Monday, December 27, 2010

Redeeming Disillusionment

Redeeming Disillusionment


Stephen R. Crosby

www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com



Disillusionment has always been a common malady for the Lord’s followers. The early church expected
the literal return of the Lord in their lifetime. When it didn’t happen, they needed the encouragement that
comes from a major adjustment in their expectation and understanding. Much of the NT was written to
psychologically encourage and theologically adjust the saints. The book of Hebrews is a great example of
a letter written to a people who were ready to “chuck it” because things had not panned out according to
their expectations.

The overwhelming majority of popular level media teaching and preaching is a set-up for disillusionment.
When all the promised temporal blessings for good behaving and promise claiming saints do not come to
pass, a crisis is inevitable. The first wave of human carnage surrounds us in those for whom the tired and
ragged remnants of Charismatic and apostolic-prophetic teachings have not produced the “promised”
results.i Disillusionment is saying it mildly. Many feel so betrayed, so misled, so the “fool,” for believing
another generation’s lightweight preacher talk, that they have turned into God-haters. It is but the first
fruits of a greater harvest to come. I get no joy in proclaiming so. My hope is to be there for folks when
the non-Calvary, simplistic promises and premises they have built their lives upon, come crashing down
around them.

The disillusionment phenomenon also influenced Israel of old, and God sent the prophets to encourage
and adjust them. Nowhere is this more prominent that in the return of the exiles from Babylon. Based on
their understanding of their past history, those who returned from Babylon had “land of milk and honey”
expectations for their return. What they got was the “land of ruin and desolation.” Rather than a “walk-intake-over” of houses and lands prepared for them, they were confronted with the charred ruination and
remains of another generation’s failures. Does this sound familiar?

When the exiles returned, they set up the altar of sacrifice, but the temple was not rebuilt due to the scope
of the task and the resistance they experienced from outside influences. The altar of sacrifice had to do
with their personal standing with God, but the temple was meant to be the testimonial habitation of God
in the earth. They settled for “personal” issues, while the greater issue of God’s testimony in the earth was
ignored. Again, the media airwaves are saturated with techniques on how to “get your blessing,” rather
than how to be the incarnation of the life of God in the earth, living effectively one with another.

God’s provision for Israel was to send Haggai (and others) to purge their romanticism, realign their expectations,
change their thinking, challenge them to faithfulness, and exhort them to a work that involved
something greater than their own interests. There are lots of applications for us today.

Many are disillusioned with organized and institutional forms of the faith and have embraced house
church and emergent church forms, only to eventually discover equal amounts of disillusionment in these
venues. I suggest that the problem is deeper than our meeting formats. Our message and methods have
been focused on: a) individual salvation (our individual ticket to heaven), b) the temporal benefits that are
mine, and c) giving our lives to build a “thing”- either the “church” as we have known it, or the “church”
as we think it should be. Either way, our expectation is in a thing.

We’re supposed to be building the temple-the spiritual temple that is, the Body of Christ, not just focusing
on the activities of the altar.

I believe that a prophetic call of encouragement, alignment, and correction is going out at this hour for
those who are His own, to step out of a self-aware and self-interest based Christianity (regardless of meeting
form) to get serious about Christ in us all . . . Christ in you, Christ in me . . . and give ourselves to the
that “building.” We have tried everything else. It has only produced frustration and disillusionment.

We must understand that our mandate is to build the body of Christ by exhorting to love, and good works.
We must understand that revelation does not come from the preaching ministry in the pulpit, but from our
“connectedness” together in the body. The unveiling of Christ that we desire is not related to a gifted orator
in a pulpit, or a gifted evangelist, or an anointed prophet or apostle. The unveiling of Christ we need is
directly related to our being knit together in love (Col. 2:2). That is where the “mystery” is revealed.

It has been my long persuasion that Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees regarding their inability to see Him until
they say “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” (Matt. 23:39) has got nothing to do with
the details of His personal return. It applies firstly to the new creation, post-Pentecost apostles, and to
every recreated believer since. It is an absolute ban. Until we can say blessed is He who comes in the
name of the Lord, (the new creation indwelt, Spirit-filled, believer who comes in the name of the Lord),
we will never “see Him,” regardless of how “anointed” our various ministry expressions are or how “biblically
accurate” the structure of our meetings are.

Like Israel of old we need to pull away from a sacrificial consciousness of my own personal sins being
forgiven, and move into a “temple building” consciousness that serves as an incarnational witness to the
world that God is alive . . . in flesh . . . in you and me. The New Testament temple, the New Testament
habitation of His presence, has to be built. Out of the ruins of a previous generation’s failures we must
engage in the divine agenda.

Here is my prophetic declaration. Those other methodologiesii are over. Done. Finished. They have been
tried, and have produced only rubble. We can continue to sing our songs, wave our banners, dance our
dances, preach our messages, and whatever it is we do. But if we are serious about a different future day
of God’s purposes in the earth, we must get serious about building the temple. We must discover and embrace
Body-Consciousness. We must recognize Christ wherever He is, in one another, and give ourselves
to the seeing of Him there, not out of heaven.

That is I live to die for you. You and I are the living sacrifices, and together we constitute the testimonial
temple of God in the earth. All that I am, all that Christ has put in me, is . . . for you . . . and for the
world. Together, we are the temple not made with hands that is to be the testimony in the earth that Jesus
is alive in resurrection. If we are content with our own “promises of blessing” rather than the hard work of
relationship building and the development of actually knowing one another so we can actually exhort one
another to love and good works, we will never see the days of God on earth that generations have been
preaching about.

Redeeming Disillusionment
Stephen R. Crosby
www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com

i “Breakthrough” is always just “one more faith-act of obedience” away.
ii Pulpit consciousness, ministry consciousness, gift consciousness, anointing consciousness, miracle consciousness, etc.



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Global House Church Movement: Declaration #7



It would be tempting to post all of Rad Zdero's bold declarations published in The Global House Church Movement, but I will stop at 3. This one has become increasingly important to me. As we begin our 3rd house church in the Charlotte area, I find one of the biggest battles is helping people transition from sitting passively in their seats (and living passivity during the week) to full engagement in gatherings and body life outside of meetings. I believe what happens on Sunday clearly sets the tone for every other aspect of church life.

A famous radio talk show host jokes that he was made to do his talk show and you and I were made to listen. At least he's working in a secular realm. What excuse do we have for promoting such foolishness in the Church?

Declaration #7
We Declare Common Meetings vs. Holy Rituals

For too long, we Christians have been performing choreographed and polished ceremonies and holy rituals and calling it church. But, the tide is turning!  We now declare a return to the clear New Testament practice of having Spirit-led, open participatory, and interactive "common" meetings where everyone has the right and responsbility to use their spiritual gift for the benefit of others.

Whether it is the Catholic mass, the Orthodox liturgy, or the Protestant sermon from the pulpit, it is unfortunately still spectator Christianity. Instead, we affirm the apostolic practice of open and particpatory meetings.  "What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." (I Cor 14:26 NIV, emphasis added, see also I Cor 12:7-12, 27-30, I Cor 14:36-38, Col 3:16, Eph 5:19-20, Heb 10:25).

The Spirit of God must be allowed to lead and speak to the church through the church. Jesus should no longer be the guest of honor in church meetings. he should be the Master of Ceremonies. No more one man shows.  No more active few participating for the passive many. No more spectator Christianity.









Monday, December 20, 2010

Shattering the Clergy/Laity Divide


As promised I'm posting another Declaration from Rad Zdero's excellent book, The Global House Church Movement
This is a subject near and dear to my heart: the deployment of ALL of the Body of Christ to do the work of ministry. This cannot happen under the current religious landscape that dominates the Western world. 

DECLARATION 6
We Declare Common People vs. Holy Clergy

For too long, we Christians have promoted the professionalization of Christian leadership. This religious caste system has created a rift between so-called clergy and laity, often resulting in a lack of involvement by lay people.  But, the tide is turning!  We now declared a grassroots Christianity that rightfully and practically restores the biblical priesthood of all "common" believers ( I Pet  2:4-10).

All believers can discover, use, and sharpen their spiritual gifts, talents, and capacities for the benefit of the entire Body of Christ (Rom 12:4-8; I Cor 12:7-12, 27-30). All believers can facillate even the most sacred symbolic acts, namely the Lord's Supper and Baptism, traditionally carried out only by ordained clergy. All believers are ministers in the truest sense and have a  God-given ministry to carry out.  There is no such thing as a priest or minister, for all Christians are believer-priests.

We , therefore encourage a shfit away from the unbiblical, professionalized, hierarchical, and money-draining clergy system, whether pope, cardinal, bishop, priest, minister, pastor, or senior elder. We suggest instead, a return to New Testament forms of leadership, namely local teams of co-equal elders (volunteers) and traveling apostolic teams (financially supported when needed) (Acts 13:1-3, 14:23, 17:9-15; 20:1-6, 20:17, 33-35; I Cor 9:1-18; Titus 1:5-9)  These are grassroots leaders who have been trained and approved by the Body of Christ.






Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Global House Church Movement


Since our local journey began, I quickly learned what the Lord is doing here is neither isolated nor a "flash in the pan" experience. Our walk has connections to the very infancy of the New Testament Church, and there's a trail of history, often untold, that confirms a continuity of house church/organic church life that continues to this day. There's also ample evidence that the Lord is up to something massive here in the 21st Century: restoring true New Testatment life and function around the globe.

In the growing collection of excellent books on the House Church Movement, I've come across a real gem:
The Global House Church Movement  by Rad Zdero.

Rad does a phenomenal job of covering the history of house churches and helping to envision disciples for life in this new, yet old context. And there is one chapter that really set me on fire: Chapter 5, Radical Principles, 10 Declarations of the Radical Church. I cannot resist sharing a few of these with you. But I will do so in small daily doses. Here is the first of my 3 favorites.

DECLARATION 5
We Declare the Citywide Church vs. Denominations

For too long, we Christians have been seperated from each other and divided along denominational lines like corporations, organizations or political bodies with branch offices in various towns, cities, and nations. But the tide is turning!  We now declare a grassroots Christianity that works together strategically as a citywide church in order to effectively reach that city or region as was done in the New Testament era (Acts 9:31, 15:36, 20:17; Romans 1:7; I Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:2; Eph 1:1; Philip 1:1; Col 1:2; I Thes 1:1; @ Thes 1:1)

Denominationalism, unfortunately has historically often served to fragment Christians into different camps even within the same geographic locality, effectively crippling them from reaching out as a united Body of Christ. Fortunately, God is working mightily today to break down many of these barriers to unify Christians to maximize their efforts to disciple their city for Christ.

Therefore, as grassroots radical Christians, we in the house church movement encourage efforts that prioritize citywide church efforts over any existing denominational ties.








Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dead to Sin

Articles, December 15, 2010



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Organic Leadership and Life

Since delving into the Organic Church world in 2009, I've lost count of the divine appointments the Lord has brought about to advance His kingdom. One such connection: Kenny Russell. My local connection with Kenny only lasted for a little over a week before he moved to England. But from that connection and his website, Organic Church Today, I've made a number of other connections with people seeking to walk with the Lord and His people organically. Some of them are now in the fellowship groups we're working with here in the Charlotte area.

Thanks to technology, I had the opportunity to fellowship with Kenny face to face again over Skype last night. After that talk I listened to one of Kenny's podcasts. He interviewed Neil Cole, the author of "Organic Leadership". I believe Neil addresses some very critical issues that help to "set the table" for the life Jesus wants to live through His people. I hope you will take some moments to listen and let the Lord speak to you. Just click anywhere in the box below to listen.

Gottalife Radio Capture The Moment - Organic Leadership with Neil Cole








Monday, December 6, 2010

Kingdom Connection: Apex, NC



I was intrigued when Steve Crosby invited me to join him as he paid a visit to friends he connected with through his writings.  I did not know what to expect.  What I experienced was warm hospitality and deep fellowship from the time we arrived to the time we left.  Though we went to encourage these new friends, we truly sense that this was an example of true mutuality that characterizes genuine Kingdom life.

I asked Steve to sum up what he saw in the people we connected with in Apex.  May the Lord multiply these qualities in values in all of us:

Personal security (a good sense of identity and place in the kingdom-comfortable in their own skin)

Not trying to impress or be impressed

Not position seeking, nor impressed with those who have position

Authentic

Open themselves, and appreciating openness in others

Kingdom alignment in values versus local church alignment in values

Risk takers... faith adventuresome

Not looking for security

Willing to follow the Lord no matter what... even without full understanding

A readiness to listen and receive instruction incarnationally, not just informationally




Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New Creation and Financial Responsibility

Ttto - A New Creation and Financial Responsibility



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kingdom Sessions: Overcoming Bitterness with Steve Crosby

The audio and video quality is not the best.... but the content is well worth taking in.   Steve Crosby provided instruction on Overcoming Bitterness.  You can watch and listen here.   Your comments are welcome.  We would love to hear how the Lord uses this message in your life.

















Saturday, October 30, 2010

Creation's Cry: The Heart of Apostolic Passion

Just days before my second Global Communion conference organized by Don Atkin, I'm in the middle of reading Don's very inspiring book "Creation's Cry: The Heart of Apostolic Passion". 




In a day when so many either ignore apostolic ministry, or others pervert its meaning, it is a joy to read and understand the big picture of what the Lord has purposed for His Church.

There's so much rich wisdom Don conveys in "Creation's Cry", it was hard to decide which excerpt to post here.   But I settled on Chapter 11, a subject near and dear to my heart:



Interdependence

While we must have integrity within ourselves, we must also have integrity among ourselves as individual members of the body of Christ who are to walk together. That is, we must allow the Holy Spirit to set us - integrate us - into the body.  We are members of one another. Each of us is gifted for the common good.

Interdependence must replace independence.

(We,) speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things unto him who is the head- Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.

It is the futility of our minds that keeps us from rightly interacting with one another according to the Spirit. Personal ambition, personal insecurities, personal need to be in control or be in charge, have stunted the rightful and righteous growth of the body.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. it will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.

What is true for our natural bodies is also true for the spiritual body of Christ.  "Trust" is a needed virtue for us to be set free from our human limitations. Trusting in the Lord necessarily emcompasses and includes trusting Him in one another.  We can do this by faith.  We have the God-given grace to do this.

It will be the glory of Christ revealed in us that will produce the unity for which Christ prayed. 

"And the glory which you gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one."

The oneness that will convince the world that the Father sent His firstborn Son, and that He loves them as He loves Him, can only be accomplished by our oneness with our God and his Christ. In simplicity, it will be each of us manifestating our sonship by living out the life that He gives us by His Spirit.



You can purchase "Creation's Cry" on Don's website:

http://www.donatkin.com/publications.html



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kingdom Sessions

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Here in the Charlotte area, the Lord is doing some great things. He led us to transition into a house church late last summer. And in just the past few weeks, He has birthed a second fellowship. A month ago, another couple joined us for a Sunday brunch. This past Sunday, nearly a dozen couples, along with teens and children joined us for worship and fellowship.

Also in recent weeks, the Lord has assembled a team of apostolic and prophetic leaders to engage the work here in the Charlotte region. We've met a couple of times to fellowship and seek the Lord about how to build into the vision of One City, One Church. One outgrowth of that is a new ministry initiative we're calling "Kingdom Sessions". While our weekly house gatherings are geared for body ministry before the Lord and to each other, Kingdom Sessions will address the instructional needs of the Body at large, and serve as another opportunity for the Lord to forge discipleship relationships.

We began last night with a presentation from Steve Crosby. My notes from this are below. Steve ministers prophetically, and last night the Lord used him mightily to help uproot religious strongholds in our lives and stir new passion for the relational life of Christ. If you live in the Charlotte area or plan to visit, you are welcome to join us. You can find out information on the location of these gatherings by sending an email to

hungryforrevival@gmail.com


Kingdom Sessions
Wednesday October 13, 2010





Steve spoke from a theme of Relationship in contrast to Religion and the endless pursuit of attempting to follow “principles” to draw close to God
God sent us his Son, not an instruction book

God did not give us merely principles, He gave us His son

We can be biblically right but spiritual wrong

Relationship is everything!

Religion is often a means for broken people to hide

Our lives are not about “mastery” of Bible stuff. Broken people use willpower to “do” the Bible and still not touch the heart of God or people

Relationship always trumps principle

We must allow people to make mistakes. “Wisdom” is fine, but we must not preach that to others.

Coerced obedience is not the life of Christ. Christianity is not behavior management.

A fat notebook (of notes from teachings, etc) and a lean heart are a bad combination.

The Good News is that God came to heal our hearts not merely call us to follow principles

We don’t master the scriptures. They should master us

Right relationship produces right living. Right living does not produce right relationship

Our relationship with the Father is a matter of birth. We can’t change that relationship by doing better or more for God

Relationships in the body are about “gift exchange”. If gifts are only operating one way, it is a waste of time

Anything that shifts off a Calvary paradigm becomes a bad thing

Don’t do anything unless Jesus commissions it. We cooperate with God’s configuration

Hebrews 10:2 speaks of our freedom from sin consciousness.
Walking in continual introspection, self awareness to accuse or excuse is a manifestation of the Adamic nature, not the life of Christ. Continual awareness of deficiency and examining myself to discover “how bad I am” isn’t Christianity.

LeadershipLeadership means that the person leading should be the first to die (to self). It is not about “being the boss”. We are lovers and servants.
Headship means if someone has to lose their “rights” it is me.

Submission should not result in the removal of personality

Discipleship/Training
Criminals are punished. Sons are trained and disciplined. God is not into punishing his children

Question for leaders: can you show me how you have laid down your life for your “flock” in the last 6 months? When is the last time you gave someone money from your wallet instead of the “church benevolent fund”? Otherwise you’re just receiving “compensation for services rendered”

Kingdom Finances
Most of our (the Church) money goes to property and salaries
The church CEO (or pastors) should not be the only ones guaranteed a “salary”.

A “father” doesn’t make sons and daughters take care of him. Paul provided for his own needs and those with him.

The responsibility of agape means we give materially to bless those who spiritually bless us. (a form of gift exchange)

Steve ended by referencing this text in the Gospels about Jesus’ post Resurrection appearance:

Luke 24 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”


This is what we long for… for the presence of Jesus to burn in us as we commune with Him, in our daily lives, and when we gather as a people.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Are You In The Zoo?

The Lord continues to bring about amazing developments here in the Charlotte area: The Lord is bringing people together with hungry hearts, hungry for the word of God and eager to see His glory revealed in us.

He is also assembling an apostolic and prophetic team with a citywide and regional vision. If you are familiar with this blog, by now you’ve read articles that stir your heart to see a manifestation of “The Second Incarnation”, the reality of Jesus living in His people. Leading the charge in those articles is Don Atkin. Working closely with him is Steve Crosby. (Greg Austin has also made significant contributions from out West)

I have had the privilege of fellowshipping with Steve a couple of times in the past week. He is a man who brings a sharp prophetic perspective and it is shared in a way that reflects our Father’s heart.. After my first visit, he passed along a copy of a book he released several years ago.
Since reading this portion of Steve’s book “Silent Killers of Faith”, I sensed a strong conviction about posting a significant portion of the first chapter.

The title of this section is “Are You in the Zoo?” As one who has marinated in an atmosphere with a strong emphasis on “accountability for many years”, I can tell you the words you are about to read are disturbing but also liberating. We continue to encounter many people who are walking in a type of “deadness”, the product of this deadly leaven of legalism that flourishes in some Christian circles. Very often they are immobilized, seemingly unable to engage the Lord and others in true loving fellowship, and yet they also can’t seem to escape from the “cage” that helped to produce their zombie-like state.

By God’s grace we are walking less in an awareness of people” policing us” and a greater awareness of God’s empowering presence to transform and guide us. If you discover that you’re “in the cage”, I pray that you will discover the same joyous liberation, the freedom Jesus bought for us on the cross.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.


Are You In The Zoo?
Once a dominant ethos is established in a church culture, it is often cultivated, consciously or not, by behavioral rules, expectations, and accountability programs. Rather than being considered legalism, the accountability ethos of the group is viewed as those reasonable behavioral expectations that maintain core values and identify individuals as member of the group. We don’t _______ or we do ________ because…. (You can fill in the blanks!) For instance, a group whose emphasis is Christian maturity or integrity can succumb to behavior codes and accountability believed necessary to maintain corporate and individual integrity. Likewise, a group whose emphasis is compassion will develop a church culture that rewards behaviors consistent with the core value and discourage those that seem opposed to it.

External accountability is like driving with the sheriff in the backseat of your car. As long as the sheriff is there, no one is going to speed! Remove the external presence of authority and a speeder is reborn! It is a mistake to think that persisting in accountability long enough will produce a change of nature. Rather, a change of nature will produce accountability.

Accountability only enables performance-based religion. It is the self-aware, self-monitoring Adamic counterfeit of biblical discipleship. It is like a zookeeper who expects the cage to change a tiger into a pussycat. The bars only restrain the tiger. Take away the bars and what do you have? Tiger, and lots of it! However, if the tiger’s nature was somehow changed, the bars would no longer be necessary. This is exactly what should experientially happen for believers: Rebels are supposed to have been made into obedient children. A new nature is supposed to have been imparted at salvation.

Sometimes our conversion and sanctification experiences have all the spiritual vitality of a freeze-dried TV dinner. Because we are weak, the Church often embraces accountability as a means of keeping the unregenerate Adamic nature in check! We try to sanctify people who have not experienced a genuine change of nature, or who are experientially out of touch with their new nature. This is particularly true for second and third generation children who have grown up in the church. Sure, our children may have said the sinner’s prayer when they were six years old, but somewhere along the way, the experiential reality of regeneration is lost. Rather, they have figured out, embraced, and conformed to the church culture and its expectations.

Our churches are full of frustrated tigers and exhausted zookeepers who resort to the whip of legalism and accountability (most of the time unconsciously) as the only they know to keep the tiger in check! Eventually the cage and whip will destroy the animal’s essential nature. It will just lay in the back of the cage in a lethargic stupor. Its outward presence says animal, but its inward essence has been destroyed. Often the zookeeper no longer uses the whip to restrain wild behavior; now he has to use it to get any response from the animal.

Spiritual sons and daughters who become exhausted from fighting against the external restraints of legal accountability eventually just give up. Their essential nature is so crushed that they simply collapse into the church culture and its accountability system. “Fine, whatever it is that you want, I will give it to you. Just lay off the whip, will you?” Passivity and withdrawal set in.

In a spiritual climate where passivity has taken root, it is futile to try to get production from lethargic believers. You can bark motivational slogans like a Marine drill sergeant all day long with little result. The unenlightened drill sergeants will not understand why their accountability partners or protégés lay motionless in the back of their spiritual cages, or merely yawn at the proposition of actually moving forward. They do not realize that the essential nature has been destroyed! The whip of accountability and the mantras of the high calling cannot awaken an exhausted son or daughter – only a healed identity can.

All restraints, codes, and principles of accountability are impotent to change the nature of the one in the cage. In fact, the tiger will resent the cage because it conflicts with his essentially wild nature. He may obediently pace the perimeter of the cage, staying within its boundaries, but he is really checking for weakness because the artificial environment does not suit his wild and free nature. Likewise, the bars of accountability on a Spirit-son of the New Covenant will ultimately lead either to resentment toward the bars and the one who put them there, or to disengaged passivity. Obedience gained on the altar of conformity to church culture is legal abomination.

Now, of course, a caged tiger is better than a loose one prowling in the neighborhood! Likewise, accountability is better than unbridled sin, but the manifestation of the life of the Son is much better than policed accountability. Being accountable does indeed restrain the carnal nature, but it takes constant diligence and effort to see that the cage is properly maintained. Any detected weakness must immediately be reinforced by more bars, more rules. A patrolling zookeeper is required to inspect the condition of the cage and the behavior of the animal.
To some people, the “zookeeper and tiger-in-the-cage scenario” is biblical accountability, but I call it bondage. I am through with the zoo. I returned my zookeeper’s union card.





http://www.stevecrosby.com/




Thursday, September 30, 2010

Severe Limitations

September 2010 eLetter



Monday, September 27, 2010

Unanswered Questions from the Eddie Long Sex Scandal .

I was so struck by Jose Bosque's article that I've posted it here.   I would encourage every Christ follower who reads this to pray that the Lord would break through in this terrible scandal and reveal Himself... to the parties involved, to the Church in Atlanta and Charlotte, and ultimately to all of us in the Body of Christ who are affected by events like this.


Unanswered Questions from the Eddie Long Sex Scandal .
Sunday, 26 September 2010 09:45 Jose Bosque



My heart has been troubled since the news first reached me of the problems coming from the Church in Atlanta. I know many you are saying wait the problem is only at Eddie Long’s Church. Wrong! Eddie Long has a congregation and Eddie Long is part of the One Church of the Lord in Atlanta. That is the biblical perspective and that is the historical perspective no matter what organized religion has invented with its traditions.

The pain we all feel is related to the obvious oversight of the following verses that state that the Church is to police itself instead of taking matters before unbelievers to the detriment of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 5:12

12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?

1 Cor 6:1-6

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!

Based on the above verses and the wisdom given to me as an Elder in His Church, gifted to function governmentally and relationally to His Body, I ask these questions. (I refuse to flash a title to demand adherence like a sheriff) You who have the Holy Spirit, you judge where these questions and perspectives are coming from and see if the Lord is not speaking to His Church.

Here are the questions;

1. If the Bible clearly calls for His Church to judge matters why is it if anyone speaks he is looked at as an “accuser of the brethren”?

The Bible says for Elders to rise up in the city and judge the matters that need to be judged. It also states that we will not only judge here on earth but that believers will judge angels! We are all praying for a spotless Bride. How does clothing get spotless? We are praying for a Bride that has no wrinkles? How do we get the wrinkles out of clothing? The Bible says when we arrive in Heaven the Church “has made herself” ready! Since we know the Bride is corporate, could it be she corporately gets herself ready? Then, get ready Church for Judgment is coming to the House of God and no, not just from above.

2. What is it about the Body of Christ of Christ that makes her always run to protect the Leader in question?

The majority of the Church has sided on the wrong side of every scandal since Jimmy Swaggert to now. Even in Jacksonville, when leaders have been proven to be sleeping with the members and even getting them pregnant, the members have sided with the fallen leader. What is it about the Church that would rather cover up than expose sin? Is it because we don’t like our sins exposed? Paul rebuked the Corinthian Church for pride and for thinking they were more merciful than God, by refusing to deal with the sin in their own camp. Whose names are we really protecting; the Lord’s or that of our own personal kingdoms?

3. What type of fathering and discipling produces “sick sons”?

Aside from all the issues, there are three young men who have not matured but have grown in unforgiveness and bitterness toward their spiritual father. If you have been in ministry for any length of time you have had sons who have left you “talking trash” but how many of them took their complaint to the authorities? Is it possible that much of what goes on in the church under the word fathering is really control and manipulation? What is the spiritual lesson behind being spoken to like a dog and toting someone’s bible around? Has honor gone to enabling pride and arrogance? I believe in honoring and serving leaders but my Bible says it comes voluntarily not by compulsion. I understand the word armor bearer I just don’t equate it with personal slave. I have had about five men in my life that I have considered “my spiritual father” and have been at all ends of the control spectrum from White, Black and Hispanic leaders so don’t tell me I don’t understand the culture.

4. What information exists that would allow an attorney to go forward with this case?

I know how many of you feel about lawyers. Yes, many are ambulance chasers who will do anything for a buck but I believe the bad apples are in the minority. The bad ones just always seem to get more press and attention. In general, most attorneys are good people who are in it to win and get justice for their clients not to make fools of themselves in a highly publicized case like this one. While I agree that some of the evidence in this case could be misconstrued because of the legal world’s misunderstanding of how church functions, I assure something exists that they feel will clearly exonerate their clients allegations. Yes, I said exonerate! While in America you are innocent until proven guilty in the current church mess the accuser is guilty until proven innocent.

5. Why can’t the Church see the current subnormality for what it is? Why do we want to believe this is an isolated case?

If the Church was really run like a business, as the owners we would have dismantled the whole mess a long time ago. The Church is supposed to be producing Christlike disciples not Sunday morning club members. This case and many others like it, should scream in the ears of all those who care for His Church. What are we doing wrong? How is this happening? What is missing in the system? Is this really the pattern left to us by the disciples and apostles of our Lord?

I believe one of the reasons the Father permits these types of things to go public is to make us aware so we will all do an internal audit of our own procedures as leaders in his kingdom. To simply pray for this isolated case is nothing more than corporate spiritual blindness and/or arrogance. The whole Church (the New Jerusalem) needs prayer so we can find our way back to the pattern of the apostles in the 21st century.

6. After all the revelation in the bible concerning the plurality of eldership in the leadership of His Church why do we still have men who rule over his flock without accountability?

At best most churches fain united leadership. Most congregations are led by men who claim they have oversight by boards, elders and deacons but the facts are they run the congregation like little kings in their kingdoms. Say something contrary and watch and see how quickly the conversation changes from “our Church” to “my church!” Nowhere in the New Testament is leadership of the church attributed to one person. The word pastor is our own invention to compete with the other invention of priest. Every born again Christian is a priest and the only mediator between God and man is the Lord Jesus Christ. The word for church leadership is elder and it’s always plural. I believe in five fold ministry but even they are to submit to each other by the Holy Spirit under the rulership of the only Head of His church which is the Lord Jesus Christ.

7. Where is the Voice of the Spiritual Fathers in this situation?

The silence is deafening! Where are all those who love the title of Apostle now? Here is a situation that needs apostolic leadership and maturity why are you running from it. Are you afraid to get your ministry dirty? Are you afraid it might affect your dollars if you speak up? If “your” wonderful ministry to blessed to get stressed with this situation? Maybe if you spoke up you would have to clean up your own house.

There are more “Apostles” today than Bayer has aspirins. Everywhere you look leaders are calling themselves apostles even if their ministry barely qualifies for a house church. Sorry, I am not impressed no matter how many cards you print up with the word Apostle in capital letters in front of your name. I dare you to show me one example of that in the New Testament! If you are one speak up! If you are a spiritual father in Atlanta or in Jacksonville speak up! The Church wants to hear from you. If not sit down, real bible reading Christians know better.

In conclusion it is my prayer that this word would be received as a plumb line. Either fall before Jesus or be prepared to be crushed. The Lord is cleaning up His Bride and as the end of all things draws near His real Bride will begin to shine like the stars in the sky. I am praying along with you that when all is said and done His Church would be better for it!


For the Love of His Name,

Jose L Bosque

Photo by John Bazemore AP



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Casting the Cast Vision" and "Visionaries"

There is a lot going on behind the scenes in recent weeks.

We extend a big welcome to Stephen Crosby, who is now a part of our Charlotte area family. Stephen wrote the best book I've read on Leadership, "Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement".

The Lord is also further clarifying vision for us as we discern how he wants to build His church with a "one city, one Church" paradigm. Which is a great lead in to some very insightful articles from Steve Crosby and Don Atkin.


Articles August7,2010



Sunday, August 29, 2010

David Wilkerson: A Call to Anguish




Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Though None Go With Me... and Preview of a Major Announcement

Some big changes are on the way to this blog in the coming days. I hope the first will develop within this week.

For today, I want to share an item from Don Atkin that really connected with what's in my heart about Kingdom life. It can be frustrating when we are surrounded by so many "Christians" who are preoccupied with themselves, the world, or simply being religious. Don reminds us where to keep our focus.



Though None Go With Me



Saturday, August 14, 2010

THE ESSENCE OF CHRIST

THE ESSENCE OF CHRIST




Friday, August 6, 2010

Retrofit or Reconfigure

Retrofit or Re Configure



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Free Religion Flush!

I could not resist sharing a recent post from Jose Bosque.   I can relate to the way our Father uses trials to purify us from things that are not of Him, including religion.   And Jose, we are standing with you and your family in prayer in your trials:


  Free Religion Flush!

I know this title must have caught your attention. That was my intention. Be assured this is no false advertising. I guarantee the Lord’s work.

With the current fire I am going through, with the sickness of my 2 year old granddaughter (seems I am always in some fire) the Father has used it to speak to me about the need to stay moored to the purity of the doctrine of Christ. We are living in a world full of contaminants to pure doctrine and every once and a while we need a good Holy Ghost flush.







This is not a new trick of satan. Read what Paul said to the city of Corinth:

2 Cor 11:3-4

3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

NKJV

If the world was not bad enough, there is always the friend who infects us with some bad doctrine they picked up disguised as godly advice and it is usually delivered like this, “why don’t you try this”.

I know many of you are going through your own fires. You can’t worship the Lord in the middle of your situation if you are so busy trying something new. I have assembled some of the worst culprits in hopes of flushing your system from the religious contaminants to good doctrine. They are not in any particular order.

1. A self-centered ministry mindset instead of an appreciation for the Body of Christ as a whole. The One Church of the Lord Jesus Christ

2. A Leadership which supports division in the body by the continual cheerleading of what they think as “their ministry”. Our “Brand” is the best brand and you don’t need to go outside our brand to get what you need.

3. An emphasis on external correctness of action (rituals, recipes, protocol, order of service, bulletins) instead of internal sincerity of heart.

4. An emphasis on external outer wear (Robes, Suits, Ties) instead on internal purity and attitude of the heart

5. A concentration on “the service” as if it the service itself had its own blessing in its performance. This is what Witchcraft and Voodoo practitioners believe. Instead we should see Christianity as a 24/7 lifestyle and service.

6. The service is for the people instead of for the Lord. A bless me mindset during for gathering (I’m going to get me some) instead of the sense of family coming together to corporately worship unto our Lord.

7. Number five leads to six which is to create an external visible special atmosphere through the use of lights, sound and effects instead of letting God’s Glory create the real thing. (the Afro-American culture uses the Hammond organ, Hispanics shout and get emotional, White culture dims the lights or wows you with the computer assisted show on the Big Screen). This creates a people that the only time they run is in church or after church to beat the rest to the restaurant.

8. A separate “persona” (language, dress, demeanor) on church property during church services than during the rest of the week. The ability to put on a religious piety like you put on and take off clothes. “God Bless You”

9. The whole Clergy –laity division with all its current masks.

a. an attendance or event instead of a gathering

b. the performers/the anointed/participating vs the commoner, audience receivers. The mental idea of “We are here to get what they are bringing”

c. the physical separation of the players from the season ticket holders. You are here to observe. God could not speak through you!

10. Another problem is the doing over the being. It creeps up on you, especially when you are involved in ministry. The examples are endless but the end result is spending less time with the Lord and more time with the people or the ministry. Even our Lord Jesus would pull away in the early morning to recharge His batteries with the Father!

11. A desire to use our spiritual gifts only during services or a detachment from ministry outside of the four walls. We want the microphone to speak to the congregation but we won’t open our mouths to share with our circle of influence.

12. The continual use of language which upholds and supports religious thinking which we claim to no longer believe. If the Church today is going to reform we must reform to the correct biblical definitions. Much of the church is unwilling to commit to the radical changes that will be required to reform the Church because they are unwilling to pay the price of rejection.




The final point is this; any form which hinders the Centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ and His direct relationship with his Bride (No Mediators) is not true Christianity. As I see it there are only three responses to this teaching;

1. You are boiling mad, to which the Lord responds as he did to the Egyptian Pharaoh “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”

2. You realize you may be involved in such a system but you are not sure how to respond. I would ask you to read a short teaching This Amazing Freedom We Have Been Given!

3. You are a leader with a sincere desire to change, reform and return to biblical Christianity. REPENT is always the first step, PRAY and ask the Lord for direction as to how to change. For anyone to give you the road back is to return to recipes. God will speak specifically to you because He loves His people and he desires that every hindrance to His Son be removed more than you do.

As you can see His church has a long way to go. Those who have received wisdom and revelation to make the necessary changes must be patient with those that are still in the process of maturity. It is a fine balance. We must at the same time not support, build up or approve those things which the Lord has torn down in us.

May God the Father grant us the discernment to know what to say and the Spirit of the Lord to know how to say it with love.

May the Lord be with His Church!
Jose Bosque




Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Essence of True Kingdom Life

I am often asked how we "do church" outside of the traditional institutional setting. Truthfully, seeking to live out "Incarnational Life" in the Church is very simple. From my perspective, much religious bondage today is the "fruit" of the Information Age. We have a lot of bible facts and knowledge but we see very little transformation. My friends who put together these Global Communion Articles express what the Lord has been impressing upon me over the past year, and I'm thankful that these are men who don't simply teach these things. In fact, for them, its not so much about ideas, doctrines or principles, but a Person. The Word made Flesh lives in them and makes what they've shared here come alive.


Global Communion Articles - July 3, 2010







Tuesday, July 13, 2010

America's Prophet

As I have mentioned this is not a political blog. But I'm beginning to see how the lessons from the Lord of the last 2 years about the church, have huge implications in relating to our political system.

Some weeks ago, I watched a program where Bruce Feiler appeared as a guest. He's the author of America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story. As I started reading I was intrigued by an amazing connection he made: the revolution that produced our country began with another type of revolution: in the church. Here's an excerpt from "America's Prophet..."




In the early 1700's, churches were largely top down, hierarchical institutions: God chose whom to bless, ministers enforced ecclesiastical law, and individuals had little role to play in their own salvation.

But Americans were beginning to chafe under this system and were casting around for new ways of relating to power. The Puritan lament about the loss of piety, so powerful in the late seventeenth century, only accelerated in the decades of the eighteenth century with the rise of commercialism, the migration of young people into godless frontiers, and the advent of Newtonian science. Cotton Mather said the faithful needed to "bring religion into the marketplace." The religious revivals that blossomed in the 1730's, known as the Great Awakening, responded by introducing a new form of worship, one that became the foundation of an emerging American way of God. A new breed of charismatic preachers offered believers the opportunity to read the Bible themselves, hear the good news of salvation in a language that was inviting, and experience a "new birth."

Time and again, revivalists used the language of Exodus to stand up to the oppressive instituions, specifically the Anglican Church. Jonathan Edwards, the most intellectually potent of the Great Awakening preachers, preached that finding redemption in God meant coming out of "spiritual bondage" into a "new Canaan of liberty." George Whitefield, the firebrand populist and cofounder of Methodism, said that Moses experienced a "new birth" at the burning bush and was a Methodist himself. Whitefield was an unlikely messenger for his message. He was short, mousy, histrionic, and cross-eyed. His nickname was "Dr. Squintum.". Beginning in 1739, he made more than a dozen trips up and down the eastern seaboard, speaking in parks, squares and empty fields to the largest public gatherings North America had ever seen. In New England in 1840, he spoke to eight thousand people a day, every day for a month. In Philadelphia he attracted a crowd of thirty thousand. Historian Mark Noll called him "the single best-known religious leader in America of that century, and the most widely recognized figure of any sort in North America before George Washington." Fans praised him as "another Moses."

Together these Great Awakening preachers created the first intercolonial movement and a vital precursor to the Revolution. At a time when newspapers were rare and books expensive, the pulpit was still the dominant source of information. As one historian put it, "Ordinary people knew their Whitefield and Edwards better than they knew their Locke and Montesquieu." The Great Awakening's chief contribution was to introduce a language of dissent that emboldened people to challenge conventional truths and distant authorities. And what happened first in churches happened next in government. The Revolutionary period, preacher Horace Bushnell said, was marked by "Protestantism in religion producing republicanism in government"



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Leadership and Divisions

July2010eLetter




Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Haiti

Wednesday AM News Release




Monday, June 14, 2010

Spotlight: York County, SC




One of my joys in this season of restoration is to connect with other fellowships and leaders in the Organic Church movement. These are connections forged through relationship. In this case I met people from a fellowship in Waxhaw, NC. Through that connection I met a man named Richard Tompkins. Richard has been working with a home church in York County, SC. In fact, they began gathering a few short months ago.

When I met Richard for lunch the first time, I was startled to discover that the vision the Lord has given to both of us... are the same. And the only difference is the region He has called us to. This is very consistent with reports I continue to hear from around the world. As promised, JESUS is building His church! And he's building a people together unecumbered by a broken religious system that circumvents His Lordship.

Richard asked me to visit the York County group last night. And I was tremendously encouraged by what I saw:

Not surprisingly, the people coming together have had some level of relationship for years, but recently the Spirit of God began stirring all of them to pursue something more intimately personal and more missional. It was inspiring to hear how one man, who passed by a woman's home for over a decade, finally followed the prompting of the Spirit to stop and be a friend. The result is a series of projects to repair her home... and an opportunity for the group to share the love of Christ in a relational and practical way.

What I met are people who have been quickened to "Christ in them, the hope of glory".

After sharing a meal we had a time of singing together. And we were all struck (no pun intended) by the timeliness of singing "How Great is our God" as a severe thunderstorm raged outside.

We enjoyed the testimonies of Jesus drawing people closer to Him and guiding them to build their lives together in Him.

I also shared a prophetic word the Lord gave me this weekend. It is very simple. The Lord is zealous to release His life in and through us. But our main challenge is to shed the layers of "fig leaves" that keep His glory from being revealed in His people. These "fig leaves" are pride, selfishness, independence, and many things under a religious banner that are too numerous to name. All of us need to ask the Lord what we need to "shed" to allow His life to flow like "rivers of living water" in us, as He promised.



As we left, our first view from the front door was an awe-inspiring double rainbow. For me it was not only a reminder of the promise from the Father to never repeat the life-ending flood of Noah's day. It was a reminder of the many other promises the Lord is fulfilling today. Our God is faithful!



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ

Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ

I'm digging into one of the most eagerly anticipated books this year. The author is no stranger to the Organic Church movement. Frank Viola authored "Pagan Christianity" and "Reimagining Church". Now Frank draws our attention to WHO should be the center of our attention. Here's just a sample from the Introduction of "Jesus Manifesto". Frank builds from the foundation of "The Ultimate Question", which is Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?":


Jesus Himself said that when He is lifted up, He will draw all people to himself. But because we don't trust Jesus to do what He says He will do, or believe that He is who He says He is, or have not caught a glimpse of His infinite glory, we sit at drawing boards and draw up programs and methods and draft strategies that we hope might bring people to Christ. But Jesus could not have been clearer: the only begotten Son of God is the draw. Our mission is simply to lift Him up in a context that our culture can understand and appreciate. Whenever this happens, the rest will take care of itself.

Unfortunately, "Who do you say that I am?" is no longer the only question. "What are you doing to bring in the kingdom of God?" is now an equally asked question, as is "What are you doing for justice?" and "In what causes are you engaged?" Or "What are you doing to evangelize the world?" and "To whom are you accountable?" and "What's your gift?" And especially, "What kind of leader are you?"

Yet Jesus quizzed Peter with one ultimate question, and only one. And that one decisive question is the same one He asks us today.

It is not, "Are you ready to accept leadership status in My church?"

It is not, "How many people did you lead to Me?"

It is not, "Have you spoken in tongues yet?"

It is not, "Is leadership your passion?"

It is not, "To whom will you be accountable?"

It is not, "Are you doing better than the best you can do so God will be happy with you?"

And it is not, "Will you surround yourself with people who have leadership potential and will make you look good?"

The question is only this; "Do you love Me?"

What does Jesus want from us? Leadership? Or love? Unfortunately, we cannot properly love Him if we haven't caught sight of how incredibly glorious He is. But once we do - once we catch a sighting of Jesus Christ in all His glory - we will gladly exchange our dusty rites, Christian-speak, and pop-culture church-building tactics for the joy of becoming a walking, breathing "Jesus Manifesto."