The Cross

Accountability Through Relationships

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXIV 

How can five distinctly different passions that brought division and sectarianism to the Church for centuries now be the glue to bring unity? That is a valid question. Like most of the gospel, the answer is simple: through relationships!

The five fold is about people, believers in Jesus, with different passions for service with different mindsets and points of view who are willing to “accept” one another as equal peers in Jesus by laying down their lives for one another. The five fold is about being in a committed relationship.

The twelve disciples were different individuals from different background with different passions, giftings, and personalities who even fought among themselves. During a crucial time of transition between Jesus’ death and resurrection and Pentecost, they did not abandon ship but trusted Jesus’ words to “Not leave Jerusalem, but wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5) They remained together and bonded into a committed relationship, a committed community. Once the Holy Spirit fell on them, they became different individuals with different passions but with the same unifying message: Jesus!

To understand the five fold, you must understand the vertical and perpendicular planes of the Cross. The vertical plane is God’s redemptive relationship “with” mankind (John 3:16); the horizontal plane is God’s redemptive plan “between” mankind (I John 3:16). If you do not have a proper relationship with the Godhead and a proper relationship between believing brethren, you have hay, wood, and straw, which will perish. If your relationship with the Godhead and your believing brethren has been redeemed through Jesus, you have streets of gold; you have eternity. Without these proper relationships, the five fold will not exist because the five fold is about the right passions, drives, and point of views that bring us together, equip us, and matures us in Jesus. Each is an extension of how we see Jesus, what passions we have to serve Jesus, and our mindsets of how we understand and experience Jesus.

How are believers with five different persuasions to unite in Jesus? By laying down their lives through serving one another, giving to one another, while receiving from one another. Strong relationships are reciprocal. Up to now the five have attempted to stand alone, often competing against one another producing thousands of Christian denominations and sects producing a fragmented Church. To have an united Church, the five will need to bond through “serving” those diverse passions as equal peers in Jesus! The strength of one is probably the weakness of the others, so each needs to support, encourage, and stand side by side so their weaknesses diminish and their strength as a whole produces unity in the Body of Christ, the Church.

In the upcoming blogs we will examine how the five fold works in a practical way, releasing each passion in believers to serve, yet be accountable to the other four. 


The Next Move Of God: Metamorphosis?

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part IX

An infestation of caterpillars, multi-segmented, squishy-bodied, ravenous eaters who move in cumbersome, accordion-like fashions can kill foliage. Incredibly, they spin cocoons, havens of transitions, and emerge as a butterfly! I am not sure what happens in that cocoon, but metamorphosis transforms a caterpillar into a different bodied structure suitable for flying.

Two thousand years later, the church has become a multi-segmented body of hundreds of different sects and denominations that have become an infestation. If the Lord is to return to a Church without spot and wrinkle, a reconstruction is necessary if it is to fulfill its purpose of John 17, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.” The Church will have to trust the Holy Spirit and embrace new mindsets.

Because the transformation in a cocoon is relational, everything will have to be taken back to the Cross. The Cross is a painful place, so transformation will not come without pain. Through the Cross the Holy Spirit is teaching Christians how to “engage” with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through righteousness (John 3:16), and how to “engage” with one another relationally (I John 3:16) by “laying down your life for your brethren.”

Three stages make up the metamorphic cocoon process: the caterpillar stage, the engagement period, and the butterfly stage. To see how this works, let’s take the caterpillar church mentality of “You Must Believe And Behave In Order To Belong.” To become a member of most local churches, you must sign a statement agreeing with their professions of faith, theological beliefs, church bi-laws and behave like a Christian and fit in to church culture to be accepted as an official member by church leadership.

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” challenges that concept. Before we even had a relationship with Jesus, he accepted us and paid the price for our sins on the Cross. As fallen man, we can be redeemed through Jesus, reinstating a right relationship with the Father. I John 3:16 states, . “We know love by this, that He (Jesus) laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We are now called to lay down our lives for others. That is a new mindset because we have not thought of that relationally. Jesus never accepted sin, yet he died for the sinner. Jesus accepts mankind in both his fallen and redeemed state; it is man’s decision to accept being in a right relationship with the Godhead and his fellow man!

To understand the butterfly stage, you have to understand the social networking generational mindset of “acceptance”. To become a Facebook friend, you need only to push the “accept” button. This opens the door for further communications, which leads to sharing, accepting, or rejecting each other’s belief systems. Rather than behaving to be accepted, accepting Jesus will bring a supernatural change  in a person that naturally happens. In the butterfly stage, “Belonging Begins A Relationship That Produces Believing And Behaving,” which is completely opposite of the way the church currently thinks.

In the dating game, boy asks girl for a date (Caterpillar Stage). She accepts. They begin building a relationship and trust while discussing their belief, goals, and dreams. They get “serious” about their relationship (Engagement Period). After working through tough issues, final acceptance comes in a life commitment of marriage, now belonging to one another (Butterfly Stage).

What transition (Engagement Stage) is needed to change mindsets towards acceptance instead of judgment, tolerance rather than being demanding, be relational rather than structural, being an organism rather than an organization? These transitions are not easy. These transitions will not come without pain, anguish, and self-searching. They can only come if we are willing to ask the tough questions without being offended or defensive and seek those answers through relationships through the Cross.


What The Church Can Not Afford


Embracing the Five Fold– Part XVI


….. because we can not afford NOT to embrace the five fold and its benefits.

If the five fold is the passions, desires, and diverse points of view in the Body of Christ among its Priesthood of Believers that already exists in the Church, the Church can not afford to continue to be passive about ignoring these five giftings among its laity that is called to birth, care, nurture, and equip the saints for the works of service, then release them to serve!

Now is the time for the Church to again listen to the voice and leading of the Holy Spirit sent from the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ to teach the Church, his saints, all things.

Now is the time for transitioning from religious traditions to building functional peer relationships for support and accountability.

Now is a time of building up the Body of Christ as a Priesthood of Believers, peers in Jesus Christ, to have believers grow individually into the image of Jesus and corporately unifying the Body of Christ.

Now is a time for equipping through care, nurturing, teaching, and drawing near to the Father; then recognize the time for releasing.

Now is the time to realize the need for some serious structural changes in the way we do and govern the Church by continually building relationships.

The present church cannot afford to continue to enable its laity and still expect them to be active. It cannot afford to keep the laity passive when they are to be salt and light to the world. It must not only recognize the clergy/laity divide, which is not Biblical, but begin to embrace one another as peers in the Priesthood of Believers.

The present church must also realize that it cannot be faithful to its traditions if it wants to embrace change, revival, and unity. Radical Christianity demands new mindsets!

The 21st Century Church needs to invest in its people, the saints, not in its staff, the paid professionals. God invested in His people through the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the Cross. If believers in Jesus Christ have been called to lay down their lives for their brethren, then the 21st Century Church has got to start having its leadership be tolerant of other Christian camps and begin accepting and embracing one another, supporting one another, equipping one another, and releasing one another in their spiritual journeys with Jesus.

It is time for the Church to again embrace the Holy Spirit for its guidance, wisdom, and teachings., a time to again trust the Holy Spirit, and a time to learn how to trust one another.

If the 21st Century Church is in a time of transition, it’s people cannot afford to remain passive, stagnant, and inactive, for now is the time for “Acts”-tion, the returning to when the Church was alive, active, challenging through change, and influencing the world for Jesus.

Church, let’s embrace change, transition, redevelopment, a retooling, a revamping, a regenerating, responding to the call and voice of the Holy Spirit in individual Christian development as each believers strives to be more Christ-like, and the church becomes unified.

Church, let’s admit the five fold is already among us, part of our spiritual DNA make up. We can afford to embrace the five fold because! Jesus paid the price, now are we willing to pay the price of "laying down our lives for the brethren"? 

Let’s do it!


Sacrifice Beyond the U.S. Marine Model


Why I Would Want The Five Fold In My Church – Part IX


….. because it requires sacrificial service, the laying down of your life, for others.

U.S. Marines have a built a code of conduct through relationships that even the church hasn’t been able to match in the last couple of centuries.  A Marine will sacrifice his life for his buddy, lay down his life in battle to save his buddies; and even carry out a dead body from a combat zone so the enemy cannot desecrate it. That is the honor of the U.S. Marine Code.

The first century church was built on such a code since martyrdom was a reality, but since the easing of persecution, the code has been dropped. Today there is division, bickering, judging one another, and criticism about anything and everything different from the mode and code of worship one follows. Tolerance for other sects within Christianity is at an all time low. Rejecting one another, then shooting the wounded is common place.

Yet, what was Jesus’ mission on earth? It was to lay down his life for mankind, to be the sacrificial lamb for the sins of man. It was to suffer and die on a cruel Roman cross. Yet Romans 5:8 records, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t die for the righteous but the unrighteous, not for the godly but the ungodly. He became more than a martyr because not only did he die for the sins of mankind, but he rose from the dead to conquer death. Because of Him, the dead can now live! Ephesians 4:8 records, ““When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”. Like the Marines, he carried the dead, through a resurrection, to heaven with him and equipped those who remained on earth.

                  At the Cross, Jesus fixed broken relationships. Being the sacrificial lamb, he bridged the gap between God and mankind because of sin. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Man again could be in right standing with his God.  He also bridged the gap between man and mankind. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (I John 3:16-17)

                  It is now each believer’s responsibility to look out for his brother. Unlike Cain and Abel, we ARE our brother’s keeper. We are to take care of a brother or sister in need. We are to serve one another in spite of our diversity. We are to receive from other brothers and sisters even outside of our spiritual camps.

                  What better avenue for service than through the five fold where one has to give his gifting, passion, and desire to serve others, and the others reciprocally give back him. The five fold is all about give and taking the talents Jesus has given us for service.

                  As Christians, lets begin to carry one another’s cross, be willing to die for others, live by a spiritual code that is stronger than even the bond between two Marines. That is the calling for the body of Christ for today.


Revival and the 21st Century Church

Options: Traditions or Change


I haven’t written a blog entry in almost a half a year, but I am back. I have been working on editing manuscripts, including over 500 blog entries into book form  (over 800 pages worth!), and I have reread every blog entry that I have written. I truly thank the Lord for some amazing insights.

I have realized that if a church truly wants revival it will have to be willing to embrace drastic change, and historically the institutional church has only embraced gradual change. Traditions have ruled the day. There is a sense of safety in doing things the traditional way, for traditions don’t make waves. They don’t flow; they are established.

If what I am sensing is truth, that the church is entering a cocoon stage in its development, drastic change will be a requirement. The necessity of changing the church’s very structure is at the core of this metamorphosis. The caterpillar structure of the current church with is squishy body, its multi-legged segments, and its ravishing eating habits to sustain constant growth will have to yield to a hard shelled, three segmented structure with wings whose purpose is to soar into the heavens. These are two totally different structures; same creature, but new look and purpose!

The churches who are willing to face this metamorphic state will find themselves surrounded by conflicts that demands change. Every program they have will be challenged; every thing they have done will be questioned by the standard of “relationships”. How does this standard or program enhance the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and their relationship to mankind, us? Can I trust the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ? How does this standard or program enhance the relationship between man with his brother in this priesthood of believers that is known as the Church, us?  Am I truly my brothers’ keeper; if so, am I willing to “lay down my life for the brethren”? Can I trust my brother or sister in Jesus Christ? Those are the basic, challenging questions that will be asked.

Under the old caterpillar mentality of doing church, the Church cannot fly. It’s multi-legged, multi-bodied structure of splintered, divided factions, and its ravish appetite for constant church growth have often hindered its vertical relationship with the Godhead. It has not been able to bring an united, corporate atmosphere of worship or fulfilled John 17’s vision of church unity with the Godhead. Every segment feels it has the inside scoop with the Father through their church doctrine and beliefs, and the other segments of the body don’t, thus bringing division.

Under the butterfly mentality, the Church will be “equipped” to fly because it will “equip” the “saints”, the priesthood of believers, for the works of service. Everything that they do will be seen as an act of worship to the Godhead. Everything that they do will be an act of service to each other; all at the price of being willing to lay down their lives for their God and their fellow brothers and sisters, exactly what Jesus did on the Cross! The Cross is still the central component of the message of the gospel.

Every church revival that I have studied about or have personally experienced has been a messy affair as man has been challenged with new ways of doing things, new mindsets, a new awareness for the need of worship, a new burden to truly be one’s brother’s keeper, and a hunger for healthy relationships with the Godhead and the body of Christ, the priesthood of believers, that only comes through brokenness, repentance, and healing through Jesus Christ. Churches who don’t want the mess or the challenges will safely continue to crawl into its security and safety that tradition and being an institution can give. We are faced with only two options: tradition or change!

The Cross: A Dying Principle


What Does “Laying Down Your Life For Your Brethren Mean?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (IJohn 3:16-17)


  • Even nature teaches us that you cannot have life without death.
  • The season of “spring” comes only after the dying of the “winter” season.
  • The Christian Church was birthed through death & resurrection, thus the Easter story.


During the Lenten season, I often ask the Lord to reveal a new aspect of the Cross to me. There is so much to learn from the Cross, for it is central to the Christian faith.  One year I learned the principle that “God can make beauty out of the worst possible scenario; he can make the ugliest situation the most beautiful.” The most painful, cruel, inhumane judgment the Romans executed was the crucifixion. Jesus hung beaten beyond recognition, exposed before women, and totally disgraced in front of his own mother, YET in less than three days he would be resurrected in a new body with scars but without pain for his mother and his disciples to see!  The beauty of the resurrection replaced the horror of the crucifixion.  When I find myself in dark spots, places of disgrace, in areas of pain and suffering, those ugly places, in hope, I look for the coming resurrection that can only be found in Jesus.

This Lenten season I am focusing on IJohn 3:16-17 as I continue to ponder over the meaning of “laying down your life for your brethren.“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” That principle I understand in my head, in my intellect, but practically in every day life the “we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” still baffles me.

Being a retired 8th Grade English teacher for 40 years who had to teach English grammar, I am fascinated by John’s choice of pronoun here: “We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” The pronoun “we” is inclusive and plural. It doesn’t say “I” but “we”. We, I believe, refers to the Body of Christ, the Priesthood of Believers, the corporate Church! Today’s church is known for shooting their wounded, criticizing their brethren, debating profusely over theology and doctrine, yet hypocritically proclaims that “we” are one Church, united in Jesus! If we truly are united in Jesus, then our actions should speak louder than our words, and they don’t. When we see brothers and sisters in different Christian denominations, sects, or local churches not under the same Christian sect’s banner as our own, we do not meet their “need” nor show “pity” towards them, but judge them by “pitying” them for having a “need” as if it were judgment for their lack of faith or incorrect theology! As John and I both ask, “How can the love of God be in (us)?

Laying down one’s life is the central message of the gospel. “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” That single act opened the door for redemption, reconciliation, healing, hope, faith, love, etc. “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers,” that single act, will open the door for redemption, reconciliation, healing, hope, faith, love, etc. between brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. The Cross ended the curse of sin that divided mankind from his God; the Cross also ended the curse that caused Cain to kill his brother Abel that has divided mankind throughout history.

Death brings resurrection. Jesus’ body that laid in the tomb three days dead was resurrected. History was now changed forever. Only if “we”, the Church, the believers in Jesus Christ, the Priesthood of Believers, are willing to lay down our lives, dead to our past traditions and mindsets, can “we” expect to see a resurrection of life and unity in the Spirit and in the Church!

But the question still needs to be asked, “How do we lay down our lives ‘practically” in our day to day life towards each other?” What does that mean? What does it look like? What practical steps must “we” take, individually as believers in Jesus and corporately as a Church, a Body?

As this series of blogs professes, I truly that believe by embracing the five fold as passions, drives, points of view, and diverse voices in the body of Christ to build up the saints into the image of Jesus Christ while bringing unity to the Body of Christ, every believer in Jesus Christ, every member of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, is responsible for the “we” who are to “lay down his life for his brethren.” If I truly profess that the Church is going through a metamorphosis stage of redevelopment and structural reconstruction, then I need to focus on the “we”, the Church, part and figure out how I can lay down my life for my brethren, not for the institution nor its organization, but for my fellow brethren, real live people! This Easter “I” need to die to self; “we” need to die to ourselves, and begin to “lay down our lives” for one another! That is the price for true revival!


Laying Down The Principle Of Selfless Blame

10 Ways The Church Might Change: Point 7

[In a previous blog I have outlined 10 possible changes the Church may face in the future. This is point 7 in the series: “Laying Down One’s Life”, vertically in our relationship to God and horizontally in our relationship with each other, is central to the gospel. On the Cross, Jesus “laid down his life” for us!  On the Cross, we must “lay down our life” for God and for each other.  Without understanding this principle, we cannot function in plurality, nor as a priesthood, nor as an unified body.”]

I explained in a previous blog, point #2, about the importance of the vertical plane between God and man and the horizontal plan between man and his fellow man that dissect each other making up the context of the Cross.  Also in my last blog I addressed the issue of the body of Christ, the Priesthood of Believers, the Church, as a pluralistic body of diversity, yet a single entity as one. The question that needs to be asked is, “How can such a diverse body be united and remain united?  The answer lies in putting the two blogs together.

In order for the Church to be united it has to embrace the doctrine of Priesthood of Believers, that in spite of its extreme diversity, common, everyday believers are the backbone of the Church, and it is they who have to step forward and perform the duties that are necessary for the Priesthood of Jesus Christ to succeed as one united distinct unit.  The Church’s diversity in the past is the very thing that has torn it asunder when what makes them different is the very thing they stood up for bringing division. Then what can keep the Church united; what will be the glue?  As I have suggested earlier, the answer likes in I John 3:16 where we, as believers in Jesus Christ, are to “lay down our lives for the brethren”.

My first reaction is that “attitude” can never be attained, for there is no historical proof.  Historically, the opposite, division, has always resulted, so why would I believe in the impossible.  I know scripturally it says, “all things are possible in Christ Jesus who strengthens me,” but this dimension goes beyond the vertical relationships between God and man through Christ Jesus, it goes between man and man.  As man, Adam, a creation of God, are we willing to consciously make the decision ourselves to be “selfless”? Can we willing lay down our life for the common good of the unit, the Body of Christ?

Jesus, as a man, as flesh and blood, as the Son of God, came to earth to be obedient for the cause of laying down his own life, willingly, for the brethren.  He proved that such a deed can be done only through “Christ Jesus who strengthens me”, but just as Jesus experienced on the Cross, it could be extremely painful.    Being Christ-like means one has to be utterly “selfless”; it is not about me, but about the kingdom of God.

So what does it mean to be selfless, to lay down your life?

Jesus, when on the Cross, never played the “blame game”? The Church has debated over the centuries, “who is to blame for Jesus’ crucifixion?”  Some blame the Romans and Pilot washing his hands clean of a case for political gains of an innocent man being accused by a ruthless mob.  Some have blamed the Jews, the Sanhedrin, or Jewish governing body, for Jesus’ crucifixion.  The great reformer, Martin Luther held this anti-semantic view during his life which became the seeds for the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust later in history. Some blame it on the sins of you and me, a favorite theme of modern day Evangelical evangelists.  Jesus did not blame the Romans, nor his fellow Jew, nor you or me, for while on the Cross his attitude came out in His own words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  His crucifixion was preordained by God, the Father, himself; even prophesied by prophets of old. It was going to happen because it was part of God’s eternal plan. There IS NO BLAME!  Even blameless, selflessness is being willing to take the blame even though it is unjustified; that is what Jesus did! As the Sacrificial Lamb, he took the blame even though he was innocent, willingly, selflessly, for the good of mankind!

“Laying down your life for your brethren” must begin with laying down and crucifying one’s “blame game”.  It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. What matter’s is God’s will, God’s eternal plan, and if that plan is to lay down the blame, carrying the unjustified burden and accusations even thought you may be right, even at the expense of one’s reputation and life, then do so! That is being “Christ-like”! It was never God’s plan for the Priesthood of Believers to be blaming and condemning one another for their faults, sins, and short comings; It was God’s plan to extend GRACE to cover his/her faults, sins, and short comings.  The Church preaches grace; now it is being called to LIVE GRACE TOWARD ONE ANOTHER!  Impossible, you may first shout, but again “all things are possible in Christ Jesus who strengthens you!”

Church, brethren, the Body and Bride of Christ, the Priesthood of Believers, let’s begin to “lay down our lives to/for one another”, “selflessly”, “without blame” while extending “grace”; for then we will see the miracle of the fulfillment of the unity of the Body of Christ for which Jesus prayed in John 16.  No prayer goes unanswered, and neither will this one, particularly if Jesus himself prayed it and fulfilled the answer to that prayer!  At the cross, being willing to “lay down one’s life”, blamelessly, selflessly is where REVIVAL begins. Church, let’s let the REVIVAL begin there with ME!


The Two Diagonal Planes of the Cross – Part I?


10 Ways The Church Might Change: Point 2

[In previous blogs I have outlined 10 possible changes the Church may face in the future. This is point 2 in the series: The Church has worked hard on its vertical relationship with God through worship and praise (John 3:16).  Now it will be forced to work on the horizontal relationship of brother/sister to brother/sister in redefining how the family of God functions (IJohn 3:16). Where those two planes intersect is at the center of the Cross, thus reinforcing that the Cross is the center of the Christian experience. There is where the Church will find the Presence of God!]

The cross is an intersection of two perpendicular lines. In the Christian life, it represents relationships.  I grew up being told that man, Adam, had a fulfilled relationship with God until he sinned. That relationship, horizontal, was broken between he and his God, and soon the depravity of that broken relationship became evident between man and his with relationship with each other when Cain killed his brother Abel.  The relationship was restored when God sent his Son, Jesus to earth to be the sacrificial lamb to break the gulf of a broken relationship caused by sin.  That vertical relationship intersected the horizontal relationship, literally and physically, at the Cross where Jesus died (John 3:16).

Worship is the vertical relationship between God and man.  The Church has worked hard on this relationship over the last half a century, and today most church “worship” services, at least the musical segment, emphasizes their vertical relationship with God.  Styles of music may vary, but the direction of a believer’s adoration is universal.

Where I believe drastic change in the Church will occur is in the horizontal relationship between brothers and sisters in the Lord (I John 3:16).  The Church is known for it’s horizontal relationship as being fractured: denominations, divisions, and sects abound all under the Christian label, yet Jesus prayed for its very unity in John 16, a passage often called the Priestly Prayer.  If His prayer is to be answered and fulfilled, drastic change must occur if there is to be unity among the brethren.  How do we get past doctrinal differences, historical differences, and cultural differences?  Reputations like “Christians don’t heal the wounded among themselves; they just shoot them”, and “The most segregated time during the week in America is when the American churches meet on Sunday mornings,” must vanish.  If anyone should know “grace”, “mercy”, “unconditional love”, “loving the unlovely”, etc. it should be the Church!  The Church needs to practice those principles among themselves, and the results will be unity.

Unfortunately, the American church has placed much of its priorities and efforts into Sunday morning services.  The programs have become very professional with high quality singers and musicians, excellent orators, high tech theatrics with excellent lighting, sound, and projection. Unfortunately as they have worked hard on their theatrical presentations, the involvement among those in their theatrical seats and chairs that have replaced pews have diminished.  The attending participants are to “follow” the worship “leaders” as robots. They are told when to stand, when to sit, when to give financially, when to shake hands, when to leave, and when to fellowship. They are never asked to “generate” anything during the service except enthusiasm and financial support. Their singing is lost among the mix of the professional sound system.  It’s almost like they lost their voice, because some one, either the pastor or staff, always speaks for them, prays for them, or teaches them.  Things that encourage relationships are usually minimized or not present.  To reverse the trend would be difficult due to the lure of the lights, sound, and professionalism.

But Christianity is all about relationships: a whole and healthy relationship between God and once fallen man because of a personal relationship with a personal Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ; a reconciliation of broken relationships between man and fellow man, and a transformation of a person within themselves going from an old decrepit, sinful self to a new, healthy, whole person in Jesus Christ.

As a professional educator, I know the importance of relationships with my students.  Not to minimize the importance of curriculum, it is the relationships with teachers that students vividly remember: who they loved, who they feared, who they respected, and who they hated. I contribute much of the success that I had as an 8th grade teacher for 40 years to the relationships I built with administrators, teachers, parents, and my students. 

As professionals in a Church staff, pastors and supporting staff must recognize the importance of relationships not only with those they serve, but relationships built among the laity with each other.  Not to minimize the role of a pastor, or staff, or sermons, or church curriculums, and all things professional, it is the strength of relationships of the common believers among themselves that produces a strong, vibrant, healthy church.  If a church doesn’t have these relationships properly built, all the staff ever gets done is what I call “crisis” counseling, which drains the staff, the laity, and the whole entire church of its enthusiasm, energy, drive, and effectiveness.  I’ve been involved with churches that live on the edge of each “crisis”, basically because there was little if any relationship among their people.

If the church wants to be more effective to this generation, a cause for change will be in relationships.




Transition Only Comes With Sacrifice

All weekend I have been wrestling with the caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly process that I have been blogging about and how it applies to the Church, and its been gut wrenching.  I have been wrestling with Isaiah 57 with the “Build up; build up”, but first “remove every obstacle out of the way of my people.” What are these obstacles, how do you remove them.  What happens if the obstacle has been something that has been good, foundational, a real positive, but now appears to be in the way.  That is tough to admit that something so good, can now be the very thing prohibiting ones move forward.  How do you handle that, dispose and let go of those precious things?  There is a lot of good in tradition, foundational principles are embedded there, but how do you singularly as an individual believer and corporately as a member of the priesthood of believers let it go, take a hands-off approach? It’s tough.

Then I remembered the scripture “to obey is better than sacrifice” and all the Old Testament practices that had become meaningful, the central part of Jewish worship: the festivals, the feasts, the intricate system of animal sacrifices, and God tells his prophet that he is sick of them; they are stench to his nostrils.  Wow, all this good, all these meaningful services that appear to be the very backbone of their faith, and God now says in today’s vernacular, “that sucks”, then concludes, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”

I have painfully learned the lesson to place items on the altar as worship.  Even though the Lord will burn them up and consume them, but then has a choice to give them back as is, give them back transformed, give something totally new back, or not give them back at all.  Some things are easy to lay on the altar, like the garbage in my life, which he consumes and gives grace and forgiveness back instead. That is the transforming power of Jesus Christ.  C.S. Lewis’ classic The Great Divorce is an allegory of showing why it is difficult to give up the very things that prohibit us from wanting the offer of eternal life in heaven.  To a sinner, unless he feels he need for a “savior”, he doesn’t want to give up the very life that is holding him back.  But what about good things?

I remember going to my last Lay Witness Mission weekend as a coordinator. I loved those weekends when a team of “laity” from all over Central Pennsylvania and other states would come to a home church upon their invitation to share their faith journey stories, pray together, sing together, stay in their homes, fellowship together, and most of all eat pot luck dinners together.  I have seen people giving their life to the Lord, dysfunctional, torn families healed, marriages saved, hope restored in discouraged lives, and healing of relationships.  It was a powerful ministry!  As I was praying for the upcoming mission, for these missions’ foundations were built on prayer, the Lord told me to lay this particular mission down on the altar.  I knew what that meant: He’d consume it. What would the result be?  He told me:  He was not planning to give it back to me; that this would be my last one as a coordinator.  Although I felt a moment of grief, of lost, I became “obedient”, laid it down, and moved on.

I believe, the Church is about to go through a cocoon stage in its history.  It’s going to be revolutionary, something it has not experienced before.  If it is to be greater, more impactful that the Reformation, what will be happening to the Church once inside the cocoon?  1) Every movement of God is centered at the Cross, so I think the Lord is going to increase our understanding vertically (John 3:16-17) of who He is, how He works, what is His will, and how we individually as believers in Jesus Christ and corporately as a Church are to worship Him. The biggest transformation is coming horizontally (IJohn 3:16) in our linear relationships as “peers in Jesus Christ” toward one another.  He’s asking, “What are you willing to die for?”  Are you willing “to die” for your brothers and sisters in Christ? That will take sacrifice and discipline like the Church hasn’t experienced since its very early years. 2) He’s also asking, “What are you willing to let die?”  What are you willing to lay on the altar for His consumption?  That’s a tough question individually as a believer, but it is magnified corporately as the Body of Christ.  We know the answer should be that we are willing to lay down our "all", aka "everything", but as a Church, are we willing to lay down our traditions, our history, and the way we have done Church?  The ball is in our court, but we see this as a great risk, for if we lay it down, He will consume it! That fact is a given! 

Our lack of faith and doubt arises in the fear of what He will do with it: give it back as is, transform it into something else, give back something totally knew, or the unthinkable, not give it back at all.  We know the last option is not a feasible one, because the Word, the Bible, says that Jesus is coming back for His Church, a Church without spot or wrinkle. So there is our answer to what he will do if we lay the present Church on the altar.  The Church certainly will be different if we get it back “spotless” and “without wrinkles”.   Individually we know the truth that when we gave him our sins, our garbage, that he gave us back a new life that in his eyes is “spotless” through forgiveness, “wrinkleless” through His grace.  If he can do that individually, he can do even greater corporately.

I exhort the corporate Church, who I so dearly love and am a part of, to please, let’s corporately, together lay down this sacred institution that has meant so much to us, been our foundation, a rock in time of turmoil, our hope in time of darkness, our joy in time of resurrection and praise, and allow the Lord to consume it!  Then, while in our cocoon, watch what the Lord does with it, and marvel together at how it all turns out: as a butterfly!



 Caterpillar to Butterfly: Government Run By Boards, Committees, and Hierarchal Leadership– TO – Government Run On Relationships Of Give And Take In A Five Fold Format

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part X

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: Government is run by boards, committees, and hierarchal leadership (caterpillar) TO  Government is run on relationships of give and take in a five fold format (butterfly).

Caterpillar: In the past church “government” has bred “church politics”, often power struggles.  Schisms and splits have occurred over the choice of the color of carpet, organ or no organ, youth involvement, salaries, housing, order of worship, etc., etc. Some local churches are governed through congregational meetings and voting, some by boards of deacons, elders, some by church councils, some by pastor/parish committees, and some dictated by strong pastors.  Often pastors have had to yield what they have felt as strong callings, convictions, directions, and discernment to governing boards who oppose what they are doing.  Many a discouraged pastor and/or parishioner have left the church when being caught in this political vice.

Butterfly:  Government will be built on relationships that will breed respect, honor, and accountability.  IJohn 3:16 of “Laying down your life for your brethren” will be the foundation of “serving” one another, giving and taking from each other because of linear relationships as peers, as being just Christians.  An example would be the five fold where the five very different passions and points of view would be united through the leading of the Holy Spirit as each of the five gives to the other four of their talent, ability, and passion, and willing receive from the others who are so different from them.  One’s strength will support the others weakness, and each will “release” the other to follow their passion. 

The Differences: Old and current governmental church structures nurtured and wheel power and support a pyramidal hierarchy structure, while the new governmental church structure would foster respect, honor, and accountability through linear relationships of service, through laying down ones life in sacrifice, not in position of authority.  

Implications Today: This process will be one of the most difficult things for the church to transition because it will be attached by the very “power” it opposes.  Unless led by the Holy Spirit and taken to the Cross of vertical and horizontal relationships the Church will not wither the storm.  The disciples were rebuked when arguing over who would be on Jesus’ left and right in the kingdom when they felt standing by his side would be a noble political cause, but they fled and would be replaced by two thieves to be on Jesus’ left and right when hanging on the cross on that infamous day. Those three on their crosses faced the same fate on a horizontal plain of suffering and death.  None of the disciples hung there nor were there. They would have to rethink their whole kingdom of God theology before changing the world.   

Conclusion: We, the church today, have to rethink our theology on church government, for church isn’t about politics, nor church government about power.  The Bible states that “the government shall be upon his shoulders,” referring to Jesus’ shoulders.  That government is built on service and sacrifice, for Jesus “came not to be serve, but to serve” and “to lay down his life for his brethren,” showing us how the kingdom of God is to be governed.   Church government the way we think of it today is about to undergo a transition that will take it from a power struggle to one of service and accountability.  Oh, if we could only see how this is to all work out inside the cocoon of change.



 New Form, New Image, New Body – Meet The Butterfly, The Church

In my last blog we looked at the miraculous transformation from a lumbering caterpillar to a dormant cocoon to an independent free spirited butterfly.  I used that analogy with the Church as I feel it about to break loose from its cocoon stage to freedom to fly.

Visually, the most transforming feature of a caterpillar to a butterfly is its body.  There is a complete structural difference.  The caterpillar is a fat, multi-legged, crawling bug that turns into this slim, winged insect suitable to fly.  What happened when it was in its cocoon?   This change is radical, yet it appears to occur during a dormant period of its life, when in the cocoon.

I believe the caterpillar/butterfly analogy can also be applied to the Church.  The structure of the Church has been rather cumbersome throughout its history.  When I have heard sermons about the structure of the church, it has been on apostles, elders, deacons, etc., one built on hierarchal positions.  The Roman Catholic Church has even taken it to bishops, cardinals, and the Pope.  As the institutional church has grown, so has the financial obligation to maintain it as cathedrals were built and a huge professional clergy system to finance.  The institutional church has never been known for change, and what change has come has only come through church politics, thus the lumbering caterpillar.

There have been times of transformation in the church called revivals.  During these times the church appears to be dormant, during times of spiritual lulls, where there appears to be some shaking going on inside the safe confines of church structure, unnoticed by those outside the church at first.  During these times “new ways” and “new mindsets” of old biblical principals are “revived” as the church wrestles to become like the eggs that hatched its birth in the first century.  Because of the structure of what appears to be safety and stability, these “revival” movements are eventually swallowed up by the structure in keeping its old form. The fruit of that revival movement has been division as new sects in Christianity are birthed and thrive.  There is no butterfly in structure, just the continuation of the caterpillar.

I contend that there is a new revival happening in the cocoon of Christianity that is about to take on a new form and become a butterfly.   No one outside the cocoon can see it, but the cocoon knows that something inside is happening: a reforming of structure for that of a butterfly at its designated time.  This body inside the cocoon is going to go through structural change, drastic structural change, and cannot be freed or released from the cocoon until the transformation is complete.

I believe that this change is going to be from the transformation of the current structural, pyramidal, institutional form of hierarchy of positions and offices to a horizontal position of relationships held together and directed by the Holy Spirit with the emphasis on service.  How is the structure of the butterfly to look like?  We, as a church, don’t know right now because we are entering the cocoon stage of transformation.  I believe as we release the five passions and points of view as outlined in Ephesians 4, we will see its fruits manifested in individuals being more mature in the likeness of Jesus Christ as well as the church corporately bringing unity, not division.  How that is to all work out, the Holy Spirit is beginning to lay the ground work for, the teaching, the preparation, the equipping before the releasing.

We, the Church, are about to go through a “body” form change built on relationships. The Church knows the power of the vertical of the Cross, the mending of relationship between a holy God and sinful man through redemption of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, on the Cross.  What the Holy Spirit is about to teach us, the Church, is the horizontal relationship of the Cross, the mending of relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ, bringing this embarrassingly fragmented “body” lumbering along in many “parts” into a sleek “transformed” body prepared for flight in the Spirit through relationships.  What comes out of this transformational cocoon period will be a completely different image and identity of what the Church is. 

How will the butterfly look? Don’t know!  Transformation can be messy, retooling usually causes job loses, but it will improve efficiency. Expect even the way we “do” Church to look different as well as the way we think about ourselves individually as Christians as well as the Church, corporately as a whole, a body that is a "living organism", not a "structural organization". 

I always wondered what went on inside a cocoon. I think, Church, we are about to find out! If we plan to fly, we must go through the cocoon stage. Good bye caterpillar; hello butterfly!


The Hand Of God: A Call To Release, Not Grasp And Hold

 Another Insight At The Foot Of The Cross

In the last blog, I looked at the possibility of the five fold being the five fingerprints of the hand of God, each individual finger having a distinctive fingerprint, but when examined all looking like the image of Jesus, the complete hand being the corporate body of Christ.  When meditating in Church today, I came upon a scripture that I have read plenty of times before, but now took on a different perspective.

Luke 23: 44-46 records, It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  When he had said this, he breathed his last.

When Jesus was crucified on the cross, he could not hold on or grasp anything because of the nails that were driven through his hands.  He hung there exposed, naked, physically helpless.  Things looked out of control, but that assumption would be incorrect, for things were exactly in His control.  Because of Jesus’ mission, he knew that as a human he had to die, but “death where is your sting?”  As a sacrificial lamb, he knew his mission, death, resurrection, and victory. Being in control, what was the last thing Jesus said before his death loudly? He proclaimed for all the world to hear, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Where did Jesus commit his spirit?  Into “the hands of God, His Father”!  He “releases” His spirit into the hands of God.  Who is God’s hands? The Church!  What does God, the Father do, grasp a strong hold to keep and horde the Spirit of Jesus Christ? No.  Jesus knew his Father’s Promise that if he, Jesus, returned to his Father in heaven, then the Father would “release” that Spirit Jesus just gave him and allow it to be released into His Church!  Fifty days later, a blink of an eye to God, He “releases” the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ back onto the Church, and Pentecost becomes “the birth of the Church”, the evangelistic spirit!  In upcoming days, these believers would break bread with each other, nurture and care for one another, the pastoral shepherding spirit! Would “teach” the fulfillment of all scripture, the Logos Word, the Law, through Jesus Christ, the teaching spirit!  Commune with the Holy Sprit, listening to his voice and obediently following it, the prophetic spirit! The Church would be founded on the 12 apostles to “over see” the work of this Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ!  The hand of God had released His fingerprints, the five fold, upon His Church, and on the world!

In upcoming blogs we will look at the “hand of God” and what it means, the power of the use of hands in ministry, and the imprint of the five fold a unique passions and points of view, but the power of a newly birthed Church, and the power of a restored Church in preparation for Jesus’ return to earth as He had prophesied.


Again, I Repeat: “Passion” Released Brings “Productivity”


The Releasing of Passion in the Five Fold

Recently I met with my local pastor, contemplating my future upon retiring from being a public educator for forty years, asking him how I would now fit into the local body of Christ that he was leading.  His response was to ask me a question, “What are you passionate about?”  My response, “teaching!”

I ask you today, “What are you passionate about in your walk with Jesus?”  What drives you?  What gives you a sense of fulfillment?  For some its missions, others evangelism, hospitality, visitations, caring and nurturing, teaching, seeking God through worship, listening to the voice of God through obedience, marveling at the workings of the Church as a whole, etc.  There are many things one can be passionate about in Jesus. What is your passion?

I believe one of the keys to the five fold is the “releasing” of these “passions” among the saints.  Ephesians 4 challenges us to “equip”, prepare, the saints, the everyday believers in Jesus Christ, for the work of “service.”  If we prepare the saints and allow them to be passionate about the work of the gospel through service, we will witness a productive Church. 

Often the church has based itself around a certain day to worship, a certain building or place in which to worship, a certain group of people, the staff, to perform needed duties, rather than releasing those who worship, whose bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and who have been called to perform the work of service: the saints, the people who ARE the CHURCH! 

This time of year there are graduations everywhere, celebrations of years of preparation, only to now be released.  Students who are clueless about survival in the world as adults, but academically prepared, released to become adults, released to use those things they were taught in real world situations.  If they have been “prepared” effectively they will become productive.  If what they learned has become their “passion,” that passion released will produce “productivity” and they will earn the title of becoming successful.  Without passion, they become just another cog in the system.

When you think of Church, what drives you?  What are you passionate about?  If released, what would you want to do?  What preparation do you need to dove tail with your passion so that you can be productive for Jesus? Those are the questions each of us and the Church as a whole needs to be asking! 

The church must also ask the question, “What structures my be in place for this to happen, and what current structures have to be removed for this to happen?”  In urban renewal, often old structures must be condemned, torn down, and removed, before new structures can be built to bring life back into that urban area.  The church does not do a very effective job at condemning existing structures that were once productive but have become “traditions” now blocking “renewal”.  Urban renewal always brings opposition from the established entrenched ones, and so does spiritual renewal. 

I believe the five fold is a possible structure that would bring renewal to the Church if allowed to be led by the Holy Spirit at the cost of its members be willing to lay down their lives for one another, a high price for the prize.  All through these 300 blogs I have written, I have challenged you and I as believers, and you and I as the Church to tear down some old structures, once valued with reverence, but now becoming a blockage for spiritual renewal.  I have learned it is easy to lay on the altar the waste, the sin, and the failures of our lives for Jesus to renew, but find it difficult to lay on the altar things that I love, things that have been productive in the past, things that I value, yet they are the very things that must be laid on the altar for the Church to continue to move forward.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those structures and how to remove them; then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the new structures you are to be “passionate” about and release that passion.


Laying Down One’s Life

The Key: The Husband in a Marriage Model

Part III


When Jesus died on the cross he bore the sins of the entire world upon his shoulders.  He carried all of mankind’s sins.  He became 100% responsible for those sins and was willing to carry that responsibility because of His obedience to His Father.  None of those sins were “his fault”, for He was without sin, sinless.  He carried 100% of the responsibility with 0% being His fault.  You have to see the revelation that He got from His Father to reveal to the world: 100% responsibility with 0% fault.  There lies the revelation that unlocks the mystery of marriage and the relationship of the Church.

Men, as head of your Christian households, are you willing to take 100% of the responsibility for your wife even when it is not your fault.  This whole business about being “Christ like” has nothing to do with faults and blame.  It is about taking on your responsibility for you and your wife, 100% of it!  When you do that, I guarantee that she will be 100% willing to submit to you.

I can hear you crying even now, “That is not fair!”  True, the cross was never fair.  Everything possible was stacked up against Jesus, the physical, the emotional, the spiritual realms were all in opposition to what He was doing the day that He died on the cross.  The physical and mental torture that He went through from the time that He was in the Garden of Gathsemene until his death on the cross is indescribable, but He did it out of obedience to the Father, to reveal His Father’s heart, and it was totally unfair to Him because He was sinless.  If the cross was fair, then you would have to have died for your own sins, but Romans 5:8 states, “God demonstrates his own love [the heart of the Father] for us in this:  While we were still sinner, Christ died for us.”   So, He died, for your sins and mine, and that wasn’t fair.  Fairness is not part of being Christ like.

Our Christian marriages should also reflect this same Christ like attitude, “revealing the heart of the father” to my wife so much that I am willing to take 100% responsibility for her even though it may not be any of my fault, not because she loves me (which would be conditional love) but because I want to be obedient to the Father and am willing to lay down my life unconditionally.  I am not doing this as a reaction to her, but as an action from the Father.  I love my wife enough to lay down my life for her in obedience to the Father. Now this would mean that as a man, a husband, I have to nurture an intimate relationship with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so that I would look to Him and expect to hear from Him about every area and every situation in my life, my wife’s, and my children’s.  My acts of obedience to Him would produce only one reaction from my wife, submission.  Isn’t it amazing that usually the times she chooses not to submit is the very same time when I have chosen not to be obedient to the Father and not be Christ like.  I guarantee you that if we men would act out of obedience to our Father in a Christ like attitude, having the mind of Christ towards our wives, revealing the Heart of the Father, they would come running to us obediently, which is known as submission.  But guys, it takes our actions for their reactions.

 Christ loves “revealing the heart of the Father to” you, me, and the Church, by laying down His life for you, me, and the Church because He was obedient to the Father, not you, not me, nor the Church.  Jesus’ actions was purely done in obedience to His Father, so must ours.

Laying Down One’s Life

The Key: The Husband in a Marriage Model

Part II


Let’s look first to the sanctity of Christian marriage before we look at the Church, for their lies the understanding we need to solve this mystery.  Although Ephesians 5:22 starts with an exhortation to the wives to submit to their husbands, I want us to look at what they are to submit themselves to!  What is the role of the husband in a Christian marriage according to this passage in Ephesians“(a) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, (b) cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  (c) In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.   After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the Church -- for we are members of his body.  (d) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Let’s look at the first part of this passage:   “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.”  We need to put John 3:16 beside this passage to understand it.  “God so loved (revealing the heart of the Father) to the world gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  Men, we are suppose to love (reveal the heart of the Father to) your wives, just as Christ loved [revealed the heart of His Father to] the church and gave himself up for her.  Men, our purpose in marriage is to reveal the heart of the Father to our wives, but the question remains, “How do we do that?”

At a church men’s retreat the speaker taught us what that meant through a simple diagram. 

All throughout Jesus’ life, He was always obedient to the Father because He wanted to reveal the heart of His Father to the world.  He often tried to teach his disciples “If you have seen me you have seen the Father, because I and My Father are one”.  Often Jesus would retreat to desolate places to spend time with his Father, only to return and do miracles, because the way Jesus operated in ministry was by looking to his Father, by listening to Him, then by being obedient to what he had seen and heard.  That is the life of obedience, the life style Jesus followed.  Everything Jesus did, everything, was done out of obedience to his Father, so it would be obvious that the two of them were one!  The reason Jesus died on the cross was because his Father told him to do it.  He did it out of obedience to his Father.  He did it out of love.  He did it to “reveal the heart of His Father”.  That revelation came through obedience.

God placed Adam on earth to inhabit it, but as we all know, Adam sinned and the rest is history.  The “heart of the Father” was to restore Adam, or man, to the rightful position for which he originally created.  In order to do that satan, who had become prince of the air or earth, had to be defeated.  Only the shedding blood could restore the broken covenant with God, so He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for the lost and rebirth his body, the Church.  God loved the Church so much that he was willing to give His Son’s life for its redemption.  Jesus, in obedience to the Father to reveal His Father’s heart, was willing to lay down his life for his brethren to restore them to what they were originally intended to be, children of God.  At Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection came the redemption and restoration of God’s children with Adam being the first child and now Jesus being the first child through redemption, and the Church as we know it today was born.  Jesus loved the Church so much that He was willing to die for it’s redemption only because he was willing to be obedient to His Father, wanting to reveal the heart of his Father to His creation.

Laying Down One’s Life

The Key: The Husband in a Marriage Model

Part I


Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which He is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the Church -- for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)



 How often have we heard that scripture in terms of horizontal relationships between man and women, husband and wife, but have you ever looked at this scripture in terms of brother to brother, or sister to sister in their relationship to each other in the Church?  It is easier, I think, at times to grasp the vertical relationship between God and fallen man and his redemption than it is to understand the “profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church” both vertically and horizontal in relationship.

I have heard multiple sermons on why Jesus came to earth, dying for the sins of man, and His ascension into the heavens, back to be with the Father, sitting on his right hand interceding for the Church.  I have also heard sermons about the rapture, the time when He is to return to earth to get his church and take them with Him into heaven.  I have also heard the Ephesians 5:22-33 passage read at weddings as instruction to the couple about to be wed in a Christian wedding.  Often in my Church of the Brethren background I heard it coupled with the I Corinthians 11 chapter in sermons about how women should submit to their husbands and justifying the practice of requiring their women to wear head veils at all times as an outward sign of submission.

 I have not heard this passage referred to the Church except for the rapture, when, I was taught, Christ would return for his “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”   I was told from the pulpit that the second coming of Jesus could come at any moment, “at the twinkling of an eye”, “when you would least expect it”.  Years ago fear was implanted in many believers when told from pulpits that they should never be in bars, movie theaters, or other undesirable places because what if the Lord would return at that moment?  Yes, Jesus is coming back to a “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” When I see the state of today’s church, I do not worry about the Lord’s return being today or even soon, for the stains, wrinkles, and blemishes of the church are very prevalent to me.  How is the church to rid itself of its stains, wrinkles, and blemishes?  “This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Maybe the answer to this mystery can be found in the model of marriage as Christ has proposed.

The Cross - Dueling "Johns"

“The Dissection of Two Johns


Vertical: John 3:16-21 For God do loved the world that he have his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned.  But whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed, but whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

Horizontal: I John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can we the love of God be in him?

*Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (International Version), 1990, B. B. Kirkbridle Bible Co. Inc.

The Simplicity of The Cross

“Supernaturally Natural”


How do you get five different passions, five different points of view to focus in unity on one single purpose or goal or issue and be in agreement? It is nice to study each of the five fold singularly in how they operate and view the world and the Church, but their purpose is to make the Church and each believer more Christ-like, in the fullness of Christ, to bring unity to the body of Christ, not division (Eph.4).  My first reaction is that it is impossible for the Church to do that, for history has proven that.  Then again I know that “we can do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens us,” so the question is “How can the five of them not only survive or tolerate each other, but augment and support each other in the effort of bringing unity in the Church?”

The questions and the solution seem complex, but the answer lies in the simplicity of “The Cross”.

Our natural life is built on relationships.  Because of sin, most of our relationships lead to conflict, entanglement, separation, and even hurt. We face divorce, strained relationships in our family and with those we love, disenfranchised relationships at work, socially, and even in the Church.  History, generally, is recorded as conflict after conflict, by wars and conquerors.  Sin has become “natural”, conflict “natural”, until it is dissected by the “supernatural”; then all this changes. When Jesus invaded our “natural” world, He “supernaturally” made a way when there seemed to be no way. He gave his life on the Cross, the price paid for redemption for sin, and then rose from the dead to conquer sin and death.

The simplicity of the Cross is that the “supernatural” dissected the “natural”.  Now we can live in the “supernaturally natural” through Jesus Christ who restored relationships through the Cross.

What we need to examine in future blogs is John 3:16, the vertical relationship between God and His people with I John 3:16, the horizontal relationship between God’s people.  Only after examining those relationships can we begin to understand what it means to “lay down one’s life for one’s brethren”, the only way the differences of passion and view of the five fold can be focused in unity: on Jesus and on the Cross. “All things are possible in Christ Jesus”; especially the possibility of Unity in the Church, and the fullness of Christ for His believers thanks to “The Cross”