Lately, the Lord has been showing me that the truth the ekklesia is to manifest is simply Christ and His love to one another. It's always been and will always be Jesus in me reaching out to the hand of Jesus in you. And together, "with nothing between ourselves and Christ, and nothing between one another but the love of Christ" we are being the "church" or properly called, the ekklesia, the called out ones. And via this unity in Him, "church" life happens everywhere, anytime, anyway imaginable -- via a phone call, a two-person chat on a bus, in a meeting place, in praying for one another, in studying the word together, at a meal with saints, during laughter, tears, coming alongside our brother and sister to help them, the ekklesia are being and doing and living "church". Now that Jesus has come, died, rose again, and sent His Spirit within and among His people, we need no place, no way, no system, no agreed structure to function as the ekklesia. We are the place, the household of God.
God is doing a new thing in these last days.
I am beginning to think that even those hallowed, 1st-century, New Testament "meetings" were just fine for them, back then, as God spoke in their ancient now. Paul discussed ideas of their way of meeting so as to function as best as possible for them, back then. Of course, Christ is to be Head and the ekklesia is to function as His body. This will never change. But other specific details of their meeting together possibly related more to their day and that culture's needs. We need to discern these things by the Spirit as to what matters to Him today and what doesn't anymore. Too rigid an adherence to things done 2,000 years ago is legalism and dead tradition masquerading as godliness. Form has no power. Only the Spirit of Christ uninhibited brings life. A simple test: if it brings death, strife, and chaos -- it is the law and the flesh operating. It is not of Christ.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and He will lead us out into the spirit of truth in our worship and coming together as one people where ever we are. God is about the now, and not about any cookie-cutter way of His life functioning among His people. What works for one small group of His ekklesia in Ghana may not be His way for North Carolina, and may not be His way for a gathering in India or for His people in California.
As a local body of believers come together under the Headship of Christ alone, the Spirit will guide them, not ritual, not patterns, not tradition, not even our cherished 1st-century New Testament, ancient culture of house church meetings.
We have to get this.
It must be life, His life that happens, not our agreed upon religious mind-sets so ruined by millennia of dead traditions.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
As I was considering the concept of beauty and the nature of music, a revelation came to me.
Why do we find something to be beautiful anyway? What purpose does beauty serve? What good is it? How does one's visual appreciation of a sunset or the way a tree sways in the breeze moving us to emotion have any benefit to our existence?
And what of music? We create it, listen to it, dance to it, cry to it, mark Time with it, and even worship God with it. And we say a piece of music, a chord, a melody, even one note on a violin or of a soprano's voice -- 'tis such a beautiful sound.
Why is this so?
Scientist and reductionist might try and explain our sense of beauty or love for music as some inherited trait, something that helped us win the dance contest of macro-evolution madness. But this is indeed madness to even consider such mental constructs seriously.
By faith we believe . . .
Man is made in the image of God. God is the Source of every good gift. In His very essence was ultimate, unspoiled, limitless Beauty and matchless Music was the voice of endless Worship streaming forth in the presence of Elohim in Eternity Past -- before Time began.
By faith we believe . . .
Soon comes forth the New Jerusalem to a rescued Earth and we read of the redeemed ones singing a new song before the Throne of God. Beauty uninhibited will reign supreme and the first Music from before Time's birth will continue long after Elohim's eternity engulfs all of Time.
And the revelation?
Our inherent and mysterious love of beauty and music are both of God's creative nature, existing long before Creation. They are a blessed gift He gave to mankind, made in His image -- that we might acknowledge Him in His glorious Creation and sing to Him our praises of adoration.
May we remember our heavenly Father with every beauty we see that reflects His Glory. May we lift our voice and make a joyful noise to Him!
As a medical research photographer, graphic artist, singer, and musician -- I many times dwell deeply in His gifts to us and I see His work of complex yet simple beauty in even the tiniest of unseen things of His Creation. So much is yet to be revealed!
Please feel free to sample some newer music of mine. The piece is called "Face of the Deep" because I think of the Spirit brooding over the waters of the Earth from Genesis 1.
Click to listen and stream this "musical cry to the heavens":
"Face of the Deep"
God bless you my friends!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The biggest danger in how we Christians read the bible is that most of us have already been taught what to believe about what it is saying to us -- before the Spirit of God has a chance to speak His truth to us in the word!
We sadly, subconsciously merely read the text for multiple confirmations of what parents, friends, spouses, teachers, preachers, books, professors, TV shows, etc have previously affirmed to us about Christ, salvation, faith, the Christian life, the nature of Man, the Church, history, God, heaven, prophecy, the Holy Spirit and such.
It is way past time, we each humbly pray, before we read the bible, asking God the Spirit to be our Teacher, Guide and ultimate Giver of His revelation.
"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
~ I John 2:27 (KJV)
"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
~ Jeremiah 31:34 (KJV)
For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
~ 1 Corinthians 1:19 (NIV)
Friday, July 16, 2010
~ John W. Patterson
Billions upon billions of souls milled about in a great vastness,
As a sea of diamonds, a field of amber jewels – they stood quiet,
Waiting, knowing, muted by awe . . .
This was not as any had imagined nor as many had written of,
Writs, tomes, and diatribe could never have revealed this,
The humanity, the ageless eons, now come together . . .
Waves of sorrow, tides of joy, streams of bliss, echoes of fear passing by,
Each of them transparent, open books, unsung songs of many journeys,
No tears, no laughter, the young with the old and the in-between,
Waiting, knowing, paralyzed by the weight of Time ceased.
And one man walked forward, slowly, carefully, silently gliding,
Caressing some, smiling at others, passing through the midst,
Standing upon a small knoll, in view of all, he whispered a shout,
“Friends, your eternities are new!”
And ancient stars moved aside to let them each pass.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Interesting quotes chronicling the early Christian assemblies way of meeting, showing how it was done before millennia of organized religious traditions corrupted the purity of corporate worship among believers:
Dr Colin J Hemer, “A Lion Handbook - The History of Christianity”, Section on Beginnings and the article entitled, Archaeological Light On Earliest Christianity, on page 58. Published by Lion, 1988 edition.
“The earliest Christians had no special buildings, but met in private houses, as mentioned in several places in the New Testament.”
Dr Henry R Sefton, “A Lion Handbook - The History of Christianity”, Section on Acceptance and Conquest, and the article entitled, Building for Worship, on page 151. Published by Lion, 1988 edition.
“Worship in the house-church had been of an intimate kind in which all present had taken an active part...(this) changed from being ‘a corporate action of the whole church’ into ‘a service said by the clergy to which the laity listened.’”
Dr John Drane, “Introducing the New Testament“, Chapter 22, section on Worship on page 402 .Published by Lion. Revised 1999 Edition.
"In the earliest days...their worship was spontaneous. This seems to have been regarded as the ideal, for when Paul describes how a church meeting should proceed he depicts a Spirit-led participation by many, if not all...There was the fact that anyone had the freedom to participate in such worship. In the ideal situation, when everyone was inspired by the Holy Spirit, this was the perfect expression of Christian freedom."
A M Renwick, "The Story of the Church", Chapter on The Apostolic Age on page 22-23. Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 1959 Reprint:
"The very essence of church organisation and Christian life and worship...was simplicity...Their worship was free and spontaneous under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and had not yet become inflexible through the use of manuals of devotion." (i.e. liturgy and ‘services’ led from the front)
Donald Guthrie, “The Lion Handbook of the Bible“, 2nd Revised Edition, 1978. Section on I Corinthians 11v17-34 on page 594:
“In the early days the Lord’s Supper took place in the course of a communal meal. All brought what food they could and it was shared together.”
Dr John Drane, “The New Lion Encyclopaedia“, Section on the Lord’s Supper on page 173:
“Jesus instituted this common meal at Passover time, at the last supper shared with His disciples before His death...the Lord’s Supper looks back to the death of Jesus, and it looks forward to the time when He will come back again. Throughout the New Testament period the Lord’s Supper was an actual meal shared in the homes of Christians. It was only much later that the Lord’s Supper was moved to a special building and Christian prayers and praises that had developed from the synagogue services and other sources were added to create a grand ceremony.”
Canon Leon Morris, Commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, published by Inter-Varsity Press, 1976.
General Editor: R V G Tasker. On page 158:
Ch 11 "...reveals that at Corinth the Holy Communion was not simply a token meal as with us, but an actual meal. Moreover it seems clear that it was a meal to which each of the participants brought food."
I Howard Marshall, “Christian Beliefs“, Chapter 6 - The Christian Community, on page 80. Published by Inter Varsity Press, 2nd Edition, 1972:
“(The Lord’s Supper)...was observed by His disciples, at first as part of a communal meal, Sunday by Sunday.”
Donald Guthrie, “The Lion Handbook of the Bible“, 2nd Revised Edition, 1978. Section on 1 Timothy 3 on page 620
“It was Paul’s practice to appoint several elders (the same thing as bishops) to take charge of each church.”
Donald Guthrie, “New Testament Theology”, Chapter 7: The Church – The Early Community. Inter-Varsity Press.
“The churches were living organisms rather than organizations…When decisions were made, they were made by the whole company of believers, not simple the officials.”
A M Renwick, “The Story of the Church”. Chapter on The Apostolic Age on page 20-21)
"When we come to consider the permanent officers of the Church we find that in the days of the Apostles elders and deacons were appointed and their duties defined. The office of elder is variously described in the New Testament as bishop, pastor, teacher, preacher, minister and steward. The various terms mentioned referred to the same officer, but each presented a different aspect of their work. Thus 'pastor' indicated their duty to 'shepherd the flock' of Christ. Bishop, a word used to translate the Greek 'episkopos', indicated that as 'overseers' they had to 'feed the Church of God' (Acts 20) That the 'presbuteros' and 'episkopos' (elder and bishop) were the same is shown by many facts...Furthermore, the qualifications for bishop and elder were the same. Scarcely any scholar today would dispute the words of the late Dr J. B. Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham, and an undoubted authority: 'It is a fact now generally recognised by theologians of all shades of opinion, that in the language of the New Testament the same Officer in the Church is called indifferently bishop, and elder or presbyter.'" (Lightfoot’s commentary on Philippians, page 93)
Dr John Drane, “Introducing the New Testament“. Chapter 22 and the section on The Institutional Church on page 397 Published by Lion. Revised 1999 Edition:
"Instead of the community of the Spirit that it had originally been, the Church came to be seen as a vast organisation. Instead of relying on the Spirit's direct guidance it was controlled by an hierarchy or ordained men, following strict rules and regulations which covered every conceivable aspect of belief and behaviour and when the Spirit featured in this scheme it was taken for granted that what the leaders decided was what the Spirit was saying. By the middle of the 2nd Century the change was complete. At the beginning the only qualification for membership of the Church had been a life changed by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, at the start there had been no concept of church 'membership' at all...But by the end of the 1st Century things were rather different. Now the key to membership of the Church not found in inspiration by the Spirit, but in acceptance of ecclesiastical dogma and discipline. And to make sure that all new members had a good grasp of what that meant, baptism itself was no longer the spontaneous expression faith in Jesus as it had originally been. Now it was the culmination of a more or less extended period of formal instruction and teaching about the Christian faith. And in all this we can see how the life of the Spirit was gradually squeezed out of the Body of Christ, to be replaced as the church's driving force by the more predictable if less exciting movement of organised ecclesiastical machinery."
and on page 403:
"It is important to realise that the movement towards a more authoritarian church hierarchy originated in the fight against unacceptable beliefs. At a time when Gnostics were claiming a special authority because of their alleged endowment with the Spirit it was important for the mainstream church to have it's own clear source of power. It was of little practical use for the church's leaders to claim - even if it may have been true - that they, rather than their opponents were truly inspired by the Spirit. They needed something more than that, and they found it in the apostles. In the earliest period supreme authority had rested with them. So, they reasoned, anyone with recognised authority in the church must be succeeding to the position held by the apostles. They were the Apostle's successors, and could trace their office back in a clear line of descent from the very earliest times. They stood in an apostolic succession."
W E Vine, “Expository Dictionary of Bible Words” One Volume Edition first published 181. 1985 reprint. Published by Marshall, Morgan and Scott. Under heading for Priest, Section 1 (c).):
"The New Testament knows nothing of a sacerdotal (priestly) class in contrast to the laity."
Under heading for “Bishop (Overseer):”
“Lit: an overseer...” Note: Presbuteros, an elder, is another term for the same person as bishop or overseer.”
Under heading for “Pastor”:
“...this was the service committed to elders (overseers or bishops)...”
"As an individual believer is the result of a begetting, a conception, a formation, a birth and a likeness, so, in the New Testament, is a true local church. It is a reproduction of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Man cannot make, form, produce or, 'establish' this. Neither can anyone 'join' or 'enroll', or make himself or herself a member of this organism. First it is an embryo, and then a 'formation' after Christ. So, all talk about 'forming New Testament churches' is nonsense. The beginning is in a seeing of Christ, and when two or three in one place have seen Him by the Holy Spirit, and have been "begotten again by the word of God", there is the germ of a church. That, then, is the starting-point. But, how drastic that is, in the matter of reconsideration and recovery."
~ T. Austin-Sparks
More info on the noted scholars quoted above:
A.M. Renwick: Professor of Church History at the Free Church College in Edinburgh. In 1958 he wrote, 'The Story of the Church', an undisputed classic of its kind.
William Edwy Vine: author of the classic work, “Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words”
Dr Colin J Hemer: Tyndale House man, Cambridge.
Dr John Drane: lecturer in practical theology at Aberdeen University, adjunct Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, California, and a visiting Professor at Morling College, Sydney.
Dr Henry R Sefton: Lecturer in Church History at the University of Aberdeen.
Canon Leon Morris: Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne.
I Howard Marshall: Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen.
Donald Guthrie: Vice-Principal of London Bible College.
A huge thanks to:
for all this info gathering!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I come from a Southern Baptist background, have served as a Christian schoolteacher, and also worked with the staff of an independent, fundamentalist, Baptist "church" organization. In 1982 - '84 the Holy Spirit revealed to me things I cannot ever forget. Though, for my children's sakes I recently joined a local Baptist church, I can never be 100% comfortable as a member of any organized religion or denomination. And now, the idea of being "ordained" into any church office or position for any purpose, with or without official labels, cuts across all the life the Spirit has revealed in my spirit. He is grieved when I ignore what I have been shown. And what is this tip of the iceberg of revelation that further fuels my resignation?
Religion, as humanity trying to put the Creator God in their box of philosophical traditions is a “dead-end,” as we humans are limited. One critical truth remains evident however. According to my own limited, subjective, and very personal experience -- the Creator God chooses to release us from this dead-end via what I call direct revelation. God chooses to reveal the very nature of the Savior-Creator God, Jesus, via the Person of the Spirit. As triune beings, humanity is 1) flesh: (body parts, matter, chemicals, and ultimately organized energies on the atomic levels), 2) soul: (mind, emotion, will, self-consciousness, passion/reason/personality, etc) and 3) spirit: (this highly disputed part of our nature presents the most controversy, as it is eternal, a higher level of our being, supernatural, metaphysical, extra-physical in its ultimate source and destiny. It is also, as I believe, and have experienced many times in subtle and very powerful ways, a specially designed vehicle/residence for the Creator God’s Spirit to infuse awareness, communication, influence, transformation/re-birth and ultimately full revelation of the great I AM THAT I AM, the Elohim.) This being said, humanity’s feeble attempts at religion, so-called, are closed off by the very unenlightened and limited-ness of tradition and millennia of cleverly crafted nice ideas that may help conform society into order but leave us out in the cold spiritually.
One thing that always bothered me about certain preachers and leaders is that they said the Bible could never be added to, the revelation of God was within it and complete and all we needed to do was follow the letter of the written law. I see the Hebrew / Christian Bible; Genesis through Revelation, as a vital, historically accurate, springboard for illumination -- a record of humanity interacting with the Creator God in all manifestations of the eternal Elohim. But beyond archival documents and tattered writs is eternal Spirit, the vitally real and unseen living Word, the Logos, that writes itself into our very nature. This ongoing presence of God as a teacher, helper, healer, friend, guide, and comforter means something can happen that troubles some religious leaders.
It is this . . .
Every person alive, can have direct access to all the wisdom and revelation of God’s truth apart from any seminary grad, any pew, and yes, even without a Bible.
Jesus of Nazareth said, “The Kingdom of God is within you, among you.” when he was asked of its whereabouts. This means that God seeks to dwell as a loving leader, protector, provider, guide, and savior in the spirits of all people. In an ideal manifestation, we are all little gods, with God within, ruling, guiding, and filling us with the Spirit. The Bible states we are all to become a sanctified kingdom of priests. We are to be overcoming saints by the blood of the Lamb -- and where does that leave man's religion?
Why and what is this thing called the clergy and laity? What is this travesty of the Pope and priests and then lastly the people? As Baptists we supposedly came out from among such things yet why do we submit ourselves to this not so subtle hierarchal division of preacher / leader, ministerial staff, various committees, trustees, deacons, and then the laity? We more progressive thinking Baptists hope to re-energize our tired deacons' ministries by finally honoring the "gifts of the Spirit" in the body. We amazingly so, find it a wonderfully unique and fresh concept to "empower the laity". Look how far we have wandered from the Spirit's first plan! We like to say as Baptists that there is no final earthly authority in the local church but the Lord. We claim to trust the Spirit to lead us but then we use Robert's Rules of Order and democratic majority vote to "hear" the Lord's will in the life of the local church?! This well-worn, tried and true, earthly process grieves my spirit to no end. Many Baptist congregations would rather have committees and the paid staff to handle all major "spiritual" decisions in the life of the church and not bother with it until it effects their pocket books.
Why is this so?
It is because most people are spiritual paupers, lazy of soul, incorrectly taught and raised, in the traditions of man, amidst religiosity, that falls far short of God’s idea of true religion. Humanity’s religious "revelation" leads to comfortable error. God’s Spirit among those that know the love of the Jesus brings about a revelation of peace and not strife. When church members let personalities, egos, long-range edicts, and committee rule lead them, you will inevitably reap strife, division, wherein the kingdom of God suffers loss communally and personally. You then will have a better chance of meeting with and thereby worshiping the God of which I speak in the quiet of your own living room. Ask, seek, and knock and it, (the kingdom of God), will be given, found, and opened unto and within you. It’s what happened to me in 1974. I know this to be so -- I was there. Thank goodness for the Spirit's revelation of love and light!
WATCH THIS FOR MORE INFO:
PS: About 7 years after this letter being sent, the Lord made it very clear to my wife and I that we finally leave all religious systems and come out unto Him to meet others who have heard the same call.
God bless you my brother and sister.