Speak Ye First the Kingdom: A Mainline Pastors Journey into Abundance

The Main Reason People Leave a Church
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Theology should remind us too that to have this Grace we must lose ourselves in order to find ourselves through a goodness that is not our own. Firstly, he exhorts the faithful lest they should give place to the devil in their heart. Neither give place to the devil. The Apostle exhorts us to shun the devil and his designs. Giving to all their due means respecting and honoring the purpose for which the creature was made. We should not take from God or others what is not ours by nature.

We should labor also to embrace virtue that in so doing vice might be put to death. On the first head it is to be noted, that for seven reasons we ought not to give place to the devil. The great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world. He deceives us into thinking that we can be as God, knowing good and evil in such a way that goodness alone has substance and evil is nothing.

Yet it is only God who can relate to good and evil in this way. Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. He will pounce upon us again and again until we begin to give way and cave to the pressure of his ways. We must not only renounce him intellectually but crush and grind him to powder effectively through the indwelling of same Spirit. Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world, and they that do hold of his side do find it.

He will try to convert us to his envy and jealousy but reminding us that other men are more advanced, more successful, and further along the road of sanctification. He will try to convince us to become territorial and to become fearful of others who try to help and assist us. He will always attempt to perfect our isolationism and establish our territorialism. The accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accuseth them before our God day and night. He accuses us of being indebted to him for this knowledge.

Thus he undermines the progress that the Grace of God has made in our lives already. He encourages us to quit the sanctification process and rely upon his more reasonable expectations. Then cometh the devil and taketh the word out of their heart lest they should believe and be saved. Luke viii. He takes away the gift of Grace from our hearts. We think that because we have not been perfected sooner Grace has given up on us and there is no hope for our healing. He convinces us that God should work on our time clock and not that we should work in the frame of His eternity.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. John viii. He longs to make us dead to God and alive to lesser goods and far more easily obtained expressions of happiness. Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. If we allow the devil to have his way with us, we shall end up in Hell for all of eternity. We do well to remember that it is not through big sins that we are damned.

Little sins can do the trick also. On the second head it is to be noted, that the Apostle bids us abstain chiefly from seven sins which make a place for the devil in the heart of man. Let him that stole steal no more. To be sanctified, we must be content with what we have, respect others, and serve God. Stealing is taking what is not ours by nature or agreement. We steal from God when we judge good and evil for ourselves. We steal from men when we violently deprive them of some part of themselves. Words reveal our relationship to God and God in others. Let all bitterness be put away from you.

Bitterness and resentment reveal a discontented and unsatisfied heart. So we must put this away and make room for the goodness that God desires to generate in us and in all other men. And wrath. Wrath and anger reveal not hope but despair over ourselves and others. Wrath does not work the goodness of God since it tends to judge and condemn rather than earnestly pray and hope for transformation. For St. Thomas wrath is probably related more to an instinctive frustration and violent irritation and impatience.

And anger. Anger seems to be potentially more noble. Anger for St. Thomas is probably closer to justice, and thus St. Thomas says that sometimes there is righteous anger or indignation because we want another to be made better. And clamour. Clamour is disruptive and confusing noise.

It is a grumbling that distracts and dislodges others from their pursuit of the good. It serves no useful purpose since it is an unarticulated expression of dissatisfaction and powerlessness. And evil speaking. Augustine says that blasphemy consists in those things which are falsely spoken of God, and therefore blasphemy is worse than to sin by swearing falsely, because that in swearing falsely witnesses are brought forward, but in blasphemy false things are spoken of God Himself.

We must refrain from all evil talk because we must honor and worship God in Himself and pray for the same God to come alive in others. On the third head it is to be noted, that the Apostle likewise exhorts us in this Epistle to seven virtues, by which the devil is driven from the soul. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. We ought to be renewed in five ways.

Firstly, as an eagle, laying down the beak of an evil tongue. Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth. Psalm xlii. The hart is burdened with beautiful hair and horns : it attracts or draws up the serpent by its nostrils; which being swallowed, the poison inflames it, whence it most ardently desires the water, on drinking which it sheds its horns and hair. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters. Does the hawk fly by thy wisdom and stretch her wings to the south?

Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man. But he knoweth the way that I take : when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job xxiii. We must desire to see truth and to appropriate it in our lives. Ridding our lives of evil, we must then long more earnestly for the good that will heal us.

The ways of Satan has made us weak and vulnerable. Only the ways of God can strengthen us as we become habituated to virtue. The beauty of holiness will be ours if we are intent upon observing what God is doing for us even now. We must work out false loves and ask the Lord to enable us to love Him above all things. But rather let him labour. Sanctification in virtue demands that we labor honestly, accepting the wages of the new life that God brings to us.

That he may have to give. In process of labor, we must give as God gives freely to us. That it may minister grace unto the hearers. What we give must be the gifts of Grace which we possess by faith. And be ye kind one to another. Of course, it goes without saying that we must not only share spiritual treasure but also earthly treasure, so that our neighbor may be on equal footing with us in the pursuit of salvation. Tender-heartedness means that we are mercifully inclined towards all others. We thus desire first and foremost their salvation. Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

And then shall ye bear witness unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and unto the utmost Part of the Earth. All sorts of imposters, thieves, and robbers try to steal the truth of God the Word by grandstanding with speaking, preaching, and teaching. That they are fraudulent hypocrites is revealed when they are called to stand on the truth, forth the truth, and in the truth. Then they tend to sidestep the issues, engage in doublespeak, and attempt to be all things to all men.

The disease is found mostly in Bishops and other high-end clerics, and in not a few Christians. Under the cover of compassion, pity, mercy, and forgiveness they claim that they are refraining from judging others. Of course they are too dimwitted to realize that Christians always judge the sin and not the sinner.

Those who fail to do this are more interested in their own self-image and the approval of the heathen than in the damnation of the nations! Any Spirit-driven Christian who sees his brother or sister living in sin, betraying God, and living insouciantly must pray without ceasing for conversion and return to God. We should not be surprised to see Bishops —even Popes, who cannot confront sin head on and assess it honestly. They are not filled with the Holy Spirit. Were they filled with Him, they would not give off so much as the slightest appearance of condoning or enabling sin and evil in this world!

So we should pray for these poor quacks that look like Christians on the outside but inwardly they are ravening wolves. For our part, we must be determined to embrace the Holy Spirit in our own lives. For long before we explain and elucidate the Gospel to others, we had better be alive to it in our hearts and souls. It does not suffice for true Disciples of Christ to know about His external, visible, and historical existence. Such is as good as dead to those who would are intended to discover His true purpose and intention for all men. For a man to be a Christian, he must be one with Christ.

Men can bear witness only to what moves and defines them inwardly and spiritually. The truth, beauty, and goodness of God made flesh is Jesus Christ. For men to be swept up into its all-efficacious loving intention for all men, men must will to become one with it. Now it is impossible that we should begin to be made better until our Human Nature had reached its first phase of perfection in the Glorified Christ. Fallen Human Nature was doomed to alienation from God.

So first we are reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. Next we take our appointed places in His Body through the Holy Spirit. First the Kingdom is established by the Son and next it is established through the Holy Spirit. To share the truth and power of the Gospel with others, a man must be held captive by it inwardly and spiritually in the Holy Spirit. Having said that, if more Christians were to embrace this intended labor of God in the vineyard of their souls, they would be far less susceptible to deception and fraud in the clergy.

What passes these days for holiness is nothing of the sort. Those who blow a horn to announce their virtues are at the furthest most remove from any possession of the good. True virtue is hard to find. And for its own good, more often than not, it finds it necessary to remain quiet, concealed, and hidden lest it share too swiftly and rashly what it does not yet accurately or faithfully possess. And, more than this, that He gives not to those who work and think that they have earned it, but rather to those who think themselves unworthy of it.

God alone is above all; God alone provides; God alone can move man out of the lowliness of alienation and division from things Divine and up into the presence of His Eternal Love. So man must humble himself and know that he can never deserve, merit, or earn anything but just punishment for his offences against the most High God. Idem But what are these temptations coming from the world, the flesh, and the devil and how are we meant to respond to them?

The world tempts us with the possibilities of becoming a part of another story. She promises us the stars and rewards us with the moon. She gives and takes away surreptitiously, treacherously, and abruptly. And yet think about how many men are addicted to her fickle and coquettish manner!

She provides an ongoing stream of information about nothing. She invents other gods to distract our minds from reason and prudential verification. She fills our senses with images and sounds that desensitize our hearts from the love of the good. She bombards our lives with corruption and evil to such an extent that they become the norm and habit of our lives.

And all the while she remains unaccountable, innocent, free, and transcendent. She tells us that nature, physics, biology, anatomy, and physiology alone account for truth. She convinces us that meaning is relative, reason is wrong, and free will is a lie. We believe her because it is always more convenient for slothful minds to blame someone or something rather than to take responsibility for the real cause of their actions.

In addition there are the temptations closer to our private lives. And here, of course, we mean not only the alluring objects of carnal concupiscence, but also anyone or anything which tempts the ego to pursue a good independent of the will of God and his purpose for human life. Finally there is the temptation to be as God. We pray to resist the temptations of the devil, which is to say that we must resist the temptation to determine what is good and what is evil on our own. This is the sin of the ancient Greek sophists, and of the cultural relativists in our own day. It is a recipe, in the end, for true spiritual anarchy and the end of civilization.

Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called War; and such a war as is of every man against every man. So when they try to rouse us to shock, outrage, and disappointment at supposed injustices in human life, it is impossible to take seriously their imbecilic relativism, moved as it is by nothing! This temptation is the root of all sin and in the end it spells disaster for the human race.

Its story is one of ultimate ruination and despair. But today we are presented with the positive power that leads away from this madness and irrationality. God has written His story into the life of Jesus Christ and longs to write the same story into our hearts and souls. In Jesus Christ, God has taken on our condition and reconciled our nature to Himself.

In Jesus Christ, He longs to share His life with us. He longs that His story should never end. He longs that we all should become respective chapters in the new Book of Life, which He has become. This book of life, this Divine story written into human nature by Jesus Christ, is meant to be read still in the lives of the redeemed and saved. The lawyer is bright and thinks that he possesses the answer to his own question. Matthew xxii. This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neigbour as thyself. But in reality He gives one. The point is that God has never ceased to tell one story of His love for all mankind. This is the one love that is doubly expressed in the life of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ we find the story of a love for God that is so complete that it simultaneously translates into love for neighbor. Christ loves God with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength. Christ dies to Himself first spiritually and then physically.

All that is alive to Him are those neighbors whom He invites into the death that only He can die. He alone dies perfectly to sin, death, and Satan, and He welcomes all men to share in His loving Death. Such uninterrupted love for God will then rise up into glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and then descend mercifully in Pentecostal care. In Christ we can find a story of love that begins and ends with God. In Christ we too can begin to love God so fully and perfectly that we cannot be restrained from loving all men in God and God in all men Today we long to embrace the reality of double love made one in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Credo, p. Through Him, God will make us into the words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters in the story that reveals His love for man. This revival will be short, and will be the last before the Rapture of the Church. Then the great excavator began His work. His human instrument was Martin Luther. But God will not stop until He has brought to light every truth, principle, and practice He has from the first intended for His people.

Even during the Dark Ages! Pastor Bill Randles answers that question in his book. Weighed and Found Wanting: How could the Church lose justification? Justification by faith is the whole basis for the Church. The Church has always had it as well as sanctification, healing, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There has always been the true Church which has been equipped by Jesus Himself, the shepherd and bishop of our souls. What Luther, Wesley, and the others did is what all true Christians have done down through time. They took what God gave them and introduced others to it. The evolution concept of the Church fosters pride and arrogance. Both Rick Joyner and Mike Bickle have said, in effect, that the apostles of the book of Acts will want to wait in line to interview the super-apostles of our day.

There will be a 40 sovereign restorational move of God to activate all that is needed for His army to be and do what He has eternally purposed. The generals who will lead this army will be those who have progressively been prepared by incorporating every restorational truth into their life and ministry. When the Church is fully restored, then the saints will receive their final redemption, the immortalization of their mortal bodies.

When this happens then the natural creation of plants and animals will be 1 AO delivered from their bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Restorationism is Manifest Sons of God to its very core.

Obviously the worst of the Latter Rain heresies, the Manifest Sons of God, not only survived after its official rejection and censure by the Assemblies of God, it thrived. Like all the other doctrines of the Latter Rain, it would re-emerge during the Charismatic Renewal. It would take a little longer for this particular doctrine to be re-accepted into the mainstream because of its bizarre and heretical nature. The majority of Charismatics would continue to hold to the orthodox Biblical teaching concerning the rapture and resurrection of the saints.

However, the Manifest Sons of God doctrine would continue to gain more adherents throughout this period of time. Richard Riss writes: Various beliefs and practices found their way into the Charismatic renewal.. In addition, elements of various eschatological views of the Latter Rain Movement were adopted by many Charismatics throughout the world.. It is rare today, and getting rarer all the time, to find a Charismatic Christian who has not been won over to the Manifest Sons of God theology, or in some way influenced by it.

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? Jesus Christ the promised Messiah of Israel was crucified by His own people just as their prophets had foretold. How could this have happened? Israel was given two completely different pictures of the Messiah in the scriptures.

And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are heeded. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.

If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fading together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.

How could these two widely divergent pictures be reconciled in one Messiah? How could Messiah be both the suffering servant and the reigning king of glory at the same time? They simply could not envision two comings of their Messiah. First, as the suffering servant to atone for their sins and then again as the triumphant king returned to establish His glorious kingdom in Zion. Of course, when the Messiah finally appeared no one took notice. By this time because of the Roman oppression they were under, the only picture of the Messiah they could see was the picture of the triumphant king.

Soon he would come and throw out the Romans, establish his kingdom, and exalt Israel to her rightful place over the nations! So when Messiah appeared, not as a triumphant king, but as a babe in a manger, no one took notice except Herod, and that only because of his paranoia. The overwhelming majority of the Jewish people missed him when he came because they were looking for a triumphant, glorious king.

Thirty three years later they would reject him and crucify him for the same reason. I find it ironic that in these last days the Church, like Israel of old, is confronted by two entirely different pictures of our coming King. He will come at a time when mankind, confident and complacent - and a sleeping Church Mathew - will least expect him. There will have been no signs.. There will be no advanced warning. It will be like the calm before a hurricane - but in this case there will be no sense of a storm impending.

His coming will occur at a time of business as usual, of pleasure, of optimism for the future. Just as it was immediately before the flood, they last thing the world will expect is judgement from God. Surely Christ is not describing Armageddon! Normal business conditions, complacency and surprise could only apply to a previous coming Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.

And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not cdlowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then cdl the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. And cdl the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. The only answer that makes sense and reconciles the scriptures is that He is coming twice - the first time for His Saints, and the second time with His saints.

Dave Hunt writes: How can Christ come immediately following unmistakable signs that are intended warn of His coming - and at the same time come as a thief in the night when few if any of His followers would expect Him? How can the saints be caught up from earth to heaven to dwell with Christ eternally and at the same time come with Him from heaven to execute judgement upon the Earth?

How can two scenarios that are so contrary to one another be true? There is only one possible answer to that question. Obviously, these diametrically contradictory descriptions of His coming cannot refer to the same event. First, our Lord will return for us at a time, a day, and an hour that we do not know. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.

For it will come as a snare on cdl those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape cdl these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will cdso disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.

Rather than suffer persecution under the Anti-Christ, we have been promised that we will be removed from this earth before the Anti-Christ is revealed. Neither is the word trinity! And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are cdive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall cdways be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. Behold, 1 tell you a mystery: We shall not cdl sleep, but we shall cdl be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. While I feel very strongly that scripture is clear and teaches a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church, I also realize that those who teach a mid-trib or post-trib rapture also for the most part base their belief upon the scriptures.

What we all agree to and hold in common is the plain teaching of scripture that when this event occurs, we will be immortalized and we will all be caught up in the air to meet the Lord in the clouds. Swept up into the physical presence of our Lord. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. At the rapture the Church is pictured as a remnant, a pure but beleaguered remnant of people escaping the coming wrath of God upon an unsuspecting world.

But at the Second Coming, we see the Church as a conquering army. Returning with Christ, to rule and reign over the nations with Him. Just as the Jews could only see Messiah as a conquering king when He came the first time and so missed Him, the Church today has become blinded to the picture of the escaping, beleaguered remnant.

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Just exactly like Israel of old, they are in danger, great danger, of missing the Lord when He comes like a thief in the night to those who are watching. Labeling the blessed hope as a defeatist, escapist mentality that is holding back the church they have rejected it for an unscriptural triumphalism. Shall the great husbandman admit defeat, and thrust in the sickle before the grain is ripe and fully formed in the ear?

Shall He prove the impatience of His Spirit by cutting down the grain before it receives the early and latter rain? Shall He impart gifts of the Spirit to His people and set the ministers of Christ in the Church for the perfecting of the Saints, and then rapture them all before they attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ?.. A thousand times, No! The prayers of sorrow and bitterness and travail throughout this long wilderness journey of the Church from Pentecost until now - have all been bottled up in heavenly vials, and soon they shall be poured upon the world in great heaven shaking events.

Milford Kirkpatrick wrote, of the revival: The general consensus of opinion from those who were over us in the Lord was that we were not to expect revival because we were living in the closing days of time and things were going to grow worse, and we were to hold on to the bitter end. This only brought more depression in our spirits so we were at the point of despair.. One particular day a brother stood to his feet and began to prophesy.. God spoke to us about restoration days and that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh.

This thrilled our hearts, having lived in an atmosphere of defeatism.. What joy swept through the camp. As previously pointed out the Manifest Sons of God heresy was not accepted by the majority of Charismatics. Elements of various eschatological views of the Latter Rain Movement were adopted by many Charismatics throughout the world. These views became prominent in the ministries of Bill Britton in Springfield, Missouri.. Preston Eby in El Paso, Texas.. By some of these ministries were quite extensive. We ministered to churches in Ill. It was wonderful to see in different parts of the U.

His perfected body, he that overcometh. In Light Out of the Shadows, Britton writes: There are several false doctrines which keep men from believing the truth of what God is doing. The sleeping Church, of course, can think of little else except a physical ride into the clouds, being whisked away into an ethereal state and experience of their own invention, where they intend to sit around dressed in white nightgowns or something similar..

We are not looking for a rapture to take people out of this old world, but we are looking for HIM TO APPEAR out of the innermost being of His sons to transform His elect so that they will be able to change the very courses of this world. The same man writes in another place: Jesus has the divine nature of God. In Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead.. We have no trouble accepting that all the fullness of God dwelt in the body of Jesus.

Those who partake of the divine nature will have all the fullness of God dwelling in their bodies too! You are Elohim! Genesis says that God Elohim made you in His image and likeness, therefore you are Elohim too. Check it out for yourself. Every thought will be divine. We will know the will of the Father, for it will become our nature. Those of us who are fully mature will experience a change, casting off the confines of human mortality to enter the frontier of 1 99 divine immortality.

Grant Jeffrey writes: Many contemporary writers claim that the pre-tribulation rapture theory first originated around AD Not one of those early church fathers taught a pre-tribulation rapture.. Preston Eby, Bill Britton and other Manifest Sons of God proponents repeat this charge as proof that the pre-tribulation doctrine, the blessed hope, is all a sham. Eby writes: It began as a Roman Catholic invention! Moody, and Moody influenced the early Pentecostal Movement. But is this the truth?

Were Irving, Darby, Scofield, and Moody, not to mention the early Pentecostals, just all pawns in some great Jesuit conspiracy? Again, Grant Jeffrey writes: A number of these authors will have to drastically revise the next addition of their books based on two remarkable textual discoveries that conclusively prove that a number of Christian teachers, centuries before John Darby rediscovered the Biblical teaching, clearly taught that the rapture would occur before the tribulation period..

The early Christian writer and poet, Ephraem the Syrian who lived from AD to was a major theologian of the early Byzantine Church. Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time..

Grant Jeffrey continues: Dr. John Gill, a famous eighteenth century Baptist theologian, published his commentary on the New Testament in In his commentary on I Thessalonians , Dr. They just redefine the rapture as a glorification and an apotheosis that will occur right here on this earth. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. Brooks writes: Two in a field, the righteous and the wicked, one will be removed or taken from the Earth. Will the tares be removed from the earth? Jesus himself gave us the interpretation of this parable. It was the wheat [the true church] that Jesus said would be removed from the field and gathered into his bam [gathered unto Him]. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

Jesus is saying the last days will bear a marked similarity to the days in which Noah lived. All most folks think about is that back then they were eating and drinking and getting married. They were left behind to inherit the new earth. Again, is this really what Jesus is trying to teach us here - that the wicked are removed? Noah and his family is a beautiful type of the true Church. The majority of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians remained committed to the scriptural doctrine of the rapture of the saints.

Britton lamented bitterly: Anyone moving in sonship at this time will tell you that the greatest opposition to this message is not coming from the old-line traditional churches. Many of the denominational people are hearing the message of sonship for the first time and receiving it gladly, for they have not been warned against it, nor their minds poisoned. But in any church that is moving in a higher realm of the Spirit toward sonship, you will find the Pentecostal people staying away by the multitudes. Through them and their efforts, the Manifest Sons of God error would re-emerge and become the majority view, I believe, among Charismatic Christians as we approach the year When Jesus comes it will not be because the battle is too great for the army of the Lord.

Neither will it be to jerk the Church out before the Antichrist system detours it; nor a retreat or an emergency rapture to preserve the Church from extinction Those who preach the maturity of the Church and restoration of all scriptural truths believe the purpose of the rapture-translation is strictly for the immortalization of the saints. The purpose for the immortalization of the physical bodies of the saints is to enable them to participate with Christ in the next phase for the Church.

The next phase for the Church is the mobilization of the saints into an invincible army, which shall follow its King of Kings as He goes forth conquering, and to conquer. Immortalization of their bodies puts them in that glorified state where they can be with Him and function on His level as co-reigners and executioners of His 1 T 1 will upon planet Earth throughout the universe.

A1 Dager defines Kingdom Theology thus: Within the Kingdom theology camp are several movements whose teachings are remarkably similar overall, yet divergent on some points. These movements are built upon the same foundation: The neo-Pentecostalism of the mid-twentieth century. They draw from one another the support needed to develop their strategy for gaining pre-eminence among Christians. There will be no restoration of the nation of Israel. The proponents of Kingdom Theology are correct when they say that the Church is spiritual Israel, but they fail to acknowledge that God has promised to restore national Israel and deal with her during the coming seventieth week of Daniel.

All prophecies regarding future Israel - both in the Old and New Testaments - are made to apply to the Church. The restoration of the dry bones in Ezekiel is said to be the restoration of the Church out of Babylon denominationalism into perfect unity. All believers will possess the same mind, same thoughts, and same goals delineated by the apostles and prophets of the Kingdom Age through new revelations. One has to conclude that the secret rapture theory may be evangelical, but it is nonetheless unbiblical.

If you want to bring Christ back to Earth, you can do it.. We hold the key to His return. Wherever one turns these days in the Charismatic Movement the blessed hope of the rapture is being disparaged and traded for an earthly pipe dream of establishing the Kingdom on our own without our King! For many walk, of whom 1 have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who set their mind on earthly things.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly went for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ It is proclaiming that God is preparing His Church to conquer this world, through the present Latter Rain revivals at Toronto, Pensecola and elsewhere. Thirty years ago the Church was not focused on revival. Her theology did not accept the fact of a great harvest of souls. Many were simply waiting to be raptured. Even Her hymns reflected Her pessimistic philosophy. Many Christians believed Jesus would steal them away from this world one night as from a fire escape.

They thought the media would send reporters throughout the world to discover the facts about the disappearance of the church.. The more the Holy Spirit taught me from His Book, the more I recognized the fallacy of the churches escapist mentality. The Church is going to meet Him, but before we do, the world is going to know we have been here!

We will not have to sneak out onto a smoldering fire escape some night, dressed in smoke-filled, soot-covered tatters to be rescued from the darkness of this world system. God is returning for a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. Only revival can establish that glorious Church. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture has been effective in developing a retreat mentality in the Church, but it will not ultimately succeed.

Already this yoke is being cast off by a majority in the advancing Church. Manifest Sons of God theology, once condemned and rejected by Spirit- filled Christians, is now, some 50 years later, becoming the majority point of view. If you have ever experienced the presence of God, or an infilling of His Holy Spirit, then you have been given a hint, or intimation, of the ecstasy awaiting those who eagerly await His appearing.. To be caught up in the clouds of glory to meet the Lord in this atmosphere of spiritual authority does not necessarily entail a literal bodily removal from the earth Mike Bickle, the pastor of Kansas City Fellowship now the Metro Christian Fellowship describes in his book Growing in the Prophetic a revelation that God supposedly gave him in The awe of God flooded my soul as I experienced a little bit of the terror of the Ford.

A reason. Robbed of their hope of an imminent return of our Lord, many Christians have grown lukewarm toward Christ and worldly-minded in their attitudes and desires, just as He prophesied. To awaken each morning with the joyful anticipation that this could be the day that Christ will catch away his own from earth to heaven transforms our daily lives as nothing else could.. Rather, it causes us to witness more earnestly and to live holier lives, knowing that very little time for doing so may remain. Behold, I am coming quickly!

Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. Instead, according to them, we will be transformed and glorified right here on this earth. Many teach that we will not only be glorified but deified as well. What is the purpose for this earthly glorification and deification of the saints? According to their teaching the Church is going to conquer the world and is going to establish the kingdom of God on this earth.

The Bible clearly pictures the Church in the last days as a shrinking despised remnant of people, holding on until Jesus comes. Certainly there is nowhere in the New Testament a picture of this conquering triumphant Church except in the book of Revelation where we see her pictured as such when she returns with Christ - at the end of the Great Tribulation - to rule and reign with Him during His millennial kingdom.

The Lord will come again spiritually and you will be glorified - even deified, right here on this earth! The wicked - the tares who have been resisting the anointing will be removed by the Lord. You will subdue the kingdoms of this world, and put all of your enemies under your feet. Through an abundance of miracles and signs and wonders this unified corporate body of Christ will convince the world of the reality of the gospel. Millions, perhaps billions, will be swept into the kingdom in a world-wide revival. Yes - there is tribulation ahead; great tribulation, but we will be calling the shots and actually executing the judgements and wrath of God upon this unbelieving world This great demonstration was accompanied by a vision of the manifest sons of God in the last days of this dispensation.

This is one of the birth pangs that Jesus said would herald His return. Like labor pains these signs will increase in both frequency and intensity until the rapture. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and various other diseases that were thought to be under control have come back with a vengeance and are resistant to the drugs that are used to control them.

Outbreaks of new viruses are occurring all the time, such as the Hanta virus and the terrible Ebola virus. We are clearly warned in the New Testament that as the end of this age approaches Satan will be allowed by God to exercise more power to perform lying signs and wonders. Only the elect, the true Church, the bride of Christ, will be able to withstand the deception because they will remain true to Christ and His Word. What is it that will enable them to discern the true from the counterfeit? Simply their love for the truth - for Jesus and His Word.

So these two contradictions to the Biblical picture of the last days should have clearly marked this vision as a false vision, inspired by the flesh, or by a seducing spirit. It should have been judged and rejected, but as we have already seen, these people were in rebellion to the Biblical scenario of the last-days Church.

This picture of a remnant just does not appeal to the flesh. A pastor by the name of Thomas Wyatt in Portland, Oregon, claimed to have had a similar vision years earlier: In the vision he was shown the pattern for the last great revival of the Church age. He saw how this revival would have a small beginning and within a matter of months it would encircle the entire earth.

2. Whys and Wherefores

George Warnock wrote in his Feast of Tabernacles: No man could lay their finger on Christ until His hour had come; and then He gave Himself willingly that He might finish the work which God had given Him to do. So shall it be with His many brethren. We are confident, therefore, that if Christ must minister faithfully for many years amidst the scoffing and ridicule of men, suffer the anguish of Gethsemane, die on a Roman cross, and rise again form the dead, in order to fulfill the old covenant; then it is positively essential that the body of Christ rise from the dust and desolation of Her captivity, become identified with the death of Christ the Head, and rise again with Him to manifest His glory and His power, - in order to fulfill the new covenant.

Men will argue, what about the falling away? What about the apostasy? Is this not to be the condition of the Church in the last days? Of course there is to be apostasy, as the Apostle prophesied, and it has certainly come to pass. Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, sound an alarm in my Holy mountain [Church], let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord [when He comes to be glorified in His saints] cometh, for it is nigh at hand. As the morning spread upon the mountains: [The Church-army becomes His firebrands. And nothing shall escape them..

Like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. They shall run like mighty men; They shall march every on his ways, [know their membership ministry in the body of Christ] and they shall not break their ranks [faithful, submissive, and consistent to their calling]; neither shall one thrust another [unity and love]; they shall walk everyone in his path [faithful to his position and performance]: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded [death to self, fullness of life and one with the Word-sword].

They shall run to and fro.. The earth shall quake before them, and the heavens shall tremble.. Does this prophecy really refer to the church? I think not! Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Horses do not climb walls, nor climb up on rooftops, nor enter into windows like thieves.

Joel is describing the same army of demons that John describes in Revelation chapter nine. Then why would, or how could, the Latter Rain proponents see the Church in it? Simply because there is no picture of a mighty conquering Church in the New Testament such as they describe - at least, not until after the Second Coming of our Lord.

Thus they are forced to resort to misappropriating and misapplying many of the Old Testament prophecies to create one. Therefore, all of the prophecies that pertain to national Israel in the Old Testament now apply to the Church. They now apply to the Church - and therefore and thereby an army of demons becomes the triumphant Church of the last days! We are seeing this over and over. Prophecies that apply to national Israel and national Israel only are being allegorized and applied to the Church. How is it going to start? Well God could just speak a word from heaven.

He could just cause a revival to start among us. What brings the bones to life here? It is the prophetic word inspired by God. Prophesy Son of man, and then it happens. At each stage of the way prophecy and then life comes. Re-gathered and re-born, just as Ezekiel foretold. This prophecy is still being fulfilled right before our very eyes, as the nation of Israel grows stronger in these last days.

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

Such an approach encounters two major problems: 1 Most of the blessings God gave to Israel, by their very nature, could never apply to the Church; and 2 The curses and the blessings go together, so that the Church cannot claim the one without accepting the other also. That fact alone makes it clear that Israel and the Church are two distinct entities. For this reason we have insisted that the control in interpretation is the literal method. In Latter Rain circles truth is changing and evolving. Scriptures do not have one meaning; the meaning evolves, as does the Church.

In a shift occurred in the Spirit and the Apostolic Movement began to be birthed. My wife and I have met no less than six apostles most of whom used to be pastors, then prophets, and now apostles. Over the last fifteen years we have spiritually surfed various moves of the Spirit and they can all be reduced to being nothing more than Latter Rcdn adherents, only the error has progressed even more radically since We are going to die in the wilderness! Marc DuPont proclaims: But by the late nineties, 1 believe things are just really going to recdly, dramatically be breaking out more than we can understand, but also judgement is very, very much going to increase to the point where 1 believe that many leaders who are fighting what the Spirit of God is doing and saying [present day truth], God is going to take them out of the ministry.

Bill Hamon declares: The front-line, present-truth division of the Church has crossed the Jordan River and entered their Canaan by making the transition into offensive warfare There will be a sovereign restorational move of God to activate cdl that is needed for His army to be and do what He has eternally purposed. Uncontrolled speculations and imaginations are coming forth from the modem day Latter Rain leaders that boggle the mind. They will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before.

And the Church that is reusing up in the government will be the head and the covering for them, so that the glorious Church might be revealed in the last days because the Lord Jesus is worthy to be lifted up by a Church that has reached the full maturity of the god-man. Not even Moses, not even David, not even Paul. What Moses did, even though Moses parted the Red Sea Revelation hints at this when it talks about the , that will follow the Lamb wherever He goes and no one, no, no one can harm that , Twelve is the number of Apostles, 12 is Apostolic government Well here Joel is talking about it in different words, a powerful, a mighty army with many Pauls, many Moses, many Davids.

Here again we see another prophecy clearly pertaining to national Israel applied to the Church Revelation See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

Daily Devotional Archive

A little strength that is shown in their adherence to His Word and their refusal to deny His name. These will not be self-seeking or self-promoting.. These will not even seek rank or position in the Church at this time, but will quietly, sometimes incognito, direct the end- time strategy of the Church. Their authority will be in their wisdom. Like Stephan, who was just a deacon but whose wisdom and power lit a fire that set a new course for Christianity, this new breed, without fame or position, will direct some of the greatest events in history.

Though men will never know many of them, the entire host of heaven and hell has known them from the beginning. Not since Jesus has the enemy feared anyone like he does these selfless messengers of power. The magnitude of this harvest will ultimately astonish even the most optimistic believers. Congregations of less than a hundred will be adding a thousand believers a week for periods of time, meetings which begin spontaneously will stir entire cities, continuing until they fill the largest stadiums night after night.

Previously popular sports events will be abandoned in many towns for lack of interest. Whole towns, with populations of thousands, will swarm upon neighboring towns to evangelize them News teams will follow apostles like national leaders, recording great miracles which will be shown with unabashed enthusiasm.. These fissures become home to seeds which are blown there by the wind. Rainwater enters the cracks, the sun adds its warmth, and the miracle of germination occurs. The seeds become plants, establishing roots below, and pushing up with shoots and leaves above.

Neglect anything built by human hands long enough and Mother Nature will reclaim it as her own. Creation is always trying to exert itself, as evidenced by the old barns I drive past in Montana with failed roofs that have trees growing out of them. There is an inherent tenacity embedded in the natural order propagating and preserving life for each new generation.

In much the same way, God is ever in the process of reclaiming us for himself. The way he does this is pure genius: he plants the seed of Christ inside of us, so that Christ can not only grow within us, but also be manifested through us. The human soul is designed with a sort of two-way membrane so that it can both give and take. To wit, the soul receives the Spirit of Christ in order to convey the glory of God. It only takes a small opening to get this new life started within us, for Christ to be lodged deep inside of us. But eventually we grow into the little Christs we were made to be.

I Jn 3; MSG. For everything there is a season, and a time for everything under heaven. As many of you know it has been an amazing journey, and I have grown in so many ways because you have offered me this opportunity to serve alongside of you. It has been a gift and a blessing for me, and I pray that I have served you as well as you have supported me in this journey. When I originally received this call, it was with the understanding of the Presbytery, our Session, and me, that it would be for a season, and not necessarily a permanent position.

Meantime, I have continued to pursue graduate theological education through Portland Seminary. Additionally, I came under care of our Presbytery as an Inquirer for ordination. On top of everything else I have recently become a grandma, and will soon be celebrating the weddings of both of our sons. This has been a rich season of life: full of blessings, full of changes.

Sometime last fall, I began to sense that the Holy Spirit was preparing me for yet another change. After a very vivid dream in December, it became clear to me that in order for this to happen I would need to let go of some things before whatever is next can be revealed. Recognizing that the margins in my life were too crowded to listen well, I chose to take a two-semester leave of absence from seminary.

Since then I have realized, with a fair amount of grief, that what is being asked of me is to let go of my position here at Colbert. Please understand that this decision has not been made lightly, or without great consideration for the season of change we all find ourselves in as a congregation. I am looking forward to seeing what that will look like, as well as the path he is inviting me to take. Some of this is clearer than other parts.

Finishing seminary is definitely a priority. As is spending more quality time with David, and enjoying this new chapter of life as a grandma. Additionally, David and I will probably be making a move to Liberty Lake in order to be nearer to our lake place in Idaho. It is a space we dream will someday become a place of retreat for families in crisis, or pastors in need of a quiet haven to be still and know.

I want to thank you for allowing me to be a pastor in your midst, and for all of your encouragement, support, and prayers. I continue to pray for this beautiful community, and to give thanks to Christ Jesus for the ways you love and serve him and one another so well. Until that day my door is open to you. As is my heart. Anchorite Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.

Recently, while roaming the hills above St. But now I do. Everything and everyone changes. Nothing and no one remain the same. The task of life, it seems to me, is to learn to navigate and to integrate these changes, for they are the raw material for becoming our true, full selves. As the changes pile up, and as we adapt to them and internalize them our souls expand. Our capacity as containers of Life enlarges. I call them anchor points; it is, for me, not a nautical term but a mountaineering image.

SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM with Senior Pastor Ben Kibengo

You can venture out into unknown, even dangerous areas, knowing that the anchor will catch and hold you if you fall. I have a three-point anchor system that holds my life. Baptism: I have been re-claimed by lethal and life-giving waters. My old self is dead. I am a new creation. Joining me to the Living Waters, I have been given a new name, a new identity, and a new purpose. In baptism I join the priesthood of all believers. I am blessed, and I am a blessing.

Ordination: The church has set me apart as a priest among the priesthood to be a Minister of Word and Sacrament. These are the primary tools of my vocation, chock full of grace and truth. They are the effective, sacred means I have been entrusted with in order to lead a congregation in the way of Jesus. Marriage: I am living my years joined intimately to one person who both knows me the best and loves me the most. We honor our vows to love and to cherish each other no matter what. We practice daily the mutuality of grace and forgiveness.

This is my sacred trinity of trustworthy anchors. He laid hands on me and offered the prayer at my ordination on a Maryland evening. He oversaw the occasion when Elizabeth and I exchanged our solemn marriage vows on the shore of Flathead Lake. In each case, he set the anchors, and then gave me the freedom to learn them, to grow into them, and to move out from them.

He modeled for me the life of discipleship, the pastoral vocation, the mysteries of marriage. When everything else shifts, changes, or erupts, I am held in this internal monastery of stability and security, anchoring me to that which matters eternally. Here I can rest in peace. And from here I can courageously venture.

Thanks be to God for Eugene H. Peterson, the man who not only got me started, but the one who showed me The Way. The elders at Colbert—recognizing that faith development does not follow a prescribed pattern or timeline, and not wanting to either unduly hasten or delay the time at which a person participates in Holy Communion—has decided that parents are in the best position to determine when their children are ready to receive the sacrament.

The Bible gives only indirect guidance in this matter. Just when that time is will vary from person to person. One couple I admire decided that when their children were able to articulate their faith to another person who was not a family member they were ready to partake of the sacrament. I like that. However you make the decision, my hope is that it involves a conversation with your child and preferably not in the moments immediately leading up to Communion!

Like so many things, the church has, over time, added layers of rules and restrictions to control how Communion is to be celebrated. But while there have been good reasons for such regulation, it has, in my considered opinion, created the unintended consequence of making God seem even more aloof, distant, and inaccessible to us. There are few pastoral conversations I enjoy more than those related to the sacraments. If you need a little help talking to your children about this invite me to your house. Beauty In Brokenness I have become like a broken vessel. No one gets to live for very long without incurring injury of some kind.

Bodies, minds, and spirits alike get distorted from their original, pristine condition due to injurious intrusions. The years of our lives add up, accumulating damage of various kinds. For example: Damage from the sun creates wrinkles. Damage from wounds leaves scars. Damage from pregnancy causes stretch marks. Damage from betrayal distorts egos.

Simply stated, it is impossible to go through life without being damaged. Additionally, we know that there are one of three possible outcomes to living organisms when they are afflicted. They may die, and simply cease to exist. They may become chronically compromised, limping through the remainder of their life. They may become strengthened precisely at the point of injury.

To some significant degree any one of those outcomes is due to a decision that gets made somewhere along the way. Give up and roll over, and you die. Become bitter, resentful, and play the part of the victim, and you limp. But choose to cooperate with a redemptive outcome, practice forgiveness, and give yourself to the work of healing, and odds are heavily in your favor that you will become a stronger person.

You will grow. You, as I, have probably known people who represent each of those potential outcomes. Without fail, I find that the most joy-filled, wholehearted people I know have at least one chapter of pain in their history. They suffered greatly. And the suffering enlarged their soul. And because they cooperated with the work of redemption they healed. And in their healing, they were met with a new-found joy. How I want to be that kind of person. There is an ancient Japanese art form that provides a potent metaphor. Known as kintsugi, the technique involves filling the cracks of broken pottery with gold.

The result is not only the restoration of functionality, butmore importantlythe creation of beauty. You see, in the absence of damage there can be no art. It is only because of the brokenness that the beauty can be revealed. While we live in a world that relentlessly inflicts damage, it is also a world that is occupied by a Redeemer.

Therefore, we can participate in the making of art and beauty by embracing brokenness. Therefore, whatever you encounter in this new year, choose the way of life, the way of joy, offering your brokenness to the way of redemption. Do this, and you will be a living exhibit of the Master Artist, adding to the beauty. I recall a season of anguish about ten years ago when my life was harshly disrupted, sending me reeling into a downward spiral of depression and disorientation. But pain insists upon being attended to.

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Indeed, whatever hardness of heart or hearing impairment I had previously suffered pretty much went away during that time. With pleasure being a mere memory, the uninvited, unwelcome pain softened my heart and restored my hearing. I was all ears. Months later, when hollowness finally gave way to healing, I spent some time reflecting on what I had learned. Mostly, I was pleased to conclude that everything I had believed, taught, and preached about the life of faith was true, and it held up when tested by fire.

After all, if Jesus came to bring us the fullness of life, his own life should reflect it. And the life of Jesus ranges from the horrors of the crucifixion to the glories of the resurrection. So why should it be any different for us? Turns out Professor Pain is a really effective teacher. As was my professor-pastor-father. I learned a lot from him during the fifty-five years we shared life together, a lot of things for which I will always be grateful.

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What surprised me was what he taught me as he was dying. While his words were expectedly sparse, his joy was uncommonly present. He was ready. During his final hours, we watched and listened as he straddled that thin threshold between earth and heaven. In the fresh wake of grief following the death of my beloved dad, and out of my desire to experience abundant life for myself, I embrace this season of lamentation by singing the blues.

Requiem is the soundtrack of my heart. I pray in D minor. But one day—I know this to be true—I will learn the latest God-song, and I will sing the Hallelujah chorus once again. I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark. Thanksgiving is coming, and I confess that it is probably the most truthful use of my stretchy yoga pants as I anticipate feasting on all of my favorite foods.

More importantly, of course, is this day that is set aside for giving thanks. Whether you are gathered around a table with people that you love or people that you are trying very hard to love , or whether you find yourself alone or just feeling lonely , my hope is that you can still center yourself in a place of thanksgiving. I know that for me, as I look back on this last year, it is easy to give thanks. I am one year post breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy. It is natural and easy to give thanks now that I am cancer free.

While I would never call a cancer diagnosis a gift, I was able to claim and name all of the miracles and gifts that were part of that journey, in part because of a message that I had received a few months prior to my diagnosis. Those words were such a beautiful gift of reassurance and love.

Little did I know how much I would rely on them two months later when I received my breast cancer diagnosis. That is to say, I knew that He had gone ahead of me and prepared the way. My condition was not a surprise to Him and in addition, He showed up in such beautiful and intimate ways. I saw Jesus in the faces of my friends as they came to visit me and offer me their love and encouragement. I saw Jesus in the doctors and nurses who attended to my body.

I saw Jesus in the wedding vows that Tim and I took twenty-six years ago, being put into practice. There were indeed treasures in the darkness. How humbling it is receive so much love. It is in the midst of such love that new life truly is born. In those dark places on our journeys, those shadowy places where we can so easily feel alone and afraid, God meets us and gives us the promise that we are not alone.

He meets us in the stillness of our hearts, and in the busyness of our lives. He meets us in joy and in sorrow. He calls us by name.

We are known and we are loved, in the darkness and the light. This Thanksgiving I am giving thanks for each of you, for all of the ways that you were the hands and feet of Christ in my life when I needed you most. I am giving thanks for gifts found in the darkness. I pray that you hear God calling you by name and that you are aware of His presence and eternal love for you in the dark as well as the light- filled seasons of your life.

Master Plan Make known to them the plan of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, and its whole form.. Woody Allen, one of my favorite unauthorized theologians, said if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. Indeed, as I look over the landscape of my life, it's pretty humorous to see where I am now compared to where I thought I would be back in the days when I was naive enough to make long-term plans.

If I had been allowed to follow through on my early ideas I would most likely still be making my living somewhere within the noble trade of carpentry. But that's not what I was made for. At least not for very long. God had other plans for me. God's ways. When an architect first helped us imagine how our ten-acre parcel of land might be developed as a gathering place for worship and fellowship and as an outpost for mission we designed it in phases based on what was immediately necessary and what was initially affordable.

The first step was to build a sanctuary since everything we do emerges from the primacy of worship. Next, we created educational space for children and youth. Then, because of some generous donations of money, talent, and labor, we built the outdoor timber frame pavilion. Lastly, we constructed a facility for the New Hope Resource Center to meet that ministry's growing needs. If we had been able to do everything at once, we would have missed many of the opportunities that later came along. We really have had to figure it out, one step at a time.

With some frequency these days I find myself strolling the grounds, remembering the afternoon in when I walked this land for the first time, back when it was just trees and weeds, in an effort to discern if this was where God was calling me. Inevitably my thoughts turn to this congregation's development throughout the last two decades. And it always leaves me feeling humbled when I see the beyond-my -imagination-ways our ministry has developed.

It also leaves me feeling profoundly grateful that God refuses to be limited by my paltry plans. Recently, in response to an informal congregational survey, and a much more careful, prayerful process of discernment, our leaders have determined that it's time to take the next steps toward completing our master plan by undertaking the next phase of construction. In general terms, I expect this new space will function primarily as a fellowship hall, although there will undoubtedly be other uses, only some of which we have so far imagined, but which surely include outreach. A building task force, led by Elder Bob Olson, has been established to lead a process to help realize this next chapter in our life together.

Wherever we end up, ultimately, I take solace in the biblical proverb that "the human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established" What we know is that as we make plans for this next phase of our little mission outpost, God will surely re-Master them along the way in accordance with the purposes for which this congregation exists hint: it's not about us. Ron Laceyour first architectcompleted his baptism a few years ago, before the master plan he originally conceived for us was fully realized.

I imagine him now, with Jesus, overseeing our life together, taking note of our little, short-sighted plans, and having a good laugh. Some folks will tell you they were born at the wrong time in history. Occasionally, for example, 1 hear people say that they would have been better suited for the simplicity and hard work of a pioneer lifestyle typical of the nineteenth century westward expansion. Being born and raised during the s worked out just fine. The issue wasn't the time, it was the place.

I was born in the wrong geography. Without going into the details, I'll just say that there is almost nothing I miss about my native Maryland. Oh, it was fine, as one of the thirteen original colonies go, but my soul was apparently made for something larger. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest at an early age. Spending my summers under the Big Sky of Montana, I learned to climb mountains, fish in alpine lakes, and hunt for huckleberries. When I graduated from high school, Whitworth University was my ticket west, followed by a couple of years working as a carpenter in Spokane.

Later, after wrapping up a three-year exile back to the east coast in order to attend seminary, I found myself in a season of deep discernment: where would this call on my life take me? Where would the divine Voice send me?

The Appriser

I recall one particular moment as I was completing my resume. On the standardized forms of that day was a page to identity geographical interests. Each of the fifty states and territories of the U. And then, at the bottom of the page was a lone box next to which were the ominous words, "consider me for any opportunity in the world.

And then, just before I released the manila envelope into the mouth of the mailbox I prayed, "But Lord, you know my heart is in the Pacific Northwest. Looking back on it now I don't know that I would have delighted in this blessed vocation nearly as much had I been located in a much different place. And in this moment, I simply want to marvel out loud with you over the goodness of our God in answering a whispered prayer on a Princeton street corner twenty-eight years ago, by giving a young man one of the deepest desires of his heart: to be transplanted among the Evergreens.

Making A List If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life. When I head home at the end of a day and see all of those beautiful lines crossing off my self-imposed assignments, it gives me a sense of satisfaction, like I did something worthwhile that day. I justified my existence and my salary. And I can go home feeling good about myself.

The week that I spent on the Camino de Santiago in Spain earlier this summer gave me a blessed respite from my addiction to lists. On the Camino there is only one essential task: walk. The only thing to accomplish each day is to get from one town to the next. Just walk.

I take some comfort in seeing that God is also a list-maker. God, I believe, delights in listing the names of the baptized in his book. For God so loves the world. It will be because we pray the prayer that Christ himself prayed when he walked among us and now longs to pray through us … It will be because we make sure that the wave of prayer that sustained the Church for all time does not stop when it is our turn to say it each day.

It will be because we answer the ancient call to pray without ceasing. Prayer, by Richard Foster. Celtic Daily Prayer, first and second editions. Praying the Psalms, by Walter Brueggemann. Just to name a few. And in case you are wondering, yes, I have read them all and probably more. These thoughtful writings have been helpful resources in my studies and have encouraged me in my own prayer life. Some focus on specific ways of praying, others, as in the first two titles above, cover the wide spectrum of prayer.

With voices from all over the world, I prayed the ancient liturgies. It seemed to unite us, while linking us to the church throughout the ages. Our collective voices raised together, we not only prayed for ourselves and our loved ones, we prayed for the church universal and we prayed for the world. And for the year that followed, I committed myself to inviting others to join me in a weekly time of corporate liturgical prayer using the Celtic Daily Prayer Book.

It was a gift. I could be wrong, but it seems to me like so many other parts of our culture, prayer has become something personal and private. When historically the church, along with our Jewish ancestors, saw prayer as a communal thing. Maybe, just maybe, the minute during our worship service when we raise our voices in unison to pray, as Jesus taught, is the most powerful minute of our entire week together.

Services on Demand

Prayer is part of our DNA at Colbert, and I wonder if we might faithfully consider seeking other opportunities to join our voices, as one body, in prayer. For a guy that usually looks pretty laid back on the outside, I seem to be wired pretty tightly on the inside. And as we all know, mounting pressure on the inside can be dangerous; take a lesson from Kilauea, the active volcano in Hawaii. Everything and everyone needs a pressure-relief valve. To catch our breath. Those were exciting days, full of growth, ministry development, and construction projects.

They were also exhausting years, and I limped into that Sabbatical barely sucking air. In most ways the time away was good and restorative, and I look back on that summer of rest and exploration and reflection as a gift. But my return to work days later was pretty rocky. In fact, I almost burned up on re-entry.

There are probably multiple reasons for that, but one of them, I believe, was the extended time away that disrupted my weekly rhythms of worship-work-play-rest. Hoping for a smoother transition I asked our Session if I could spread out my next Sabbatical over three years, one month at a time.

They agreed, and this first mini-Sabbatical will be from May 28 to June Later in the month, my daughter Sadie will accompany me for a trip to Princeton where I will give a lecture on Karl Barth that my father wrote but is no longer able to deliver. In between those flying trips will be road trips with Elizabeth to places like Nelson, B.

Hiking on trails. Breathing deeply. The story is told of a South American tribe that went on a long march, day after day, when all of a sudden, they would stop walking, sit down to rest for a while, and then make camp for a couple of days before going any further. When asked why, they explained that they needed the time of rest so that their souls could catch up with them. It begins with the breath.

Breathe on me breath of God. There was an unhappy car-versus-utility pole meeting early this morning, and I am watching the good folks from Avista doing the repair work across the street from the church. No electricity means no phones, which also means no internet service, which means no email or World Wide Sink Hole, which means fewer reasons to multi-task and procrastinate. I almost always like it when this happens. Once I finally settle in to this darker, quieter environment I enjoy the slower pace along with my newfound ability to stay focused on one thing at a time.

For all of the technological gifts and advances that come from modernity—making our work more productive and our lives more efficient—it is accompanied by collateral damage to our souls. And souls require, among other things, solitude and beauty in order to flourish. The barometer shows up in the form of a particular song from my childhood. Jump down spin around, pick a bale a day. Oh, lordy, pick a bale of cotton. Oh, lordy, pick a bale a day.

Silly, I know. Perhaps even pathological. But it is an accurate barometer to measure my anxiety, and a dependable indicator that my crowded, noisy soul needs to be reclaimed for holiness. I spent the summer of my twenty-first year logging 40, miles behind the wheel of a Greyhound bus. During my training I learned that it was equipped with a governor which limited the engine speed, and therefore the ground speed.

Sometimes this was frustrating, like when I was late for a pick-up, but it prevented me from getting a speeding ticket, and it made for a longer-lasting engine. I was familiar with governors because I used to tinker with small engines as a teenager. One spring, when the grass had grown so tall that it was almost impossible to mow, I disabled the governor on a lawn mower, and was immediately impressed by how much more power it had.

I was pretty impressed with myself as well, for my ability to get more work out of that little engine. That is, until the piston rod broke and destroyed it. Observation: I have a growing pastoral concern that we have adopted lifestyles that exceed the specifications for which we were designed. We squeeze in more work and play by lengthening our days and shortening our nights. We consume stimulants, and we ignore Sabbath. There is a singular Governor for our souls who travels through this world at the modest pace of a pedestrian. Have you ever noticed that the Gospels never show Jesus moving any faster than a walk?

To walk the Jesus Way means allowing him to govern our ambitions, our schedules, even our speed, taking great care not to outpace him. Entertaining Angels Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Some people have the distinct gift of hospitality. In fact, I reckon without much effort, all of us can think of someone we know who is able to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere wherever they are. I immediately think my late in-laws, Duwaine and Shirley, who were grape farmers in Prosser. It never mattered how much work needed to be accomplished, there was always time for coffee and a treat if a neighbor stopped by. Inevitably, a car would announce itself in billowing dust in the driveway, and within moments, ready conversation would commence, leading immediately to the kitchen table despite the impatient groans and protests it raised in their children, who often worked alongside them and wanted to get the job done.

People and relationships always came first. My grandma Gladys was another. I believe one of the great joys in her life was to have friends and strangers show up at the door, which they frequently did. Immediately, she would leave what she was doing to usher them in, lavishly offering a hot cup of tea and her endless supply of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, along with the gift of her time and listening ear.

My in-laws and my grandparents loved visitors, friend or stranger. Some people have the extraordinary gift of hospitality, but the truth is we are all called to be gracious and hospitable, though it may take some practice. But if you are like me, you will find that the more hospitality is practiced, the more natural it becomes. A couple of Sundays ago, there were visitors in our midst and I watched as they were warmly greeted and surrounded by a number of you. On a particularly crowded morning a pair of you found another place to sit, in order that a family might worship together.

Additionally, there have been unexpected offers from folks to step up and be greeters at the front door one of the easiest, most natural places to practiceI urge you to try it! You also demonstrated great patience during the long, overextended visit of the RVs in the parking lot. And, finally, I continue to marvel at the gracious tolerance you all have for the noise of children during worship. These are just a few of many ways hospitality is happening in our midst, and it does my heart good to know that, even in a somewhat introverted church, it is being practiced so beautifully.

For those of you who are more like me, I would invite you to challenge yourselves a little bit. If you need help finding a way, you might connect with someone on the Deacon, Outreach, or Fellowship teams. The conversation evolved as we thought about the possibility of our parents eventually coming to live with us for extended periods of time. And it developed further still when we considered how nice it would be to have accommodations for overnight guests. Since the days when an old Shunammite couple decided to add on to their house to accommodate the prophet Elisha whenever he was passing through, people of faith have been creating spaces in their homes in order to welcome guests who need a place to rest.

The semi-permeable membrane known as a door allows for either interpersonal interaction, or privacy and quiet. All of the bigs have come in for a test run, and a good number of friends, relatives, and relative strangers have given it a whirl as well. Most recently, my parents spent six weeks occupying that space as they are now transitioning into a season of life when they require more assistance in their day-to-day rhythms.

It was a holy gift to have them that close for that long. In the years ahead, I expect that it will be open to missionaries, refugees, and people who need emergency shelter. I also wonder about the unexpected guests we will be privileged to host, simply because the space is available. Whoever shows up, Elizabeth and I have learned to welcome all guests as Christ knowing that some people who have extended hospitality to strangers have ended up entertaining angels unawares Hebrews Stretching Exercises I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Suffer with chronic pain long enough and your threshold for tolerating the discomfort goes up. Go through a season that is characterized by one challenge after another, stretching you thineven to the breakpointand you may be surprised to find that you can handle much more than you ever believed possible.

Stretching increases our capacitybody, mind, and spirit. And since everythingas I have been working hard to convince you for the last twenty years! I call this grace. One of the effects of these stretching days is that my capacity for gratitude has also increased: with few exceptions, I end my days with a word of thanks on my lips. I call this grace as well. The soul, your soul, is endlessly resilient, and it has great capacity for growth during its earthly pilgrimage. At nearly every twist and turn, every bend and break of life there are plenty of opportunities to exercise our faith.

More kinesthetic than sedentary, the life of discipleship keeps us moving. We walk, we lean toward heaven, we follow Jesus.