Aliens among Us

Recently I heard the true story of a Woman in India who was certain she saw a ghost, but it turned out that what she actually encountered was a man who was not of this world. She was gathering sticks along a path near her village when a pale white figure came running down the path toward her. She dropped her sticks and ran back into the village screaming that she had seen a ghost. It turned out that the “ghost” was an American I recently met in Spokane who has a wonderful testimony of how God delivered him from a life of darkness and transferred him into the kingdom of his dear son.

When Jesus prayed for those that had come to believe in him (John 17) he said that “the world has hated them, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.”
Yet most of us living in the Western world who call ourselves followers of Christ seem to spend most of our time and energy in becoming knowledgeable, comfortable and successful in earthly ways. And how many of us are hated by the world?

There’s been much preaching about faith and what you can gain if you have enough of it.
But the writer of Hebrews points to Abraham as an example of faith. He lived in tents because he was looking forward to “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Speaking of all the heroes of faith mentioned in chapter 11, it’ written that “they admitted that they were strangers and aliens on earth.” What’s more, unlike the faith preachers that tell you how to cash in on the promises of God, these heroes
“..did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” It goes on to say that because they were looking for a heavenly country, “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

God does not condemn us or love us any less if we choose to put more toward our earthly
goals than our heavenly ones. As the writer of Hebrews mentions, “If the men and women of faith had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.” But we’ll never know the unshakeable joy and peace of placing our hope in eternal rewards if we sink our stakes down here. Nor will we know the depths of his love. For as John writes, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Reading scriptures like the one’s above and writing blogs like this make me uncomfortable, because I come up seriously lacking. It’s never fun to walk through the trials that shape us and cause us to grow in Father’s love and grace. But going back is not a choice and standing still is impossible. And God has a way of melting hearts that are turned toward him and of revealing a glimpse of his that overcomes the protesting flesh and causes the spirit to say “Yes!”

David Fredrickson

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Church: Not of this World

Many forward looking Christians are longing for the revelation of what true church should be and what it would look like in its ideal form. They want a practical description from which they can create a model that would insure tangible results. This desire is growing ever stronger today due to the obvious impotency and dysfunction of what is presently called ‘church.’ Ironically, many of those who have left the religious institutions have bought into the same system dressed in another form. Some have started other movements outside of the institutional structure that are moving quickly toward the very dead end they are attempting to escape.

One problem lies with the false assumption that the church is a construct. Yes, we all know that from an academic standpoint, the universal church is not a building, a denomination or a system. It is the body of Christ, comprised of all those who have come into a personal relationship with Jesus. But when it comes to identifying the church in a given local, the living reality of Christ’s glorious body is lost. The church, which Paul describes as “..the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” has been traded for a building where tithe paying units fill pews on Sunday and call it church growth.

As an expression of the kingdom of God, church cannot be identified as a unit or measured in terms of numbers. Nor can it be separated from kingdom in terms of nature, principle or function. Jesus said very little about church and much about kingdom, because kingdom defines the former. What Jesus told the Pharisees applies to church as well: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”(Luke 17:20-21) But living within the boundaries of space and time, we attempt to place earthly limitations on kingdom realities and assume we can cut a linear path along which to move the church forward. But God doesn’t live in space and time and nothing he is or does can be measured or compared to anything else. We cannot fully comprehend kingdom, we can only allow God to draw us near to him so that we will always be reaching out to apprehend that which he has prepared for his church.

The apostle Paul did speak of the church that meets at the house of Priscilla and Aquila, but that didn’t make their home a house church, nor could one define church by observing what took place in the meetings. As the church dispersed and left the house, the church as a unit would become invisible and her real work and greatest impact on society would begin. Each individual would bear the essence of kingdom life in whatever she or he did and wherever they went.

But never would Paul or any of the apostles attempt to build the church in a context other than by sowing and watering the seed of truth. This, he made clear was still of no use unless God gave the increase. Nothing kingdom can be built by man’s hands or man’s plans. Jesus Christ is the foundation and builder of the church. He causes growth as each member of his body walks in love, obeys the Spirit and functions as leaven in the home, work place, market place and in every other facet of society. One cannot identify or measure yeast that’s been absorbed into a lump of dough.

The church is “..like a mustard seed which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” The church was birthed at the cross and was sent from heaven after Jesus resurrection. It is no less heavenly today, and functions on earth by heavenly (kingdom) principles. To think man can build, measure or manage it is absurd.

Sacrificial love births thriving community where the kingdom of God is in the midst of his people. New souls are birthed into the kingdom, the poor are served and the sick and lame are healed. Light comes to dark areas of society and Jesus is lifted up for the world to see. These all provide glimpses of the church and are signs that she is functioning as his bride. But none of these wonders will spring from a set form, methodology, structure or routine. Like the Holy Spirit and the wind, you can feel the effects of the church but cannot determine where she’s coming from or where she is going. Nor can her full impact ever be seen or measured. What can be seen is Jesus and the immeasurable love that flows from his heart and through the lives of those who have abandoned all to follow him.

David Fredrickson

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Spirit of Sonship

Sometimes I have days when God’s goodness and love are so evident to me I feel as though nothing is impossible. This sense of well being always precedes a revelation of my spiritual poverty. Just when I’m moved with compassion for those who I may previously have taken for granted, a further revelation stands waiting to draw me up short. Consider what Jesus said on a mountainside near Galilee:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

I have trouble enough loving those who persecute others. I find it difficult as well to love those who use there assumed authority to bring others into religious bondage. Yet just before he made the above statement, Jesus said:

“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

I’ve prayed for my enemies without passion and have tolerated their insults. And as far as going in for extra slaps, extra miles and letting some shyster rip me off…no way!

Yet Jesus lived that way and died that way proving that he was the son of the Father that loves that way. I’m sure glad he brings those realities to my attention while affirming and pouring his love out on me. Otherwise I would become depressed or, worse, tried harder. Instead, I’m drawn even more to fix my eyes on the one through whom I’ve received the spirit of sonship, and to live in his transforming love.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

David Fredrickson

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Love In Action

A new podcast is up! “Yip, yap, yip, yap, debate, debate…” Do you ever get the feeling we’re doing a whole lot of talking about love but not much doing it? We can talk about love all we want but that means nothing. Jesus didn’t say, “They’ll know you’re my disciples by your philosophy about love.” He said it’s by our love they’ll know we’re His. When Jesus spoke of loving our neighbors He told the story of the Good Samaritan to make the point.  Love is an action not a theory!  It’s so crucial that we know we’re loved by Father.  But love can’t stay dormant.  The evidence of Father’s love in our lives is eventually seen through our actions and not in merely being nice to people, but in laying down our lives for others.  The world will not see Jesus through our endless yapping and Bible studies. He’s seen when we love others with no agenda. That means no seeking to build our thing, market our group, or gain anything at all from them. This is what Loren and David discuss this week.

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Spooky Christianity

Today children everywhere are impatiently waiting for tonight to get here when they will be going door to door in there costumes collecting mouth watering treats. They will look forward to visiting certain homes where they scored the best treats last year. But some of the little spooks will quickly pass even spookier houses where the lights are out and the inhabitants have closed their doors to ward off what they believe is a satanic celebration. Others of the children will visit homes to encounter disappointment when they are tricked with a Chick track exposing the evils of Halloween rather than candy.

Yes, there will be those who are celebrating satan tonight. Their lives will celebrate him every other day of the year as well. But some Christians seem to believe that “spiritual warfare” is the only appropriate response to Halloween. Maybe that response is exactly what he wants. That way he can keep them focused on him self while also keeping them from blessing those that would have come to them for a treat. The devil knows that he has no weapon powerful enough to overcome love. On the other hand, he’s a master of distraction.

Most yearly celebrations and holidays have roots in pagan rituals. So what? Those who follow Christ are rooted and grounded in love and are free to make the most of every opportunity to bless others and give glory to God. We are not bound by what man has instituted because we are joined to Christ and are citizens of his kingdom, and the authority of his kingdom administered in love overcomes every other influence on every occasion and in every situation.

Have fun and make the most of it!

David Fredrickson

 

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Immeasurable Love

During the years I spent running an institutional “church” there was always a major goal supported by secondary ones to keep me pressing forward. I had personal “spiritual” development goals, goals for the church, the city and “revival”. There were always small victories and future events to provide motivation to keep plugging toward that elusive place of arrival.

Several years after I stepped off that religious treadmill, I came to realize I’ll never amount to jack squat according to my former measurements. The city doesn’t need me, and most of what’s dead out there was never alive in the first place, so revival’s out. Past victories were often temporary or a matter of false perception and few events met expectations. I was bright enough to realize that numbers didn’t really matter, but wanted them all the same. Amazing how some pastors ask another how many sheep they’re herding in their pen.

The truth is, Jesus messed with my goals and everything else that worked as a motivator for me in the past. In him, I’m as spiritual as I’ll ever be, but I’ll never be able to quantify my transformation. The city needs him, not me. I’m not sure he’s interested in what we call revival or even reformation, but he will reconcile all things to himself. He’s already won the victory and the main event happened over 2000 years ago. It appears that he’s gone and done it all himself!

It’s human nature to measure things, but it’s impossible to measure God or anything that he does. That includes what he works in and through us. It’s useless to try to get a handle on any kingdom reality or to measure the worth, impact or extent of any work of God. He gives the Spirit without measure, he’s given himself fully to us, and his love for the most evil individual is unsurpassed and immeasurable.

The one goal that’s worth living for is to become more and more like Christ, and the more progress we make toward that goal, the less we’ll be aware of it. Our one purpose on earth is to love as we’ve been loved, without measure. There’s no place to arrive, but always an opportunity to give of ourselves. Many are praying for the outpouring of the Spirit as if he hasn’t been given to us already so that we can pour our lives into others.
And as we do, he will continue to fill us without measure.

David Fredrickson

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Finding Church with Wayne Jacobsen

A new podcast is up! This podcast is one you must hear! Author Wayne Jacobsen (He Loves Me, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, and collaborator on The Shack) joins David and Loren to discuss his fantastic new book, Finding Church. David and Loren agree that this is one of the best books (if not the best) written on the topic of the reality of the church in the world today. This is straight talk from a man who has sought authentic New Testament community for more than fifty years and who has discovered it in the most unlikely places. Now Wayne wants to help you find this incredible bride Jesus is shaping by looking at the church as God sees her and by recognizing her as she takes shape around you. What if the church Jesus is building looks more like wildflowers strewn across an alpine meadow than a walled garden with manicured hedges? Get ready to see church through a new set of eyes! Please forgive the poor audio quality.

We had a bad Skype connection while recording. It is well worth pushing past it to hear this one!

To order a copy of Finding Church go to http://www.lifestream.org/content/finding-church

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Knowing God vs Formulas

 

A friend and I were recalling the season many years ago when a popular teaching on faith emerged that promoted a clear cut strategy for getting from God what you wanted. If your heart was set on a bicycle, for instance, you must submit the request complete with the color, size and brand name. This concept is still popular today along with countless other methods to spiritual “success.

Religion is great at coming up with formulas for just about everything. Prayer, financial blessing, spiritual warfare, getting into God’s presence, miracles, healing, and the list goes on. Many of the methods may have worked in the case of a particular person during a certain season of their life while in the midst of a unique circumstance. But making any formula or set of formulas a template for life in Christ is like an athlete preparing for a weight lifting contest by drinking baby formula. When I was 8 months old I was able to get my mommy to respond to my need by crying loudly. I could crank it up to screaming level if my expectations were delayed. But if I had tried the same method when I was two, I would have gotten the paddle.

The only thing that “works” is a growing relationship with him in which we are wholly dependent on his love and grace. Formulas and pat methods apply only to worldly systems and are as incongruous to relationship as a lead basket attached to a hot air balloon. If we choose to lean on them, we’ll only sink further into the mire of self effort in trying to recreate our experiences of yesterday. Our expectations will be rewarded with nothing but the fading glory of what has already become obsolete. But Jesus says, “Come to me…and learn of me.”

“Spiritual” formulas are a substitute for genuine relationship. As a relationship between two individuals grows deeper, the way they relate to one another changes. Understanding one another’s needs becomes more intuitive. One becomes more focused on pleasing the other rather than on getting what they want for themselves. It’s the same with our side in our relationship with God. He, of course, is all knowing. Jesus said as recorded in Matthew 6:8, “..your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask.” We know nothing that he has not revealed to us by his Spirit, so our interaction with him is not to discover the secret code that solicits his cooperation, but to learn to understand his ways. As we live out what he reveals to us we grow to know him more intimately. The way “things are done” changes as well, and will continue to change as we grow in the knowledge of him.

All of God’s directives to us are aimed toward the goal of knowing him. We cannot stand on a particular experience, doctrine or method or even a cause, or we will frustrate that one purpose of our existence. Our relationship with him is a romance that progresses through courtship, intimacy and the sharing of secrets revealed only to trusted lovers. It continues as an adventure of discovery between us and him and those of the bridegroom’s friends who have come to savor the anticipation of the unexpected and that which is still to be revealed.

David Fredrickson

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The Winning Hand

Several years ago Stanislav Mishin, a blogger and columnist for the Russian newspaper Pravda wrote a very sobering article regarding “America’s decent into Marxism”. He first asserts that “the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather than the classics. After expounding on that, he goes on to make his second point:

“Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different “branches and denominations” were for the most part little more than Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more than happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the “winning” side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the “winning” side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power.”

I heartily agree, except to state my belief that the path this country has taken reflects the condition of the church first rather than second. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and most other great institutions of learning were founded as Christian universities where presidents, scientists and pastors were educated. But beginning in the 1870’s, Christians adopted a stance of “pietistic withdrawal”. The line between secular and sacred was ever more widened to the point that Christians no longer engaged the world around them, leaving secular humanists to fill the vacancies in the areas of education, technology, the arts, media, and politics.

Now the pendulum has swung back the other way. Rather than engaging the world in love for the purpose of redemption, many have become married to it. The problem is that the “church” as an institution can never engage the world on an incarnational basis, and can therefore only seek its favor and power. Hardly the “winning side”.

But God will not lose. When all of our religious efforts, hyper “faith” and dead works have failed we may struggle with passivity. Yet Father loves to partner with those who have hope in nothing and no one else but him. And he always seems to use the few, the small, often the despised and the sometimes hidden to change the course of history. The condition and destiny of this nation may not be altered, but when he returns, it will be for a glorious bride.

No doubt he’s preparing a people who are dying to self interest and becoming lost in laying down their lives for others. They don’t have the loudest voices or the large followings. Most of them get lost in the crowd, yet have an immeasurable impact on those around them. They love without discrimination. They’re engaged in all facets of industry, education and the arts, yet their lives are uncompromising. They may not have the slightest clue as to what the near future will bring. But they know who they trust and are convinced that he’s holding the winning hand.

David Fredrickson

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Free to be Small

A new podcast is up! There is such a drive in our old nature for fame and recognition. This often creeps into our lives as believers and causes us to view our actions and life in Christ as insignificant unless we’re doing big things that are noticed by multitudes of people. Yet, more often than not God meets us and impacts the world around us in the small things of our daily lives that often seem insignificant. Real freedom and joy is found in Him when we’re free from the drive to do big things to be noticed. This freedom usually comes with the price of suffering so that we’re free from the pride of our old nature and can embrace what Father is doing no matter how small and how little we’ll be noticed. In Him, there actually is peace, joy, and rest in that place. This is what David Fredrickson and Loren Rosser discuss in this episode of Untangled.  

http://untangled.podomatic.com/entry/2014-10-07T11_37_33-07_00

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