7 months ago
God's true habitation can only outflow to those who have been crucified and are dead. For He can only inhabit those who have been resurrected from the dead; and there must first be a crucifixion before there is ever a resurrection! If I am crucified with Christ, then I have died to myself, my ambitions, my plans, my desires... my sins, so that the resurrection power and life of Christ will make its habitation in me. Yea, though I am dead, yet am I alive! And the life I now live, I live by the faith of the One who makes His habitation in me! (Gal. 2:20 paraphrased) We must move all of ourselves out, so that He can move all of Himself in. That is the true fullness of His habitation! But our crucifixion can only come when we spend time before our heavenly Father, just as Jesus did, praying: "Not my will, but Your will be done!"
©2011 Richard Lewis Jones
©2011 Richard Lewis Jones
Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.
My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.
We may have been the Lord's only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We too, are to be overcomers – bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.
Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to shouting "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" for I have found where it is written that Jesus said, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be His God, and he shall be My son." This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world.
Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick. "Yes, the Lord will heal me,", Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.
It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy's death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.
There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China, the Christians were told, "Don't worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured." Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, "We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes – to stand and not faint."
I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.
Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus' sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, "Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation." Then I write it down and learn it by heart.
When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, "Nothing could be any worse than today." But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy. "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part evil is spoken of, but on your part He is glorified." (I Peter 3:14) I found myself saying, "Hallelujah! Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!"
In America, the churches sing, "Let the congregation escape tribulation", but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.
Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.
The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, "Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?"
The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.
"When I was a little girl, " I said, "I went to my father and said, "Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ." "Tell me," said Father, "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?" "No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train." "That is right," my father said, "and so it is with God's strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time…"
My African friends were nodding and smiling. Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing, "In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore." Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.
But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.
How can we get ready for the persecution? First we need to feed on the word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.
Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God.
We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.
In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian's life.
Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also. But then I read the Bible and I am glad.
When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him, for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life. Hallelujah!
-Corrie Ten Boom, 1974.
©2011 Richard Lewis Jones
It takes all manner of people, personalities, callings, and giftings to make up the Ekklesia. Certainly if we were all attending smaller house gatherings, there wouldn't be enough resources to fund much in the area of domestic or foreign missions. Furthermore, as a pastor of a smaller church community myself, I find that smaller gatherings are often times hindered in their vision and mission because quite a bit of that vision and mission requires substantial provision in order to accomplish the task. This takes many people who are willing, and called, to come along-side in order to help fund that vision and mission. This usually requires brick and mortar facilities to accommodate the gathering of the saints and to centralize operations in order to proficiently house those operations which are critical to accomplishing the God-given vision and mission. (Of course, the key phrase here is "God-given".)
No matter whether you are pro house church, or pro larger gatherings, if that body of believers has become stagnant and just holding on to the status-quo, they have become disobedient to God and are at risk of having their one "talent" taken away and given to the one who has multiplied the "talents" that were given to them. I have seen house churches and mega-churches both bury their "talents". As an example, there are at least two mega-churches in my city that exceed 20,000 members EACH! They have certainly managed to create their own "kingdoms". But if each of these churches divided into 20 churches of 1000 people each, they would total 40 churches of 1000 people spread out around the city and would have a HUGE impact in their respective neighborhoods! But they continue to follow the old, tired attractional model of church rather than become missionally and incarnationally focused. This is inefficient and being wasteful of the "talents" that were given to them.
As long as the majority of churches continue on the track of being attractional and inward focused, there will be many who join the growing anti-church movement. In the current postmodern, and post-postmodern world, we must be truly incarnational and demonstrate the love and power of Christ within the context of our local communities. When the people within our respective communities begin to see the cross working in our lives and changing us, and when they see the true power of Christ in manifestation just like they did in the book of Acts when Peter encountered the crippled man at the gate, then perhaps we will begin to see a less contentious environment towards the Church.
©2011 Richard Lewis Jones
The "2000 pound elephant in the room" is the churchianity subculture that exists in most churches today. That subculture has caused the church to have minimal impact on an increasingly hostile landscape due to a serious lack of relevance within the broader cultural and postmodern context. It is imperative we drop all our pretentious Christianese language and unfruitful traditions, and begin to see how others outside of the church view our conversations and behaviors. Just our conversation alone can drive people away because it seems like a foreign language to them. We MUST begin to see and hear ourselves through the eyes and ears of the un-churched and make radical adjustments to our churchianity culture. In other words, WE MUST GET REAL!
The other thing that is killing off churches faster than rat poison in a room full of rats is our "model" of church. Are we being missional/incarnational, or are we still trying to be attractional in our form of church? 90% of churches today are still operating an attractional model of church. THAT IS NOT WORKING ANYMORE! We must stop trying to be consumer oriented and programmatic. Just hoping and praying that the products and programs we offer will cause people to come to the church on Sunday is failing, THEY ARE NOT COMING! We must begin to look at the context around us as a mission field and go into that context incarnationally. And while the orthodoxy of our message of Christ and Him crucified never changes, it has become necessary that we contextualize our methods of getting that message to those who are outside of the Church. This means we need to be creative and get our hands dirty. It also means we need to develop loving, compassionate, and authentic relationships with those God providentially brings across our path; and according to Luke, chapter 14, those He sends across our path will look more like the lame, blind, sick, maimed, and poor.
We have a mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ to GO into all the world… the world DOES NOT have a mandate to come to us! I believe the word "GO" is an acronym for "God Ordained". When we GO into all the world God ordains us to bear fruit for His Kingdom, and the churches will stop dying when we start going! North America is now the largest English speaking mission field on the planet! The Church has abdicated its responsibility to send its people as lights into the darkness. Today, most churches are nothing but a bunch of dim bulbs trying to outshine one another! As we go, we cannot drag our churchianity with us, we must leave it behind and learn how to become all things to all people just as the apostle Paul did when he went to the Areopagus on Mars Hill, and it is written that many there believed. He didn't win them by cursing their gods; he won them over by showing them the one true God.
Like Paul, our community of Christ followers have won many to God by GOing into the marketplace. We are learning to stop speaking in our shallow and irrelevant Christianese language. Instead, we ask relevant questions; then shut-up, wait for an answer and listen... really listen. People want to know that someone genuinely cares and is listening to them. We are learning daily what it means to walk in compassion and love as we endeavor to walk in radical servanthood. This is what it means to be missional and incarnational.
The only way we will ever keep the church from dying, is when we as Christ followers start living! And that means we must live intentionally and incarnationally by demonstrating the love and power of Christ to those around us who are in darkness and without hope. Again, we are going to have to be creative and often times take huge risks in order to look more like Christ in an ever-changing cultural, political, and religious environment. But who ever said following Jesus was safe?
©2011 Richard Lewis Jones
©2011 Richard L. Jones
©2011 Richard L. Jones
©2011 Richard L. Jones
Michigan Police Accused of Honor Killing Cover-Ups
In Dearborn, Michigan there is a large population of Muslims who have considerable political clout. The past two summers, Christians have been arrested for witnessing at the Dearborn Arab Festival.
The Christians were peacefully engaging in conversations when the Dearborn police falsely arrested them for disturbing the peace. In both cases, the charges were eventually dropped.
Now the Christians are suing the Dearborn Police Department for violating their civil rights. Contained in the lawsuit are explosive allegations from a Dearborn police officer that there have been Muslim honor killings that have been covered up by the police.
Muslims in the US have been convicted for the honor killings of family members.
Help us demand an investigation of the Dearborn police department into the alleged cover-ups. Contact these Michigan Senators from the State Police and Military Affairs subcommittee, and demand that they investigate police corruption in Dearborn Michigan.
Senator Colbeck (R)
Senator Pappageorge (R)
Call: (517) 373-2523
Contact online, click here.
Senator Gregory (D)
Call: (517) 373-7888
Copyright © 2011 Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.
American Missionary from Bradenton Imprisoned in Haiti Since October
All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.
The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.
The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.
The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and a jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself for Christ." To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting in the Lord." To the thrill-seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship."
The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public. The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a
symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended.
The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape.
God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life. That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers.
The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die. We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.
God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God's just sentence against him. What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die. Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power.
The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ. To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God's approval. Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.
(-A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966).