JohnSWilson3 Blog


“…to make known the mystery of the gospel…”
May 22, 2011, 1:33 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

This last section, Paul’s closing to his letter to the body of Christ in Ephesus I think gives a final thought as to Paul’s apostolic functioning and it’s importance. Interestingly Paul’s closing in some sense is a reflection of the conflict between God’s eternal purpose in Christ and standing “against the craftinesses of the devil.” We too often shy away from the importance of true apostolic functioning today because of those who have been beguiled and have founded the church on a gift, a doctrine, a method, a service, a program, a building, a someone, or some thing. Apostolic functioning is based in the life of Christ, an expression of Christ, a “measure of the gift of Christ.”

Paul asked that the church pray on his “behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Even Paul asked for prayer! Paul desired to live by the life of Christ, the Logos of God who is his life, and that life is tied up in His body! God’s eternal purpose is wrapped up in His Son and His bride! One with the heart to share the mystery of the gospel is one who is tied to the body of Christ in an intimate way, who, with the body sees Christ as the only Source, the only Head.

The body of Christ, the ekklesia, no matter where they gather will be in conflict and it is of the utmost importance that those who have an apostolic functioning have lived by the life of Christ and can help the body of Christ live by that same life. The life of Christ is all about love and relationships, it is seeing ourselves as a new creation, a workmanship of God, a new man, a new family, a bride, something that was a mystery until now, until Christ was revealed. Those with an apostolic functioning, once having shared the good news of Christ, help the new creation to live a shared life, a life that shares in the life of Christ so that the family of God will see how God is pleased to reveal His Son in us, as He did with Paul. That we “have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer (we) who live, but Christ lives in (us); and the life which (we) now live in the flesh (we) live by faith in the Son of God, who loved (us), and delivered Himself up for (us)” and “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Christ, who is our life, the Christ who spoke to Paul “is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.” I believe if the body of Christ truly functioned organically by His life we would see true apostolic functioning, because it is what Christ desires, and we would see His life manifested in wonderful and beautiful ways!

Those with an apostolic functioning realize that the body of Christ will need continual encouragement as their life in Christ together will be tested as they learn to express Christ together, and tested as they express Christ to their family, friends, and others. As Paul’s habit he sends those who have learned to live by Christ and have been given a measure of the gift of Christ in an apostolic functioning to help other ekklesias to do the same. Those who are gifted with this measure of Christ have been found to be faithful servants and consider themselves “fellow-slaves” in the Lord. They have been completely overwhelmed by the eternal purpose of God and He has sent them out so that His Son would find a dwelling place in every place where the Spirit guides them. While Paul is in house arrest in Rome he sends Tychicus and Onesimus back to the brothers and sisters in Ephesus, Colosse, and Laodicea to tell them about what God has been doing, “that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing…(to) make everything known to you.” They are sent to “comfort your hearts.” How many need comfort today, to be encouraged to move forward in Christ together and so be fitted together, to be “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

“Peace to the brothers.” May we so live by Christ together, His life expressed through each of us to one another, to the building up of the body in love! Christ’s life in our gatherings will be in “peace,” “for he himself is our peace” and has “put to death” the hostility that we once had for each other because of our differences in the flesh. But in the new creation we are no longer seen as different in the flesh, we no longer see ourselves after the flesh, but “in himself,” in Christ. He has created “one new man…thus making peace.” Let us express His peace to one another as Paul encourages.

“Love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In order to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” to “with all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” we will need “love with faith.” Our conflict is not with one another or our flesh but with the “craftinesses of the devil” who will try and have us lose our focus on Christ and His love, but more specifically His “love with faith.” To “love with faith” is to love without regard to getting something in return, to love considering “others better than yourselves,” to have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had when He came to this earth as Paul mentioned to the ekklesia in Philippi. But this “love with faith” is “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ is in us and the Father is in Christ, all by the Spirit. Do we really know Christ who is our life? If we are living by His life together, then His life of love and faith will be what we see expressed together, a beautiful glorious picture of unconditional sacrificial love for one another as we see in the life of Father, Son, and Spirit!

“Grace be with all the loving our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.” Christ’s life will express grace through each of us to one another. How we need more grace! How we need to see more of Christ’s life come to bear fruit in each of our lives within the body of Christ and as we express Him towards others! Interestingly, James saw this as another part of the conflict: “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James has a similar thought as Paul, putting off the flesh and putting on the new man, Christ. Learning Christ together is to hear Him, to be taught by Him, to live by His life of love together. Christ’s life and love is incorruptible. When we love one another by His life, our love for one another and to Christ will be incorruptible. “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

God has only one purpose, expression of His Son, “to head up all things in Christ.” It was the one thing Paul, with his apostolic functioning, desired most of all. May we have more Paul’s in the body of Christ. Jesus is still moving through our world, He still sees the crowds, and He “is filled with tenderness toward them” “because they (are) harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” To those with an apostolic functioning and have lived by His life organically with other brothers and sisters He says: “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” May we learn Christ together and experience His rest.

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Some thoughts on what I have learned about organic church life
May 15, 2011, 4:42 am
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

After learning about and learning to live with others in organic church life I felt like I needed to revisit some of what we learned. In order to do this I was going back through “Finding Organic Church” tonight by Frank Viola, the same book that we as a group went through together and to some degree practiced some of it. Frank’s chapter 14, “Five Unmovable Principles” is pretty much on the mark. Based on how well we followed these principles determined the state of our relationships together and how we moved forward in Christ together. I do want to be upfront. The below are lessons that I perceived to have learned, my other brothers and sisters may say something different based on their perspective, and that’s okay, God has given each of us a measure of the gift of Christ. Perhaps what I share below, the results that I saw and participated in, was because of a lack of understanding of that measure of the gift of Christ in each of us.

Principle 1: Become like little children. This was not always followed, by me or other brothers and sisters. Some did not “drop your agendas. Drop your ambitions. Drop what you think you are in the Lord. Drop what you think your gifts are.” As a result this led down a slippery slope that tested our body life. Strike 1.

Principle 2: Your feelings will get hurt. Many had a perceived “way” of doing church and did not get their “own way in the church.” There was some “cutting, chiseling, sanding, and refining” but a number decided to leave instead of becoming “welded together to form a dwelling place for the Lord.” There were times when the Lord found a place of rest, but in other times He did not get “His way.” Strike 2.

Principle 3: Be patient with the progress of the group. “Old mind-sets, the old mentality, the old vocabulary, and the old practices” tended to stay in place, just rearranged. While we may have said we were “doing” things differently every time we met, the same things still occurred, perhaps we were in denial at the time. And these things, while good and edifying, e.g. singing, praying, sharing Scripture, eating together, and sharing things about ourselves, [I have shared in this blog under “Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony” of the many good things that did happen] we did not begin with first “deprogramming and detoxification.” We wanted a 1 Corinthians 14:26 meeting from day one. If the group decided to do something differently it was felt we were moving away from the Lord. I guess you could say we were more a house church versus learning to live organically together. I and many did not have very much patience, this was a definite learning point. Perhaps that is one way to transition to organic church life, learning what not to do, which for some reason I and my family tend to find ourselves time and again. Strike 3.

Principle 4: People will leave your group. I and others judged the motives of one another and a loss of freedom occurred. I can’t remember if it was Watchman Nee or T. Austin-Sparks who said it but “suspicion,” no matter how small in the body of Christ is definitely a killer of authentic community. Some felt the way we were going was not spiritual enough, there was not enough Scripture shared, there was not enough prayer, a lack of miraculous gifts, not enough singing, not enough evangelizing, not enough (you fill in the blank), but essentially not according to their expectations of “church” life as practiced in Scripture. Even in my wording it became their and them instead of we. People did leave the group, but we all accepted from the start that everyone was in an experiment of sorts, and were free to leave whenever they decided to do so. Strike 4.

Principle 5: People will experience exciting spiritual growth and healing. I would have to say that in His own way God did provide experiences for each person to experience exciting spiritual growth and healing. Whether each are willing to share or not, learning did occur, Christ taught us something of Himself through one another, often in the more trying situations. But we really did not move forward together into a “close-knit community and learning to live by God’s life rather than our own.” We probably learned more about what the flesh looks like than the Spirit. Strike 5.

With five strikes against us, this in no way means that we didn’t learn anything or that many of us are no longer gathering together. I would venture to say all of us learned many things about ourselves, our flesh, about loving one another, and especially about our Lord. Something we probably would never have learned in an institutional church because of the limited or no participation we are so conditioned to in that pastor centered overly protective environment. The problem seemed to center in moving too quickly into attempting to experience the glories of Christ individually in the group versus learning to experience Christ in us as head in authentic community which takes time. I could be wrong. Some brothers and sisters will inevitably disagree, it is just how I see it from my perspective. Some who read this will get upset. Brothers and sisters I know that I did not always express the love of Christ, I am still learning to put off the flesh and put on Christ with you, we are to love one another, even in each others failings. Frank is right there is a secret to organic church life – “allow the Lord to thicken your skin, and you will survive body life.”

Looking further in the book I noticed that in “building community,” we did make an attempt at doing a couple things to help build community. In most instances because of the distance that we were from one another, having a meeting once a week was the most many could do. As a result it became “let’s try and do everything we can on one day” type of meeting versus learning to meet together in the every day circumstances of life. Perhaps Sunday’s became like for many who grew up living at the institutional church, doing so many “things” that many got “burned out” of this way of meeting. I guess maybe we did not really think of each other as family. Perhaps not really knowing each other well enough caused us to limit our desire to really want to help one another “with real-life struggles.”

The “twelve essential ingredients” that Frank offers are very timely as well. While all that has been mentioned above sounds pretty bad, like we failed, I am of the opinion that we often learn more from failure than if we had not tried. I am a pretty sensitive person with a steady conscientious personality, so failure and conflict is something I don’t really like, it strikes against my flesh, perhaps that’s what the Lord is having me to learn. I like what Frank says “it’s far better to fail than not to try at all.” Being a science teacher I have always told my students that in science we never fail, when something doesn’t work right, or according to our expectations, we just learned what not to do. Too often we have a fear of failure and as a result we never move forward. So it seems we have been learning what not to do.

Looking at the growth stages of what happened over the past year and a half we seemed to have moved through the “four destinies.” Some form of institutionalism occurred, some corporate paralysis, some disintegration, but also some spiritual progress. We had our honeymoon period, crisis, for some perhaps the experience of the cross, and maybe some tested body life. But what we got was only a taste of and mainly missed and what many are still moving towards is living by Christ’s life under His headship organically together, expressing Christ. “Tested body life. Here’s what it looks like: The love the brothers and sisters have for one another has passed through fire. It has matured. The saints realize that they never really fell in love with one another; they climbed to it. Body life is now deeper and richer than it was during the honeymoon stage. Members will fall on a grenade for one another. They begin to experience the words of Jesus: ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends’ (John 15:13 NKJV).” This is a truth: “If you set out to gather in an organic way, the word of the Lord will test you. It will try you. The vision for the restoration of God’s house will be sorely tested in your life.”



Thoughts on Education
May 8, 2011, 7:55 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

Here are some thoughts I shared from a previous post with a dear sister in Christ. I have edited and expanded it in some areas.

As a public school teacher, teaching science I have realized more than ever that the education system is meant primarily to support our economy…I think there is a place for public or private or home school education. Some students would probably learn better in one of the three. Think that in some corners their is a realization that students learn differently, not all will go to college, and that everyone has a different talent for different purposes. As a note, I find that those students who are the disobedient in the classroom tend to be the dominant and performing personalities who need appropriate and creative ways to express themselves in the classroom environment instead of trying to force them to sit still and be quiet. Dominant personalities tend to be natural leaders and can help students work together in completing tasks while performing personalities help liven’ up the classroom and not take things too seriously. It maybe that many teachers tend to be the steady and perfectionist personalities who are trying to make all students steady and perfectionist versus helping to “train them up in the way they should go” so to speak, which has obvious implications with parenting by the way.

One key thought in today’s education is the need to have student-centered learning environments in the classroom. This is where the focus is on the student doing most of the participating while the teacher does some instruction but in general is mainly considered a facilitator of learning. I think too often we attempt to train or teach someone how we were taught thinking for some reason every person can be taught the same way using the same methods. So if they aren’t “getting it” then something must be “wrong” with them, versus seeing the problem is really with how students are being taught. It means for the teacher to step out of our comfort zones, become more demonstrative, become more open to understanding each student, putting yourself in their shoes, and to help them learn how to learn. I have often found a last minute change, sometimes in the middle of a lesson turned out to be one of the better teaching moments. Having students more responsible for their own learning and participating in doing the learning is a win-win for student and teacher.

It is also important to recognize that students are human and they are learning responsibility, learning to live in community which means learning to understand each others differences and uniqueness since it often brings conflict when learning to work together. I intentionally set students up in groups on the first day of school and in the first week help them learn how to work together and to deal with conflict when it occurs. This doesn’t mean conflict won’t happen but it will be recognized that it will happen and students have some edge in knowing what to do when it does happen. I will have to say though that even with this initial learning that the “old man” comes up in the students and many will not recognize how to deal with the conflict and not do so very appropriately. But this brings a unique opportunity to help them learn to resolve the conflict and learn more about each other and understanding one another better. Often I tell the students that while it is important to do your best and learn as much as you can it really is all about relationships. If we go out into the world and do not know how to work with others, relate to others in a positive and helpful way then we have not really learned much about life.

In all of this I have not mentioned the parent, the school administration, the required work outside the classroom, the internal issues students face such as peer pressure, etc. I have mainly looked at what the “teacher” presently can do in helping them become a better facilitator of learning, helping students to learn how to learn, and to know how to relate better with others. I have made a bunch of mistakes, but I guess those mistakes have helped me better see where to improve, not just instructionally but also in living by Christ’s life of grace and love with students, teachers, and those in the public school. I have still much to learn and each year it seems I have learned not only how to be a better facilitator of learning but more of Christ.



Expressions of Christ in us.
May 7, 2011, 4:22 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes, G Letter to the Galatians

Some thoughts shared with a brother:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are expressions of Christ in us. They can be expressed in word or deed. Christ has given each of us a measure of His life which I guess is the same as a measure of His love, since God is love. We love differently, or have a different love language as I have learned see now a’days, we also need to recognize that we are all at different levels of love towards each other and in knowing more of Christ’s love, trust so to speak, e.g. do we trust each other to love one another deeply? Love with faith takes time.



What Has Made Me Whole Within? (to the tune of “Nothing But The Blood”)
May 4, 2011, 10:55 am
Filed under: 1B Favorite Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Was thinking this old hymn could do with some revising. Let me know what you think.
__________

What has washed away our sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What has made us whole within?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh, precious is the flow,
That made us white as snow.
No other fount we know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all our hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all our righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow,
That made us white as snow.
No other fount we know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(just the brothers)
What has taken away our flesh?
Nothing but the cross of Jesus.
What has canceled all our debts?
Nothing but the cross of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow,
That made us white as snow.
No other fount we know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(just the sisters)
What has disarmed all the powers?
Nothing but the cross of Jesus.
What has triumphed over our foe?
Nothing but the cross of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow,
That made us white as snow.
No other fount we know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Who has given us our new life?
Nothing but the Son of the Father.
Who is truly one with us?
Nothing but the Son of the Father.

Oh precious is the flow,
That made us white as snow.
No other fount we know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.