Sunday, September 17, 2017

Right to Write


I want to write … as I have written
since my teen letter-writing years. 
I want also to read, but of the writing of books there is no end.

But I have read all my life and time is fast flying, passing me by more rapidly than ever before.
It is passing fast and there are activities to which I must attend as I find my way into the new life I now have 
... after seventy years of two walking as one.

Now that she has taken her long flight to her eternal home,
I must do which is most natural to me … and that is write.
But tonight I'm satisfied to ponder Ella Wheeler Wilcox's
well known verse, "I Will Not Doubt".

I don’t write poetry but that does not prevent my taking pleasure in her verse
so beautifully crafted. What is right for me today, is write where I am at this moment in time and
this is what she concludes:
I Will Not Doubt:
Though all my ships at sea come drifting home with broken masts and sails
I shall believe the Hand which never fails
From seeming evil worketh good to me.
And though I weep because those sails are battered,
Still will I cry when, my best hopes lie shattered,
“I trust in Thee”.

I will not doubt though all my prayers seem to return unanswered from the still white realm above
I shall believe it is an all-wise Love which has refused those things for which I yearn.
And though at times I cannot keep from breathing
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing,
Undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt
Though sorrows fall like rain and troubles swarm like bees about a hive
I shall believe that the heights for which I strive are only reached by anguish and by pain
And though I groan and tremble with my crosses I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

Walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Monday, August 28, 2017

Finding the Mind of Christ

I am reading snatches of Dennis Kinlaw (The Mind of Christ, 1998, Francis Asbury Press) in my sitting times with Tommie.  Kinlaw was the protégé of Henry Clay Morrison, founder of Asbury College and Seminary. He was also a leading conservative Scholar and proponent of Wesleyan holiness. He makes a significant observation (64-65) that I find most interesting, one that it seems to me many current conservative Christian political pundits choose not to see or else naively overlook when they theologize/theorize about life on Main Street. Perhaps it is merely my political bias; I’d like to look at it.

“Dr K” diiscusses how the Gospel of Mark reveals 1) who Jesus really is, and  in the latter part of Mark 2) who we are in our human need.  “The next chapters,” he concludes, “detail Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In chapter 14, Jesus predicts that all of the disciples will forsake him (v. 27). Two verses later, Peter denies that he ever will. Two verses after that, the other eleven deny that they will. And nineteen verses following that, the Bible says, ‘they all forsook him and fled.’ In the courtyard, Peter denies that he ever knew Jesus’ (14:66-72)

This is no coincidence,” Kinlaw believes: “The first half of Mark reveals who Jesus is; the last half reveals who we are. It is a picture of human nature in its common form tainted with self-interest and lust for status” (emphasis mine). Take note he suggests: “that these problems of spiritual dissipation and the clamor for status nevertheless emerge in the intimate fellowship with Jesus and other disciples.

A person does not realize this self-centered bent so long as he lives in isolation. One needs to live in community to realize the problems in his own soul” (emphasis mine). Thus; Kinlaw defends Wesley’s motive for bands and classes as part of early Wesleyan worship: “a painful part of church life” (p. 66), which he describes as “necessary” as a way to teach holiness and go beyond being edified and on to experiencing examination and self-disclosure.

I well remember my seminary years when Professor/friend  Dr. John Drakeford borrowed my 14-volumes of Wesley when researching his  INTEGRITY THERAPY  (Small Group Therapy) Movement founded  in study with O. Hobart Mowrer, U of IL Research Professor.  I heard both Dr. Mowrer and his Professor-wife Mollie testify to the validity of this Wesleyan insight as related to examination and self-disclosure and their personal  experience.

One reason many find it so very difficult  to become a Christian today is that before one can truly find one’s self in Christ, one must process through that ugly insight that “all” (I) have sinned and fallen short of the glory  of God and deal with the issue of Confession. Mowrer acknowledged the importance of this concept that many evangelicals have thrown out with the bathwater (Mowrer’s language) because of their Protestant view of Confession as belonging to the Papal system.

Dr. Kinlaw proceeds biblically (p. 66) to show how theology is shaped in relationships (emphasis mine). He concludes chapter-4 with 3-laws of Christian discipleship: (1) Find out who Jesus is and learn his adequacy; (2) Find out who we are (I am) and realize our inadequacy; and (3) Find the Holy Spirit’s power to displace your human weakness. With the fullness of Christ (thus the book title: How Every Christian can have The Mind of Christ).

The signposts in Mark (8:33) point to Holy Spirit transformation found in Acts and Romans 8:1 where Paul confirms “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ  Jesus.”


At this point I ask: “Is it too big a stretch to acknowledge that God created us as social beings, and that as social beings we act and interact either socially or anti-socially? That seems totally rational to me and not over-simplified! Thus, I conclude that when I apply biblical theology to my life in the Market Place, I need to apply it in terms biblically acceptable rather than politically motivated; otherwise I go against all that Jesus taught, simply because Jesus definitely taught us to live relationally inside and outside the church doors. I perceive that for the Christian on the “far-right” to call social elements of our gospel relationships “Communist, pink, red, or other political terms only suggests to me at least that they are more politically guided rather than guided by the mind of the Christ who builds us up through our social relationships,

It is the ”mind of Christ” that I want! It is that choice that he has made me responsible for choosing. It is that choice he has given me the opportunity of selecting out of all the choices life offers. Kinlaw concludes his chapter with this summary of Mark: “The essence of Mark is summarized in Jesus’ statement of Mark 8:33, where he says in effect, ‘You do not think the way that God thinks.’ Not until the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit would they be delivered from the enslavement of self-interest, the hallmark of the natural mind” (p. 68).

This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

seeking the mind of Christ.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Believer's Prayer

“And forgive us our trash passes, as we forgive those who passed trash against us,” prayed six-year-old Susie, as she repeated what she thought she heard earlier during Morning Worship. While it is important that we hear correctly, it is equally important that our daily walk  gives credence to what we pray. Nowhere is this more important than when we pray what I choose to call the Believer’s Prayer.

The Believer’s Prayer is what Jesus taught his disciples to pray. This prayer of Jesus teaches us much about living and praying, about believing and behaving (Mt. 6:9-13, KJV).

I can pray OUR only if my prayer provides room for others and their needs. I can pray FATHER only if I demonstrate this relationship in my daily living. I can pray WHICH ART IN HEAVEN only when all of my interests and pursuits are centered beyond earthly things.

I can pray HALLOWED BE THY NAME only when I, who am called to hear his name, live a holy life. I can pray THY KINGDOM COME only when I am willing to give up my own sovereignty and accept the righteous rule of God.

I can pray THY WILL BE DONE only when I intentionally pursue his will in my life. I can pray IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN only when I truly surrender myself to his service here and now.

I can best pray GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD only when I put forth an honest effort to obtain it but I seriously consider the genuine needs of others. I can best pray FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS only when I forgive and release my grudges against everyone else.

I can honestly pray DELIVER US FROM EVIL only when I make preparation to fight in the spiritual realm using the kingdom weapons of prayer and discipline. I can best pray THINE IS THE KINGDOM only when I give my disciplined obedience to my King as his loyal subject.

Moreover, I can pray AND THE POWER only when it does not matter what my neighbors and friends may say or think or do. I can pray AND THE GLORY only when I actively pursue his glory first and avoid my own.

I can pray FOR EVER only if I trust in His promises rather than fret anxiously about the events of each day. I can conclude my prayer with a hearty AMEN, only when I wholeheartedly affirm, “Cost what it will; this is my prayer!”

After all … what is the difference between the atheist that does not support any church and the church member that never actively supports the church to which s/he belongs? Or: what is the difference between the skeptic that rejects the bible and the negligent Christian that never opens the bible? And for that matter: what is the difference between the people of this chaotic society and the professing church member that lives like all the rest of society?

In his deepest moment of devotion and meditation, the Psalmist prayed, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O lord, my strength and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14, KJV). As true believers, let us enter the Market Place behaving as we have believed.
© 2017Wayne M. Warner

This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Praying,

     Our Father in heaven, hallowed by thy name, your kingdom come,
     Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
     Give us this day our daily bread,
     Forgive our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
     And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Mt. 6:9-13, NIV)._

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (3s)

Strength for Today; Hope for Tomorrow

Thirteen year-old Ralph rode his horse home from school on some very dark nights. One murky evening young Ralph approached a flooded stream and his horse refused to enter the swirling waters. Just then, a neighbor opened his farmhouse door, somewhere out there in the darkness on the other side of the stream. That open door laid a gleam of hope across the stream that rushed across Ralph’s pathway so rapidly; it allowed the hesitant Horse and the cautious rider to enter the stream with renewed confidence and make the crossing safely.
           
Years later; that distinguished radio minister, Dr. Ralph Sockman, recalled that significant incident from his boyhood. He confidently proclaimed that Christ opened the door on the other side of death’s sullen stream, that Christ “brought life and immortality to light,” that God broke in upon our world with the light of Easter. I’ve told this story before, but it speaks to me where I live today.

God wants us to find our way out of this great darkness that engulfs us. Some experience Easter only as a time of offense because the minister fails to recognize them from one year to the next. Others, like Sockman, discover in Easter an experience that offers life mends broken lives. The light of Easter exposes a gleam of hope that nurtures people through dog days, dreary events, and hopeless times.  It promises an equal opportunity occasion for nurturing new life, accompanied by the living Christ. It offers me the hope of eternal life with a living Heavenly Father as I await the soon departure of my spouse of 70.5 years.

           
In walking with this Christ we/I find forgiveness for past sins. In His continuing presence, she and I find promises of abundant life and ultimate victory over personal defeats. This God that was in Christ invites us to lay aside our spiritual uncertainties, walk with Him, and be liberated from the chains of doubt.

Easter brings His invitation for us to accompany Him on this grace-filled trip, free from the onslaughts of death, devastation, and defeat. Easter marks the ultimate turning point of faith by celebrating the true and certain defeat of death and darkness. Easter reveals the further promise of life unparalleled in victorious grace, mercy, and light. Easter offers this life on a 365-day-a-year basis rather than an annual spring holiday.            

Walking with Our Lord, we (now) live on rich dividends that result from His companionship. In seeking first His Kingdom, his companionship becomes our primary objective. As we pursue this ongoing journey, we await His future return with unabated eagerness, all the while welcoming any-and-all that will willingly accompany us.

On one hand, we no longer await some unknown future when Christ "will" bind Satan and cast him into the fiery pit. In reality, we live with him "now" in his victorious presence and we “celebrate” His faithful counsel and comforting presence.

Shortly after the liberation of Rome during World War Two, an Army Chaplain prepared  to participate in a special Memorial Service. Taking note of the circumstances, a young American GI begged the Chaplain to announce the soldier’s presence in the service. He explained that he left Italy ten years before and moved to America. He had not seen his mother during that time, but he knew she would be present in this service.
           
The Chaplain not being in charge of the service, could not honor the request. He agreed, however, and instructed the young GI: “When I am introduced you stand beside me. I am sure your mother will recognize you.”

Carefully following the Chaplain’s instructions, the anxious soldier stood beside the Chaplain in silence. A cry of recognition was heard buy all as a tiny woman in the audience jumped up and ran down the aisle toward the platform. Their mutual belief in the God of Easter dramatically reunited this elderly mother and her emigrant son after ten years of being separated by war and distance.

That which appeared in Bethlehem as a gleam of hope became a vision of reality when the God of history revealed himself through the resurrected and eternal Christ. In His Company, Tommie and I find God’s best for each one of us--both here and hereafter. The promises of the prophets became a living presence in Jesus. The  Easter event reveals the unending victory we experience today. It is a day in which Satan has no tomorrow.

From Warner’s World of 8-20-2017,

I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com___

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Desk As Altar

Church of God Historian, Dr. Merle Strege has written an excellent analysis detailing Anderson University’s first century of Christian service to its Church of God sponsor, its local community where it carries a vital role, and to the cause of Christian Higher Education... After spending time with Merle at our annual June Historical Society, followed by personal conversation, I eagerly anticipated reading his historical critique. I completed that reading recently and I offer the following personal response to this well-written newest volume of Church of God historical literature.

I excerpt the author's own words:
"James Edwards retired as Anderson University laid plans to celebrate its centennial. A tiny denominational Bible school had evolved in ways unimagined by the boldest dreamers among its founders. Once comprised almost exclusively of students and faculty drawn from the Church of God, one hundred years later AU has become intentionally pluralistic.

“And yet its identity rests in ties to its sponsoring church. From a sectarian Bible school and young college, the institution has stepped into a wider religious world as it continues to mature into a complex university. Anderson University defies simple categorization. Unashamed of its Christian character, it prides itself in not imposing faith statements or creeds as a condition of employment; instead the institution asks applicants for a testimony of their Christian pilgrimage.

“Formally tied to the Church of God, AU celebrates the freedom of 'academic and Christian discovery.' The sponsoring church and its oldest university have undergone substantial growth and change over the course of Anderson's lifetime, but at the end of the day, university leaders insist on belonging to the church that has given Anderson University its distinctive shape”

…"At one hundred years of age, the stated mission of Anderson University is '...to educate for a life of faith and service to church and society.' ... Since the days of Morrison and Olt, the development of such lives has been at Anderson's heart. The goal remains the gift and burden of each generation ... Signs abound that the latest faculty generation has taken up the task. In the words of one of its members, 'Our "unifying theme" is a life of faith and service ...set free by VERITAS, ...empowered ... by FIDELITAS, and naturally manifested through UTILITAS. Here I suggest is the common language AU must strive to protect, and our unifying theme.' John Morrison would smile" (pp 414-415).
Merle's fundamental unifying theme seems accurate in every sense of the word. Moreover, it reassures me as I look back across the span of and my personal relationship with the adolescent Movement, beginning as ABTS/AC and was but ten years old at my birth. Later, I would spend several decades serving that Family of Faith (Movement) in pastoring several of its newer (and some older) congregations from coast to coast, and I candidly admit Merle’s documented  insistence that TRUTH, FAITH, and SERVICE have been the net result of AU's century-long educational contribution to the mission of the Movement coincides with my experience. But also: he gives me insight and better understanding into issues I might otherwise question.
 I have had some very good and some very bad experiences with AC, both as a student and as a parent of students. I have one deeply serious issue with “my friend” Bob Reardon that came about during my years of being the parent of a student. That in my view still remains a problem John Pistole must correct and improve but that is outside the purview of this review. Some may not agree with the perceived liberalization and/or the academic freedom students have today. Not all will support the "progressive" view Dr. Strege puts forth. Some will reject various trends that differ in varying degree with our original manner of identifying ourselves as a Movement, et al. Still others would be more comfortable for AC/AU to be more dogmatic and less diplomatic while others would be more comfortable if our church/Movement was more sectarian, more doctrinal, and somewhat less experiential and pietistic. And that’s OKAY. 
SOME might even like Professor Strege to be less academic and more assertive about this or that issue, according to the interest of the particular person or congregation. At the end of day, however, I know of no one better able to gauge this assessment of our cooperative investment in Anderson University. Our investments of time, money, and energy have paid off in dividends both excellent and highly profitable (valuable).
I salute our friend and my fellow alum from WPC for this most recent of his several "significant historical assessments." Merle understands and can assess with considerable accuracy who we are as a people, what we have achieved through our efforts, and where we are headed in our future of uncertain times
This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com asking that you
“Be blessed!” as you thoughtfully read your copy of THE DESK AS ALTAR / Strege/AU Press/2016

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Work of the Holy Spirit

PART THREE -- The Work of the Holy Spirit
-Wayne M. Warner-

 Life is always a probation. The will is free . . . the holiest saint on earth may, if he chooses, sin and go to hell. Everything hangs upon the choice. Thank God we need not fall. Falling is possible, but not necessary.
                                    Byron J. Rees,
                             The Wesleyan Advocate

A wretched stench confronted Chuck Swindoll’s family when they returned home from their midsummer vacation. Chuck described their non-humorous dilemma of finding their house filled with the indescribable aroma of a dead possum in the attic over the bedroom.

Racing to find the best solution in the shortest time, they found a product guaranteed to rid their house of the offensive odor of decaying flesh---”Anti-Icky Pooh.”

The Church, like the Swindoll family, sometimes faces offensive odors. Decadent TV ministries leave a bad smell. Churches that tolerate unacceptable beliefs and congregations that allow members to live in Sodom while hobnobbing with the city elders, leaves a poor witness.

Paul described such behaviors as holding to a form of godliness, while denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The antidote for this anemic spirituality is the Holy Spirit, a true Anti-Icky-Pooh product guaranteed to fulfill true righteousness.

There is power beyond the norm practiced by many in today’s church. There is life under the administration of the Holy Spirit, but this truth frequently finds itself effectively wedged between ineffective teaching and misunderstood practice.

From the age of Genesis, Judaism taught the unity of God within one-God (monotheism): Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (1:26 NASV, emphasis added).

The Old Testament consistently shows God (the Father) at the center of all moral authority---the prime mover toward the human rescue. Yet, piercing through the fog ever so dimly, we see the mission of the Son manifesting the visible God to human eyes, to instruct the world, and finally to atone for mankind’s sin through His own death.

It is the Holy Spirit who administers God’s Department of Grace; applying and distributing what originated through the joint High Command. He revives recollection of Jesus. He quickens the conscience, renews the mind, and attests acceptance with God in practical living.

He sanctifies one’s whole being. He takes possession of a purified temple, makes the heart His home and converts it into a sanctuary of unending comfort. He expands it into a fruit-bearing garden that produces love, peace, and joy.

Pentecost simply served as the Installation Service that brought about the transfer in the command of power. Although people sometimes find themselves drunk on the sensual and sensational, thus void of reality, God’s people throughout the ages have enjoyed the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in several ways.

First, the office of the Holy Spirit is to awaken and arrest one’s attention, to excite the feelings, and produce conviction for sin (cf. John 16:8). Lacking power to rouse themselves, and shake off the stupor, people left to their own devices pass through this life, meet death, and enter eternity with their sleep uninterrupted.

Second, the work of the Holy Spirit is to renew (cf. Titus; John 3:5). Chaos, corruption, and death begin in the carnal mind. Carnality estranges the soul from God and dismantles the divine in humanity.

Third, the Holy Spirit restores and enlightens spiritual perception; penetrating the soul, repairing vision, revealing truth. He renews vision with perspective. Sin obscures vision, leaving us drifting on an ocean of error in a moral fog, void of true relationships.

Fourth, the Holy Spirit implants and nourishes the seeds of character-producing grace. Regeneration clears the soul of poisonous weeds and the bitter root of sin. It allows God’s Spirit of Truth to become the foundation of right principles, true virtues, and correct practices.

The Holy Spirit, moreover, acts upon these plantings, like the quickening rays of warm sun on spring flowers. He conditions the greenhouse of our heart, producing lovely bedding plants for beautifying the yards of our lives.

Fifth, the Holy Spirit assures us of our acceptance by God, reaffirming our justified relationship to Him (cf. Romans 8:6; Galatians 4:6). Although greater things were reserved for the gospel era, these functions are normal to the Holy Spirit.

Immersed in clouds of worldliness, today’s church sometimes finds itself debilitated and sickly, in spite of John the Baptist’s introduction of Jesus. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, John announced (Matthew 3:11 NASV, emphasis added).  

By introducing Jesus as the King, John also introduced God’s Kingdom. In proclaiming the arrival of the Promised Child, whose presence brought the power of the Savior-Sanctifier, John called for fruit worthy of repentance. He declared Israel already axed, rather than resurrected (cf. Matthew 3:10). He proclaimed the cleansing baptism of the Holy Spirit, rather than legalizing water baptism.

Believing in Jesus requires us to accept a Trinitarian view of God. Thereby, it acknowledges the era of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we learn there is life that comes to us from beyond mere human discipline.

Without explicit preaching and solid testimony we may fail to understand this truth, which is the fulcrum on which the lever of the Spirit rests.

Faith provides the conveyor belt that carries salvation, but the Holy Spirit provides the power that creates the cleansing, quickening, and beautifying we all need.

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about His coming kingdom, He told them it’s neither here nor there, but within you (cf. Luke 17:21). There is a level of life to discover beyond mere discipline, an internal power far beyond the norm practiced.


This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com reaffirming the Biblical truth that there is a Sanctifier beyond the Savior, and Jesus himself insisted that among His disciples if anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word  (John 14:23a NASV). 

Be blessed!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Life Beyond Discipline, Part 5, Warner

PART TWO
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
-- A Relational Faith -
-Wayne M. Warner-

“We Lutherans” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “ have gathered like eagles round the carcass of cheap grace, and there we have drunk of the poison which has killed the life of following    Christ”

In California I heard a humorous story about a Valley Farmer who shingled his roof six feet out into space. Allegedly, that was before he discovered he was off the roof.

Much teaching about the person and presence of the Holy Spirit leaves Christians in a fogbank as thick as those Tulle fogs that regularly rolled into the California valleys and waterways from the waters of the Pacific. Confusion about the third person of the Trinity leaves many living in a spiritual fog.

Christians in most quarters of the Church of God readily define themselves as Trinitarians and that is because they believe in The Creator God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If we accept Jesus as part of the Godhead, we somewhat automatically fall into the camp of those who believe in the Trinity. Some, however, reject the third person of the Trinity and we know them as Unitarians.

As Trinitarians, we find that we face differing viewpoints regarding the work of the Holy Spirit. The reformers of the Protestant Reformation generally agreed in emphasizing solid scriptural authority. They believed everything must be measured in strict biblical terms.    

However, preacher-scholars like James Arminius and John Wesley came to see great value in personal experience that gave a place to the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. They believed in a strong biblical authority, but they also recognized an important relational aspect in the Christian faith.

They insisted belief and behavior must maintain a proper balance. Thus, they believed that Christianity is as much about relationship with God as it is believing the correct creed. Some of the conflicting ideas between Wesleyan Holiness Christians and Pentecostal Christians come at the point of properly defining the right balance between Scriptural authority and the authority of personal experience. 

The Church of God has always taught the ultimate authority of Scripture, while continuing to give an important place to personal experience (the experiential) and private interpretation.

Thus Don Neace issued his small volume he called A Challenge For Clarity, which offers a renewed emphasis on biblical truth about the Holy Spirit. Urging believers to hold to basic biblical principles and doctrines, Neace urges avoiding over-emphasis on the experiential as expressed through personal and private phenomenon such as speaking in tongues and being slain in the Spirit (Neace/A Challenge For Clarity/Reformation Publishers/2004).

Going back to one of the first century‘s strongest churches, we find it came into existence because the Apostle Paul worked in Ephesus for three years to build a solid foundation. Here was a church known for its good works, patience, sound doctrine, church discipline, and its hatred of evil.

The church at Ephesus reflects the upward beckoning to discipleship that Paul stressed. In reading his or her story, we discover a need every believer has, a discipleship every believer can enhance, and devotion every disciple needs to fulfill.
           
The rest of the story depends on how we interpret the events at Ephesus and how we personally answer Paul’s question to the believers in Ephesus, “what baptism did you receive?”
                                                          
An obvious need
(Acts 10:1-7; 19:1-3).
When he found it was time to leave Corinth, Paul gathered together the offer-ing he was collecting along the way for the distressed believers in Jerusalem. He headed for Jerusalem, by way of Ephesus, with Ephesus a likely objective from early on.

As a result, Paul seeded the soil of this East-coast center by reasoning daily in the synagogue and promising to return if and when possible.

Archaeological digs reveal a great city in Ephesus. Several miles of walls surrounded the shops, colonnades, and commercial buildings. One outstanding architectural feature of Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis, which measured 163 by 342 feet, and sat on a slab 234 feet by 418 feet. A Shopping Center surrounded the city’s 360-foot rectangular market place. Later, Paul made his way into the 24,000 seat theater where Demetrius incited a riot. (Acts 18:18-21).

Apollos relocated from Ephesus and further pursued his vision elsewhere, after Priscilla and Aquila more fully discipled him (18:24-28). In the meantime, Paul recognized an obvious need; thus, his inquiry: “What baptism did you receive?”

The Ephesians admitted they knew of the baptism of John but they candidly confessed they knew nothing about this alleged third person of the Trinity. For Paul, this pointed to an obvious need.

An enhancing discipleship
(Acts 19:4-7). The limited teachings of Apollos left the church at Ephesus with a partial and incomplete gospel. The spiritually perceptive Paul diagnosed their need and proclaimed the fullness of the gospel to them. In giving them the whole gospel, Paul reminds us that we cannot follow Jesus very far relationally without moving beyond belief to behavior, from proclamation to practice.

At some point, the gospel always calls us to move beyond merely repenting, challenging us to go on to spiritual maturity. It calls us from a creed to an experiential relationship (cf. Hebrews 6:1; John 14:12, 22-23; 15:26-27; 16:7-11).

When we repent but lack spiritual anointing, it may be because we may lack adequate knowledge of Jesus. Insufficient knowledge of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who transforms followers into prescriptions of peace and joy for a troubled world, often fails to recognize the Jesus who anoints worshippers with joy, and guides the hurting, while empowering learners with effective witness.

When we fail to recognize-and-serve the Jesus who transforms takers into givers, we fail to experience changed lives. Through the Holy Spirit, God reorganizes believers’ lives and converts the passive from a level of non-involvement into a relationship of responsible accountability.

The enhancement of the Holy Spirit brings wholeness to the individual believer, complete with consecration and moral cleansing (cf. Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:25-26). Entered experientially by faith, this enhancement grows progressively as
God 
            Redeems
                        Our
                                    Worth
                                                Through
                                                            Himself.

A devotion to fulfill

Spiritual enhancement both allowed and enabled the church at Ephesus to be-come a gospel center for the province of Asia. The gospel went forth from Ephesus in spite of adversity (I Corinthians 16:9). When opposition increased, evangelism multiplied (I Corinthians 19:8-9). While the people heard something new, God did something extraordinary (19:10-11).

False witnesses failed to disrupt church ministries (19:13-17). Passive believers became practicing believers and involved participants. The church filled with “discipled-believers” as converts were taught and learners became doers.

Moreover, false practices were relinquished, allowing the people to truly become the church, the Body of Christ (19:18-20).

Eventually, Paul moved on, compelled by the Holy Spirit. First, however, the church had to first become the church. No longer was the church simply Paul’s mission and ministry. Now properly administered by spiritual leaders, the church at Ephesus dieted properly, fed adequately by God’s word. Moreover, the church exercised properly, utilizing faithful saints who took the gospel everywhere to everyone within reach (Ephesians 1:1, 15-19a).

The Holy Spirit transforms and assimilates groups of disciples into Christ’s Body, without leaving spare limbs and unusable parts to exist outside the body. As God’s church in Ephesus, Timothy and John gave spiritual leadership. As a result, the people ab-sorbed the gospel, and Ephesus became an exemplary stronghold.

Later in his life, John saw Ephesus still orthodox and persistent in service, and strong in discipline although somewhat abated in love (Revelation 2:1-7).

As Paul Harvey loves to say, “Now you know the rest of the story!” But, what will our story reveal? Will the Church of God be strong because we repented of our shortfalls and pushed forward in the maturity of The Holy Spirit? Will we be God’s church? Will non-believers find faith as the Holy Spirit enhances our lives with his sanctifying presence?

How will your story read? And mine? Have you confessed your sins and accepted Jesus? Have you placed yourself on the altar and let The Sanctifier cleanse you of spiritual impurities and sanctify you for His service? 

This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com –

While life launches at Calvary. It is through the baptizing presence of the Holy Spirit that life deliver its fullest expression of spiritual abundance.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Living Out of the Overflow; Weber, Ch-3

CHAPTER THREE
Living Out of the Overflow
Charles V. Weber

The most common inquiry coming from the discussion about living out of the overflow is “how can I live it?” There is no doubt that “how” is an important word, and it ought to be repeated by a minister over and over as he prepares to preach. As I look back on my ministry, I can see that I spent much time telling people what they ought to do. I really didn’t help them much because they already knew what they ought to do.

What they really wanted was to be told how to do it. Telling people what they ought to do when they already know is like clubbing a person. It is a form of nagging. I want to put some techniques into your hands, which will show you how to live abundantly.

Frequently people tell how they have struggled to live victoriously. If trying should be the measure by which they lived, they would rate high, but they feel defeated and know that they don’t rate very far up the scale.

It will help us to remember that we never can succeed by struggle. We can’t lift ourselves by our bootstraps. Some people try. They see a higher level of life and they begin to struggle to lift themselves to that higher level.

Paul wrote, “God . . . hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6, emphasis added). We do not raise ourselves; we are raised by the grace of God.

We must forget this idea of struggle in connection with religious experience. Some people have the idea that if they can do perfectly enough in time, they may become the children of God. This is putting the cart ahead of the horse. We become by the gift of God and not by doing. We do according to the nature of a Son of God. It all sums up to this: We must put action as the expression of Christian stewardship instead of a struggle to be God-like. We are not God-like because of struggle, but because of the divine gift of God.

For years I tried to be holy. I carefully watched every act of my life and struggled a great deal with my thoughts. I never experienced any lasting satisfaction from the results I obtained. I struggled and strained but usually sensed defeat. One day I realized that if I could be holy by the process of effort it would be a humanistic holiness. It would be my own righteousness, which, at the best, would be the filthy rags of self-righteousness.

Religion is not my own self-righteousness, but the righteousness of God in me. It is His gift to me. Holiness does not come out of effort, but through a divine endowment.

Instead of struggling and straining to be good, then, we should surrender and give up to God to receive His goodness. Surrender is the word that will lead us to abundance through God. Usually that is the hardest thing we have to do. The world lives by the rule of “preserve self” not “surrender self.” Automatically, people flee to save self whenever anything occurs to disturb the status quo and there is an instinctive basis for it. However, such a course of action leads to a false security and will cheat them of life.

Jesus spoke an important truth after He rebuked Peter for insisting that they would not let Him die. He said, “Thou savourest (understandeth) not the things that be of God, but those that be of men . . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-24, emphasis added).

Peter understood the way of men. It was to save self, so he quickly insisted the Master should save Himself. But Jesus knew the secret that brings life, and it was the way of God. The secret was the way of surrender. He that will “save his life shall lose it” and he that will “lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

It is hard for the worldly-minded to see this secret. It is too paradoxical to seem reasonable. It is foolish to believe the way to have a thing is to give it up. The whole world believes that to have a thing you must get it in your possession and hold on to it. They believe the way to get is to grab. But that is the worldly-minded idea of possession. It is false.

The only things which are really yours are those which will be yours forever. You may hold some things in your possession now or hold legal title to them, but some day you will relinquish them because they are not really yours. The things that are really yours are those that you give up.

For many years I used the Promise “Ask and it shall be given you” as the law by which to receive the things I desired. But now I have found a higher law of receiving. It is “give and it shall be given unto you.”

It is a purging law because when you give up a thing you are cleansed from selfishness. It is the law of the overflow because He said, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Luke 6:38, emphasis added). You receive more than you give.

Despite the superficial conclusion of the worldly-minded, the way to abundant life is by the surrender of self and all of the things of life. “He that will lose his life for my sake shall find life.”

Jesus clearly teaches this, and we find it in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” blessed are they that mourn” and “blessed are the meek” are three, which will illustrate what I mean.

The “poor in spirit” refers to those who have surrendered the material things of life. Stanley Jones suggests the “renounced in spirit” and another writer puts it in the “detached in spirit.” It doesn’t mean you have sold your home and business. You may have them in your possession, but you are detached from them.

You are not enslaved by them. Some people are slaves to their homes. Some are slaves to their business or their jobs. Jesus said those who have surrendered the material things to God are happy.

“They that mourn” does not refer to a sad faced religious experience as some have thought because Jesus teaches us that the Gospel is good news. It refers to those who are living for others--they that are carrying the burdens of others. They have a soul-burden that is a type of heavy foreboding.

The meek are those who are detached from self. They do not consider themselves very important. They no doubt have rights but they do not consider them important enough to make an issue be-cause of them. They have surrendered self.           

Jesus said those who surrendered things, self, and lived for others, would receive. What? “Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” They shall be comforted.” “They shall inherit the earth.” In other words, when we make a complete unconditional surrender to God we receive the realm above (Kingdom of Heaven) the realm within (comforted) and the realm without (inherit the earth.”)

The richest people on earth are not those who have the most money but those who have received this secret of life. “All things are yours . . .and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s (I Corinthians 3:21, 23).

When you are frustrated, beaten, discouraged, and hungry, you will find complete release in full surrender to God.

When you give up to God and all struggle ceases, the surrender makes you receptive for the gift of God. The first thing that comes then is a sense of relief, and the second thing is a feeling of wholeness.

Suddenly you feel an abundance as if a dam has gone out and the water is rushing over you. Usually in such an experience God becomes very real to you.

OBEDIENCE

Most everyone has had experiences of abundance when they realized wholeness, which they knew, was the gift of God. Then in their thinking they have wished that life could be like that all the time. Frequently, however, these experiences have been far apart and the gaps between have been filled with spiritual dryness and a feeling of inadequacy. The question is how can we narrow these gaps so abundant living can be a continuous experience in our lives.

I think obedience is the word that will help us on that point. When we surrender, the next step is obedience. The analogy of the vine and the branch in the fifteenth chapter of John indicates the fact that the nature of God will be in us if we “abide in Him.” He said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (emphasis added).

We receive living water by surrender but we find a continuous stream of it by obedience. Our obedience to God keeps the stream flowing. If there were immediate obedience in every instance the flow would hardly be interrupted. Usually our lives are made up of one struggle after another over this matter of obedience.

There is a thing we need to do but it seems difficult so we seek a way of escape from it. After a prolonged period of struggling to escape, we see we cannot find a way out so we rather grudgingly surrender and obey. The trouble is the period of resistance served to choke the channel until even our obedience failed to renew our abundance.

Instant obedience to God becomes an important factor in living out of the overflow.

PRACTICING THE PRESENCE

The man who is conscious of the presence of God will always feel adequate. It is when we lose the “presence” that we are forced to fall back on human resources. Actually living out of the overflow means to live in God’s presence.

            Practice taking God with you wherever you go.
            Think of Him helping you decide every question.
            Thank Him for His help.
            Seek Him for guidance.       
            Turn to Him when you are tempted or weak.       
            Seek Him when you stumble or sin.
            Live as if God is your very breath of life.
           
If you will do this, you will be living out of the overflow. Life will be lifted to a higher level and you will find a marvelous victory. You can live abundantly. You can be victorious despite handicaps.

This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

asking God to lift you to a higher level where you too can experience victorious living in spite of the handicaps.