Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 65 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families)! I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

"I Will Build My Church" - Part 1

I woke up last Sunday morning with a little song/chorus in my head (sang and meditated on it all the while I was getting going). It goes like this, and it is from the words of Jesus: "I will build My church (I will build My church)-On the solid rock (On the solid rock)-And the gates of hell (And the gates of hell)-Shall not prevail (Shall not prevail)... ."

This got my attention, as one thing I have been thinking on lately is the church, the Body of Christ, God's people... . Call us whatever you want, but let's not miss the point that all who name the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and worship Him in spirit and truth are part of this living organism, no matter where we "gather together to forsake not the assembling," as good old King James puts it. The way Eph 4 describes things, we gather together and have over us those who are distinct representatives of the various aspects of Christ's earthly ministry. These "people gifts" to the church are responsible to God to help us mature into Christlikeness in thought, word and deed.

That's all well and good, but right now we, the church are in crisis. A lot of the old rules no longer seem effective, and the more mature we grow as Christians both individually and corporately, the more the old "rules and ways of doing church" seem like a playpen! After all, we are in high school at least, and hasn't anybody noticed?! Let me say that the "old ways" were effective--when we needed a playpen. Then the bars (or netting) were not a prison--but as we've been maturing those safeguards have turned on us and we're now imprisoned by the very ways that used to seem right and good.

What is the church to do? Rebel? Well, no, sorry, that's a little juvenile, not to mention sinful. -If we do, just maybe we're proving we're not so mature. Let's take a look at a few things here. Maybe we already have some clues as to where to go next.

In my first paragraph I mentioned that chorus which brought up a few thoughts. - Who will build whose church? That's Jesus speaking. It is His church, bought and paid for by His life's blood, death and resurrection. We, the church, are His new covenant people. He is our head, and He has set Eph 4 people ministry gifts over us to give us programs and other things to do that will keep us out of trouble. Those "people gifts" are called and salaried by us, and have to give us the kinds of things to do that will make us look good in the community. In addition, they are charged with growing the church. It is also their job to marry and bury, counsel and do hospital visitation, not to mention keeping the building program on track, because, after all, isn't this what we pay them for?--Whoops! Sorry. My mistake. That's not what Eph 4 says. -I also wanted to see if you were awake. So now that I have your attention, let me ask a question or two.

Since Eph 4 says these people gifts (expressions of various aspects of Jesus' earthly ministry) are commissioned by God to help mature the church into Christlikeness, why are we expecting them to fulfill all the things (and maybe more) mentioned in the last paragraph? Also, looking at the other side of the coin, why are those Eph 4 people gifts expecting those things of themselves? How is that job description causing the Body to mature? And (please forgive me for rocking the boat--I sort of feel like the kid who said the emperor didn't have any clothes on) why are these people gifts feeling like a failure if they can't be super-leaders and meet all those self and "church" imposed expectations?

If by any chance some actually become super-leaders, who is really building the church--Jesus or these people? Is the fruit created this way superficial smoke and mirrors--illusion so to speak, or the fruit that remains that Jesus promised if we do His will His way? That also brings up another question - does Jesus build His church if His people gifts are spending so much time and energy doing it in the above described way? It would seem His people gifts and the rest of us are so busy trying to do good things that we don't have time to listen to His direction, much less find out how to implement it.

I have heard it said that 'the seed of destruction is sown into the beginning of any new work.' As I think on that, I see that was already happening in the early church. That is why the apostles looked for godly people to manage practical responsibilities while they (the leaders) gave themselves to the Word and prayer. When they got their priorities right, God got a lot of "church work" done - He was building His church through divine direction as the leaders waited on Him - you know, "Send Paul and Barnabas... ."

As the early church leadership waited on God, they settled then-difficult doctrinal questions with the mind of Christ, they were directed to include Gentiles in this living entity called the church that the Lord was building by the Holy Spirit, and they were able to aid another part of the church going through famine by God's inspiration and direction. Also, they were able to deal with people who lied to the Holy Spirit (Ananias and Sapphira) and people who through the agency of demons were identifying and harassing them. They also were able to deal with occultic people who wanted to buy the gift of God. In addition, the Spirit of God through them healed people and delivered people. God's Spirit also told those early leaders and preachers where to go and where not to go at that time to carry His message.

In the early church there were plenty of people to willingly get God-given tasks accomplished. Leaders didn't pressure or talk people into or "guilt" people to do anything. It seems they really believed that Jesus would build His church, and trusting Him to do just that, they let the Holy Spirit show people what to do. Because the people heard God as a normal part of their lives, they obeyed with a glad heart, much as the Israelites did when bringing in offerings for the wilderness tabernacle.

About the not-pressuring-people issue--even as the people repent and free the leaders of wrong expectations, and as the leaders repent and let the Lord free them of wrong job descriptions and fleshly control, the Holy Spirit is able to get each member of the Body to take up his/her own responsibility in the unique way each was created to do so. Only when our expectations of ourselves and others in the Body, whether body member or leader member agree with God and stay on His altar can we hope to get on with the business of letting the Lord build His church in such a way that the gates of hell will not prevail against us.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow Daze

Hi, Everybody! Long time no write. I have my wish--I'm snowed in. This is something I've longed for for at least two years. I am now in my second day in a row of "snowed in-ness" (that's the state of being snowed in, for those of you who need a translation), and it's got to be better than my first.

I decided yesterday, my first snow day (not knowing I was going to have a second day), was going to be my "Waterloo." I was going to meet my match. You see, I had these spreadsheets to do for work, and I didn't even know how to change from one year to the next on the forms without changing the formulas. I must have been in a "snow daze," because it took me five hours to learn that and how to add categories with calculations intact. (I'm not a math or spreadsheet person, by nature--my kids once said to me, "Mom, everything you do tastes like English." --There you have it!) I even had to have my son walk me through some of it. Micah was very patient. Why I didn't ask him earlier, I don't know--maybe I didn't want to admit how slow I was in this area. There is something about wanting to do enough things well so that your kids admire you instead of being tempted to snicker...but that's a subject [maybe] for another day... . (Why, you ask, did I deal with spreadsheets at work for two years without knowing what I was doing? Legitimate question. I just in the last month or so got the equipment that would enable me to practice at home... .)

Anyway, after I got the work accomplished, I promptly lost my victory in self-pitying martyrdom; after all, I had "wasted" a perfectly good snow day. Why couldn't I think I had "invested" it in becoming more valuable to my employer? But I didn't think that way, and I got grouchy enough so that when a friend called, my grouchiness was noticed. --Yes, I apologized and explained. Then I got a call and heard that we would be closed again today...so all my disappointment about "wasting my snow day" was for nothing.

Now, after a great night's sleep (the night before I had woken up periodically and ended up on the couch with blinds open watching the snow and dozing fitfully in my excitement), am I sitting here feeling peaceful? accomplished? content? No, I'm feeling restless, bored, and wondering about what the snow days will do to my financial bottom line, among other things. That could be called "worry." The point is, there is always something around to spoil my good time if I let it.

So...by God's grace, I'm choosing. I'm choosing to read the Bible, talk to God about my concerns, be thankful that I have everything I need for today, including a second snow day, heat, light, computer, my blog to write on... and I'm going to be happy, and let God be concerned about tomorrow. He's very good at that. I just finished reading the book of Job in The Message bible. Very good and to the point. I'm also going to pray for those in New Orleans who are going through a second (or first) round of losing everything in less than two years, the homeless, those without heat, those in war-torn countries, those who have lost loved ones to war or illness or old age, those who don't know Jesus. I choose to be thankful, mindful of God, and prayerful. ...You know what? My mood is changing. I feel better already.

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