Thursday, May 31, 2012

Elim Leadership - Summaries

It has been a week of busy, busy, so thank you for continuing to check here for updates. It seems I returned home to an intensely busy time with ministry and family, and have not had time, nor energy to devote to summarizing the final day at the Elim Leadership Conference. I will do that now, then tomorrow (if all goes as planned) we will be back in Philippians once again for our study. The following are the last two sessions of teaching I attended. On Thursday afternoon (last week) I did attend the session offered with Denny Cramer. It was an excellent prophetic time, but not a teaching as much as an immersion in the prophetic. It was marvelous! I will not try to bring that to you. However, I encourage you to sit in the presence of such anointing often.

These summaries are simply my notes (cleaned up a bit). Both speakers were wonderful and I learned much in mind, heart and spirit.

Thursday Morning with Nancy Ortberg: Leadership

The church is worth being led well. What sits at the center of each of us as leaders - that is our identity with Christ. Isa. 29:13 These people come near to me with their mouths, serve me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Parallel with Matt. 23 - The outside of the cup is clean, but the inside is dirty. Some of Jesus’ complaints concerned greed and self-indulgence. Isa is to tell them they are disconnected. Their worship of me is made up of rules taught by men. 

Our traditional “quiet time” is good but not the end all. 30 minutes is O.K., but 40 is better. I journal in a crisis. Jesus never journaled. Good practices should be a way to the end, not an end in its self. All of life is spiritual formation. The problem with all these practices (disciplines) is that they leave the impression we are alright if we use them. When nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is we are only alright in Christ. 

Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder. Have you taken hold of the wonder in your life to explain and define your relationship with Christ. We need practices of celebration and wonder. To be a great leader is to release and work out of wonder in your life. 

What does it mean to be a leader? The ability to divest yourself of power to give to others to function. Who can I come along side of others and release power into them to accomplish. Leadership is a way to allow people to contribute to allow to make something remarkable happen. 

Most organizations (especially in a church) fail because of a lack of trust. You are always either building or repairing trust. Trust comes at the heart of being self-aware. A self awareness that leaves you comfortable in your skin. Then to help people on your team be self-aware as well. 

People operate very differently. Teams have both types of people J’s and P’s. (Judgers or Perceivers - from Myers-Briggs) Part of the power of teams is becoming a student of the people I lead and learning how to lead them to the response in leadership that empower them. 
Character and competency. Do not presume character. We are always being shaped. Psalm 92 - good for older people. To the days I die I will have competency issues. Vulnerability based trust. It says “I need others.”  Your faults and your inability are apparent to all. How am I building trust? What am I doing in the next six months to build trust. 

What got you here won’t get you there. Book title - must always be thinking about approaching leadership in an ever shifting culture. 

Conflict - demand debate. They need to go after conflict and learn from him. Jesus was not Mr. Rogers. He was a walking defining moment. He hardly ever left a conversation without calling for change. He was not always nice. Learning to live in the intersection of offense. We have to give people permission to do poorly in order for them to learn to do it well. That’s discipleship - that is coaching, mentoring etc… Must commit to be a learning culture. Must learn to work against a “celebrity culture” in our teams. 

Phil 2: Who being in very nature God --- Not in spite of being God, but because he was God he became a servant. Christ divested himself of power in order to do the work of God and to invest the authority into others to do the work.  

Thursday Evening: Bishop Kenneth Ulmer:

 I don’t have a sermon, but I do have a word. 

Psalm 92 There is a corporate emphasis of praise and thanksgiving then in verse 10 the emphasis changes to a personal one. I am in need of a fresh anointing. We want God to pour again and fill again and release a fresh anointing. So with the freshly harvested oil, I will be anointed tonight. Every ministry struggles with two extremes, one is the intoxication of success and the other is the despair and devastation. of being of insignificant. How long do I sow seed into rocks. 

Psalm 92 begins with a designation of a “Song for the Sabbath Day.” The sabbath is the seventh day - the end of the week. In this 7th day, I make a declaration, I shall be anointed with fresh oil. It is also the day in position the day before the day of new beginnings. The 7th day prepares me for the 8th day. 

Your need for a new anointing does not suggest that your old anointing was a bad anointing. It was good for the old season, but God is moving you into a new dimension - a new season, and for that new season you must have a new anointing. This Conference is a pivotal point in your ministry - He will pour out a fresh anointing for the season.  Isa. 43:18  I will do a new thing in your life and in your attitude - a new thing. The revelation is in the word “new.”  There are two words for the word “new” - one means “new in time.” The other means “new in kind.”  God is not calling for old, revised and warmed up - but an entirely new thing. Something new in kind. 

Psalm 133 - How good etc… when brethren and “sisteren” dwell together in unity. There was never a separate anointing for the body. The anointing flows over the garment that covers the garment - the covering, because God does not anointed naked flesh - that is why the Lord says we are clothed with Jesus. The anointing flows down and gathers at the hem. The hem is the lowest point of the garment. Therefore the largest concentration of the anointing is at the lowest point. For the anointing gathers at the lowest point. The Holy Spirit activates this concentration when you are the lowest. 

It is like the dew that starts in Mt. Hermon and flows down. Mt. Hermon is 40 miles north, about 9,000 above sea level. The anointing is like the dew that starts high in the mountains and flows down, down, down. into the sea of Galilee, into the Jordan, that pours into the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. The anointing stays with you down to the lowest point. You cannot drown in the Dead Sea. The anointing is like the power of God that starts with you on the mt. but when you go to the lowest point and you cannot drown there, but the anointing will holding you there. 

(This was followed by a season of prayer ministry for discouraged pastors).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Massive Encouragement!

Wednesday was filled to overflowing with teaching and encouragement! I am not even trying to attend all the possibilities. There are many more than one person can possible take in. So I am only able to give a sample of the table the Lord has spread for us. 

My morning session was to hear Rev. Bob Sorge. He worked with Jacob/Israel, who with both names is mentioned more times in the Bible than anyone else. Bro. Sorge worked through Jacob's life allowing the Lord to unfold His plan through all the mis-steps and failures that Jacob seemingly had. He very effectively worked with Jacob's wrestling with God and the limp that was given him as a result. Allow me to capture for you a few of the profound statements Bro. Bob made: 
The same Jesus' hand that healed, reach out and wounded Jacob for His own glory. Jacob in incredible pain with his joint out of socket will not let go. Every step is guarded so the joint will stay in place, because he cannot endure it out of socket - now he hobbles because he has no muscle to hold that hip in place.He, in his pain, hangs on with all even though he is in incredible pain. The pain of the body was worth the blessing. Jacob has his arm around the promise - and the promise is saying “let me go.”
He took away Israel’s ability to push. Your legs represent the ability to push and get things done. Jacob was a “pusher.” He pushed himself into everything. He would rob, steal, deceive - anything to get it done. God takes out that ability to push. God takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. In order to teach him an entirely different way of working - training him in the school of the Spirit - in one word, God is developing meekness. It is the opposite of pushing.
Bro. Sorge then related it to the injury of his own voice and how that has impacted his ability to push and get things accomplished. Through very personal and heartfelt sharing, he allowed us to see that God uses all things for His glory - but that is not the last chapter.
God was transforming Jacob’s parenting paradigm. God needed a Joseph - his other sons are not going a good direction. If I leave you to your own strengths - I will not get a Joseph. The brothers were raised by Jacob, Joseph was raised by Israel.
He continued to share Jacob's life and show that even through deep depression, Jacob was being used and then when he went to Egypt, he got everything he thought he had lost, back in his arms again, Joseph, Simeon, Benjamin, and favor with Pharaoh.
God writes the last chapter of our life. Jacob proves to be a prophet in Genesis 48-49, speaking God's will into each of the lives of his sons.
Bro. Sorge was mightily used by the Lord to encourage all present. Our God is in control and in charge of our lives. 

I then attended the Willow Women's Luncheon with speaker Pastor Victoria Triano. Nancy Clark introduced her as a "riot" and that is certainly true. However, the substance of her teaching was the highlight of my day. She, indeed very humorously, worked with the story of the covenant of David and Jonathan as it related to the life of Jonathan's son, 2 Sam. 9:1-10 Mephibosheth 2 Sam. 9:1-10.
That covenant was David's motivator. God doesn’t covenant with a phony. Covenant is the real deal. We must be real. Anything fake is worthless. So there is a realism that God is calling us to. That same grace that says come is the same grace that sustains us. We do not have to worry about no measuring up, because we don’t - none of us do.
She walked through her testimony and allowed that to display the Lord as she worked with how God sustains through covenant. Below are just a few of the comments she made as she worked through the scripture.
David delivers Mep. from a waste land (meaning of Lo-Debar) and places him in the abundance of the King’s table. We must have the same deliverance. We just need to come under the mighty hand of God. We need accountable relationships in our lives. Accountability to one another is difficult. Find someone. .
Everything that we do is covered with a relationship with the King. Change me, let me be real, let me find a group of sisters I can be real with. God will come in and change us. No such thing as retirement - just re-firing.
From condition to position. What He has in mind for you will be very different than what you think for yourself. The Lord will do for us, His plans for our lives - He knows. As we surrender everything to the Lord, He has a declaration over us.
Mep - was told from now on you will eat from the Kings’s table for the rest of his life. You do not have to prove anything to anyone - just stay in relationship with God. He will do it for us. 
We laughed, cried and identified with her and with Mep all the way through. It was a wonderful time of sharing.

The speaker for the evening session was Bishop Joseph Garlington. He has a very unique style of teaching, singing and preaching as he presents what the Lord has laid on his heart. This was a long session of almost 2 hrs, and his main scripture was the story of Hannah as she was desperate for a son in 1 Samuel 1. 

His topic was, "How Desperate are you?" Due to his speaking style, it was difficult to record many of the statements as they were all surrounded by song and story-illustrated emphasis. So  let me just summarize it all by saying that he worked with man's part in the interactive relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer and its call was the main focus. Even though it was lengthy, the large crowd (800-900) stayed and prayed for a while at the end of the session. 

What a blessed day it was! 

Today is the last day, and it too is full. Lord willing I will have more for you in the morning. Thanks so for enjoying this all with me. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sacred Trust

Tues. Night - I have just returned to my room from the first evening session of the Elim Leadership Conference in Lima, NY. I will write the post this evening, while all is fresh in me, and then post it in the morning at a reasonable hour.

Bro. Paul Johansson, a former president of Elim Bible Institute, founder of New York School of Urban Ministry in Queens, addressed the 700-800 attendees relating lovingly and forcefully the heritage and thinking of Elim Fellowship. It was moving and revealing as he shared all the various Holy Spirit movements beginning with Azusa Street and following through modern times to the "3rd Wave" movement that included Toronto and Pensacola. I will try to relate accurately his main points for you. What you will mainly read below are the points that were of interest to me. It was a wonderful, anchoring sermon that was laced with the main phrase, "We have been given a sacred trust." Much of what follows should be in quotes, his and others, but permit me if you will to just relay as much as I could type as I listened. (Yes, I did take my MacAir and typed away - I do have marvelous notes but all of them would make this post much too long). 
There has been given to us, passed on to us, a sacred trust. Elim functions best where there is a need and a need for life. 
We have been commanded to teach, preach, and to disciple.To Preach you have to open your mouth.To teach you have to open your Bible.To disciple you have to open your life. Jesus told His disciples not to do anything until they received power from on high. We cannot obey and fulfill the command until we have the power. 
I want to share what have I seen in Elim - looking from where Elim has been and how it has functioned and bring it into our period of time. 
We have a sacred trust. What is in the "Elim Box?"
1. Where did it come from? 2. How did it get there? 3. How does that affect us today?
Where did it come from?  It is a unique box - beginning with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1906. IQ Spencer began the Holy Spirit school teaching holiness,  the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit and a worldwide vision. Elim received this empartation - the ability to receive what the Lord poured out, then worked with it until they understood it Biblically and then continued to maintain it and move in it.
It was a strong current from many streams.
The winds of the Holy Spirit are not to direct us, they are to propel us, we direct them. Don’t take the force of the wind as a direction. Grace does not eliminate the Biblical principles. If you know how to sail, you can sail into the wind. The wind does not have to determine our destination. Causalities happen when we take the wind for direction. 
Bro. Johansson then walked us through the major Holy Spirit movements from 1906 to the present time allowing us to see how Elim had taken the truth of each unfolding and releasing - then staying grounded Biblically, releasing that truth. It was a wonderful understanding and he worked with the idea all the way through of a big river that had grown each time a smaller stream or river joined it. 

His urging was to take all the movements of the Spirit, work with them - never against, and allow ourselves to be molded by the movement through the Scriptures. 
What then is in our box today, that we must maintain?
 *A hunger and an openness to God by prayer and fasting. A real cry of the Holy Spirit for integrity and holiness - “I need you more than yesterday.” Must daily exercise yourself in the presence of God. A seeking of God. 
You can have all the Spirit you want, but if you do not step out, its not worth anything. You must move in faith. Elim has always believed and supported the following things:
 *Prophetic gifts and worship released. It is an abiding anointing on Elim. We must treasure the anointing - its genuine. Elim was noted for singing scripture. 
 * We are people who believe in gifts and ministries and offices. Release them! This is our heritage. 
 *Faith out of sacrifice - integrity and humility. 
* A heart for the whole Body of Christ with a world-wide vision. 
 Elim with its “influence without control” has labored in many nations under a national body as our missionaries have sought to strengthen national movements. Most of our missionaries go out and works with the national churches in the countries. It is not about having Elim or its people in the limelight. It is about using our influence behind the scenes to get the Kingdom work accomplished. 
Today we are weak in the following and these matters deserve our attention and efforts: 
*Intentional ethnic integration
* Faith to produce large churches.
* A strong commitment to plant urban churches
*The ability to raise the finances it will take to change our generation”Isa. 41:14-15 “A worm will thrash a mountain.”
  By faith, we will hold this sacred trust dear and release it to further generations. 
Even though I have known much of this history, it was wonderful to re-visit it. The Lord has truly appointed me to walk with Elim (my ordination is through Elim) as much of my appointment from the Lord is what Elim believes and works toward in the Kingdom. Lord I bless you and thank you.

More tomorrow.... 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Serve/Worship By Spirit

"Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--..."
"For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit,...." Many of our translations use the word "worship" instead of "serve" in this passage. The reason -- the word in Greek is the common one for service and it is sometimes translated "worship" when the text seems to call for that rendering. Let's look at it both ways. I find when a word can be used several directions, it is best to examine the meaning in all those differing dimensions. It is, in translation, here not so much a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of emphasis.

Paul is making certain the Philippian Christians, who are mainly gentiles (from various ethnic backgrounds) understand they do not need to adopt the Jewish customs or law in order to be true Christians. So he explains they are the true circumcision (that of heart - covered in previous post) who  have several characteristics in their lives. The first one is that their motivations for service and worship are empowered by their relationship with Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Spirit of God). In other words, their entire lives are marked by listening to the Lord and interacting with Him in all aspects of their lives. They serve out of appointment - not want to, nor talent, nor ability, but out of calling. They hear and they move. They listen and share in the Lord moment by moment and then respond in their service.

The same is true of their worship, for their service is a part of that worship. (I refer you to various translations of Romans 12:1). However, for a few moments let's look at an aspect of corporate worship that can sometimes stumble us. This is not speaking to style. I love the worship of Pentecost! I fully engage and find it liberating. However, such expression, in and of itself, is not worship. Worship is a matter of the heart and the mind loving and bowing before the Lord God. It is not about how that is expressed. Just because my expression is active does not mean I am truly worshiping. Movement nor the lack of it, is worship. Worship happens from the heart and mind that chooses to bless and bow.

Also, worship does not need music. It is nice to have music to accompany us as we worship, but true worship happens everywhere and at all times for the believer and is not limited to a corporate setting, nor a certain portion of a corporate setting. It is not a feeling - although feelings may become engaged. It is to purposefully bless, bow, honor, adore and much, much more.

So to serve and to worship by the Spirit is to be fully engaged in an interactive communication in and with the Lord. It does not start nor stop. This is such freedom in relationship. He honors every intention His direction. Enjoy serving and worshiping Him today - every moment. That, I know, is a learning process - but so worth our time and focus.

Coming: Tomorrow I plan to write the post in the morning. Then I travel to Lima, NY for the 2012 Leadership Conference for Elim Fellowship. I plan to "blog" the conference so you can share some highlights of it with me. Then we will return to our study of Philippians. So travel with me and let's enjoy the Lord through the Conference.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Watch Out!

"Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—" Philippians 3:2-3 TNIV 
Paul is warning these people he loves about some others who would under cut their faith. The word used here and translated "dogs" is a word with a double meaning. The first meaning is "male prostitutes." The second understanding of the word is more likely what Paul was using here. This is the word that the Jews of the day would call anyone who was from another race of people. We see it used in the incident of the Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28). When the woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter, Jesus said He had only come to the "lost sheep of Israel." When the woman persisted, He said, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs." Then she replied, "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." Jesus then healed the woman's daughter and said "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." So we see it was in common use in this way. So I believe it is the way Paul is using the word.

He is turning the tables on those who would add to the simplicity of grace and truth in saying these people, as gentiles, needed to be circumcised. Paul said to watch out for these teachers because what they are doing is just mutilating people. Circumcision in the flesh does not mean a person is circumcised in heart.

The truth of grace, saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) is revolutionary - it was then and it is now. People are always, in genuine attempts to help others, adding to the "necessaries" of salvation. The grace thing is given lip-service, but seldom taught and seldom lived in fullness. Paul said, watch out for those who "add to." Then he says, "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh --" Those who believe in Christ, who allow Him to live in them -- those who receive by grace through faith in their inner being, they are the true circumcision. They have been circumcised in heart by the Holy Spirit. "In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your sinful nature was put off when you were circumcised by Christ..." (Colossians 2:11) This is the critical piece - the circumcised heart by the Holy Spirit.

He adds two other items as to who these people of the true circumcision are. We will work with those tomorrow, or at least one of them. Until then... blessings!

Friday, May 18, 2012

As To The Rest . . .

"Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you." Philippians 3:1 TNIV
I have chosen another translation for our passage this morning, as this one more accurately says what the original Greek relates. Most other translations read "Finally...". The meaning is not "finally" as he is only in the middle of the letter to these people. It means, "As to the rest" or "further." He has a few more things on his heart to write. Then he begins a related but separate topic. 

Paul uses this writing technique often in his letters. It is a "hinge" verse, relating to what has gone before and what is coming later. In this case the before related verse is 2:29 "Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,..."and the after verse is 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again rejoice." The data between these statements is another thought entirely. But this verse (3:1) is a hinge into the thought of having an attitude of constant rejoicing which he will return to and complete later in chapter 4. 

The word "rejoice" is a form of the word "grace" in Greek. This form does mean "rejoice" - to be filled with the joy that grace brings. Joy is not what we call happiness. Biblically speaking - joy is an empowerment in grace to live in all the benefits of salvation. I refer you to Isaiah 12:3 "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." Literally from the "springs" of salvation. It is the overriding attitude of joy (power to handle) that pervades a person who knows they are always cared for and always loved. It is not an asking for, but a participation in the power given to all Christians. So as he encourages this attitude, he then begins to work with some rather personal, emotional journeys. These are difficult and imperative as we learn to live as a recipient of the grace and power of God. More tomorrow, Lord willing. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Messenger & Minister

"I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me." Philippians 2:25-29 ESV
Epaphroditus was  evidently a very fine servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is pictured here as being five (5) very important things in the heart of Paul: brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, your messenger, your minister to me. The "brother" in all likely hood, is a brother in Christ, then he worked along side of Paul and was a fellow soldier in the cause of Christ. In addition to these things, he evidently was the one who brought Paul whatever supply the Philippians had recently sent. (4:10) So he had become a messenger from them to Paul and a minister to his needs. 

Now Paul is sending him back to the Philippians to ease their concern. They had heard he had been ill, and ill to the point of death. Paul says that was indeed true and that he had risked his life to fulfill what trust the Philippians had placed in him. Such faithfulness must be recognized and rewarded. So Paul wants them to know what an outstanding person he is. Their trust was well founded. 

We find in Epaproditus an example of outstanding integrity. He was entrusted with some sort of treasure or provision the Philippian church had sent for Paul's care while he was in confinement. In Rome, as in many countries today, the state did not pay for the needs of any prisoner. His friends and relatives were responsible to bring him food and clothes - whatever he needed. So we see the Philippians being a part of that needed provision. So in Paul's heart, Epaproditius was counted among the generals of the army of Christ! 

Lord, as we walk with you, teach us this kind of integrity. Thank you for empowering us to fulfill our appointed assignments with integrity and joy. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Released Through Grace and Love

"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also." Philippians 2:19-24 ESV
Paul is in prison - as is generally thought - at least in house arrest in his first imprisonment. He has every indication in his spirit that he will be released. (1:19) So until that time comes, he is looking forward to sending Timothy to them so he can find out about their welfare.

He can send Timothy because Timothy is genuinely concerned for them. He has no other motive in his heart that to love them and be concerned for them. He is not trying to build his ministry, not trying to impress them or Paul, but simply a sweet spirit to minister Christ's life to them. Timothy genuinely loves them.

"For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." These words cut my heart. Most of us, well let's be honest, all of us - know what it is to seek our own interests. In fact, most of our lives are wrapped here. What a wonderful journey in Christ -- to be delivered from such self-seeking! As we begin to experience this release through His grace and love, we begin to experience embracing His people in love, because we have no motives about our relationships with them, except seeking those that are of Christ for them and to them. We begin, in His love, to experience such other-love. As we embrace that release more and more, we discover the joy of belonging together.

Timothy had that experience. He was a true child in the faith to Paul as he served in such heart and other-love. He could be sent in Paul's place. This was joy in Paul. He knew he would see them before long, for he felt in his spirit he would be released shortly. However, Timothy could go in the meantime.

Thank you Lord, for the record of Timothy for our encouragement.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stretching The Attitude

"Do all things without . . . that you may be . . . among whom you shine . . . holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me." Philippians 2:14-18 ESV
We have covered most of this passage in previous posts, but this last part intrigues me. Paul writes that he is good with the fact of his own life being a libation offered with their (upon their) sacrificial faith. This is a cause of rejoicing in him, and he urges them to rejoice with him about that - if it should come.

He is recalling imagery from the Old Testament sacrifices and their accompanying wine or water libations. He sees their faith as the co-operative element in their relationship with the Lord Jesus as a sacrifice of faith, and his pouring himself out into them so they would know the Christ and live in the empowerment of grace through faith - as worth his life. 

Then he call them to rejoice with him over that! There is no hint of "feel sorry for me because I have it so hard," or "I have poured into you, and you are not quite living up to the standard," or "Woe is me, it may almost be over," - nothing of the sort. He sees his life as very dispensable in the Lord's hand, and if the Lord calls him home, then it is not a matter for sorrow, but of rejoicing.

Now we understand that when we, as believers, go home with the Lord - it is truly a time of rejoicing. However, for those left behind it is a deep and hard loss - at least that is our expectation. Here Paul is calling them to hold him so loosely in their hearts (while loving him so deeply) that they will rejoice when his pouring is over - not just for him, but thoroughly - into an attitude of rejoicing. I think we need to re-think our attitude about loss. It is real in us - but I think there may be an attitude adjustment available in this powerful grace of ours that releases into joy - even in the middle of our loss and sorrow.

Are we giving too much attention to our losses? Are we entering into grief, or are we learning to exchange such realities for joy? I do not know the answers to these questions, but think as we read the Word and walk daily in the unfolded power of the Holy Spirit, there are some things here to discover and to truly "stretch our attitudes" from deep sorrow into healing and rejoicing. We already know we do not grieve as those who do not believe, but is there, perhaps a further step in this discovery? Let's allow an unfolding as we move forward in Him!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Proof is in the Fruit

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me." Philippians 2:12-18
Paul was writing to a people he loved very much. He was willing to literally be poured out "as a drink offering" - totally expended for them in the name of Christ. His effort was no little thing. Yet, he was looking to the fruit of Christ in their lives to see the value of his effort. If they were complaining and arguing about everything and living in stress and strife - then that was to him ineffectual labor.  There would be, in that case, no light shining. The effort was not what was of value - instead it was the fruit that the effort initiated.

Living in Christ, with the Holy Spirit as our inward, constant companion is to bring forth a transformed life. He has the power to change us from the inside out. However, as in all things, He waits for us to give Him permission and co-operation to do what needs to be done. In this awesome acceptance, love, forgiveness and total grace there is "sufficient everything" to enable us to shine as lights of glory and hope in our desperate world. Yet, the way we speak and treat others will determine whether or not we are allowing those changes to happen.

Our Lord does not sovereignly come inside of us, nor sovereignly make changes in our ways of thinking and being. Instead, in all cases, He waits for our willing co-labor in the action of all. So as we choose Him, then we have chosen His way.

Lord, we do choose you and we do choose your way. Thank you for accepting us and pouring your beautiful grace over our lives in every dimension. We choose to speak as light and to deal with one another in ways of light - Your light which brings hope and healing. Thank you for teaching and training us to be a part of it all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shining As Lights

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain." Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
Our verses for today are a huge challenge in today's world where criticalness and negativity abound in every form and in every expression. We have the joy and opportunity of turning all that around - if we choose. Paul does not have a condemning attitude here at all. The Holy Spirit is simply letting us know that life occurs through thoughts and words that are life-giving.

As we choose to think and speak of that which is holy, right and good - not in comparison with others but in light of the Gift and gifts of our God. Those who love, worship and serve such an awesome God will be bringing life through their thoughts and their words. As we choose to live this way, we become part of the life giving nature of the Body of Christ. He brings life. We, too, can be a part of that - if we choose.

Complaining and arguing (ways "grumbling" and "disputing" can be translated) do not bring life - but instead place us as participants in the negative death cycle of life. So when we choose to turn all - everything - into praise and thankfulness, it is amazing how much life begins to happen around us.

Our placement is "children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life...". That is a marvelous statement of fact and we as such, participate in the Lord's giving of life to all around. Beloved ones, this is a serious matter. He waits for us to catch a glimpse of what He will do as we choose life in every area of our existence. What a marvelous opportunity!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Work It Out

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13 ESV
I think in all my life as a teacher of the Word, I have had more questions about the meaning of "work out your own salvation" than any other passage. Since we are saved by grace through faith - not of our own doing, (Ephesians 2:8) what in the world is this "work" about?

When we accept the Lord and He lives in us by the Holy Spirit, then we are saved by this marvelous grace activated by faith. We have trusted and are trusting Him, so we belong to Him. Therefore, salvation is ours. However, it is intended to do a work in us and through us that will be seen and known outwardly. This is up to each one of us. The Lord honors our choices, so as we choose to allow Him Lordship in every area of our lives, we discover that we have been given the "will" to live our lives in demonstration of the relationship of love we have in our Lord. In that "want-to," we have the power of God to do both the inward work with Him and to effectively change our outward expression of life.

The inward must find outward expression, not through some sort of flesh effort, but by and in the power of relationship in Him. He is the "want-to" in us and the power to have it real. This will never be done through a "discipline" adjustment, nor will it be done by a system of "how-to." It is only done in and through a relationship.

Relationship is never easy on us. It seems so in its beginning stages, but it always calls us to heights of sharing that we really never intended to experience. However, in love we do learn to share ourselves in ways of fruitfulness. This is in the natural - it is just a tough thing on us. In the Spirit, it mirrors this to some degree. Our initial euphoria about becoming one with Jesus, gets a bit diminished by the realities of sharing our lives with Him. We bump into needed changes all the time to learn His ways, His thoughts and His intentions. We struggle with relationship. However in Jesus, if we will spend time with Him alone, through His Word and in listening, we will discover a love and a power so wonderful that it empowers us to live in His expressions of life and love. It is the bending and the sharing that is the work. Such is our calling and such is the truth of this passage. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Integrity's Audience

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13 ESV
 "...As you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence,... " defines the audience of someone with integrity. We always have an audience - this is true. Whether it is in the knowledge and sight of other people, or simply in the knowledge and sight of God, there is really nothing hidden. Our God sees and knows all.

It is sad to see us sometimes, "playing" to the human audience, presuming that what we are allowing them to see is truly what is real. We all know about this and how it feels to please and be appreciated. That is fine and good in this Kingdom of ours. However, true integrity is when what is seen by others is in harmony with what is known and seen only by God. We all have private lives, and that is as it should be, but the private must be in harmony with the public or else we are lacking integrity and genuineness. The public does not have a right to know about my life. However, the public has every right to expect the private to be in harmony with the public, since I wear the name Christ.

To be faithful as a son of God, integrity is a must. To be effective as a servant of the Most High, consistency is essential. Two passages of scripture come to mind.
"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:7-8 ESV. 
The phrase, "Jesus Christ is the same...." which we use for just about everything, in its core, means that Jesus Christ is always the same - He is consistent in all He is and all He does. This is true integrity!
And "Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:22-24 ESV 
Our audience is the Lord, whether we are in public or not. Integrity in heart is always consistent, always the same regardless of who we think is with us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. So in His presence, in His abounding love and His lavished grace, we are empowered to be as He is in this world. 1 John 4:17. Thank you Lord for your instructions, your love and your empowerment in grace. We follow.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Therefore, My Beloved...

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13 ESV
"Therefore, my beloved, . . . ." What absolutely warm, endearing words to a church body! I do not think I have every heard someone talk this way to their Christian group. I know we read such things from Paul,  often - but as I was reading just before typing those words, my sense of wonderment grew at the love being expressed.

He is going to instruct them, that is true, yet the very thought of a group of church members being addressed by a church leader (whatever the title) as "Beloved" is foreign to most of us. Such terms of endearment we usually only hear from someone deeply in love. So what is this strange emotion the Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul?

I think he is expressing genuine, very deep and abiding love and gratitude for them. He is echoing the terminology of the Holy Spirit toward them. I think I need to really think this through as a leader in the Body, and begin to allow the Lord to express through me the emotions of the God-Head toward the Body of Christ. I think we all need to see that this is not only possible, but longed for in the Lord. Oh that we as leaders would touch His people with His love - always, first and foremost! Teaching, preaching, correction, instruction, challenge, all must take a back-seat to the expression of the Lord's love for His people. This must not be rote, insincere or manipulative. It must be proceeded by a genuine experience of that same love by the one expressing it. Nothing is more stale than insincere affection. This calls for us to stay on our knees before our Lord and receive His heart. Then give that to those who are His. An awesome call from an awesome Lord!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

See You Monday!

Hello Beloved Readers,

I will be back with you on Monday - Lord willing. I am away in the Fishkill, NY area. We did a conference today. Tomorrow we worship in my son's church (He is the music pastor) and then home later in the day. So should be able to do Philippians again on Monday.

Thank you so much for reading and staying with me. You are such a blessing. Thank you and "see" you Monday!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Me First!

"And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of the Father."
Philippians 2:8-11 ESV

We all know how to say "Me First!" As children, all of us often did and displayed the internal nature of every human being. However, since we are new creatures in Christ, we have a new way of thinking and behaving available. This "new way" is not automatic. Oh how we (on the surface) wish it were. However, there is great, great purpose for us making the journey of choice to receive and to live in His ways. 

In Christ, we have no need to be a "me first" person. In fact, we have a deep need to make certain we are not. In the natural realm, if we do not promote ourselves, it does not get done. However, there is a spiritual law that supersedes that law. In fact, it is a law and a principle in the Spirit that is the opposite. In the Kingdom of God, when we promote ourselves in any way, it is only a guarantee that we will be brought low and humbled. When we humble ourselves before Him and others, it guarantees He will exalt us.

Proverbs 75:6-7 reads: 
"For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment putting down one and lifting up another."

And then in Matthew 23:12 
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
So we see that once again our passage in Philippians has within it the principle of becoming like Him. As we have received Him, the image of our new creation is being worked within us to enable and to empower us to walk under His hand in the true expression of His love.

Yes, Lord, have your way in us and thank you for the enabling power of your Spirit to express within us your nature as our own. Awesome!

Thursday, May 03, 2012


"Have this mind among yourselves,
which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. 
Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." 
Philippians 2:5-11 ESV

I know we are all very familiar with this passage as I have been working with it for days. However, there are still some "unfolding" to be done this time around. The word "servant" (which is underlined in the passage) is actually the term for "bond-servant." Most of our modern English texts simply use the word "servant" or "slave" to describe this placement.  However, neither of those words bring the correct understand to our minds for what our Lord actually did. 

In the Old Testament the term for "bond-servant" is used often. The passage I refer you to is Deuteronomy 15:12-18. Those verses, in summary, tell us that a bond-servant was a person who had actually been set free, but choose, out of love for the Master and the Master's care, to give their lives, voluntarily in service to the Master. In other words, it was not a "have-to," but a "want-to." 

Our ideas of being a servant or a slave do not carry with them the voluntary aspect - the person would have chosen to be a servant. This is what our Lord did to become as we are - it was His choice. Out of deep, indescribable, incomprehensible love - He chose to become a bond-servant to the Father so we could also be sons of God. This is willing submission to the will of another. This is the core understanding of this passage and that is what our lives are all about in the Kingdom - willing submission to the will of another. That "other" is our God and Father through Christ our Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit. 
This drawing shows the proper understanding of our lives and work in the Kingdom. Our Lord Jesus did all for us, so He could fully support and supply what was and is needed in our lives. He is our Savior, our Healer, our Intercessor, our Provision, our life, our all. As such, He is the corner stone and total support for our lives. As we live in Him, we learn to serve and begin to be a part of that supply to His people. As a result, we go down the sides of the triangle and begin to minister to others in Him. So it is always a coming-under in order to support, serve and bless. What looks like elevation in the Kingdom is actually an appointment to come down further, as a bond-servant. I refer you to John 13:1-11.

Thank you Lord for living this out so vividly for us and then turning and inviting us to join you in this service of Kingship as you appoint and empower us to uphold and serve. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Busy - Busy - Busy

Precious Faithful Readers,

I will be back on Thursday with my regular posts. My ministry schedule right now is extremely busy - which is good - but leaves little time to write. So just be patient with me and know I will be back here soon. The fact that you are reading and studying with me is so very dear in my heart. 

Til Thursday  - - - .