Saturday, June 2, 2012

How’s your prayer life?

Below is another post that appeared in our facebook group the other day. I couldn't resist using this to update our blog. It is an article entitled "In Order To Pray Without Ceasing, You Must Quit Praying", always the sort of title that gets my attention!! It was written by a guy called Jamal Jivanjee, and you can see the fully article by clicking on this link
These are the highlights for me...
"How’s your prayer life?  Few other questions cause more guilt among evangelical Christians.  As an institutional Pastor, I used to routinely ask that question in an attempt to ‘convict’ and motivate others to pray more.  Part of this ‘conviction’ and ‘motivation’ involved laying the responsibility of the salvation of individuals, churches, and countries on the backs of Christians.  If we prayed more, good things would happen.  If good things weren’t happening, we simply weren’t praying enough.  
Interestingly, no one ever felt that their prayer life was adequate.  After all, we could always pray more.  For me personally, simple tasks became harder and harder to accomplish because I needed to ‘pray’ about everything.  Although I wasn’t sure about what was an adequate amount of prayer, if I didn’t pray about a specific situation or decision in an ‘adequate’ manner, I became paralyzed with fear and indecision.  After all, I didn’t want to make a mistake.  I was well on my way to becoming an evangelical monk.  The more that I went down this road, the less I was able to simply ‘be’ in Christ and rest in Him in normal day to day life.  It was bondage indeed.
Unfortunately, many evangelicals are in bondage to this false view of prayer 
Stop Praying In The Flesh!
The opposite of praying in the Spirit is praying in the flesh.  I have good news for you today.  You can stop praying in the flesh.  For most of my life in the evangelical system, I prayed in the flesh. Praying in the flesh isn’t unique to the evangelical system, however.  Many world religions are built around prayer that is rooted in mankind’s religious flesh.  As one who is from an Islamic background, I grew up watching my dad’s life revolve around prayer.  To a Muslim, praying five times each day is an extraordinary feat that requires much discipline and devotion.  The thought of praying ‘without ceasing’ is simply unthinkable and unrealistic.  Unfortunately, many evangelicals are taught to see prayer in the same regard.  This is a tragedy indeed.
Often, fleshly prayer comes from the drive to ‘do’ or to accomplish some needed task.  Fleshly prayer is often our attempt to ‘fix’ something.  Fleshly prayer can also be rooted in the need to ‘be with’ God.  Prayer in the Spirit, however, is rooted in rest.  Prayer in the Spirit flows out of our location ‘in Christ’.  In Christ, we are continually with Him by default.  In Christ, we already stand approved.  
As we cease from our religious labors and rest in Christ who is our sabbath (Heb. 4:10), we will begin to become aware of the communion (prayer) that is already occurring with Christ in our spirit (inner-man).  As we become aware of this communion, we will begin to hear what the Spirit is saying to our spirit.  It is from this location that prayer in the spirit occurs. 
Like breathing, this kind of prayer is second nature and is not an exercise of will power, piety, or discipline.  Like breathing, this kind of prayer flows from life and is continual in nature.  The only action that is required on our part is to stop and rest in the reality of Jesus Christ.  Like a large antenna on a radio, the more we rest in Christ, the louder this continual conversation between our spirit and His Spirit will become.  It truly is good news to know that we already have great prayer lives because the one who IS prayer already has us and is IN us! "      

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jesus, I am Resting

During the week the following testimony was posted in our "gratefully disillusioned" facebook group. The response was such, that we thought we would publish it here as well. It is from the life of  

The secret of his strength was not far to seek. Whenever work permitted, Mr. Taylor was in the habit of turning to a little harmonium for refreshment, playing and singing many a favorite hymn, but always coming back to—

Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.

One of the eighteen evangelists, Mr. George Nichol, was with him on one occasion when some letters were handed in to his office, bringing news of serious rioting in two of the older stations of the Mission. Thinking that Mr. Taylor might wish to be alone, the younger man was about to withdraw when, to his surprise, someone began to whistle. It was the soft refrain of the same well-loved hymn:

Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art . . . 

Turning back, Mr. Nichol could not help exclaiming, "How can you whistle, when our friends are in so much danger!"

"Would you have me anxious and troubled?" was the quiet reply. "That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on the Lord."

Day and night this was his secret, "just to roll the burden on the Lord." Frequently those who were wakeful in the little house at Chinkiang might hear at two or three in the morning, the soft refrain of Mr. Taylor's favorite hymn. He had learned that, for him, only one life was possible–just that blessed life of resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances, while he dealt with the difficulties, inward and outward, great and small.

–Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, (Moody Press: Chicago, orig. published 1932), 208-209

Below are the words of this Hymn and click on this link to hear the music

Jesus, I am resting

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness 
Of Thy loving heart. 
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, 
And Thy beauty fills my soul, 
For by Thy transforming power, 
Thou hast made me whole. 


Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness 
Of Thy loving heart. 

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness, 
Lavished all on me! 
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belov├Ęd, 
Know what wealth of grace is Thine, 
Know Thy certainty of promise, 
And have made it mine. 


Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless, 
Satisfies my heart; 
Satisfies its deepest longings, 
Meets, supplies its every need, 
Compasseth me round with blessings: 
Thine is love indeed! 


Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus, 
Earth’s dark shadows flee. 
Brightness of my Father’s glory, 
Sunshine of my Father’s face, 
Keep me ever trusting, resting, 
Fill me with Thy grace. 


(words by Jean S. Pigott 1876
music by James Mountain 1876)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's pretty simple really

For those of us at "Gratefully Disillusioned" the two people who, in recent years, have helped us the most to get free of religion and legalism are Wayne Jacobsen and Andrew Farley, and we are so grateful to both of them.

I was really blessed the other day with something that Andrew had written on his facebook page and thought it was worthy of a blog  update .....

He was commenting on the risk of getting into two different sorts of error when approaching Christianity and particularly the message of grace.

The first is Legalism, which he summed up in four statements

  • Forgiven, but not really forgiven - if I still need to ask
  • Free, but not really free - if I still need the law for morality
  • New, but not really new - if I am still trying to die to self
  • Christ in me, but not really - because I feel out of fellowship with Him half of the time

The second risk is to get into Licentiousness, summed up as
  • Totally forgiven so my behavior doesn't matter
  • Totally accepted so my behavior doesn't matter
  • Totally new so I never struggle, nor does it matter
  • Christ is in me, so it's all Him, none of me, and I go passive

Andrew then, for me at least, summed up the message of "True Grace" as follows
  • We are forgiven of all our sins, once for all - it is finished
  • We are dead to the law, Christ is the end of the law for us
  • Our old self died, the battle is between the Spirit and flesh
  • Christ is in me 24/7, without interruption
  • Behavior matters, it can be an expression of Christ and saves a whole lot of earthly consequences

My heart resonates so much with Andrew's comments as I reflect on the thirty eight years of my christian experience. For the first two months of my walk with Him, I was living in the reality of "True Grace" being lead and taught by the Holy Spirit, it was exciting and life giving, and I can only imagine where my life would be today, if I had of stayed on that path.

I was then introduced to the church, and for the next twenty eight years increasingly experienced the debilitating consequences of religion and legalism. Andrew's first four points above, describe precisely my daily christian experience during those years, that progressively lead to rules to live by, lack of intimacy with Father, apathy and eventual disillusionment.

It was that disillusionment over nine years ago now, that put us on a path to rediscover the loving Father and His amazing grace. The journey back to the Father has required lots of "renewal of the mind". The legalism that we had been taught, and the religion that we just imbibed, was insidious.

Wayne Jacobsen, liken's this "religious and legalism" process or spirit, that so many christian's have experienced, as similar to the "power of the ring" in Tolkien's, "The Lord of the Rings". I don't know about you, but looking back now, it sure felt like that to me. We are so grateful to Father that He has been faithful, and heard our hearts cry for freedom.

Here is a comment that someone else made to Andrew's post that. for me, sums it up.

"It's mind-boggling to me that so many churches are, in one way or another, in these deceptions. Been there, done that, and I am NOT going back into either way of thinking or living again. I spent too many years totally bogged down in introspective sin management, or being in a failure focused fog of apathy. Figuratively speaking, for me, living FREE in Christ is like finding pure oxygen 5 years ago, after living (for the better part of 35 years as a believer) in what I describe as various levels of methane gas. Can't make me go back into that way of thinking or living again, no matter what the pressure is to do so, and I'm very sensitive to the "off" smells now!!"

So there you go, we're not alone!!

Just As A Bonus!!

In his recently published book "Heaven Is Now" Andrew included a diagram that I also thought was very helpful in demonstrating how God has made His home with us "24/7". He will never leave us nor forsake us, we are "In Him" and He is in us.

"This mystery now revealed, is not Christ "falling fresh" on us now and then. This mystery is not Christ swooping down from heaven to visit us in a church meeting. No this mystery is Christ in us 24/7 without interruption. We can now allow the risen Christ, who is alive and living in us, to be Himself in and through our unique personalities. He is the only catalyst for anything of value in the Christian life". The challenge, and He has given us a free will to choose, is to allow the Holy Spirit and not our flesh to control our minds, that will then direct our will and emotions, that determines the actions we take, and the life we will live.

The truth really is pretty simple. Jesus said, it is simple enough for a child to understand, we just need to believe that what He says is true.

So I'm pressing on to discover the rich depth's of "True Grace" and experience more of  His freedom and life!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Looking For the City

What a blessing it was for my friend, John, and I to go and spend a couple of hours with Jack Gray last week. Wayne Jacobsen had introduced us to Jack when he was with us last month. As soon as I met Jack I new that I wanted to spend some more time with him, I loved his spirit and the evident walk and relationship that he has with the Father.

Jack is a doctor who came to New Zealand with his wife and family in 1965 after many years serving as a medical missionary in the Congo. The other main passion of Jack's life has been his walk with God, and his pursuit of the Church "the City which Has Foundations, Whose Builder and Maker is God".

As John and I shared a little of our journey with Jack, we were amazed at the number of people that we all new and had walked with in years past. The interesting thing however was that when Jack started seriously seeking God, in the mid 1980's, about what church should look like, his connection with those people ceased as he pursued another path. However, for John and I, it was "church business" as usual, for the next 15 years. As I have reflected, over the last couple of days, on those mutual relationships that we had with Jack, all of them, pretty much without exception, have ended in split churches, broken relationships or that particular expression of the "local church" no longer existing.

We, John and I,  fell into the later category, when the church that we were a part of imploded some 11 years ago. As painful as it was for all of us at the time, we are now very grateful to God, as it has put us back on the same path that Jack decided to go down, twenty seven years ago. It blew us away to see the evidence of the hand of God in our lives as we shared a little of our journey's together,  and the fact that Father had enabled our paths to cross after almost 30 years.

I have today read Jack's "Search for the Church" on his website at The Pilgrim Path, that you may like to read. I have taken some excerpts from his story as a "little appetizer", and set them out below.

Church Membership

No longer am I a member of any religious organisation. My name is on no church roll here on earth. I do not "go to church." I have no Minister or Pastor in the official sense, and church services, for me, are a thing of the past. How then, you may well ask, can I profess a longing for the Church? What is my relationship to the Church? My answer would be that I believe I am now more in the Church than I have ever been, and for this position I have sound New Testament confirmation. (see Jack's website for the "sound confirmation").

What about Fellowship ?

We have seen that Jesus, when we trust Him to, does exactly what He said, builds His Church. As we have surrendered ourselves into His hands as "living stones" he has joined us spirit to spirit with many others in a network of love. And all this in the total absence of any human organisation or institution! At this point I must mention another saying of the Lord Jesus, which has taken on new meaning for us. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them".

So now, when people ask me the inevitable question, "Where do you fellowship?" I answer with joy, "Wherever and whenever two or three are gathered together in His name." That may be any day of the week, any hour of the day, as the Lord plans, and not in some regular slot of time humanly organised. 

The Centrality and Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ

Jack quotes twice here from .W. Tozer in an article entitled, - The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches.

"May it not be that one of the reasons for which God is calling people by His Spirit to leave organised churches and come out to Him is to restore that supremacy and centrality which the Lord Jesus had in the New Testament Church? I believe it to be so. He is training us to listen for, to hear and attend to His voice and to obey Him. He is restoring His absolute "shepherdship", if a word can be coined. If, as we have before maintained, He is building His Church, our whole responsibility is just to follow Him and let Him do it. Outside of organised church those who do not have a vital living growing relationship with the Lord Jesus quickly fall away. Inside the organisation the stimulation of being part of a crowd, the emotional uplift of congregational singing and other group activities may be sufficient to make good church members, but if the props are pulled out only a genuine relationship with Jesus will ensure survival. So, as I see it, the Lord is training people in that absolute dependence on Him. He is wanting to teach us that He and He alone is appointed "Head over all things for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." 

"What are we to do? Each one of us must decide, and there are at least three possible choices. One is to rise up in shocked indignation and accuse me of irresponsible reporting. Another is to nod general agreement with what is written here, but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions, and we are among the exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonoured our Lord in failing to give Him the place His Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church. Either the first or the second will but confirm the wrong. The third, if carried out to its conclusion can remove the curse. The decision lies with us."

Every Day Living

Another thing that God seems to be doing with those of us whom He has called out of organised churches is to restore every day Christian lifestyle. In the church system Christians are so often graded on their performance levels in the "service" situation. Are they frequent attenders, never missing a meeting? Do they enthusiastically participate in the worship? Do they willingly submit to the leaders? There are a hundred and one such church-performance based criteria. But that is not where the New Testament emphasis lies, as William Law points out so graphically. There, the emphasis is on every day life and relationships in the family and community. 

God is weaning us off that performance thing into daily Christian lifestyle in the home, the workplace and the playing field. We are to be, as Paul says, "letters of Christ, known and read by all men." That call is both liberating and challenging. It frees Christian living from the confines of church buildings, services and organisations, releasing it into the common stream of life, and it demands a humble self-crucifying walk in the Spirit. "In the past", as someone has said, "We used to live in the world and go to church. Now we live in the Church and go to the world."

In conclusion, having shared these things; what lies ahead? I do not profess to know how the Lord's purpose will be worked out "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." But, I do know that, for me, there is to be no turning back to the old way. God has given us glimpses of a glory yet to be revealed in the Church, and so, like Paul, "forgetting what lies behind (in our experience of traditional church) and straining forward to what lies ahead, we press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

You can listen to two interviews that Wayne did with Jack by clicking on the following links The life of a Pilgrim - Part One and Part Two

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thriving Outside the Box

I came came across an article the other day written by Wayne Jacobsen back in 2003. It really blessed me.. So....., with a little licence, I have set out below the points that impacted the most.

The box that imprisons God's people is not religious institutions per se, but the system of religious obligation that many of them use to preserve the institution or to advance its program. 

No matter how we gather with other believers, God wants all of us liberated from the box of religious obligation, because it is mostly based on human effort for spiritual growth and community life. This box is lined with guilt that you're never doing enough to earn God's favor and it is laced with the fear that your spiritual security lies in conforming to the doctrine and program of the group. It often focuses on an institutional program or someone's personal vision, rewarding those who conform while abusing those who do not.

Many of us who gave ourselves wholeheartedly to that system were shocked to find out that it could only deliver an illusion of God's life but never the reality. It exploited our most noble intentions and imprisoned us with our basest desires. It offered temporal security, spoon-fed nourishment and even some emotionally satisfying moments, but it could not let us soar to the heights. This system only wore us out with its programs, exhausting our efforts while bearing little fruit. While it could conform our external behavior, it could not transform our inner thoughts and motives. So sin still undermined, guilt consumed and emptiness hounded us. We were often left with the inescapable conclusion that it wasn't working because we weren't trying hard enough.

To thrive in freedom outside of the box we'll need to learn a new way of living. Here are some of the lessons I see God teaching people who are learning to live free:

Learn to Relax - Religious obligation says that it is all up to you. If God isn't doing the things you want, you have to work harder, stand firmer and pray longer. The focus is on your performance, your obedience, your righteousness. Outside that box, you will quickly recognize that your best efforts will not accomplish God's work, it depends on him not you. Instead of trying to manipulate God he will teach you rest in his work through you. You will find yourself making better decisions when you trust his love for you than when you're anxiety-ridden about trying to earn it.
You will learn to rely on him alone and recognize that any time you give up responsibility for your spiritual nourishment to another person - whether friend, pastor or author, you've already traded away a bit of your freedom, for life in a box.

Give Up Your Illusion of Control - You can only try to give up control if you're still under the illusion that you have it. Our actions and decisions have profound consequences in our journey, but ultimately God is in control. Has any amount of scheming or manipulation ever truly produced the results you seek? When God shows you that you are not in control, then you will truly be free to live in his purposes instead of your own.

Live for His Approval - The craving for approval devours our spiritual passions by putting our focus on what people think of us rather than what God does. As you get free from the box, expect others to play this approval card for all its worth. Even close friends may suddenly hold you at arm's length or say unkind things about you, all in the hope of drawing you back into the box they think holds the keys to life..... It does not.

Let Guilt Die - Guilt is that deep, nagging drumbeat in your gut trying to convince you that you're a really bad person and God is upset with you. Even when you rationally know you made the right decision, guilt can be relentless. Guilt is the easiest way to motivate people who do not know who they are in Christ.

How do you deal with it? Let it die. Though you can't stop its drumbeat you can refuse to dance to it. In time it will fade away. You will also discover that those who help you most grow in God will never pile on the condemnation when you disappoint them, but they will always help peel it away. Like Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, they know that guilt rather than freeing people from sin only drives it into darker closets where it only becomes more destructive.

Savor the Story - In his amazing grace God gave us the story of how he made himself known to men and women just like us. He wanted us to know exactly what he is like and how he thinks so that we could know him as he is. The Bible is not an owner's manual with rules to be followed,  it is the story of God making his reality known in the brokenness of our world. If you're used to others spoon-feeding it to you, now is the time to take it on yourself. Start with the Gospels. As you savor God's story, you will find yourself better able to see and appreciate how he continues to write that story into your own life. You will see Jesus more clearly and recognize his voice more simply.

Cultivate Relationships You never know how God might use you to touch someone who works near you, lives near you or just passes by you during the day. You'll be surprised at the people he will put you in touch with and how his presence in you will be a blessing to them. As you find yourself blessing others near you, you will also come across others who are on a similar journey. 

Live LifeReal community is a gift God gives out of growing friendships, not what we produce by any methods or programs. Instead of creating it, we have only to recognize it as God builds it around us. The best gatherings of body life emerge out of relationships where people are learning to share the Jesus journey together. If you know people who want to be intentional about sharing this kind of community, by all means join them. But if you don't, don't give into the lie that God has forgotten you. There are many ways God can relate you to people who are also living the journey, even if it is just a conversation here and there for a time. I suspect that when people have a hard time finding fellowship with others its because God wants to draw them closer to himself first.

Don't Despise the Struggle - it isn't easy learning to live outside the false security of religious obligation, but the freedom is so worth it. Scientists say if you help a butterfly escape its chrysalis, you actually kill it. God designed the process so that the struggle itself actually strengthens the butterfly so she will be able to fly away when she is finally free. It can be scary when all the props that made you comfortable are no longer there, and it is easy to coast through life and miss out on the incredible friendship God wants with you and to soar in the life of Jesus. Our struggles accomplish the same thing. They are part of what God uses to invite us deeper into him.

To read the original article click on this link

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Love The Church

I don't know about you, but I love the Church. Jesus LOVED the Church, and said the gates of hell would not prevail against her, he said that we are his bride..., what a wonderful image, I love the Church.

Jesus also said that where two or three are gathered together in His name he is with us, in our midst!! I guess that is not such a big deal because He is in us and we are in Him, from the day we invited and accepted Him into our lives.

I love journeying with friends who are daily discovering Papa's lavish affection for them and the incredible realities that Jesus accomplished on the cross,  then said "It is FINISHED", the work is done, enter in to the freedom my life will bring.

I love the life that is given and received, when Christ followers meet and share together the things they are hearing and learning from the one who is "especially fond of them". I love the life and worship that is generated from those who are learning what it means to offer their lives as "living sacrifices". From my experience, as those realities are shared when believers get together, Christ is glorified, and the world gets to see.  
What I am not that keen about, is what many people in today's world frequently think of, when the "c" word is mentioned. My experience is that the institution that we often refer to as the church,  has not delivered what it has promised. It promised what I have attempted to describe above. It has however largely delivered, programs,  to do lists and building projects. All were offered with the best intentions, but they never seemed to lead me into a closer more intimate relationship with my loving Dad and His amazing Son.

We need to dis the illusion that many of us have come to think of as the church, and embrace the Church as Christ described her. I think Wayne Jacobsen's description of the institution that many people today call the church  is one worth contemplating. It may help dis your illusion, it's helping me.

Extract from "The Naked Church"

"How easily Satan must have thought he could snuff out the light of God’s kingdom in the world once Jesus had ascended to the Father! Only 120 followers remained, and they were huddled away in fear. Though the Day of Pentecost must have been a setback for him, he soon responded with a new strategy – bring in a heavy dose of persecution to extinguish the flame.

But it didn’t work. Centuries of persecution followed, first by religious leaders in Judea and later by the Roman emperors, but the church continued to thrive and expand. People discovered the power of the Risen Lord and at great cost surrendered their lives to him.

Sometime late in the third century Satan must have called a conclave. Hades I, he might have called it. Since persecution had failed so miserably, this diabolical council needed to develop a new strategy to undermine the life of the church. The solution it produced has done far more to render the church powerless than any persecution ever has.

The objectives were clear: The plan would have to diffuse the self-sacrificing love that carried the church through conflict, distract it from intimacy with God, and devalue the importance of the individual believer. And, since the church had already prevailed over direct assaults, the plan needed to be so deceptive that it could not be recognised as coming from hell.

A few suggestions were offered, but they were so weak that they didn’t even invite discussion. After a painfully long silence, someone, perhaps Srewtape, came up with a very simple idea: “Trying to keep it small hasn’t worked – let’s make it big!”

All the other devils gasped, thinking that old Screwtape had finally bolted his sanity. “Make it big? What do you think we’ve been working so hard to prevent?”

“Hear me out, colleagues. We can kill it with its own success. What would happen if the church suddenly became acceptable?”

“Lots of people would go to it idiot.”

“But what would all those people do to it?” Srewtape replied with a smirk, then sat back as he watched their minds churn. One by one the others began to see the brilliance of his scheme. “Many would come just for social reasons. They would quickly dilute those who are really in God’s clutches.”

“And imagine all the programs and activities they would have to plan to keep those people happy. Nothing chocks out intimacy as well as busyness’.’

“A crowd like that would have opinions so diverse and disruptive that the power of the gospel would be compromised in just a few short years.”

“The church would eventually become a machine, chewing up individuals instead of loving them. Programs would take over where personal ministries now flourish. And everyone knows how easy it is to kill with a program.”

“Hear! Hear!” they all yelled.

“They couldn’t possibly teach all the followers to walk with God personally, so they would soon substitute rules and guidelines for his ever-present voice.”

“the machine would have to be run by professionals. The others would become nothing more than spectators and bill-payers.”

“And that leadership would waste most of it’s time tied up in administration, which we know benefits almost no one.”

“Who would have time for individuals? They would have to try to disciple people by regulations, and the cracks in that are so wide we could go on vacation.”

“And best of all,” Screwtape spoke up again, “they wouldn’t even know what had happened to them. They would think themselves successful beyond their wildest dreams. They would be pillars in the community and stand before huge crowds. We would let them keep all their Christian terms, but we would substitute our own meanings. It’s foolproof!”

“But size alone won’t do that, Screwtape,” Satan himself finally said. “they could still teach all those people what it really means to follow God and they could still love people one by one no matter how big it got.”

“True, O Wicked One.” Screwtape waggled his index finger, “but do you think they would? Do you think they would risk losing all those people or would resist the corruption that such power and influence would give them?”

Satan smiled in whatever ecstasy hell allows. “Of course not!” He slammed his fist on the table, “let’s do it!”

Wayne Jacobsen  - The Naked Church,  page169 -171

What might the Church that Jesus is building look like - The Life of a Pilgrim

Wayne’s conversation with Jack Gray, a Scottsman who has resided in New Zealand for almost 50 years. They continue their discussion from last week on the life of the church and Jack’s journey to find the church Jesus is building, rather than the one man is building. They talk about a Swiss theologian from the mid 1900s who pointed out that when the love and power of the Spirit faded in the early church, we replaced him with dogma, doctrine, and institutionalism. They talk about Jack’s rich experiences with church life as a relational reality and how people cannot resist the desire to put things into a box, rather than continue to embrace the unfolding work of the Spirit.

You may like to listen to the conversation by clicking on this link 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

God without Religion

 - can it really be that simple?  is an amazing book that has dissed a number of illusions for us. 

We first met Andrew Farley when we read his wonderful book called The Naked Gospel. In that book Andrew communicated the gospel in such a simple way that even a child could understanding it, or should I say only a child could understand it.

Dr Andrew Farley is the lead teaching pastor of Ecclesia serves as the Faculty Adviser for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at Texas Tech University. 

His initial experience as a Christian was characterised by self-effort as he tried to please God at any cost. His ruthless religion resulted in spiritual fatigue and disillusionment with the church. Only then did he discover what relaxing in Jesus means and how enjoying God's intimate presence can transform everyday life.

Through tales of robbery and extortion, laps around the Indy 500 track, tapped phone calls to a psychic, and a grandma's late arrival at her own funeral Andrew invites his readers on a story-filled adventure to discover the beauty of God's grace.

These are some of the illusions that Andrew has helped us to identify; to see the Gospel message from a hopeful perspective as opposed to one that divides and separates. To see the true meaning of walking in the spirit. Clarifying the facts around the judgement, rewards and God's discipline, and highlighting the problems around the popular challenge to Christians  to die to self. 

Although Andrew is is an incredibly well educated man, he communicates the Gospel message with such clarity that you come away from listening to him or reading his books saying, why haven't I seen it like that before.  

Darin Hufford, author of the best selling book, The Misunderstood God says of God without Religion. "This is a book that every Christian simply must read before going one more step in their walk with Christ. Don't waste another day living under religious bondage. Stop everything you're doing and read this book now".

And Leonard Sweet, best selling author, professor, Drew University and George Fox University say's "Andrew Farley is one of the best young writers yet most mature thinkers in the church today. Read God without Religion to hear the voice of a 21st-century Bonhoeffer who shows how to ring in the good times when Jesus (not religion) is the cantus firmus, the enduring melody, of our lives"

If you haven't met Andrew, or read either of these books, I've attached links to an excellent two part interview with him, just click on the following links part one and part two , happy viewing, (and reading) :-)