Living, Sharing, Teaching and Witnessing the Kingdom of God « Disciple Report

Claiming the Victory We’ve Been Handed By Christ

Culture | Discipleship | Paul Gordon Collier

Victory- It is Our Mission Statement

The defeatist narrative of many Christians, especially in America, has led others to question; if WE are the salt and light, then how can we celebrate defeat?  The short answer is, we can’t. Here is the longer answer:

victory in christ

Paul Gordon Collier

Matthew 5
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
WE are the salt of the earth. We are called to lead, not be led. We are called to be THE example of His Kingdom to THE WORLD, not welcome destruction and death.

Matthew 28
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Christ has been given AUTHORITY over heaven AND EARTH! That’s here. We act under and with HIS AUTHORITY. We, the children of God, are the authority, in Christ’s name over this earth, not passive witnesses to the violence and destruction, but called to LEAD, to TAKE authority.
Romans 8
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Christ sends us out to victory, not defeat. Yes, we are also called, when it is His Will, to be willing sheep led to slaughter, but NOT to simply welcome and encourage martyrdom. We walk with victory. We never lose. Yes, even when we are slaughtered, we never lose, but we are NOT always slaughtered, if it is His will. Sometimes, the world around is fundamentally changed and nations CAN, NATIONS…CAN be disciples of Christ. And WE, through the HOLY SPIRIT, can bear witness to the truth, in WORD, ACTION, and DEED, that leads people out of the Kingdom of Darkness and into the Kingdom of Light.

Ephesians 4
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,5 to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
“Until we ALL attain to the UNITY of the FAITH”……That work, even though it is the Holy Spirit doing the work through us, is NOT something that happens by sitting passively, waiting for death and destruction to herald the return of Christ. It takes deliberate, VICTORY action on the part of all of us, across denominational and congregational lines. BEING the Kingdom, LIVING the Kingdom, SHARING the Kingdom, TEACHING the Kingdom and EXTENDING the Kingdom wherever we are, with WHOEVER God puts in front of us, be they in our living rooms, our workplace, our sports clubs, ANYWHERE we are.

1 Peter 2
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Who are we? We are GOD’S PEOPLE! We are A HOLY NATION! When we celebrate death and destruction as a sign of Christ’s return, do we look and act like a NATION of NATIONS?! People should see the Body of Christ as one NATION, a disbursed nation among many earthly nations, and be JEALOUS of our POWER through Christ.
When Paul arrived in town, the demons shook and the leaders of that town had fear in their hearts because they KNEW those meddling Christians would soon be doing AMAZING things. You can’t say that about the Christians in America today, because we are DOMINATED by a doctrine of defeat.
Yes, political victory is not our first priority. Economic security is not our end goal. Our goal is to MAKE DISCIPLES of NATIONS. We disciple one another, lift one another up to be stronger, through the Holy Spirit, to lead others into the new citizenship, the Nation of God. As a nation, we WILL SHAKE the world around us. We will even shake the political and economic authorities, because WE, through Christ, are THE AUTHORITY! Not Satan, not demons, but the soldiers, the citizens of God’s Nation, the Kingdom.
Christians sometimes think we need to take back the government, we need to take back the marketplace. We need to take back the media. Well, I don’t think we need to take back the institutions of men. We need to BE the KINGDOM, one to one, extending outward, growing to be a city on a hill. It is true, however, that if this land was dominated by citizens of God’s Nation that all of these institutions would (still imperfectly) reflect God’s Kingdom and not Satan’s. But these are BYPRODUCTS of a Kingdom People that have become the actual salt and light of ANY nation, not the purpose, not the end goal. Institutions do not make disciples, we do, through the Holy Spirit doing His work in us and in the people God puts in front of us to disciple and be disciple by.
Claim your victory, Christians. Christ sealed that victory in HIS blood on THAT cross, the same cross we are called to make our own, not to be defeated, not to welcome the advance of Satan’s army so that somehow Christ will return, but to OWN the field, the field paid in blood by Christ.

As a last note, let me add that we all claim some injustice, some persecution that prevents us from being free people. We all have leaders that swoop in to manipulate us to hate someone or some group to deflect from their intentional and/or unintentional failure to enable us to be free. But the answer is within us- from God- to BE FREE- TO BE EMPOWERED! If God is with us, who can be against us, not Al Sharpton, not Glenn Beck,not Barack Obama, not John Boehner, not George Soros, not the Koch Brothers…..NO ONE!

But the choice is an individual one, one made possible for you by the blood of Christ alone.

Even in chains, Paul was the one most free in his Roman prison. They had to keep changing the guards, because Paul, the one who was chained, led them, through the Holy Spirit, to freedom. You who know Christ, who have made Him your sovereign, have no excuse not to be free, no matter what earthly, demon-led person or institution attempts to keep you in chains.

victory in christ

The defeatist narrative of many Christians, especially in America, has led others to question; if WE are the salt and light, then how can we celebrate defeat? The short answer is, we can’t. Here is the longer answer:

Read More

Walking The Streets Of Jerusalem on Passion Tueday

Witnessing The Kingdom

Paul Gordon Collier

christ curses the fig tree

The Tree Christ Cursed on Monday Has Withered On Tuesday

Picture if you will being back in the time of Jerusalem during the actual Passion Week.  You have the knowledge of the Lord, through the Holy Spirit that we possess today.  You understand who Christ, the Messiah is.  You understand the spiritual Kingdom versus the earthly Kingdom.  You see clearly how all of scripture points to Him (the red line that runs through all 66 books of the bible).

You have knowledge that no one on earth has, outside of Christ himself (and it goes without saying that His knowledge dwarfs your own).  I want to make it clear when I say knowledge I mean ONLY the knowledge of God that ONLY the Holy Spirit can reveal to you.

There you sit at the North Gate on the day that Christ enters the East Gate, watching the procession of the priests with the lamb of Passover.  You see a crowd, a little smaller than the crowd now gathering at the East Gate, singing the traditional Hosana song to the Lamb of Passover.  You can hear the faint echoes of the larger crowd in the East gate singing the same song to the Lamb of Lambs, Christ, as He enters the East Gate.

You notice in the crowd a young man named Saul singing to the Passover Lamb.  You somehow know this young man will someday become the Apostle Paul.  You hurry to rush over to the East Gate, just in time to behold the King of Kings.

You know everything that’s going to happen as the savior goes through his four-day inspection (in the same manner that the Passover Lamb is also going through) by the Pharisees to check for any blemish.  Here you see Christ talk before the Pharisees and His disciples.   You see His disciples love Him but you can tell they do not fully understand who He is, the alpha and the omega, the Word made flesh.  Perhaps they too believe, as the crowd believes, that He is there to restore the physical Kingdom of David.

The Pharisees, you cannot help but ache for them, even as they plot to kill the King of Kings.  How blind must they be?  Their ears must be turned to stone and their eyes must be covered with mud to miss the awe and splendor before them, the almighty, and the maker of creation itself.  You would, of course, upon hearing His voice alone, fall flat on your face, fully aware of the might and the power before you.

You want to tell Peter, James and John about the almighty King of Kings, but you know, because you know your gospels, that Christ has already plainly told them who He is and what He is about to do but they do not understand.

You have an alien language in you, one that only you can understand because only you have the full presence of the Holy Spirit within you.  You know you must watch this procession, day after day, as it inches towards the betrayal on Thursday, the execution on Friday, the black, empty day of rest on Saturday before the final triumph is heralded on Sunday.

What must that be like?  What must it be like to watch your Savior heading to torture, great physical and even greater spiritual suffering and finally physical death?  What must it be like to know YOU did this to him?  You, your life, your sins, your rejection of God, your hatreds, your lusts, your lies made these day necessary.  You picked up the scourge and whipped him with your sins.  Your darkened his spirit with YOUR sins.

You know you can do nothing to stop it because you remember how severely Christ rebuked Peter when he tried to stop it.  Christ said, “Get behind me Satan”, to his beloved Peter.

I had a lot of thoughts today, Tuesday, as I experienced Christ’s morning with the fig tree, his afternoon parables and his evening prophecies, but this was the one that stood out for me.  So, as my family continues our journey through Passion Week, we are putting ourselves in Jerusalem to watch our King be led to death and then to see Him rise in victory.

We hope to once again die with Him on Friday and live with Him on Sunday.

christ curses the fig tree

Picture if you will being back in the time of Jerusalem during the actual Passion Week. You have the knowledge of the Lord, through the Holy Spirit that we possess today. You understand who Christ, the Messiah is. You understand the spiritual Kingdom versus the earthly Kingdom. You see clearly how all of scripture points to Him (the red line that runs through all 66 books of the bible).

Read More

Does “America” Still Exist? – The Question of Nations and States

Politics | Serving the Natural

Here I Stand, Progressives, I Can Do No Other
Paul Gordon Collier

 

Martin Luther Defies Civic And Sacred Authority To Stand With God's Authority

Martin Luther Defies Civic And Sacred Authority To Stand With God’s Authority

 

I’m going through Holy Week this year with my family.  My wife has scheduled off work and I also have scheduled off work.  We are working at walking through the week together with Christ.  Yesterday we walked through Palm Sunday and today we walked through Monday.  On this day, Jesus was still loved, though the Pharisees have now decided they must kill Jesus.

As I have experienced Christ’s week so far, what has pressed me is the sovereignty of God.  On Palm Sunday, the people did not make Christ their sovereign, they made him their politician, the man who would get them the stuff they wanted, the Romans out, prosperity to return, safety and security across the land.  They did not submit to the Messiah, who fulfilled all the scriptures that needed to be fulfilled to show these people that He was their spiritual King.

They had a worldview that they thought aligned with his, but they are about to find out something different in the coming days, and, I would argue, they saw a taste of this contradictory worldview today in Christ’s cursing of the fig tree that did not bear fruit.

So long as their worldviews were aligned with Christ’s, or perceived to be, they loved this earthly King, this new politician.  But when they found out He was speaking of a Kingdom not of this world, when they discovered He was talking about a life that offered no guarantee of earthly security and comfort but rather a life of complete submission, in fear and love, to a spiritual King, they soon called out for his unjust execution.

Christ had built a nation, a people (not a state) that swore their de facto allegiance to the King, but when the King revealed a worldview that actually contradicted their own, they quickly deposed their king and the new nation of Christ almost completely dissolved, hanging on by a thin thread held in the hands of a few petrified followers who fled from the battlefield.

As I thought about this, I had an imaginary debate with a gay rights supporter over gay marriage.  I do these types of exercises regularly to test ideas and assumptions and sometimes end up in surprising places.  I challenge myself and sometimes am unable to answer my own rebuttals to my own assumptions of ‘truth’.

The purpose of this exercise was to investigate the gay marriage debate from what I call ‘God’s righteous standards of Freedom and Liberty”.  The question I was asking myself was this, “If God allows for sin to be unregulated by civic authority, what standard applies that would compel me to compel my state to regulate ‘sin’ with the power of the magistrate, or, the gun?”

In this case, I ended up producing a monologue and not a debate.  Every time I started to answer the question, why are you against gay marriage, I would stop myself and say, “no, that’s not the root” until eventually, what I got to was a root that had little to do with gay marriage and everything to do with worldviews, nations, and states that govern nations.

My first attempt at dialogue had me asking the gay rights supporter if they recognized scripture as authority.  In this scenario, I wanted to imagine a Christian gay rights supporter who might challenge my assumption that God views homosexuality as a sin.  That scenario quickly fell apart as I came to realize the debate, in a civic context, was not about (or rather, should be about) whether a sincere religious belief should give me the ‘right’ to discriminate against another belief system, behavior, or even ethnicity.

So I went deeper, and I began the debate with this question, “How does a state determine which peoples, which behaviors and which ethnicities should be afforded state protection in the sacred, the social, and the market authorities”?

I should clarify that the people I fellowship with break down authority in these four groups, sacred, social, civic, and market.  The civic touches all four authorities but is bounded by those authorities as those authorities also touch the other authorities but are bounded by them.

So far, there is little attempt by the state to interfere with disparate points of view on gay marriage that rest in the sacred (though the beginning forays into that authority can be seen).  There is not state intrusion into social authority, but attempts by gay rights activists to create a non-governmental ban on views counter to the homosexual lifestyle have become a major part of our social climate today.

However, in the market authority, the state has already made significant invasions on prescribing de facto acceptance of homosexuality in the form of ‘anti-gay discrimination laws’ where businesses are now being forced to serve homosexuals, cater to homosexual marriages, even build ‘transgender’ bathrooms.

As I asked myself that question and had an imaginary back and forth with my gay rights counterpart, I found myself quickly halting that line of discourse.  I took myself down a path that, in the end, left little objective authority for the state to mandate to the marketplace that it not discriminate against any group, be they religious, ethnic, or behavioral in nature.  I found myself in the uncomfortable place (for me) of the libertarian.

My exercise shifted from trying to understand what God’s righteous standards of freedom and liberty tell me about gay marriage to understanding the very nature of ‘nation’ and state.  I left scripture behind in this exercise and pursued a ‘pragmatic’ analysis of governance.  I did so not because I belief in the pragmatic approach to civic governance but because I live in a culture in which the pragmatic approach is largely the accepted approach to civic governance in a so-called ‘pluralistic’ society.

Without absolute values, a nation is free to decide the standards of governance based on its dominant worldview.  When I say it is free to decide, I do not mean in an absolute sense but in a pragmatic sense.  A collection of people will form only if they have shared core values that satisfy the vast majority’s varying, but similar, worldviews.  The greater the harmony of worldviews within a nation, the greater the unity of the nation and the more successful that nation will be in forming a state which truly reflects the worldviews of the people it governs.

In some instances, civic authority can come to rule over many nations with very different worldviews.  The greater the role of the civic authority in managing the lives of the individuals within its authority, the greater the need of the state to either have laws which reflect the core values of the disparate worldviews of the nations it governs or wield great coercive power that prevents the disparate nations from separating from one another and thus dissolving or reducing the territorial authority of the state.

The question then is not whether homosexual marriage should be legalized or not legalized, or even whether the state should decide to wield civic authority over the marketplace for discriminating against groups the state arbitrarily decides it wishes to ‘protect’.  The pragmatic answer is this- the state can do whatever force or national consensus allows it to do.

This state began with a collection of nations with many different kinds of identities and worldviews.  The overwhelming majority of nations held core values in common that allowed a new nation to emerge, America.  That nation was not defined by the state, but rather the state became an expression of the people’s worldviews.  One could argue which came first, the nation or the state.

In the case of America, I would argue there were nations that held some core values before the Constitution and the Bill of Rights from which the architects of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights became a reflection of those shared values.  But, in the course of a few decades, the emergence of an overarching nation, with many nations still within it, occurred and a people called “Americans” were born.

In America today (and by that I am only referring to the territorial authority of the Federal Government), I came to a startling conclusion.  This conclusion prevented me from continuing with my imaginary dialogue on homosexual marriage.

The Rule of Law concept of America is based on an assumption of individual liberty and sovereignty, where the individual is a means in and of him or herself.  The purpose of the state is not to create better people but to get out of the way of people and their inherent right to fail or succeed, to be ‘good’ or to be ‘bad’ within the confines of extending the same recognition of other people’s rights.

Our Republic began with a Federal Government significantly limited in scope and power.  Over the course of the past two plus centuries, power has sought pathways to create, extend and preserve itself, as is the nature of human beings when they come together collectively to govern over larger groups of peoples.

Our Republic also began by fundamentally violating the very standards it upheld in the Bill of Rights, applying these rights selectively and not consistently protecting the rights of the people against unjust oppression.  We also failed to consistently practice basic freedom and liberty standards with other governments, choosing at times to support dictators for the sake of wealth and our own perceived security.

The enemies of Freedom and Liberty, the enemies of Individual Liberty found a nation and a state wide open to invasion and with ample examples of hypocrisy with which to convert “Americans” to new national identities, progressives, communists, socialists, conservatives, liberals, etc.

The Republic itself gave the people and the state the tools to self-correct when things went off-course but neither the nations nor the State representatives chose to do so, at least not at sufficient numbers and with sufficient power to back them up.  The inroads into the heart of “America” were incremental and bore no great damaging fruit to the vast majority of people.  Even the income tax started off as a very small cost which could be easily absorbed by a reasonably prosperous people.

The Americans still held their shared worldview of individual freedom and liberty and lived out these standards for the most part among themselves.  They even largely believed their government was doing the same.

As the second half of the 20th century pushed on, the hypocrisy of our own nation, coupled with the separation of the understanding of why it was essential to preserve a state bounded by the notion of the individual being a value in and of themselves, accelerated the conversion of Americans to other national identities that bore little in common with the parent nation.

The state was able to increase its incursions into new lands, where the Constitution could be circumvented either through silence by the other branches of government or by outright assistance by the Supreme Court, which, we have discovered, is hardly an objective arbiter of Constitutional Law but simply an arbitrary political body whose decisions are largely determined by which nation is able to nominate and confirm its members to sit on that diminished body of oligarchs.

And now, when the remnant of Americans is all that is left, we live in an all-but lawless land, where our laws are determined by small bodies of men and women who do not make pragmatic decisions based on the most effective method of governance, but are almost entirely governing to create, extend and preserve power.  Our governors, our representatives in the civic arena are reflections of new nations that share little in common with Americanism.

The debate, then, over gay marriage in America is moot.  The issue of gay marriage, in reality, is this, it is what the state says it is.  Nations within the state’s borders must decide if they will continue to recognize the authority of the state or if they will begin to simply disobey the state’s laws, as has happened throughout history.

The State of the Union is this- there is no Union, friends.  America, such as we hoped she would become, is dead.  The nations within the borders of the State of America have little in common with one another.  Progressivism, collectivism, is anathema to the values of the American Constitution and would not have been implemented under Teddy Roosevelt, FDR or Barack Hussein Obama if the Constitution had actually been upheld and the governed and the governing had actually done the work of preserving the republic.

We granted the Federal government the power to seize lands from states under Teddy Roosevelt.  Under Wilson, we created the Federal income Tax, which gave the Federal Government the power to manipulate the economy like it never could before.  We also returned the Senate to mob rule, democracy, when we took away the power of state legislatures to elect their representatives.  Under FDR, we granted the Federal Government the power to guarantee us security in our old age.

All of these steps alone destroyed the Republic, but not the people.  Now, 80 years after the rise of FDR, we sit in a land where the state and the people no longer reflect the freedom and liberty standards of the nation that once stood, America.

There is across this land a sizeable remnant of Americans, ones who will have to ask some tough questions over the coming years.  This land is no longer ours alone, it belongs to progressives and other nations who cannot co-exist with freedom and liberty peoples. If the remnant won back control of the state, could they effectively govern over these anti-individualist nations?  I would argue no, they could not.

Just as surely as the progressives are about to discover that they cannot govern over the remnant, the remnant cannot govern the progressive nation.  A state cannot hold itself together if it lacks sufficient power and national unity.   I would argue that this state, the American state, lacks both the power to coerce 300 million people, of which at least 60 million (maybe more) will find more and more they will simply have to stop obeying the laws of the progressive state, and the laws which necessarily reflect the shared core values of its disparate nations within its borders.

For the remnant, the same is true in reverse.  The progressives will not retreat.  They will not accept a restored republic where American Rule of Law is restored.  Furthermore, their progressive institutions have created life and death dependencies in the form of welfare nations in our cities and Social Security nations all around us.  The progressives will be forced to simply not obey the laws of a true American state.  The best that we can hope for is an amicable divorce.

How long will it take for this reality to play itself out?  I cannot tell if it will be a few years or 20 years, but I do know this- unless the remnant changes and becomes overwhelmingly progressive in their views or the progressive nation changes and becomes overwhelmingly American in their views, these two main nations are headed to civil war, divorce, or a complete dissolution of the state.

I began with a question, one in which I cannot answer in the context of this state and among these competing nations within the state.  My answer is this- the question is now moot.  The state will dissolve and new states will rise.  Some of these states will choose to legalize gay marriage and some will not.  From a pragmatic perspective, neither state is right or wrong.  It is rather only important that the new states which form possess sufficient power to coerce disparate nations to follow its laws or its laws reflect the core values of the worldviews of the nations within its borders.

In the age unfolding, where the power of the state to coerce individuals by force is becoming increasingly costly, the necessity of states to reflect the core values of the worldviews of the nations within their borders will become increasingly essential to the survival and prosperity of that state.

The age of the nation state, the vast and powerful welfare state is coming to an end.  The rise of micro-nations and city-states is soon to come.

From a Christian perspective, I am fortunate in that I do not have to fret about the dangerous times to come.  I have responsibilities to do the next right thing, to continue to be a good steward to the state my God has placed me in, and to continue to do the work of becoming a Kingdom of God Citizen who does the work to lift up others to do the same.

I have a path that does not depend on the accuracy of the predictions in this self-examination.  Being a Kingdom Citizen, building other Kingdom Citizens, through the Holy Spirit, is the right thing to do whether this state collapses tomorrow or lasts for a thousand years.  It is the right thing to do if I live in China or if I live in Australia.  It is the right thing to do if I live in a restored American republic or a fascist state.  It is ALWAYS the right thing to do.

With this realization and the realization that I live in a lawless land, I have no real desire to engage anymore in an American civic debate about the merits or de-merits of legalizing gay marriage.  I recognize the arbitrary power of the state and thus see my role now more in a prophetic sense (though I would never call myself a prophet).  I will proclaim righteous standards.  I will defy laws that attempt to force me to violate these righteous standards.

A state who defies the natural laws of God does so at its own peril.  But I am not the wielder of that judgment, God is.  It is my role to tell this state that you are in danger of God’s wrath if you defy His natural laws.  If you pass laws that celebrate sexual immorality, such as homosexuality is, then let God judge you and let me proclaim.  If you pass laws that legalize and even sponsor the murder of the unborn, then let God judge you and let me proclaim.

Perhaps there will someday arise new states with nations within them that will come back to those Judeo-Christian values.  Perhaps they will not come.  I do know there is a Kingdom which is already here, a Kingdom not of this world and yet a Kingdom that is already among you, whether you believe in this Kingdom or not.  There is also a Kingdom to come where Christ will claim once again the direct civic authority over the nations of the world.

It is more than enough for me to know of His coming Kingdom, but it does not compel me to sit on the sidelines and wait for His return.  Rather, I will continue to proclaim God’s righteous standards of Freedom and Liberty.  I will continue to exhort this state to turn back, to repent of its sins passing laws that violate God’s natural laws, come what may.  I will do so not based on an intellectual understanding of our American Constitution (since we only arbitrarily and inconsistently follow its standards) but on a spiritual understanding of the sovereignty of God and how He exerts that authority, in a bounded way, through natural, civic laws.

The progressives have long ago left the standards of Rule of Law, yet they seek to incorporate ‘Constitutional’ arguments to support their special causes, abortion, gay marriage, the codification of secular values in our courts, our legislatures and our state-run schools.  I am now done with that engagement.  I will stand purely on the righteous standards of Freedom and Liberty, come what may.

I will defy the laws that defy God’s laws.  I will not comply with laws that defy the social contract I have with this state, bounded in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  Here I stand, progressives, I can do no other.

Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Martin Luther Defies Civic And Sacred Authority To Stand With God's Authority

I will defy the laws that defy God’s laws. I will not comply with laws that defy the social contract I have with this state, bounded in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Here I stand, progressives, I can do other.

Read More

A Tale of Two Peters

Paul Gordon Collier | Serving the Natural

A Kingdom People or a Civic People?
Paul Gordon Collier

peter cuts the ear off of a roman soldier

When the Body of Christ gathered in Jerusalem and prayed in preparation for the arrival of the Holy Spirit (just after Christ ascended to heaven), they lived in a land that was completely occupied by a pagan Empire which was antithetical to their beliefs.  The local leaders of that land, Roman-named “Palestine”, represented a legalistic version of the Mosaic Law.  They were also antithetical to the beliefs of these Disciples of Christ.

The pagans and the legalists controlled all of the major institutions.  They controlled what there was of the press.  They controlled the arts.  They controlled the legal system.  They controlled the civic institutions.  They controlled the marketplace.  They controlled the education centers (largely the synagogues).  They even controlled the sacred institutions.  A tiny island of Christ Followers stood among the godless and the hypocrites, hated by all, living as outlaws in the land which God had given to the Israelites.

The disciples themselves demonstrated throughout the gospels they had no full understanding of who Christ was and what Kingdom He was proclaiming.  Peter, the first leader of the body of Christ, struck a man with his sword, clearly demonstrating he understood the Kingdom to be a civic expression.

Yet, just a few days after Christ ascended to heaven, after 40 days of being taught about the Kingdom, the followers of Christ did not form a militia, did not set about seeking to overthrow the Jewish leaders, nor did they set about preparing to revolt against their Roman Occupiers.  Instead, they gathered one to another and proclaimed, demonstrated, learned, and taught the spiritual Kingdom of God.

As they moved from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and then to the rest of the Roman Empire (and beyond), they did not seek to change the civic, they did not lobby to remove the Emperor and set up a government that reflected the righteous standards of their King.  Instead, when the men wielding weapons of the state showed up, they rejoiced in their opportunity to serve as a witness to the overpowering truth of the spiritual Kingdom.

They demonstrated, through teir willingness to face earthly death, that no human hand could undo this Kingdom, that the temples we are become through Christ cannot be destroyed, only transformed from one still bound to the earth to one now completely free in the halls of the Father’s mansion.

Is it fair for us to make an exact apples to apples comparison with those first believers and the body of Christ in America today? I do not believe it is fair to make an exact comparison.  We live in a republic, where we have ‘rights’ given to us by the state to participate in natural government, in the civic.  One could argue that God has given us a position in a state that compels us to be good stewards of what God has given us, this state.

To that end, Christians have a role to play in the civic, to exhort our state, and even help lead our state down the path that reflects God’s righteous standard of Freedom and Liberty through ‘natural’ law.

We are also not in the nascent stages of gathering the body together and coming to understand very basic concepts of the truth of the Kingdom (such as the nature of Christ, the mystery of the Trinity, etc).  We are beyond Jerusalem and thus already have a call, as the collective body, to make disciples throughout the world, through the totality of our lives in all of the authorities we see before us (the sacred, the social, the civic and the marketplace).

Yet as individual Disciples of Christ, we still have that first call Christ gave to the Disciples just before He returned back to the Father, to start in Jerusalem.  While the exact comparison of the body of Christ in America today to the body of Christ in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost cannot be made, the actions of those first followers tell us something about our individual walks with Christ that can be compared, apples to apples.

My challenging thought is this, for myself, and for anyone else who seeks the Kingdom first and also happens to have a call to serve in the civic:  Am I building the Kingdom of God first and foremost and extending my civic call as a steward of what God gave me or am I building a civic rescue plan and extending my Kingdom calls through that?

In other words, have I built Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and seen my work in the civic emerge from and through that building?  Or am I trying to build Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world by starting in the civic?

I cannot pretend to know where each and every one of my Christian politically-active friends are in their personal walk with Christ, but I can ask you these fruit-inspecting questions-
Have you committed to the physical death that allows the new person, through Christ, to emerge?
Do you know the basic doctrine of unity of the Christ Follower?
If you are married, is your marriage a Christ-centered, Kingdom-Extending covenant?
Is your immediate family building a Christ-centered, Kingdom-extending family covenant with one another?
Do you understand what it means to be ‘family’ in the Kingdom of God?
Are you extending your family connections to the body outside your home, your blood?
Do you have a close circle of believers you fellowship with?
Do you share with them your devotions to love God and live Christ, to love one another, and to make disciples?
Do you walk in daily life with one another, sharing the Apostles’ Teaching, Breaking Bread with one another (celebrating your Unity through the body and blood of Christ alone), Fellowship with one another in Koinonia Love, and Pray together?

If you cannot say yes to all of these questions, then ask yourself, just you, are you going out to build in the natural, that is, are you skipping Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and going right for the world?
Are you Peter in the garden cutting off the ear of the Roman guards or are you Peter just after Pentecost, proclaiming the truth of the cross and gathering Jerusalem around him?

I sometimes feel I may be somewhere in between the Peter in the Garden and the Peter at Pentecost.  I suspect many of you are in the garden, swords drawn, not understanding that Christ is proclaiming a different kind of Kingdom. I hope some of you are Peter at Pentecost, with Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as the foundation set, equipped to extend the Kingdom through all four authorities, the Sacred, the Social, the Civic, and the Marketplace.

We the body need you.  We need your witness, your teachings, your discipleship to prepare the rest of us still striving to build our Jerusalems so that we too can keep extending the circles of His Kingdom further and further outward, making disciples of people, of nations, of the world.

If you are like me, somewhere in between the garden and Pentecost, join with me in prayer that we may be led by the Holy Spirit to discern our Jerusalems so that we can be faithful in the small things first and foremost, that His Kingdom might come and His name might be exalted by those still trapped in the kingdom of Darkness, not seeing the Kingdom of Light.

peter cuts the ear off of a roman soldier

Are you going out to build in the natural, that is, are you skipping Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and going right for the world? Are you Peter in the garden cutting off the ear of the Roman guards or are you Peter just after Pentecost, proclaiming the truth of the cross and gathering Jerusalem around him?

Read More

Not Cephas or Paul, But Christ

Discipleship

What pushes generation upon generation forward through the vagaries of time?  What compels life to live?  What compels life to seek to protect itself or expand its borders?  What compels life to feed or to kill?

 

What compels life to nurture or to exploit?

identity

Life is not existence alone.  We, as humans, are self-aware, and thus, our self-awareness compels us to have a definition of that self, an identity.  Our identity is at the root of the truths we seek, the truths we see, and the lies we make truth.  While existence may compel a person to kill or to nurture, to protect or to expand, it is freely given up by many for the sake of identity.

One does not sacrifice himself willingly in the name of self-preservation, but one does sacrifice himself in the name of identity.

From the beginning of man, the struggle for identity has been going on.  Through all the variegated forms and expressions of human identity, there have always only been two, both of which contain a myriad of diverse expressions while still ultimately returning to the roots of these two identities.

These two identities are simple, but unfold to complex expressions; the first identity man ever had was nested in God.  Adam was in covenant relation with the Triune God.    He, and later Eve, walked in the garden in direct fellowship with God, able to abide in God’s presence without fear of death, for his entire identity was in God.

One day, a liar whispered to Adam and Eve that there was another identity equally as valid as that which is entirely rested in God, the identity of man, the god-maker, king-maker, self-creator capable of mastering what God has mastered, capable of defining what God has defined, truth.

And so, from that moment on, there began the competition within man, between men, for identity, an identity wholly rested in God and the identity of man, the god-maker.  For some, the identity of man, the god-maker is nested under a charismatic force, such as a strong leader.

For others, the identity of man, the god maker is nested under a belief system that allows for individual and/or collective pursuits of god-making.  For others still, the identity of man, the god maker, is nested completely within their own personal aspirations to be god-maker.

For most, there are competing identities within, identities which must be kept carefully separated from one another, for they contradict one another.  So it is that work friends may have a radically different view of a person than their own families do.  So it is that church friends may have a radically different view of a person than their baseball club friends do.

As I stated at the beginning, our identity is at the root of the truths we seek, the truths we see, and the lies we make truth.  This pursuit of ‘truth’ creates within us standards, or, to help you understand what standards are, road markers that tell us where we can’t go and where we should go (enter here- wrong way here- guard rail here- access ramp here).

For some, there persists a debate, a chicken versus egg debate, on which is the driver- are the standards which you adopt, or are taught to adopt, the creators of identity or does identity drive the formation of standards?

From a Christian perspective, works without faith is an empty gesture, for we cannot earn our salvation, our entry into the Kingdom of God.  Faith without works is dead, for faith without works is merely a belief in God, and don’t the demons believe in Christ as much as we do?

What comes first in the death of the flesh and the birth of Christ within us?  Is it a standard we choose to adopt or is it an identity we newly form?  If works cannot redeem us, then what does redeem us?  It is the body and blood of Christ, the death and resurrection of the King.

How do we come to Christ?  We must be born again, newly born entirely out of the god-making man identity and enter into the Sole Creator identity, the identity of Christ.  This process of becoming like Christ and dying to self is never ending so long as we walk this earth, so long as our feet still touch this dust and are in need of being washed now and again to clean the earth off of our new man.

We do not, in this life, ever develop an identity that is wholly rested in God so long as part of our being is a servant to flesh.  Any part of us that does not exalt God is an exalter of god-making man.  So long as we inhabit this plain, then, we will not have one sole identity, but competing identities.  The question is, which identity within you has the final say in determining the standards, the road markers that set the course which your life’s action takes?

It is easy for me to observe that any person who does not profess to believe in Christ, who bears no fruit of a Christ follower, is wholly outside of the realm of the identity of Christ, of God and is completely nested within the identity, or identities, of the god-making man.  But it is not so easy for me to discern amongst professed believers what their primary identity is.

Wherever God is not, there is godlessness, as in, without God.  This is a difficult concept to confront for most, who are quite comfortable with the notion that we can have a life that ‘doesn’t have to be about God all the time’, that has a place to ‘take a break from God’.  This type of thinking leads to the idea of the ‘professional’, the ‘pious’, the ‘deeply spiritual’ Christian, all classifications that allow the professed believer in Christ to build a life in which the identity of Christ is a small part of their overall identity.

But even among the ‘pious’, the ‘professional’, the ‘deeply spiritual’, even the ‘ordained’ members of the body of Christ, discerning the primary identity within is not as obvious as one might think.  For instance, Paul talks to believers in 1 Corinthinas Chapter 1 about their fight over who baptized them.  One group claims to be of Cephas and another group claims to be of Paul.

This whole section excoriates wisdom and knowledge.  Paul says, “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

Note the last part…..’of the world’.  You see, there is wisdom, there is truth and understanding worth pursuing, there is knowledge worth pursuing, there is a place in the Christian mind for rational thought, for scientific inquiry, for theological understanding, for doctrinal clarification, but all of this is subjected to and pursued for the purpose of the glory, the sovereignty, the sole-creator identity of God.

When we cross over from the pursuit of God’s truth through the gifts that God gave us (which include intellectual inquiry, rational analysis and critical thinking) to the edification of self, the puffing up of our own wisdom, the proof-making declarations of our powerful minds, then we become the wise who are made foolish by the simple among us.

One can be, for instance, gifted by God to have insight and deep analytical and critical reasoning capacity and still be counted as one of the fools sent to confound the wise, for a gifted intellectual whose identity is nested in the sole-creator identity of God finds herself confronted, willingly by the humility of her limitations in understanding truth when compared with the truth which God possesses.

For the Christian intellectual, truth is not to be mastered by man, but only shadows of truth, for in this life we see dimly what we will only see clearly when we enter the Kingdom of God, fully freed from the dusty feet that yet bind us and limit our ‘wisdom’, our power to know truth, on this earth.

Doctrine, denomination, congregation can become a form of puffed up wisdom that subverts the mystery of God to the god-making power of man to define with finite precision the truth that only God possesses.

I first used the Christian intellectual as the example of the pious, the professional, the ordained follower of Christ who could be led to transfer the root of their identity from the sole-creator God to god-making man, for, I believe, the Christian intellectual can become the Cephas or Paul that devout followers of Christ can, without their knowledge, make their primary identity.

The shadows these Christian intellectuals leave behind take the form of doctrine that particularly defines a denomination in today’s Christian world.  Thus, for some, the primary identity may be rested not in a Cephas or Paul but in Cephasism or Paulism.  This identity, if you trace its root, becomes the collective Cephasts, the god-making men and women who continue to define and refine what it means to be Cephast.

For the average follower, one who does not deeply pursue doctrine, they need not have a clear understanding of the doctrine of Cephasism.  They need only cling to the word, Cephasism and develop an expectation of certain patterns of worship and fellowship that help them easily identify a Cephast ‘church’ from a “Paulinian” Church.

What follows from a denominational identity is a congregational identity.  That identity can be born from generations of tradition (my family has always gone to this church), from the charismatic leader of a Pastor, from the programs that the congregation runs to the people one has developed relationships with.

Sometimes, the congregational identity actually usurps the denominational identity, and, in the case of the charmismatic leader model, the root identity begins to be nested within that leader himself (and we are right back to the starting point of this division of identity within the body, being of Cephas or of Paul).

Paul is excoriating this division, and, at one point, thankful he only baptized a small number of people, which speaks to the possibility that the leader who has become the primary identity of a person does not need to cultivate that transferal of identity for such a transfer to occur.  Certainly, I would not imagine either Cephas or Paul ever cultivated such a transferal of identity from Christ to what becomes for the person (but does not define the actual leader), the god-making leader.

And so it is we find ourselves today looking out across the body of Christ, here in America and elsewhere, as a body that is separated, almost incapable of coming together to fulfill Ephesians 4.  At the root, I believe, is the question of identity.  Which identity is your prime identity?

If you come to a place where Christ truly becomes your prime identity, then you are confronted with some difficult truths.  Wherever you are, there is Christ.  Wherever there is Christ, there are His two commandments- to love God and to love one another.  Christ upped the ante on the standard of loving one another from ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ to ‘love one another as I have loved you’.

These commands, to love God and to love one another, were not conditionally given.  We do not love God only with those who follow the same leader, who believe the same exacting doctrine, who share the same denomination or go to the same church as us.  We are called to love God and to love one another with whoever God puts in front of us and around us.

To love God is to know God.  To know God is to make him your primary identity.   And so, at the root of all conversions from death to life, darkness to light, flesh to Christ, is the sacrifice of all god-making identities for the sole-creator identity of God.  Only then are we capable, through the Holy Spirit of loving God.  Only then are we capable of loving one another as we love ourselves, of loving one another as Christ loves us.  Only then are we equipped, through the Holy Spirit, to make disciples of the people God puts in front of us and around us, wherever we are, not consigning our work to the right congregation, the right denomination, the right doctrine, the right followers of a leader.

At the end of this thought I am pursuing today, I am led to the epiphany that the greatest call we have, short of simply glorifying God through being a willing, daily, minute by minute sacrifice to Him, for Him, is to proclaim the identity that leads to life, the sole-creator identity of God as our standard bearer, our road maker.

This proclamation work has as its target the unbeliever and believer alike.  We proclaim this truth through words, through songs, through demonstrations of the truth of that one identity.  We make our lives a living example, through the Holy Spirit of the truth of that identity, submitting to the standards, the road markers that lead us away from that path and towards this path.  We are then compelled to be in fellowship with those who are around us, wherever we are.  We are then compelled to proclaim the good news to the Lost wherever we are, not directing them to leadership, doctrinal, denomination, or congregational identities, but to Christ.

We do not build churches, but disciples.  We do not build ministries, we build brothers and sisters in Christ.  Our congregations, our ministries emerge from the diverse callings and expressions that are all subjected to Christ, that allow a Baptist to become a covenant brother in Christ with his next door neighbor, an Assembly of God member.

Where we gather on Sunday should not define the limits of our fellowship, the calling of our demonstration of loving God and loving one another on Monday, wherever we are.  We have one true identity, the same identity Adam and Eve so perfectly had before they listened to the liar, the identity of the sovereign God.  Because Christ, the son of Adam and son of God, paid our price for that sin, the sin of pursuing the identity of the god-making man, we are able to be reconciled to the father even with our dusty feet, with a hope in the invisible, the eternal restoration of that first love, that first perfect identity we knew, the complete and total identity of God within us.

 

 

 

identity

What pushes generation upon generation forward through the vagaries of time? What compels life to live? What compels life to seek to protect itself or expand its borders? What compels life to feed or to kill?

Read More

How To Transform Nations- Be Poor In Spirit

Discipleship | Living The Kingdom | Paul Gordon Collier | Serving the Natural

Paul Gordon Collier

I have a thought about why America is surrendering her freedom and her righteousness to godless agents- |So many people out there decry the godless state of America. When they do, they usually put the blame at the feet of the pastors and churches of the body of Christ or in not electing “Godly” men and women over “Ungodly” men and women.

blessed are the poor in spirit 2
I come back to the Sermon on the Mount as it is the DNA of a Christ Follower writ large, with the beatitudes being the succinct expression of the DNA outlined in greater detail in the verses that follow. Christ begins by saying “Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit”. This verse is available for ALL who seek God. The chapters of the Bible work to reveal to us, through the Holy Spirit, what it means to be ‘poor in spirit’.
This is the absolute beginning of our discipleship. We come to know the love God has for us, the blessings He gave us while we still hated him and blasphemed His name. We come to know that not me, but God does the work of transforming me from the flesh of this world to the new man in His righteousness.
This is an individual commitment that God places in the hearts of all the children who seek His face. If we, as individuals, actually took this seriously, to be poor in spirit, the Kingdom would flow out of our lives in every aspect of life we can imagine.
A few folks I fellowship with recognize that there are four authorities in this world. There is overlap, and, ultimately, whether people wish to acknowledge it or not, all authority has been given to Christ, so He is the Prince, the King over everything.

We look at these authorities as different aspects of our Christ-centered life, all serving the same end, to glorify His name in the works He does through us in these authorities. He has specific roles, limitations, guidelines, STANDARDS for us to follow when we move in these four authorities-
Sacred- Social- Civic- Market
In the Civic, which is what I am addressing here, we end up with the government that reflects our true core values as we actually live them out. The true values of a people will ultimately cause that government to change to more closely reflect those values. The Roman Empire was ultimately transformed by a people who followed a certain value system (to coin the term used traditionally in history books- a Judeo-Christian value system).
It took hundreds of years for that core value system to bear that fruit in government.
In our nation, we have long left the core value system of Kingdom Citizenship and replaced it with Church or Congregation citizenship, those of us who actually still hold on to some semblance of Christ. We have allowed ourselves to become segmented in how we live Christ, not recognizing that our businesses are God’s and are meant to advance His Kingdom above all other concerns. We have allowed ourselves to believe that Faith has no place in the public square, that spiritual warfare is more about prayer than doing (I submit it is BOTH).
Our godless nation is a reflection of a people of God who have lost their vitality, who, for the most part, look remarkably similar to non-believers. We rape, murder, divorce, commit adultery to the same degree that the non-believer does. We are not a city on top of a hill, but a series of small, gilt huts jealously guarding our little turfs.
Today, the body of Christ, those committed to serve in the Civic specifically, talk about saving our nation from tyranny. I say this is not my call, to save our nation. It is my call to exhort the nation, the people to righteousness through Word, Deed, Action, and Demonstration of the righteousness of Freedom God has revealed to us in His Word, that righteousness of Freedom that uniquely applies to natural governments that hold the power of the gun to enforce ‘justice’.
Our nation will not be saved by Pastors or politicians. Our nation will come to reflect God’s righteous standards of Freedom when it has a people within it who choose to live those righteous standards in their daily, practical lives, and share that living with others, come what may.
I don’t think the Apostles who wrote the New Testament addressed too specifically the Christian’s role in serving in Natural Governance, in the Civic, in Government, in Politics, because they gave us all we needed to transform every part of our nation- the sacred, the social, the civic and the market- to reflect His Righteousness in all we do so that His name might be given glory and others might see us and say- surely this is God- let us worship HIS name.

blessed are the poor in spirit 2

I have a thought about why America is surrendering her freedom and her righteousness to godless agents- |So many people out there decry the godless state of America. When they do, they usually put the blame at the feet of the pastors and churches of the body of Christ or in not electing “Godly” men and women over “Ungodly” men and women.

Read More

The Jeremiah Model- Being A Prophet In 21st Century America

Politics | Serving the Natural

Dogs barking in the window-
As I am reading Jeremiah, seeking the face of God, I hear the dogs barking.  They are making quite a fuss, distracting me from my meditations.  I have faith that I am walking in God’s path, following where He is guiding me, so the distraction causes me briefly to question God, saying to myself, “Lord, why are these dogs distracting me from you?”

Do Dogs Bark At Only Real Threats?  How Are We Like Those Barking Dogs?

Do Dogs Bark At Only Real Threats? How Are We Like Those Barking Dogs?

I came out to correct them or see what was wrong.  They were barking out the window at someone shoveling snow.  They were kicking up a very loud and distracting protest to a person shoveling outside.  I had a moment of understanding-

These dogs were making all kinds of noises over a person who was a non-threat.  I am in meditation seeking the face of God as they are doing this.  Their noise, their protest pulled me away from my meditation.  I thought to myself, “How often do we do this in our lives?  How often do I do this in my life?”

When we kick up protests against non-real threats, they distract us from actually pursuing the work God has really set before us.  So now as I am reading Jeremiah, the thought I will be having is this-
What were the essential ‘threats’ that God sent Jeremiah to bark about?  Am I barking at real threats or people shoveling snow outside my window?

I might want to add this note as well- sometimes the things that are put in our lives that seem like distractions have the potential to reveal to us God’s will, a deeper understanding of His nature, and/or a deeper awareness of our discipleship walk at the moment in our lives.  We have to place our Faith in God in the little distractions and disruptions in our lives to hear what He might be saying to us.

So…….

What did God call Jeremiah to share to the Kingdoms of Israel, Judah and even all of the Kingdoms of the Earth?  What was the essential ‘threat’?  I am seeing a pattern in my reading that reveals two discussions going on here- one is between God and individuals and the other is between God and the governments.

What Does Jeremiah Tell Us About Prophesying To 21st Century America?

What Does Jeremiah Tell Us About Prophesying To 21st Century America?

To the people, God is telling Jeremiah to declare this righteousness- to submit to God and God alone- to make God your sole Lord and Master and reject all other ways, ALL other ways.

To the government, God is telling Jeremiah to declare this righteousness- do not oppress the poor or the foreigner, take up the cause of the fatherless, do not shed innocent blood, uphold justice.

The thought that I have had about this for the Christian witnessing the glory and truth of God to this America in this age is that we spend so much of our time barking at people shoveling snow outside our window.  Some of those dogs are barking about how we worship, when we worship.

God did not spend time calling Jeremiah to tell the priests they weren’t offering sacrifices in exactly the right way.  As a matter of fact, He tells Jeremiah he despises their sacrifices.  Even if they were doing everything exactly right, He would still not have withdrawn the coming wrath that eventually did fall.

At one point, God tells Jeremiah that the faithless Israel is more righteous than the unfaithful Judah.  At this time, Judah was still going through the motions of following the Mosaic Laws, while Israel had simply openly rejected the laws (think of Ahab and the court, the alters to Ba’al he set up in Samaria).

The ones who called themselves people of God, who were so stringently attempting to live out the laws without surrendering their hearts to God’s sovereignty and power were called less righteous than the ones in open revolt against God.  That is a sobering thought for those who count themselves among the body of Christ today.

I don’t have a clear understanding of everything God is showing me today in my meditation in the book of Jeremiah, but I think I am seeing some key elements of truth God is sharing with me-

Our call to proclaim righteousness should be focused on the essential threats- threats are not threats to God, for who can stand against Him, but threats to the salvation of the people and the continued blessing of a nation that seeks after God’s heart.

These threats are the following:
Wherever a people as individuals refuse to make the Lord their one and only sovereign
Whenever a government chooses to withhold justice-
i.  If they oppress the poor
ii.  If they do not tend to the orphans
iii.  If they deny Justice
iv.  If they oppress the foreigner
v.  If they do not acknowledge the Lord as their sovereign
The life of a prophet (and we are all prophets who see the truth, the watchmen who see the gathering of God’s wrath on this land) is to faithfully witness the truth of God to the land, both the people and the leaders in government.

The message here, for me, as one of those prophets, those watchmen, is to stay narrowly focused on the violations of righteousness that present the most existential threat to the relationship between God  and the people, the government of this land called the United States of America.

The message here, for me, as one of those prophets, is that my life is God’s, my clay is His to spin and His alone.  My righteousness is not in my ‘success’ in saving souls or saving this nation, but in my faithfulness in walking out and being a living example of the message of righteousness God is sending out through His sons and daughters to this fallen, godless land that, like Israel and Judah, has, in some places, either overtly turned away from God like Israel or de facto turned away from God while going through the motions, the letter of the law of righteousness, like Judah.

I was struck by God calling on Jeremiah in Chapter 13 to take a Linen belt and put it around his waist, being careful not to let it touch water.  This, to me, is the way of the Lord lived out in our lives.

We wear this symbol of utility, the belt, whose purpose is seemingly to keep a robe closed, or, for us, to keep our pants up, but yet that act of utility can be, should be a living example of the righteousness of the Lord in our lives.

God uses the real, the practical, the prosaic all throughout scripture to demonstrate His righteousness to us, almost as if to remind us again and again there is no purpose but God’s, there is no wealth but God’s, there is no toil but God’s, there is no glory but God’s, there is no success but God’s.  Every step, every move, every gesture, every innocuous act has the potential to be a demonstration of His righteousness or a gateway to death.

God then tells Jeremiah to take that belt and jam it into a rock, to leave it there, which, I would submit, is a way of illustrating that any act we commit, any belt we wear, any hand we pull up, any fruit we eat that is not committed to the glory of God becomes worthless, soiled, unholy, unrighteous, as dirty and unusable as that linen belt became after just a few days jammed into the rock.

We have words to proclaim, to the people and to the government, but we also have linen belts to wear.  We have clay models to lie in front of as Ezekiel did.  We have wives to marry as Hosea had.  Nothing we touch need ever be profane.  Nothing we do need ever be outside the purpose of glorifying God.  And, I believe, the Lord will call His children to come forward and demonstrate His righteousness through the mundane, the prosaic in ways that will be just as powerful, just as convicting of the unrighteous as the words He is calling us to shout out, to sing out, to write, to whisper, to pray.

Prepare yourselves to be hated, ridiculed, ostracized.  Prepare yourselves to look like losers.  Some of us may be killed for His glory and some of us may be spared for His glory.  Our victory is in His Way and His Purpose, not in political victories at the ballot box or personal victories in business.

Remember, our task is not to look up to the heavens and say, “Lord, make my life happy and prosperous”, but to say “Lord, thank you for the blessings you gave me before I was ever born, the blessings you gave me while I still defiled your name.  Let my life glorify Your Name, come what may”.

In the end, for Jeremiah, his was a bitter defeat, a loss.  His words fell on deaf ears-

Jeremiah 6- 10 To whom can I speak and give warning?  Who will listen to me?  Their ears are closed so they cannot hear.  The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Jeremiah did not escape the exile.  He was ultimately bound and carted off to Egypt where he would die, penniless, unloved, unwanted, hated….by men.  But he won the greatest prize and his legacy, through God, is still bearing fruit some 2,500 plus years later.

What will be your legacy, a victory of the earth that falls to dust or a victory of the Kingdom of God that shines as a light in the darkness throughout the ages of the eternal?

What Does Jeremiah Tell Us About Prophesying To 21st Century America?

What did God call Jeremiah to share to the Kingdoms of Israel, Judah and even all of the Kingdom of the Earth? What was the essential ‘threat’? I am seeing a pattern in my reading that reveals two discussions going on here- one is between God and individuals and the other is between God and the governments.

Read More

Whose Grave Are You Digging?

Politics | William Raymond Collier

grave digger

Progressives Digging A Pit FOR THEMSELVES!

 

William Raymond Collier

Is the American nation about to become a progressive gulag where everything good and noble and true is set aside for everything evil and ignoble and false? If we look in the natural, we’ll see, that, aside from Jesus Christ, there is no hope.

Progessives think they are digging a grave for God and His People, removing Him and His People from any position in their society where they might have any influence or say. Like Sam Donaldson said of the Tea Party, progressives say to God and His People, “this isn’t your country any more.”

Most Americans, spoon-fed by propaganda entertainment and partisan media, are actually, more or less, willing to go along with this high-speed decimation of their once great nation. Without a deep and real relationship with God, these Americans have only their human understanding, manipulated by falsehoods and concealment of truth, and they easily fall prey to their captor’s promises that if they surrender their rights they will experience virtual paradise!

On EVERY front the devilish and the vile blatantly promote their agenda while, brazenly and arrogantly, accusing the opponents of their evil of doing that evil themselves. Doing evil and blaming those who stand in its way is exactly how the progressive ideology works, indeed it is the heart of humanism. The first instance of a humanistic ideology was when Adam blamed Eve for the evil he had just commited!

On the fiscal cliff the Democrats have used their partisan media and clever tricks to convince 40% of voters that, if talks fail, as some say the Presidents WANTS, that it’s the GOP’s fault (Democrats, it is alleged, WANT the fiscal cliff to happen so they can convince Americans that it’s all the GOP’s fault, even though it isn’t solely their fault). Only 36% would blame the Democrats. The other 24% are simply “not sure”, but you can bet they are sure who their favorite celebrity dancer is!

On marriage, the assault on what it means to be a human being and the millenias-old definition of a family, with a father and a mother, is well under way. Not only do the proponents of a perversion of the family want to have some so-called “right” to their “lifestyle”, which is bad enough but is between them and God, but they also demand that everyone “recognize” their “marriage”, extend them the benefits of marriage, and, incidently, refrain from publicly calling their “marriage” wrong lest they be accused of a hate crime.

In Canada, for instance, their “Human Rights Commission” has labeled the Bible itself “hate literature” and jailed people for denying the moral validity of the “homosexual lifestyle”. Just recently CNN anchor Piers Morgan demanded that the Bible be changed because it is too “anti-gay”!

On murdering unwanted children in their mother’s womb and promoting “birth control” to foment adultery and fornication as normal and even positive, the state is now forcing people who conscientiously object to all this to literally pay for other people to access these things that the one footing the bill finds morally reprehensible. The one wishing to do the evil not only wants to do it in the privacy of their own life, but they demand that those who want nothing to do with these things pay for them for those who do!

Now comes the emotional appeal to the latest act of violence by a crazed killer to ban guns and, thus, strip Americans of their basic human right to self-defense. The rationalizations of the enemies of this right are maddening, moreso since, to many uneducated and propagenda-fed Americans, those rationalizations are the ONLY thing that is positively portrayed by the opinion shapers in society. It looks more and more like the progressive dream of a disarmed populace is coming closer, so close they can feel it.

The assualt on the public display and practice of religion under the auspices of a radical secular doctrine that says the state can be informed only by atheism and must discard any and all “religious” views or values is disgusting to anyone who knows the value of “religious” sentiment in promoting virtue, ethics, and even social stability. Those who hold to “religious views” are basically being told to “check your religious beliefs at the door” when voting.

What is worse, is that millions of people who claim to be Christians have bought this lie that our faith should not inform our politics and have willfully voted for people and policies that they SHOULD know contradict the high moral ethic taught to the Nations by the Word of God.

It is, to put it bluntly, ALL BAD, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This last election proved that the American People are morally and spiritually decadent and beyond hope: they WILL vote for their own enslavement, you can take that to the bank.

The consequences will be horrendous the world over. Not only will this see some horror in America like a revolution, civil war, or dictatorship, but it will leave a void in the world that will be filled by dictators and warmongers leading to an unravelling of the world order and the emergence of a global pandemic of violence and war.

In the natural, there is literally no hope whatsoever. Every day the American mass mind is falling into lock step with the constant drumbeat of manipulations and deception by their “media”: every day more people believe “gay marriage” is “OK”, that abortion isn’t really murder, that “guns are bad”, and that “religion” has no place or value in public life.

For the opponents of such evil, every day the chance to secure their own rights by winning people back to the American Way is fading and alternatives that do not depend on what some manipulated and under-informed “electorate” are looking harder to find as well.

Now is the time for prayer and fasting, and courage to never bend or submit, even if the consequences are being shipped off to some progressive gulag where the enemies of God will happily murder the People of God as their forebearers in the 20th century’s worse dictatorships once did.

But, for all that, there IS hope, and that hope is in Jesus Christ who came to this earth to deliver us from the worse bondage, our sin. Once we are delivered from sin, and death, nothing man does to us can hurt us, and even if we die on this earth, we live forever in Him. What is more, we do not have to base our hope on what is seen by the eye and heard by the ear: our hope comes from knowing that our God is an Awesome God, He is in charge, His Will is not going to be conquered by opposing power.

Progressivism is but one more humanisitic, anti-Christ philosophy that, should the Lord tarry, has no more power to defeat God and His People than any of those anti-Christ philosophies from the past who, raising their hand to strike down God’s People, fell into the pit they dug. In the end, should the Lord tarry, the progressives who build their gulag for the People of God will only be building a pit into which they, and not God’s People, will fall.

grave digger

Progressivism is but one more humanisitic, anti-Christ philosophy that, should the Lord tarry, has no more power to defeat God and His People than any of those anti-Christ philosophies from the past who, raising their hand to strike down God’s People, fell into the pit they dug. In the end, should the Lord tarry, the progressives who build their gulag for the People of God will only be building a pit into which they, and not God’s People, will fall.

Read More

You Brood of Vipers- A Message of Joy after Tragedy

Current Events | Discipleship | Living The Kingdom | Paul Gordon Collier | Serving the Natural | Sharing The Kingdom | Teaching The Kingdom | Witnessing The Kingdom

John the Baptist preaches a hard message of joy

My Pastor, Chris Geisler of the Edgeboro Moravian Church, began his sermon message today pointing his finger at the congregation, packed for the third day of Advent, the day of Joy, with this message-

“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

He pointed to the congregation, let me say that again.  He pointed to the congregation.  I don’t know if it was intended, and I am not sure how the congregation picked up on it, but I am sure there were/are members of our congregation who are fleeing from the wrath to come.

The one thing I love most about our Pastor is he is a man deeply led by love.  The name Pastor does not always fit the person, for some Pastors are more Prophetic, some are more Evangelical, some are more Teacher-focused.  But our Pastor is truly Pastoral, a Guide, one who is first and foremost motivated by a desire to share his love, one who walks deeply in direct experience of Christ’s love for him.

Knowing this about our Pastor, I found it startling that he began his sermon with such harsh words, pointing directly at the congregation.  To be sure, these are the words of John the Baptist, speaking to his own gathering, like Pastor Chris speaking to his own gathering.

Why would a man so deeply led by love start off with such harsh words, even if they were not his own, and point directly at the congregation as he began to utter them?  Pastor Chris had an assignment this week, to preach the joy of the Third Sunday of Advent, and he began his joy with a biting accusation.

I believe he wanted his congregation, of which I am a part, to experience a little of the startling truth which that gathering who came together to hear John the Baptist speak must have experienced, to be convicted in truth to repent and be bearers of fruit in the Kingdom of God.

His assignment was a particularly difficult one in the wake of the Newtown darkness, and how he wove in that dark event into his message of joy is a further revelation to me of why a man of God so led by love would begin his sermon pointing at his own congregation with these words, “You brood of vipers….”

Pastor Chris spoke, near the end of his sermon, about the young man who performed such an evil act.  He speculated about what might have led, or significantly contributed to a young man seeking out and murdering children.  He didn’t claim to know for sure, but I would wager he is on the mark when he offered this thought:

“That young man must have been terribly alone.”

Pastor Chris went on to elaborate about what he meant (and I paraphrase here):

He must have had a lifetime of rejection and scorn and derision to lead him to such an act of evil.  John the Baptist, in his message to the ‘pit of vipers’ had one simple command, “Bear fruit.”  Obviously, John was speaking of fruit born through our love of Christ, but fruit nonetheless.  Our joy in Christ can only be fully expressed when we share His way, His love, His grace for us with those around us.

“Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance”, John the Baptist said.  Repentance means to turn back.  We turn back from our flesh and we turn towards Christ.  To do this, we must love Him and allow that love to be the source, the motive that connects us to the people around us.

That young man must have been terribly alone, Pastor Chris said.  This is not a message excusing this act of evil, nor is it all about the young man that Pastor Chris must have spoken those words.  Why, why was that young man left to feel so terribly alone?

Where was the body around him to share Christ’s joy, to share, in His love, a kind word, an act of generosity, to be a welcoming voice, to extend ourselves to people like this young man?  I imagine that a man such as Pastor Chris, a man led by love, was thinking of the children, the victims of the tragedy and the family and friends of those murdered and injured when he spoke those words, and yes, of the young man as well.

Allowing an absence of light invites a torrent of darkness.  That darkness can, and does, lead to great and terrible acts of evil, such as that man performed.  Not being a light can and does lead to murder, rape, violence against God’s children.  This must be a terrible pain for Pastor Chris to experience, through Christ’s heart, that anguish a Father feels when His children are slain.

But Pastor Chris, being a man so led by Christ’s love, must also feel the anguish of the loss of that young man.  As I wrote yesterday, God loves that young man and weeps for the loss of one of his own, who chose an eternal death.  That young man made that decision, to be sure, but we, as Christ’s hands and feet, have opportunities around us to speak against the dark and speak light into the lives of the people around us.

Pastor Chris, I believe, was exhorting we, the congregation, to extend ourselves, in Christ’s love, to everyone around us, for we never know what small measure of love can conquer a brooding darkness in someone’s life.  We can, through the Holy Spirit, prevent murder and rape and plunder by sharing the light of the Kingdom of God in our words, our deeds, our small gestures with the people God puts in front of us every day.

As Pastor Chris pointed out in his close, our faith is not our own.  He described an understanding of faith he held for a long time, that he had a personal relationship with God and God had a personal relationship with him.

But this is only half the equation, he pointed out.  We are called to live out the Kingdom of God, which is the domain where Christ reigns.  That domain exists within each and every one of the hearts of those who submit, in fear and love to the one true King.  To do so, the Kingdom of God can only be lived out by connecting to the body and witnessing the good news to the lost.

This is our joy, our only true, lasting joy, the faith, hope and love of the Kingdom extended through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the joy that leads us to extend ourselves in kindness and compassion and grace to those that the rest of the world would forget, would ridicule, would leave to feel as if they were ‘awfully alone’.

Where light is absent, darkness comes in like a flood.  Where light shines, darkness flees.  And our children have a role to play, right from the start, as Pastor Chris pointed out.  He exhorted them to speak kindness, to be an invitation to light and not a reinforcement of darkness in the lives of the children around them who are being consigned to ridicule, ostracism, derision, hate because they are poor, because they are skinny, because they are small, because they are ‘weird’.

Pastor Chris’s message was born of a great anguish that he demonstrated visibly in his tears and broken voice.  It was a joy to share with him in that anguish, that grief, and I pray to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that those of us who were gathered would walk into that anguish so that we might be led, through it, to live out the joy of Christ’ Kingdom.

Our relationship with Christ does not end with belief in his sacrifice.  Our relationship with Christ is not experienced by seeking to feel love and blessed by Christ.  Our relationship is defined by the fruit that is bloomed from the brokenness of our bodies in a fallen world, from the anguish of the witness of death and darkness around us, from the love of Christ that we share with those around us because we can do nothing else.

We will not be broken, we will not be in anguish if we fail to see the world through Christ’s heart.  We cannot see the world, experience the world through Christ’s heart if we have not made Him our one and only Lord and Master, through love and fear.  If we do not daily repent, turn away, hour by hour, minute by minute, from our flesh and turn back to Christ’s way, then greater darkness enters our land.

Where light is absent, darkness comes in like a flood.  We are the only light, through Christ.  So repent, and bear fruit worthy of repentance.  Do not flee from judgment, but embrace the anguish, the brokenness, and step into joy.

Amen.

We will not be broken, we will not be in anguish if we fail to see the world through Christ’s heart. We cannot see the world, experience the world through Christ’s heart if we have not made Him our one and only Lord and Master, through love and fear. If we do not daily repent, turn away, hour by hour, minute by minute, from our flesh and turn back to Christ’s way, then greater darkness enters our land.

Where light is absent, darkness comes in like a flood. We are the only light, through Christ. So repent, and bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not flee from judgment, but embrace the anguish, the brokenness, and step into joy.

Read More

Baal or God- The Valley of Decision Made Clear by Newtown

Current Events | Defending Life | William Raymond Collier

Is Baal our new Guiding Light in America?

Living Too Long In The Valley of Decision

I Kings 18: 21
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Joel 3: 11-14
Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O…Lord.  Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.  Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
America has been in the valley of decision for quite some time, and many are frustrated, they want to see a final reckoning, one way or another instead of this perpetual in-between state. For most, however, the choice is limited in scope to politics, liberal or conservative, but that is not the choice confronting us.
The Newtown murders underscore the state of affairs, but in some ways they are, dare I even say it, a distraction. While we all mourn the murdering of children and adults in an elementary school, we seem not to notice the fact that TODAY ALONE over 2300 babies were murdered in their mother’s wombs in the US and over 75,000 were murdered in their mother’s wombs worldwide.
While the godless, refusing to acknowledge the real root of evil behind the murder spree in Newtown, focus on taking more freedoms from innocent people, and while others defend those freedoms, nobody is talking about the innocent babies killed under the cover of “law” in this land. This is not the only distraction.
There are other pressing issues that are being ignored at our peril. There is the fact that Al Qaeda in Syrian may have already obtained chemical weapons, which will be used against Americans on our soil at some point in time, making the Newtown murder spree seem like a small blip by comparison. There is the giant fiscal cliff and regulatory cliff this nation is facing and that a godless government is actually orchestrating for no better reason than that t0 increase their power and feather the nest of their supporters and donors.
Then there is this rather blunt truth- that those who ask “where was God” forget that in 1963 our very own Supreme Court formally stated that God’s presence through the prayer of the students was no longer welcome in our schools. This does not mean that God wasn’t there, but it bears being reminded that we are in fact a godless People from root to branch and, as such, all we can expect for formal rejection of God’s presence in our public life is “sin, dipped in misery, and covered in sorrow.”
There is something even more important that should be said right now, and I am going to say it- America must decide whether our state and our society derive their authority and sovereign existence from God or from man. If God is God, the prophet would warn, then follow Him. But if ideology is God, follow it. Staying too long in the valley of decision is a dangerous thing, for “the day of the Lord is in the valley of decision”, in other words God’s judgment and wrath are in the valley of decision.
If the Newtown murders, if the pending danger of Al Qaeda getting chemical weapons, if the pending danger of North Korea being able to launch nuclear weapons at the US, or any of man’s other crisis of the hour does not compel you to repent of your sin and our nation’s sins and serve God by honoring Him in ALL of our ways, well, then the judgment that will surely come can only be your own doing.
Now is not the time for politicking and using a crisis to take away freedoms, now is a time for repentance, now is the time to stop “halting between two opinions”- if God is God, serve Him, if all the Baals of our modern life are god, serve them. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

America must decide whether our state and our society derive their authority and sovereign existence from God or from man. If God is God, the prophet would warn, then follow Him. But if ideology is God, follow it. Staying too long in the valley of decision is a dangerous thing, for “the day of the Lord is in the valley of decision”, in other words God’s judgment and wrath are in the valley of decision.

Read More
?