What Has Church Become?

November 28, 2014

1 Corinthians 14:26
What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

What Has Church Become?

Does our church, our gathering together in the name of Christ still resemble this exhortation in 1 Corinthians 14 or has it gotten swallowed up in the organization, the structure, the program and the one man headliner. Is it about a functioning body where different members are able to contribute as they are led of the Spirit or have we become dumbed down to depend only on the leadership to carry out the act of worship and give the Word. In many churches our services have been reduced to a series of rote mechanical functions that we have memorized and go through. That isn’t the church that Paul speaks about here. We have become accustomed to playing church rather than being the church. Our religion has separated us into clergy and laity. One performs and the other is the audience that listens. We wouldn’t know what to do if the Holy Spirit actually showed up in our service because He would throw the agenda on our bulletins all off and mess everything up. We would lose our order and our control and our smooth running programs. We have been so raised up in this organized church mentality it is really hard for some of us to conceive of something so different where we actually individually and corporately begin to operate in the gifting the Holy Spirit has for each member. Besides that it would most likely get out of our time limitations and constraints. Then we couldn’t beat crowds to the restaurant after the church and we might miss the football game.
Church has really ceased to be all about Him. It has become all about us. After all, we are doing God a favor just to show up on Sunday mornings, right? God forbid if someone or something should offend us. We’ll just take our attendance elsewhere where we are more appreciated and they sing our flavor of songs. What has the church become?
The truth is when we turn everything over to the Holy Spirit it can get out of our comfort zone. It can get messy and it certainly may not fit into our agenda. or box It doesn’t mean there isn’t leadership and there isn’t an order, but it is subject to the Holy Spirit and not to man. Let me tell you, when we allow and invite the Holy Spirit to show up we go home with more than just a self-righteous attitude. His presence touches our lives and changes us in ways that only He can. He doesn’t use just one man or a worship team to do it, He moves through His body and upon His body as His will dictates, when we allow His will to be done. Paul says here we have these different functions through the various members for the strengthening of the church. Something tells me that church might have looked a lot different back then than it does today. Today, our churches are built around our charismatic leaders, not our charismatic bodies. Isn’t it time we quit playing church and start being the church where each one of us functions in the calling and gifting upon our lives? It doesn’t have to be limited to the Sunday service. Your ministry and calling should spill out into your everyday life. You are not only for the edification of the church, but to edify, encourage and build up all who are in your presence. If we are in Christ and He is in us then we must become the daily expression of who He is and we need a place of worship where that is actually what we do, WORSHIP Him who is worthy until we enter into His presence and He is the headship and the direction of our service. I can tell you it won’t be the same thing every week. It will always be fresh and new. You will know that you have been with Him, not just heard about Him.
What has church become? How do we bring it back to what it should be? It is time we became activated and no longer stagnant, because the church that we have known isn’t what is lighting a fire in the midst of our unbelieving nation. They need to hear and see the reality of God’s presence just as we do, not just the rhetoric about who He was. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He hasn’t changed, we have. Church, wake up to who you are and come alive in your spirits so that you can be the expression of Christ in the midst of His body and in the earth today.

Blessings,
#kent

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Yoked Oxen and Wild Asses

Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

As the New Covenant Church began after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ there were many struggles for men and women to come into the truth of the grace and freedom that is in Christ Jesus. There are still many parallels of that in the Church today. On one side you have what we will call the “yoked oxen”. These are the religious ones who have grown up in the religious atmosphere of denomination and religious structure. Most have grounding in the basic truths of God’s Word, but they have been so long under the yoke of the routine of religion it is hard for them to have the vision of how God is expanding beyond the perimeters of their individual camps of truth and revelation. In many ways they have become similar to the Jews of Israel. “Bless God, we are God’s chosen and our way is the right way. It was good enough for my ancestors and it is good enough for me.” It is the mentality that wants to put God in the box of our religious way of thinking and they struggle to see beyond that.
On the other hand we have what we will call “the wild asses”. These are those much like the Gentiles outside of Judaism that have little or no roots in religious background or the Christian religion. They have lived life free and wild before the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and they came into knowledge of Him. They may not have the reverence and respect for the time honored traditional values that the “yoked oxen” have. They often have no clue of the proper etiquette and decorum of worship and reverencing God. But the “Wild Asses,” on the other hand, come with a certain freedom from the tradition and teachings of men. Their souls are like virgin soil for the gospel to be planted into. There is this wall of religion and rebellion that exist between the two camps as they often have conflict in dealing with one another. This was that middle wall of partition that separated the Jew and Gentile of old and a prejudice that still exist today. The scripture says Christ is our peace that has made us both one. As these two cultures come together in the atmosphere of true Christian fellowship, worship and relationship it is often hard for them to relate with one another. What we sometimes forget is that each brings to the table something that the other needs to balance them both. The wild ones need the structure and discipline, the reverence and respect that accompany the fear of God. The yoked ones need the freedom from inhibitions, liturgical thinking and expression that the wild ones bring. It is coming out of a box and culture for both sides that, together, the two may become one new man in Christ.
If missionaries from America go to foreign countries trying to impose their cultural thinking and ways as they preach the gospel they are often very much rejected and resisted. If they go and are willing to lay down their preconceived cultural ideas and reach out to the people from their cultural understanding and perspective they are often better understood and received because the people from that culture can relate with them.
What are we saying? God is bringing people into body from every nation, tribe and tongue, from every background and culture. We all have to come out of our cultural boxes and shells if we are to relate with one another in Christ. The cross of Jesus and the love of God are the common ground upon which we meet. Our focus must be much less on that of judging others and conforming them to our particular ideology of Christianity and more focused on how do we build each other up in love. If I can be more focused on meeting your need than I am on fixing your problem, the problem may well get resolved as I meet the need.
I once worked with a young man who was very open to hear about the Lord, but was from a different religious background than myself. I had my book and I was going to set him straight on why his religious background was wrong. Before I talked with him, I felt I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Just speak the truth in love and the truth will set him free.” It is each one of us opening up our hearts and minds to what the Spirit wants to teach us that will set us free. He will lead us into all truth if we will abide in relationship with Him and remain obedient to His leading. He will break down the middle wall of partition and make the “yoked oxen” and the “wild asses” one man in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

The Sabbath Day?

April 3, 2014

The Sabbath Day?

Luke 14:3
And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

The Sabbath is the Lord’s Day, a day or rest from daily routines and the tasks of laboring for our natural needs. While the Jewish leaders of the day took this day quite literally, even to the point of making it more work to keep the Sabbath than to rest in it. Jesus has some higher principles He is communicating to the people that have spiritual ears to hear. Jesus was the Lord of the Sabbath and the Jewish leadership of that day didn’t like the fact that He didn’t fit in their religious box. What kind of religious boxes have we built to confine what God can do and when He can do it?
Hebrews 4:9-11 says this, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” This REST references the true Sabbath that God wants to bring His people into. It is the REST that we want to labor or give diligence to enter into where it is no longer our Works, but we are resting in Him and the works that we do are His works, no longer our own. How do we enter this REST? The Word says it is only by faith, faith not in ourselves, but in the One who called us out of unbelief and into His REST. Hebrews 4:1 says, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” The true Sabbath and REST of God is a promise and like all promises it comes by faith. Prior to this we have the account of how the Lord swore to Israel when Moses led them out into the wilderness that they would not enter into God’s REST because of their unbelief. It is pretty obvious that the religious leadership of Jesus’ day had the same mindset. God is warning us, “don’t be like them and miss what Sabbath is all about.” Sabbath is about a continual abiding in Christ. It is not just a day of the week, but a time when we find our place in God where we quit struggling with life through our human efforts and begin to deal with life in the REST of God. Jesus is not only the Lord of the Sabbath, He is the Sabbath. He is God’s REST for us, not in the context of religion or knowing about Him, but in experiencing Him daily, in every activity, every conversation, in our thoughts, in every station of life.
You may say, “Don’t’ you think that is little idealistic and impractical?” I think the Lord would say, ‘there is a promise to you who lay hold of it by faith.’ It is a progressive work and that is why He says, “let us labour therefore to enter into that rest.” It is a daily walk of denying ourselves; picking up the cross and saying yes Holy Spirit, and yes to the Word of God. In the path of obedience and faith is our REST. As we enter into that Sabbath Rest of God we will do the Lord’s work even on the Sabbath.
Think of it not as just a day to keep ordinances and rules, but a place of REST where God is our continual delight and dwelling place. We are living in the Sabbath Day and it is time for us to enter into His REST.

Isaiah 58:13-14
“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words, delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. “

Blessings,
#kent

 

When God is Silent and Understanding Fails

(Part 1) 


Job 23:8-17

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. 9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. 13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. 14 He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store. 15 That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. 16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. 17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.”

 

I ask God’s wisdom and counsel today in what we share.  There are times in our lives when we know and trust God with our heart, but we question Him with our mind, intellect and understanding.  We try and reason how God is, who God is and how He should act and work in our lives.  Life’s circumstances and trials can sometimes be very crushing and cruel.  They leave us in the wake of disasters that our natural reasoning struggles to understand and comprehend in the light of what we know about God.  The question is often asked and disputed, “If you are a loving and just God, how could you let this happen?”  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Many depart from their faith through the course of life, because God has disappointed them and failed to live up their expectations.  Sometimes when we are desperate for answers or a Word, God is silent.   

The book of Job has long been a source of comfort and strength to those of us who find ourselves in these places in life.  It is not uncommon for any of us at times in our lives to have these hard questions, because God does not always respond to us the way we think that He should.  About the time we think we have God all figured out and put in the box of our finite understanding, He blows the lid off of our box and defies our understanding.  God has defined Himself by certain characteristics and attributes, but His thoughts and ways are so beyond ours that they are unable to be corralled by human or conventional wisdom.  Some of you who are reading this now have struggled in your faith and perhaps have faltered because you couldn’t grasp why something happened as it did.  You prayed and you felt God didn’t answer.  You tried to walk in faith and you didn’t feel that God came through.  You may have trusted God and you felt He let you down or cried out to Him and it seemed He wasn’t there.  We may have said in our hearts, God, are you really real?  If You are who You say you are, then where are You, why have You abandoned me in my hour of need?  In times past we were so sure of His reality and we had experienced His presence, the joy of salvation and the precious power of the Holy Spirit.  Now our world has turned upside down and God seems nowhere to be found.  In the discourse of Job 29:1-6, “Job continued his discourse: 2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.”  Has that ever been the cry of our heart from the hardship and trials we have experienced?  Many of us, like Job, have searched for the answers that could bring comfort, consolation and satisfy our dejected soul.  In these times and through these monumental trials, what is our heart attitude toward God?  Can we still maintain our trust in God’s integrity and righteousness, or will we forsake and curse our God and turn away from our faith?  When the fires of hell are brought to bear upon our faith, when we can no longer with the natural eye behold the evidence of God, but only see the devastation of the enemy in our midst through death, sickness, poverty or affliction can we maintain our integrity and faith toward God?  Sometimes the fire of God will try and test our hearts in the ways that blessings and answered prayers never will.  It is easy to love and serve God when all is well, when we are prospering, healthy, wealthy and wise.  It is easy when we worship and sense God’s presence, favor and blessing, but what about when all of that is withdrawn?  Can you still trust Him and hold fast to Him?

 

Blessings,

kent

uninhibited-god.jpg

December 7, 2013

Religion tries to control people and regulate God.
I’m ready to kick the lid off and let God out of our box,
so that we can relate with HIm in an uninhibited way.

Kent Stuck

When God is Silent and Understanding Fails
(Part 1)

Job 23:8-17
8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. 9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. 13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. 14 He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store. 15 That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. 16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. 17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.”

I ask God’s wisdom and counsel today in what we share. There are times in our lives when we know and trust God with our heart, but we question Him with our mind, intellect and understanding. We try and reason how God is, who God is and how He should act and work in our lives. Life’s circumstances and trials can sometimes be very crushing and cruel. They leave us in the wake of disasters that our natural reasoning struggles to understand and comprehend in the light of what we know about God. The question is often asked and disputed, “If you are a loving and just God, how could you let this happen?” Why do bad things happen to good people? Many depart from their faith through the course of life, because God has disappointed them and failed to live up their expectations. Sometimes when we are desperate for answers or a Word, God is silent.
The book of Job has long been a source of comfort and strength to those of us who find ourselves in these places in life. It is not uncommon for any of us at times in our lives to have these hard questions, because God does not always respond to us the way we think that He should. About the time we think we have God all figured out and put in the box of our finite understanding, He blows the lid off of our box and defies our understanding. God has defined Himself by certain characteristics and attributes, but His thoughts and ways are so beyond ours that they are unable to be corralled by human or conventional wisdom. Some of you who are reading this now have struggled in your faith and perhaps have faltered because you couldn’t grasp why something happened as it did. You prayed and you felt God didn’t answer. You tried to walk in faith and you didn’t feel that God came through. You may have trusted God and you felt He let you down or cried out to Him and it seemed He wasn’t there. We may have said in our hearts, God, are you really real? If You are who You say you are, then where are You, why have You abandoned me in my hour of need? In times past we were so sure of His reality and we had experienced His presence, the joy of salvation and the precious power of the Holy Spirit. Now our world has turned upside down and God seems nowhere to be found. In the discourse of Job 29:1-6, “1 Job continued his discourse: 2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.” Has that ever been the cry of our heart from the hardship and trials we have experienced? Many of us, like Job, have searched for the answers that could bring comfort, consolation and satisfy our dejected soul. In these times and through these monumental trials, what is our heart attitude toward God? Can we still maintain our trust in God’s integrity and righteousness, or will we forsake and curse our God and turn away from our faith? When the fires of hell are brought to bear upon our faith, when we can no longer with the natural eye behold the evidence of God, but only see the devastation of the enemy in our midst through death, sickness, poverty or affliction can we maintain our integrity and faith toward God? Sometimes the fire of God will try and test our hearts in the ways that blessings and answered prayers never will. It is easy to love and serve God when all is well, when we are prospering, healthy, wealthy and wise. It is easy when we worship and sense God’s presence, favor and blessing, but what about when all of that is withdrawn? Can you still trust Him and hold fast to Him?

Blessings,
kent

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