Notes For 2018

Here are my notes on what is going to happen in 2018.  Four points.  Not comprehensive.  
Do you know the story of when Jesus left his family at about age 30?  This year might be like that.  Do you know about the time when boys become men, when they leave their mom and join the men?  This year might be like that.
Do you remember when you left home to go to college?  Do you remember when you stopped being single and got married?  Do you remember when you became a parent?  Do you remember when you were called up to go somewhere, if you have ever served in the military?  Do you remember when you were tapped for or fell into a leadership role?  Do you remember when you lost your job and had to find another one: things changed but you survived and made it?  This year is going to be like that.
Do you remember meeting your spouse?  Do you remember your first day on campus?  Do you remember the day your marriage ended or someone died?  Do you remember the birth of your child?  And do you remember the day you met that boy or girl that you adopted?  Do you remember when you found out you were pregnant?  This year is going to be like that.
This is going to be a liminal year.  I mentioned all those life events, to bring to your mind what liminality is like.  There is liminality every day and every year: sunrise & sunsets every day and births and deaths every year, seasons changing and new jobs, and all the changes that we face in life.
But there are particular years when liminality is bigger, at large, corporately, society large.  And that is what 2018 is going to be.  You and I are like swimmers in the ocean.  The wave is coming, and we can ride the wave joyfully or have it crash over us.
No matter what, that wave is coming, and we will be disoriented from our bobbing up and down in the swells.  You can resist it, jump up like a cork and let it pass you, or ride the wave.  I imagine that people will do all three.  Three people might be standing before the wave and each one responds differently. 
The wave is coming and how to respond to it will be up to each one of us.  We aren’t robots.  Here comes the move and now we must choose.
Pretty much every revival in the history of the church was embraced by some and rejected by others.  God moves and we have to choose.  Ironically, members of past revival movements often reject new revival movements, that are both from God, but are different.
When Jesus moved out of, departed, or took leave from his family, his hometown, and the business he headed up; he was not exactly given a nice send off and wished well, especially when they discovered his new endeavor.  His change was right and good, but some didn’t get it, and were even opposed to the move.  There is a time to shift and change, move from and into, to walk through a door of  destiny when you must depart in order to arrive.
  • 2018 will be a year of departures and arrivals.  We will move on and take leave.  We will say goodbye and say hello.  This means big change.  We can not stay and be at the new place.  We will depart and arrive. The old can not hold the new and must be bid adieu.  After the Hebrew year of 5778 began, last fall, some people in our lives announced their departure plans and today they are already living in their new destinations.  They are first first-fruits people.  I don’t think everyone is going to move, but we are going to make moves, designed by God, in our lives, this year.  This is the year to move into your destiny by moving through change, from one place to another place.  This year is a year where there is a door that is open to be walked through.  We will all move this year, from one place to another place.  
    • 2018 will be a year of moving from something and into something: departures and arrivals.

      I think that this is a year to move, to depart one thing and go into another thing.  We have to depart in order to arrive.  We will not get into the new place unless we leave the old place.

      It’s time.  We are now ready.  A window of time is here to walk through a door into something new.

      There is a time to stay, but 2018 will be the time to go, to depart.  If we stay, if we do not move out, move on, and move to; it will be a missed opportunity.  There is favor and permission to move this year.

      “Your move.”

      It will not happen if you do not act, if you do not make your move.  There is a path set before us, that we can only see the entryway to.  We have to move into that way, to get into that path, to go down that road; or it won’t happen.

      We can not go into the new thing, the new level, or the new and better dimension, unless we also leave the old.  To go there, we must depart here.  We can not arrive unless we depart.

      To stay where you are, but bring in that new thing, is not what God is doing.  That would be like staying with your parents, but still getting married: something not recommended (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5, Eph. 5:31 ).  And that would also be like how Jesus said new wine will burst the old wineskins (Matt. 9:17, Mk. 2:22, Lk. 5:37-8).

      We are going to move from something and into something.  We are going to have to depart in order to arrive.  God has been preparing us to depart, so that we can arrive, preparing us to move from, so that we can move into.

      Did you notice the change in 2017, where you have already begun to reconfigure things?  When we walk with God, he changes us, for the better.  And changed people live differently.

      God has a better life for us, but we have to be changed to enter into it; and that is what has been happening.  People who refuse to be transformed, to change, will suffer unhappiness and needless pain.  They will miss out.  We have to walk in Christ to inherit the promises.  It’s not automatic.  God is placing a door in front of us, but we have to walk through that door.

  • 2018 is going to be a year of justice for, in, and through governmental leadership.  There will be justice where there has been injustice.  There have been great injustices at the highest levels of government, particularly but not limited to President Trump and his team, that will be exposed and dealt with for all to see.  There will be exoneration for some and consequences for others.  President Trump will gain and regain his reputation as a champion of justice.  There is a move of God going on, in government; national, state, and local; to expose corruption and injustice.  President Trump and his team happen to be the ones in place while God is doing this.  He and his team may want things cleared out and cleaned up, but this was God’s idea and God is now answering prayers that have been prayed for decades.

  • In 2018, people who have been looking for the authentic church, built by God in Christ, are going to find it.  We are going to be surprised to find other people, who are already there.  We are going to be surprised that we don’t have to build the church, but it is already built and being built.  We just did not see it or could not find it, but that is going to change in 2018.  Pioneers are going to find their homes.  Jesus’ church, that he has been building, will become more visible in 2018.  The church at large, especially the church that has Jesus as it’s head, will begin to regain it’s lost reputation this year.  The church that allows Jesus to be it’s head and builder, will be renovated and restored to it’s original design.  It will stand up and stand out as a city on a hill and the light of the world again.  A place of peace and rest.  A gateway and bridge to God and heaven.
  • In 2018, Christians will repent.  Repentance will come alive in the body of Christ, corporately.  Together, as a people and a family, we will repent of our sins and the sins of our fathers and mothers.  We will get in touch with our shame, so that we can be healed.  Instead of being shameless, we will repent and get in touch with our ugly, frightening shame; and let Jesus heal us and cleanse us.  We will get in touch with how out of step we have been with Jesus and with heaven.  We will get in touch with how and where the church has just become something in the world, run by worldly values, and not by Christ and by words that come from heaven.  The church will get in touch with it’s own captivity, of being Christians in name only.  It will be more obvious what ‘churches’ have nothing to do with the living God and His Christ and the Spirit of God, but are counterfeits, from the world and by the world, that is at odds with Christ.  False churches that bear the name of Christ or people and tribes who authentically represented and followed Christ in the past, will have the opportunity to repent and change.  Just the fact that some parts of the church do not bear a resemblance to Jesus and heaven, but are from the world, that has not been to the cross and bowed to the Lordship of the living Christ, will become more evident or exposed in 2018.  

Happy New Year!

The Reversal

The nations will escort Israel and bring it to its homeland. Then the house of Israel will possess them as male and female slaves in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and will rule over their oppressors.

-Isaiah 14:2
What God has planned and wants to do is a complete reversal in the lives of believers who have been oppressed.  God not only wants to set people free who have been held down, held back, and left behind; but He also wants to put them in charge over those that they were under before.  God wants to take people from servitude to ruling.
God wants to restore his people to their place of rest.  God wants to take his people out of bondage and into a place of stewarding authority.  God is freeing his people, so that they may serve and disciple the nations who previously held them in bondage.
The same people who imprisoned believers and kept them locked in and locked down will become the helpers, guides, and rides to take them to their inheritances and destiny places.  The people of God will capture the people who once ruled over them and be served by them.  The people who were once our oppressors in their homeland or sphere will come with the believers into their homeland or sphere.
A great deliverance and reversal is coming, and when believers are set free, their captors will leave with them and become their servants.  In the awakening that is coming, believers who have been asleep will wake up to God, to their destinies.  When they wake up, they will get up, and they will begin to go towards where God has always wanted them to go: to their homeland, and they will take some people with them, who have not been believers, who will get saved and be discipled and serve the believers who had been in bondage among them.
A great revival is coming, where believers who have become dead in their faith, will be brought to life, raised from the dead or revived.  Their testimony will be so clear and so real, that their pagan or completely non-believing friends, neighbors, or coworkers will be astonished at the change from death to life in these living witnesses, as say, “I want what you’ve got and where you go I will go, so now I will follow you, even to the ends of the earth.”
This will be like the story, in Acts 16, of the Philippian jailer, who got saved when Paul and Silas were freed by the earthquake, and the jailer and his whole family got saved.  Paul baptized them all and they had a meal together.  The jailer served Paul by being the intermediary with the magistrates, for Paul and Silas’ freedom, as well as giving them hospitality.
God is going to set his people free who have been held captive.  And when He does, the people who been around their captivity, will willingly go with, gives rides, and take or transport believers into their promises and serve them their.  This is what is going to happen, again.  God has done this in the past and is about to do it again, because it is what God does.
God sets you free to go into your destiny.  And the people who were there around you, who were part of the system, the tribe, the people, who held you back, and did not recognize you as a son or daughter of God, will suddenly become your servant and serve you, and take you to your place of promotion, destiny, calling, and promise; and not only move you there, but live there with you, as your servant.

Personal Attacks On Believers By Believers (No!)

How long will all of you attack others; how long will you tear them down as if they were leaning down walls or broken down fences?
-Psalm 62:3 (CEB)
Photo: Pixabay
Personal attacks against people we don’t like is common these days, from Christian to Christian.  Sometimes the attacker will doubt the authenticity of the person’s faith they are attacking.  But the attacker brings their own legitimacy into question, by their brazen attacks on a child of God.
Nothing is wrong with arguing, debating, and discussing.  What is wrong is attacking people.  Personal attacks are wrong.
Malicious gossip, slander, and maligning are wrong for the believer.  Personal attacks is the style of Satan and when we accuse brothers or sisters, we are joining with Satan.  You become just like the ones who attacked Jesus, who thought they were the rightful standard bearers of God, when they were actually attacking the Son of God.
The attacker has the audacity, presumption, and arrogance to self-righteously believe that they are doing God’s work in attacking ‘heretics’.  After all, false prophets or teachers of heresy are the enemies of God who must be punished, at least through verbal or written attacks.  Attacking what you believe is false doctrine, teaching, or prophecy is one thing; when it is done civilly; but personal attacks are wrong.
It is a problem when a person begins there opinion piece or argument with, (this name is fictional) “Ted Smith is wrong”.  Then it goes from bad to worse when they say, “Ted Smith is just bad, because of what he teaches, or does”.  And then it might even get worse when they say or write, or it is strongly implied that, “God is very angry with Ted Smith!”
It would be more authentic and healthier to say, “What Ted Smith teaches really makes me mad”.  We might be a bit uncomfortable with your anger, but at least you are not personally attacking Mr. Smith.  We can then ask, “What teaching is it that makes you mad?”, and we have a dialogue or discussion going.
When I was a kid, I heard the phrase, “ongoing theological debate”, and I was intrigued.  Ever since, I have seen and heard that there is a debate going on.  Debate, discussion, dialogue, and question and answer are all super good.  Saying, “I don’t know”, and being a lifelong learner is also a good thing.
Humility, meekness, love, patience, and being a listener are good characteristics.  Being able to say that we differ, but we are bound in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace, is a good thing.  And unity does not mean uniformity.

Dialogue and debate, from a place of love is the better way.   

Your Life on The Shelf

Do you feel like your life is on the shelf?  Do you feel like you are not living the life you were designed to live?  Do you feel like a big question mark, sitting on the sidelines of life?

Photo: pixabay

If you have this awareness, it is actually a good thing.  Somehow, you are in the wilderness, in some aspect of your life.  The wilderness is a common motif in the Bible.

Life on the shelf is where you suffer the loss of something.  You lose your job, you lose relationships, or you lose your place.  You go from active to in active.

Now what?  On the shelf, things shift from outer to inner.  Rather that doing things going outward, God shifts you to intensive inner work.

When we get put on the shelf, there is a dying that occurs, so that God can form Christ’s life in you.  God teaches us to live in his love and be accepted by him, and not live for the applause of people.  A purging happens that can not happen when we are constantly engaged in activities with people.

When we go through a stripping where things are taken away that gave us esteem, it is time to embrace God and find our whole worth in him.  We get to and have to decide how we will spend our time on the shelf.  Will we exercise faith and press into God, even if God seems distant or absent; or will we misbehave?

The choice is ours, bitter or better.  Waiting on God, when there seems to be no tangible reward, because the reward is not immediate, is the test we face.  If we lean into the experience that God puts before us and learn what lessons he is wanting us to learn, then we will be able to say that we were refined and when we come out on the other side, the gold was left.

The time on the shelf is a time to grow in loving God.  It is a time to discover God’s relationship with you: who God wants to be to you and who you are to him.  When we first get put on the shelf, we might view it as punishment or disfavor or failure.  Actually, it is a blessing.

Consider this song:

Ain’t Misbehavin’

No one to talk with
All by myself
No one to walk with
But I’m happy on the shelf

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you

I know for certain
The one I love
I’m through with flirtin’
It’s just you I’m thinkin’ of

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you

Like Jack Horner
In the corner
Don’t go nowhere
What do I care?
Your kisses are worth waitin’ for

Believe me
I don’t stay out late
Don’t care to go
I’m home about eight
Just me and my radio

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you
Like Jack Horner
In the corner
Don’t go nowhere
What do I care?
Your kisses are worth waitin’ for

Believe me
I don’t stay out late
Don’t care to go
I’m home about eight
Just me and my radio
Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you

Writer/s: RAZAF, ANDY / BROOKS, HARRY / WALLER, FATS

Adventure – My Word for 2016

2016 is a year of adventure.

Adventure is defined as (1):

  • an exciting or very unusual experience. 
  • participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises.
Photo: Pixabay

The root, etymological, or historical meaning of adventure is, “to take a chance”.  Ad means “to” and venture means “risky undertaking”.  A venture is a place of fortune and chance.

Adventure means “a thing about to happen, come to, reach, or arrive at”.  Adventure can involve risk and danger and be a trial of one’s chances, or be a perilous undertaking.  Adventure may also mean a novel or exciting incident, a wonder, a miracle, or accounts of marvelous things (2).

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary:

  • A mercantile or speculative enterprise of hazard; a venture; a shipment by a merchant on his own account.
  • A remarkable occurrence; a striking event; a stirring incident; as, the adventures of one’s life.
  • Risk; danger; peril.
  • That which happens without design; chance; hazard; hap; hence, chance of danger or loss.
  • The encountering of risks; hazardous and striking enterprise; a bold undertaking, in which hazards are to be encountered, and the issue is staked upon unforeseen events; a daring feat.
  •  To risk, or hazard; jeopardy; to venture.
  •  To try the chance; to take the risk.
  •  To venture upon; to run the risk of; to dare.


Synonyms for Adventure (3):

  • enterprise
  • escapade
  • venture
  • risk
  • chance
  • undertaking
  • experience
  • feat
  • exploit
  • happening
  • occurrence
  • deed
  • event
  • incident
  • endeavor
  • fortuity
  • quest
  • fortune
  • happenstance
  • journey
  • passage
  • pilgrimage
  • attempt
  • campaign
  • engagement
  • excitement
  • fun
  • initiative
  • mission
  • opportunity
  • pursuit
  • tour de force
  • transaction
  • trip
  • accomplishment
  • achievement
  • activity
  • chronicles
  • crossing
  • encounter
  • migration
  • outing
  • trip

Antonyms for adventure:

  • avoidance
  • inaction
  • inertia
  • passiveness
  • boredom
  • latency
  • abstention
  • certainty

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1.WordReference Random House Learner’s Dictionary of American English © 2016
2..Online Etymology Dictionary
3. Power Thesaurus

Do Something!

“So always be ready. You don’t know the day or the time when the Son of Man will come.

“At that time God’s kingdom will also be like a man leaving home to travel to another place for a visit. Before he left, he talked with his servants. He told his servants to take care of his things while he was gone. He decided how much each servant would be able to care for. The man gave one servant five bags of money. He gave another servant two bags. And he gave a third servant one bag. Then he left. The servant who got five bags went quickly to invest the money. Those five bags of money earned five more. It was the same with the servant who had two bags. That servant invested the money and earned two more. But the servant who got one bag of money went away and dug a hole in the ground. Then he hid his master’s money in the hole.

“After a long time the master came home. He asked the servants what they did with his money. The servant who got five bags brought that amount and five more bags of money to the master. The servant said, ‘Master, you trusted me to care for five bags of money. So I used them to earn five more.’

“The master answered, ‘You did right. You are a good servant who can be trusted. You did well with that small amount of money. So I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my happiness with me.’

“Then the servant who got two bags of money came to the master. The servant said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of money to care for. So I used your two bags to earn two more.’

“The master answered, ‘You did right. You are a good servant who can be trusted. You did well with a small amount of money. So I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my happiness with me.’

“Then the servant who got one bag of money came to the master. The servant said, ‘Master, I knew you were a very hard man. You harvest what you did not plant. You gather crops where you did not put any seed. So I was afraid. I went and hid your money in the ground. Here is the one bag of money you gave me.’

“The master answered, ‘You are a bad and lazy servant! You say you knew that I harvest what I did not plant and that I gather crops where I did not put any seed. So you should have put my money in the bank. Then, when I came home, I would get my money back. And I would also get the interest that my money earned.’

“So the master told his other servants, ‘Take the one bag of money from that servant and give it to the servant who has ten bags. Everyone who uses what they have will get more. They will have much more than they need. But people who do not use what they have will have everything taken away from them.’ Then the master said, ‘Throw that useless servant outside into the darkness, where people will cry and grind their teeth with pain.’
-Matthew 25:13-30 (ERV)(1) 

We are all given something from the Lord and he expects us to do something with it. We are all called to serve, and the court we serve on is the the kingdom of God.  All Christians are in the kingdom and the church is in the kingdom.  The church comes out of the kingdom. It may look like the kingdom comes out of the church, but the church is the vessel of the kingdom; not the other way around.

Jesus’ message was the kingdom of God. Jesus and his kingdom is the central principle of Christianity. We are servants of the kingdom, living in the kingdom, beholden to the king.

The kingdom is unlimited: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, and the kingdom works in the world through the church. We serve God, in the kingdom, in our daily lives. There is no kingdom work in the world outside the church. But this does not mean that kingdom service only happens in church, in church gatherings.

There is a phrase, “church gathered and church scattered”. We are the church, “out there”, and “in here”; or, “out here”, and “in there”. Christians are in the kingdom, which encompasses our whole lives. And all Christians are in the ministry. Kingdom ministry and service happens among church gathered and church scattered.

The Bible passage, from Matthew 25, above, which is commonly referred to as “The Parable of The Talents”; is about the stewardship of Jesus’ deposit in your life. A talent is a weight amount of money in the ancient world. It gets confusing, because we might surmise that Jesus is talking about God given talents: singing, preaching, counseling, cooking, artistic or athletic talent.

Photo: Pixabay

The lesson here is, “Do something!”. Doing something with what you have been given gains you something. If you try and fail, you gain experience. If you minister, being kind to people in your daily life, you are being a servant of the king.

Don’t think of minister as a person up there, whom you are not, or as a position; but think of minister as “administering” as in, “administering first aid”.  The concept of certain people being “ministers” and the rest of us being “lay people” is not in the New Testament.

In the church, we are all ministers and we are all priests.  There are some who are elders, who shepherd and manage the affairs of the church, and there are people who are gifted to equip others.  But there is no special class of people called “ministers”. 

The lesson here is that passivity is a sin. It is wrong to do nothing. You may have a small or a large deposit in your life.  What are you doing?  Do something.

Jesus says, “to who much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48). What matters is, are you doing something.  Life brings forth life and light shines out light and those empowered move.

Jesus is not looking for perfection or stellar results.  He wants faithfulness.  Doing something, doing anything in faith, is being faithful.  Doing nothing or doing what you know is wrong is being unfaithful.

We are in a covenant relationship with Jesus, where faithfulness is required.  And the good news about the covenant is that he holds it together, just like Christian marriage; but you must participate for it to work.

There is a principle here that says, “Do something”, or “Just do something”, or “Just do it”. This harmonizes or goes hand in hand with the principle of waiting until God comes. The context of this teaching by Jesus is how to live while you are waiting for his coming.

We are all waiting for something: Waiting to get married, waiting to be a parent, waiting for a job or a promotion, waiting to see people we love get saved, waiting to be healed, waiting for deliverance, or waiting to get out of prison. Waiting and the waiting room are part of life.

So we know that we must wait sometimes or much of the time. And the Bible says this about waiting: “Wait upon the Lord”, and the “upon the Lord” part is the key to waiting.

Consider waiters and waitresses at restaurants. They “wait” upon the people. They are also called “servers” who give service. Can you guess what I am getting at?

Waiting in the Bible is active. The idea that I will engage in ungodly or sinful activity while I wait, is completely foreign and completely antithetical to our walk in Christ. While we wait, we serve, we do something, we are “on our feet”, attentive to serving.

We serve by doing things for people and thereby, doing something with what the Lord has given us, to and for the Lord.

The creativity that God has given each person is unlimited. Doing something, till he comes is simple. Just do something, anything, that is from the deposit God has made in you. Get up and do something.

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1. Easy To Read Version, 2006 

New & Old

He also told them a parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. Otherwise, not only will he tear the new, but also the piece from the new garment will not match the old.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.  Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, it will spill, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine should be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, ‘The old is better.’”
-Luke 5:36-39 (HCSB)

Photo: Pixabay

There is an observation, that Jesus makes, and that observation is that sometimes, the old containers will not hold the new thing; and some people do not want the new thing, but prefer the old. 

God is a God of the new.  God does new things (Isa. 43:19).  Jesus brought about the new covenant (Jer. 31:31, Lk. 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8-10).  And in the second to last chapter of the Bible, the new heavens and the new earth and the new Jerusalem are described and God says, “Behold, I make all things new”.
 
He does not throw away the old, but renews it.  God also redeems, rebuilds, reforms, and restores.  God transforms people.  Transformed people function differently.  The new wine and the new fabric are the new or renewing work of the kingdom of God.

This parabolic saying about the new and old fabric, new and old wine, and the new and old wineskins  is also found in Matthew and Mark.  But in Luke, we have this last word, where Jesus remarks that, “And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, ‘The old is better.”

Wineskins were holders of wine, like bottles, in ancient times.  New wine would expand a bit in it’s wineskin.  New wineskins were soft and flexible, allowing for expansion.  Once the expansion occurred, the skin would become harder.  If you tried putting new wine in old skins, the new wine would burst the old skins.  That’s what Jesus is saying.

Originally, Jesus was saying that his ministry was the new wine, which requires a new wineskin.  It will frankly burst the old.  He comments at the end that older wine does taste better to some people and they have no desire for the new.

We know that Jesus’ ministry in word and deed, was out in the open.  He walked from town to town, throughout regions, and ministered even in the temple courtyards.  His “new wine” was on display and flowing, yet some people watched and said, “no” to it.  And that is what this word is about, “the old is better”.

How does this apply to today?  If the wineskin signifies the holder of the wine and Jesus is dispensing new wine, we need new wine-holders.  But what does “new” mean?  Jesus inaugurated the new testament, new covenant over 2000 years ago. 

The big new thing, new wine, came in Jesus; so the old holder of the older wine was not going to hold the new wine in Jesus.  On a macro level, we have the old covenant, given through Moses, that we call the Mosaic Covenant; and then the new covenant, given by and through Jesus, called the New Covenant.

But on a micro level, we have a people, at the time of Jesus, who developed a system, a style, a way of life, or an institutionalization of how to live out their lives before God.  On the scene were rabbis, scribes, pharisees, priests, and synagogue rulers who were all functioning in a way, and in different ways, at odds with one another; that were their wineskin, metaphorically, to hold and dispense their expression of religion.

The person who says, “I like my old way.  I am very comfortable in it and have no use for new ways”, does not want the new wine.  Another side-note about wine, aged wine, is that it does not last for ever, but does go bad.  It has a shelf-life, like any food.

Jesus is not saying that fads and trends and novelties are where he wants us.  He is saying that it is not good to resist the new and be suspicious of it.  New will not fit in the old.  The holders must be renewed to hold the new and new is good. 

The test for the new is, “Is it true?”  Is it true to the scriptures, not to just how we’ve always done it or believed it.  Are we willing to be renewed, refreshed, and revived?  Some of us need rebuilding.

The reformation was and is about getting back to the authentic Christian life that we have wandered from, with our traditions, that are our wine holders and dispensers.  The reformation was incomplete under Luther and his friends, but continues today.

Jesus is reforming, restoring, renewing, reviving, and rebuilding his church.  He is still doing the kingdom, with people and building his church.  This is the new wine today.  Our customs, traditions, and well-meaning religious activities often can not handle or hold Jesus’ authentic ministry of the kingdom, so we oppose, resist, and reject it.

The New Testament scriptures brilliantly give us this account of people coming into Jesus’ authentic life in their lives and working it out together.  I believe there are so many stories and words about the folks who were religious and claimed to follow God and the Bible, yet opposed Jesus and his church, because we would need to see and know about falling into that trap, that is as easy to fall into and be captured by today and it was when Jesus lived, as a man.

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For further reading:
Custom and Command by Stan Firth (paperback), or PDF
The Problem of Wine Skins,   by Howard A. Synder (1975, dated, but timely principles)
Bursting The Wineskins, by Michael Cassidy (1981, historical testimony of personal renewal)

Changed Circumstances

The LORD changes his people’s circumstances for the better.
God turns life around.

The LORD looks down from heaven on humans to see if anyone is wise, to see if anyone seeks God.
God sticks his head out of heaven. He looks around. He’s looking for someone not stupid— one man, even, God-expectant, just one God-ready woman.

-Psalm 14:7, 2 (CEB, MSG)

God changes people’s circumstances. God is watching to see who is seeking Him. Many people, many of us are waiting for God. We’re waiting for God’s promises to come true, be fulfilled, to be made manifest in our lives. We’re waiting for God. We’re expectant. Some of us are even pregnant with God’s promise.

Some of us are fighting heart-sickness because we’re worn out with waiting. We’re disappointed, even angry. We don’t like to say we’re angry, so instead we say we’re hurt. We’re disappointed.

Some of us struggle with a sense of entitlement towards God and when things don’t happen, we cry like children who don’t get their way. We get deceived about the very nature of God and end up needing deliverance. We’ve been taken captive by lies.

Why is God taking so long and why must I suffer so, we say. The why’s are the wrong question. God is looking for who is seeking Him.

We’re waiting, waiting, waiting, seems like this will never change, we’re waiting. Is the waiting turned to seeking, to God-expecting, to God-readiness?

One of my favorite reflective verses is the word of Job when he was waiting for what seemed like forever and going through some serious suffering, physical and emotional. He was very sick and painfully sick. He was misunderstood, misquoted, rejected by his people, and had suffered colossal loss. What Job said was, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust him.” The Message puts it like this: “Because even if he killed me, I’d keep on hoping.” (Job 13:15) Can you say this? Have you died to self or are you allowing your self to die in Christ? Are you taking up your cross as you follow him?

You might say, “it’s not working!”. But, as they say, it only works if you work it. We know we are not saved by works, but those who have faith will do works. It’s a paradox in a way. One sage said that you’ve either got faith or unbelief. Faith works. Passivity is something other than faith. It might be disobedience, unbelief, or fear. The stepping stone to faith out of unbelief is, “I believe, but help my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24) Or, even simpler, “help Lord!” (Psalm 12)

So, we talk about waiting for God. When will God move? When will God do this or that thing for us. We cry, oh God, oh God, oh God, help! And God hears, we know he hears, because he is God and God hears everything. So, what’s happening? We’re praying and waiting over what is not happening, but what is happening? Notice that I am asking what and not why.

God is waiting for us. God is waiting for other people. God is waiting. That is what is happening. That’s a big “Selah”, a pause and reflect moment when we get this.

God is waiting for us. God is waiting for us to change, God is waiting for us to be ready. We can deceive ourselves into forgetting our need to change and to get ready. God is not waiting for us to be perfect in and of our own selves, but just for us to turn to Him and say goodbye to sinful ways and attitudes. The ready one is a repenting one. The “holiest” people repent often and know they are loved. They aren’t ashamed, but they are repentant. You can be ashamed, but not repentant, not ready and not seeking God. The shame game is not the way on to God.

This time, next year for example, might be the window of opportunity, the kairos time for you. Now is the time to get ready, to seek God. Those that seek God are changed by seeking God, they are made ready for upgrades or changes that God wants to bring about.

Now is the time to seek God, to be made ready for God’s big changes of circumstances, for God’s big turn-arounds. If we are centered in God, the changes will be like turning a corner, perhaps even like turning a corner in a fast car; but you are buckled in and next to the driver. If you are not centered in God, the same turn will be very jarring and unpleasant.

Change is good

Moab has been at ease from his youth
and has settled on his dregs;
he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
nor has he gone into exile;
so his taste remains in him,
and his scent is not changed.

Jeremiah 48:11

Seven changes

I took some notes after watching a video of a conference from 3/07, of Peter Wagner:

Seven Changes happening in Christianity Today:

1. From church to kingdom.
Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of salvation is part of the gospel of the kingdom. Gospel meaning message or good news. Jesus invited people to come into the kingdom, not to come to church. The kingdom message is God centered, not “what’s-in-it-for-me” centered. When you encounter the King, you get or perhaps reject Him and His salvation. You also become His servant, receive His healing, His deliverance. You give up everything and He takes care of you. In the kingdom of God, you don’t accept His salvation, but not His Lordship- they go together, and there’s no confusion.

2. From pastors to apostles.
3. From evangelism to transformation.
4. From despair to dominion.
5. From determinism to openness.
6. From petition to proclamation.
7. From poverty to prospertity.

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