Free In Christ

Finding Freedom in the Churches of Christ

Archive for March 2009

He Loves Me!!!

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I don’t think I have mentioned on this blog how much the ministry of Wayne Jacobson has helped me and influenced my thinking about walking with God.  You can read and listen to his material at http://www.lifestream.org 

Much of this material is free but is worth so much.

Written by freeinchrist

March 31, 2009 at 5:17 pm

5 Major Points

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I was thinking the other day that their are 5 major points in my thinking about Christianity.  I thought I would share them with you.

1.  Christianity was designed to be Spiritual, not religious.

2. The Church is one and there is nothing we can do to change that.

3. The Church is a separate kingdom and its citizens are only members of it and no other kingdom

4.  The Scriptures point, they do not lead

5.  The Scriptures were mostly applied and fulfilled in the first century.

More Apples and Oranges

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I wanted to expand a little on the “apples and oranges” piece from a couple days ago.  These are some differences that I see between the apples (the congregations) the the orange (the church)

Apples

Some kind of building

Leadership

Programs

Takes donations

Meetings

Provides services

Has name to distinguish it from other congregations

This really is not different than a modern business.  Actually, modern businesses got their heirachal model from the church.  Since the Bible does not talk about these kinds of organizations, we are best to not define or legislate them with it.

The Orange

Universal (everywhere, not buildings)

Christ is head (not human leadership)

Gifts (instead of programs)

Gives to needy (instead of giving to organization)

Lifestyle (not meetings)

Serves (rather than provides services)

Is one (needs no name of designation)

Scripture shows us how to enter this Church and how to live in it.  The congregations are expedients.  They should be developed and evaluated based on what we hope to accomplish in them.  In most cases, I think they fail in this.  I believe the non-organizational Church can do much better than or organizational “churches” ever have.  Jesus didn’t set up an organization because it wasn’t how He wanted to work in the world.  Maybe we should follow His example.

 

Learning to Live Today

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I am trying to learn to live life day by day and not worry about the future.  Jesus told us to not to worry about tommorow because tommorow has enough worry of its own.  I’m trying to live this way.  I’m trying to let go of not knowing where the money will come from.  I have to trust God with it.  I’m trying not to worry about what I will write on this blog in the future.  I just need to live day by day.  One of Jesus’ statements means more to me than it ever did “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you”.  That is what I must do to follow Christ.

Written by freeinchrist

March 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Apples and Oranges

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When someone tries to compare things that are actually quite different, we usually say “you are trying to compare apples and oranges”

That is what I think we do with the Scripture sometimes.  We compare things that really don’t go together.  I specifically am referring to our quest to find a pattern for the work and worship of the “church”.  The reason I put “church” in quotations is because we are really looking for a pattern for local congregations, not the church.  That, however, is the problem.

The Scriptures do not conceive of local congregations in the way that we have them today.  Our local congregations are non-profit businesses that provide goods and services to their members.  They are man-made organizations set up to facilitate the work we want to do together.  There really isn’t anything wrong with this, but we shouldn’t think that this is what Scripture is talking about.

We take verses that are talking about the church (the Christians universal) and try to apply them to the “church” (corporation).  This is comparing apples and oranges.  A common question in Christendom is “Can we have women pastors/preachers?”.  We go to the Scripture looking for an answer to this, but no answer is truly given.  You see, they didn’t have pastor/preachers in the sense that we have them today.  In the Scriptures, pastoring is a gift of the Spirit, today it is a position within a corporation.  That isn’t the same thing.  That is why some people look at the Scriptures and think that you can have women pastor/preachers and others look at the same Scriptures and think that you cannot. 

In the Scriptures, if a woman was given the gift to be a pastor/preacher she was one already.  We didn’t have to agree to it.  We still don’t.  If God gives a women these gifts than she is already in this role regardless of whether we employ her in our organizations. 

We shouldn’t be using Scripture to define things that we made up.  You can’t define an apple when you are using a book about oranges.

I’m Still Here

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I haven’t had much to write lately but I’m still here.  I can’t write because I’m in the process of living the things that I will be writing about later on.  It takes time to grow and I feel like my whole life is changing right now and I’m loving it.  Still not working but on the verge of a whole new way of thinking.  The Lord has His ways of making me listen to Him.  I can’t wait to see what happens!!!

Written by freeinchrist

March 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm

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Closer to Jesus – Farther from Sin

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How often do we hear that we can escape sin simply by trying harder to escape it.  It isn’t often said that way, but it is what many teach.

If you doubt me, ask a Christian what you should do about a sin problem in your life.  Just pick one and ask them what you should do.  The answer will probably sound something like this:

pray and then do _____, ______, and ______ and you can conquer it.

The blanks represent the things you will have to do and not do to solve your problem.  Many preachers have made careers by filling in those blanks and I hope to never be counted in that list.

These men mean well, but they are teaching the same thing as any religion teaches:  God is good, we are bad, try harder.

Trying harder will not rescue us from the problem of sin.  This is because Jesus taught us that sin is in the heart before it comes out in more obvious ways.  You can’t just try harder because the heart must change if we truly want to be free from sin.  It is not freedom to be tortured by temptation.  Even if we don’t commit the sin out of pure self-discipline, we are not free.  We only become free when our hearts are changed by the Spirit so the temptation is no longer tempting.

This can happen for us, but it won’t happen just by us saying “no” to individual sins.  It will happen as we get closer to God.  Scripture says that God does not tempt anyone, not is He tempted by anything.  This means that as we become more like Him, temptation’s power over us should decrease.  The Spirit will make us not want to sin.

Can we truly say we are godly when our reason for abstaining from sin is different than His?

Let me explain.  Many people avoid sin because they believe God will punish them if they don’t, but is this God’s reason?  Certainly not.  God does not operate out of fear because He is Love (and perfect love drives out fear).  God’s reason for not sinning is in His very nature.  He is not tempted by sin because sin is disgusting to Him.  Is this our reason?

It should be.  We should not obey out of fear, but out of love.  We should be disgusted by sin.  It should make us sad and angry to see the effects of sin.

We often, however, have the opposite reaction: we like sin instead of hating it.  This is because we are broken people and the image of God in us has been tainted.  We will not succeed by trying harder because trying is not how we fail.  We fail because we are broken.

Since this is true, we will only conquer sin by being repaired.  This is done by the Spirit over time.  It is called sanctification.  In normal speak it means “being made holy”.  We are being MADE holy, we are not supposed to be trying to make ourselves holy.

It is God’s love that will repair us and make us not sin, not ourselves and our effor.  When someone asks me how to conquer a sin I like to say “it has nothing to do with the sin, it has to do with your relationship with God, work on that and He will take care of that sin and all of the others in your life, if you let him”.

Most people don’t listen to me when I say that because they don’t think it can be that easy.  They often go out and buy the latest book about how to fix their particular symptom and never really get to the problem.

A simple thing I like to remember is:  The closer you are to Jesus, the farther you are from sin.  Let us spend our energy on becoming godly, not just avoiding sin.