What do you see in the new testament church that you no longer see in the church you know today?

I have long since looked at the biblical account of the Church of God. The things that they did, things that where part of their daily lives, the love for one another, the genuine struggle and fight to keep it pure and on the true path to God and Godliness. You see every day people experiencing God in everyday life. You see the people who had once been despised and outcast from society become part of a family, the family of God and begin to see their lives transformed.

They became a family marked by their love and their sacrifice for one another and by the power of the Spirit of God operating among them. But lets look at what specific things we can identify as, no longer part of what the church is today or no longer the same as it was back then.

What do you see as missing or changed behavior or practices of the church then and now? Lets identify everything we can and what little steps each of us can take in becoming re-builders of the ancient ruins of the new testament church.

Acts 2: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

I see a lot of teachers but not a lot of people devoting themselves to the teachings of apostles. That’s the pastors job right? Wrong! Even the style of teaching we do see is modeled after the roman style of religion, the style of their Gods. Something corrupted in style, that has an impact. Its no minor thing to adopt the style of the worship of false gods, but it has become so ingrained, that what once was has been totally left in ruins. How to identify what was and rebuild it? How can you rebuild the new testament church model of teaching?

I see some fellowship (friendly association) on Sundays when you are stuck in the same building together but how many of the people are true friends sharing the rest of their lives as you would with someone you where truly friends with? Imagine growing up in a family that did not bother to take their meals together, did not bother to share their day to day lives with each other how empty that would be. Church is the assembly of the family, and what makes someone family is the closeness and the care, and with that goes the prayer. How can you and i help move the church from a non profit organization that meets up on Sunday trying to look their best to a family where all your ugly comes out and still you have a place where you belong at the table? How can you rebuild the fellowship of the family of God’s children?

A path to spiritual life

Beatitudes

Matthew 5:3-12

A path to spiritual life.

Embracing Your Poverty

You are not enough, you never will be. Broken things don’t have what it takes to fix themselves. Other broken people and things can not help you. What you can do or what you can buy or steal is worthless when it comes to the poverty of your soul. All you can do i know its depths. There you can find the truth of yourself and of God.

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Embracing Your Deadness

Spiritually dead and with good reason to mourn. Dead in your trespasses and sins. For the person that you wanted to be is dead because of the sin that rules your heart. The Good that you want to do, you can not and the evil that you do not want to do, you do that. It is in mourning your spiritual dead state that you find comfort from God.

4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Embracing Your Pride

We who think we are something, feel free to judge. We measure the value and worth of others. But the meek are those who judge themselves. They are nobodies, deserving of nothing but judgment and are desperately seeking mercy. It is in becoming the least and the last that we are able to inherit from God

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Embracing Your Dependence

Like an infant crying out to have your needs met. We are totally dependent on God to give to us. There is only one reason we lack righteousness, we don’t hunger for it and cry out to to God to be filled. Depending on ourselves will leave us filled with ourselves and still empty weak and dying in our spirit.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Embracing Your Injustice

Who owes you? Who has wronged you? If the blood of Jesus has paid for you and you have found mercy what will happen if you judge yourself worthy to withhold it from another who genuinely repents? It would be an injustice against the justice of the cross of Jesus to show no mercy after you have received yours beyond measure? There will be no mercy in the end for you unless you learn the lesson of mercy.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Embracing your true heart

Straight up, the heart of man is deceitfully wicked above all else who can know it? Nothing is more deceptive, nothing more wicked. Look out! Because it is a self deception. To be pure of heart is to be true / genuine the same on the outside as in your own thoughts. To embrace this way of life is to be willing to be seen for the ugly and cowardly realities on the inside. But this is how one gets spiritual eyes to see. To see God and to see yourself and to see others. We confess our hearts and hide nothing. We must trust in God and his ways for our protection and not deceive ourselves that we are something we are not.

8 Blessed are the pure/true in heart, for they will see God.

Embracing your actions

Sometime you can make peace and avoid war. Other times you make war to destroy evil in order to restore peace. What ever you do you must consider why you do it and what is the outcome of your efforts. Are you making peace with evil? Are you making war against the righteous to show yourself right? If you are of the children of God you will seek peace between God and man above your own peace.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Embracing agreement with God

In agreeing with God in our hearts who we are who man is and the one and only way God made to save us you become right. Righteous in your nature and in doing so become a target, a stand out in a world of darkness. But being in such a great place it is pointed out that your reward is the exact same reward as the one poor in Spirit. You are nothing but what you have chosen and what God has given.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Embracing the suffering of Jesus

Time to grow up, you are here for a purpose. You have work to do that God has planed for you. You my friend get to share in the sufferings of Jesus. This life has two kinds of suffering in it, the kind for doing what is wrong and the kind for doing what is right. Time to choose your kind of suffering. If you will suffer because of Jesus and the testimony and Gospel of salvation or suffer because of the results of your sin. I am not saying there is no joy. There is joy in doing what it right, it just comes after in brings about light, freedom and life. But there are always birth pains, and nothing good, nothing of lasting value is without struggle.

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We must shine!

So many reject the power of Godliness.

So many are told the lie of Satan that when you die you will finally cease from your sin.

The truth is, when we cease from our sin, only then do we begin to live the rest of our our lives for the Glory of God. Ceasing from sin is inseparable from believing in Christ Jesus. Because within our belief is our (completion, perfection, maturity) however you call it it is all the same thing.

We believe for the fullness of a Salvation that has yet to be realized. We believe for the fullness of Christ in us.

Christ in us is our only hope of Glory.

When we believe, He helps us with our unbelief. Let us call on the light of God to shine in our hearts and expose the motives of sin hiding in our shadows.

Why do we need fear, why trembling when working out your salvation.  Why does the bible speak “Woe” for those at ease in Zion?

How much of what you think is “Christ in You”  when tested will turn out to be wood and stubble for the fire?

How much of who you might have become will be lost?

How much Salvation will you loose?  That’s right you can suffer loss in regards to your salvation.

What will survive as you pass through the fires of God presence into heaven?

There is much work to be done, much to be gained and much to be lost in regards to your salvation.

Each of us is given work to do by God and that work is Christ in us.

When the morning star dawns in our hearts, when Christ is fully formed in us, we will shine.

Let us lay hold of that very thing that Christ laid hold of us for!

The Sperm of God

I bet most of you did not know that the when the bible talks about the “Holy Spirit” the actual words or term in the original language is the Sperm of God.

Why hide it? What confusion has resulted from doing so? Perhaps some might understand the Holy Spirit better. The essence of God, God’s DNA if you like, his nature alive with a life of its own. With the function of union and creating a new spiritual life and imparting all that God is. Perhaps that is why they hide it, because that truth is just too much to accept or consider with regards to others human beings.

But without being real about the sperm of God is is hard to understand who the Holy Spirit is and how the life of Gods Spirit unites himself to our spirit and becomes a new life. Its how we become Gods children, the spiritual represented in the physical.

God has made himself known through what was created. The bible only teaches us about God within that context. When we separate the word of God from the context of creation for whatever reason we get further away from reality and end up with hard to understand man made doctrines that leave people confused and separated from knowing in their hearts what is true.

The bibles teachings are more then sufficient! God is a father, who had a first born son conceived by the holy spirit. The same holy spirit making you pregnant with who God is. That is just part of life that everyone understands correctly. Why hide it?

Perhaps it is the whole communication thing. Human sperm has a life in itself and communicates via DNA and the things that affect its expression. But in the Spiritual the building blocks are life and its power expressed through words. Do they think it an insult, derogatory to associate the Holy Spirit with that very real and personal expression of life. If so it might be better to consider more how the holiness of God is connected to our own expression of life and sexuality then hide this truth away.

How can you go from no faith to faith?

The truth is everyone has faith. God has given you faith, everyone gets some. I find it interesting that something within us that can not be see can require our obedience, can grow, and can be shared. That invisible something called faith is directly connected to our ability to receive love as love. It is no wonder that faith is required to connect to the God who is love.

So if you want to find faith…

One thing to do is grow the little bit you have by using it towards God. You might have to look around inside to find some and it may be so ridiculously small a thing it requires of you. But obey it and keep obeying it so it can grow. The bible says “taste and see, God is good” anyone can ask for a taste of Gods goodness.

Another thing would be to get around people who live lives of faith. Living as if God loves them. Pursuing things that are beyond them. They are always giving it away for free. Keep company with them and just watch and listen.

Lastly, make a gap and invite God into it. Take what is important out of your life for a time and give the space it once held to God. Put everything away and wait to see what God might do. There is no better place to find faith then directly from the source.

When we use the little bit of faith we have God is always gracious to help us with the lack of faith we struggle against. As the man once said to Jesus “help my unbelief”

Salvation and what you have not been told.

Salvation is not free, at least not how you think.

Salvation is a treasure beyond value found hidden in a field. You can buy the field and have the treasure as your own but the field price will require you to sell everything you have.

Salvation is citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. The abandonment of your citizenship in this earthly kingdom and your living as if to make your life and home here is the price.

You see it in Baptism as well, the first act of faith a new believer is called to. It is a public act of faith to demonstrate your choice to give your all, to embrace the death of your citizenship in this earthly kingdom. You enter into death with Christ Jesus in choosing to die to this life and all it has to offer so that you may have the other. This is how you get saved, how you become a Christian.

The treasure of the salvation of God comes for free hidden in that new life for you to discover and its yours the day you choose to give your all to buy it. If you look you will see Jesus repeatedly describing the price. It is a price that everyone can afford to pay but few are willing to part with. Only those who really believe in the promise of God through Jesus Christ choose to sell their old life to buy the new one.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Mt. 13:44).

We all understand how salvation works because how it works exists all around us. God gave us the context of creation so we would be able to understand Him. Jesus gave us this simple story about how you get your salvation, your citizenship in heaven.

Whats Next? Have you been told that the Holy Spirit is called the Sperm of God and that Salvation is getting spiritually pregnant? .

Steps towards pastoring shepherd style

God has shown me a few examples the heart of which is to let the Spirit lead.

Yes you still need to lead but since you have been mostly revealing your own minds as a modern style pastor you will be disconnected from the minds of your sheep. This will leave you ill equipped to lead them to the biblical pasture that would address their minds need.

Your role changes from provider of truth, and oracle to the people to one of bus driver observer and security guard. You bring them to new pasture, you watch over them as they do their thing led by the Spirit and when is all is said and done you bring them back home to the safety of Christ Jesus.

  1. Enter into the Gates of Gods presence. The most effective way i have seen is to ask if anyone wants to thank God for something he has done in their lives since you last met. It may not be much at first and if nothing or little ask someone to offer up a scripture that has been on their hearts or a song that has been on their hearts. You will find this grows to into ministering to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. If you give the spirit room you will get to watch him work. Do not be afraid to let this consume the entire time and then some if you are aware of the Spirit at work. God is not on our timetable. Just tell people if they need to leave they should feel free. Truth may be it gets better after some people go.
  2. Start taking the honor off of yourself. One way is by asking others who qualify as the least to read the scriptures for you. Ask for someone who has not read before and ask someone beforehand if they would volunteer to read if no one steps up. Get them comfortable with speaking the scriptures publicly, being focused on in regard to the things of God. – 1 Cor 12:23. Another way is by referring the answer to questions you receive to some of the smallest members of the body who you know can give a right answer. Then stand by them as they do. You are not pushing people off on someone else, you are demonstrating how to be a pastor of pastors and a leader for everyone else to see and emulate.
  3. Ask what people think about the scripture and let silence be your friend. Someone who feels their opinion would be unwelcome or that they are too small to share what they think, still is thinking something and they may only speak is when silence creates the space for them. Develop a level of security in expressing their minds. The goal is not to correct! The goal is to lead them to the right places so the Spirit can. You as a good shepherd need to learn what pasture they need to be bought to individually and as a group. You need to engage them in who they are that is found in what they think. If you want that missing connection this is where to start.
  4. Ask for different ways of thinking. You do not want the right answer! You want to know what they are thinking about. You need to know the health and maturity of the sheep you care for and this is how you do it! Do it by knowing what they are eating what they are chewing on inside of their minds. It is in the different ways of thinking that you find your answers to their health and maturity. The one who speaks an idea represents the many who are thinking it. They may have heard it on TV or at school, thoughts and ideas that they find themselves unequipped to handle or fit into their understanding of God and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to fix or correct but to offer them other food to chew one and let them chew on that and offer up their thinking of how the ideas go together and how they do not.
  5. Engage others as shepherds. This is important, one man can not care for 100 sheep properly. Jesus had 12. Within your group are others with the shepherds gift and you want to grow them because you need them to do your job right. You can start by asking the group for pasture (scripture) that pertains to the thinking expressed. Let them give verses not teachings or judgments. You will come to know them and rely on them to do your job for you most of time. Eventually you will come to call on them by name when needed. The goal is if someone weaker can give a good answer they should be the ones to answer, you should be the one to back them up.
  6. Manage the environment. This takes some focus and determination. This is where you earn you keep as a shepherd. Your primary job is to keep them safe while they chew their food. Do NOT jump in too fast to take down some false teaching expressed in the group, let them chew on it a bit and see who spits it out and who does not. Some people will be used to the old ways and want to be the oracles, be quick to shut them down making it clear in both word and deed that the ones who know the most, the greatest among you should be the last to speak on any matter. if that does not work interrupt them with statements like “Lets hear what some other people think”. You want to avoid shutting down the group or individual expression with judgments during the process. The singular goal is the consumption of the word and the expression of the minds and gifts of the sheep into an individual maturity. Most of this will just happen as the spirit flows and as you make room for it and a conductive environment.
  7. Dealing with the wolf. Satan has hooks into peoples lives, Christian peoples lives those hooks are our sins. As long as we are slaves to sin we will continue to sin and that sin invites the wolf to use us. So dealing with the wolf is dealing with sinners, some of whom may be Gods children still immature and playing around in the mud of this world. The Goal is to see them come in the wolf and deal with them as the a sheep in the wolf’s mouth. Some you may realize they are only ever coming as wolves, not meek, not learning, not forgiving. Those are just wolves and you should be man enough to remove them if you love the sheep. If you are unsure, assign them to a mature shepherd or take them on your self for a time to determine but separate them from the group or a minimum ask them not to speak anymore until after you have spent some time to understand them. You will get better at it as you do it, pray for understanding into the hearts of people but if you do not you will have failed as a Shepherd and that safe environment and growth will be lost as will many of your sheep.
  8. Bring them back home. Wherever you may take them in scripture and wherever they may roam from there always be sure to take them back home. Reconnect the scripture and ideas behind it back to Christ and their security and salvation in him. The bulk of the group from the place you brought them to. Then go after the those who wandered off into places that are not of god and address those ideas with Gods word and ways. This is the place for correction, confront the ideas presented with the word of God and add them to your list of things to revisit. Then offer to anyone who wants to discuss think more to contact you. Manage everyone into two to one connections: if they are really weak (conscience) or really strong (challenging). You can realize and cultivate people within the body if you can call on them for this job. Again you are not passing them off onto others. Have a private group with your people who have charges of care. What are they doing, how is it going, prayer, suggestions are they feeling overwhelmed are they making connection or loosing connection and what is their assessment. The goal is to do some life together and get connected and understand them at a deeper level so you can speak to who they are and who God intended them to become.
  9. Sending them out If you have a room full of heavy hitters spiritually and biblically adept you are wasting kingdom resources. Split them up, and move them around. Lazy shepherds have a tendency to hang around the sheep pen talking about sheep. Too many sheep in one pasture it quickly becomes barren. As soon as you have capable Shepherds that could take your place and a unity and agreement on how things should be for the benefit of the sheep and a fellowship of more they you can care for one on one its time to make a split. Do you want to manage the biggest flock or do you want the healthiest sheep that reproduce and increase your masters flock? IMO it is best to split them out by location since God knows where he has placed them and for what purpose. But as the Spirit leads. Eventually you would end up with your regular fellowship and your Shepherds fellowship.

This is the vision I have so far if you would like to share in it, contribute to it or try it out for yourself and share your experiences please do. It is a model of teaching more akin to the old style Hebrew schools. I plan to visit some such schools to gain more insight into how the the new testament church would have approached teaching.

Pastoring Shepherd style.

What I see today looks like a Shepherd running around with a lawn mower all week cutting and piling up grass and chewing on it until it all nice a squishy like baby food. Then come Sunday morning he gets all of his trained sheep, to line up in rows, sit down and open their mouths while his takes his pre-chewed food, puts it in and says, swallow and say amen! Its no wonder he ends up with 40 year old baby Huey sheep and a life spent changing adult diapers.

I know seems silly. But lets consider what Shepard’s actually do. They take sheep to a place they haven’t eaten up all their food yet and they step back in silence and watch and listen for trouble (wolves, poison plants, sheep wandering off, biting one another, getting stuck in the bushes). While the sheep wander about feeding themselves and having a good old time becoming good at doing what they where meant to do.

You see Jesus introducing his 12 sheep to new places with his questions and statements, you see them chewing it over among themselves. You see them coming back with questions and statement of their own for validation. Moving away from Shepherding (AKA Pastoring) to preaching to the sheep has resulted in a weak Church, unprepared, ill equipped, immature and largely powerless by biblical standards.

I think it is largely because leaders have bought into the traditions of the day becoming oracles and high priests after the the style of the roman temples. Some just lack faith in the Spirit and fail to trust to Him with the control. While others are in fear of being unable to answer well the ideas that others might introduce. Perhaps you are really not all that great of a Pastor and are not the best one for the job? The truth is the greatest pastor is the one who becomes no longer necessary but simply loved for who they have been. To peruse anything else is to be working against the kingdom.

Today the focus is on the greatest among us (supposedly) the man up front. We are not focused on the least and we need to turn that around. Your life as a Shepherd could be one of joy and celebration, watching the Spirit of God work and your people grow strong and ready for the times to come. Ready for the labors God has set aside for them.

Restore the biblical style of teaching. Put away the lawnmower, stop thinking you are the one it all depends on and get out of Gods way.

From here to there, steps to take towards Shepherd style pastoring(pasturing).

Why Faith?

Why does God require faith? It is a good question.

Faith is the ability of the heart to receive.

For example; when someone says they love you, your ability to receive that, and the depths it will reach inside of you depends on your faith. Faith: in yourself, in your experiences of them as individuals and your experiences in life.

The bible describes faith as the evidence of that which is unseen. That unseen evidence exists inside of us, we are guided by faith every day. Every time we leave the realm of our experiences we rely on faith. We open our hearts to one new thing and close it to another biased on that evidence within.

How can you believe in a God if you don’t have faith one exists?

How can you seek after a God without the expectation of receiving good?

These are the two preconditions for coming to the Almighty God which He has set down in His word the bible. These are simply truths about the nature of humanity and the capacity of the human heart to receive. Truths about how God created you.

But what if you don’t have faith?

Whats Next? How can you go from no faith to faith?

How can you rebuild the new testament churches model of teaching?

First we need to identify what it looked like? Where can we look to see what how the Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus would have approached teaching and shepherding by the examples of Jesus and the practices of the Jewish people regarding teaching. Where can we go to confirm what we learn but to God himself and to his Spirit testifying to what we are hoping to do. I have my thoughts and the things God has shown me regarding how to teach as a pastor so as to make room for the spirit of God to teach and I will add those here later but first I want to hear what you think we can do to change things. What steps we can take to remove the corruption from the teaching practices of the family of God?