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Mike

Mike Mike Email mtackett@whfbc.org

The Christian Religionist

Monday, May 04, 2015 View Comments Comments (0)

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for meGalatians 2:20

Meet The “Christian Religionist”…

He’s telling you that his struggle is better than your rest.

He’s saying to look at the statements of Paul concerning your righteousness, holiness, blamelessness, total forgiveness, etc., as entries on God’s books that will be cashed in when you die.  Until then you are in a schizophrenic black dog - white dog environment where Satan and Jesus are sharing you and competing for your attention from within your wicked heart.

He doesn’t believe that you are really new, or that something about your human person really was crucified with Christ and born from above and is totally different than it was before.

He doesn’t believe that within you there resides the One who is the reality of the fruit of the Spirit and who desires that you draw upon that inner reality, for it is joined to you inextricably as one life living.

He says that the answer to life’s difficulties is more prayer, bible study, church attendance, mission trips, and sharing of your faith.  That’s how you grow.  You learn more and more Scripture that you then can apply to your life… with God’s help of course.

To Him, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit to your spirit that now you have Life, Christ’s Life, is “feelings” and too subjective to be relevant.  Even though you have a knowing that is not connected to a feeling, it’s too ‘mystical’, and should be ignored.

 

Living New'd

Friday, April 10, 2015 Play this file. Play View Comments Comments (0)

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."  2Cor 5:17

Sometimes I think folks are trying to tell me that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the lifestyle.  This was brought home to me most recently when glancing over a recommended reading list that had been suggested by a rather ‘prominent’ Christian’s website.  Most of the books listed reflected a theology that I followed for most of my life.   Do your best and God will do the rest… What Would Jesus Do…Live by the Book…   All of this, though catchy and spiritual sounding, is not new covenant  instruction.  More or less it’s the other side of the The Law coin…the ‘outside of the cup’…the ‘appearance of Godliness’.  It’s the ‘Get saved, lay it all on the altar, be dedicated (and often times rededicated and rededicated and rededicated)’ theology of most religions.  This, accompanied by the correct spiritual life disciplines -practiced sacrificially- is supposed to cause you to grow spiritually.  This grace mixed with law thinking  often causes proponents to express, what I call,  ‘grace apologies’.   Phrases like ‘Just because you live under grace doesn’t mean you do nothing’ or ‘I know we live under grace but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want’…  Well, does it?  How can you who died to sin, still live in it?... In other words, sin is not your nature… quit fighting it… it must be managed by Someone Else.  You desire to please God… if you know and truly understand just who your Gracious Father has recreated you to be, you can trust Him to handle it…  or understand that He has already handled it, and you don’t need to take it on yourself.  The greatest moment in my life was when I finally, truly saw with my heart and mind that God totally loved me, had totally freed me and in fact I could do whatever I wanted…I was brand new.  My spirit was united with the Holy Spirit and I had a new Christ centered heart.  I wanted to know Him intimately above all else because of that realization.  We love Him because He first loved us.  His love directs, motivates, encourages, and holds us eternally.  I had been one of the ‘committed ones’ for years and had never known the depths of this before.  It was a part of my philosophy, but it wasn’t me…It was a part of my religious convictions, but it wasn’t LIFE.  Now it had become the substance of faith…faith that had morphed into knowing.  For the first time, I really experienced what born again was,  and everything was different.  I was now living in the love and affection of my Father…never to be rejected or loved less… and He was enjoying me as I was enjoying Him.  I could see what Paul meant by the 'love of Christ that surpasses knowledge', and it was amazing.  
If an average someone who’s life has been failure laden,  and  who’s talents and abilities are of the ‘medium’ variety, can know God’s marvelous grace and freedom anyone can.  Will failures still happen??…sure will.  Have I reached some high mountain-top  spirituality  where temptation no longer hooks me?? …nope… , but I have been settled in my total union with a Savior who’s peace, love, joy, patience, etc., is mine because it is His, and I have the option in all situations of ‘faith-receiving’ it and moving on with no condemnation and never being left or forsaken.

 

For Freedom

Monday, March 30, 2015 View Comments Comments (0)
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:36
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  Romans 8:2 
It was for freedom that Christ set us free;... Galatians 5:1 
 
I wrote down some thoughts one time, after reading and meditating on the story of Jacob wrestling with God.  This was during a period when I was home recuperating from surgery.  The thoughts led me to compose a letter to my family regarding wrestling with God.  I truly believe that God offers a relationship that contains a love so deep and so ‘safe’ that we can be comfortable ‘contending’ with Him.   I’m not talking about disrespect or ‘forgetting’ that He is the one independent Person in the universe; the all powerful, almighty, sovereign, holy, Divine One.  I am talking about an inner awareness or consciousness of being a ‘safe son’ who’s Father can not only take it, but desires a relationship that allows the freedom to ‘get in His face’.  I don’t believe this is either blasphemous or heretical, and it truly deepens my love and admiration for my Father God; a Father whom I love because He first loved me.  When the eyes of the heart truly see that personal love it makes all the difference.

Sometimes we come right up to the door of freedom.  We feel the warmth of the glow of grace, but we just will not step inside.  We begin to back pedal into past beliefs, traditions, and disciplines. The fear that we might fall into some form of antinomian black hole and be labeled a heretic, or liberal, or some such ‘branding’ haunts us.  Possibly we begin to hear the voice of the deceiver  whispering admonitions from childhood teachers, of all we should be doing for Jesus after all He’s done for us.  We don’t even realize that we’ve climbed on board that performance train bound for bondage; and that the mixing of law and grace has slipped in unawares.  A lessening in the break between Old Covenant and New Covenant is often the culprit.  A failure to truly see the reality of the “Christ in you” life as re-visioning the story (paradigm shift) instead of just another brick in the wall of things I’ve studied and ‘learned’ and am now going to teach.  I remember hearing Anabel Gillham, of Lifetime Guarantee Ministries, say one time that she taught Galatians 2:20 for years before she actually had a conscious awareness of the reality of her death and union with Christ.  Up until that time, instead of walking in the reality of being crucified with Christ, she was walking in the philosophy of being crucified with Christ.  “…, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”:  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” It’s all right there for the taking, believing, and the walking.  Am I new or not; living  with Christ as my life or not.  We faith it, and faith it, and faith it until it ‘melts’ into our conscious awareness and knowing takes place; and we go about living not just from what we know, but from Who we know.  The Way, the Truth and the Life is One with us and His peace is our peace, His joy is our joy, his love is our love. The fruit of the vine is born by the branch as it abides in the vine.  The branches contain the vine and the vine contains the branches.  It’s the mystery of the gospel…the mystery of Godliness.

“It was for freedom that I set you free, you are the light of the world just like I said that you would be.  So settle down and settle in to life in Me.  You are a vessel full of Jesus Christ for all eternity.”
     For Freedom  ca. 1983

Core Realities

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 View Comments Comments (0)

It matters not if you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu or an atheist …. Year after year in your lifetime… during this season…  the world, and that includes you, recognizes that vast numbers of people on this planet acknowledge, and some even celebrate, a man of whom it was said .. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”….  Jesus, Yeshua, Joshua … the Son of the living God, who, by the plan and purpose of God, united himself with His most cherished created ones, human beings…and for 33 years lived as Emmanuel , God with us…. And at the end of those years He suffered, died, was buried, rose again and ascended to His Father to make it possible for us to know CHRIST IN US, THE HOPE OF GLORY.  Do you have doubts about this man… His purpose, His message, His love and concern for this earth’s populace…  Well He desires, if you will just say from your heart “Yes, show me” to unveil to you His reality…His love, His acceptance and eternal plan for a relationship with you that will continue beyond space and time.

I read once, that if it were possible to place 1 million atoms, the stuff of which everything we see is composed, in a line, side by side, there length would be equal to the width of a piece of notebook paper.  And that if you could increase the size of the nucleus of one of those atoms to the size of a grape, the electrons that were spinning around the nucleus would be 1 mile away.  In other words, most of an atom is empty space.  We, and everything we see around us, are mostly empty space, held together by gravity and electro-magnetic force, standing on the surface of a ball of rock and water, spinning in space, around a star we call the sun.  Yet the most amazing thing of all is my importance to the God whose mind conceived and brought into being this cosmic miracle.

This God, who birthed me into His world, knew my name, my abilities, my weaknesses, my future hopes and dreams; many years ago, by his grace, opened the eyes of my heart  to the fact that I could become a renown song writer, or computer programmer, or business mogul, or pastor of a church, and yet if I missed that inner knowing of  Christ living in me, I would utterly and totally miss out on the reason I came into existence on this earth.  None of the rest, no matter how grandiose, would continue after I passed on. I would be like a bird that never sang or a bell that refused to ring..   That understanding brought me to my knees,literally to my knees.  I was in the back room of a shop, on the grounds of an amusement park, where I was working at the time; and there began for me the unveiling of love, peace, joy and purpose all of which is a Person, Jesus…not things given by a person, but a Person known.  And, best of all, He gave the consciousness of the presence of Himself, He who would never leave me nor forsake me …. EVER … “to infinity and beyond”.

The missionary statesman and Bible teacher, Norman Grubb, once said that the core reality for the unbeliever is “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” …

And that the core reality for the Christian is “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

God wants to enjoy you as you enjoy Him enjoying you;  a connection and relationship that will continue throughout this temporal dimension and into unknown dimensions of existence that we haven’t the ability to conceive yet.

Don’t settle for fame and fortune.  They are shallow and short term.

Vine Life

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 View Comments Comments (0)
John 15:5  "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
 
Many today believe the Christian life to be all about concepts that motivate, encourage, and progressively change your behavior; and getting a little help from above when your strengths become exhausted.  This seems far removed from Jesus’ words of ‘abide in me and I in you’, and his illustrations like the vine with branches which contain vine-life and yield fruit from just being .
 I see Jesus’ explanation of the Christian life as being about the union of two into one, where all is a manifestation of the Life within, operating by the ongoing activity of faith.  Faith is the confidence and the assurance that it is happening, not a mysterious power that produces it.  That confident assurance is a gift one receives.  You just sort of realize one day that it's become part of you.  An inner knowing has occurred, and there is a conscious awareness of the “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you“ presence of Christ.   As the life is lived, the eyes see, the ears hear and the spirit knows that an ‘it’s not just me reality’ is taking place.  It's what has been called the 'mystery of the gospel'.  'Christ in you, the hope of glory'.
 

The Hard Working Sinner

Friday, October 17, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)

Phil 2:12-13 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.                             

http://clipartse.com/stock-clipart/5374/priest-clipart.png

I recently read an interview with a well known pastor in which the interviewer complimented him on a ‘humble apology’ which he had made after being admonished by a few associates for improper behavior. His reply to the compliment was “I am a sinner working out my salvation with much fear and trembling.” Considering that I don’t find the Scriptures identifying Christ indwelt ones, as ‘sinners’, I decided to try and put down a few words regarding the pastor’s remark.. 

First, a sinner does not have salvation, but is in need of salvation; which, once received, results in him no longer being a sinner but a saint! Numerous times the Apostle Paul addresses the objects of his letters as saints, but never does he refer to them as sinners. It seems that there is a preponderance of Christian teaching today that proposes that you are a sinner until death. The only difference is that now you are working out your salvation.   However, when I think about it, you could make the argument that we are all sinners until we die, but you would need to deal with the question of “just when do we die”.  Romans 6, Galatians 2 and other passages point clearly to our old man having died, and we being birthed in Christ as new creations already.  We are dead men walking, so to speak. 

Second, the passage of Scripture that he refers to, by implication, is erroneously viewed by many to be describing an activity similar to a puzzle needing to be pieced together and ‘worked’.  It’s sort of like “you’re in this ‘state of being’ called salvation, and now you need to be busy getting it together and working it out;  and, even though God will help you, it’s a life-long process that requires much time and effort to achieve success.” 

I don’t believe that’s the message Paul is trying to convey in this passage.  In looking at the two words translated ‘work’, I noticed that they are not the same greek word.  The first work is katergazomai which is a combination of kata, meaning down, and  ergazomai translated here as 'work out', but as ‘cultivate’, or ‘carry on’, by other translators.  It’s where the word ergonomics comes from, and has to do with focused, effective and efficient activity.  Actually, in today's street language the translation could be “Get down with”.   The implication is an ongoing activity of focused engagement in something.  It is not necessarily an activity of toil or labor like digging a ditch or mowing the lawn.  However, if you want to get the full picture, you must factor in verse 13 and God’s work. This greek word is energeo, and is where we get our word energy or energize. Using these two words together, I believe Paul is saying that we are engaged in manifesting outwardly what is going on inwardly.   God is active within you as His divine energy brings about your activity. The energy is within, and not only that, but it is God’s desire (will) that is the motivating force behind your desire to be engaged in this activity. It reminds me of Jesus’ words “I do what I see the Father doing…, and I speak what the Father is speaking…”.  His  description of an inward relationship that brings about what is going on outwardly…  a picture of walking by faith. 

The third thing I think is important here is what is happening relationally;  or our perspective on how God and I are involved in this ‘walking in the Spirit’ journey.  Is God, changing me day by day? Is He molding and perfecting my character to be more like Jesus?  I believe that is the position of most of Christianity. In fact it is also the position of most of the various world religions. We begin as new converts, with the goal of getting closer and closer to God and becoming more and more Godly.  This view, regardless of the religion you pursue, is basic humanism; the progressive improvement and hopeful ‘perfecting’ of the self.  I do not, however, believe this to be the picture of the Christian life meant by Paul’s words “work out your salvation”.  

We do begin as new converts, but a convert who is, at the core of his being, a new, different person. He is joined as one spirit with the Spirit of God. He contains the character of Christ in the person of Christ from the instant of his new birth. From there the progression that occurs is the progression of faith. He sees more and more clearly Who lives within  him, loves him, energizes him, and how to ‘do what the Father is doing’, and ‘speak what the Father is speaking’.  His heart eyes and heart ears are learning the focus of faith; and consequently, the outwardly viewed character, that looks like his character, is the character of the Character who is his Life and his Truth and his Way. I believe that Jesus meant this when He said “I am the Way”. The way of human self improvement is the way of the “knowledge of good and evil”. The way of the child of God is living from the Way who lives His life through me; who’s desires and energy is my very Life. 

So, get down with your salvation, as Christ in you flows outward as the fruit of the Spirit. It’s the working of faith brought about by the grace of God and it is serious business. Oh, and regarding the fear and trembling mentioned in the verse above (the serious business indeed),  I will quote Vincent’s Word Studies, which says, “not slavish terror, but wholesome, serious caution”.  Or, as the missionary statesman Norman Grubb once said, in describing the life of faith, it’s “total seriousness in the midst of utter hilarity”.

Thank you Father for this sinner’s death and this saint’s birth as your beloved child.  Amen.

Free To Be

Thursday, October 02, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)

      In going thru a 'fall cleaning' of my computer files, I ran across a short article I wrote for the WHFBC Newsletter  back in 2008.  So, I guess you could call this entry a rerun.  Hope that's OK...
     Hi!  It’s good to see you; I mean, literarily speaking. From my mobile desk, behind a metal cabinet, in the choir library, I can’t really see you, but if you’ll picture me sitting here typing, you might enjoy this article more. This is the third article I’ve written. They just keep sounding way too religious, and I really don’t like religious. I’ve been religious fortoo much of my life. I went to Bible school, interned as a youth guy in college, and even traveled with a group singing religious folk music in the 60s, when no one else was doing that. I mean, there’s a strong possibility that we invented Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). So, if you want, you have my permission to tell your friends, “Hey, one of the guys who invented CCM goes to my church.” See, there I go; sounding all religious…‘goes to my church’. You know, until the 3rd century the word ‘church’ was never associated with a building. It was a group of people who had received the life of Christ and shared in the reality of the God journey - living united as one spirit with their Creator/Redeemer/Sustainer. There was no building. As a matter of fact, having a building and being religious occurred at about the same time. There may even be a connection. It’s so easy to get caught up in a religious mindset that leaves very little room for freedom, and I’m convinced that our freedom is very important to God. He went to a great deal of trouble to arrange it. He desires the love of free men and women. When Jesus stood in the synagogue and announced the beginning of His ministry, He said He had been sent “to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”. That doesn’t sound one bit religious to me.

      You know, when I was younger I spent a lot to time trying to figure out God’s will for my life. I was taught that God had this plan and that it was my responsibility to figure it out and get in line with it. If I missed it, then I would have to settle for God’s second best... or maybe third, fourth, or fifth best. I had never been told that I could consciously live in a union, abiding in Him, communicating with Him, having Him place His desires in my heart, and actually live them out through me. It never occurred to me that an early morning sunrise in the park allowed God enjoyment as one spirit within me. Or that when I laughed at my grandson’s funny southern accent (the origin of which is still debatable) as he set up abruptly in his seat and exclaimed, “There’s a ‘muh-skeeter’ in here’, that God loved that experience through me.

     So, are you interested in being the church? Well, my advice (as a possible co-inventor of CCM) is to relax. Rest in the one who has freed you, declared you righteous, removed all condemnation and desires to change lives through you. It’s about living in relationship, staying in communication, listening, following and being free in Him. When He said He would never leave you nor forsake you He meant every word. Or, maybe you’d rather just be religious. Your choice!

The God of All Comfort

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)

Employment Coach/Personality Analyst What would you say, in one sentence, is your goal in life. 
Me:  To help people be comfortable with God.
"Some claim God wants us to be un-comfortable. They say 'give until it hurts' and 'get out there and do things that don't involve your spiritual gifts' and 'live outside of your comfort zone.' These admonitions may sound really spiritual. But living from Christ is both a comfortable and natural expression for the Christian. He is a perfect fit in every way with the saint- compatible with our personalities, hobbies, and interests. God embraces us and likes our uniqueness, and we can indeed be comfortable as we live and walk in confidence alongside 'the God of all comfort'."  Dr Andrew Farley, author of The Naked Gospel and God without Religion 

In my own  personal experience, when my life is characterized by anxiety, fear, shame, feelings of being a personal disappointment to God, etc., then I’m not living the normal Christian life, but practicing what I call Do-Do religion, or living by what I do-do and what I don’t do (ie the tree of the knowledge of good and evil).  When the eyes of our heart (Eph 1:18) see the spirit union (1 Cor 6:17) that we have with Jesus (Jn 14:20), and we, by faith, choose to live in the reality of our spirit's death and resurrection (Gal 2:20), our new life (2 Cor 5:17) of  no condemnation (Rom 8:2), no separation (Rom 8:39) and eternal love (Jn 3:16), then we can, as Andrew Farley says above, “ indeed be comfortable as we live and walk in confidence alongside ‘the God of all comfort’. ” 
There’s a change of consciousness that occurs  when we truly know (that’s a spirit knowing) that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) has both our back and our front, and that He is forever, PERSONALLY,  for us (Rom 8:28-29)

I find so much teaching and preaching today that is, frankly, do-do, that plays on causing discomfort.  Unfortunatly it has been the bane of religion since the beginning of time to use shame and condemnation to try and help produce godliness. Obviously it hasn’t worked;  either personally, for you and I, or corporately, for the church.  What do you think could possibly happen if ministers and ministries gave out pure grace with no mixture of law  and allowed the Holy Spirit to motivate and animate behavior as he sees fit?  Do you think it could possibly work better that the religious systems we have today?   It will happen someday, but if history gives us any hint of how, it won’t be without pain and difficult days. The flesh always kicks and screams when being rejected. So many ‘teachings’ of the past several years lend it handles to grab onto, and it holds on for dear life.

A Quest for Rest

Tuesday, July 01, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)

I watched a film recently about the life of one of my heroes, Rich Mullins. Several years ago I was asked to lead worship in a small church ‘start-up’ and one Sunday morning we sang the, then popular song, Awesome God. We only sang the chorus, as that was the only thing I had ever heard. Let me add that I was in the midst of a 10+ year period where I didn’t’t go to church, and I didn’t listen to Christian radio, which had newly arrived on the scene. After we had sung through the chorus a ‘few’ times, a habit which had also newly arrived on the scene, the Pastor, a young man whom I thought very highly of, and greatly admired, asked me to sing the verses to the song. I explained to him that I didn’t know that there were versus to the song, at which time he told me how much he loved Rich Mullins, and proceeded to sing the verses for me. That incident led me to purchase Rich’s album entitled Songs, and I immediately became a fan. In fact, I became such a fan that some time later, I printed a line from his song If I Stand on the back of one of my business cards, and attached it to the visor in my truck. It is still there today, and that was in 1996. The line was…

            “If I stand let me stand on the promise that You will pull me through,
             and if I can’t let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you.”

At the time, I was at a place in my life where I was struggling to know the truth of God’s love for me. Actually, I didn’t know that I didn’t know God’s personal love. I just thought my problem involved some truth, that I hadn’t come upon yet, which would cause the Christian experience to fall into place. I felt that there must be something in a book I hadn’t read, or a teaching I was yet to learn, and I was charging hard after that information. I see many brothers and sisters today, who are in that same struggle, and I personally believe that it is a necessary part of coming to truly know God’s love and your place in His universe.   For some, this struggle may only take a few weeks, for others months, and for some, like myself, it takes years. In fact, from the time when I utterly fell at the feet of Jesus, and gave up all rights to my own perceived independent life, and the time when I came to know that God personally loved me, was continuously present and in union with me ,and that He would never leave, forsake, nor condemn me, was 15 years.

Unfortunately, in Christianity today, there are a few widely held theological beliefs, which make coming to real rest and victory a lifetime, never ending ordeal. For example, upon viewing the film that I referred to above, one well known Christian author had this to say about Rich Mullins’ struggles …

     “He knew that inside each of us there is a sinner and a saint at war, and on good days the saint prevails, and       on bad days –Jesus loves sinners.”

That perspective makes a statement like “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” to be good in religion, but naive in practice. Or the reality that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” to be complete nonsense. Our earth journey is seen as a black dog – white dog, good me, bad me, never ending inner civil war. As a matter of fact to view myself as rubbish, that God sees through His special rubbish blocking glasses, is considered humble, and spiritual. Considering yourself a saved sinner is, as one writer remarked, ‘like being a married single person’.

It’s like the mindset that allowed the scribes and Pharisees of 1st century Palestine to be overachieving scholars, studying scripture daily, and memorizing massive passages, yet they were not able to “see” Jesus, about whom that scripture was written.  In our day many  consider Jesus’ and Paul’s words as figurative, impractical and merely religious language. This perspective places “victory in Jesus” in the “sweet by and by”.

"We walk by faith and not by sight… we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." To the new creature in Christ, with a renewed mind, that makes perfect sense. We still face difficult situations and dark times on this journey, but we are not double minded, viewing ourselves as saved sinners forever struggling. There is rest as promised, and you don’t have to wait until you die to know it. The scriptures tell us in Colossians, that Christ is our Life. We have no peace but Christ. We have no love but Christ. We have no joy but Christ. But, we have Christ, and in Him all of those attributes reside within us to be experienced by faith. 

Another quote that I have on a 3 X 5 card which is wedged in the corner of my bathroom mirror is this one by Dan Stone from his book The Rest of the Gospel

     “By faith we rest in what God has already done in the unseen and eternal realm within us. He has made us His       holy, blameless, irreproachable children. He has made us the righteousness of God in Christ. Our old man             died with Christ. We have been raised with Christ as completely new creations, born of Gods Spirit. He has       made us perfect in His sight. There is no condemnation. He has become one with our spirit, through which He       manifests His life to the world. He is pleased with us. He delights in us. He loves us. He lives His life as us.”

You have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God, Paul says. Your identity is resurrected saint, new creation, blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. Walk around in that reality. Set your mind on God’s personal love for you. Know who you are in Christ. It's the beginning of a marvelous adventure.

Paradigms

Wednesday, September 04, 2013 View Comments Comments (0)

The Mystery of Paradigm and the Paradigm of Mystery

A few years ago a word that got thrown around a lot in business meetings was the word “paradigm”.  The first time I heard it I wasn’t sure what the person meant.  So, I looked it up on the internet.  I discovered that paradigm referred to a pattern, model or template.  Philosophically it is sometimes used synonymously with worldview.  Back in the 60’s Thomas Kuhn popularized the term “paradigm shift” in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolution.  He used this phrase to describe a complete change in the way something was perceived.  For me, discovering the inner reality of life in Jesus Christ led to a paradigm shift in my faith.  So many times we think of the Christian faith as being all about behavior.  We often “feel”, even if we don’t “believe”, that changing our behavior will improve our relationship to God.  If we just straighten up our lives we will “grow” in our faith.  In addition to stopping some things, we “feel” that if we “do” certain things then God’s blessings will rest on us.  Some of those things are Bible reading, church attendance, prayer time, mission trips, program involvement, tithing, etc.,.  Now, don’t get me wrong, those are not bad things in and of themselves, but my paradigm shift  led me to the conclusion that Christ would forgive, love and accept me with no strings attached to those activities.  In our relationship those attitudes and activities would be worked out.
One of my favorite songs is "He Knows My Name" , written by Tommy Walker. The chorus says, "He knows my name. He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when I call." 

In Paul's first letter to his young "son in the faith", Timothy, he uses the phrase, "the mystery of Godliness", and in his letter to the Colossians he uses the phrase, "the mystery of the gospel". The word that's translated mystery in those passages is the Greek word musterion. The literal meaning of that word refers to shutting the mouth, or bringing to silence.  In Paul's writing he uses the word to refer to things which are unknowable to the natural mind, but that may be known by revelation.  Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary refers to revelation as "…the supernatural communication of truth to the mind".  In his Colossian letter Paul refers to "the mystery of the gospel, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory". This was the reality which was central to Paul's theology.   However, this was not just a doctrine.   Jesus Christ was united to Paul in such a way that Paul referred to himself as being joined to the Lord as “one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17).  Paul never saw himself as separate from Christ.  He and Jesus were one life. This was a New Testament (Covenant) phenomenon.   Jesus promised it, and told the disciples that it was to their advantage that he go away so that it could be their experience.  It is a spirit/Spirit relationship that is actually indescribable in natural phraseology.   This is a mystery which is the heart of the life of those who have been made new in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17).  That term “In Christ” was Paul's most used phrase for the believer.  Shortly before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus described this inner reality to His disciples this way, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5). One plant, made up of a vine and branches... one life, flowing through the one plant and producing fruit.  It's a simple illustration but with universal significance. The greatest thing is that it is offered freely to all who desire and receive. And not only is it accessible, it is the normal life for those "in Christ".

He knows my name.  He knows my every thought.  He hears me.   He communicates with me.  We laugh, cry, work, play and we are one life.  He is that life.  When I walk in the sand, there are not two sets of foot prints on some occasions, and one set on others; when He's carrying me. There are always just one set, because we share the same feet.  This is all made possible by grace, and offered in love, with no separation, no condemnation and an eternal union that surpasses natural understanding.  this is so superior to religion, which terrified me as I was growing up.

The missionary statesman Norman Grubb once said that the scripture verse Galatians 2:20 pulls it all together in one sentence.  "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
 
There is nothing that can compare to knowing Christ as Life. That’s my paradigm.