Riveted and Radical

Beyond a Mere Christianity ~ Chapter 20

R & R, an abbreviation for “rest and relaxation,” is the end to which most spend their lives. For those devoted to Christ – desiring the most from our relationship with Him in this life and for eternity – R & R means more than time out from our normal labors. Our calling and our work for His kingdom here on earth require a complete and indisputable loyalty to Him.

We know what rest and relaxation look like. Everyone works for it and welcomes it whenever possible. It requires a total giving of ourselves to nothing but ourselves.

But there is a rest beyond this world – beyond a mere Christianity – promised to the followers of Christ even before this life is finished. We are in preparation for that eternal rest while engaged in the work of the kingdom, here.

rivet (Merriam-Webster) A rivet is a fastener that holds something closed or down, and something riveting keeps you glued to your seat and grabs your attention; having the power to fix the attention; engrossing, fascinating.

To be riveted (Cambridge English Dictionary) To not be able to stop looking at something because it is so interesting or frightening.

“For the love of Christ compels us …. that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:15-17

A radical Christianity is a life no one understands except those who know Christ as Lord and Master of all life – physical and spiritual. It is a calling by the power of the Holy Spirit for us to leave our nets and other collections to follow Him. It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ that captures our attention even as He embraces our hearts, our minds, and our beings. I use the plural pronoun because I am not the only one He has chosen to leave all for Him.

“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Corinthians 1:22 (See also Ephesians 1:13)

To engage in the profundity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is more than we are able to imagine. It is a spiritual, divine, and supernatural way of life. This means that He, by His Spirit, has turned my life from self – total denial to the world – to undenied sacrifice to Him.

“The words of the wise are as goads,
and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies,
which are given from one shepherd.”

Ecclesiastes 12:11

To be radical for Christ we must first be riveted to Him – not just riveted on Him.

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37

“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30
Notice that in addition to the good things, persecutions are promised in this life to those who are true disciples. We will consider suffering and persecution in the Christian life in the next chapter.

 When Jesus said,“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk. 9:23), He was using His conditional statement that begins with the word “if” – relating a difference in the ordinary and the profound – in the common and uncommon.

Even as in John 8:31-32, He was presenting the difference of a mere existence and the radical life seen in Him and His disciples. In my early Christian life, I used to pray that the Lord would “love me to death” so that He might “love me to life.” He has been doing this for over twenty years – drawing me closer and closer to Him.

 “A follower of Christ is radically oriented to a different world.”

Dr. Charley Chase wrote these words knowing the content of John 6, one of the three longest chapters in the New Testament. Reading, studying, meditation and memorization of the undiluted truth of Jesus’ teachings will either turn us away or draw us to Him forever. Those who stay riveted to Him – not just to His teaching – will be new creatures, radically following and living the true life of a Christian, not for this world, but for the next (Galatians 6:14-15).

During the three years of His earthly ministry, many followed Him for the food and the healing. But they could not stomach His preaching and teaching and were no longer interested in Him.

When these left, Jesus asked the twelve. “Do you also want to go away?

“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:67-69

Eleven of the twelve remained and after His resurrection and ascension, continued His teachings and preaching of the gospel that we have today. We still have it, and like those few, we are few today who believe by the power of His Spirit and are riveted to Him, living a radical life in the face of adversity. Those who follow Christ live in light of the eternal life promised to those who are truly His disciples.

The religious leaders spoke of the apostles as ”These that have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

How did they do this? It was not of their own knowledge, authority or power.

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44

 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32

“Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, Who carry the wood of their carved image, And pray to a god that cannot save.” Isaiah 45:20

The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.Jesus sent Paul in ministry to the Gentiles “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18
The same light given to Paul accompanied him wherever he went.

 Seek, See, and Set Your Mind on Him

“So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.   Psalm 63:2

“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way. Psalm 119:37

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

We swim upstream — meeting and warning those on the path to destruction.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“To the end he may stablish your hearts
unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father,
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

1 Thessalonians 3:13

Dear Father in heaven, your greatness is unsearchable. You have made the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ more powerful that we will ever know. By your Spirit you call us, you draw us by your grace, you turn us so that we may look, gaze and wonder at your Son. You have lifted Him through death and resurrection to sit at your right hand, to rule and govern a people for yourself, to call in each generation those who will give all to live for you. As we live in obedience of the living faith you have given us, display in us the same diligence and fervency of our Lord that sets us apart from this world that it may be turned upside down. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Persecution in China

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Romans 8:35

As we prepare to spend an hour or so in a comfortable worship environment tomorrow, please consider that not all Christians have this privilege. Such is the church in China. Please read the following statement written by Pastor Wang Yi before he and his wife were arrested.

“Editor’s note: Over 100 members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, were arrested beginning Sunday, December 9. At the time of publication of this translation, arrests are still being made. Among those taken away were Pastor Wang Yi, senior pastor of Early Rain, and his wife, Jiang Rong, who have not been heard from since Sunday. 

Foreseeing this circumstance, Pastor Wang Yi wrote the declaration below to be published by his church should he be detained for more than 48 hours. In it, he explains the meaning and necessity of faithful disobedience, how it is distinct from political activism or civil disobedience, and how Christians should carry it out.”  

The translated statement can be read from the December 12 post of China Partnership.

I pray that we begin to understand what freedom and blessings we have, now. But also that we see the need to prepare, at least our children, for the persecution that lies ahead for those who follow Christ. Let us pray for those who stand firm for the gospel of the kingdom of our Father and His Christ in China and throughout the world. Fran

Our First Books Are Available ~ Now What?

This seven-month trek through the publishing industry has been an amazing experience. The Lord has blessed through His Holy Spirit to make it a work of faith and a labor of love. With the encouraging support of family and friends, we are rejoicing that the Lord has made it possible for us to begin to share what He has given us these last twenty-five years. When I say, “begin” I mean that He is still teaching me the beautiful things of His kingdom that belong to all His people.sun-burst-1478549-1600x1200

There are many more books in our files and more to be written; all in His timing.

That said, let me now say that we are not in this to make a lot of money, unless He desires to make this so, because we are giving away some books, and selling some, with the majority of the profit going to missions and charity.

Why am I writing this for this blog, today? This is for those who belong to His kingdom, who desire to know Him better, to love Him more, and to serve Him eternally. We pray that those who find these books will read and learn with us and continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christ and His Church
The name of Christ and His church is taken lightly in the world today. It has been suffering abuse and we will continue in this mode until His timing for another reformation. With the tone of the world as it is, we can expect persecution. In this, we will see who belongs to Him and His kingdom. We must be ready to contend for the faith. We must teach our children the difference between our Father’s kingdom, and the kingdom of the world, so they know on which side they live and stand, and where they will be victorious.

The truth of God’s Word is the weapon with which we will succeed in overcoming the enemy. It is through His Word and the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit that He will use us as His children, His people, to make His kingdom known in this world. When the persecution becomes fierce, others will see our strength and faith and be drawn to Him.

The main point of our ministry through Father and Family Books is to proclaim the legacy of God’s kingdom. Why is this so important to us? If we know what we have, we will be able to declare and defend the inheritance that is ours in Christ. Our work is not to show how awful the world is, but to proclaim the power, the awesomeness, the goodness and the beauty of God’s kingdom. A rich person will be wrapped up in what He has. His thoughts and actions reveal his wealth to all who know him. So, we as His children live and talk about the wealth that is ours in Christ, even as we show others how they can obtain this inheritance.

As He is continually teaching us to serve Him, we are still learning to live in relationship with our Almighty creator, who reveals Himself as our Redeemer. He is our Father who knows, maintains and provides, through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit, all our needs according to His riches in glory.

Humility and service are the keys. As His servants, sharing in the wealth of our master, all our life here is for His name, His kingdom, and His glory, until He brings us to share His heavenly glory with Him forever.

Please visit our website to receive the gift of our first book, First Things That Last Forever. Then we invite you to sign up for our monthly newsletter and receive a second free book, Two Full Plates ~ Learning to be a Caregiver. These are all available in eBooks and paperback. When you purchase other books, you will be contributing to missions that will carry the message of Christ to others.  We may publish these in audio, as we also finish other books.

Please pray; join us and walk with us as we continue to seek His kingdom and His will for His name’s sake, His kingdom, and His glory.

Dear Father, we have but one purpose for being here, as you have planned it  ~  for your glory; to know you and to love you as you prepare us for eternity with you.  We thank you and praise you for your Son, our Lord, and Savior; for the great salvation and inheritance that you have given us in Him ~ a legacy for which we will stand and fight.  In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

God Blows Us Away

When have you been stunned by a revelation of God? When is the last time that you were speechless, standing in awe of what you knew only God can do? When have the mouths of God’s people been shut so as to hear and see Him? He is still in the process of sifting His wheat and blowing away the chaff, so that He can use His grain to feed His people.

This is the way He has been dealing with me for many years, but especially in the last few days. Such a time as this Thursday led me to spend Friday morning in fellowship with the Father. As I said “Amen” I pushed up on the sides of the chair, but was unable to stand, feeling that my feet were being held.   Sitting back, wondering at my inability, I asked Him what was happening. His silent answer, through His Spirit seemed to be, “I have planted your feet in the field of humility; so that you can receive from me and be a means of sharing what I give you.” After a few minutes of pondering what that meant I stood and went about my work for the remainder of the day.

Saturday was a seemingly usual day, and the Lord’s Day was again that special day ~ the eighth day and the first day of the week when we enjoy the fellowship of God’s family in worship and in private worship and reading and however He leads for the rest of the day.

This morning from about two the Spirit of the Lord has been continuing to bring His Word to bear in my mind and heart. The vision of standing with my feet covered with dirt in a wheat field was prominent as I wondered what it was leading to.

For years my ministry has not been public, relegated to the home only with Jerry. His ministry to me has continually been fulfilled. Every promise, every hope given has been real and shared with others wherever He opened a door. He continues to amaze me, and open heaven as if it is here on earth. So phenomenal it is, that it seems unbelievable at times, and unexplainable. He blows me away, and I don’t know what to say; sometimes He takes my breath away and I stand in awe and reverence, receiving, and praying to share what He wants me to.

My thoughts this morning ~ as I was planted in the field of wheat ~ the reminder of Jesus’ words, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49; and in Mark 9:49, “Everyone will be salted with fire.”

Fire in the Bible refers to God’s judgment, and in my thoughts came this vision of the wheat field wherein I am rooted being set fire by the breath of God. Again I am blown away by the revelation that He makes us usable by removing the dross in our lives with whatever He chooses. How did the vision end? What was revealed in this new open field? I had been blown away and all that was left was a fresh loaf of bread that He can share wherever He desires.

In addition to His working in my own life I see Him working in others also. This applies to how He may be working in this nation and the world. From His Word and recent sermons I believe that God is able and will reveal Himself in such a way that will make us stand in awe, to know His presence and power at work to cleanse His temple and His people. The apostle Paul knew this presence and power as He wrote to the Corinthian church, “For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

Jesus said in Matthew 13:24 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.” He sows the good seed of His Word in us as His field. Our bodies are the temple of His Holy Spirit to do with as He pleases, so that we may share Christ, the bread of life.big_thumb_fb317feed7b7129b6f4c8db3604b0f2c

It may be the time for Him to start fresh again in this nation. We see the cloud of persecution looming and wonder what His plans are. When He blows by the breath of His nostrils and speaks the Word we shall see and praise Him though we as His people have to endure His wrath upon the whole. The fire that brings judgment upon the rest of the world will be that which removes the dross of His church.

Listen to a recent sermon based on the book of Habakkuk, which the minister speaks of as the closest book of the Bible to the conditions of our nation today.

“When God Does Not Respond As We Expect” ~ Dr. C.

Music ~ Yet I Will Rejoice ~ Habakkuk 3:17-18
Dear Father, I pray that you would reveal your truth, your Word, to your people today; that you would prepare us for days ahead as we need such a revelation of your presence and power in our midst. Rend the heavens and come down as the melting fire burneth to make your name known among the adversaries. Show us your mercy and mighty hand upon us as you remove all that hinders your working in and through us. Make us loaves of the bread of life for your glory, for others and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Related Article: Yet I Will Rejoice

HUMILITY and Happiness ~ Chapter 11

The last two chapters of Andrew Murray’s Humility (PDF) are extremes. From this chapter that deals with the valley, the last chapter takes us to the pinnacle. When we reach the depths of humility then we are lifted to the heights of Christ’s glory.  And here is true happiness on this earth.  This is not the experience for most believers. Most of us know nothing of the consecration and persecution that comes from following Christ. And we must remember that none of this is our own work. It is always the supernatural power of God working in the believer.

1151057_10202161160409750_1613618240_n-300x300In this chapter, we see how Paul got where he was; from the height of his own glory, to the depths of his own weakness, and then to the glory of Christ’s sufficiency. He, like some of the Old Testament prophets and like John in his recording of Revelation, had been blessed with revelations of a higher kind than is usual for man. Paul did not record these, but they were of such that, he could have been exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations.

From His Own Glory
He was brought down so as not to glory in such visions. How? The thorn in the flesh was not described as a physical infirmity, but as the buffeting of Satan.

Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;” 1 Corinthians 4:11

What he learned in his state of humility was how to live in response to infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distress; he knew they were all for Christ’s sake. He could glory and find pleasure in these things because he knew they were his sufferings for Christ.

 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; Philippians 3:10

It is in our own experiences that we will know Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings, so as to be humbled and made conformable unto His death ~ the death of self.

There are people in the New Testament that our heavenly Father has recorded for our imitation ~ especially Jesus Christ His Son, and then the apostle Paul. If we spend our time in this life researching the life of Christ, and how Paul was called and given up to follow Christ we shall see the purpose of Christ’s coming and dying for His people. We shall see the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing a person to Christ, and the devotion and obedience of faith that only He can bring about in this world.

Other Examples
So that this review will not be so long I ask you, the Reader, to read this chapter from the book. In this article I want to allude to other examples that reflect the truth that Murray is sharing, and to record my own impressions.

Beginning with our Lord’s own words from Matthew 5:10-12 we remember:

Blessed (happy) are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you,
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:
for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

 The name, the glory and power of God and Jesus Christ are revealed in the New Testament as relating to times of persecution because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts when the apostles, having been beaten and commanded not to speak in the name of Jesus, they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 5:40-42

From Simon Peter’s Letter 
“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;” 1 Peter 3:14

Peter reminds those believers who were being persecuted, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:12-14

As they were a part of Christ’s sufferings He was being glorified. They could be happy knowing and experiencing the spirit of glory and of God resting upon them.
They could endure the evil done to them knowing the promise that just as Christ suffered for them they could suffer for Him and also share His glory.

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” Colossians 1:24

We owe our thanks and praise to the work of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s life. His sufferings and afflictions were counted to him as for the sake of the church. As we see in Paul’s life what it meant to deny self and follow Christ, we have enough visions to lead us to humility and to follow Christ. In this is our only means of survival and true life here and for eternity.

Others are following in our footsteps. What do they see; do they see the true Christ in us? Do they see the happiness in our humility in serving Christ? Will they be led to self-denial, willing to suffer for Christ’s sake and His church, to rejoice in the Lord through any circumstance?

Gracious Father, we, in this country know nothing of the persecution that Paul and the early Christians endured.  We pray for those who are suffering for Christ’s sake, that they not only endure but be filled with the power of your Spirit to rejoice in the Lord in the middle of persecution.  Let their oppressors see the joy and power of Christ in them and wonder at such great salvation that you bring to your people.
Prepare us for such persecution that is sure to come in this nation.  Have mercy upon us as your people.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

And the Lord Said Unto Me: Scripture Tunes