Friday, November 6, 2015

REformed or TRANSformed?

I awoke at the crack of midnight today, flipped on my Samsung tablet,  turned it to "audio" and listened to the pleasant voice of the man who read Paul's words of love, encouragement and comfort to a fledgling church in Thessalonica.  How very kind of the Lord to tell them the end of the story before their journey had barely begun. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

If anyone could have been proud of his doctrinal knowledge it was Paul the Apostle. He wasn't. I marvel as I listen to his words in this first Epistle written to these brand new Christians. Would anyone have said that Paul dispensed "sweet words" when he was murdering everyone who believed and received Jesus as the Messiah?  ...but read the tender words he uses with these disciples. those of a "nursing mother".  Paul had been a determined, strategizing, logical man who was sure the Lord wanted him to reach his own Jewish people with the Gospel.  He persisted.  God's "still, small voice" reached the decibel of a megaphone, so loud that peacemaker Barnabas escorted him out of Jerusalem and back to his home town of Tarsus. For seven years he "cooled his heels", adjusting his mind to the will of God Who was sending him, not to Jerusalem or even Samaria, but unto the "uttermost parts of the then-known world". the GENTILES!  (This story resonates with a "certain sound" to many of us, doesn't it?)  The Paul who wrote the Gentile Thessalonians is not the same man we knew in Damascus and Jerusalem. TRANS formation comes through pain. ... "unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies..."

Remember Paul's dream? A man called to him: "Come on over to Macedonia". Well, glory be! The "man" turned out to be a woman named "Lydia", a business woman he met near Philippi while gathered at the river to pray with his travel companions. Lydia came to know Christ right there and Paul baptized her. This woman was no shrinking violet.  She insisted, as only a choleric woman can "insist" that the men come on over to her house for dinner.  They did, and a church was born!  Don't you love it?  Lydia opened the door for the Gospel to all of Europe. ...through hospitality!

Many Christians are dusting off divisive old doctrines, and calling them "new". I will not verbally engage with them if I sense arrogance in their viewpoint regarding REformed Theology, REplacement Theology, "A", "Pre", "Mid" or "Post" Millennial persuasions,  gifts of the Spirit, ..and that's the short list!  If ever we who have taken up our cross to follow Him need to be "one in the Spirit",  it's NOW!

For several days a couple of weeks ago I hosted and counselled a precious couple from the north, retired from the business world and sincerely desirous of using their gifts to bring life into a "maintenance church" ( new fruit and no discipleship). They were treated mercilessly by the very people they loved and served. No wonder many of us who hob nob with the world are told:  "Don't invite me to church! I am fed up with "organized religion". Me too. The church is to be an organism, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, growing and building itself up in loveMy psychologist/university professor son regularly counsels "good people" (his words) who have been treated with such disrespect and cruelty by their mission or church leaders that they leave the ministry altogether and never become a part of a visible ministry again.

Lord, please continue to give us mercy and please, Lord withhold your justice for awhile longer.

                                        A NOT-SO-OLD HYMN:  GENTLE SHEPHERD

Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us
For we need You to help us find our way.
Gentle Shepherd, come and feed us
For we need Your strength from day to day.

There's no other we can turn to
Who can help us face another day.

Love, Jo