Hiding JESUS In OUR Creed (#3)

IT’S NOT ABOUT RELIGIOUS ETHICS AND OBLIGATIONS!

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THIS morning had topped it all! Dale had phoned me that I should come see him in his office the next day. My mind became blown at the discovery of ‘why’ I had been made to meet such demands. Maybe he wanted me fired from the institution. Yet, when I approached him that Friday morning which was the day of the appointment, he just sniggered at me as if I was a poultry chicken. Then he confessed that I had been seen around with someone in person of Oliver, planning the destruction of the church. Certainly, he was wrong and had been told a lie. And when I tried to explain what it was all about, he blew me off. He further unveiled that he had been snooping around everyday to discover what I was up to.
Later, in frustration, I hollered at him, saying that he only cared about himself and no one else. He had refused to have me paid and had further degraded me, so how would someone like me be insulted still further? I didn’t take it so easy with him.
After much warnings and threats, I left his office with his final shot which I hadn’t expected from someone whom everyone termed ‘godly’. He had warned that he would kill me if I corrupted his name out there. It didn’t sound like the Dale I used to know. It didn’t even sound good, but it had resulted to a furious burning inside me.
Again, I was longing to meet Oliver. He was the cause of it all and I couldn’t help myself but kept blaming him for this mess. It looked messier than I had thought it would. So I walked off, away from the environment, headed for the restaurant. And that’s where I met him: that figure of his, coming out of the restaurant doors. He was calculating his change to find out the amount he could use for boarding a taxi-cab.
“Where in the world ‘ve you been?” I cried out in amazement. It had been four months since we last talked, and everything had turned upside down since then.
Then he broke into a broad smile, “Oh, hi Bobby!” Simultaneously, we presented our hands for a usual shake.
“I just had a brief conversation with a friend in this place. He’s at his tail-end and is about giving up. He had become pretty frustrated ’cause of an institution which had wasted him, and finally, he’s concluded leaving. I believe he’s on thesame journey you’re on and is absolutely worn-out with religious obligations,” he replied in answer to my question.
Then he asked, “So how’re you doing, Bobby?”
    And we got back into the restaurant.
“Not so much of good, Oliver,” I answered. “My life is at stake. Everything I had conjured to earn a living ‘re just seeming like it’s all gone. I don’t know why but the pastor called me today, threatening me that if I continue destroying the identity of his institution, he ‘uld kill me. I had been given so much of obligations and I carried them out faithfully. Now, why all these mess?”
“Listen, Bob. I know this isn’t easy but even at that, you got to see that God has a good reason for it.”
“Perhaps. Dale is preparing to have me fired because I didn’t meet the obligatory requirements of the institution last week.”
“Huh? So what’re you going to do about it?”
“What else than abandon the institution to find another that has better principles!” I guessed, very frustrated.
“And what good ‘uld that do, Bob?” He asked, gently, as tears began to well up in his eyes. “Do you think it ‘ll fill the vacuum of your heart?”
“However it may be, Oliver, I for sure just want to get out of the whole thing. I need to run from it.”
“Bobby, you may try running away from it just to find it unescapable.”
“How do you mean?” I wasn’t sure what he meant but the words stood out clear and I knew that how he meant that was very different from mine.
“I mean that if you try to run out of these problems, you’re sure to put yourself into others worse than this. Just wait and find out what God intends for you. He’s working things out through this and freeing you from so many excesses that try to hold you from entering that amazing friendship he has for you. Just hold to him, trusting him to work it out the way he wants best.”
“Then I shouldn’t search for better principles which can draw me closer to Jesus?”
“What change ‘uld that bring? It may even get things worse. We aren’t drawn close to Jesus by how much we perform our religious activities but through simple obedience to his will. Jesus remains the irreplaceable Way to his Father. Any other way we try won’t work; they will keep shoving us away from him. Abandoning the friendship he yearns to have with you in order to find principles that could draw you close to his Son is all zero. It will ease your emptiness further if what you try to accomplish is away from what Father has in mind for you.”
“But I once thought that the more I met those requirements, the further it increases his love for me.”
“Or makes you become more active on the outside,” he corrected. “There’s nothing you can do to make him love you more or less; he just loves you. Religious ethics ‘re religious, moral principles that control or influence our behaviors. That doesn’t sound like a journey we ‘uld want to be on, if we find out what Jesus wants for us. They can’t increase Father’s love for us today nor can we have it less if we don’t; but he forever loves us without any condition.”
“Which means that it has nothing to do with right and wrong?”
“In our lives, we know what is right and what is wrong but haven’t you discovered that some things we call right are really wrong and others we call wrong are very right?”
“Haven’t thought of that. It means christianity is beyond. . .”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. From sunday school days, I’d been taught that it was all about ethics but now Oliver was saying something different.
“Absolutely,” he answered, nodding his head. “I know you’ve learnt all your life it’s all about ethics. I certainly don’t see how. It bypasses our teachings based on right-wrong morally correct and acceptable principles. Where people ‘re mainly focused on ethics or living by it thinking that they are changed through these standards and that it draws them to Jesus, it’s no less a collaboration facilitating religion.
“Live daily in awareness that we come to know the Father through his Son and not by any obligation which we engage to serve him. While these obligations may look good, it doesn’t change who we’re on the inside. Therefore, this hollow place remains empty!” He explained, pointing toward his chest.
I grew amazed at all he had said. Should that be the reason why I often feel empty? I thought.
“It makes more sense now, Oliver,” I realized. “That’s the reason for my emptiness! It’s not about how much obligatory requirement I get to meet each day but if I am living in awareness of his love and life, or not.”
“Exactly.”
“Now Oliver, I understand! Obligation can be replaced as we learn to live his life, love others just as we begin to see how much he loves us.” I continued, “But one thing still bother me, Oliver.”
“What?”
“It looks very true that ethics seem to hide who we’re on the inside. I had known a lady who attends our church, and lives a life of gossip and abusiveness as best as she could. I won’t say it’s natural, but it was becoming natural. However, the institution’s obligation states that such things aren’t allowed because it’s the duty of Christians to always avoid being gossips or troublemakers.
From that moment, Lois ‘uld always use these words when she was provoked, “if not for the rules of this church, you ‘uld have seen my true colors.” The commandments show that, but as you said, we can’t obey them unless we follow Jesus.”
“At best, she knew how real those colors are!”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t change who she is. Rumors still get to us that she does such things out there.”
“And Dale had no word for it?”
“He said such actions aren’t right and need to be put aside, so peace would reign. But I didn’t sense that peace when I talked to him. It’s as if he’s a victim of this too. Maybe, he’s hiding himself like Lois.”
“Sounds that way, Bobby,” he agreed. “However, it seems very clear that she’s being controlled by ethics. She believes more in punishing others through her own insecurity. It does make her opposite of who she really is.”
“But some people aren’t as miserable as Lois, even if they’re bound by such ethics.”
    “I would say that the believers I have met aren’t affected by it because of their passion for more of Christ. However, that doesn’t last so long, we ‘uld admit, as much obligation are been enforced than necessary. Their passion begins to be replaced by excess doing to earn God’s favor, unknown to them that they already have it. Those ones who’re bound by it always feel such emptiness like that which you feel now. Some enjoy institutionalized Christianity and mistake their mere feelings for his presence, and his presence for mere feelings. They’re just lost or confused.”
“That means we ‘uld call the right thing, the wrong, and the wrong, right?”
“Yeah, Bob,” he answered. “That’s what it does. It convince us to see ‘going to church’ as something obligatory but I discovered that it’s just ethics, religious obligations. Therefore, attendance is considered right and not attending is tagged as an error. Do you see that you could become the supposed devil who’s trying to divide the organized groups?” He asked and added, “Just as Dale once accused you; refused your friendship and discredited you, so it breeds relationships with short lifespan. It cause division and aids much conflicts among the body.
“I haven’t attended church for over forty years and that doesn’t change my relationship with him. Instead, it frees me more to run closer to him without trying to do my good against his best. Others may agree am a backslider since I no longer take my regular pew, but the misunderstanding stemmed from their minds which survives being based on ethics, instead of the life of Christ and how this life can be expressed toward others.”
This moment, my mind had begun to beat, and for sure, I knew why. ‘Over forty years? Phew!’ That’s way too much than I had figured out.
“What’re you doing when you missed church for over forty years?” I asked, trying to understand what had led him to such decision.
“I was on this incredible journey, learning what Father’s life is all about and how I could live it and help others to, sharing the authenticity of this relationship with passionate believers who’re tired of religion and are hungry to embrace his love just as he makes it known in every part of their lives. Those forty years had helped me grow in both experience and love for him and the body; but he did it all.”
“And you had condemned institutional church since then, due to ethics?”

“Of course not! I hadn’t condemned anything at all. My main concern was exposing the shamefulness which exists so much in the organized system and how others can find how much Jesus loves them. Ethics isn’t enough reason for me to condemn institutional religion, but what I hate the most is how it gets people stuck without exposing them to Father’s life.” Then, he adjusted himself. “You had never thought religious ethics and obligations ‘uld lower you from the life Jesus needed you to live, had you?”
“No, I hadn’t,” I confessed. “But it somehow reflected in my character. Does it result to pretense, Oliver?”
“It does, Bob. It results to self righteousness too,” he said, and I’m sure I didn’t understand that part.
How could ethics and obligations result to self righteousness? I thought.
“We could understand this through the reality of the troublesome tongue. It has always being a part that has the ability to set man on fire. It works directly with the heart and seem to be the most powerful of the body organs. Yet, this organ needs to be tamed but our efforts can’t help tame it, unless we turn to Jesus to help us. We can’t stop it in our power; for it detonates beyond what we expect. It could praise and curse God. Religious obligation is just that way, Bob. People ‘re given instructions on how to behave in the institution but when they’re out, they live obverse of who they’re minutes ago. Having ethical teachings or instructions mayn’t be wrong but it doesn’t change who we’re on the inside. It doesn’t encourage any further growth in him. Such a person who can’t control his tongue but try as much to stepdown due to ethics, ‘ll surely be back on it when out. It’s good to watch what we say but when such behavior is determined by ethics, there ‘uld be no real improvement in our lives. It’s pretense; hiding our real person and forcing ourselves just to be good.”
“And you say that’s wrong?”
“Yes, it is,” replied Oliver. “That’s why most religious collaborations has turned a deadly sea monster over the years. Religious ethics could appear corrosive, bring our lives to nut if we aren’t focused on him.”
“Should that be the reason why Dale is acting like a raging maniac?”
“It may,” he answered. “It seems obvious that those who turn raging maniacs the most are those who control the system. They’ve much time spent on preparing religious programmes instead of building the lives of others through encouragement.”
“So, where can I find the best principles to follow Jesus better?”
“Don’t think your search for principles will produce any life in you. It won’t! They ‘uld rather conform you to performance-based, shoving you from following Jesus freely. Instead of searching for principles, why not go to God directly and ask him to guide you into all he’s got for you today. Undoubtedly, you’ll discover more than you’ve ever thought you will.”
“Maybe the solution is to abandon church-ing and begin meeting other believers at home.” I was sure I wouldn’t get what I’d hope to.
“No. The solution isn’t shifting off, just to think you can hide away from the guilt and manipulation which you face at present or indirectly tell others that you’ve got a better way to do church. Shifting the focus to the home as the meeting place is no cure-all. What you ought to see is that the problem isn’t the place but we, ourselves. When Jesus approached the Syrophenician, what did he tell her about his people’s relational life?”
What’s that got to do with relational life? I thought again. I had taught that topic many times. So it didn’t require much thought. “He told her that in the days ahead, it wouldn’t be where we worship that matters but how we worship,” I continued, “but how does that relate to relational life?”
“It has a lot to do with it, Bobby,” he replied. “Jesus was not only talking about our relationship with one another but with him too. He wants every part of our lives to be done according to true worship which doesn’t exclude the reality of spirit-truth worship. Whether we are with others or not, our worship to him can flow in our lives. In our relational life, it’s worship involved. Don’t you think that if we’re learning to live alongside others, learning what it is to live as living sacrifices to him each day, we would all be helping each other grow in worship to him, no matter where we are or what we’re doing for him at the moment? We don’t have to be misdirected like the Syrophenician who had her focus on something unproductive. She thought it was compulsory for one to have their regular pew in either Jerusalem or the mountain, but he encouraged her to see that those things ‘re just a shadow of what he had in mind years ago: freely worship his Father anywhere, anytime. What concerns him is we live in spirit and truth.”
“Then I ‘uld better be that way,” I confessed.
“But that mayn’t last as long as obligation still keep surfacing.”
“Is worship an obligation?” I asked. “I don’t know, so I once thought it is due to some reasons. I’m sure you get that thought before when you begin to realize something quite strange, haven’t you?”
“Yeah, I’ve,” he answered, nodding his head. “It’s like a peppery feeling, I guess. But worship isn’t an obligation, Bob. It’s beyond today’s singing, dancing praise concert or whatever. These aren’t bad but when they become an obligatory requirement, you know what I mean. It’s about offering our lives as living sacrifices to him. Obviously, that kind of worship practiced today is no less an obligation as it’s compulsory for an institution to have it done, lest they ‘ll think the ritual is left incomplete.”
“Oh I see!” I exclaimed. “Any wonder why Dr. Brian Fletcher, a senior pastor at Jesus Foundation, and several other pastors had a misunderstanding. The choir wasn’t left out. He had told them one sunday morning that God had guided him to go straight into teaching without the usual Sunday morning praise and worship. The others were frustrated and complained that it never had been that way. The routine was compulsory and breaking the rule incurred serious punishment from the Board.”
“Was he aware it ‘uld be so devastating?” Oliver questioned, lifting a brow.
“Yeah he was,” I answered. “He didn’t bother and it caused a wide disagreement between the others and he, and many refused attending the church again.”
“Why? That’s just a small incident!”
“I don’t know how it got worse, Oliver but they had a division that Sunday. Those who didn’t mind the praise stuff had fallen to Fletcher’s group. The others remained where they had been. Fletcher was almost beaten but those dozen or so rescued him and they shared relationship together.”
“Did he call their attention and explain further why his actions were that way?”
“Of course, he did,” I replied. “But they’re damn angry. They kept thinking he didn’t let them perform their usual duty. It looked like they had wronged God a lot and had no better way to get rid of it.”
“Disgraceful, right?”
“I don’t know if that’s the word but I will say it’s not the kind of body we wanted to know.”
“That’s true, Bob,” he agreed. “That’s what happens when we think it’s all about being obliged to certain rules or rituals. It’uld cause disagreement between two fellows since they’re lost in thinking Father is caught in one religious web and that without several routines the church has missed the point of what it means to enjoy the life of one-anothering. He isn’t lost in our selfish way of thinking. He isn’t confined to a particular system nor is his body. He has made more ways and places for them to meet. That’s why the officials of that institution missed the point. No doubt. If they’d any idea that his body can meet anytime and anywhere he calls them to gather; not necessarily on Wednesday evenings; Friday mornings or Sunday services, they wouldn’t need to worry if Fletcher was saying the truth or breaking the rule but that they were about to embrace the reality that Father isn’t limited to a particular system.”
“Which means that the church can meet in many ways, not necessarily this institution! Whew!” I was very amazed to hear that. The expression of church-life isn’t limited to our usual institutional structures.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “The life of the journey can be shared in local groups, homes, attics and basements, underground hideouts, orphanages and a thousand other places where it can be shared without any obligation tied to it. Obligation can be replaced as these believers come together to have their focus on Jesus, instead of a building programme or spectacle.”
“But, I thought you said meeting in homes isn’t a good option?”
“I didn’t say anything like that, Bob, did I?” He asked. “I just wanted you to see that the solution isn’t about moving the meeting to homes because it won’t even free you from the guilt and manipulation which you feel now. The way out is to follow Jesus as best as he leads you, and he’ll open bigger opportunities for you to meet other believers on the journey, not minding the color of their skin so you can serve as a big help to them.”
“Wow! That ‘uld be so much fun!” I exclaimed, excitedly.
“Yeah, but what matters most is that you live it first, then you’ll find never-ending folks to share it with.”
Just as Oliver was completing his statement, someone walked behind me, hugging me from behind. I tried to guess who, not until she spoke before I recognized. Diane? How did she find me? I thought. Then she drew another chair and sat beside me.
“What ‘re you doing here, Diane?” I questioned, at her unexpected arrival.
“Was coming from a meeting at church and felt hungry, stopped by and found something to eat,” she replied, opening her bag to have the burger.
“Nice, anyways,” I accepted. “Here, Diane, this is Oliver, the one I had been telling you about.” Turning to him, “This is my beautiful wife, Diane. She knows few things about our conversations.”
I noticed how delighted he was to meet her.
“I’m glad to meet you, Diane. Really, you must ‘ve heard much about me.” He said, confidently.
“Well, could we settle here a little to talk?”
“I’m really sorry, I’ve few minutes left before meeting someone at the park. I believe we ‘uld meet sometime later.”
“But I’ve much to ask, Oliver.”
“So do I.”
“Trust Jesus, Bob and Diane,” he encouraged. “I ‘uld keep talking from this moment till next time, but what Jesus intends is that this life ‘uld be lived by you. So, trust him with that and find out how great it turns out.”
Then he waved us ‘goodbye’ and headed for the park. I wasn’t sure when we would meet again but I was sure of one thing: whatever it would take to live this kind of life which Oliver had been talking about, I’m very ready for it.
Well, I ‘uld admit that all I had hoped to find just in time wasn’t what I found. The flowing income, good job and having a church of my own was just off the point. I needed to go through the ups and downs of the journey, learn many lessons through them, so I would know how to encourage others when I find them going through thesame.
“You’re fond of him than I thought,” Diane commented as my senses returned. “What ‘re you thinking, Honey?”
“Oh, Diane,” I caught myself. “I ain’t thinking anything at all. I’m just amazed at everything which have been sorting out in the past months. Oliver has opened my eyes to something I hadn’t seen for years. . .”
“For sure; a great treasure, I would say.”
She laughed as I quickly joined her, walk out the restaurant.

This is a fictional story but from life experience.

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Hiding JESUS In OUR Creed (#2)

HOW MODERN CHRISTIANITY VIEW CHURCH 

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The diner where we had our second conversation.

WAKING up this morning, I quickly picked up my bible and had a time to meditate on the Lord’s teachings. This wonderful act had been erased from my heart years back when activities replaced my passion for God’s presence. I had narrated everything that Sunday to my wife but she laughed uncontrollably, explaining that I went to invite Oliver but my intentions ‘re thwarted: I was the one who was being lectured.
    For sure; as always as it had been years back, each morning I spent in God’s presence was always relieving. ‘Sometimes’, my day didn’t seem to go bad. I wondered if I misunderstood all that Oliver enlightened me on that day. It sounded good though, but something extra was missing. Within the next two weeks, my faithfulness in meeting the Lord every morning was wiped by excessive work at church. I wondered if I was getting distracted by church activities and if it had caused all those enigmatic experiences upon me. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore, so I had hurried quickly one Monday morning, which was five months since I had talked with Oliver, and I found out that he wasn’t at the coffeeshop where I first met him.
    Expectedly, the overall leader of the church raged at me for my unseriousness and lack of commitment to the institution. He further explained that he’s going to withdraw my paycheck from been given me. I had no word in mouth. Though, it sounded like a threat, I had something in mind – I had to talk to Oliver before things become worse. And frighteningly, it had gotten to three months after the incident which occurred between the pastor and me. Weeks had added again, and here I was scanning every place just to find him before I gave up the thought of finding him, in awareness that he might not be real. Was he really? Or was that my impression?
    Really I was wrong. Oliver had gone to Oxford from Alabama to spend the holiday with Carlie, his wife. Later he returned after 3 months and already, had freshen up. With some interest and furstration welling within me. I searched for him and found him in the home of a couple who ceased to attend our church. Rumors had spread that they never attended any church again. Maybe Oliver must have lighted them all!
    “What are you doing here, Bob?” he asked with such broad smile.
    “Not good, Oliver,” I replied. “Everything went bad and I don’t know what next to do.”
    “Perhaps, you think you don’t,” he expressed, increasing my frustration. “But, what happened?”
    It took me a long while before I became free from that frustration; then, I began explaining the events which occurred in the last 5 months.
    “It was that bad?”
    “Yes it was. The pastor cautioned that since I ain’t ready to work for God, my monthly payment won’t be given me and I would be withdrawn from being senior pastor. It somehow makes me frustrated when I imagine that such little mistake could lead to such fatal punishments. When I apologized, he said my sin was exactly unforgivable.”
    “Whew!”
    “Whew? It was even worse. I confess I was provoked and decided leaving the church would be a very good option.”
    “When you explained to him that you would abandon the church, what did he say?”
    “Nothing else!” I replied. “He only said he would find someone else to do the work better. It seemed like I aint capable of working for God.”
    “Does that sound like a work for Christ’s sake or mechanical assignment to work harder for a pay?” 
    Oops! The way Oliver asked that made me a bit uncomfortable and I had no reply for it. He waited me out in silence. I finally found my mouth to speak what I thought was best.
    “Maybe the man is just looking for someone to place guilt on!” I guessed. But Oliver didn’t still say anything. My mind explained that I hadn’t answered him yet. So I said again,
    “It looks like forcing someone to work harder to pull  God’s hand – ”
    “Which in the true expression is mechanical,” he interrupted, completing my unfinished sentence. “The life of the church is filled with unforgivable errors, yet Christ forgave us all. The hurt which you caused doesnt look like a hurt to me. That which Dale said was unforgivable was in preparation to something great. The more you think that God’s Spirit is limited to one particular system, the more your inner restlessness will increase.”
“But how could someone who’s meant to live an exemplary life not forgive?” I questioned, feeling very confused.
    “One who can’t forgive isn’t having Christ in him. He’s just got his mind set toward the carnal-management system: if you work for me, it would be fine between us and if you don’t we will be caught in one shoe. Organized religion is that way, Bob. It makes you work harder just to move Father’s hand. And unknown to you, just a simple whisper he does hear.”
    “Why a carnal-management system, Oliver?”
    “Today’s system of church is just that way. It’s often convincing people to think that’s the best way to serve Father, while they hide the basic truth that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Anytime people realize God moving, they often think he’s calling them to build structures and begin to get a crowd to teach. Well we can agree that not all are as destructive as yours. Most large organized groups try bury the spiritual gifts of those amongst themselves. They may sometimes find a longing to exercise it, but they are made to think that those spiritual gifts are limited to the structure.”
    “I thought it can only be exercised in church.”
    “Of course not, Bob. The Spirit is free to do the Father’s will anytime, anywhere, not necessarily in the structure. I believe that it’s possible and you should also understand that you seem to see your gifts as something limited to the church structure. And I can explain that it makes you frustrated. Remember the apostles exercised their gifts anywhere and anytime it was needed not necessarily the temple. Look at this: going out on a certain day, you prayed to God, Lord if there’s anyone whom you would want me to bless with this gift, bring them my way.’ Don’t you realize that’s how free you can be to exercise those gifts?”
    “Should that be the reason why most people I had met try to be part of the organized system again after years of leaving church?”
    “It’s even worse,” he chuckled. “I believe that can’t be enough reason to have them do so. Most people who struggle to go back into the system often do so because they aren’t finding enough believers who share the same hunger which they do, or they aren’t getting the encouragement which they should have got since the non-churchers are quite interested in convincing other non-churchers not to relate or meet with those who attend. Anything could do. When we conclude that encouragement isn’t needed, we will have more believers who will become discouraged. Some may even fall away.
    “It’s not necessary to be part of any organized group before you know you will get the encouragements you need. Father sends us these encouragements even while we are outside the system. It could come through many ways. Don’t just try to think God sends the encouragement through no one because you will that moment be killing yourself. Don’t even think he only sends it through those who do what you do. You would be depriving yourself an amazing gift.”
“If it is that way, Oliver, then how will the church meet?” I asked, feeling sure of myself. I knew he did notice that.
    “That’s the rob, isn’t it?” He questioned, lifting a brow. “We think of the way we can gather people, perform a certain spectacle, but we can’t see that it’s less of helping people live Father’s life. The church can meet in many ways. He has opened the eyes of many people to meet anytime, anywhere he makes way for them: some once in a week and others everyday. Some are constantly with each other for encouragement. It doesn’t matter where they may meet but how they live in him.”
“But it would be very hard to have relationships with other believers if we don’t have a place to gather together.”
    “And you think constructing a building only to get a group can help make the life of the journey to become really shared?”
    I didn’t know where he was having this headed but I am very sure that I wished I hadn’t come to find him.
    “I don’t know for sure; but even if structures are constructed that doesn’t mean the life to be shared ‘ll be shared,” I said.
    “Exactly,” agreed Oliver. “And that’s why it produces men like Dale who are good at trying to control people instead of equip them for the important work ahead and the life of Christ they’re called to live.”
    “When I studied the part where Jesus explained that he would build his church,” I shared. “Something drew my heart. I wondered if it is the church we’re building in order to gather people into them, preach certain sweet sermons. Later on I found out it’s not, since Jesus said the church is his body: flesh and blood, not something woody. Am I right, Oliver?”

At this moment, I couldn’t believe what I was saying. Going to church seemed out of the way this moment; the most thing made me wonder what the Lord meant. Maybe Oliver would also see what I saw, I thought.
    “Of course, you’re, Bob,” he agreed. “The church isn’t what many believers today call ‘church’. It’s not those organizations/institutions or structures which men try to build together. We can’t build this incredible church by our efforts; we can by his grace build divine relationships with each other. The building of the church isn’t ours to do but his: ours is to do what he assigned us, and see him change others. Then he would effectively build it through us.”
    “I don’t still understand why Dale is angry with my small mistake? I can’t succumb to his control!” I exclaimed in deep frustration.
    “Or do you think you made a mistake?”
    I didn’t understand what he meant. Was he questioning my actions? Or he must be right, it wasn’t any mistake. “Perhaps God must have arranged that meeting between you and me to answer my many questions. If I had missed it who knows what’s next? And I keep wondering why those thoughts came to me to pursue you.”
    Oliver became silent. I saw as Charlie, the daughter of the couple ran toward us and he patted her head, asking her about school and many important things. I confess I still believe it that I saw him as a different kind of person from that moment. Then he turned back to me,
    “The kid loves Jesus more than I thought a person would.”
    “Really?”
    “Yeah,” he replied. “She’s a very good view of how the Church would be.  Her parents got tired of going to church and decided to abandon being Christians. That’s when I found them and helped them up. Happily, I find their relationships growing.”
    “They attended our church once before, but they left later on.”
    “Hmm. Why did they leave?”
    “For the same reasons which I am about to leave. No encouragements; burying of gifts; no real relationships; and most times, some just want to try get something from our friendships to satisfy their own ego. I am already planning home meetings. At least, such things can’t happen there.”
    “Did I really hear that, Bob?” he asked, not sure what he was talking about. “No doubt, Bob, what you’re trying to do is no different from making it even worse. You’re trying, instead of trusting God to fill up the vacuum of your heart by helping you discover how much he loves you.
“Encouragements and other interesting things we can find on the journey could be much lacking when the idea is transferring the meeting place to homes just to maintain a certain organized system that doesn’t produce any help or encouragements but just trying to control people to act under certain laws; rules and regulations.
“The “where” is the exact mistake we have been making thinking the church life is limited to a certain specialized structure and can’t go beyond our buildings. Don’t think constructing a structure or moving the church into a structure will make that life really shared. It wont. It would make things become even worse.”
    Then he looked at me with such grief. “Or what do you think?”
    “If it’s that way; how can a Christian live without going to church? At least, they need something to motivate them.”
    “I don’t think churchgoing does that, Bob. Jesus is the one who always has.”
    “Okay. Maybe I get that. But how do they get someone to teach them everything they need to know if they don’t go to church?”
    “How would they learn those things if the Holy Spirit was put aside?” God! I was shocked to hear that! “The further you keep seeing church life as something in an organized system, you’re sure to miss a very big part and expression of it. Or do you think Jesus didn’t mean what he said? He taught that the spirit ‘ll teach us all things. Brothers and sisters are needed alongside each other to shapen each other’s vision, but bear in mind that it mustn’t replace the work of the spirit in our lives.
    “He’s a teaching spirit. We can only rub the surface and have others drink of it but if the spirit teaches through us, we will teach a true gospel. The deepest teachings about Christ are found in him.”
“That means that we could have people focused on doing church instead of living his life in the awareness that we are the church?”
    “Exactly!”
    “Then how would the church be maintained if someone doesn’t maintain it?”
    “The church doesn’t need any man to maintain it.”
    “How do you mean, Oliver?”
    I couldn’t trust what I was hearing. Rearranging my views was the hardest thing I experienced on my journey.
    “Who then would maintain it?” I asked again.
    “Look, Bob, the way you think the church is, is what affects. The church I have been talking about from the beginning isn’t the usual structure we know it for. It is much more than a so-called institution. Its meetings or get-togethers is just like a network unmaintained and uncontrolled by our efforts. It’s God to maintain them, not us. You can encourage someone to know him but you can’t be their mediator, Jesus is.
    “Why do you think Dale’s reaction was based on your performance and obedience to him, instead of God? Because he thought the church was something he could control and manage.”
“Do you believe I haven’t thought of that?”
    “Not everyone ‘ll, unless Father helps them to!”
    “I just can’t give off the thought of ‘leaving the church’ to find ‘another church’.”
    “What good will that do?”
    “I just thought something different may come out of it.”
    “Understand one thing we rarely realize. Two years ago or so, I talked with a friend who’s trying to find out more about Father’s life and how the church meets and shares the life together. He was sorting out answers to the feelings arising within him. He finally complained he was leaving the church which he had settled in. However, when he discovered he could live free without being tangled, he abandoned his thought of leaving. At present he’s concerned with helping others get free from their impressions on guilt and manipulation.”
“Did he proceed with abandoning the church?”
    “Absolutely not,” he replied. “Bob, I helped him understand that ‘leaving the church’ isn’t possible unless we want to abandon Christ himself. If we think that it’s the church we are leaving, let’s have it in mind, it’s not. Since Christ is the head, we are the body and when the body is away from the head, it’s dead.”
“Then why do people use that so often?” I said in amazement at a new discovery.
“Perhaps, out of ignorance, Bob,” he answered. “My friend, Andy finally discovered that we can’t abandon the body as long as we are part of it. Abandoning the body, we must first abandon the head. However, the church is the body of Christ and when we leave Christ, we leave his body. Since the church is what we are and not where we go to, how can we leave it? Don’t you think separating ourselves from other believers all in the name of ‘this is my group which I worship with’ is so foreign to Jesus? By that many are excluded by those who think they are most qualified as a group. It’s a fallacy to think yourselves right and others wrong.”
“I think I understand you now, Oliver,” I confessed. “It simply must have been that I had been blindfolded from seeing this. Then if we speak about ‘leaving church’ we are not talking about the church but the institution in which we are.”

Oliver gently nodded, glad at the realization of what he meant.
“Well, it doesn’t make sense being a renegade, I bet.”
“Who ever said it is? Being a renegade, church hopping from one religious spot to the next in search of that which Father said he would add, doesn’t help anyone at all. What matters most is that we follow him closely than we ever think we can”
“Well, since ‘going to church’ is wrong, what should I do?”
“When did you ever hear me say that?”
“I thought that’s what you meant.”
“I don’t think I’ve anytime today. I was only helping you discover that it can’t easily help you on this journey when you think it’s all about attending, meeting to grow the institution or any thing else that doesn’t bring positive effects in others’ lives. Such collaboration may many times hinder our walk with Jesus and affect the way we treat others.”
“Yes it has been that way with me,” I agreed. “You remember the last time we talked, I told you I was going to have more attention directed toward my relationship with God?”
“Yeah, Bob, I do! What about that?”
“Nothing good. I really had focused more attention on it but it didn’t seem to last. My activities would creep in. No time for God, so it seemed! Sometimes, I came to him because of my desires instead of knowing and loving him.
“It wasn’t long before Diane noticed this change in me; always looking for the time to hit the exact moment so I could have my time with him. The glory of all that was no more when I was back on repairing this machinery,” I continued, “I certainly was wondering if it was this same institutional Christianity that the apostles cultivated during their day and passed down to us.”
“They had no props, devices. Nothing else but the Anointing.” Then he looked at me carefully investigating my face.
“May I ask you something?”
“Yes.”
“You said you scanned each moment to find out if your time with God was near. I believe you know better than that. You’re still caught in the ‘doing’ thinking his presence is in some certain place you could hide to discover it. It’s not. You find his presence as you know his spirit in you. Do you think there’s any difference between these point of suggestions: ‘come, let’s go to church’ and ‘come, let’s go to his presence’? They’re just no different from ‘doing’. You’re just trying to find him in regiment of rituals which means you may never stop trying to find him. Believe it that he’s in you and this makes his presence in you. His presence isn’t what you do, where you go or even what you discover in your memory. It’s in God’s spirit.”
“Which means that God’s presence is about him in me, in charge of my life.” I said at the sudden realization. I had been missing it so long. “Does it mean we shouldn’t have some time with God?”
“You’ve to,” he answered. “It’s important to spend time each day with him. But it’s really risky to think we find his presence in our memory. That’s why some find such moments to be boring. They feel it’s no different from attendance. In, they feel it; out, they don’t.”
“Yeah, I know that. No wonder Donna Woolf had quitted this same thing. She confessed she found no life in it and questioned believers if they found it biblical or if Jesus had instructed anyone to build any machinery called ‘church’. What a mess! Everyone was pretty angry and warned her to rethink everything which she had learnt. They said that if Jesus didn’t want it, he would have destroyed it long ago.
“I know such people could become very touchy especially about those buildings which they manage. However, all that matters most, Oliver, is if we’re pretty right with him or not.”
Oliver faced his head downward and in minutes raised it again. He had seen this whole thing happen in so many organized groups and the dissatisfaction which often arise from those involved affects him in ways I don’t know.
Confidently, and with a smile, he cocked his head and stared toward me, expressing the calm features of a good American.
“What else did she say, Bobby?” That was the first time someone pronounced my full name.
“She didn’t condemn the congregation or their leaders but concluded that she hadn’t found God’s life in it. The religious collaboration seemed to have done something worse toward her that she abandoned the institution.”
The certainty of all I was saying became even clearer to me that I was the one whom this message was for.
Oliver proceeded, “Donna was correct when she discovered that all our attention need to be focused on Jesus, not church. Living the opposite of true life will turn us into believers who are just alive but are suffering inside. He didn’t teach his disciples to be religious maniacs, nor does he praise anyone for being structure-projected collaborators. The teachings of Christ has been interpreted by many to suit their selfish purpose.
“For instance, I was talking about an important issue when I heard someone saying, ‘Yes, the building isn’t the church but we call it that because it’s comprised of people.’ That doesn’t sound like something straightforward, does it? In Israel, there were temples but that doesn’t mean that was the church. Of course, the believers often met there to share Father’s life and encourage each other but those temples in the real sense wasn’t the church. The focus wasn’t the obligations, rituals or the building but Jesus. The superior motive wasn’t managing a system but building close relationships with each other and helping each other grow into him.”
“If living as his church is this way, who then can?” I asked in bewilderment.
He replied, “By God’s help, we will live as his church. The journey has never being easy. In these days, what we need most is how to help people live his life, not how to have them do church.”
He continued, after wiping his brow, “Just be however he puts you and you’ll find things sorting out than you’ve ever thought. However, live away from his will and plans, then you will find yourself struggling on what kind of church principles make more sense.”
With that he apologized for having to leave, promising me that God had his eyes on me, with excellent thoughts. Then he left, and I remained with the couple, rethinking all I had heard today, praying to live them. From then on, my plea was that I would never live a life outside him.

This is a fictional work expanded after been taken from my walks with Jesus in 2013.

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Hiding JESUS In OUR Creed (#1)

THE STRANGEST ENCOUNTER

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Ollie and I met here many years ago. The coffee shop is stationed at the right.

IN the last few moments of my frustration, I had nothing else but get angry because of the whole scenario which I had encountered at this very point of my life. Diane and me had finally being appointed senior pastors of the church, Inner Life City, Vance, Alabama, and at first it did sound very interesting to be at the peak of the whole thing. It seemed very true when a very good friend in the congregation congratulated me on my growing life in Christ. However, it doesn’t seem that way these days, and my frustration almost or even every time get to lash out toward Diane when I found out later on that what I had spent my entire time building up was nothing else but religion.
   Truthfully, I hadn’t known this for over 17 years until that moment of frustration when a strange man walked into my life rearranging the whole thing I had ever known about this christian ‘stuff’ which I thought I had known so well but didn’t realize I was having this hollow place empty. To understand how it all began and how these experiences led to my big success, you ‘ll have to journey back with me to the time when it all started, and to the very end of it.
   It was an amazing moment when we walked past the Wall where bible verses had been designed. We ‘re headed for the usual sunday morning programme which lasts for about three hours, when I bumped into a greyhaired man. Having apologized, I continued with Diane and few others toward the building where the usual service was taking place.
   Consequently, I had this feeling burning inside of me when I sat on a chair near the usher wondering how angry that strange man must have been. Or was there anything that moved me to apologize properly? The reason for this strange feeling was that he didn’t look like someone who was going to church. So I decided very quickly to rush out the streets and find him out, inviting him over to church.
   As quickly as possible; yes, it was that way, I rushed to find him and encourage him to come in, but I didn’t find him. I remember minutes back when I glanced back at him as he was sitting at the nearby coffee shop having a conversation with the coffee seller. Nice idea though, but I tried to shake it off; it didn’t work. So I journeyed as fast as I could in awareness that the service would begin in about thirty minutes time. Thirty minutes was sure too much to encourage someone on basis of Christian and church life.
   The bench at the coffee shop wasn’t empty; as forsure, he was there scanning the lawn. Certainly, on Wednesdays there was a regular mowing of the lawn which was meant for golf. This moment it still looked as tidy as it was when I visited it some days back. The old man didn’t seem to be drinking or reading any magazine, and I honestly found it an opportunity to walk over to him.
   Approaching him, I quickly called out, “Hello!” as I still was conscious of time. His reply was a very comfortable one, “Yes,” which brought a new apprehension filling me. Then I introduced myself to him.
   “I’m very sorry to disturb, sir, but I remember bumping into someone and wondered if he doesn’t go to church. So I decided to come invite you in,” I explained as nicely as I could. His eyes stared toward the church-building; gave a brief smile and crossed his arms.
   “Well, I don’t attend church,” he replied.
   “Then why not join our church. . . I think you left one before.”
   “I’m really sorry,” he apologized. “But the church isn’t something you need to join but a body he’s made you a part of.” That hit me there. I still had to press on.
   “But you know how compulsory it is for Christians to attend church every Sunday?”
   “Hmm! And I haven’t found that in the bible. Can you show me where you found it? I really need to know if attending religious services is compulsory.”
   Though that request looked like those ones which I had once asked myself when I was 18 years old, I quickly wondered who he was. Confidently, I settled beside him, forgetting that few minutes was left for me before I return back to the congregation.
   “No, I’m really sorry. I’ve been struggling with this same thing for over 17 years. At the beginning when I became pastor of that church over there,” I explained, pointing to the structure which was few feets away from us. “I felt my heart had attained the very purpose why God called me. However, the glory of that which I treasured was no more: the emptiness overshadowed my sincerity in the whole thing. I tried to cover it with my activities, trying to act more spiritual and even attend services regularly just to make it look like it was alright. Toward others, it was looking good but I knew I had a problem.”
   “Well, Bob, it seems clear that you’re just trying to hide yourself from him and that’s why your heart may look even messier. Possibly, you may be pampering that emptiness too.”
   “Pamper? No, that’s not it. It sure can’t be it.” Briefly, I paused before realizing he was right. “You’re right! The further I keep trying to serve him, it often become very awkward along the way and it makes me wonder if he’s at fault or he went away from me – ”
   “Or you’re and you did,” he gently reversed the playing field. “Don’t think God gets away from us, it’s us who get away from him as we gradually succumb to our will and desires.”
   Gradually, I began to wonder that all the moment when I talked with him, my heart kept burning. Suddenly, he dropped words which got me shocked.
   “When’ll you understand that the Christian life isn’t about mere attendance to meetings or religious services but about living Christ’s life to the fullness of it? Or you haven’t discovered that our religious trappings aren’t that on which we can absolutely rely to fill that emptiness which seems to occupy our hearts. This isn’t the kind of life Jesus lived, is it? He lived daily in awareness of his Father’s presence, knowing his Father can’t be at fault. When we keep looking at God as the one at fault, we’ll just have ourselves feel more empty.”
   “Yes. Yes I remember living in his presence everyday and experiencing it in me daily. However, it doesn’t sound that way now; at least it looks good on the outside,” I expressed, pointing toward my chest. “But my heart doesn’t seem focused now. I become very active in Church and continually miss God’s presence. How can I be a Christian and still not get it right?”
   “Confusing, right? But it can’t be any better as long as you’ve your attention directed toward something that can’t draw you any closer to God.”
   “Really? You mean my becoming so active in Church and teaching sermons from scripture is certainly different from living the life of God’s presence?”
   “Absolutely,” replied Oliver. “It ‘uld serve as a pretty cheap substitute for what is real. Our activeness in church doesn’t indicate our freedom from sin or that we live his life. And the fact that we’re good teachers, gifted with teaching ability doesn’t express that we live in his presence. Being in his presence comes from following him closely as best as he leads you. When you realize that you’re his son, you won’t struggle to be in his presence. You’ll always be there to meet him.”
   “Should it mean that if I keep teaching others, I’ll continually go away from him and never feel his presence?”
   “I believe you know I didn’t mean that.”
   “Yes, but it almost sounded that way. You made it sound like teaching others is wrong and that we can’t be in his presence by doing so,” I queried.
   “No, Bob,” he continued. “I’m only trying to help you stop finding his presence in regiment of rituals. His presence isn’t discovered in ‘doing’ but ‘living’. We find his presence in our spirit, not our ‘memory’. That’s what I need you to see – that his presence isn’t a certain place or activity but the spirit of Christ present in our hearts. All the freshness we will get will come from knowing his spirit in us. Therefore, what we teach others can seem more powerful when we live them. It doesn’t seem good to teach what we aren’t living at all. It ‘uld be like passing out sweet teaching from an empty bowl without life, only to find that these same people turn out like us. Sometimes, you mayn’t easily get to know how to reply your argumentators.”
   Honestly, I really needed to rethink everything again, but what if God’s plan was for me to remain there: at least, I get paid through working there. It had been the place where I had spent my earliest years as the son of christian parents who played not with Christian teachings.
   “But now, you seem to see that going to church is bad,” I blurted out sorrowfully.
   “You didn’t hear me say that, did you?” questioned Oliver. “You just need to see that going to church isn’t compulsory nor is it even required. It isn’t easy to produce disciples in a crowdy place where their focus is on obligation and routines. These routines are very lifeless and equipping people when such considerations ‘re put in place could have a couple of things get mixed up.
   “Mind you, Bob. Whether one is an attendee or not isn’t what matters but if he’s intimate with Jesus or not. Have you considered how many people live those teachings which they hear?”
   “Yes, I would say most remained hard within them,” I confessed. “I haven’t even understood this Christianity completely.”
   “No one can, but we just need to follow him as best as we can. You know we’re forever learning.”
   A prolonged silence hung for a time. I had my intentions: if things become too tough, I’ll give up being a christian and ‘ll leave Alabama for New England. Breaking the silence, I blurted out, “It, at least, makes it obvious to discover that this church life isn’t about attendance but living. Even at a point, all these didn’t seem to make sense anymore. There’re so many rules and regulations, influencing me to conclude if we’re still under the law.”
   “Is that what you struggle with?”
   “It is. I’ve sort this relationship with Jesus years back but each moment when I find it, the next moment, I seem to be out of it. Maybe he got further away from me, or —”
   “He’s loved you too much and ‘ll continually do,” corrected Oliver. “To think that God gets away from us isn’t at all true: it’s us who get away from him. You want to know why you still struggle? The reason is you’ve got intentions – finding God’s presence – but the way you try to seek it is very obverse to the way he’s planned for us. Have you wondered why you can’t find his presence in so many structures?”
   I wasn’t sure I understood what he meant, yet I had to reply as best as I could.
   “Maybe I must have. Perhaps, we aren’t performing enough to let his presence be there,” I guessed.
   “Where is Father’s presence, Bob?”
   “I know his presence isn’t in mere attendance but can be discovered as we learn to live daily in him. But, when I was a kid till today, I often think that when we go to church, we come into his presence. Though it sometimes sounded very foolish to me, but I had it as an instruction passed from my parents.”
   “And it’s not something to sort out properly?” he asked with a raised brow. “Understand something, Bob, today’s system of church is performance based and it takes it very hard to discover any that help us grow closer to Jesus. Attending services doesn’t awaken the reality of being in his presence. It’s awakened through our willingness to follow him as best as we can. Knowing his presence begins here,” he said, pointing his chest. “And as we get free each day, it flows out to touch others. You don’t even need to find his presence, Bob. The problem is not realizing that we are his children and have been given the approval to walk in his presence each moment.”
   “So if we realize that his presence is his spirit in us, we won’t need to find but just live in awareness of him?” 
   “Yes. Many I have met keep searching for his presence because they haven’t realized that Jesus has given us the Spirit and now we are free to approach the Father. 
   “I met a guy who narrated how he got saved from religion. He said there was much props and devices to make everything look good, but on the inside, everything seemed awkward. Do you think people learning to live in Father’s presence ‘uld see things seem so boring and filled with manipulation?”
   In growing interest, I answered, “No, they won’t. But why does mine seem so boring? I don’t get it at all!” 
   “Boredom could come for several reasons; but the popular kind which I found among many whom I’ve met isn’t due to anything else but that they don’t feel they’re doing anything that counts.”
   “You mean the mechanical way of life?”
   “Yes.”
   “Truly, that’s the same manipulative expressions I often feel everytime. I sometimes think it’s a result of my hunger that I’m beginning to experience it now.”
   “You did feel this way when your heart was in the mechanical thing?”
   “Yes, I did. I felt that way. I know it’s because of my hunger to find out the reality of the Father’s life.” As he nodded, I checked my watch and found out the time was almost over. Had I stayed that long? I thought. We had talked for about two hours and I had an hour left.
   “I would get to meet you another time, Oliver. As at this moment I’ve got to run as fast as I can. And one last question: Would it be good to introduce this way of life to the church?”
   “Don’t be in such a hurry, Bob!” he warned. “Let this find a place in your heart as you find out answers to your many questions. If you begin teaching it first; even as it’s the surface, it ‘uld be a cheap substitute for living this incredible life in him. But when you begin living it first, you’ll find more people to equip on the powerful life of Christ.”
   “Thanks so much, Oliver. I’ve got to run. Would find you later.”
   With that, I waved him and ran for the service before it becomes almost over. Things may go awkward but Oliver’s words would stick to my heart.
   The last I saw him, he was conversating with the coffee-seller. Little did I know that this brief conversation and unexpected encounter ‘uld open ways to more answers to my many questions.

This is a fictional work culled from my journeys with Jesus in 2012 & 2013.

Help Bob Hernandez know what you think about the first episode of his story by dropping thoughts in the comment box.

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Sex And Pornography Part I

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Sin prevents our lives from receiving this flow.

And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28)

  The history of sex is undoubtedly older than man, which was immediately after the days of creation of the fishes and birds. God had said, Be fruitful and multiply but to whom had he said that? Not to man, for man was one of the last creatures whom Father created. He had said to the created fishes and birds, And . . . Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth (Genesis 1:22). Surely, man was yet to exist! Man was made to occupy the land, not live in waters and hang on air, for that would make them more animal-like or fish-like. But God had said that before man was created, not after man was created, which implies that sex among animals was itself, older than man.
   However, even sex among man and wife isn’t as old as sex among those animals first created but all in a general sense, sex is older than man.

                 No Other Way But Sex

   When God blessed his creation, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth, (vs 22) he wasn’t expecting magic. There surely was no other way but sex in other to have them multiply, increase all over the earth. Sex was made for procreation, not for T.V. drama; between husband and wife, male and female, not a husband and another man’s wife.
   God said the same after man was created, but there’s no record of Adam and Eve having sex before the fall. We see a record of that after it. This means that the time between the creation of man and the fall may, perhaps be a very short while. However, woman wasn’t created for man to always have sex with her. Both had a job to do in Eden! They had to care for what God had planted in Eden, the animals and every other living thing which was in it. Woman was made as his helper not a being made for sex. This doesn’t mean that sex is a SIN but it’s good when we remove it from this: women were made for sex. Certainly, that sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Since man was put in that garden to tend it, the woman made as his helper was to assist him in the assignment given unto him. When we see woman as made for sex, there’s no way we would get our thoughts off of lust.
   The second chapter of Genesis is summary of the first chapter and bears some extra account not included in the first chapter, like the rivers leading to Eden. However, this particular verse, So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them (1 : 27) explains that man and woman had already been created but in chapter 2, we are told that man was first created and then the woman and also, why she was created. One thing before the days of the fall, was just so different from the days after the fall, And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence (2 : 25). They never were ashamed of their nakedness and in that side of life, sex would be appreciated as part of the gift to procede the work of procreation.

              Not A Result Of Sin

   I have gone through the net, discovered many blog posts point that sex is nothing but a result of sin. How does that look? Would God command that they be fruitful and multiply, only to have all they did termed as sin? If sex is a result of sin, wouldn’t it make it so clear to discover that even the animals were exchanging a sinful act? But man is not an animal, nor do animals have sin in them. They never had sin but sin itself came to change the look of everything. Friendly ones became the devourers and some loved to stay distant from man but in the creation, it wasn’t that way.
   It was this way: man’s major desire was to please God by tending the garden and caring for the animals but perhaps, just a side of the job was left undone: there was no child who came from sexual intercourse bearing the nature of God in human body. All that came through the moments man had sex with his wife was of the nature of Adam, yet created in the image of God.
   Therefore, sex isn’t a result of sin. Sin brought them to realize they were naked and the shamefulness of that came alongside the discovery. What God had given as a gift to man in order to procreate more people in the nature of God was now used to procreate people in the nature of a sinful man, until Jesus came to have man reborn into the nature of God, just as it was in Eden.

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Some people believe pornography to be all about an EROTIC GRAPHIC CONTENT but they miss a lot about it by forgetting it's also about the real practical sex-act which humanity get involved in either outside marital-life or dirty acts in marital-life.

                 Sex And Pornography

Just as the history of sex was traced back to the days of Adam before the fall, so pornography is traced to after the fall of man, when man abused the God-given gift which was to aid the procreation of more humans and populate the earth.
    Pornography is the obverse of natural sex-life, behaviors and it arouses the interest of man for corruption, uncontrollable lust and dreary desire for sex outside of marital-life; stirring the desire to have sex in the wrong parts. It has encouraged even Christians to participate in anal sex. While some identify that such anal activity isn’t recorded in the bible and can be done out of free-will even in marital-life, as no part of scripture forbids man to engage in such defying activity, it draws them further into the dark tunnel of evil.
    Some find this activity to be refreshing their desire for sex in marital-life and a means to ban loneliness from their mind for a certain moment. Perhaps, some identify that for fun. Whether loneliness, fun or marital-desire, it still is against the divinely-arranged sex which Father commands is included in marriage.

Fun-less Fun  

  Basically, fun is something that adds more beauty to life. So is pornography fun? Viewing it on internet can be so tempting that it adds more pressure on the blood to make one put what he sees into practice. Let’s look at the following which we’ve been made to believe is true:
It’s all about fun: It’s not! It’s a soul-killer! One’s spirit gets dragged deeper into that tunnel filled with confusion, digs a man’s grave without a knowledge of it and makes the love of God look obscure. In the actual sense, the fact is the love of God never grow obscure, but the blackness which resides in a man’s heart have him blinded from seeing that love. When pornography is looked to for fun, it’s not because there’s no other way. It’s because the victim doesn’t have the idea of any other way. There’s constant hiding found in his life as he access the tunnel: fear that he might be caught and excommunicated, or something worse may happen in his marital life. It’s that way! The fun which they run to find only gets them turning their backs on the whole lot of people who know nothing about them.
   In the days when I was in the dark tunnel, I often would hide myself from others just to at least, get one video that would paint my loneliness with much fun. But what did I get? Nothing! Each time I try that way, all I get is nothing . . . No possible, interesting gain in having that done. It only shoved me further from God, having my heart dimmed from recognizing his love toward me. The more I seeked this fun-less fun, the further I could see myself falling, falling and falling. The blood would keep rushing back after I had done the whole thing. I would look around to find out no one was watching, so I could have some chance to pray a forgiveness-prayer. It was a mess and I was too! More days and months were getting wasted and I couldn’t fill them back.
   If you’ve gone through such experiences, I assure you it’s the grace of God that took you out. It was just so tough finding fun through that because you never will find it. Just stop looking for it!
It’s all about a loneliness-solver: This act isn’t about any loneliness-solving. Rather, it ease that lonely feeling further to another degree of wantonness. When Adam was the lonely fellow in the garden without a partner, a woman was brought to him as his wife with whom he would spend some time. There’s no record that he got lonely afterwards. Why? The love for his wife and the love toward God was occupying that empty hollow place in his life. There’s no way he would ever pause to look at something adulterous in nature. If you’re a married fellow and you cry you’re lonely, and all you do to get rid of that loneliness is view this fun-less fun, you certainly may get addicted to it. The reason is you don’t love your wife as much as you loved her when you first married and your affection toward God is dead.
  Our earthly partners are given to us to erase that thought of loneliness and help us move on. All we think about is how much we may impress each other and show more love. This fun-less fun creates no loneliness-solving, rather, it empties our desire to make our spouse happy. You’re what you eat! The habits you absorb into your heart from the moments of the dark tunnel is what you’ll exhibit toward your spouse. Your craving for more sex, inviting the wrong sexual parts will keep replacing your love. Rather than help you look away from trying to have more sex, it deepens your desire for it and gradually blots your thoughts to nothing else but it. What you learn in moments of your loneliness is what you’ll exhibit. Nothing else, nothing less!

The Purpose Of Sex

   Look all through scripture, you’ll discover a unique truth about sex: childbearing. They had sexual relations because they needed to get children to succeed them but what does pornography do? It encourages people, including believers who view it, to engage in anal sex which was never Father’s intention from the beginning. He made the woman as a helper to the man and through her he can produce more people like himself who will populate the earth. He included the rightful part as part of her body to be actual region where sex must take place, not the anus. Childbearing doesn’t include the anus. So why should we engage in such abominable thing?
   I won’t say the purpose of sex is fun but sex could be filled with fun. However, that’s not its purpose. Adam didn’t have sex with Eve for fun but to procreate. Therefore, it’s good if we remove our thoughts from explaning that its purpose is just for fun. It’s not!

You Condemn It, But The Bible Doesn’t Talk About It!

   Just as scripture talks in detail about sex-life, so does it talk about pornography. Many parts of history contain stories of men and women who carried out the activities involved in modern pornography, though, it wasn’t called so in those, it was. Let’s look briefly to several examples found in scripture and what they did which is so akin to modern pornography.
In Genesis 19:3-10, the Sodomites approached Lot’s house to have sex with the two men whom Lot had just shown hospitality. These men were angels whom Father had sent to Sodom and Gomorrah in answer to Abraham’s request. The Sodomites were so desperate to do the task: it’s called gay (man to man sex). 22You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22). Understand that pornography also encourage this same sex sin, which means it was already in existence but not as rampant as these days, as it also occupy the net.
This dark-tunnel encourages outside-marital-sex but you may wonder, “Where is it in the bible?” But it is! 20Moreover, you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her (Leviticus 18:20). God has called this a carnal act and those who engage in it are living in such carnality. Their soul will be getting drawn to the evil in this sin. David, though, we can’t call him a pornographer also carried out this outside-marital-sex sin by laying with Uriah’s wife. The real core of the cause of succumbing to pornography is lust. If the enemy can’t overtake you in a tough battle, he will use your carnal pleasures to get you under Father’s judgment. The enemy couldn’t defeat David in battle but was able to defeat him through the carnal pleasure and had him under Father’s judgment.
Amnon was caught in this pornographic act when he forced his brother’s sister, Tamar, into relations with him. God had commanded, 9You shall not have intercourse with or uncover the nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father or of your mother, whether born at home or born abroad (Leviticus 18:9). Those who are well aware that pornography do encourage sex between a brother and sister, can agree that this is true. For to them who have no knowledge of scripture, such sin is no offense. For scripture equally said thesame about abominable sex-life. 6None of you shall approach anyone close of kin to him to have sexual relations. I am the Lord. 7The nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother, you shall not uncover; she is your mother; you shall not have intercourse with her. 8The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness. 9You shall not have intercourse with or uncover the nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father or of your mother, whether born at home or born abroad. 10You must not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; their nakedness you shall not uncover, for they are your own flesh. 11You must not have intercourse with your father’s wife’s daughter; begotten by your father, she is your sister; you shall not uncover her nakedness. 12You shall not have intercourse with your father’s sister; she is your father’s near kinswoman. 13You shall not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s near kinswoman. 14You shall not have intercourse with your father’s brother’s wife; you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. 15You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife; you shall not have intercourse with her. 16You shall not have intercourse with your brother’s wife; she belongs to your brother (18:6-16).

All of these mentioned above reigns in a pornographic world where no one tends to respect and obey the laws of God. There’s no sin on earth that isn’t recorded in the scripture, one way or the other which means that engaging in any of these acts is nothing but SIN.

Who Are The Pornographers?

   It’s easy to conclude that the pornographers are those persons who engage in the real dramatic sex which is then compiled into a video tape for others to view. However, the pornographers ain’t only those who do the sexing. It’s also those who engage in the viewing.
   Why? Those who do the sexing are committing the sin externally after it has been rooted within their hearts and those who do the viewing are also committing sin in their hearts and the sin externally is the process of viewing.
   Pornography isn’t just an internet graphic content. It’s biblically known as sex-sin.
   Jesus said all the issues of life, spring forth from the heart. Sex-sin is committed at the root and with time, it grows to be committed externally. What we have within us is what we’ll exhibit toward others.
   Therefore, the pornographers are those who view the pornographic contents thereby committing sex-sin in their hearts, and those who do the sexing also are for they have taken it to the practical.

Like The Holy Of Holies

   In the Old Testament priesthood, only the High Priest had the grace to enter into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9) while other priests were able to enter into the Outer Court to perform their duties to God. The High Priest had to enter in to offer sacrifices once a year.
   The parts of the body that were created for sex are just like the Holy of Holies and it’s only established for man and wife for the purpose of procreation. When any other priest apart from the ordained High Priest get into the Holy of Holies, it’s termed a sin before God. Likewise, anyone who breaks the law of God by defiling himself through sharing these body parts with others apart from the chosen man or wife whom God has given unto us as a companion, is under the judgment of God.
   Paul said wives are to submit to their husband, yes, their husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24). What does this include? What are they to submit? He’s not only talking about finance, tongue or anything else but also talking about her body. This also applies to the man who must submit his body to his wife.
   When both see their bodies as the Holy Place which mustn’t be defiled and the hidden parts of the body as the Holy of Holies which likewise must not be defiled by anyone else so as not to defile the marriage bed, both will keep their bodies only for each other, not for those who are external.
   Furthermore, sex outside of marriage is no less pornography; for it is sex-sin in God’s eyes. In his eyes, SIN is more than a disease.

          A Sex Outside Pornography

   A godly marriage is always a marriage that has a sex-life outside pornography. No one among the spouse is caught in the trap of a pornographic lifestyle. They see sex-life as a divine gift from God to continue the work of creation. They don’t see sex as the purpose of man’s existence. The purpose of our existence is worship (a godly living outside of sin).
   Though, it’s true that there’s a possibility that one or both of the spouse may be caught in pornography but how do they get out of it if both suddenly find out about these error of theirs? Should they split? Or should they work with a pornography industry to complete the scene? While all these sounds so ungodly, we still have believers who engage in this acts.

In our next post, we’ll see why people including believers engage in this before we talk about the Way out.

If you’ve anything you want to say about this, feel free to share it in the box or to samueljunoi@hotmail.com

God bless.

Sammy.
Lovestream.

Something BEHIND The Stone

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David's stone and sling aren't just capable of defeating the Philistine giant. There was a power behind the stone.

     King Saul and his Israeli brethren were so scared of the Philistine because he was a real giant: about 9 fts   tall, had a large sword which was good enough to crush men at the same time and his shield was carried by more than one man. What else? Saul was only focused on the size, the the appearance of the human who was right before him. Yes, they all feared!
     That’s why they thought David to be a fool when he insisted he would face the giant. His brothers doubted him, insulted him and even tried to stop him but he knew who he was. He was more than the shepherd’s youngest son. He was a King’s son who had the greatest power in the world. Yes, and HOW? (We’ll see that minutes below).
    The fight began. . . the giant raged at the boy and he escaped the giant’s sword but only a stone. . . yes, only a stone was able to bring the heathen hero down.
    However, there was something behind the stone with a greater force and power applied that was able to sink into the heathen’s skull.
    It was the Spirit behind the sling! It was the spirit that was the mighty force that pushed forth that stone with every power involved. When it brought down the heathen, there was a spiritual victory as well as the physical victory.
     There was faith on David’s side that opened doors when he said, The Lord Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:37. David had faith in God and the Lord was with him.
     In our day how rarely we have faith in God. How rarely we realize that David’s stone was just a symbol of the words which we say and are empowered by the Spirit to change every situation which the world doth term impossible. What empowers it? The spirit of God. As we speak in the Name of Jesus, His Spirit empowers those words of ours and makes it a reality.
     When we pray for the sick before the Lord through the Spirit by the Name of Jesus, those words we speak are empowered by him and are like stones of power thrown against the enemy and the soul is set free. However, doubt is the enemy of faith.
      Peter was able to identify with Christ when he said to the lame man, Arise and walk! Not that Peter had to pray and pray and pray to let the power be released to enable the lame man’s walking. All he did was use the Name directly since there is power in the Name.
      The one who walks with God is also like that sling. He is used to speak those powerful words that can shake the enemy gate.
      Circumstances oft come our way but it’s not the bad part. It’s what makes the moment interesting! The bad part is facing these circumstances; these demoniacal forces (which God permitted, to show the world his power) without recognizing that Jesus has put all these under his feet. We don’t have to claim it! It’s already done. . . Now we can move without any sense of inferiority toward the enemy because the Spirit is in-charge within us.
       For when the Lord had authority over all the kingdoms and powers, he said we will do even more. He gave us the Name to use freely, fearlessly without giving room for the enemy.
      Therefore, since we are the body of Christ, we also have authority on earth to use that Name to free the captive in every way.
     All we need is that faith!
The Name in itself is not powerless even if it seems these days we lack a real amount of faith.
    When dealing with these spiritual matters, we should avoid being Hopers when it comes to handling the heavenly authority. Hope in itself is very good but how does it look when the Lord says, Samuel, in three days time, I’ll deal with your bill!!! Suppose my bill is over $1000, I may see it as an impossibility and conclude, I hope so. . .
      Is that faith?
No. . . such a person is faithless and can easily be distracted but if he just says Yes You Are Able. That’s a testimony! Nothing seems to have happened yet but you’ve seen it already.
    When you are faced with a terrible situation, don’t say, The Lord will do it; and don’t say The Lord Can do it. Conclude it to the last side of it,
    
             THE LORD HAS DONE IT!

That alone gets heaven in rejoicing and songs of praise. That feels your heart with praise and increases your sense of his presence in greater way.
    Before men, David was the idiot.
    Before God, he was a superman. A man with the supernatural ability or power and authority bestowed on him by God.
      Why HAS rather than CAN or WILL?
      Because in Christ, we have everything.
      The battle is WON.
      The victory already is.
      We no longer see any need to fight for victory.
      We stay in the already achieved victory of Christ.
     Our fight now becomes defensive rather than offensive.
     We secure the already won victory. 
     In Christ, we are victorious.

Praise God. . . In Christ, I am victorious.

Let’s follow Jesus with this  kind of faith and we will never try to have it any other way.

Praise God.

Samuel Junoi Samuel
Lovestream.

Blessings.

Lord, Kill My Enemies: the prayer of the flesh and Spirit

     

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I’ve not really been a frequent traveller these days (and by travel, I don’t mean journeying from one country or state to the other) but I can really account for those which I had last year about 30 to 40 times toward Gospel Street which is filled with almost hundreds of churches.
    The last or so which Jerry (he’s my closest person in the world and my brother by blood) and I had, was filled with sorry sights. All we could do was feel sorry and pray that God opens his people’s eyes to see that he doesn’t require his people to pray against their enemies nor curse them. Realizing this, I had to go through scripture to read Jesus’ words about prayer.

Pray For Your Enemies

43 You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy;

44But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

46For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that?

47And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that?

Matthew 5:43-47

      In Nigeria and so many African countries, most prayers revolve around this that we are to pray the Lord to kill our enemies. And who do we see as these enemies? We see those who seem to torment our lives as our enemies; those who seem to annoy us one way or the other and so on but Jesus said PRAY FOR THEM.
     You may be asking, It’s so useless! How can I pray for my enemies? Didn’t David also curse his enemies and pray against them? You know, God didn’t call us to follow David but Jesus. If he could pray for his enemies while he looked down from that cross, how much more we? There’s joy in praying for your enemies and even blessing them.
     Jesus said, pray for those who persecute you, vs 44 and how’s that possible except it begins with the presence of love for our enemies right here in our hearts? No one can ever pray for their enemies unless there’s the presence of love in that heart. God is love and if he resides right there in us, then love will live right there but if we don’t have his spirit in us, we surely will not love.

                       CONCLUSION

       If Jesus lived a life of love all his days on earth and still lives to love, then shouldn’t we do the same? Let’s live a life of love! I won’t use the word, should in this statement. There’s no possibility that we will live to love others unless we follow Jesus closely to have him live his life through us. It’s not a question of ‘should’ but of having him live that life through us.
    Our problems don’t always lie with our enemies, for our enemies have no power over us if God doesn’t permit them. Let’s stop facing this enemy, enemy, enemy prayer stuff or whatever they call it and get past that notion to embrace that freedom which Christ has offered us to realize that even our enemies deserve our love and prayer.

    May God from this day live that life of love through us.

Amen.