Monday, March 31, 2008

What is unspiritual? -- Part 2

The initial posting on this subject came from some meditations I had on a story I found on the internet. It was about a former stripper & a former prostitute in Las Vegas, NV, who found the Lord & were now ministering to people there in "the sex trade". The accompanying pictures showed these ladies as not looking out of place with their former occupations. The article indicated that a number of the people they ministered to also attended services at their church -- not clarifying whether these ladies were also attendees or whether they pastored the church. All of which gave me some interesting food for thought.

When I attended a conference in the Netherlands about a decade or so ago, one of the things that impressed me about the hosting church was that the ladies' ministry went out on the streets & had a regular ministry to the prostitutes. It was pointed out that this was much safer for them to do because men were likely to be taken by the girls as "johns" having an ulterior motive & taken by the pimps either as "johns" trying to get away with something or as other pimps trying to steal their girls.

More recently, I had several opportunities to visit friends in Las Vegas. Although some of it was not legal in Las Vegas, "the sex trade" was definitely not hidden there. And I asked my friends if anyone from their church was doing something similar to what I described being done in the Netherlands. And I was told it was too dangerous. Which, in the American criminal environment is probably true. Yet, I started this meditation talking about the two ladies who do minister to that segment of society. And, when I first read about them, I thought about that ministry in the Netherlands & also those in my home church who have had a ministry on "The Block" in Baltimore. And it quickly becomes pretty evident that such ministries take a very special calling. Otherwise, there will be no effectiveness in trying to reach out.

And, as for these young ladies looking like they fit in with the culture they're ministering to, I don't recall the Bible indicating that Jesus didn't fit right into the groups He ministered to. The Pharisees were quite good at pointing out that He hung out with drinkers, gluttons, prostitutes, tax collectors & sundry other sinners & that these were Jesus' "friends". In similar fashion, some of the more mainstream ministries (evangelical & otherwise) might be uncomfortable having these two as part of their congregation. But the girls get into places & share Jesus with people that others might never reach.

My particular church holds the belief that there are situations where women can teach, but that God's plan is that (following the "chain of command" of headship) men are the ones to pastor others. I believe the original languages of the Bible support that stance. Other ministries believe otherwise. In my mind, if these ladies are indeed pastoring their church, I'm not sure I can fault God for making an exception to His own rule. If they're truly reaching that segment of society for Christ, then they definitely have a special calling. And, if what they do is all outward, done in the flesh or completely out of His Will, God will deal with that in His own way, too. Either way, it's God's business, not mine.

In any case, we can pray for these ladies & their ministry. And be glad that God's people, God's plan & God Himself can't be put in a box. And know that, no matter what, God's plan will be accomplished. Amen

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What is Unspiritual? -- Part 1

In some ways, the Law & Legalism are things we want to avoid in our spiritual lives. And how often have you heard a derogatory statement, "That's legalism, not Grace!"? We know that the Jews requested the law so that they might obey it. The problem was (& is) that we can't obey anything in the efforts of our flesh. In 1 Corinthians 15:56b we read,"the strength of sin is the law." These are all things we already know all too well. But we tend to look at the Law as 100% bad. And that's not true, either.

Israel wanted God to give them the Law so they could obey it in the flesh. At first glance, that sounds absurd. We know that's impossible. But think about it -- without something to perform in the flesh, man could never have a comparison to realize the impossibility. So, God, in His wisdom & love, gave them the Commandments. Which the Israelites proceeded to expand to over 600 laws. I'm sure God was amused at that one! But He also allowed it to be part of His plan, a pointer to Grace.

After creating over 600 laws, God's chosen people focused so well on the Law that most missed that the Messiah had come. As a result, Jesus was crucified. He was condemned based on perverted interpretations of the Law. Which was exactly as it should be. If Jesus hadn't been condemned by the interpretations of the Law, He would never have gone to the cross & died for our sins. In God's economy, the thing least likely to demonstrate His wisdom & love can often be used most powerfully to do just that.

Now, that doesn't mean that everything has positive spiritual attributes. But when something looks the least spiritual, give it a second look. You might be surprised to find that the thing you determine as solely secular points directly to Christ Himself in a new & unique way. Remember, Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. " And we read in Titus 1:15, "To the pure all things are pure: but to them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. " We need to look at everything with spiritual eyes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

King or friend?

The traditional song "Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King" says, "Now Your grace is always with me And I’ll never be alone." Which certainly sounds like a touch of God's friendship if I ever heard one. And Tommy Walker's song "Break Through" includes the words "Just one touch from You my King, my Friend And I'll never be the same again." Both songs reference God's kingship and friendship, but which is really more important in our relationship with God?

There are schools of theological thought that say the important thing is making God our king, Lord of our life. But is our doing that really important? Is what we do that important or is it what God has done for us? He saved us through His Son, He delivers us on a daily basis. And the plan of salvation & deliverance came in eternity past to cover our sins & situations, past, present, & future.

When the Bible says that we love Him because "He first loved us", it speaks to that fact & right to our humanity. When is the last time you trusted someone's authority over their friendship and love? We may bow down unwillingly to a ruler who doesn't show himself to be a friend, but we will gladly recognize true authority in a ruler who is first a friend. I think God recognized that when He made the first commandment "love thy God" instead of "bow down in submission to thy God", because love can bring willing worship, but submission never creates love. Received love & friendship create trust that endows the giver with an authority that is easy to submit to & creates a true atmosphere of worship.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Royal Blogginess

This one probably should have been the first. But such is life. I just want to use this post to kind of give an overview of the why, when & what of the reasons for this blog.

In the past, I've been a radio air personality, newscaster, & writer (nonbroadcast). I've also worked in defense contracting (purchasing) and sales/marketing (general public). So, communication is something I've had some experience with.

At one point in my life, God made it clear that He had a call on my life. And, for a sizable season, He had me learning (a lot) & not doing anything "artistic". And, recently, God has put it on my heart to get back to writing & to begin communicating some of the things He's put on my heart. Hence, this blog. At the moment, I have no clue how often I'll be posting. But God has given me some great moments of joy & insight that I'd like to share. I hope they bless you as much as me.

Love Thy Brother

Part of March 14's devotional by Richard Wurmbrand struck a respondent chord in my spirit and I wanted to share some of it. : "Real religion begins with a readiness to acknowledge that all your beliefs, including the most cherished, may be wrong, that your own religion may be a variety of prejudice just as you conceive others to be." -- We've all come to whatever point we are in life through how well we relate to God and God's people, some of us doing better than others, some worse than others. And, for a long time, I've suggested that we'll all get to heaven and be surprised at some of the things we're wrong about and surprised at some of the people we'll find there. I suspect that our worst surprise will be finding out how our petty doctrinal and other bickering among believers does disservice to the kingdom of God & great service to the other kingdom. It'd be nice if we really loved ALL the brethren, as we're commanded, wouldn't it?