoughts that affect how we process this illumination; unfortunately, many times these thoughts limit what God desires to do with in us.

What is the source of these limiting thoughts? They are from the traditions of men. Speaking of the effects of the Pharisee’s’ teachings, Jesus said they were “nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on” (MK 7:13 AMP). They were nullifying the authority of the Word of God. Now how can that happen? Isn’t God’s word all-powerful? Yet they were rendering it useless. The key to grasping this is in the word “traditions.”

The word used for traditions is paradosis and means “giving over, giving up, surrender.”* It derived from paradidoomi which according to Thayer’s means: “to give into the hands (of another),” “to give over into (one's) power or use.” This word is used 121x and in 100 of them it us used in the negative sense of taking or handing over into captivity.

So the principle here is that the traditions of men create thought processes that take us into captivity. This captivity of thoughts, prevent us from see the truth or illumination of the Word of God, thus limiting its effectiveness in our lives.

*For more about the definition of tradition see blog
“What Stops Us From Being Apostolic?” our book Apostolic Authority, Every Believer’s Privilege.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stinkin' Thinkin'

“Think you can, think you can’t. Either way you are probably right” is a statement that has been attributed to Henry Ford. The profound truth of this statement is that our thoughts either liberate or imprison us. This truth is applicable to all areas of our lives: relationships, education, careers, hobbies and spirituality. How I think, will determine my level or intensity of engagement: am I capable or incapable? Worthy or unworthy?

Limiting thoughts or beliefs produce strongholds that dictate our lifestyles. These strongholds are carefully crafted arguments that are used to justify or support our underlying limiting beliefs. Each time something happens that supports one of these arguments; it is adding another brick to the walls of our stronghold, further solidifying the “truth” of the underlying belief.

One arena where strongholds are so prevalent is within “the church.” Much of Christianity is built around a certain set of beliefs that are considered sacred and unchangeable. These strongholds affect the way we do church and includes such things as service structure, type of music, programs of ministry and organizational structure. The unfortunate aspect is that many of these beliefs are the traditions of men and not the truth of the Word of God.

To me it is interesting that Jesus first message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). The word here “repent” means to “think differently.” Jesus came to a society stifled with a system of religious legalistic conduct: his first words were to change your thinking.

It is my opinion that today, the Jesus is still proclaiming the same message: “Repent, change your thinking because the Kingdom of heaven is here!” It is His desire for us to dismantle the strongholds of limitations and step into the dominion He has provided for His people.

For a more detailed discussion of the limits of tradition, see chapter 2 of Apostolic Authority, Every Believer's Privilege. It can be ordered from Apostolic Missions Inc.

Monday, February 16, 2009

God's Understudy

In the world of theater, most of us are familiar with the understudy. This is the individual who is to learn a particular role and be prepared to step up and replace the main actor if necessary.

There is another definition of understudy, it is: one who is trained to do the work of another. To me, this concept goes well with the biblical idea of image and representation.

the action or fact of one person standing for another so as to have the rights and obligations of the person represented Miriam Webster On line Dictionary

Adam, as the image of God, was to act as His representative to creation. Adam was to stand in for God, if you will, in regards to the interaction with creation. Doing such, Adam was given the same basic rights as God.

For instance, God brought the animals to Adam for him to name them. In the biblical sense, naming was a demonstration of authority over something. So Adam was exercising a God given authority when he spoke the names of the animals. Which brings us to the next point: how did Adam demonstrate this authority from God? He spoke.

In the creation process, God exercised his power by speaking; “let there be” and it happened. As God’s representative (standing in with the same rights) Adam exercised his God given authority by acting just like God did – he spoke it.

In Gen 2:19 tell us “and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” The idea here is more than just what they were called, but it is a defining of them. In the original text, “the name there of” is one word and it speaks of being placed in a conspicuous position, a brand or putting something in its place. By speaking, Adam defined or established the identity of these animals; he was acting as God’s representative.

Being born again, we have been renewed after the image of the one who created us, Col 3:10, therefore our responsibility is the manifestation and the representation of the one who created us. We are to make Him real and have been authorized to act on His behalf in this world. This is the essence of apostolic authority: we have been sent by Jesus to operate by His authority to continue His purpose(Jn 17:18).

Paul tells us in 2 Cor 5:18-20, that we have been given the “ministry” & “word of reconciliation.” It is our privilege and responsibility to represent the Kingdom of heaven and affect the reconciliation of man to God. It is when we are actively involved in this purpose, we will see the power of the Kingdom revealed in our lives.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Get Real!

There are many theologies and philosophies in the world that men ascribe to. Wars have been initiated and continue to be propagated over these various beliefs. It is interesting to note, however, that many of these ideologies have overlapping “truths” which ultimately become confusing to the “outsiders.” A frequent comment of individuals is “How do you know that is true?” That is an honest question. Usually, the reply to this is rhetoric of “sacred” words that the adherent believes would convince the other of the “rightness” of their ideology: which to many brings more confusion. How is one to know?

Adam was created in the image of God: Jesus came as the visible image of an invisible God; and we have been renewed after the image of the one who created us. The common thread here is God is seeking an image of Himself to reveal creation. This idea of image has two concepts contained within its definition; the first one I want to address here and that is manifestation.

Manifest: to provide evidence for, stand as proof of, to make to appear distinctly

Since God is a spirit and does not have flesh and bone, from the beginning of creation He has sought a way to make Himself distinctly apparent. It has been His idea for us to have an intimate and obvious relationship with him. Unfortunately, the self –willed actions of Adam forfeited this privilege: thus Jesus and his purpose. Now it is up to you and I, the church, His body to continue the manifestation of God to the world.

However, we find the weakness of modern Christianity is that we have not made our King and his kingdom distinctly evident or plain from other beliefs. We are good and theological rhetoric, but short on manifestation.

Making Jesus evident or distinct is not about our buildings, programs or size (although there is nothing inherently wrong with them) it is about presenting Him in a way that is distinct from other ideologies.

Jesus came authentically, shaking up the religious thinkers of his day. He went beyond a religious check list and demonstrated an authentic truth of a love relationship. Everywhere he went, things happened. We see such things as:
  • fellowshipping with sinners
  • commuting death sentences (woman in adultery)
  • touching the outcasts of society (lepers)
  • visiting the least popular in the neighborhood (tax collectors)
  • demons were cast out
  • sick were healed
  • dead brought back to life
  • his dream team was made up of hillbilly fishermen (no slam intended), a tax collector AND a traitor. (needs to work on his recruiting strategy here)
Through all this – He manifested a greater kingdom, making it real to the people

As born again believer’s we are to continue the manifestation of Jesus. We have been sent* into the world with the same commission as Jesus (Jn 17:18, 20:21). We are told we will do greater works than what He did (Jn 14:21). It is by our actions that God is glorified (Mt 5:16). Our purpose for being renewed in the image of God is to make him plainly real to a world in darkness. This requires putting our words into action, placing some skin our theology.

Food for thought: How are you proving He is real?

*sent: this is from the Greek apostello (ap-os-tel'-lo;; set apart, i.e. (by implication) to send out (properly, on a mission) literally or figuratively: (Strongs). This is the word that apostolos is derived from which is translated apostle. These two words form the basis for our presentation of the concepts of apostolic authority. See blog Defining Apostolic

Friday, January 30, 2009

Our Job Description

Many people today are wondering what their life is all about. They are looking for something that gives them a purpose, a meaning, a reason to get up in the morning. This is very common among Christians: many are wondering what is their part in the kingdom of heaven.

In our previous post, we revealed that Adam's purpose was to be the representational image of God to creation. Unfortunately his disobedience disqualified him from that position. Thankfully, God had a plan to restore mankind.

Jesus Christ, as the last Adam, came as the visible image of an invisible God. However, he was more than an image, he was representational of the invisible God. In John 17:6 Jesus states; “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world:” According to Vines, manifested is a verb that means; "to make visible, clear, manifest," Thayer's says it is making visible or known “what has been hidden or unknown, whether by words, or deeds” (emphasis added). A verb is an action word. Jesus came making an invisible God more than visible; he came to make him knowable by demonstration.

Just as the scripture shows us that the first and last Adams were each to be a representational image of an invisible God, so we who are born again are to be representational. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:10 that we “have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” (emphasis added). We have been born again to a new nature, one that includes His representational image.

As His body, the church is to manifest Jesus Christ to this dark and confused world. However, we are not to just present an image of a good moral life, we have been authorized to conduct business as representatives of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We are to walk in His delegated authority as we demonstrate to this world what His kingdom will be like. By manifestation and representation, we reveal to this world there is something better. We reveal to them that there is a King and He is coming with His kingdom and His name is Jesus!

What a privilege, what an honor, what a responsibility. We are chosen to ACT as the representative of the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings! Praise God!