An Ageless Hope

There has been a continual debate about Pluralism, Inclusiveness, and Exclusivity among a variety of religions. These concepts seem to be found in several cultures and religions therefore are not argued exclusively among Christian camps. I will be using some terms in this article to explore a larger hope and I ask that you work hard to see the concept I am sharing in terms of how I am re-defining common words used in many religions.

I will be using the word ‘religion’ with the definition of  ‘tangible ways in which we carry out traditions in our acts of worship’. It is commonly taught that these tangible traditions are a path to a person’s salvation. However in this perspective I present today, ‘religion’ is not the “road to Salvation”. I think this definition I share of “religion” is the outward manifestation of what is already taking place in the heart…Salvation is what is happening within.

I believe that whoever we consider the Creator/Deity/Divine etc can and does work that salvation within us in a spiritual way that best fits who we are and how we come upon the revelation of such salvation. Expounding upon that thought, I wish to emphasize that our Creator meets us “where we are” and “as we are”. If our Creator decides to use metaphors from childhood fables, Hollywood sci-fi, Science, or religious texts is up to that Creator. It doesn’t mean only one of these avenues is “the only road to salvation” for all people.

I believe that being a “Christian” is a mix of cultural and theological components gleaning from the bible as their text. Other religions follow a similar concept..cultural and theological components gleaning from their spiritual texts. I will use the terms ‘Theos’ and ‘Creator’ interchangeably as a non gender spiritual being outside of and yet within our realm of existence. For the sake of keeping Theos as a relatable being to us, I use ‘him’  as a non gender term as opposed to ‘it’ which seems to break the relational aspect off from us.

What we call Theos , just may be using all kinds of avenues to get his message across… reconciliation to our Creator. It is debatable on whether or not human-kind was ever broke off from Theos or if we were simply deceived into thinking we were. I will not get into that argument here. The angle I introduce today is that of a concept of universal reconciliation. This angle is what I believe to be the foundation of all that is going on between human-kind and Theos. So in this perspective, there is no such thing as “all religions lead to god” but rather.. Theos uses any means necessary to speak the evangel( good news of reconciliation) to his creation. The people Theos speaks to in all different cultures and paths will understandably follow a unique path based on their cultural and theological communities and with whatever spiritual texts have been handed down through their generations.

If we look at this relationship between Theos and human-kind, we can see how each culture of people have found a variety of ways to come to know this Theos, how to express their path of understanding, and what that looks like for each individual(and as groups) is manifested in diverse ways.

It may very well be that Theos wants each culture of peoples to follow in a traditional pattern. Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, etc have cultures that embody such traditional patterns that are unique to their people. It is entirely possible that Theos does not want Christians to weave their beliefs and traditions in with Muslims, nor Pagans with Jews. It is evident that each religions seem to hold to a varying degree of belief about that. Maybe instead of arguing over this, we might come to respect that this might be the way in which Theos has planned out humanity to be among one another. It could be that Theos wants us to learn about each path and find ways in which to live in harmony among one another while respecting our differences and celebrating our similarities. Whatever the case may be, each individual needs to decide for themselves what traditional teaching they believe Theos wants them to participate in.

This is not pluralism, inclusiveness, nor exclusiveness, but I do believe it is the basic foundation where all three perspectives grow from. I believe that many from human-kind has done their best to navigate their lives and carry on the heritage of their tribes the best they knew how. Sadly, this has manifested many religious and political wars over the ages in their quest for freedom to continue their spiritual paths.

There is another perspective on the word ‘salvation’ that is not the same as the cosmic reconciliation of human-kind to Theos, but can be viewed as an extension of it. This ‘salvation’ I am referring to is obtained through understanding truth that leads to clarity and healthy decision making. These healthy decisions grow the metaphorical fruit that is pleasant to the growth of our spiritual lives as well as nourishing to our human relationships. This kind of fruit grows from the tree of life which is deeply rooted within us all and is drinking from the living water that is an ongoing wellspring coming from within that cosmic spiritual revelation of our reconciliation and the larger hope for the reconciliation of all to Theos.

Some may never have this reconciliation journey for themselves in this life, but this larger hope is that Theos has a way of bringing all things and people into his balance, in whatever way is best for all.

This perspective is not a religion, just a neutral perspective on what just may be the greatest hope for all mankind. It is inclusive to all, yet exclusively experienced by those who have been awakened. In this belief, Theos sends his messengers to us in a variety of ways and people need to be free to listen and follow Theos as he guides them. He may or may not guide them to follow one path for a time then divert them to another path. That is between them and Theos.

The tradition I have been following is by respecting one another’s paths while extending the invitation to learn the evangel from our/your perspective, but remain humble and not insistent on our/your way being a better or a ‘more right’ way. In all of this the philosophy of the ‘golden rule’ holds true in all paths and has proven to be a healthy way in which to find peace among each other.

I don’t know if a term already exists for this perspective, and I hesitate on coining a term for it out of the concern for it becoming misrepresented or hijacked by another insistent religion that wants to own it or change it. I dislike the ideas of labels that box people up. All I can say is that I call it an Ageless Hope that is inclusive to all, yet exclusive to those experiencing it. It may very well be witnessed at the roots of various beliefs since the beginning of time. All are invited to this evangel and may observe it and participate in it.

In upcoming articles I will share how I have come to live my life within this perspective. In my opinion, there is no reason to leave the traditions you already observe in order to participate in the celebration of life among your fellow humans who do embrace this perspective. They might be within your existing churches, PTA meetings, clubs, frats or various other circles of friends and loved ones. Many fear confessing to this Ageless Hope out of fear of disassociation from their groups. Those of us who do embrace this perspective do not require that you convert or give up anything in your life to celebrate with us. Everyone is free to celebrate and even create their own ‘tangible ways in which you carry out traditions in your acts of worship’. Bless you.

crashing tide by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Sisterlisa

Stop Shooting

Sometimes we find images that are quite thought provoking. Movies, paintings, and poetry all have ways in which they speak to us about ourselves. Sometimes these things can trigger pain, sometimes they inspire us and heal. The bible can also trigger pain or inspire us…and Lord have mercy on those who use the bible as a weapon against people.

I think some folks see this image and think of it as a weapon of warfare against the dark forces of the air, which would be good as long as they don’t get sidetracked and shoot their own in the process.

People with weapons tend to get trigger happy sometimes.

What they fail to understand is that Jesus already gave us the victory. Why do they continue to shoot when there is no need?

What we need to do is stand firm in the victory and realize no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Remember Superman? He never needed a gun, he stood firm, stuck his chest out there, and no bullet could penetrate him.

Shall we re-learn what we learned in grade school?

I’m rubber you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

We have the FULL armor of God, which is Christ.

We aren’t wrestling with people, the battle is in the realm of the unseen. When we use the bible as a weapon against people, shooting bullets of condemnation at fallible and vulnerable humans, we are not engaging in a battle with Christ, that is a battle of the flesh on the dark side.

The victory in Christ is grace. It’s his grace that wins and heals people.

Forming weapons out of the bible is not the way of grace.

A person who holds a gun, pointed at others, is in fear of their life. They think that holding a weapon to shoot with is going to stop their enemy from hurting them. By this, they reveal that they do not truly believe that Christ has the Victory. They think they need to kill ‘sin’ in others with their version of the bible, but they are forgetful that Jesus already covered sin.

If we’re going to use the bible, may we learn a lesson from Paul? He spoke of two ministries. The ministry of death, which was through Moses…and the ministry of reconciliation which is through Christ. So the choice is simple…Moses and death or Jesus and Life.

{photo credit is unknown}

An Odd Exchange

It’s like a phantom pain, deep within my heart, that aches so deeply when I see them again. Those who I once endeared as family, those friends so dear. After all the years of faithful friendship, the barriers went up when I chose to question and search out the truth away from their theological box.

When they reject me for asking, pondering, dissecting, and chewing on scripture to see if it’s truly what *I* believe or if it’s just what they tell me to believe, why does it hurt so much?

When I hold out in faith, for the hope that forgiveness will really reach down deep and grace will embrace so steadfastly to those I once doubted were ‘saved’, why does my hope in God offend them so? Why do they want to let go of such a long held friendship when I want to believe that God’s grace really does much more than we can even imagine?

Why is it that when I place my hope so deeply in my Savior to redeem the lost that these who were once so close think my hope is “of the devil”?

Do they view me as if I am the devil?

Years go by and as my children remember them and speak of them fondly, I can feel my heart healing. I can hear their names and no longer weep. I hold my head high and realize I can move forward with new friends and pave my way through this life while embracing those memories in love..and then I see them..and they ignore me again. I see them on Facebook and they befriend my other online friends, but they still won’t have anything to do with me. And the pain comes back to haunt me again.

What did I do that was so wrong?

I remember asking..what did I do? How have I hurt you? To which I got no reply. No opportunity to reconcile.

No idea what I did…except that I no longer abide in the same theological box.

I left the notion that God can’t forgive my dad. That he hates him and is torturing him forever..all because he didn’t recite a specific prayer. All because he didn’t follow a theological box. All because he didn’t “get it”. I choose to believe in my great God and in the power of his grace to save. I forsake the idea that he cries at night, writhing in pain.

The offense of the cross, that finished work. The salvation that saves us even from our ignorance, our lack of theological education, the weakness of not knowing how to believe. Believe? But what does that mean and how do I know I have believed enough to be saved?

The hope in Him who saves us from even ourselves.

The knowledge and peace he brings to show us that we don’t have to measure our belief or our trust, because he IS our hope and our trust.

An odd exchange wouldn’t you say?

To have confidence in my hope that my daddy was reconciled in exchange for my friends rejecting me for such a hope.

Had I lived my life believing he was in hell, I would still have my friends.

Yes, an odd exchange it is.

The pain of ‘hearing’ my daddy screaming in my mind every night, while he burns forever in that torturous flame..or the phantom pain of losing fellowship with friends.

Maybe they weren’t really friends..but that doesn’t change how much I love them and how much it hurts that they reject me still.

But it’s not just about my daddy. It’s about my God.

Some have said, “I’m sorry, Lisa..but God just isn’t that forgiving.”

One day… there will be glad rejoicing over there… and my tears will shed as I see their faces light up for joy that their loved ones were really reconciled too.

Then we’ll have an eternity of friendship.

Some day all heart ache will be gone

Some day he’ll come to claim us all

Sorrow will be over, every tear drop wiped away.

So when it hurts so bad you can hardly stand

Just remember..

It will all be over some day.

worship by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Sisterlisa


Biblical argument for Gays

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

A Beautiful Heresy

Back through the ancients of time we find a belief that has been widely ignored and yet vehemently refuted by a lineage of Christians whose ideals have long usurped the liberty of the souls and conscience of mankind. Regardless of what anyone in the opposing lineage has said, even some historical Baptists have held fast to their soul liberty in matters of conscience. When Thomas Helwys split from King James, he wrote a book entitled, “The Mystery of Iniquity” in which Thomas accused King James of being a “tyrant” and who “molested the conscience of the people”. Thomas adamantly refuted the king’s claims that he had divine right to choose the clergy who would serve the king’s church. So do we only believe in soul liberty if we follow the Baptists? Does anyone else have soul liberty outside of the baptist camp? Of course we do!

We are told by Paul to “study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed” and to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”, and to “let each man make up his own mind”. We know that even the Bereans studied diligently to make sure the apostle Paul was teaching truth. Could you imagine double checking the speaking of the apostle Paul? That’s like double checking the work of the modern popular church leaders of today. Yet so many would say, “How dare you question Pastor Popular!”

And we should be double checking the theological works of others. We are to question and wrestle with our beliefs to see if there be any virtue or praise worthy things to be said of our conclusions {Philippians 4:8}.

During this kind of inquisition we are to love the brethren. It is obvious by the evidence of over 30,000 denominations of Christianity world wide, that not everyone agrees on every perspective. Each lineage of Christianity states that they have it “closer to the truth than anyone else” and even if they refute my claim on this, just try to see how they feel about you disagreeing with one of their sacred cow doctrines and holding fast to one that opposes theirs.

When I read through the letters to the fellowship in Corinth, I tend to see a church we know of today called Pentecostalism. I’m not saying that Corinth was a Pentecostal church, but the things Paul rebuked them of, seems to be found in many Pentecostal churches today. The thing that catches my eye is that even though Paul is sending two letters to correct them, he still calls them brethren and says they are under the grace of Christ. So although he is not in agreement with what is going on in their church, he still loved them and considered them brethren.

If only we could glean this powerful truth of grace from these epistles. We really should be able to love all the brethren even when we disagree. Jesus himself informed the disciples that they should not send away those who cast out devils, just because they didn’t know them. He clearly said that since they were not against them, that meant they were for them. Then immediately after that, Jesus admonishes them to be salt to the world. He went even deeper and explained that if you cause one to stumble then it would be better to cut off the offending body part and throw it into the burning garbage heap in Gehenna. He explained that it would be better to live in the kingdom maimed than it would be to continue causing people to stumble from the truth of Christ. I believe Jesus was speaking of this kingdom life here and now within us. {Mark 9:38-50} Jesus began this section with discussing those who are serving the people with the gospel of freedom in Christ, they were casting our devils in Christ’s name. In the here and now.

He continually teaches us to love one another and especially the believers. Those that are of the household of faith are to be loved and respected. Far too often we see Christian leaders behaving with the immaturity of a playground bully. (A word to you my friends, they aren’t true leaders.) Jesus came to be the ultimate example to us and he served mankind. He laid down his life for the world. What an amazing act of love, to serve others. A true leader is the servant among you, the one with no title, who washes the feet of others, who loves and who befriends the sinners.

The ancient lineage of Christianity that I alluded to at the beginning of this article is alive and well, yet many of the brethren refute the validity of their message, although their focal point is Christ. Yes, they are brethren and under grace and if Paul were here today he would call them brethren and Jesus would say they are for Him, not against him. Every man’s work will be tried with fire and we are not to pull up the tares or you might pull up the wheat as well. He said to let them grow together. This is what grace does. Anyone we think are tares, we are to leave a lone and still love them.

If you were to ask what these Christians believe about certain things, you might get a few different answers, and yet this lineage embraces this kind of diversity. They do not refute that some are not brethren, nor do they resist offering them grace if they disagree. They don’t want to be called a denomination or be labeled with broad brush strokes. They’re on a journey like everyone else is and their focus is Christ and his finished work on the Cross. Isn’t it Jesus that holds us in the bondage of love with one another?

The belief that the Anointing has come and defeated death and the grave through the completed work on the cross is an offensive message to many, and even among some Christians. The divine desire of God’s will is that all would come to repentance and the hope of all mankind is in the completed work of the cross. It’s the hope that God’s will is done on the earth as it is in heaven.

The part of this message that seems to get tricky for some is the lingering question of what happens to those who don’t come to the saving knowledge of Christ? In so many passages Jesus is clearly speaking of the consequences in this life time. He makes a point of speaking in depth on living the kingdom life now. He goes to great length to conceal the simplicity of the cross from those who are proud and self indulgent and he reveals the plain truth to the simple and poor in spirit. Does that mean that Jesus doesn’t want the proud to enjoy the kingdom? Absolutely not! That would be working against the will of God to see all come to him. Jesus works only that which the Father reveals to him.

So why present such a mystery to one crowd and yet give the answer sheet to the others?

He came to call the sinners to change their minds about God, not the ones who have their ducks in a row. The ones who already believe don’t have need for a doctor. Those who are ill are the ones who need him. Quite a paradox isn’t it? Who are the believing and who are the unbelieving? The answer will appear to be different depending on your perspective.

The Pharisees were unbelieving and blind. Jesus explained to them that because they claim to see is why they are still blind. The self righteous, the proud, the self indulgent religious leaders needed to be healed of their blindness. They were knocking into one another every day because the beams in their eyes caused them to stumble. Jesus’ prescription was to gouge out your eye so you can live the kingdom life maimed instead of walking around stumbling into life’s garbage dump that burned day and night. Those who refused to believe would be burned, like the chaff on the threshing floor, to reveal what is good for the Master’s table. If we don’t gauge out our own offending eyes then the beams will be burned so that we can see clearly what is set on the table before us. He calls the unbelieving to change their minds. Do not continue to fall into pits blindly. Stop falling down over the stumbling blocks. Ask to be healed so that you can see. It takes humility to admit you don’t have all the answers. It takes humility to admit your are ill and in need of the Doctor. “But I do many works in the name of Jesus!” Yet you fail to walk in the kingdom of grace.

The hope of all mankind, the glad tidings of great joy which is for all people, the evangel that is spread abroad to all nations that Christ is risen and offered himself for all of mankind. The message of reconciliation says that God has redeemed mankind through His Son. It is a finished work on the cross.

1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Back in Mark 9 he closes his thoughts with these words, “be at peace with one another.”

It is with those words that I declare that this lineage of Christians who dare to go against the grain and actually believe in the hope that Jesus really is the Savior of all mankind, are our brethren and are to be loved as brethren…even if you happen to disagree with them. They are under grace and seek to further the kingdom with the message of reconciliation. In all the flavors, diversity, and varieties of Christian Universalism, their focus is Christ and the finished work of the cross. It’s high time we put down our hatchets and shake hands with all the brethren as we all seek to love others into the kingdom.

2 Timothy 1: 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

One man’s heresy is another man’s truth. It is a beautiful heresy to have hope that God’s will…will actually be done.

Francis Chan Reconsiders Hell

Shortly after I read ‘Love Wins’, by Rob Bell, I saw a video published by Francis Chan where he seemed to genuinely and lovingly shared his grievous heart about the open discussion of hell. I can understand that concern, since I had been in a hell fire brimstone church for 15 years. I understand that concept as they teach it and by golly if you believe unbelievers will go to hell forever you ought to be more vocal about it. But many times Christians wrestle with how to be loving while telling someone they’re going to hell. Most Christian parents would forbid their children from ever telling someone, “Go to hell”. Yet, at the same time isn’t telling someone they ARE going to hell, in fact, worse than saying “Go to hell”?

So Francis Chan, with a heavy heart, began studying this popular topic of hell and Charisma magazine reported that Francis Chan has reconsidered this teaching a bit. His new book ‘Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity and the Things We’ve Made Up’ is scheduled to be released in July. It will be interesting what he has to say, yet I highly recommend you read Julie Ferwerda’s new book first. This topic of hell has had me intrigued for quite a while and I have taken what Rob Bell opened the discussion with, and Julie’s thoughts, into serious consideration. Julie presented a very detailed in-depth study in what I believe is well within context of the plan of God to make all things right.

I believe there is indeed a Judgment, however the way in which that plays out is not so clearly defined. Key words such as grave, fire, flames, darkness, etc are used in symbolic ways throughout many parables and symbolic teachings. When I personally look up the word ‘hell’ in an English version of the Bible, then look in Greek I find the word ‘hades’ which is actually ‘grave’. Just a few days ago, I passed the local cemetery and didn’t find any grave spouting up flames anywhere. I also find that Jonah was in ‘hell’ for three days, God heard his prayers, and delivered him out of ‘hell’, all while Jonah was still alive. Then in the book of Revelation we see hades (the grave) emptied and destroyed (which means no one stays in the grave, ‘hell’, forever). There are many instances like these that leads me to believe that ‘hell’, or more accurately translated ‘grave’, is not quite what I was previously taught.

But this is not my intended purpose for this post. It’s just the beginning. Many Christian writers, pastors, teachers, theologians, and many others including Atheists and Pagans are reconsidering what the overall message of Christ really is. In the history of growth of the congregations on this planet, we have seen changes in their teachings. New denominations are formed regularly and anyone with a small group can file for a 501c3 (in America) and begin a new religious establishment. Do we really need more churches when we see so many of them dispersing into homes as it is?

My point in this article is about the changes. Each person has their own soul liberty in their journey to understanding the Divine Creator, however if we use the bible as a historical guide as to what has happened to the early believers we can see an over all theme and that theme is love, mercy, correction, and reconciliation. When we reconsider that hell is actually the grave, then the major premises of evangelicalism makes a swift change from threats of torture to a wooing of the Spiritual lover of our souls.

So can Christianity survive without threats of fire torture? I suppose that depends on what you think being a Christian is really all about. Surely the Bride of Christ, whose Head is Christ, will always survive because she can not disappear. The gates of Hades will not prevail against the Kingdom. However, if the head of a entity called “Christianity” is not Christ, then it will surely fail. Maybe we just need to ask ourselves if we’re following the real Christ, or if we’re following a man made copy all decked out in man’s bricks and mortar lead into a program of circus tricks, smoke, and mirrors.

Sisterlisa


Biblical argument for Gays

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Resurrected Life

Today marks the third Resurrection Day that we have not been planted in any one specific gathering. Our journey out of the IC began on a Resurrection Day which we believe to be such a great reminder of what resurrection really means to us. Jesus raised us up with Him on that spectacular day, but so many Christians don’t see the resurrection as an event that took place for all of humanity. So many are sitting in their pews each weekend, begging Jesus to return and take them out of this ‘wretched world’. I used to be just like that. I thought people needed to ‘ask’ Jesus to be their Savior. How silly of me to think Jesus needs us to ‘make’ him the Savior.

eggs by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

We were wrapped up in the church activities following the pattern the preacher said was ‘the only way to raise our families’ that would be ‘pleasing to God’. He promised that raising our kids around the church would ‘work every time’. But the busyness of the church life left us very little time to be a family outside the church property. Our lives were so engulfed in that cycle that we felt like we were drowning our lives into an abyss of circus acts to keep God happy with us. The motivating factor was fear. We followed the ‘laws’ as best we could, according to the preaching, that somehow this was exactly what God wanted of us in order to keep us ‘safe from the world’and to keep him appeased so we wouldn’t be cursed.

But over the years we saw many preachers whose kids suffered in car accidents, cancer, down syndrome, and more. Deacons were cheating on their wives, teen girls were cutting, and teen guys were struggling with homosexuality. This was the ‘church’ we were promised would ‘work every time’ if we raised our kids there.

The concept of the resurrection is to bring life and it was that very day our lives began to make sense. That resurrection day 2 years ago when we were raptured out of the Institutional Church and given wings to fly free.

We finally understood what it meant to have The Spirit be our Teacher and He revealed to us that we ARE the church. We are the Living Stones that our Savior indwells and we began to understand what it meant to be ‘In Christ’.

No longer did I look up at the sky each day with a tear stained face and agonizing prayers for the Lord to return and get me out of this hell hole.

He revealed to me that He already is here with me and this home He has given me was not a hell hole, but a gorgeous garden to be enjoyed. He showed me that His presence is always with me and no need to wait for a ‘return’ when He is already here with us..our very present help in trouble.

He never promised that life would have no tragedies and heart aches, but he did promise to be with us and He is!

There are different perspectives on the ‘snatching away’ that is mentioned in the Bible and various angles on understanding what He meant when the angle said “He will come again”.

We are selling the Savior short to expect that He is only coming at the end of some ‘end of the world’ type of teaching, when He is already here with us now!

I came to understand that I had been living life in a state of unbelief of His very real presence in my life. All my prayers were being sent up to him because as I saw it,  he wasn’t really down here with us. And many times it felt as though my prayers were stopping just short of heaven’s gates and falling helplessly to the earth again, never to be heard by God.

God revealed to me how He resurrected me WITH Christ that glorious day.

Colossians 2:11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

I have been seated with him in the heavenly places since before I was born, I just hadn’t realized it yet.

I thought I had to do something to ‘get’ resurrected.

Here I was, hearing Him tell me that I was already raised with Him.

I had been in Christ all along and hadn’t known it.

How could I have possibly missed this for so long?

Maybe listening to someone tell me for many years that Jesus is not here yet, that I am worthless, and have to do all these religious works to make God happy with me, was part of the problem. I was told I had to die first before I could be resurrected and that would not happen until the end of the world.

He had opened my eyes and revealed his amazing presence in me and removed the veil of deception from my eyes and all of a sudden this world looked more beautiful than I had ever seen it before.

Life seemed to be so much more brilliant than I could have ever imagined.

The trees seemed greener, the clouds were refreshing, and the flowers so vibrant!

trees by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

The rain no longer made me sad, I now saw it as an opportunity to feel the moisture sprinkle on my face and collect the sweet drops on my tongue. It became a gift from Him.

The dry summer heat no longer angered me. It made the creek so much more enjoyable as I waded into the cool current to be refreshed.

The snow no longer frustrated me, I now took it as an opportunity to snuggle under warm blankets with my children and sipped hot cocoa.

Everything I had once saw as a negative thing was turned into a reason to be thankful and He made me to see the beauty in it all.

Because my resurrection had given me a new perspective on this life in Christ.

Today, this third Resurrection Day in our freedom, was enjoyed with my family. We slept in until 9am, woke up to fresh brewed coffee, and enjoyed watching our children wake up to a basket filled with candy.

We savored pancakes topped with butter, hot peaches, and blueberries drizzled with syrup.

We decided to go out and enjoy the earth God has given us. We parked the van and walked along the bike path near the park where wild flowers reached up towards the sun. The fragrance was amazing!

wildflowers by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

We listened to birds chirp, watched butterflies pollinating, heard thunder crack as the clouds gathered above us.

trees and sky by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

I removed my sandals and walked into the sandy shore of the creek, dug my toes into the earth and felt the cold water surround my ankles.

sandyshore by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Life has been happening all these years and we spent them closed up in buildings built by man when we could have been enjoying the life that we have been blessed with walking on this earth that our Creator gave to us.

Closing my eyes, I breathed deeply.

Feeling the cool spring air filling my lungs.

creek by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Hearing the harmonious song of our feathered friends, my heart was lifted to the skies above me.

We are already seated with Him in heavenly places.

He is here… with us now.

We are alive in Christ!

I no longer look here or there, thinking the kingdom will come in some tangible way, descending from a cloud like Mary Poppins. The kingdom is here..with us now.

I don’t want to miss one single day of living in this kingdom.

God doesn’t expect me to obey a bunch of church laws in order to keep myself safe in a tragedy free bubble.

Life isn’t tragedy free, but through tragedies we learn grace, mercy, and love in ways only found in the kingdom.

In this resurrected life we can embrace tragedies and be thankful that all things work together for good.

He raised me with him over 2,000 years ago and He raised you too.

Open your eyes and behold… the day of the Lord has always been with you.

God isn’t mad at you, He loves you!

He embraces you every step of the way.

Christ did everything needed to reconcile us to Father and we get to be the partakers of this life in Him.

He loves you as you are.

Wake up to Your Soul Lover!

You’ve already been resurrected. Walk in the reality of it!

2 Corinthians 5: 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

flowers by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

{All my photos hosted and shared at Pix-O-Sphere}

Matthew 18 Part Two

by Sisterlisa

Many people believe that the most prominent portion of scripture in Matthew 18 is verses 15-17, yet that is so far from the whole reason Christ spoke these words which were penned by our brother Matthew. The entire chapter must be read as an entire teaching, not just a portion of it. As you read from the beginning all the way through to the end, you can see the heart of Christ our Lord in what He is teaching. In the first part of this series I shared with you how I felt about what Jesus was showing us in regards to his little ones.

The teaching is not simply a teaching about protecting children, but he was using children as an example of who we are to the Father, His little children. As you read through verses 1-14 you see that Jesus was looking for the lost sheep. Keep in mind that the sheep are a flock and when one gets lost He seeks to bring them back to the fold. He wasn’t talking about going out to find the wolves and converting them into sheep. Now that we see that His heart is seeking the lost sheep, those members of the fold(family) that have gone astray, he then speaks to us about the one who is in error. Beginning in verse 15 we see him explaining to us how to reconcile with our brethren. He says to go to the person on your own first then, if he doesn’t listen to you, take one or two more with you.

Matthew 18:15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”

Here is where I would like to stop and explain what I have seen over the years. I have seen people in anguish over broken relationships seeking one or two more to go with them, only to be told by those people that the individual is gossiping and they would have no part in that. Where does that leave us if we can’t find someone to simply follow these steps instructed to us by Christ our Lord? He is very clear that when two people aren’t coming to a sincere reconciliation that they are to seek help. As Christians we are commanded by God to assist them. He says in verse 16 that everything is to be established. We are to seek help in establishing what has occurred and come to a conclusion of reconciliation to Him first, and in doing so we are then reconciled to one another.

Matthew 18:16, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”

Now if after all these things take place and the matter is still not established, he then tells us to go to the assembly of believers. But here is the part that we must understand, Jesus did not give us these steps to bring people into submission to us, to make them ‘take our side’. This isn’t about taking sides, it’s about Christ our Lord. You see, when the individuals come into subjection to Christ, as it says in Ephesians 5:24, then, and only then, will they be at peace with one another. However, if one refuses to come into subjection to Christ, then he shows us verse 17 and how it applies.

Matthew 18:17, “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”

I have seen in several situations where Matthew 18 was abused and nothing was accomplished except more hard feelings and more bitterness. Yet I have also seen where it is used properly, guided by His Holy Spirit, and saw humility take shape in the hearts of the people. The thing that is most difficult for people who refuse to allow a proper use of Matthew 18 is that it will reveal their sin and, as a result, they are faced with the fact that they must repent. People who avoid the proper use of Matthew 18 are not seeking reconciliation with Christ our Lord, they are seeking to abuse the teaching in order to further their agenda to make people come into subjection to them. They don’t want that rug swept clean, they just want to sweep all the junk under the rug and keep it hidden. They position themselves over the rug and stand firm upon it, refusing to let anyone look under it, and they demand that others simply trust them to handle it alone. Yet they are not handling it properly, that is why the brethren come to seek reconciliation.

Two things may occur from the proper use of Matthew 18. Either the person will humble themselves and come into subjection to Christ, or they will let pride empower them to keep refusing that humility. If they come into the humble place where Christ is calling them, they can receive forgiveness and get help, then reconciliation will take place. Keep in mind however, that there may be consequences which must take place in order for the person to make amends. Those who don’t want to suffer consequences for their sin will keep hiding and eventually walk away on their own. I really don’t believe the brethren will need to tell the person to leave. If our hearts are supposed to seek reconciliation with Christ our Lord then whoever is opposing Him will walk away because they will be refusing to submit to Christ.

Make sure you understand that this teaching is NOT about forcing man to come into subjection to man. When you abuse this teaching from Christ our Lord to bring about that kind of agenda, you have made yourself into a god. The ultimate purpose is to have us all in subjection to Christ our Lord.

I will give you two examples of what I have seen dealing with Matthew 18. I have seen it abused when a Believer comes to a leader to speak to them about the leader’s error. The leader tells them to stay out of it and they refuse to submit to Christ. The Believer loves the person and sees the person continually leading wrongly and they keep trying to show him his error. He continues to refuse. So the Believer tries to find someone to go with them. (verse 16)
It is practically impossible to find someone willing to do that, but if they do manage to find someone who will listen and, together, they try to show the leader his error, he tries to convince them both that it is not their place to confront him and that only God can tell a leader he is wrong and they should just trust him, as the leader, to make the right decisions. He’ll then stand before the congregation and teach the people that there are gossipers in the midst causing division with the leadership. He’ll tell them that those who do so are cursed and will suffer consequences if they partake in their efforts to “divide leadership”. He has now made it next to impossible for them to now follow verse 17 in bringing it to the church, but they must. Christ has told us we must come before the entire assembly.

Here is where Believers would be wise to fast and pray about when to do this. They must stand firm and speak up. They must blow the trumpet and warn the people. If they do not, then they have missed their opportunity to free the sheep. Even if the leader still refuses to repent and submit to Christ, you have at least warned the people. They are then free to make their own choices. Sometimes an entire group can see a miracle take place and the entire fold submit to Christ and everyone repent, but most times you will see church splits over this. If the majority of the church is loyal to a man instead of loyal to Christ then you will need to decide whether you want to remain in that kind of situation or walk away and find safety in Christ. Either way, there are consequences to sin. A person who has been leading God’s people astray and teaching them to submit to them rather than to Christ, must be removed from their position of leadership. (I’m not talking about a nation’s government, but rather a spiritual assembly)

Just as in a situation where a husband is abusing his wife and children, there must be consequences. Someone needs to remove that man from that home in order for the family to be safe until he gets help. Not all spiritual leaders will be restored to leading God’s people. For example, a leader who molests children or cheats on his wife with another lady in the church. It’s difficult to list all the reasons why a leader should never be a leader again, but the local assembly needs to make that decision. Even though this shows you the aspect of Matthew 18 in regards to a person in leadership, it is applicable to anyone who is a Believer.

I personally feel that any religious organization that has its assembly set up with one prominent leader is twisted and that’s why applying Matthew 18 is so difficult. When we are all equal, as a team, functioning as Christ intended for us to, then applying Matthew 18 will not be so difficult and the strongholds would not be able to grab so tight of those in leadership positions.

The best example of the correct use of Matthew 18 was when I saw it happen in a local ministry. A person was in error and one believer went to the them with their concern. The person said they were sorry, but continued in error. So the one believer got two more to go with her. Through much prayer, they agreed that they needed to see the person in error  submit to Christ. They went to her together, but she refused to listen. It was then taken to the larger assembly, where several people showed her love and acceptance of her, but not her sin. She submitted to Christ. The entire group prayed over her and embraced her. It wasn’t about getting her to submit to them personally, but all together in Christ. She later came into error again and the group kept applying Matthew 18 each time. Each time she submitted and forgiveness was given. Consequences did accompany discipline, but it was done in love.

The last time she was in error, the group came to her again, seeking for all to be subject to Christ our Lord and she decided on her own that she wanted to depart. She did not want to submit to Christ. She is now in jail. The group did what they could to help her come to Christ, but she refused. No one had to tell her to depart from them, because their ultimate goal was to seek reconciliation to Christ. Christ’s way is never to cast away a believer who is in error. It is always to reconcile. He is always interceding on our behalf to bring us unto Himself. In the final day there will be judgment for those who continually rejected Him, but while we are still here on earth, I believe it is always His heart’s desire to see reconciliation among His children. But reconciliation must be under Christ our Lord. He is the Head of the Body. He is the Bridegroom for the Bride. It is never about making the Bride submit to the hand, or the arm.

In the next portion of this series we will look at what He teaches us to do if the person continues to sin over and over again. Peter asked, “How many times should we keep forgiving a person?”