Living with the Government

Blind JusticeWe cannot live without law in our society. Thomas Paine wrestled with this idea, concluding that government was a necessary evil. It always moves from a simple means of protecting the property and rights of society, to concluding that it is society. It never moves from the tyrannical and complex to the simple and supportive.

Frédéric Bastiat writes,

The Complete Perversion of the Law

But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?

The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy.

So, because of evil and the continuum of good and evil, we are inexorably tied to the law and government to administer it. The problem is in the inability of fallen man to keep that which exists to protect us from plunder, from becoming the plunderer.

Book Trees knowledge lifeThe answer is that in Christ we are released from the law. It is unnecessary to tell the spiritual man to not kill, not steal, not sin… When our nature is changed from the carnal to the spiritual, we do not need to be restrained. The problem is, redemption, though released to us in transformation from death to life, is too often rejected in reliance on the law of sin and death. Be struggle to become what we already are in Him. So, we groan in labor, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. The objective of the church should always be to bring spiritual maturity to the human race through the redemption of Christ which lifts us above the continuum of good and evil. The solution is in Him. Christ “inside-mindedness” releases us from the need for self-redemption and reversion to self-righteousness. He is in us and we are in Him. End of story!

The problem we have in arriving at that point is that we so confuse the mission of the church with the necessary role of human government. Remember the moral majority? Good people with right politics, but with an assumption that by taking over government, the role of the church would be fulfilled. Nope! It would just be another form of governmental tyranny, imposing by the rule of law, by a religious majority, not by a spiritual transformation.

Our battle is not with the world, but with bringing the power of redemption into reality and in seeing the effects of redemption freeing people from themselves. Yet, we wear two hats under two kingdoms and it is easy to get confused by the contrasts between them. The mandate of the church is to take the power of the resurrection into the good and evil world and bring it to the new nature provided in Christ. This does leave us with dealing with the evils of governmental tyranny however. It is part of the fall and ensnares humanity under its control. Because of the blindness of humans, we elect a protectorate to serve us and protect our freedom, only to find it serving itself and make slaves of its master. That is the inevitable result of the nature of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Sweet the fruit in the eating, but bitter to the core the end result.

Philathea LogoI am tempted to copy/paste Roman 8 here, but we all know it by heart. That is our hope and our deliverance. The measure of leadership is always in its love quotient. Does it love or simply use? Does it free or control? Does is support or come over? Does it become elitist and superior, or is it willing to go to the cross for our good? Does it take a position over us or does is come along side to support us?

A reader noted:

“Sometimes I despair that both our civil government and our religious churches are beyond repair. Is there a point at which we say this is part of God’s plan? Must things become worse and worse until the return of the one true and just King? What, if anything, should Christians do in the face of such dichotomy?”

Maybe repair is impossible but redemption is not. The idea is not to reform the evil to make it good, but to move to a totally different principle (the Tree of Life). The objective of the church should always be different from the role of government. Government, by its very nature exists to protect, and in order to do so, it has to create law and punish those who violate it. Its nature is punitive. Its means is to become the plunderer and confiscate the resources necessary to protect. The problem is, the limits that it is given are never accepted and it always grows beyond its purpose to ensnare and rule. Rather than repairing it, history seems to lead to the conclusion that it has to, occasionally, be watered by the blood of revolution. Sad commentary on fallen mankind, but inevitable, unless we can move from the tree we eat at to the Tree of Life and the redemption it provides. That redemption applies to each individual primarily, but its ramification involves how we release transformation through us corporately. The church is His body, but the church is not an organization but an organism, a living thing, living by a common life – The life of He who died and is now enthroned as Lord of all. Yes, we do structure things in the church, but once again, all too often, we allow the structure we use in interacting with the world to become our view of ‘church.’ It is then that we move from life do dead religion and the law.

What should Christians do? One of the great messages from our past came from Leonard Fox, in his insistence that the coming of Christ was not to get us out of here and take us to heaven to escape a damned world, but His coming was to be for a glorious church which had fulfilled its mission of bringing redemption to the planet. I do not know how to do that nor do I understand the mechanisms yet to come in our accomplishing it, but I believe that the church has to find its ground of authority and start being what it is here for. We are not here to supplant human government but to make it unnecessary. We are not here to create programs and structures and organizations that appeal to the definitions of our culture. The church is not a social or civil or governmental entity. It is the representation of the Lord of Glory, whose objective is to free the world from the tree we ate of and to bring us into the liberty of sonship. Jesus is not going to come and do it. He already came and did it. It is finished. Now it is our privilege to walk in the transformation freely given in Him. We are empowered to be what creation intended and to reflect His lordship into our world. Yet we stand in the wings of the world, watching the continuum of good and evil work its bondage and slavery, and wonder if Jesus will take care of it, or will government take care of it or will….

God in CreationListen up Church – The Day of Pentecost has already come and redemption has already been paid for and you wait in vain for the provisions that are already yours. Rise up and speak His name. Rise up and remind the rule of man that its limitation has been exceeded. Proclaim liberty to the captive, whether captivated by sin, by self-limitations or by a government gone mad. Take your place as instrument of His grace and free the world from the fall.

My time is coming to an end, yet this passion burns in my spirit daily as I see how far short we fall from implementing it. While I feel powerless to make it happen, I am assured that God is in control and that there are yet battles in the heavenlies to be waged and dominions that will fall. We shall realize the reward of His sacrifice. God is not lost. We do not need to find Him. We simply need to walk in obedience to His presence and stand in the authority He has already given to us. The serpent has lost its head and we shall grind him to dust on the earth. I firmly believe that.

What shall we do? For one, do not lose hope. It is frustrating to see the contrasts and to feel weak in doing anything about it. But that only reveals our human limitation. We do not trust in the arm of flesh but in the power of His spirit. We do not appeal to the arena of the natural and the continuum of the tree we ate from. We appeal to the Creator who has not lost control and is working on it! The question is not what we should do but what we should be.

All is well. We will succeed, for the power of transformation is past and complete – it is finished. Our task, if we can call it a task is to understand our role, our mission and the power by which we act and speak. It is accomplished already and yet its realization is coming!

Pastor Dave

Wearing Scars

Cross 4Life has a way of rewarding us with the marks of battle. We call them scars. They mark the place where we fell, got hit, broke something of otherwise allowed our body to pay the price for our ignorance or someone else’s. Some scars we wear proudly. Others we hide in shame, for they tell of events and behaviors we would rather not acknowledge.

On both of my hands and arms I wear the scars given to me by my two male dogs. They do not love one another very much, and one day found a way to have a rather violent discussion about male dominance. I know better than to get in the middle of a dog fight, but I did. I knew I would lose, but I chose to sacrifice my arms rather than one of their lives. Some believe it was a bad choice. But I wear those scars without malice or regret. They live on to love us and my wounds healed.

There is a way to measure scars. They can fall into two groups. First are the scars given to me by others or myself that I did not want and which I would like to have avoided. The second group are different, far different. They are the scars that I choose, because of love for the one who gave them to me.

The pain of childbirth, the scars worn by parents of children gone astray, and the pain one accepts willingly for a cause that is greater than the pain. This is the pain of Jesus going to the cross for us. It is the pain suffered by the soldier or the police officer who willingly goes into battle knowing the risks they take. It is also the pain that some take to see healing in others. It is something that they are not responsible to do, but something they chose to do. It is shown in the scars of injury not only inflicted but willingly accepted.

1 Peter 4:13 – but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

Pastors understand this phenomenon. So do parents and often husbands and wives. There are those occasions when the redemption of someone else is worth suffering with them or even for them. This is love.

 

 

Is Jack Dunigan the New Martin Luther? You decide!

4 secrets about God revealed by the Strict and Particular Baptist Church

March 19, 2014 by Jack Dunigan

Baptist Church SIgnGeorge and his wife were in Oxford as part of an academic sabbatical. Early one Sunday morning, they left their quarters for a walk around the city. When they came upon a cathedral, they decided that since it was yet early for services it would be okay to walk through.

Inside they discovered that while the nave hosted the main church, doors along each side opened into smaller chapels housing different denominations. Finding this fascinating, George and Mrs. George walked slowly through the nave pausing at each to try to determine who met inside them. One they found particularly intriguing.

A set of double doors stood open. Just inside stood a rather stern looking woman, apparently the doorman, so to speak.  Just outside stood an easel on which was a sign that read “The Strict and Particular Baptist Church.” Having not seen or heard of this denomination before, George and Mrs. George stood there for a few minutes pondering what it was that made them strict and particular and just what in the world did congregants do inside a Strict and Particular Baptist church.

Now George and Mrs. George are Americans and thus tend to dress less formally than the British. What’s more, theirs was an early morning walk for which they had harbored no intention of going to church when they left their quarters. So they were not dressed for church.

As they looked inside the Strict and Particular chapel, the woman inside watched them very closely. Finally, the two Americans decided to go inside and see what they could see. Just as they took a step forward, the woman inside reached out, grabbed the two door handles, and pulled the door shut preventing their entrance.

Apparently, the Strict and Particular Baptist church is quite strict and particular, at least in that location.

In my sixty plus years on the planet I’ve seen and fought many battles around church dogma. Looking back on them now I can say with considerable regret that most of them, perhaps 99% were of no consequence whatsoever.

But, you say, there are rules which must be followed.

It seems there is an all-too-human propensity to lay down rules of acceptable behavior and approve or disapprove of another’s appearance, manner, vocabulary, body ornamentation (that’s jewelry and or tattoos for you all in Rio Linda), choice of music, places of amusement…well, the list goes on and on.

After all, we reason, we can’t just let anybody in here. This is a place where God comes and we need to make sure everyone is properly put together. That this attitude is merely toxic self-righteousness is simply ignored.

Well, there are rules, but not nearly as many as you think. Leaving aside my arguments against the pursuit of power and control over others which plays heavily into this (which I will discuss soon), let’s take Jesus at his word.

What are the 2 rules?

Love God.

Love each other.

Sorry, folks, but that’s it. There are no more rules. It perfectly and completely encapsulates the totality of what’s right, good, proper. No amount of polity, dogma, or ritual can or should supplant it.

Love God.

Love each other.

I can hear some of you now. “Well, yes, but…”

No “buts.”

It isn’t complicated even though we have made it so. I used to own a personal library of nearly 2000 commentaries, analyses, and study books. I gave them all away when I finally realized that I, and countless others like me, had taken the simple and made it oh so complex. It isn’t.

Nor does it demand our personal explanation even though we would like to believe it does. Millions of people have, with varying degrees of self-validated authority, explained what must be done to be a spiritually acceptable person. Much of religious broadcasting and church activity is dedicated to explaining who God is and what He wants. It’s been tried for millennia by smarter people than you and me. The result is a constant state of tension about who really should be doing what overseen by those whose need for control has been self-validated by their own opinion of what’s right.

Neither does it require our oversight as it is applied to life. Millions have tried to overlay life and living with their preferred set of rules. Much if not most of Christianity is really not Christianity at all. It is, however, made up of culturally acceptable codes of behavior that have changed with time and will doubtless change with the passing of more time. For example, divorce was once completely unacceptable. Now, it is far more commonplace and accepted (as painful and wrenching as it is) even in church.

Not everything and not everyone needs fixing. It seems there is no shortage of people who want to repair you. They focus on flaws or perceived ones and decide they in their wisdom are going to fix what’s wrong. That Jesus specifically came down hard on such actions is irrelevant to them. I remember visiting with an Aunt who was unhappy that Native Americans did not, in her opinion, bathe often enough. “You know,” she reminded me, “the Bible says that cleanliness is next to godliness.”

“Actually,” I replied, “it doesn’t. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that cleanliness is next to godliness.”

Her retort was classic. “Well, it ought to.”

That is the problem, what it actually does say is readily and easily supplanted by what it “ought” to say. Thus the rules and the strictness of that particular Baptist church. (Not picking on Baptists here, just using that one as an illustration.)

Everything we humans have done has made it more complicated, more difficult, more stress filled to become spiritual people. There really are only two rules…

Love God.

Love each other.

Now, if you think that strict and particular is the way you want to go, then have at it. But leave the rest of us alone, please. Like George and Mrs. George, we’re continuing on our journey while that doorkeeper is standing inside that little room. Ours is a much bigger and more interesting world than hers.

 

The Nature of Truth

Doctrine

  • archaic :  teaching, instruction

A: something that is taught

B: a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief.

 

Dogma

  • a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted
  • a belief or set of beliefs that is taught by a religious organization
  • Full Definition of DOGMA

A: something held as an established opinion; especially: a definite authoritative tenet

B: a code of such tenets <pedagogical dogma>

C: a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds

D: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church

 

I sat in the meetings listening to the sermons of some of the more famous and gifted in our church fellowship, but I was really not listening. There was something going on inside my head and I could not ignore it.

I had been a part of this fellowship most of my life and I revered and loved the people around me. I had learned much from the leaders and had been faithful to follow their lead. But it was as though I was being pulled upward and above it all in my mind, and I was no longer there as a participant, but was viewing the setting from a distance. I was not mentally ‘in the meeting’ but beyond the meeting observing the context rather than being in the setting.

I was having an epiphany –

a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking; an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure; a revealing scene or moment.

Maslow called it a ‘peak experience.’ It is a moment in time when you understand. It is that occasional and unusual time when you understand. It is a revelation of truth that you were not contemplating or studying. How it happens or why, I do not know. But I do know when it happens.

This experience can be, as it was at this meeting, dramatic, overwhelming and overpowering. Or it can be more subtle, minuscule, or incremental. That is, there are times when there is simply a moment of understanding; a sense that something has settled into your mind that you previously did not understand. It is the ‘ah-ha’ moment.

But this time it was as though the window through which I saw the world had been rearranged. It was not that the world had changed, but my perception of it had. It was the rearrangement of my world view. The pieces of the puzzle were still all there, but they had been rearranged to fit together differently so that I saw things in an entirely different frame of reference.

As I sat there, I realized that I was setting down while everyone else was standing and singing. Then I was not participating in the meeting at all. So, I got up and left the meeting altogether and went to my room at the conference center. In that more quiet and comfortable setting I began to define the changes that had just occurred.

The issue before me was our belief system. Yes, the entire system by which we defined truth, belief, our foundations of doctrine, our interpretation of scripture. I was threading on dangerous ground, so to speak, but I seemed powerless to resist the re-set of my moorings. Revelations does that. It does not ask for your cooperation, it just happens.

What I understood was pivotal. It was the understanding that it is possible to believe that which is incomplete, or to absorb ideas that are presented as fact, without those ideas being true. It may be as subtle as taking an idea or truth to an illegitimate extreme, or as dramatic as moving from sound doctrine to dogma. It is something that we do when we get together in a church service and listen to a sermon. It may be accurate and true or it may be motivated by the need to control, and not even understood as that by the presenter. It can be the seed of truth in a ground of error and we feed on it, without understanding the process. It is what we do in group think.

The irony of it is that we come together to understand truth, which means that we are learning something we did not know before, presumably. We are changing, growing, assimilating – understanding. And yet, if we are not careful, we are not really growing and changing but simply using the experience to affirm what we already know and to prove that we are right.

The vast majority of group activities is oriented to that goal: To be right! The problem is, if we are to grow and change we have to acknowledge that we are changing our beliefs and understanding along the way. This acknowledges that what I gave up in understanding to know more and to grow in understanding requires that I give up what I understood before the understanding. That means I was accommodating error in my understanding.

There is a wonderful old book entitled Flatland, an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott. In it he starts with the perception that those who live in Flatland can only see the world through one dimension. They see the edge of the page but cannot see what is on the page. It relates to the phenomenon of the entire human race under the perception that the world is flat and if you go too far you will fall off of the edge of the earth. To understand that the earth is a globe and that gravity keeps us from falling off, is a revelation, a change of perception, of world-view.

That is what was happening for me. As the process moved along, I became increasingly uncomfortable, for I began to see that our meetings, our gatherings were not growing and enlarging our understanding but reaffirming our rightness. We had arrived at a place where were determined to remain in forever and that, it seemed to me, was dangerous ground. The goal of Christianity was not to be right but to be real. It was not designed to be a religion but a relationship.

Religion, by definition is a set of ideals that men construct about their understanding of God. In that definition, all religions are on equal ground. That is why our secular world tries so hard to treat all religions the same and to give to them the same rights. It is an accommodation of individualized beliefs that is paternalistic, demeaning and intrusive. It sets the secular above the divine and the natural above the spiritual. It accommodates the eternal within the mortal – an impossible accommodation.

Christianity started as a relationship with a person. That person, Christ Jesus, did not tell us that He understood the truth, or that He was instructing us in the ancient doctrines of the truth. He said that He was the truth. Truth, if that is the case, is not dogma but a relationship with the eternal; a living in a new dimension of reality; a spiritual experience of knowing Him and what He is.

What I began to understand is that our entire premise of the Bible was flawed. We were seeing it as prescriptive rather than descriptive. We were trying to prove our rightness by the use of the Bible rather than seeing it as the record of God’s interaction with humankind. We used proof-texts to support our dogma rather than entering the process of experiencing God as did the people within its pages. We studied to find dictate, prescription, the limitations and definitions of truth rather than becoming truth.

Having knowledge about God is different than knowing God. Knowledge ‘about’ is historic, flat, hard, cold, while the knowing God is present, alive, powerful, and brings the eternal into the present. It is this religious context that restricts rather than permits, that defines rather than presents. It produces dogma rather than truth, context rather than content. It is ‘about’ ideas that affirm rather than revelation of the eternal in our lives that releases and stimulates and frees.

A young pastor came to me for help in dealing with a group of people in his church and in the community who were doing strange things. They held trans-church, trans-denominational meeting in which things happened that he did not think were Biblical. He had searched the Bible to see if there was any occurrence of the phenomenon in their meetings and he could find none. Based on his research he had denounced the group and their meetings. Now, he needed affirmation from me that he was right in doing so. I did not give him the affirmation he needed, but did give him some guidance on his perspective. If the Bible is prescriptive, than he is right. If it prohibits the expression of God to people or in them to how God was experienced in the past and recorded in the Bible, then he was right. God it limited in the present to what others understood of him in the past. God cannot and would not allow anything other than the set patterns of the past. But of course, I contend that God is larger than my understanding and I do not need to be the arbiter of what God does.

God is larger than I am. He is beyond human comprehension, beyond our ability to understand. We are limited by our finiteness and by our context. Although some presume to have dipped their teaspoon sized minds into the infinite mind of God and have come away with the totality of truth, they are arrogantly unaware of what they do not understand.

That is not to place a stamp of approval on error, ignorance or emotionalism. It is not the elevating of human nonsense above Biblical descriptions, but to reposition myself as not being the authority of all things and not responsible for how God deals with His kids. It is to acknowledge that God is real, present and in charge of His church and that He will lead as far as we can go at the moment.

One of the great pictures of God’s dealing with His people is the story of the Children of Israel in Egypt. Their liberation from Egypt too but a few days. The liberation of Egypt from them took 40 years. It was not a matter of getting them out of Egypt, but of getting Egypt out of them. It is not a matter of our understanding what we already know that restricts the presence of God in us, but of our encamping there and being unable and unwilling to go beyond our limits. We seek comfort, the known, the usual, and the familiar. That is our nature. But where God is greater than our concepts of Him and beyond that which we already understand, we are limited if we encamp there and are not actively following on to know the unending and unfathomable depths of God’s grace toward us.

I recently saw my brother-in-law slapped by a post on a social media site. He had spoken in terms that were larger than those he encountered there, and they slapped back, not in reasoned dialogue at his concepts, but at him personally. What they did not understand is that he is so much above and beyond their understanding that they seemed ignorant in the exchange. He was raised Catholic, and remains in good standing with the church to this day. Yet, he is not bound by the dogmas of the church, and seem to not need to stay or leave his setting. He accepts it for what it is, yet lives far beyond the confines of the context. To attempt to create a more accurate context is to follow the error of the context one is leaving. It is the pursuit of being right as opposed to the pursuit of being real in our relationship with God.

Watchman Ne writes, “Paul says that since God loves us so much and is so merciful and gracious to us, we should consecrate ourselves. Anyone who wants to serve God must first touch His mercy and grace. If a man has not seen God’s love and mercy, he will feel that it is a hard task to present his body to do something for God; he will feel that this is harder than making bricks for Pharaoh. Once a man sees God’s mercy, however, it is a reasonable thing for him to present his body.”

Grace, love and mercy precede consecration. It is God’s grace and our relationship with Him that brings us to surrender to Him. Believing right dogma does not make us a Christian. Being in Christ (a Christian) brings us to right understanding. The understanding is the result not the point. It is possible to be theologically accurate while being spiritually dead. Life produces life. That which flows from the intimacy of our walk with God brings accurate understanding. But the pursuit of being right in contrast to others brings us to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, where our defining between bring legalism, suppression and death. The letter kills but the spirit brings life. Repentance does not bring grace from God. He has made it available regardless of our state. Grace brings repentance, as we realize the wonder of God and His purposes.

It is not in defining the will of God that we are released to life, but in our being released to life that we express the will of God. God is the cause, the effect and the context. Everything else is our aimless and wandering efforts to redeem ourselves.

Thank you Jesus for the love of God that you poured forth on Calvary. For it is in this and this alone, that everything that was lost in the fall is recovered. We are all that He is, not by right of our organizations, structures, doctrines, dogmas, distinctions or rightness. We are all in Him and in Him alone. The pursuit is not external in construct, but internal in release.

This is Christianity.

 

 

Transcending the Natural

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

BibleThe book of Ephesians is one of the most beautiful and inspiring of all bible books. The problem is – it is difficult for we who live in the world of natural things and human failure to grasp its glory. While we live in the struggles of life, Paul writes of the transcendence of God’s purpose and of the glory He has shared with us and in us. It is a book that contrasts the human experience and calls us upward into a new dimension of reality and faith.

He speaks of the heavenly realms and spiritual blessings, while we seem eternally bound to the natural realms and the curse. He speaks of God’s determination to bring us into sonship and a position of transcendence over the natural, while we struggle to get along with are children and pay the bills. He speaks of a reality that we see through dim eyes of hope, yet through a faith that his perspective is real and our world is more than the natural pressures we experience. He speaks of glory, forgiveness, the riches of God’s grace and of bringing all things into unity under Christ.

Adam and EveOur popular philosophies bring us a world view of the pain of existence and the futility of thinking beyond the natural. We are conditioned to accept the godless dogma of a world in which humanism and socialism are our only hope. We listen to the shout of the pundit, clamoring from his/her stage, proclaiming the evils of life and the failure of our best efforts.

Yet the words of Paul are as real and applicable today as ever. He is speaking in contrast to our natural world view and pointing to something above and beyond the reality of his day and our day. He is proclaiming a position of a world view that is locked in a spiritual reality that transcends our fallen world. He is declaring that God is good, all the time and that His purpose in humanity is glorious and filled with glory.

It may seem hard to understand. It is such a clear and black & white contrast. It is in counter-distinction to all that we experience in our natural reality. But it is the answer to everything of evil and of the fall and of the satanic plot to destroy. It is victory, wonder, glory and transcendent grace. It is never found in the natural. It is only realized in the faith that reaches beyond the immediate and the damning to see the spiritual world from which we came and to which we are destined to return. It is a reality, more real than the physical reality we seem bound to. It is a reality that is eternal, present, pervasive, available and free. It is around us and in us and we are destined to be recipients of its fulfillment.

The purposes of God are ours. They are purposed in Christ to be put into effect. That is, they are present and they are working and they will ultimately prevail, not in some ethereal and magical sense, not in the far away future or in some twist of logic that applies victory to a position rather than a posture. What He has provided is ours to enter into and live in and bring into the reality of our earth.

The promise and possibility is here and now – to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Praise be to the glory of His grace.

Pastor Dave

 

The fullness of Grace

John 1:16  – Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Somewhere, behind the curtain of our physical reality is the Lord of creation, all powerful, all knowing, who is beyond comprehension by our finite mind. Yet, the Word became flesh, the Eternal became physical, the transcendent became known to us through the person of Jesus, the Christ. That which is spiritual became physical so that we could catch a glimpse of a reality far more real than the world in which we live.

In that glimpse, we see Jesus, who took on human flesh and lived with us, related to us and died for us so that we could understand the glory of His grace and the wonder of His purpose in us. In that act of becoming flesh, we see the possibility of our lives here and now, in the flesh, having possibilities that are beyond the natural, above the limitations of the physical and rooted in Him who is the Word eternal.

Being spiritual is not a passing momentary event that comes and goes as we pass through the natural life. It is a state in which we exist in Him as the Word becomes flesh in us. The fullness of His grace is ALREADY given. We do not contend for it, beg for it or hope for it. It is a present reality to be realized, enjoyed and expressed in our daily lives.

Rejoice! He is here, now, with you and in you, in all of His fullness. Grace!

Pastor Dave

 

And the War Begins – Well, Accelerates!

by David Fritsche Th. D.

REUTERS Daniel Wallis writes:

County clerks in Texas who object to gay marriage can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite last week’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring states to allow same-sex marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Sunday.

The nation’s top court said on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to wed, handing a victory to the American gay rights movement.

Paxton said in a statement that hundreds of public officials in Texas were seeking guidance on how to implement what he called a lawless and flawed decision by an “activist” court.

The state’s attorney general said that while the Supreme Court justices had “fabricated” a new constitutional right, they did not diminish, overrule, or call into question the First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion.

“County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” Paxton wrote, adding that the strength of any such claim would depend on the facts of each case.

“Justices of the peace and judges similarly retain religious freedoms and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections,” Paxton wrote.

He noted that officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples could expect to be sued, but he said they would have ample legal support.

“Numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights,” Paxton wrote.

The reaction to this rejection of the court’s order is predictable. The court will have to inforce its order by requiring compliance by those in the chain of licensure and process. They will have to require compliance to the order and then it is an all-out war between the state and the church and individual conscience. If religious freedom is tolerated, then there will be no compliance.

Behind the issues of this conflict is a greater conflict that is rocking the foundations of this nation. It is the philosophical underpinnings of major world views. The momentum is currently to the left and sooner or later the full force of the ramifications of these shift values will tear us apart. The clash of world views will resolve but it may be the major conflict of our age.

Let me work backwards through the maze of thought here to discover the hinge-pin of the issues. Let us say, for the sake of argument that there is a God. The majority of people in our culture believe this but they may not understand the full ramification of it.

Let us also say that creation as we experience it, is the determined act of God who did so without counselors, constitution, supreme courts or any influencing factors or forces. Let us further assume that this God created the universe with some semblance of order, logic and principle and that it was all designed to work by the laws of this God we are presuming to exist.

This being so, then can we also assume that, if our assumptions are correct, that the nature of God is expressed in the laws of the nature He created? I know, this is pretty simple logic, but stay with me here. This is the basis of the Judeo-Christian world view. God created. He did so in an orderly manner. Nature operates within the laws of nature, which are simply the expression of the nature of God. Those laws are not suggestions or arguments, they are absolute and true. They are, as theologians say, immutable. They do not change. They do not grow old and out of date. They are as sure and certain as is the spinning of the earth on its axis.

This is the world view expressed by the philosophers of the enlightenment – Hobbes, Burke, Locke, Bastiat, and others. These were the men who studied the “laws of nature and of nature’s God.” This phrase is not just a passing idle icon, but is the core concept of a world view; one that was accepted and believed by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. Our form of government and the principles on which it is founded are not considered by those who espouse this world view, as optional but as eternal truths, that are the expressions of the Creator Himself.

This is our starting point as a nation and a brief description of our world view.

But this is not the end of the story. For there is another basic world view that came about that is diametrically opposed to this Judeo-Christian view of reality. This world view rejects the basic tenants of the Judeo-Christian view of reality, supposing that there is no meaning, no order, of ethics, no values and as a continuum of that thought, no God. This is called Nihilism.

Nihilism also has a roll call of heroes, who argue for their view of reality, or non-reality, if you will. It includes Jacobi, Kierkegaard, and is often associated with Nietzsche and his statement that “God is dead.” That statement was Nietzsche’s characterization of the nihilistic philosophy that preceded him not his own view of reality. He usually argued against the disorder and decadence of nihilism.

Following this period of philosophical attack on the Judeo-Christian view of reality, came the political philosophers and pundits such as Lenin, Marx, Stalin, Hitler and a host of others who rejected the value of the individual and the principles of a God centered social system, and proposed that humanity had the right and the responsibility to reject the assumed certainty of the past and to set about to engineer social systems out of nothing, with no values and no morals and no social criteria. The popular notion of their assumptions was that we could somehow, by rejecting the God of nature and His orderliness, conduct social engineering and experimentation in contrast to those former norms and come up with a better plan.

So far so good. The Nazi’s have a stellar record of how good man can become without principles as do the USSR, Communist China, and you can name a ton of other similar nihilist social constructs that have resulted in the murder of their opponents by the millions and the sacrifice of individual rights in the name of the common good. (Sarcasm intended).

Let’s look at another assumption here. Let us assume that nihilism is right, which is of course an oxymoron to start with, since it rejects the concept of right and wrong. But, for the sake of argument, let’s make that assumption. There is no God, which is a required assumption if you are going to be a nihilist without order and morals and values and… So absent any absolutes there arises a popular figure named, shall we call him Charles Manson. Hitler has already lived out his insanity, so let’s not pick on him at this point. And let us say that he proposes that murder is not immoral, unethical and is a simple relative matter related to the common good and that murder is simply an ancient concept of old religious white men and should be rejected. Let us further assume that he is so popular that he is elected President of our nation. Of course you are objecting now because we already know the end result of his insanity, but let’s back up for there is a lesson here to explain.

So President Manson challenges the prevailing law of the land and after appointing a few Supreme Court Justices, gets his world view affirmed by the highest court. Now here is the question: Is murder morally correct, even if it is legal? OK, you agree with me on this point don’t you? Murder is wrong you say, but I ask why? If there is no moral imperative and no unchangeable principle, then is anything sacred? The communist regimes slaughter of millions in its quest for power and nihilistic experimentation seems to speak volumes as to the possibility that murder can be legal if it is for “the common good.” Right?

Yet every sane person when presented with this dilemma will recoil at the possibility usually arguing that murder is wrong and it is always wrong and it has always been considered wrong universally by sane societies. And there is the hinge-pin. If it is morally wrong then we are appealing back to a system of right and wrong that has at its core the unshakable principals of the Judeo-Christian ethic.

You cannot have the absence of moral imperatives and expect a moral outcome. You cannot reject a world view of principle and order and then set arbitrary values out of nothing. You have to vote for order or chaos. There are no alternatives.

Now the next consideration is the issue of freedom. We hold freedom and liberty as our highest value in our nation. And many argue that the view of our Founding Fathers restricts freedom. Nihilism is the path to freedom. It is assumed that those with a Judeo-Christian world view are restrictive, controlling and against freedom. But the outgrowth of this philosophy is quite the opposite. The freedom of the American people to create, dream, act, grow and become has produced the greatest nation in history scientifically, economically, and in progress in all arena of our life. By contrast, the controls of socialism and its nihilistic world view produces poverty, confusion and the need for controls by those who must maintain power to support their views.

It is not just in social contrasts that freedom is enhanced by our system of government. It is in the valuing of life and the individual. Nihilism leaves the individual adrift in a sea of uncertainty and in need of a nanny state to nurse it along without ever reaching a point of being mature enough to stop nursing at the socialist breast. It removes individual motivation by removing the right to have and hold private property. It ends up supporting all the most demeaning things of acceptance of moral decay in a vacuum of human value.

The laws of nature do not change just because we decide to reject them They are not in place to keep us from having fun but to protect us from working contrary to the nature of things. They save us from ourselves if we but listen to them. The laws of nature and of nature’s God are there telling us how it works and to protect us from self-destruction. If we reject them, then we keep putting our head into the cement mixer under the premise of being free. Freedom is not the right to self-destruction, but the freedom to work and live and pursue our happiness within the order of the universe and how it works. It is descriptive not restrictive. That is, it describes how the world works. But the nihilist rejects the very suggestion of any absolutes order in the universe, and when we do, we pay dearly for it. Why do we want to reject the lessons of the ages and resort to the arrogance of nihilism? Why indeed!

We are making that choice right now in our nation and in our world. We are deciding whether to follow the God of creation or the philosophers of chaos. The end result will be determined by our decision.

God does not send judgment as an arbitrary whim. The evil that seeks to destroy is out there ready to exact its ultimate reward on those who walk outside of the time honored principles of creation. Be warned. The end of self-absorbed ignoring of principle will destroy you with glee.

Hilaire Belloc writes:

“We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh.

“But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.”

Evil never comes with black costumes of hidious proportions, carrying the beheading axe. It comes disguised as everything pleasant and desirable – but it comes to destroy, for that is its nature.

50 Days of Victory

Jesus was crucified on Friday. This was not only the end of His life, or so everyone thought, it was the end of His legacy, His plan, His movement.

His disciples, disillusioned and discouraged, left. The crushing weight of what had just happened weighed heavy on the minds and spirits. They had given up everything to follow Jesus, and now… The significance of this event to them is life shattering. They were prepared for victory, for the movement to grow and change thing, but now…

Their minds raced through the dark cloud of despair. What could have gone wrong? What could they have done differently? Was this their fault, or was it some cosmic purpose gone tragically wrong? What do we do now? Their businesses probably had fallen off as they gave more and more of their time pursuing Jesus and His teachings. How do you rebuild your business and what will the cost be? And what do you tell your friends and family now that everything you had said over the past several years was about Jesus?

But alas came Sunday morning and Jesus could not be held by the chains of death, hell or the devil. Now their minds were racing again. Is this true? Is it really Him? How can we understand an event so spectacular as to ply in the face of all reason, science and history? What in the world is going on?

From this disbanded group of mere humans, filled with all the human emotions and thoughts of the Crucifixion and burial, something had to happen, and it did. Jesus did not just go away, but he walked and talked with them for 40 days, helping them to regain the vision, to regain their sense of self and affirming that this was not the end but only the beginning.

Then, in the presence of His disciples, He ascended, affirming by yet another spectacular event that He had triumphed over death and over the enemy of our souls. The spectacular did not stop there, for they needed to understand the significance of their role. They needed to understand that the God of creation, who was present with Israel in the Holy of Holies in the Temple was no longer going to be isolated to a place, but was going to be present in each life who opened to Him. So he sent them to the upper room to wait for the promise.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come” there were ready. The doubts and fear that followed the crucifixion were gone and in their place was a sure certainty that He who began this work would also fulfill it.

There numbers had grown by then, and the 12 had become 120. It was the birth of the church the body of Christ, the impartation of all of the fullness of Him who fills all in all. It was a commissioning and an empowering that would sweep the earth and alter the course of history.

Pastor Dave

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No better description of what happen can be written that the old sermon entitled, One Solitary Life:

One Solitary Life –

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

 He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

Submission to Authority

As our nation moves through a time of conflict, increasing polarity and uncertainty, religious leaders are increasingly speaking out. Billy Graham seldom had anything political to say, and served several presidents as their counselor and confidant through his years of honored ministry. Yet, now his son Franklin Graham is speaking out clearly and pointedly. Others are speaking out against our current administration and are hardly passive in their profile.

The past finds many religious leaders confronting their king or ruler. Israel went to war on many occasions and withstood oppression and injustice. They were submissive to the Pharaohs in Egypt until God told Moses to withstand the authority of Pharaoh. Jesus withstood the religious leaders in the Temple. Not very submissive was he?  But what about the passage below and its challenge to be subject to authority?

If from time to time there are exceptions to this rule of submission, then how are we to interpret the following verses from Romans 13 – ? –

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

It might be easy to make a case for being passive to all authority, or to simplify the text to mean, “Don’t be a criminal.” It might also be easy to make a case for all authority being an extension of God Himself, whither that authority is good or bad. But in that case we would have no power to make the determination of whether they were good or bad, for that would be immaterial to the point of their being from God. Possibly one of the keys to interpretation is found in verse 4 – ” They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” So doing wrong is the action that triggers the punishment. But what if there are reprisals for actions that are not wrong before God or rational others? What if the authority is not kind, protective and benevolent but is the thief itself? Frederic Bastiat, in his treatise – The Law, makes a great case for a natural movement of government from being our protector to being the plunderer. There are many cases in history that make that case. Of course, Hitler is a prime example of abusive leadership, yet he killed far fewer that Stalin, Mao or others in history in their quest for power. Should we submit to them without question because they presume to have the authority to abuse people?

A theology, to be accurate and complete has to take the entire scripture as a whole and put it all together to have a complete and precise policy and doctrine. In terms of submission to authority, it is obviously not an easy matter. Was Moses rebellious in confronting Pharaoh? Were the prophets and priests of old rebellious when they confronted Israel’s kings who went astray? Was Detrick Bonhoeffer rebellious when he and several other pastors in Germany took a stand against Hitler? Was Martin Luther rebellious when he nailed his thesis to the door of Wattenberg Cathedral? Were the Jews rebellious when they demanded a homeland and gathered from all over the earth to Israel in 1948? Was Martin Luther King rebellious when he fought for equality of his people in the 1960’s?

Yes, we could go through history and through the history of the scripture and find many instances of those who championed a cause and surfaced as a godly leader by confronting government. How is it that we seem to see these as exceptions to the rule, yet contend for fidelity to scripture that teaches submission? We either have to condemn those who were confrontational, including Jesus, or we have to find a different way of interpreting what we see historically.

Of course, as in all things theological, not everyone will agree with my conclusions and I do not expect such agreement. In fact, I have changed my mind on many things over the years so I am not closing my mind to anything. But let me tell you a little about my journey through submission.

I was taught as a child that good Christians were not angry, did not fight and always turned the other cheek. This is a part of Christian thought and training. This is one of the reasons that Christians were easily persecuted. Christians do not have a doctrine of Jihad – Holy War. They tended to end up victims.

This was also part of my personal history. I was a big kid, reaching my mature height and weight earlier than many of my peers. But I was also known as the nice guy, the easy to get along with kid on the campus. This of course invited the bullies to target me. If you can intimidate the big kid, then you rule. Power works like that. Power without responsibility is always tyranny, whither it is a personal thing on the playground or the exercise of political power in government. It is all the same.

So I was easy, nice and submissive. No one ever accused me of being a rebel either to the law or to church authorities or to my parents. Well, that was until David Snider. Snider was the epitome of the stereotypical bully. He ruled! He accumulated an entourage of ‘wanna-be’ bullies around him and he ran rough-sawn over the campus. Everyone in school knew it and all the teachers did too. No one did anything about it. Not one, until about the 10th time he took my orange cream cycle away from me. That day, his rule died and I became a man. From that point on the campus was free from his tyranny and I was free from my fear. But that’s a long story in itself.

No, I did not change personalities, nor belief systems. I still believed in submission to authority and remained compliant to my parents, the pastor and the law. I did have to come to some understanding of my behavior however and wrestled with it for weeks trying to reconcile my behavior to my belief. I did so, but possibly it was not a reconciliation as much as a justification. You, the reader, will have to be the judge of that.

Later in life, I became a police officer for the City of Colton, California. I soon came to a conflict of beliefs again. I was committed to peace and to reason, but I was constantly thrust into situations where reason was not on the table and where peace was something I had to bring at the expense of a violator of the peace. I had to fight! Submission to the law required that I confront rebellion to the law and bring compliance.

That internal conflict came to a head one night when I was called to the office for my 6 month evaluation. My Sargent, Jim Zurcher was a guy that I greatly admired and still do. He would become the Chief of Police at several agencies, ending up at Palo Alto, California were he became famous for several innovative ideas and for establishing Zurcher’s Law, a Supreme Court Ruling in a case he initiated.

His evaluation of me that night was both rewarding and devastating. He summarized the evaluation as the first ‘Above Standard’ evaluation he had given to anyone at the first evaluation period. Then he said something I shall never forget. He said I was superior in everything I did except he was thinking of terminating me. The issue was that I could reason my way through situations like no one else, but I was going to get killed on his watch because I was slow to move to physical force and at some point I was going to get killed because of it. His challenge was that I change my demeanor or resign.

I left his office devastated. I liked the job and the people I worked with. I knew what he was talking about for it was a conflict in me and in my spirit. I did not like to fight. I wanted to believe that reason could overcome violence and the need for violence, yet, I recognized that I was constantly confronted by people who were unreasonable, incapable of reason in their condition and who had to be restrained.

As I drove away from the police department, back onto my beat, I saw a truck weaving down the street. I observed for a moment, then put on the overhead police lights. The truck lurched forward and started to try to get away. A semi-truck and trailer is not reasonably going to outrun a police car, so I knew there was a lack of reason already in the situation. The truck finally struck a power pole and came to a stop. I rushed to the driver’s door and told him to get out, but he refused. I reached up and grabbed him, and he came tumbling out, on top of me and to my rear. Instantly he had me in a choke hold and was trying to get my gun out of the holster.

In that moment I heard all of the words of Sgt. Zurcher pounding in my ear. He was right, I was going to get killed and it was going to be now. But my training in physical defense kicked in and I knew how to get out of this and instinctively reversed the positions and in a second had him on the ground and in cuffs. I finished the incident, took the driver off to jail and then drove directly to the station and called for Sgt. Zurcher. He was right. I had to make a decision – reorient or resign. I told him all that had happened and then said simply, “Never again. This will not happen ever again.” It didn’t. I was in fights regularly as would be expected in that occupation, but I never hesitate, never gave place to rebellion and never lost another fight!

In his recent speech to Congress, Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated those words, which are the mantra of the new Jewish state – “NEVER AGAIN.” His commitment is to never again place the tolerance or peace of his people in a place where the holocaust can happen. Never again will they submit to illegitimate authority.

And here is the first principle of submission – It must be to true authority that God has established.

The second necessarily follows. Doing what is right is submission. Submission to illegitimate human regulations is not submission. During the Nuremburg War Trials, the defense of those charged with war crimes was all the same: I was just following orders! In other words, I was honoring the government and submissively doing what I was told. But the sense of natural law, which has always been there for the human race, over-ruled that defense. If you do what is evil in submission to illegitimate law, then you are equally guilty of the crime. Submission is no excuse for murder. And, may I suggest, it is no excuse for following anything that is outside of God’s established order of things.

The passage in Romans 13 is clear on this. The issue is doing right as opposed to those who do wrong. Also at issue is the legitimacy of the authority. All authority is limited with the exception of God Himself. No authority has the right to require that we do what is wrong. There is a higher law than the civil law of human government and it is there that the rule of God applies. It is there that such famous statements also come into being, such as – “Evil prevails when good men do nothing” and “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and “appeasement of evil is itself evil.”

In order for us to understand what is right and wrong in terms of those who govern, we have to understand the definition and structure of authority. True righteous authority has two component parts and without either it is not good authority. First of all there has to be a defined responsibility. No responsibility should be arbitrary, without definition and without limits. It is the scope of that responsibility that releases the responsible person to have oversight.

The second component part of true authority is power. Everyone with a responsibility must be empowered to take care of their responsibility. Power, in and of itself is not evil. It is essential to function within the scope of responsibility. The responsibility defines the function and the power is the ability to do it. But, when there is inadequate power to accomplish the responsibility, there is weakness and it is ineffective. And, when power exceeds responsibility it is abuse. Evil takes power, not to be responsible, but to have powerful in and of itself.

Therein is the matrix through which we can determine what we submit to. We are submitting to the law and the rule of law, not to the whims of those who administer it. If they administer it as it is given from the law as a legitimate responsibility, then we yield to the rule of law as administered. But if the person presuming to administer the law, is outside of their responsibility and is driven by the accumulation of power, then they have stepped beyond the rule of law and are a law unto themselves.

Our Founding Fathers understood this principle and wove it into the fabric of our nation. In fact they went beyond most social structures before them and inverted the administration of power in our new nation. Prior to that time, most nations were ruled by a king, or some other form of absolute authority that gave material goods and services to those under them at their whim. The government did not represent God but was, in essence, god all by itself.

Our form of government reversed that sense of power and its source totally. It started with the premise that all men were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That is, the first line of power and of relationship to God and from God. The premise is that God empowered all of us for self-government as God directs. The existence of civil government is not the presumption of power over the people, but in having delegated power given by the people to the leaders. In this sense, the greatest concern is not that the people would overstep their responsibilities but that the government might overstep its limited power and responsibility. This is the wise and knowing supposition that people love power and some will sell their soul for it. Some will go far afield to implement their own agenda over the people and change the fundamental foundations and limits that are provided for in our constitution.

So the danger in our form of government is that the leaders will not submit to the people and remain within the limited confines of the responsibilities defined in the constitution. Proper submission to authority may mean our (the people) calling our representatives into question for this abuse of power.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We the people are the rightful master of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” There is a sense that a wayward government is obligated to submit to the people, who are the source of its power.

What is and is not proper submission requires a definition of what is and what is not the proper authority to which we submit. To submit to abuse and tyranny is obviously not valid given the context of history or of the administration of God’s authority.

So, am I saying that we should not submit to authority? No, not at all. Remember, I was once an officer of the law and am proud of the service I rendered. I believe in the law and believe that the government should be honored in its administration of public safety, the general good and the responsibilities that are given to us in the constitution. What I am concern about is that our passivity not be mistaken for righteousness by allowing tyranny and abuse. Submit, yes, but don’t be ignorant, uninformed or stupid in giving away the freedom and rights God gave to each one of us.

Increasingly there are strong voices in our land speaking prophetically and warning of the loss of freedom and the abuse of power. Increasingly they are confronted by those political forces seeking to remove the power of the individual and to have a centralized ownership of material, money and resources. Our foundational concepts of God giving directly to each individual, is being increasingly supplanted by the philosophies of government ownership of all things. We are changing and being changed by forces that, in the last analysis are evil. They must be confronted and exposed. This is submission to God’s authority and to the law that is still ours to obey, even though it is being ignored by some authority figures.

So I submit to those who have questioned my speaking out and feel that we need to honor those in authority, I ask, is our authority that which protects us or plunders us? Are we living in a time when God would raise up prophets to confront excessive use of power and stop the erosion of personal liberty? Is submission to authority an arbitrary stance without reservation or definition? If so than Moses owes Egypt an apology and Jesus owes the temple priests one also.

We can all err in trying to do right. Let us be careful that we seek truth and the authority of God in the process. Thanks for listening. I am open for your comments and disagreement.

Pastor Dave Fritsche

 

 

Information vs. Transformation

I am convinced that we too often confuse information with transformation.

Book Trees knowledge lifeTravel with me back to the Garden of Eden. You are there, walking with God in the cool of the evening and you are talking with God. You start telling God about Him. You have accumulated a lot of information about Him and you want to impress Him with all that you know. You pull out a note book and start through an outline that you have prepared for the occasion on which you have over 100 points of detail about God and things about Him that are important.

He listens for a time, and smiles at your exuberance and also your limited ability to comprehend His full being. Finally, He grows a bit frustrated and bored by your telling of the detail, and says simply, “Would you put that away and shut up?” I am far greater than your comprehension will ever know and far less interested in hear of it than you can imagine. I invited you to be with me, not so you could impress me with your accumulation of knowledge about me, but so we could just be together and love each other. You do not need to impress me, just be with me.”

Now you are frustrated, for you are uncertain as to what that means and how to respond. You fear that you have offended God, and that is not an inconsequential matter. But He is looking at you and smiling. Then He says lovingly, “I just enjoy being with you and loving you.”

So you, express your fear. You tell Him that you do not want to offend Him, and you too enjoy being with Him, but you would like to know what it is that He wants from you. What should you do to impress Him? He chuckles at your human need for approval and then reaches for your hand. He pulls you around to face Him and then takes the other hand also, looking deep into your eyes. Then He says in in a voice so pure and strong, “I have everything I need. I am all sufficient, needing nothing to complete me. You do not need to work to impress me. You need only to enjoy the life I have given you and to express the wonder of the creative genius I have placed in you. You see, while I am your life, you are also the object of my creativity and my purpose. I delight in giving to you and seeing the life I have invested into you, expressed in your being. I am not impressed with your knowing about me, but by your being the expression of my love and life through you. While your being is a delight, it is not an end in itself. You are an expression of my nature and of my glory. I did not call you to be with me to impress me, but to be with me and to simply be the extension of me to creation. You see, you bare my nature and my life. I delight in your releasing that life and in you expressing my creative nature. I am a little concerned that you waste time and energy trying to impress me and trying to be right, when all I want is for you to be real.”

You cannot become what you already are.

The task of being a Christian is not a task at all. It is the natural expression of His life. It is not found in being right, but in being real. It is not anything related to good and evil. All that is covered at Calvary. It is finished, complete, done. Your old man is dead and you are complete in Him. The struggle to measure up to the expectation of God is over. It is now time for you to be what you were created to be, to create in your life the expression of that creative nature invested in you. Put the list away, and just walk with Him and know His love.

There is a phrase that impressed me many years ago now, and it has become my mantra. It is simply – You cannot become what you already are.

Must of Christianity is misguided by a mind-set of frantic religious activity, working to become, accumulating data about God, and contrasting it with the data of others in an effort to see who is right and how well we have defined good from evil. Folly, sheer folly. This is not a race against others, it is a release to be you. It is not a contest of good works or of good behavior or of data accumulation. It is about life and the expression of life in the environment you are placed into.

There needs to be a mind shift from struggling to be right to realizing what you are in Christ. You cannot do more or be more than you are in Him. You cannot repair the old man or dress it in better clothes or decorate it with trinkets and tricks to impress God. You are dead indeed to the old man, you are dead to sin, your are dead to good works, you have passed from death to life, old things have passed away and everything has become new.

  • You are accepted in the beloved.
  • You are hidden with God in Christ.
  • You are adopted into His family.
  • You are sealed by His spirit.
  • You are raised with Him to new life.
  • You are free.
  • You are raised to walk in newness of life.
  • You are no longer the least among men.
  • You are a son.
  • You are the salt of the earth.
  • You are a city set on a hill.
  • You are loved.
  • You are forgiven.
  • You are blessed.
  • You are not your own.
  • You are filled with all the fullness of Him.
  • You are in Him.
  • He is in you.
  • You are called.
  • You are chosen.
  • You are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
  • You are empowered by His spirit.
  • You are born again.
  • You are full of the Spirit and life.
  • You are holy for He is holy.
  • You are the will of God.
  • You are full of the Spirit of wisdom.
  • You have the mind of Christ.
  • You are standing on holy ground.
  • You are a child of God.
  • You are of the light.
  • You are God’s son.
  • You are loved by God.
  • You have passed from death into life.
  • You are not under law.
  • You are under grace.
  • You are not in the flesh but in the spirit.
  • You belong to Christ.
  • You are Abraham’s seed.
  • You are heirs according to promise.
  • You are children of the living God.
  • You are saved.
  • You are sanctified.
  • You are a kingdom of priests.
  • You are seated with Him in heavenly places.
  • You are of the household of faith.
  • You live by the Spirit.
  • You are co-workers in God’s service.
  • You are God’s field.
  • You are God’s building.
  • You are God’s temple.
  • God’s Spirit dwells in you.
  • All things are yours.
  • You are of Christ.
  • You are strong.
  • You are honored.
  • You are to judge the world.
  • Your bodies are members of Christ himself.
  • You bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
  • You are holy for He is holy.
  • You are a letter from Christ.
  • You are Christ’s ambassadors.
  • You are reconciled to God.
  • You are wise.
  • You have the mind of Christ.
  • You are all children of God.
  • You are all one in Christ Jesus.
  • You are all children of God through faith.
  • You are His sons.
  • You are no longer a slave.
  • You are God’s child.
  • You are also an heir.
  • You are known by God.
  • You are children of promise.
  • You are led by the Spirit.
  • You are no longer foreigners and strangers.
  • You are fellow citizens with God’s people.
  • You are members of His household.
  • You are God’s holy people.
  • Now you are light.
  • You are mature.
  • Your name is in the book of life.
  • You are pleasing to God.
  • You are not in the darkness.
  • You are children of light.
  • You are children of the day.
  • You are a kingdom of priests.
  • Your name is written in heaven.
  • You are a chosen people.
  • You are a royal priesthood.
  • You are a holy nation.
  • You are God’s special people.
  • You are God’s special possession.
  • You are called out of darkness.
  • You are called into His wonderful light.
  • You are the people of God.
  • You have received mercy.
  • You have been saved by grace, through faith.
  • The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
  • You know the Father.
  • You are strong.
  • The word of God lives in you.
  • You have overcome the evil one.
  • You are from God.
  • You are greater than the one who is in this world.
  • You are worthy.

If the declaration of God toward you is all this, then you are not what you think you are. You are what He says you are. You cannot become what you already are.

We need to lift our vision to see what God sees, for it is in this vision from God’s perspective that we are lifted into life. The realization of transformation determines destiny. Stop struggling and start living in the freedom of His life in you.

There is nothing you can do to improve on what He has done. You cannot become what you already are.

Pastor Dave