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Thursday, October 27, 2005
God Uses Problems
   Got this message from a friend and let me just share it to you... Happy reading...


The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you - depending on how you respond to them. 

Unfortunately, most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring.

Here are some reasons GOD use the problems in your life...


   1. God uses problems to DIRECT you.

   Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention? "Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways." Proverbs 20:30

   2. God uses problems to INSPECT you. 

   People are like tea bags...if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot ever water! Has God tested  your faith with a problem What do problems reveal about you? "When you have many kinds of
troubles, you should  be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience." James 1:2-3

   3. God uses problems to CORRECT you.

   Some lessons we learn only through  pain and failure. It's likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of
something...health, money, a relationship... by losing it. "It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws."  Psalm 119:71-72

   4. God uses problems to PROTECT you.

   A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend  was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem - but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year  later when management's actions were eventually discovered. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it  for good... Genesis 50:20

   5. God uses problems to PERFECT you.

   Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God  and your character are the only two things you're
going to take with you into eternity. "We can rejoice when we run into problems... they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we
use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady." Romans 5:3-4

   Here's the point:

   God is at work in your life - even when you do not recognize it or understand it. But it's much easier and profitable when you  cooperate with Him.

"Success can be measured not only in achievements,
but in lessons learned, lives touched and moments shared along the way."



Posted at Thursday, October 27, 2005 by Star-Tariray
LeT mE kNoW UR tHoUgHtS.......  

 
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Why go to Church? Posted Thoughts
Comments from my spiritual brother on my posted thoughts on my Why go to the Church? Posted by Manong @ 10/23/2005 09:53 PM PDT 

Why I donít go to church anymore?
by Wayne Jacobsen


   Dear fellow-believer,

      I do appreciate your concern for me and your willingness to raise issues that have caused you concern. I know the way I relate to the church is a bit unconventional and some even call it dangerous. Believe me, I understand that concern because I used to think that way myself and even taught others to as well. If you are happy with the status quo of organized religion today, you may not like what you read here. My purpose is not to convince you to see this incredible church the same way I do, but to answer your questions as openly and honestly as I can. Even if we donít end up agreeing, hopefully you will understand that our differences need not estrange us as fellow members of Christís body.

      Where do you go to church?

      I have never liked this question, even when I was able to answer
it with a specific organization. I know what it means culturally, but it is based on a false premiseóthat church is something you can go to as in a specific event, location or organized group. I think Jesus looks at the church quite differently. He didnít talk about it as a place to go to, but a way of living in relationship to him and others in his family. Asking me where I go to church is like asking me where I go to Jacobsen. How do I answer that? I am a Jacobsen and where I go a Jacobsen is. ĎChurchí is that kind of word. It doesnít identify a location or an institution. It describes a people and how they relate to each other. If we lose sight of that, our understanding of the church will be distorted and weíll miss out on much of its joy.

      Are you just trying to avoid the question?

      I know it may only sound like quibbling over words, but words are important. When we only ascribe the term Ďchurchí to weekend gatherings or institutions that have organized themselves as
Ďchurchesí we miss out on what it means to live as Christís body. It will give us a false sense of security to think that by attending a meeting once a week we are participating in Godís church.
Conversely I hear people talk about Ďleaving the churchí when they stop attending a specific congregation. But if the church is something we are, not someplace we go, how can we leave it
unless we abandon Christ himself? And if I think only of a specific congregation as my part of the church, havenít I separated myself from a host of other brothers and sisters that do not attend the
same one I do? The idea that those who gather on Sunday mornings to watch a praise concert and listen to a teaching are part of the church and those who do not, are not, would be foreign to Jesus.
The issue is not where we are at a given time during the weekend, but how we are living in him and with other believers all week long.

      But donít we need regular fellowship?

      I wouldnít say we need it. If we were in a place where we couldnít find other believers, Jesus certainly would be able to take care of us. Thus, Iíd phrase that a bit differently: Will people who are growing to know the Living God also desire real and meaningful connections with other believers? Absolutely! The call to the kingdom is not a call to isolation. Every person Iíve ever met who is thriving in thelife of Jesus has a desire to share authentic fellowship with other believers. They realize that whatever they know of Godís life is just in part, and only the fullest revelation of him is in the church. But sometimes that kind of fellowship is not easy to find. Periodically on this journey we may go through times when we canít seem to find any other believers who share our hunger. Thatís especially true for those who find that conforming to the expectations of the religious institutions around them diminishes their relationship with Jesus. They may find themselves excluded by believers with whom theyíve shared close friendship. But no one going through a
time like this looks upon the time as a treat. It is incredibly painful and they will constantly look for other hungry believers with whom they can share the journey. My favorite expression of body life is where a group of people chooses to walk together for a bit of the journey by cultivating close
friendships and learning how to listen to God together.

      Donít we need to be committed to a local fellowship?
      
      That has been said so often today, that most of us assume it is in the Bible somewhere. I havenít found it yet. Many of us have been led to believe that we canít possibly survive without the Ďcovering of thebodyí and will either fall into error or backslide into sin. But doesnít that happen inside our local congregations as well? I know many people who live outside those structures and
find not only an ever-deepening relationship with God, but also connections with other believers that run far deeper than they found in the institution. I havenít lost any of my passion for Jesus or my affection for his church. If anything those have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Scripture does encourage us to be devoted to one another not committed to an institution. Jesus indicated that whenever two or three people get together focused on him, they would experience the vitality of church life. Is it helpful to regularly participate in a local expression of that reality? Of course! But we make a huge mistake when we assume that fellowship takes place just because we attend the same event together, even regularly, or because we belong to the same organization.
Fellowship happens where people share the journey of knowing Jesus together. It consists of open, honest sharing, genuine concern about each otherís spiritual well being and encouragement for people to follow Jesus however he leads them.

      Why I donít go to church anymore. by Wayne Jacobsen But donít our institutions keep us from error? Iím sorry to burst your bubble here, but every major heresy that has inflicted Godís people for the last 2,000 years has come from organized groups with Ďleadersí who thought they knew Godís mind better than anyone around them. Conversely, virtually every move of God among people hungering for him was rejected by the Ďchurchí of that day and were excluded, excommunicated or executed for following what God put on their heart. If that is where you hope to find security, Iím afraid it is sorely misplaced. Jesus didnít tell us that Ďgoing to churchí would keep us safe, but that trusting him would. John the apostle told that each of us has an anointing of the Spirit so that we would know the difference between truth and error. That anointing is cultivated as we learn his ways in his Word and grow closer to his heart. Doing so will help you recognize when groups of believers become destructive or manipulative.

      So are traditional congregations wrong?

      Absolutely not! I have found many of them with people who love God and are seeking to grow in his ways. I visit a couple of dozen different congregations a year that I find are far more centered
on relationship than religion. Jesus is at the center of their life together, that those who act as leaders are true servants and not playing politics of leadership, and that all are encouraged to minister to one another. I pray that even more of them are renewed in a passion for Jesus, a genuine concern for each other and a willingness to serve the world with Godís love. But I think weíd have to admit that these are rare in our communities and many only last for a short span before they unwittingly look to institutional answers for the needs of the body instead of remaining dependent on Jesus. When that happens do not feel condemned if God leads you not to go along with them.

      So should I stop going to church, too?

      Iím afraid that question also misses the point. You see I donít believe youíre going to church any more than I am. Weíre just part of it. Be your part, however Jesus calls you to and wherever he
places you. Not all of us grow in the same environment. If you gather with a group of believers at a specific time and place and that participation helps you grow closer to Jesus and allows you to follow his work in you, by all means donít think you have to leave. Keep in mind, however, that of itself is not the church. It is just one of many expressions of it in the place where you live.
Donít be tricked into thinking that just because you attend its meetings you are experiencing real body life. That only comes as God connects you with a handful of brothers and sisters with whom you can build close friendships and share the real ups and downs of this journey. That can happen among traditional congregations, as it can also happen beyond them. In the last seven years Iíve
met hundreds if not thousands of people who have grown disillusioned with traditional congregations and are thriving spiritually as they share Godís life with others, mostly in their homes.

      Then meeting in homes is the answer?

      Of course not! But letís be clear: as fun as it is to enjoy large group worship and even be instructed by gifted teachers, the real joy of body life canít be shared in huge groups. The church for its first 300 years found homes the perfect place to gather. They are much more suited to the dynamics of family which is how Jesus described his body. But meeting in homes is no cure-all. Iíve been to some very sick home meetings and met in facilities with groups who shared an authentic body life together. But the time I spend in regular body life I want to spend face to face with
hungry people who are being transformed by Jesus. I know it isnít popular today where people find it is far easier to sit through a finely tuned (or not so finely-tuned) service and go home without ever having to open up their lives or take an interest in someone elseís journey. But ultimately what matters most to me is not where or how they meet, but whether or not people are focused on
Jesus and really helping each other on the journey to becoming like him. Meetings are less the issue here than the quality of relationships. I am always looking for people like that wherever I am and always rejoice when I find them.

      Arenít you just reacting out of hurt?

      I suppose that is possible and time will tell, I guess, but I honestly donít believe so. Anyone who is engaged in real body life will get hurt at times. But there are two kinds of hurt. Thereís the kind of pain that points to a problem that can be fixed with the right careósuch as a badly sprained
ankle. Then thereís the kind of pain that can only be fixed by pulling awayóas when you put your hand on a hot stove. Perhaps all of us have experienced some measure of pain as we have tried to fit Godís life into institutions. For a long time most of us hung in there hoping if we tweaked a
few things it would get better. Though we could be successful in limited ways during moments of renewal, we also discovered that eventually the conformity an institution demands and the freedom people need to grow in Christ are at odds with one another. It has happened with virtually every group formed throughout the history of Christianity. It is far more important that our children
experience real fellowship among believers rather than the bells and whistles of a slick childrenís program. He didnít talk about it as a place to go to, but a way of living in relationship to him and others in his family.

      Are you looking for the perfect church?

      No, and I donít anticipate finding one this side of eternity. Perfection is not my goal, but finding people with Godís priorities. Itís one thing for people to struggle toward an ideal they share together. Itís another to realize that our ideals have little in common. I make no secret of the fact that I am deeply troubled by the state of organized Christianity. The vast majority of what we call Ďchurchí today offers nothing more than well-planned performances with little actual connection between believers. Many believers are mistakenly encouraged to become dependent on the system or its leadership rather than on Jesus himself. They spend more energy conforming behavior
to what the institution needs rather than helping people be transformed at the foot of the cross!
Iím tired of trying to fellowship with people who only view church as a two-hour a week dumping ground for guilt while they live the rest of the week with the same priorities as the world. Iím tired of those who depend on their own works of righteousness but who have no compassion for the people of the world. Iím tired of insecure people using the Body of Christ as an extension of their own ego and will manipulate it to satisfy their own needs. Iím tired of sermons more filled with the bondage of religion than the freedom of Godís love and where relationships take a back seat to the demands of an efficient institution.

      But donít our children need church activities?

      Iíd suggest that what they need most is to be integrated into Godís life through relational fellowship with other believers. 92% of children who grow up in Sunday schools, with all the puppets and high-powered entertainment, leave Ďchurchí when they leave their parentsí home. Instead of filling our children with ethics and rules we need to demonstrate how to live in Godís life together.
Even sociologists tell us that the #1 factor in determining whether a child will thrive in society is if they have deep, personal friendships with nonparent adults. No Sunday school can fill that role. I know of one community in Australia, who after 20 years of sharing Godís life together as families, could say that they had not lost one child from the faith as they grew into adulthood. I know I cut across the grain here, but I am convinced it is far more important that our children experience
real fellowship among believers rather than the bells and whistles of a slick childrenís program.

      What dynamics of body life do you look for?

      Iím always looking for a people who are seeking to follow the Living Christ. He is at the center of their lives, their affections and their conversation. They look to be authentic and free with others, to hurt when they hurt, to question what they question and to follow his voice without others accusing them of being divisive or rebellious. I look for people who are not wasting their money on extravagant buildings or flashy programs; where people sitting next to each other are not strangers; and where they all participate in sharing Godís life instead of watching passively from a safe distance.

      Arenít you giving people an excuse to sit home and do nothing?

      I hope not, though I know it is a danger. I realize some people who leave traditional congregations end up abusing that freedom to satisfy their own desires and thus miss out on church life altogether. Neither am I a fan of Ďchurch hoppersí, who whip around to one place after another looking for the latest fad or the best opportunity to fulfill their own selfish desires. But most of the people I meet and talk with are not outside the system because they have lost their passion for Jesus or his people, but only because the traditional congregations near them couldnít satisfy their hunger for relationship. They are seeking authentic expressions of body life and pay an incredible cost to seek it out. Believe me, we would all find it easier just to go with the flow, but once youíve tasted of living fellowship between passionate believers, it is impossible to settle for anything less.

      Isnít this view of church divisive?

      Not of itself! People make it divisive when they demand that people conform to their interpretation of truth. Most of us on this journey are accused of being divisive because freedom can be threatening to those who find their security in a religious system. But must of us arenít trying to recruit others to leave their congregations. We see the body of Christ big enough to encompass Godís people however he calls them to gather. One of the things often said about traditional church is that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in American culture. We only meet with people who look like we do and like things the way we do. Iíve found now that I have far more opportunity to get with people from a broader cross-section of his body. I donít demand others do it my way and I hope in time that those who see it differently will stop demanding we conform to theirs.

      Where can I find that kind of fellowship?

      Thereís no easy answer here. It might be right in front of you among the fellowship youíre already in. It might be down the street in your neighborhood or across a cubicle at work. If, like me, you are looking for this depth of fellowship, rest assured you are not alone. If youíd like to talk more about it and see what God might do in our area, please let me know.
Name_______________________________________
Phone ______________________________________
Email: ______________________________________


      WAYNE JACOBSEN was a pastor for 20 years and currently acts as a Contributing Editor to Leadership Journal. He travels the world helping people discover the simplicity of cultivating a
friendship with God and experience the joy of relational body life. He is the author of He Loves Me, The Naked Church and In My Fatherís Vineyard. You can find out more at his web site: www.lifestream.org.

      You can also find it in compassionate outreaches to the needy and broken in your locality as a way to live out his life in you and meet others with a similar hunger. Donít expect this kind of fellowship to fall easily into an organization. It is organic, and Jesus can lead you to it right where
you are. Look for him to put a dozen or so folks around your life with whom you can share the journey. They may not even all go to the same congregation you do. They might be neighbors or
coworkers who are following after God.

      Wouldnít that kind of interconnection among Godís people yield some incredible fruit? Donít expect it to be easy or run smoothly. It will take some specific choices on our part to be obedient to Jesus. It may take some training to shake off old habits and be free to let him build his community around you, but it is all worth it. I know it bothers some people that I donít take my regular place in a pew on Sunday morning, but I can tell you absolutely that my worst daysoutside organized religion are still better than my best days inside it. To me the difference is like listening to someone talk about golf or actually taking a set of clubs out to a course and playing golf. Being his church is like that. In our day we donít need more talk about the church, but people who are simply ready to live in its reality.

      People all over the world are freshly discovering how to do that again. You can be one of them as you let him place you in his body as he desires. Every person Iíve ever met who is thriving
in the life of Jesus has a desire to share authentic fellowship with other believers.



Posted at Wednesday, October 26, 2005 by Star-Tariray
LeT mE kNoW UR tHoUgHtS.......  

 
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Open Our Heart's Eyes, Lord!

      I can't help not to shed a tear on this as I read... this made me to look closer into my life as a Christian... sometimes we need an eye opener or reminder on our walk with the Lord... let me share this to you a sharing from my spiritual brother where he posted on my article Loser  (Sunday October 23, 2005)


   Posted by Manong @ 10/23/2005 09:45 PM PDT 
   You may have read this already, but it's worth it to "survey the wondrous Cross" once again.

   Manong

      Opening Prayer:

      I ask you precious God in Jesus name for a perfect evening tonight, not that the grammar be impeccable but that it has had its full source found in You, that You are totally the giver, that this is Your will performed. Be the Lord of my mood, my speaking in the spirit, that it is very God speaking. We thank you and praise You for such a night, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

      I had the strangest impression when I was watching you on your feet singing about the holiness of God. I heard the phrase, "You are all as an unclean thing."

      I thought I was looking into the faces of masturbators, fornicators, a people who contemplate such things. It's just an uncanny impression that I had, that I should hear a lyric about holiness and have a total impression of faces that contradict that.

      I thought to myself. ďGod, didn't we have an outreach on Saturday? What's the message? I don't understand, and I was careful to pray. I have been looking to the Lord throughout the day for this meeting, and I'm not even sure what the message is.Ē

      But I was sympathetic to the first prayer that came forth tonight from this brother here, something about the necessity for the Lord to raise up the Cross for us, as though he was talking about Christ and Him crucified. And indeed, I looked over the scriptures that give the actual descriptions and I can't think of anything clever myself to add to them. And I get the idea that you all know all of this anyway. What kind of message is that? But I just can't get away from it, that sometimes we need to review these things, and see them again in the scriptures...Christ Crucified.

      Maybe we need to see it by a light from heaven. Maybe we've seen it, but we've not seen it. Maybe we need to see it by a light from heaven, which is another kind of seeing.

      Maybe we've been able to accept it much too readily and easily.

      It's just not offended us as much as it ought. We really have not been stabbed by the repulsiveness of it, nor been stunned by its horror.

      Our faith has become domesticated.

      The sting is out but it needs to be retained.

      I was having an interesting conversation with my brother Mark before we came tonight. It's something that traveling evangelists don't confess to each other, but its explains why their sleep is so frequently disrupted. All the more as their message is earnest and touches heaven.

      They (evangelists) are roasted in the night hours. Sexual provocation, the enemy playing on any slight wisp of vulnerability, this stubborn thing that will not let go, this thing that polite Christianity will not discuss, this thing that we cover up and look the other way and will not bring to the light, for which reason we suffer terrible harassment, was the subject of our conversation.

      I don't know if you are aware of the growing and impressive statistics of the number of formidable leaders in Christianity and Charismatic circles, impressive figures who have run off with the organist or the woman whom they were counseling. The causalities are increasing.

      It's interesting that at that final end of the ages, sex really becomes the dominant issue. It is brought to an ultimate conclusion, one way or the other. There's going to be a Marriage Supper of the Lamb, a wedding, a joining between the Bride and the Bridegroom. A holy event for which all eternity has waited and rejoiced. And there is the other alternative. There is no middle ground: a whole world drinking from the cup of fornication. We ought to begin to consider these things now, lest the casualties increase and our witness be compromised, and Satan have nothing to fear in us because he sees us in our private moments when we have condescended to such lust. He knows the weakness that has compromised us. And we have not overcome!

      I'm just speaking as the fool tonight.
      
      Somehow the Cross of Jesus Christ figures into all of this. My brain is not yet clever enough to figure it out, but my spirit is going off like an alarm. We shall be the victims of such compromise as the intensity of the temptations increase enormously as we come deeper into the end of the age, and increasing to the degree to which we have not really appropriated the Cross of Jesus Christ!

      There is a very famous ministry in the United States, but I won't tell you its name. It is very famous in the United States because it so celebrates the Cross. It's theology is shot through with references to the Cross. When I went there as a speaker, the Lord gave me the most peculiar message. You really have to be American to appreciate this. Because you guys know the kind of franchises we have in America: Long John Silvers, McDonalds, and what else?...Burger King. Every one of the franchise buildings is just like the others. These buildings go up overnight, serving the identical commodity. Americans have a flair to create a certain kind of architectural atmosphere. We can make something look very rustic and homey and make it look country but we do it with PLASTIC BEAMS. They look like great hand-hewn oak beams.

      But who can afford the real thing today? And where is the man with the skill to hew it?

      So we make a similitude of it, out of plastic, making it like it has the appearance of the real thing. That way it is ok because it is up on the ceiling. No one can reach it and it isn't required to sustain any weight. But should a person have the occasion to rap it with their knuckles, it will be found to sound absolutely hollow! If by chance it should be stepped on, it will smash right through.

      I would have you note the message which the Lord gave me for that ministry, this so-called cross-centered ministry. "Your Cross is not a wooden beam. It's a plastic similitude.Ē

      I wonder for how many of us is that also true. We have only the plastic similitude.

      But we have not the bloody Cross, and it shows in compromise and deceit, in lying and fornication, in masturbation and giving ourselves over to our own indulgences, and our minds being occupied with such things because we have not come to the real Cross in Truth.

      Then in this cheap and easy and glib age, in which we can franchise hamburgers and fish, we have also franchised a kind of gospel. It gives the appearance of being the real thing. But don't rap it too hard. It will not take any weight. And there is a God that is brooding over you this night who knows all too well the weight of that which shall come.

      There's a lot of cheap things going on. There's a whole Jesus culture. You know already that I am sick of it. If I see one more Jesus T shirt I will vomit. I don't even want to see portraits and pictures and paintings to assure me of how masculine He was. I don't even want to see Him by the flesh. I don't care how ingenious the artist is. He can never do justice to the Lord of Glory, and any attempt humanly to depict him will be less than what He is!

      I'll wait for the revelation that comes from the Light of Heaven, thank you. You can keep your cheap pictures. The same thing has happened, also, with the Cross. I understand that there are men who are making absolute fortunes today in the Christian junk jewelry business. Oh, how many bosoms have I seen a Cross dangling from....more to attract our attention to the bosom than to the Cross!

      Using the Word Holy Too Casually

      We don't dare take this word holy in our mouths too casually. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect: (Matt:5:48), and "Be ye Holy; for I am Holy" (1 Peter 1:16). He is VERY holy. Because this is an age of extremity and we are rushing toward it's radical conclusion, either we are going to be very holy or not at all.

      Are you remembering that one of the evidences of the end of the age is a great falling away when the love of many will grow cold? Many! Where are they going to come from? When iniquity shall abound some will come out of this audience, out of the whole inflated Christendom that exists today. Iniquity is abounding more and more daily. Very seductive and powerful. And if it is only a plastic Cross to which we've come, a piece of cheap junk jewelry, we're almost assuring ourselves that we will be among the victims. So we need to have the Cross raised up for us in truth and something branded in our hearts and spirits.

      God Crucified

     Someone prayed this morning about loving righteousness and hating iniquity. Such a thing for us will be a saving grace. But you will only hate iniquity to this degree, that you really understand what it cost God!

      So I want to talk to you about GOD CRUCIFIED.

      I'm actually quoting the title of a book by a German theologian. Isn't it amazing when God quickens something by His Spirit that you have all along have known, and when you see a title of a book, all of a sudden you are stabbed.

      It's GOD crucified -- GOD crucified!

      Yet I can say it a hundred times and yell it at the top of my lungs, but there's no guarantee that it will penetrate your heart. The Son of God has to stab you.

      G-O-D crucified!

      Maybe some of you know the painting that is so celebrated by the Sisters of Mary at Darmstadt. Its called The Isenheim Altar, painted by a 16th Century artist by the name of Gruenwald. It's one of those things that they used to put over the altar, that folds up with leaves and has painting on it of the crucifixion. If you haven't ever seen it, I would recommend it. It's the only depiction of Christ Crucified that I will ever endorse. So many of them look like a ballet dancer on his toes. Some of them almost look sensual...a man with rippling muscles and an extended torso! Not bad!

      But this one is a HORROR! It is so grotesque that you can barely bear to look at it. Therefore, I suspect it was painted by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You've never seen a more gruesome figure. You can hardly discern whether it is a man or some kind of mangled beast. Even the technology of this painting is remarkable. It is four centuries old and it looks like it was painted yesterday. The freshness and the abounding power and vitality of that painting!

      The fingers are all gnarled up in death, and the face bears the imprint of the final paroxysm of suffering. The lips are white and the eyes are sunken deep in the skull and he hath "no form or comeliness ...that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:3), marred more than any man" (Isaiah 52: 14) , and flecked over with blood that has coagulated and hardened. The artist has even indicated the spit.There are pieces of metal and wood actually in the flesh from the flagellation, and the whole power of the hue of the body, is like a gangrenous green color.

      Unbelievably ugly!

      It's a statement of such suffering. A pitiable wretch of a figure! And I've seen it 3 or 4 times now. It's in Collmar, France near Alsace Lorraine on the French - German border.If you ever get a chance, don't miss it! It maybe more important than three months of instructions and lectures.

      Every time I see it I have a strange impression. Of course, these artists usually depict Christ with a loin cloth. It was a tradition of medieval and Renaissance artists. But there is not a shred of evidence in the scriptures to support that it was there. Part of the torture of the the pain of the Cross, or the shame of the Cross was the shame of the nakedness the victim, stripped of his clothing, his arms nailed to the Cross and unable to cover himself.

      How shall I say it? Jesus bore this unspeakable humiliation, this exposure of the privacy of his sexual parts that we, because of that, may not be compromised in that area.

      I am speaking like a fool. I have never before ever said this anywhere, at any time. But I think we need to hear it. What else is there about human nature that takes the sting out and learns to make horror a mere theology, principles of the faith, that somehow we can speak as its proponents, and somehow we can sing He was wounded for our transgressions and then go home that night and masturbate? If we ever needed light from heaven, it is here.

      A revelation from God of His suffering, of this suffering, of GOD CRUCIFIED!

      I don't think anything else will keep us. Nothing else will give us a horror of sin. Nothing else will keep us from crucifying the Son of God afresh than to understand, to REALLY understand what God suffered in humiliation and unspeakable pain and the degradation at the hands of men, in the sense of even being forsaken by God, the Father.

      Cursed is every man that hangeth on a tree. (Gal. 3:13)

      To hear the taunts of Jewish religious men saying: "Save thyself, and come down from the cross" and we will believe you.; "He saved others: himself he cannot save." (Mark 15: 30, 31)

      Have you understood this much? There's something about it unlike anything else; nothing else like the nature of suffering that brings us to the revelation of truth.

      Suffering REVEALS as nothing else can. Have you experienced that about your own sufferings? Somehow you're on a feverish sickbed, and your nigh unto death or at least you feel that way.

      Things that would have occupied yourselves while you were healthy, to which you could have given your time and attention and over which you would have had long and serious discussions, become terribly irrelevant at that moment.

      Suffering is a lot like the hot knife through butter. It simplifies everything. It gets right to the heart of the issue and makes thing bare and reveals them like nothing else can do. That's why the great schools of the theater have always elevated suffering even more so than the people of God. We haven't majored much in this. But we need to because we're being called to the same end.

      Someone once said that if any talks a talk as Christ talks, and walks a walk as Christ walks, he will suffer the same conclusion.

      "They shall hate us and claim they are doing God a favor." ...ďye shall be hated of all nations for my name sake.Ē (Matt: 24:9)

      At the same time, "the love of many shall grow cold because iniquity abounds: (Matt: 24:12), especially this kind of iniquity (sexual), Why shall they hate us? Because they cannot stand the contradiction between our faces and our spirits and their practices. The Spirit of the World will increasingly say "Come,Lie with me"(Gen. 39:7). "If you will not you will drive them to fury. Ever heard the saying, ďThere's no fury like a woman spurned?ĒYou spurn the whore from Babylon and you reject her cup of fornications and you will experience a fury unlike anything you've known.

      I've never forgotten one of the earliest experiences in my Christian faith. I was only a few months old in the faith. I was saved by a Lord I was not seeking. He brought me to Himself in Jerusalem and I came back to the teaching profession in California, and lost all my friends the first night back in the giving of my testimony. But there was a Jewish teacher who was on the same faculty with me. We used to eat together at the faculty cafeteria.

      I was a young and zealous believer and I was always witnessing to her as much as I knew how in my ignorance. I maybe had 2 or 3 scriptures. But I remember an occasion when I was strangely silent. This was a woman who was in a continuous state of adultery. Because she didn't believed in sin and guilt she had to run to a psychiatrist twice a week for the relief of this pressure. It took pills to put her to sleep and pills to wake her up. A pathetic wretch, full of intellectual presumption, pride, arrogance and alienated from God. A picture of the world. Here I was, not saying a word to her, minding my own business. Yet I was conscious that she was growing restless and even irritated, finally vexed. I looked up at her with wide eyes of innocence and she couldn't restrain herself any longer, exploding with these words, "Even when you are silent you are a living accusation!"

      I've never forgotten that statement!

      There's a reason why the Lord has had me remember it. That shall be the world's statement to us. We must follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth (Ruth 1:16) if we decide to go on to the end of the age that is coming to a radical conclusion, forces of light and dark in ultimate collision. If we are going to be holy we will be very holy, or we will not be holy at all.

      That's how polarized the world will become. Those who can casually sing about the holiness of God tonight will not be able to sing it then. The only exception is that one who has come to such a deep place in Him that one knows His perfection and holiness that he is an overcomer in Him. One must know that the ax has been laid to the root of his own life, and he can rejoice in his overcoming, and that he has come to that true freedom in Christ, one of those who has appropriated the Cross in truth and not merely acknowledged it as correct doctrine, or who wears it around his neck as jewelry or who has it as a plastic beam.

      Have we entered into this?

      Have we been reminded that Jesus died naked?

      He suffered unspeakable shame that we might be shameless before Him and not bring reproach to His name, nor blaspheme it by our own infidelity.

      He died naked.

      He left the world naked and he came into the world in the same condition, naked.

      Isn't it interesting that it is the saints of the Sisters of Mary that celebrate both Christ's birth and death in nakedness?

      It is the only fellowship I've ever visited in the whole world where I have been overwhelmingly aware of the holiness of God the moment of setting foot on their property.

      I didn't experience that here! Only with family (the Sisters of Mary) who have experienced the deepest sense of the suffering of Christ. I don't know how I can explain this to you.

      In one of my visits to them I brought back home a terra cotta figurine of the Baby Jesus. It's an embarrassment for a Brooklyn Jew. What would you do with sentimental little things like that. I have nothing to do with sentimental things. Merely because it was an infant does not make it sentimental, although you can sentimentalize both the Baby Jesus and the Cross.   

      When you go to where I've just come from, in the meeting room there is a big Cross on the wall behind where I stood. It is very unique. I've never seen anything like it. It was all roses, panels of flowers set up in the form of a Cross.. Very pretty. Very impressive. But a lie!

      Satan would love to see it all sentimentalized, but we need to see it in all its horror! We have to understand that it was GOD who came down from heaven to earth and who was born into the earth naked as a helpless dependent infant. That's what impressed me with the little figurine, an infant with arms stretched out with a beautific expression of complete trust. It's a sublime thing.

      But He was NAKED!

      It's a humiliation for God to come in the form of a man. You say, Art, what's wrong with the form of a man? It's the highest form of life on earth?

      For us it might be something positive, but for God it's a humiliation. To be imprisoned in the form of a man and to come down from heaven and lay aside His glory to live the life as a dependent little infant?

      To live a life of obscurity and of hiddenness?

      To suffer the rejection of His people?

      To conclude his life in an unspeakable torture that words cannot describe of which the scriptures said, "And they crucified him?" (Matt.27:35)

      Even God did not attempt to describe it, and He left the world as an impotent infant, naked.

      Is that your King?

      I want to tell you as a Jew, that this doesn't touch Jewish taste. They don't have much stomach for for kings that come on the back of an ass "whereon never man sat" (Mark 11:2) , a picture of utter foolishness, weakness and humiliation, jerking its way down the Mount of Olives.

      Not very kingly by human standards!

      Dying in the place of shame - the garbage heap!

      And his disciples couldn't stand the sight of it and fled.

      The gangrenous piece of flesh - That's G-O-D!

      You say, ""Art, why was it necessary?"" I can't answer you. But in the book The Crucified God...do you know what the German theologian Moltmann said?

      He said, "Do you know where true faith begins?"

      Not plastic faith, TRUE FAITH, the kind that will keep you from masturbating, from fornication, from the indulgence of flesh? Do you know where true overcoming faith begins?

      "The place where an atheist says it should end.".

      That confounds any kind of logic and reason! There's not a religion on earth that has such an event at its center and its meaning but Christianity. It's an offense of offenses. Who can understand these things?

      The Prophet Isaiah says,""He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities... All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. ..Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him." " Isaiah 53:5,6,10.

      He suffered for the transgressor.

      Do you want to know how horrible sin is in God's sight? Do you want to see as God sees? That alone is truth! Anything else is error or deception.

      See God Crucified!

      See God nakedly hanging.

      See this excruciating suffering and you'll understand His horror of sin.

      Has it been a horror for you so much so that you could never consider to crucify the Son of Glory afresh or trample upon His blood by singing choruses that celebrate something of which we have little actual knowledge and experience, and of which many of us are contradicting in actual practice or thought or imagination?

      "He was wounded for our transgressions."

      Have you read Psalm 22 lately? What a picture of Crucifixion!

      Maybe 1000 years in advance of the event.

      "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd ; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me unto the dust of death...they pierced my hand and my feet. I may tell all my bones.:they look and stare upon me." (Ps.22:14-17)

      Do you know the wonderful hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts?

      When have you surveyed it last?

      Do you know what Charles Finney was writing which I read today? He said that he would not dream of traveling in ministry with a colleague who was not himself broken down before God at least once every 2 or 3 weeks.

      This encouraged me to speak on the subject tonight, though I am sure you know it already. But I don't think I would miss God to suggest that a frequent survey of the Cross is a good thing.

      We need to see the Lord high and lifted up. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." (John 12: 32)

      We need to remember what the heart of the faith is that staggers the minds of antichrists and unbelieving Jews!

      God Crucified!

      For our transgressions and our iniquities.

      Isaac Watts was inspired by the Holy Ghost to compose this hymn.

      "When I survey the wondrous Cross On which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss And pour contempt on all my pride."

      Only when you survey the wondrous Cross.

      Anything else is play acting, a gamesmanship, a mere phraseology, a subscribing to correct doctrine, a plastic substitute.

      We need to survey the wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died.

      Forbid it Lord that I should boast, except in the Cross of Christ my Lord.

      Any of us boasting? If not in words, in countenance and appearance?

      Do you know how Finney said that he knew conviction was coming into a people to whom he spoke, that God was breaking them down by His Spirit?

      They couldn't hold their heads up.

      They couldn't look at him.

      They had to turn their faces away.

      They looked down. They were bowed over.

      He said so long as he saw an audience that still looked at him as the speaker, he knew that God had not yet done his work of convicting power.

      Forbid it Lord that I should boast except in the Cross of Christ my God. All the vain things that charm me most I sacrifice to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love mingled down...

      If he was naked in his private parts and humiliated there to save us from humiliation, what shall we say of the significant wounds in the hand and head?

      He was wounded in the hands for our practices, for which reason many of us cannot yet lay hands upon others and send them out with holy hands.

      Wounded in the feet because we've have carried our bodies to places that ought not to have been.

      Do you know about the Shroud of Turin, that famous linen thing that has been kept for centuries in which there is considerable evidence that it was actually the shroud that covered the body of Jesus?

      Interesting that it should be coming out of hiding, now in our generation. It was recently examined by a panel of experts and anatomists who know the body and its structures. They counted over 200 lash marks on that body. You say, "How could they have that kind of evidence?"

      It is because a strange thing happened in a certain explosive moment that took the coagulated blood that clung to this linen cloth and made of it a photographic negative in a blinding moment of light, so that every wound was registered on that sheet.

      200 lash marks, profuse bleeding on the scalp from some kind of thing that was pressed on the skin and skull, and other ugly evidence of torture I can't describe.

      See from His head, His hand His feet sorrow and love come mingled down.

      See it by the Spirit of God. See it!

      I'm just being so much the fool tonight. I wouldn't even call this a sermon or a message. I'm just simply trusting that somehow God wanted God Crucified preached. He wanted Himself raised upon the Cross before His people,

      that we might see it....

      really see it

      really celebrate it

      really acknowledge it.

      For it alone can keep us. When we see the horror of what sin caused Him, we shall love righteous and hate iniquity and keep ourselves from crucifying the Son of God afresh.

      Do you see it?

      (the person translating is so overcome with emotion at this point she can hardly go on.)

      It says in Isaiah 53: 8, He was cut off and out from the land of the living. For the transgression of my people was he stricken.

      There's something so surgical about that expression, something so total!

      Talk about total God calling to total man, cut off and out from off and out of the land of the living!

      I'll tell you that is about more than the issue of sin.

      It is a profound salvation for us if we have been joined with that one in that crucifixion.....to be cut off and out...

      Such a radical separation from the world, the flesh and from the devil, from those who had had the same ax laid to their root.

      In closing:

      Do you remember the Eunuch that Phillip led to the Lord in Acts 8. God thought so much of that man that he took him from the field of successful ministry and joined him to one black man on his way to Ethiopia.

      According to Christian legend, this one man brought Christianity to Africa, that Ethiopian Eunuch..a man who has had the ax laid to the root....as a man of great authority who had the charge of all the queen's treasure. (Acts 8:27-40)

      Jesus spoke at one time about the eunuchs. He said that some were born eunuchs, those who are biological freaks. They will never have the physical enablements that are the rights of all men.

      Then there are some men that are made eunuchs by men. Talk about a horrible scene...the shrieks and cries as a man is pinned down by an army of men held him down as another man did the filthy thing!

      But Jesus also said"there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake." (Matt.19:12)

      This Ethiopian Eunuch was a man of great authority and was in charge of all the Queen's treasure. (Acts 8:27-40) Only a eunuch can be so implicitly trusted. He is not going to appropriate anything for himself over which he has been given charge(women).The ax has been laid. He's been cut off and out. God offers us the same protection. The Cross of Christ Jesus laid to the root of life that you might be cut off and out of the land of the living.

      I think, in my opinion, the only men who will be safe at the end of an age abounding with iniquity are believers to whom the ax has been laid!

      Iniquity shall abound, full of filth and lust, seductions of such power that you will stagger; such subtlety, and such sensuality that its taking victims already among Christians.

      Only a dead man can be safe, to whom the ax has been laid to the root of his life, who has been cut off and out of the land of the living, who recognizes the horrible propensity of his flesh. Self-conscious discipleship is not the answer. Saying, "I'll never do it again," is not the answer. Neither are whistling in the dark and singing choruses, the answer.

      Only ONE answer.

      It's the Cross of Christ Jesus!

      Not the plastic counterfeit but the BLOOD of the Cross, the place of suffering and shame, where God bids us come.

      If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up His Cross...(Luke 9:23)

      When Christ bids a man come, He bids a man come and die.

   Conclusion

      I had the strangest impression tonight as I came into the room, as I surveyed the faces as you sang of the holiness of God, the words came into my heart/spirit, ďUnclean.Ē   

      Holy, Holy, a contradiction of the words being seen in the darkness of the faces, the furtive shadows suggesting something other than Holy, Holy.

      So I just wanted to stand with Paul tonight and preach again Christ and Him crucified - the power of God unto salvation, not just in the here after, but the HERE and NOW, for those who are cut off and out, who have joined with Him in that place, who have been made eunuchs for Christ, who welcomed the ax laid to the root.

      It is the power of God unto Salvation.

      I commend it to you, that we see it, that we come to it, and that we cleave to it until the end of the age...

      Shall we pray for that?

     Closing Prayer:

      I ask you Precious God ,in Jesus Name, to honor the obedience of your servant who has spoken the words that You have put in his heart ,and I have trusted the consequences to You.

      If there is power in this Cross, if suffering reveals, I ask you to demonstrate it now.

      I ask for the spirit of revelation that we might see Christ and Him crucified.

      GOD CRUCIFIED for our sins and transgressions.

      I ask you to show us if we've played with the wrong Cross, preferring the plastic kind which is lighter to carry but cannot sustain much weight.

      You said that if you were raised up on the Cross that you will draw all men to yourself.(John 12:32)

      I ask You to do it.

      I ask You to find eunuchs in this audience tonight who were certainly not born eunuchs, nor were they compellingly made eunuchs, but have chosen to be eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake, who will welcome the work of the Cross laid to the root of their lives, and not to be distracted about the questions of marriage, girls or not girls, but as dead men who have no life in themselves, brought back from the dead that they might live unto God totally to his glory.

      Someone had to be compelled to carry Your Cross 2000 years ago , and tonight You are asking for those who will voluntarily come to it.

      And so just as your minister of the gospel, I invite as many as will to come to this Cross, not in some sentimental and shabby way, not in some plastic way, but in actuality.

      It's a place for the despairing who know that they cannot in themselves, that they can't overcome. And self will will not do it , and keeping up appearances will not do it.

      Only a true identification with Your death that they might be cut off and out with You, also to be raised up to a newness of life that is free of shame, that overcomes in the Overcomer who is perfect in His perfection and is holy in His holiness.

      So bid us come join You in that place in Spirit and in truth, once and for  all, for Jesus' sake, Amen.


Posted at Tuesday, October 25, 2005 by Star-Tariray
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