Monday, 30 August 2010

Awaken Part 3

Awaken Pt3

Who are we waiting for then?  What are we afraid of, do we not remember 1 John 5:4

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Will we stand up and become the plague of holiness that the world has been dreading for 2000 years.  The victory is ours; the battle was won at the cross.  By the blood of Jesus Christ we have victory over the world and the enemy and their systems.  Is it not time to take our spoils of His victory?  Or are we content with hiding within our own gates and stained glass walls?  As the enemy rapes our land with our full permission, and blessing.  “How can you dare make such a statement” you may ask?  It’s because we don’t pray!  We don’t Forgive! We don’t stand in unity! And we blame God for all of it.  If we, the entire church for a single day would take all the energy wasted on fighting ourselves and with God, and focused it for a single day at the enemy.  The world would shake as the upper room did at Pentecost.  That is why the enemy runs rampant in our lives, we open doors that we refuse to shut.  The only prayers we know today are prayers of greed and vengeance.  God bless me, bless me no matter the cost bless me, even if it destroys my life bless me.  Or we pray for vengeance against those who commit wrongs against us.  We have offenses against our brother yet we race to be the first at the altar to give our offerings.  Because you know the first one to the altar will get the most anointing!

It seems that in our efforts to become relevant to the “world” we have become the world.  In our efforts to become seeker friendly we have betrayed those already among us.  We edit our sermons to please all men, lest we offend or accuse one of sin.  We blindly through fear of “scaring” or “intimidating” the unbeliever strip away all things that will truly grip his heart.  No matter the excuses derived we cannot ignore 1 Corinthians 14:24-25

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

Yet also we ignore entire chapters in the Word of God because they don’t fit our particular doctrines.  Even many of our favorite scriptures are taken out of context from the verses which surround them, they are simply and wistfully forgotten.  Are we compromised?  Yes!  Yes we are, we adopt the worlds systems for the churches finances, government, education, even advertising.  Apparently God didn’t know what he was doing when HE birthed the church and raised it up out of nothing and created a powerhouse that swept the planet.  We have stage lights, PPV sermons, and power point.  We don’t need Holy Spirit it could disrupt my 3 point sermon with 2 examples backed up by 5 scriptures with a somber sounding conclusion with the band playing softly in a minor key.  We just know better than God now in our modern enlightened age.  We are like the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s poem.  Somehow we believe the Christ has gotten in the way of our Christianity.  No longer is the Western Church of Jesus Christ known for its love but rather for its luxury and bigotry.  It hurts me to say these things, for I know many, many people who are shinning examples of true Christianity, true followers of Christ.  It just seems to me that they are out numbered, and kept out of places of influence.  People who are true, honest, loving, and astute in the Word of God.  People who have walked out the great commission, preaching to every creature with signs and fruits following.  People who have put aside the fear of men, people who follow John 15:18 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”  That is the attitude of an enemy of the world.  This is the attitude of Revelation 12:11

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

The blood of the Lamb, Jesus’ precious blood.  The word of their testimony, the proclamation of the Gospel and the entire Word of God.  And the sobering thought that they did not love their lives even in the face of death.  Have we forgotten Philippians 1:21
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  It isn’t very often in the west that we are asked to die for Christ.  In Africa, Asia, South America it is a different story where the seed of the church is not a tax deductible love offering.  No rather the seed of the church in these lands is the blood of the martyrs, our brothers and sisters.  Their blood does cry out and every place where righteous blood has been shed the Gospel has penetrated and taken hold.  Even in the most unlikely, dark and forgotten places.  There are muslim clerics who have experience dreams of Christ himself sharing His gospel with them.  There are other reports of entire villages sharing the same dream of Christ calling out to them.  Or we can look at China with130 million Christians, all of which walk upon land drenched in the blood of the saints.  And from the blood an army has risen. 

            What about us in the west?  What are we afraid of?  There is no dictator or Saturday morning super villain trying daily to destroy us.  No there is just a love for the world, however we are still called to be dead to the world and its lusts. As it says in Mark 4:19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” And again in Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”.  Or the most blunt verse of them all “James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” 

Do we not see that we are called to be a light in the darkness, not the grey in the moonlight?  God in his mercy to protect us creates these boundary lines between us and the world and its drug called sin.  And we all know that sin leads to death, be it physical, emotional, spiritual or in our relationships.  Sin kills all it touches, it is the curse of Deuteronomy 28, and Genesis 3.  Yet we are fascinated and we refuse to die to it.  While brothers and sisters physically die, for the mere right to call on His name, we bow to the world and the sin it peddles.  In a smug superficial mask we declare that Christ has set me free from the curse of the law so I’ll be forgiven for all my sins irregardless of how often I transgress. Sin is still sin and it will do all it can to separate you from God, then you from His Body and finally separate you from yours.  Is this why we have become shell shocked? 

Has sin and its nature become a normal part of our lives?  Is the good fight no longer good?  Has death become life?  Has our television become our moral compass?  Has secular music become our code of ethics?  Has pop-culture become our doctrine, and our idols our priests?  We must return to Jesus our first and only true love.  We must cry out to our first teacher the one and only Holy Spirit.  Our guiding light bound in the Word of God.  We must take our entire being out of Romans chapter 7 and return to Romans chapter 8.

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway

Monday, 23 August 2010

Awaken Part 2

Awaken Pt2

So how should we be acting now knowing this.  Like I said in the eyes of the world we are the enemy.  Maybe we should start acting like it.  This is an unusual statement I know but it’s one worth considering. Lets look at what Jesus said in John 15:19
”If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you

We are not part of the world anymore, we are the lights in the darkness.  Isn’t that the words of our King?  Now back to what I was getting at.  We the church should be the aggressors, not the world.  We should be on the offensive attacking the gates of the enemy.  Not hiding behind our own gates.  We should be the ones taking ground and pillaging the harvest.  Not the ones hiding in caves eating moss.  We are the children of the Most High God, Sons and joint heirs with the King of the Universe.  It’s time we stand up and take what is ours.  In movies the plot goes; the bad guys come to invade the good kingdom and the whole movie is the good guys resisting to the invaders to restore the peace they had before.  I think for far too long the church of Jesus Christ has taken the mentality of defending the castle from the invaders of the world and other false gods.  We believe that by “turtleing” the world will come to us with open arms begging for salvation.  We have become so obsessed with the status quo that we are afraid of loosing all we have, in order to get the lost or even to have our own hearts cleansed by the power of Holy Spirit.  We are locked in “a permanent quasi-comatose damage control obsession.”  Where what we have already is good enough.  We don’t have revival because we are content to live without it.  The sick stay sick because we are content with their suffering, as long as they don’t cough on us.  We are content with the world going to hell, because we don’t want the responsibility.  We laugh at the world on fire and we refuse to put out the profane fire.  We gloat at the torrents of sin destroying the world and scoffingly say, “God you do something about it, because I wont.  I could get some soot or ash on me and I don’t want to stain these new carpets.”  Our refusal to look outside our individual churches has crippled our ability to touch the world.  We pray a minute here and there for revival, but refuse to take any real action, and then we get frustrated when God doesn’t answer in 30 minutes or less.  We have more faith and patience for Pizza Hut than we do with the King of kings.

What was the last thing Jesus said to use before he ascended?  Was it, hide in the mountains until I come?  Or was it, build churches until all men know me?  No, Jesus our Savior says it very clearly, so clearly that some people try and take it out of the Bible, here in Mark 16:15-20

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Just look at the first word He says, “GO” not plan, not plot, not try, not sympathize, He said ‘GO, into ALL the world” not just the inner city, not just where the Whites are, not just your tribe, not just your nation.  He said ALL the World.  And those apostles went to the nations and within 40 years the gospel of the kingdom proceeded from Ethiopia to Brittan and from Spain to India.  And now He commands us to PREACH the GOSPEL, not our opinions of dispensational tribulationism and the reflecting influences of flying pigs.  No, we are to preach the gospel, the simple saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  Which doesn’t get any simpler than Romans 10:8-11

“8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

That’s it, what is so frightening about these 3 verses?  What is it in us and our lives that shutters and shakes at the possibility of speaking these verses to an unbeliever? Personally, it was these very words in the book of Romans, that pushed me over the edge into the Kingdom God 10 years ago.  Where are the preachers?  Where are the proclaimers of the Gospel?  Where are the evangelists?  Where are the prophets?  Where are the Sent Ones (literal translation for apostle)?  Are we so obsessed with our 21st century Apostles that we forget all the ones that have come before them, the teachers, the shepherds, the proclaimers, the watchmen.  Where are they? Where are we?  Jesus himself made His ways so simple that only a child could grasp it.  Why then do we keep silent, why do we hide in church buildings.  Why do we chase after the newest author at the book store and ignore the Author of our lives? 

We have all the tools, power and authority; why are we hiding?  Why are we waiting for something to happen?  I believe it’s time to stand up for our God and our faith for ourselves.  But what does that look like?  We all have our own microcosm of what it could look like or what it should look like based on our limited interpretation of something we can’t really grasp or even acknowledge with our intellect.  We preach the Kingdom of God, yet remain clueless to what it actually is.  Ask most people what the Kingdom of God is and they will speak in a foreign dialect I call Christianese.  They will say, “the kingdom of God is inside us.”, or “it is peace love an joy in the Holy Ghost”.  We answer as such because deep down we really don’t know.  We don’t know how to truly verbalize the Kingdom of God, so we tie together a couple of sentence fragments we heard at church.  Oblivious to any real physical demonstration of the Kingdom (literally the territory or people over whom a king rules), have we forgotten:

1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power

Luke 9:1-2 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

We have intertwined the “kingdom” with each of our individual churches.  Which is a presumptuous and wrong statement.  The church is the means to spread the Kingdom, which is His power to set the captives free, to heal the sick, and raise the physically and spiritually dead. His authority over the devil (or Lucy the Loser as I prefer to call him).  His authority over our greatest enemy, sin, and the death that follows it where ever it goes. His salvation to all mankind either Jew or Greek, free or slave, civilized or barbarian.  The Kingdom is the domain of the King here on earth today.  Have we forgotten the Lords Prayer where Jesus says “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is Heaven.  This is the revelation of the Kingdom, it is the physical manifestation of His power, sovereignty, will, and authority.  And it is here now!  Not tomorrow, not 7 years from now, the kingdom is here now, it is here now. Not in the sweet bye and bye, it is here NOW!  Jesus said 2000 years ago in Matthew 10:7 ”And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And again in Matthew 12:28But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”  And also in Luke 10:9And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.  And most importantly here in Luke 17:20-21

20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

IT IS HERE! Right now, today and 2000 years ago, within each and every one of us.  We are the temples (the literal containers) of the Holy Spirit and we are the walking territory of the King of kings. Ever expanding, never receding, bowing only to our Savior.  Ambassadors of the Eternal One, warriors of Love and Peace fighting not with swords but hearts, lips and hands.  Willfully bound to follow the commandments of Jesus Christ.  I dare you to read  Matthew 10:7 “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  And then look upon Luke 9:2 “And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”  The same power and authority rests upon us, once we are washed from our sins and filled with the power and presence of the Trinity.  I challenge you to read the book of Acts and ask “why not me? Why not now?” Let us all write our lives in 29th chapter of Acts.  The nations and our nation are in our grasps.  Will we go out of our homes? Will we venture out of our churches and cell groups?  Will we pray as those who ushered in the Welsh and Hebridean Revivals?  Will we be the kindling fire for Revival, nay a Revolution.  Will we stand? Will we pray? And will we march upon our knees?

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway

Monday, 16 August 2010

Awaken Part 1

Awaken Pt1

The following series is a revision and the long awaited completion to a rant I first wrote last year.  It has been expanded with new material and has been divided into several bite sized parts which will be released every week, until it is finally completed.  Saying this, be aware that this is not written in a chapter by chapter format rather it is a continuous manifesto without literary divisions.  It is meant to be read in its entirety in order to fully grasp the messages.  So I challenge you that as the weeks go on you will refer back to the previous installments and reacquaint yourselves with what has been spoken before so you may fully receive what is written.  I pray that these words will grip your hearts and haunt your souls with the questions we fear to ask ourselves, the answers buried in our spirits and the commissions Christ has placed upon us.  May the Holy Spirit seize your hearts and speak to you anew.

Before we begin I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, it was spoken by Leonard Ravenhill and I pray you receive the message of it; “A prophet is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow”  

Who are we?  Really who are we?  As the body of Christ, the visible expression of Jesus the Messiah on the Earth, who are we?   Are we who we’re supposed to be?  Are we living to the fullest degree that Christ called us to?  Or are we asleep?  For if we are, today at this very moment, the call to awaken from our slumber must be answered.  For it is Christ himself who cries out into our hearts.

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Ephesians 5:14
First off, who are we now?  We are the Body of Christ of course, that’s what we’re told on Sunday mornings every week, that’s what we’re told by televangelists, and that’s what we’re told right in the Bible, see for yourself.

 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”. 1 Corinthians 12:12
“Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.: 1 Corinthians 12:27
And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything everywhere with his presence.”. Ephesians 1:23

Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never!               1 Corinthians 6:15
That should be convincing enough for now.  But what does that all mean?  Well the best place to answer that is the book of Acts.  The chronicles of the first generation of Christians, who are not the highest possibilities of Christian life but rather our stepping stones.

            We see them feeding the poor, taking care of the widows, praying together, working miracles and most importantly preaching the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.  That he came, died and rose.  Conquering sin and death, casting down the Prince of the world and becoming not only our Savior, but the King of the World.  But I’m getting ahead of myself now.    The key point was that they left the upper room and preached the gospel.  When is the last time your church on a Sunday morning all got up and went outside and started preaching to who ever was around you?  Or is that too scary a thought?   What’s so frightening about the simple gospel of Jesus Christ?

“ For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” ! Corinthians 15:3-4

What’s so scary about telling people about that?  The Church, the Western Church (which will be the main focus of this rant) has done a good job with the social aspects of the early church, we run soup kitchens, thrift stores, and give when it’s comfortable to the needy.  Overall we do a decent job following Isaiah 58:1, the social gospel, where people are convinced to convert because they were showed kindness, they see genuine love and are attracted to it (John 13:35, 1 John 4:7) “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”   But the doing of good works isn’t everything, if it were, we would be saved by those works alone.  Our works are rather a sign that we are already Christians, just like faith without action is dead. 

What about everything else the early church did?  The scary stuff we don’t want to hear about or do in public, outside our little closets!  What about the part when they prayed?  When they prayed together and alone, when they spent time together in peoples houses, when they preached publicly.  Back in the days before the church had walls.  Not just physical walls mind you. What changed?  Why are we afraid to leave our church walls?  We tithe, give away the clothes we don’t want anymore, we throw a can of beans in to the bin on Thanksgiving.  We smile and nod at church, we know the lyrics of the top 20 songs on the CCM chart and think “that’s enough, I’m saved Jesus came died and rose and that’s it, so I’ll just hold on till Jesus comes back.”

I’m asking these questions because most people don’t.  What’s the divide between us today and Paul, Peter and John?  We go on and on about how the first martyr Stephen waited tables and took care of widows and use it to motivate others to do the same.  But he was a martyr, he died, he was stoned.  For what, feeding widows?  No he did something else, something that gets over looked when people talk about his voluntary works of service.

“8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” Acts 6:8-10

            He Preached! He did miracles, and by the spirit was more wise than all those debating with him.  It wasn’t the widows that got him killed it was the gospel of Jesus with signs following.  An expected result of the Gospel just like Paul said would happen.

Rom 15:18-19  18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient —  19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:18-19.  NKJV

Doesn’t just that make you think?  Very few have ever died for doing good works but thousand upon thousands have died preaching the Gospel of Jesus.  I can’t remember the last time someone was taken to court for giving money to a soup kitchen.  But how many Christians have stood before the worlds judgment seats just for confessing that Jesus the Son of God came in the flesh died upon the Cross, rose from the dead, ascending to Heaven becoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Our savior and only bridge to God.  Are we afraid of the people?  Are we unwilling to take the risk? Or are we compromised by the world? 

Stephen, James the Lesser, Paul, Peter, Luke, Timothy, All the Apostles except for John, all died because of what they believed.  They believed it so much they couldn’t keep quiet, they couldn’t just hide in a cave like Elijah and be silent.  They knew it was true, many of them witnessed with their own eyes the works and words of Jesus  They couldn’t be kept silent about the gospel no matter how may times they where punished.  They were lights in the darkness, beacons drawing people to Jesus.  But the world saw them not as lights, not as heroes of the faith, they saw them as Enemies and as the villains of the accepted world and their way of live.  They were seen as terrorists of the status quo, and of the religious/social way of life.  The Apostles wouldn’t bend to the whips of the Pharisees and the Romans.  They didn’t compromise themselves with the ways, pleasures, lusts, and perks of the world.  They held fast to the words of Jesus spoken in Matthew 10:27 and Mark 4:19

“What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.” Matthew 10:27
“and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”  Mark 4:19

            They held fast to this till their deaths they set and example to the rest of the body of Christ, and were rewarded with eternal life.  Unfortunately even in their own lifetimes the new gentile and jewish believers didn’t have the same dedication.  There was just something about that old way of life that was just too tempting or perhaps comfortable.  Most of the Epistles written by Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude was an attempt to correct this very attitude in the church.  Jesus Himself also spoke of this in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelations.  He was correcting the attitudes and conduct while complimenting the 7 churches of Asia.  He called for holiness and an uncompromising faith in Him.  What was realized and demanded here 2000 years ago? Simply that it is a matter of perspective, like most issues in life.  They knew who they were, they knew what they were called to do, and what to do about it, and how to react to the world around them.  They knew their identity.  Do you know yours?   Who were they then? They were children of God, Ambassadors of Christ, they were the redeemed saints, servants and adopted brothers of Jesus Christ.  They were the temples of Holy Spirit, called to preached to all nations, peoples and tongues.  To trample on serpents, scorpions and all the power of the enemy.  To heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leapers.  They were called to love, serve and to know God. (you should be jumping around now, because you’re the same as them!!!!)  This is who they are in our eyes and in Gods’ eyes but in the world eyes they were and we are the Bad guys, the enemy, the Villain, the Evil ones all because we are the light that exposes their darkness and sin.

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway