Dead End, the Way of the Churches

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Dead End Church Street by Piano on Fire

My friend and sister in Christ, Susanne Schuberth, is often taught by the Lord by dreams and things she sees in her daily prayer walks and bike rides as well as hearing His voice from time to time and feeling His gentle nudges. She was recently on a bike ride and felt drawn by the Lord to turn down this lane called Kirchenweg. Kirchenweg in German literally means “Churches Way.” Well, she had not pedaled far when she saw a second sign that said, “Sackgasse” which is German for “Dead End.” It did not take Susanne long to get what Jesus was trying to tell her. The way of the churches is a dead end road. She wrote in her blog, “Honestly, who would ever tread on a path, beautiful or not, and follow a road if they knew it was as dead-end street?” Yet, she did so this time because the Lord led her to do it that He might show her a lesson.I hope you read her blog article. (*)

Sad to say that going down this dead end road of church attendance is done by millions who still seek after God in the highly visible, beautiful kingdoms of men called “churches.” Yet, if Jesus said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21, ASV), why do we seek Him in buildings made by the hands of men? Don’t we say, “Lo, Here!” when we say, “What church do you go to? You are welcome to come to mine”?  God spoke through Isaiah the prophet 2,700 years ago saying, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (Isa 66:1, KJ2000). Yes, where is the place of His rest?

For many years I followed that dead-end way of the churches. Each attempt at making a new church my home ended in failure as I attempted to fit into their mold and follow all their rules. Somehow it just did not work and I went away sad and kept looking for a church in which I fit. I felt like Cinderella’s ugly sister trying to cram my size 13 foot (yes, hard to believe, isn’t it?) into that size 7 glass slipper. Finally, one day after another failed attempt, out of desperation I cried out to God, “Lord, I don’t fit! I just don’t fit!” To this He replied in an almost audible voice, “YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FIT!” You see, what I learned through all my bad church experiences was that none of them were THE Church which Jesus said He would build (including Catholicism which I grew up in) and all of them were and are spiritual dead-end streets. It wasn’t until I gave up on them and sought the Lord alone, that God started teaching me from some very important scriptures that had been right there in front of me all along. For instance that this one,

Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Heb 13:12-14, NRS)

It is of the fallen nature of Adam to go forth with a curse upon the earth and try and build cities just as Cain did on sinking sand, to leave our mark and to build a visible legacy that will last long after our miserable carnal lives are over. Yet, we have this promise which the builders have ignored. In Hebrews we read,

“See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:25-29, NRS)

Only the kingdom that God has built within us by His Spirit will remain and survive this final shaking that is upon us. We are faced every day with a new terrorist attack, a new contagious disease, a new pestilence, a new famine or a new super storm, a fatal earthquake or a new financial disaster. All our attempts to hold our outward worldly lives and institutions together will be for not. The more we hang onto them and seek to save them, the greater will be our loss, “for our God is a consuming fire.” Paul wrote,

“Now if any man build upon this foundation [Jesus Christ] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1Cor 3:12-15, KJ2000)

Why do we keep pursuing the fallen ways of Cain of building lasting habitations when our example is so clearly the faith walk of Abraham?

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should later receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb 11:8-10, KJ2000)

Yes, Abraham sought a city, but it was a city that was made by God, not men. They were sojourners and remained so while on this earth living in tents and building nothing! What we who have our hearts fixed on our Creator are looking for is outside the gates of Christendom City and the mindset that goes with these institutions. Remember the Stone which the builders have rejected, has become the Head of the corner (See Matt. 21:42-43). God’s temple is made of living stone, not timbers, bricks and mortar (See 1 Peter 2:5).

I would like to end this with an excellent quote from T. Austin-Sparks,

Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. (Hebrews 12:26 ESV)

Everything is going to be shaken in earth and in heaven, with a view to finding out just how much there is of Christ living in it. These Jewish believers [to whom Hebrews was written] were going to see the temple and the whole temple system wrecked, and then they would discover just how much they had got of Christ, or how much of their life was bound up with earthly things. They would see what was left when that was all gone. God is not only going to shake Judaism, but this heavenly thing. He will shake heaven and earth, and we shall find out by that shaking what we have left when the earthly system passes, when even the representation of heavenly things in Christianity is tested (for Christianity has developed a representation of heavenly things, just as Judaism has). Men have made an earthly representation of the New Testament revelation of the church, and ministry, and priesthood. It is all going to be tested. For many it is now in the melting pot. The issue is the shaking of heaven and earth. What have we got left? The issue is Christ.

Whether you like all that we have said, or agree with it or not, does not worry me; but I am concerned that we have come to Christ, to show that Christ in heaven is our Life, Christ in heaven is our All, and appointed to be so by God, and nothing here can take the place of Christ. God will bring everything to an end that takes the place of Christ. He has determined from eternity that in all things Christ should have the preeminence, and have the fullness, and that nothing shall glory before Him or take His place. The Lord bring us into a larger measure of Christ, and a larger measure of Christ into us. http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002954.html

* https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/the-way-of-the-church-is-a-dead-end-street/

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Trees of Righteousness that Bear Fruit

And seeing a fig tree by the wayside he [Jesus] went to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. (Matt 21:19, RSV)

To provide for them that… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isa 61:3, KJ2000)

So many Christians are worried about doing “good works,” “bearing good fruit” and “saving people.” To bring forth good fruit to God we must first be the planting of the Lord that He might be glorified. We must be born of the Spirit of God or we will never be able to bear spiritual fruit. Jesus said, “Every plant my Father has not planted will be rooted up.” We cannot come to Christ unless the Father draws us. All we can do is believe and even saving faith is a gift from God. So, once again, just as God said, “Let there be light,” nothing happens without it coming out from Him!

When we find that we are His planting and have saving faith and have His Spirit in us, what is next? What works must we do to please God? Here is where many of us go wrong. All our lives up until salvation we “Dressed ourselves, stretched forth our hands and went where we want to go,” but in the kingdom of God that old Adam in us is totally useless to Him. Like Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing.” But how many, for instance, read in their Bible what is called, “The Great Commission,” and then set out to get people to say a “sinner’s prayer” and get them to go to their “church” as if that is the will of God in the life of every believer–to go out and save people.

One time my wife’s mother told a story about when she was working in her husband’s lock shop that was located on the “skid row” part of a town in western Washington. It seems that this old drunk named Charlie knew she was a Christian and he came into their shop one day and boasted, “I am a born again believer! Why I even got saved by Billy Graham.” To this she said, “That is the problem, Charlie. You were saved by Billy Graham instead of by Jesus Christ.” We can go out and get people to repeat a prayer for salvation, but if the Father has not moved on them to repent and come to Christ, all we end up with is a bunch of still births that require constant maintenance to “keep them saved.”

Recently a brother wrote to me saying, “I know in the bible there is a passage that says ‘I never knew you’. I know I have friends who only take the part of that passage that talks about sinning and forget about the “I never knew you” part…”

The passage he referred to reads as follows. Jesus said:

“Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Matt 7:19-23, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Where does this put our oft used evangelizing question, “Do you know the Lord?” It seems that salvation hinges on Christ knowing us! Obviously, our all knowing God knows every hair on the head of every person ever born, so this word “knew” in the above passage has to have a deeper meaning. In reality Jesus, longs to know you and for you to know Him in the most intimate way as His eternal bride.

The full meaning of the Greek word translated “knew” and “know” is missed by most Christians. They think that it is up to them to “know” Jesus, so they study their Bibles in a shallow way using only their intellects and miss the whole meaning of any of it. The Spirit of Christ has to be our teacher. All true life-changing knowledge comes through Him by revelation. Those two who walked and talked with our risen Lord along the road to Emmaus did not understand all that the prophets had spoken of regarding Christ, even though they knew their Bibles. Until Jesus opened their eyes it meant nothing! Once He did it took on life and their hearts burned within them. Jesus spoke to the Pharisees who knew the Bible saying, “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:38-39, RSV). It was Bible teachers and searchers that missed who Christ is and had Him crucified. Salvation requires an intimate life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is what the Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary says about this word translated “knew.”

G1097 γινώσκω ginosko (ǰiy-nō’-skō) v.
1. to know (in a concrete manner, and not merely from a personal perspective or experience).
2. (emphatically) to absolutely know, to know without exception (i.e. knowing, but not merely to know based on personal observation or perception, but also based on actual rational truth; not merely that which is based on or bound only by sight and experience; such knowing comes from Yahweh to completely grasp and have the comprehension of, as well as why and how, and to have the astuteness to apply it freely without error).
3. (by ancient Hebraic euphemism) to have intimate knowledge of (that is to say, to have carnal knowledge of; explicitly, to have had sexual intercourse with).

The same word, ginosko was used in this text which speaks of the sexual relationship that Joseph had with Mary, “Now, being roused from sleep, Joseph [did] as the messenger of the Lord bids him. And he accepted his wife, and he knew her not till she brought forth a Son, and he calls His name Jesus.” (Matt 1:24-25, CLV – emphasis added). Jesus desires such deep intimacy with us and the fruit of that intimacy is found in the works that we do. We become trees that bring forth good fruit. First the Father plants us and then He is the one who pollinates us by the Spirit so we can bring forth His fruit. Bad fruit and the works of iniquity mentioned in the above text come from those who try to do the spiritual works of God from their flesh without those works being born from Christ’s intimacy working in them.“Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works?” All our works are iniquity without His doing those works in and through us. We must be born of the Spirit and so must our works be.

The works (spiritual fruit) that we are to do are mentioned by Paul, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10, KJV – emphasis added). First, we are being re-worked as His workmanship, not the workmanship of Adam. What is born of the flesh is still flesh. We cannot fix ourselves! We are placed in Christ and He in us and this is where the life changing power of God takes place.

This is the place that the good works and heavenly fruit come from as well. Can we read the Bible, mimic what we read, or guess what His fruit will look like? No! All we can do is rest in Him. Couples who try too hard to have a baby often can’t have one. Fruit requires intimacy and rest. In the same way, the works that we are to do and the fruit of our oneness in Christ has been “ordained that we should walk in them.” It all has to come from Him. The Father plants us, the Spirit gives us life, and Jesus pollinates us. As Christ’s bride all we can do to please God is to lie back and let Him do the work in and through us. This is what real faith is about! “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”

The Blessing of God – When two become one

 

Jonathan and David.jpg

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevails against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccl 4:9-12, KJ2000)

All through the scriptures we see God joining people together for His purposes. It started with Adam and Eve when God said of Adam, “It is not good that man should be alone.” God also blessed many other couples and used them in their fruitfulness to bring forth the linage of Christ all through the Old Testament record. Outside of marriage we see Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, Judah and Simeon, Deborah and Barak and many more who He paired up in leadership. Only when we see Israel totally backslidden against God do we see a prophet standing alone as His representative. These were desperate men appointed by God for desperate times and not the norm.

In the New Testament Jesus always sent the disciples out in pairs and later we see many of them together in each locale like the group in Jerusalem with Peter, John and James as well as Paul and Barnabas and other “prophets and teachers” in Antioch and later Paul and Silas were together.

Too many people today in the churches think about leadership and ministry after the tradition of the Catholic Church, a singular pope over all, a singular bishop over the dioceses and a singular priest over the local church. Protestantism does not like to use these Catholic titles so they call these men denominational heads, district superintendents and pastors. Each man stands alone over those under him and is rarely held accountable for his actions. Being alone, they get into all manner of trouble and eventually fall. True New Testament eldership with multiple elders in each area it is a rare thing today. There is no such thing as “head pastor” over any of the New Testament churches, yet these extra-biblical titles are all through Christendom and accepted as “scriptural.” We as Christians in the West still think of church leadership in terms of a singular leader complete in himself with all the Bible knowledge and gifts needed to rule over all that goes on in the local church. It was not this way in the early church, but Christ was the Head and the Spirit taught them.

The New Testament is rife with examples of multiple leadership and multiple anointings working together under the leadership of Christ and this is still God’s way. We need to get beyond this Catholic hangover of the “one man band” in the body of Christ. God says clearly that He commands a blessing when brethren dwell together in unity. One person that has all power is not an example of dwelling together in unity. Spiritual unity is not unanimity or forced unity of doctrinal beliefs. It occurs when two or more hearts become one and are in one accord in the Spirit of Christ with His love for one another.

A classic case of true godly unity was the relationship that Jonathan and David had with each other. The kingdom was divided under King Saul’s heavy hand and Saul tried to pit his son Jonathan against David whom Saul saw as an enemy, but we read. “…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (1Sam 18:1, KJ2000). And when Jonathan was killed in battle David cried, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women.” (2Sam 1:26, NASB).

Of this relationship in “The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge” by R.A. Torrey and John Canne we read,

The modesty, piety, and courage of David were so congenial to the character of the amiable Jonathan, that they attracted his most cordial esteem and affection; so that the most intimate friendship subsisted between them from that time, and they loved each other with pure hearts fervently. Their friendship could not be affected by the common vicissitudes of life; and it exemplifies by fact what the ancients have written on the subject; [Ten philian isoteta einai, kai mian psychen ton philon heteron auton.] “Friendship is an entire sameness, and one soul: a friend is another self.”

How many of us who call ourselves Christian and have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us have ever had a friend like this among our fellow believers? Very few, I would dare say, because Sunday Christianity by its nature tends to divide instead of unifying. Only as we abide in Christ and His love for one another that goes way beyond religious commonality is this possible. If you are missing this kind of depth in the body of Christ, pray for God to do what is needed to make it happen in your life, but stand by… He might have to work some deep changes in your heart as well. I know that He had to in mine.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers [brethren] live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Ps 133:1-3, NIV – emphasis added)

Putting Christianity to the Acid Test

Susanne Schuberth and I wrote this article as God has taught us from past as well as current experiences dealing with Christians among whom men and women have risen up, teaching perverse things to draw away disciples after them (See 1 John 2:26-28).

Entering the Promised Land

Putting our Christian views to the test (Picture credits http://i0.wp.com/mrvitaminsnews.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/acid-alkaline.png)Putting our Christian views to the test
(Picture credits http://i0.wp.com/mrvitaminsnews.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/acid-alkaline.png)

This is another joint blog post Michael Clark and I wrote together. As always, it needs to be seen against the backdrop of our own religious history. We both have had many years of experience in different church groups that were not founded on Christ and see why Paul said, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2 ASV)


Imagine you hear or read about a new branch of Christianity and you, of course, want to know whether what those people believe might be the truth or not. How can we quickly discern if we are dealing with real or only fake Christianity? To come straight to the point, without spiritual discernment received by God’s Spirit, the firmness of our conviction will be shaken again and again, depending on our…

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On the Consistency of Thought and Deed

Thank you, Susanne Schuberth for reminding us how important it is to speak and act only by the Spirit of God for therein God commands a blessing!

Entering the Promised Land

Picture credits http://stores.jkmstore.org/spirits-that-hinder-the-flow-of-god-in-your-life-mp3/Picture credits http://stores.jkmstore.org/spirits-that-hinder-the-flow-of-god-in-your-life-mp3/

Michael Clark and I wrote this blog post together, once again. As it has often been the case, I, Susanne, start with writing and share my thoughts on a certain topic with Michael and then God gives us a confirmation about writing another joint article.


Can you force yourself to seemingly like what you basically do not like? What a strange question, Susanne! 🙄 I need to admit that I can’t do it any longer although I tried. My heart won’t let me deceive myself anymore. Even if I like or love someone, I cannot like nor love what they do when their twisted thinking and doing contradicts the truth revealed in Christ. Not that I stop loving them, but my heart is grieved, often very deeply grieved. That hurts a lot indeed! 😦 In the past, I tried to do the impossible, that is, to encourage…

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Let’s pray…

I have never known a person like Susanne Schuberth who prays about everything all day long. Father and Jesus are her best friends. I hope you are touched by our need to pray in her words in this article.

Entering the Promised Land

Entering the Promised Haven (Photo by Susanne Schuberth)Entering the Promised Haven
(Photo by Susanne Schuberth)

This is another entry Michael Clark and I wrote together which springs from our own experiences with prayer and its effects on our soul and spirit.


It has been for three days now that I, Susanne, wanted to write a blog post about prayer. But since I had neither time nor inspiration to do so, I only gathered a few quotes on prayer yesterday in the late evening. Afterwards I shared these quotes with Michael and we prayed about writing together about how our times alone with God affect us. We realized that be both usually wake up in the flesh and urgently need to pray in order to feel God’s presence in our life again. Michael made an observation I really liked. He said, “I need to pray first thing or my day is trashed.” Yes, indeed! Here are the quotes…

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