Author: Christopher
•4:38 PM

Often a bible textbook will list the miracles of the Lord Jesus among the 'proofs' of His divinity. I thought that it would be interesting (and a little fun) to apply the same test to Peter.

*Can a mere man walk on water? Peter did. (Matt. 14:22-33)

*Can a mere man heal a someone who was lame from birth? Peter did. (Acts 3:3-16)

*Can a mere man command someone to die with just a word, and have it come to pass? Peter did. (Acts 5)

*Can a mere man's shadow heal the sick and infirm? Peter's did. (Acts 5:12-16)

*Can a mere man heal a paralyzed man? Peter did. (Acts 9:32)

*Can a mere man raise the dead? Peter did. (Acts 9:36-42)

*Can a mere man retain or remit sins? Peter did. (John 20)

Based upon the overwhelming evidence (his control of the elements, his power over sickness and death, his authority to remit sins, etc.), it is quite clear that Peter must have been divine - God in the flesh.

Or, was he?

We all know that Peter was merely a man, that God was operating THROUGH him. He was a vessel nothing more.

I want to submit something for you to think about. The Lord Jesus was most assuredly God. But, he was also most assuredly Man. Jesus, who was God Almighty, was also Jesus who was merely human.

Which Jesus do you think is the Foundation Stone of the Church? I think it's the Man.

Realizing that the Church is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, then the Lord Jesus who is the Foundation Stone must be the Son of Man. If the Foundation Stone of the Church is Jesus/God, then God is the Temple of God...and that doesn't make any sense at all. Do you see that? Man is the Temple of God. And Jesus, the Son of Man, is the Foundation Stone of that Temple. Do you see that?

Why do I bring this up?

I think that when Jesus was walking this earth, he was living his life to show what a Godly, Spirit-filled MAN should look like. He was the "firstborn among many brethren," and brothers are all pretty much the same. If Jesus had 'tapped into' his divinity at any time, it would have disqualified him from the Cross. It would have also disqualified him from being my Example.

So that leaves us with the question: How did Jesus do his miracles?

I think that he was operating in the gifts of the Spirit. Gifts that were given to the Church at Pentecost when the Spirit came were his when the Spirit descended on him like a Dove. He was "anointed" to heal the sick, cast out devils, preach the Gospel, etc. That same Anointing, after Christ's death, operated through his Church, that is, through a fella named Peter.

Peter was not God. Nor am I. Nor are you. And when Jesus walked this earth, there was a very real sense that we could say, Nor was He. He had laid aside his divinity.

The miracles of Jesus were NOT proofs of his divinity, but of his Spirit-filled humanity.

Now, next time you read the Gospels, read them with the thought in your head: Here is a Man operating in the Spirit's gifts and power.

Then read Acts, and look at Peter, and say: Here is another man operating in the Spirit's gifts and power.

And then go look in the mirror, and ask yourself: Am I operating in the Spirit's gifts and power?
Author: Christopher
•8:30 PM

Just thought I'd post this, since this blog is like a diary for me.

Tonight was the last night of the missions conference at Heritage. Mike Hack of Operation Mobilization spoke. Of course, Becca and I were thinking about Sri Lanka. We didn't fill out a 'Steps' card or anything like that, but I did suggest we go forward and let the Lord know that we are okay with whatever He wants to do. We told him that we didn't want to rush ahead of his timing, or our training, but that we were still willing to go as he led. We asked that he'd direct our steps and make the 'open doors' clear for us to see.

Becca suggested to me that we should enroll in the 'Perspectives' class at the church. It's a 15-week class on missions and the history of Christianity in the world. I told her that it was a good idea, but let's think about it.

We had gone back to our seats and were getting ready to leave after being dismissed, when the man behind us leans forward and says, "What field are thinking about going to?" We told him Sri Lanka. And he said, "I don't want to play Holy Spirit or anything, but if you are thinking about being missionaries, you should really enroll in the Perspectives class. I took it and it was amazing."

That, my friends, is known as the Lord giving a confirmation. LOL

I then went back to pick up the boys from Kids church. Lynn was there. She is the wife of the Missions Pastor. A very wonderful lady of God. I told her that Becca and I had gone forward, and that we were considering and praying about going back to Sri Lanka. She told me to call her husband, Andy, so that he could be working with us from the very beginning. Guess I have a call to make!

Art had been standing beside me at this time. He is in charge of the short term missions group going to Azerbaijan this June. He personally requested that I go with him. He said that one of his team members had dropped out and he wanted someone that he knew to take his place. Our family has been attending Art's small group for a couple of months now, and he feels a connection with me. He wants me to go. To a MUSLIM country in the Middle East!!

Of course, I'm thinking, that a short term missions trip to Azerbaijan would really solidify our heart for missions here at the church. It would be a single step toward a long term goal. It shows action not just words.

I am freaking out, to say the least. It's huge!! I could be in the Middle East in only TWO months. It's exciting, but I shall record these words of my humanity for all to see: Holy Crap!! LOL (It's okay to freak out. God is awesome, and more than one person has trembled before him and his mighty acts!)

God moves soooooooooo fast when we are willing, doesn't He?
Author: Christopher
•2:02 PM
Stagnation is the opposite of growth. The Spirit guides into all truth.

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:" (John 16:13a)

This is another one that's just for the kids. It's kinda my life story in a nutshell.

I was saved out of spiritual darkness when I was just barely 18 years old. I had been involved in occult-type stuff (see earlier blogs), and was saved while reading a commentary on the Book of Revelation.

That commentary was written by a fundamental Baptist preacher who was a cessationist (Spiritual gifts aren't for today), and a hyper-dispensationalist (Jesus' teachings aren't for today, only Paul's epistles are for today). I read and/or listened to many, many of his teachings. This fella was HUGE on believing the Bible. And that is the main thing that I learned from him. The Bible is God's Book. Period. (What a great foundation the Spirit was laying for me!)

I spent the next year or so reading this same fellow's commentaries and sermon pamphlets; I was also going to college. While at college that first year, I experienced the invisible fiery whirlwind of the Spirit (and heard the rushing sound of invisible wind). And God, to me became a little bigger.

I was reading the Bible non-stop at this time, in large doses. After 2 1/2 years (and a torn cruciate ligament), I dropped out of college. I was hanging out with a certain friend quite a bit at this time. I experienced several moves of the Spirit while we were praying. The biggest, and longest-lasting, was when the Lord 'dumped on' me one night while I was praying by myself. I know that I was filled with the Spirit in a huge way. I also know that many would call this a 'baptism' of the Spirit. From what I have read, I would have to agree. I did not experience any of the gifts of the Spirit at that time, just a humble servant's heart. The witness of God's presence has been with me every waking moment since this time. Others find Christianity a struggle, but I never have. It flows from me.

At this time, I also had some demonic encounters that I won't go into here. Soon, I was going to a Baptist church every once in awhile with the same friend. While there, God spoke to me on several occasions. Once, he told me not to judge the way another person was praying. They were, Father God, praying, Father God, like this, Father God. I thought, Father God, that it was silly, Father God. But, Father God showed me that it wasn't. His child was talking to him, and it was none of my business. :)

From there, I started going to a Bible church. Here, I heard of healings - spines straightened, incurable diseases cured, and lots of souls saved. And God was very big. I became involved with Child Evangelism Fellowship, and saw almost a hundred souls saved that year. I also saw God stop the rain, multiply food, and intervene 'angelically' to prevent a young girl from killing herself. God was very Big. I think I experienced all of the gifts of the Spirit at this time, but was hesitant and quiet about it. They weren't taught about openly, and all I knew was what I read and studied out myself.

Then the Lord had me go to a conservative Baptist college. Also, cessationist but not hyper-dispensationalist. Here, I got to live under the rigors of 'standards' and 'tithing' and a bunch of other legalistic stuff. From here, and the next couple of churches that I was at, I learned that folks like a Spirit-filled preacher as long as they don't know the whole story. LOL

I remember sitting across from a Baptist pastor over dinner, with me telling him stories of the stuff I'd seen God do. I'd thought that we would 'swap' stories, but it turned into a monologue; he didn't have any stories to tell apparently. When I was done, he just looked at me and said, "WHO are you?" He thought I'd stepped out of the pages of the Bible, I guess. He compared me to George Mueller. He was wrong of course. It was just that he'd never run into a believer who believed before.

The Lord taught me a lot about preaching at this time. And about doing the different chores that are necessary around a church. A very practical time.

Baptist to secret Charismatic to Baptist again. I had even renounced speaking in tongues while in college.

I then studied out (intensely) the Rapture, the Day of the Lord, and prophetic things; God brought me back to the belief of John Bunyan, Spurgeon, George Mueller, etc., that the Rapture occurs at the Revelation. This had some interesting ramifications that followed logically from it. If the Rapture occurs at the Revelation, then the Tribulation is not for Jews only. And if the Tribulation is not for Jews only, then the church will go into the Trib. If the church goes into the Trib, then there is NO 'Church Age' (an un-biblical term and thought). If there is no 'Church Age' then the imaginary 'parentheses' at the end and at the beginning of the Church Age don't exist either. And...that means that the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached is the same that I should preach! Jesus sent out the 12, then the 70, and then the 120. Each time promising that miracles and signs would follow! Each time, Jesus told them to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, even saying in Matthew that "this same gospel of the kingdom" would be preached in all the world!

The miraculous events of the Gospels literally poured over into the book of Acts, and out into the present day!

Then, after getting the left foot of fellowship for believing that the Rapture occurs at the Revelation, I ended up at a good Baptist church. Grace and love were there. I taught Sunday school. The Lord spent the next 3 years teaching me about freedom and identity in Christ. Christ in me the hope of glory!! I studied out the revivals. God taught me about friendships and acceptance. He let me minister to the folks there even as they ministered to me.

And, now I am at Heritage Christian. Basically, another Bible church. Here they talk about the gifts, but not in excessive ways. At the weekly prayer meeting, the gifts of the Spirit are in dramatic evidence. The Lord gave me a vision at one of these of the royalty of a the believer. It was awe-inspiring. Perhaps the craziest thing was when the Lord had me pass on a word to a woman who was grieving over her children (they had been taken away from her many years before). I had of course heard of such things, but never believed it. Then, all of a sudden the words came out, "The Lord wants me to tell you that just as the Lord rebuked the fig tree and it began to whither at that very moment, so the bitter root in your heart has begun to whither at this moment." I couldn't believe it when it came out of my mouth! I laughed out loud. God had spoken to someone through me in a very real way. Like passing on a note from the Throne of God. Crazy!

In the mean time, I am learning more and more about my identity in Christ. More about living by the Spirit, without the legalism of the Law. I love it!

And currently, the Lord is taking me back over the teachings on healing yet again. This time in a more thorough way.

I am not sure what the Lord is doing, or where this will lead, but I can say this - the Spirit continually guides into greater and greater truths. He is always guiding into a bigger view of God, a greater trust of the Bible, and a more spiritual worldview. He leads into witnessing and missions. He leads into a greater knowledge of Jesus.

And I can't wait to see what's next!
Author: Christopher
•9:38 AM
A thought from many years ago.

In Matthew 27, after the soldiers had spit on him and hit him across the face, after they had pressed the crown of thorns down into his bleeding scalp, and after they had given him a kingly robe to wear, the Lord Jesus carried his cross to a place called Golgotha.

The path that he walked has come to be known as the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering. Tradition has marked out 14 'stations' along this 'way of suffering,' Fourteen main events from the time that Jesus was condemned to death, to the time that his body was laid in the tomb.

But are there more 'stations' than this for us to consider?

The Way of the Cross did not start in Matthew 27. This chapter has Jesus standing before the civil ruler, Pilate, being accused of crimes that he had not committed. He is then tortured, and killed. Not many believers reach this station. Frankly, most of us aren't that passionate about the Great Commission or the Lord Jesus. But we have all read stories about the martyrs 'overseas' who have died for their faith. I wonder, will I carry my cross to this station?

But let's back up to chapter 26. In this chapter, the religious rulers are conspiring against Jesus. Jesus is at a party being honored with a great sacrificial gift - the ointment from an alabaster box being poured upon his head. Then came the evening of the Last Supper. One of Jesus' closest 'friends' goes off to the religious rulers, and agrees to deliver up Jesus for a certain sum of money. Jesus and his other friends partake of the bread and wine, and then sing a hymn. Jesus goes out to pray, and is captured by the authorities. His friends desert him. They deny ever knowing him. They turn their backs on him.

You see, the way of the Cross started before the Via Dolorosa. The way of the Cross includes betrayal, and lies, and denials. It is people turning their back on you - people that had claimed to love you, and who were willing to die for you. But the way is also one of celebration, of honor, of singing.

But let's back up to chapters 24 & 25. These are chapters of instruction and teaching. There are warnings about things to come, cautions against false brethren, and parables about how the Kingdom of Heaven actually works. There is even a dire warning concerning 'professors' versus 'possessors' (false vs. true believers).

The way of the Cross is about others. It is not just about Jesus dying, it is about Jesus preparing his followers for when he is gone. Are you preparing anybody to carry the torch after you are gone? Are you instructing others in the way of the Kingdom? Are you warning others to make their calling and election sure? The way of the Cross will lead you to this place of final instructions before it leads you to the place of your final breath.

But let's back up to chapter 23. If chapters 24 & 25 are warnings and instructions for true Christ-followers , then chapter 23 is a rebuke of the religious hypocrites. This chapter is fraught with rebukes and clearly-stated denouncements of religion. This 'false way' is the enemy of the way of the Cross, and Jesus does not hold back! "Blind guides," "fools," "hypocrites," "ye serpents"!!! And then, with utmost compassion, he turns to those who have trusted in these religious leaders, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings"

The way of the Cross will lead you to a place where you will hate religion, where you will denounce it. Why? Because you are compassionate for those who have been deluded by it. You see their pain even when they do not. They will cry out for your crucifixion, but you cry out for their freedom.

But let's back up to chapter 22. Before they crucified him, before they denied him, before he was betrayed, they sought to "entangle him in his talk." They took his words out of context. They quizzed him seeking to trip him up. They asked him 'hypothetical' questions meant to make him look like a fool. But he was wiser that they, and he put questions back to them that 'stumped them.'

The way of the Cross is about the mind. It is about our understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven, about our understanding of God himself. As we teach and instruct in the way of grace and life, the religious (works-oriented) crowd will not understand. But thinking that they understand the Book better, they will pose questions trying to reveal a flaw in our theology.

This really has me thinking of Steve McVey, and some of the Grace teachers I know! How many "unlearned" questions they must deal with on a daily basis! How often they are misunderstood. How often they are misquoted, and misrepresented.

But let's back up to chapter 21. Chapter 21 is more of the same. Shouts of "Hosanna" honor the Lord. The sound of crashing tables reveal his anger toward those who use his Father to 'make a buck.' And in private, he talks with his disciples about answers to prayer. In public, he confuses the religious with words that seem (to them) to be intentionally confusing and mysterious.

The way of the Cross is about consistency. It is teaching the brethren who will 'hear' and pointing out the blindness of those who cannot 'see.' There are times when you will receive honor that speaks of the royalty just inside your 'tabernacle of flesh,' and there are times when you will positively SHOCK your followers by going (to them) too far. You will be called a mystic, a 'deeper life' teacher, a confused mess.

But let's back up to chapter 20. And 19, and 18, and 17, etc.

The way of the Cross began when Jesus left his throne and became a man. Grace will ask you to leave your 'throne' and to submit to God. In so doing, you will discover your 'humanness.' This is the beginning of the way of the Cross.

Along the way, you will see miracles. You will see angels. You will experience love and devotion that will humble you, and you will experience misunderstandings and cruel words that will leave you scratching your head. You will worship God. And He will talk with you.

You will wander, being led of the Spirit; yet you will be consistent in your walk with Christ. Life will overflow from with you. Joy will be your companion, prayers never far from your lips.

People will look up to you, and then turn away from you. You will instruct others, only to watch them fall.

You will be called 'proud' and 'sinful' and 'un-biblical.' The religious will say that you follow doctrines of devils.

Your parents might not get it. Your brethren might not get it. Those of your hometown might not get it. But some will. And they'll walk with you.

But in the end, you'll carry the Cross alone. Just you and the Father.

And on the other side, be received up into glory!
Author: Christopher
•12:31 PM
Many years ago, back in the early '90's, I was reading John chapter one, and the Lord showed me something. Since then, I've come to learn that my revelation was by no means unique, but it was life-changing for me.

I was reading this passage:

"And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias."

I asked the question 'Who is speaking?': John and the Pharisees
I asked the question 'What were they saying?': There was some confusion over who John was
I asked the question 'How was this question settled?': John appealed to the Scriptures

John could have said any number of things about himself. He could have referred to his parents, "I'm the son of Zacharias." But he didn't. He could have referred to his situation, "I'm a nomadic, wandering preacher." But he didn't. He even could have defined himself by his diet, "I'm a locust-eater." But he didn't do that either.

He defined himself by agreeing with what God had said about him! He quoted the scriptures.

But, wasn't it extremely egotistical to call himself 'THE voice"? I mean, to say it out loud was pretty 'out there' wasn't it? No, not really, to agree with God is to be humble. If God has declared you to be a king, then it is FALSE humility to say that you are not; it is 'sneaky self' rebelling against God's word.

What was the lesson in this for me?

I saw that I should define myself by the Scriptures, not by my situation, my job, my failures, or anything else on this earth. I researched the New Testament and wrote out all the things that God says I am. How wonderful were these words!!

Recently, I shook hands with a real life multi-millionaire (billionaire?). A man who was thinking about buying himself a commercial helicopter for his birthday, a man who drove a convertible Rolls Royce. It was a very neat experience! I shook hands with a billionaire, he shook hands with a king.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine who has not yet been shown this truth; he laughed at me. "Oh my!," he said, as if to say that I had gone too far, as if I were chasing castles in the sky.

But the truth is, I am a king. And I'm not chasing castles, I have one, bought and paid for!!

The Bible tells me so.

Author: Christopher
•10:15 AM
I was reading John 20 this morning, and noticed a trend. Thought I'd share.

John 20 is the Resurrection Chapter of the book of John. It opens early on the first day of the week, finding Mary at an empty tomb. She runs and tells Peter and John that somebody has "taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre." The guys run off to check.

Of course, young John arrives first, but hesitates, and Peter rushes by him into the tomb. John then follows Peter. They see the 'linen clothes' and the 'napkin' lying there but no body.

John believes.

I. Hearing Not

Then comes verse 9, "For as yet they KNEW NOT the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."

Now, obviously, they had heard about the resurrection; Jesus himself had mentioned it on more than one occasion. (Luke 18:33, for example) But they had never HEARD the scripture before.

There is a way of HEARING that is not simply the memorizing of verses - it is more than that. It is the Spirit speaking through the Scriptures. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith..."

II. Seeing Not

While John and Peter were running into the tomb, Mary stood without. Some angels talked to her, then she turned around and saw Jesus. [More was going on OUTSIDE the tomb than INSIDE the tomb!!]

Actually, she saw a fella that she thought was the gardener. She "KNEW NOT that it was Jesus." She saw him, but didn't SEE him.

There is a way of SEEING that is more than looking at the visible. We are to SEE by faith, not by simple eyesight.

John 9:39, "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might SEE; and that they which see might be made blind. "

Luke 18:10 tells us, "And he said, Unto you it is given to KNOW the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might NOT SEE, and hearing they might not understand."

III. Believing Not

Of course, Mary, John and Peter all gathered back together with the other disciples. Only Thomas was missing. Everybody was excited except Thomas. "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I WILL NOT believe."

Eight days later, the Lord visits again. He tells Thomas, " not faithless, but believing." And, "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Some hear the scriptures but don't HEAR them. Some see the Lord but don't SEE him. And some just decide to not BELIEVE the testimony of others who have SEEN and HEARD. This is life immediately after the resurrection; it's not much different now.

On the other hand, some do HEAR, and some do SEE, and some BELIEVE in what they have never seen or heard.

:) Think about it.
Author: Christopher
•10:42 PM

The Sun powers the process by which plants turn air plus water into food.

The plant does NOT get it's food from the dirt. Its food is created inside it from the air and water it takes in. It just lives in the dirt.

The air that animals breathe (O2) is poisonous to plants. The air that plants breathe (CO2) is poisonous to animals.

When we become saved, we are compared to trees. We are no longer like the beasts of the earth that perish.

Air is the Spirit, or the spirit of this world. The Holy Spirit is against the world, and the spirit of this world is against us.

The water is the word of God. It is here on earth. But it comes down from Heaven.

The Spirit of God plus the word of God, when energized in the presence of the Son, provide food for the believer from within the believer.

Without the presence of the Son, the air and water cannot be metabolized. The word needs to be mixed with faith.

We live in this world, but we derive our nourishment from Heaven. We have meat to eat that you know not of.

We grow as we stand. We grow as we remain still. The more that we grow, the more we reach toward the Son.

Fruit is a result of the overabundance of Sun plus Air plus Water. Fruit does not come from the earth. It comes from Heaven.

Author: Christopher
•10:14 PM

What is the definition of 'In'?

"It is used with verbs signifying being, resting, or moving within limits, or within circumstances or conditions of any kind conceived of as limiting, confining, or investing, either wholly or in part."

With reference to space or place; as, he lives in Boston; he traveled in Italy; castles in the air.
What is my location? I am in Christ.

With reference to circumstances or conditions; as, he is in difficulties; she stood in a blaze of light.
What is my condition before the Father? I am in Christ.

With reference to a whole which includes or comprises the part spoken of; as, the first in his family; the first regiment in the army.
What is my position? I am in Christ.

With reference to physical surrounding, personal states, etc., abstractly denoted; as, I am in doubt; the room is in darkness; to live in fear.
Where do I abide? I am in Christ.

With reference to character, reach, scope, or influence considered as establishing a limitation; as, to be in one's favor.
What are my limitations? I am in Christ.

With reference to movement or tendency toward a certain limit or environment; -- sometimes equivalent to into; as, to put seed in the ground; to fall in love; to end in death; to put our trust in God.
Where do I grow and mature? I am in Christ.

With reference to a limit of time; as, in an hour; it happened in the last century; in all my life.
Where shall I spend eternity? I am in Christ.

Not out; within; inside.
Author: Christopher
•3:50 PM

I was just talking with my brother about grace.
He suggested that I type up a post that tells what the grace walk looks like. Is it an 'anything goes' sort of life? If I enter the 'grace-led' life, will I have to change everything that I do as a Christian? Will I dye my hair purple and get a nose ring? etc.

For me, the grace life LOOKS a lot like my former religious life. I still go to church. I still go to a small group. I still tell people about Jesus. I still read my Bible, and love to do word studies. I still love to pray, and sing, and fellowship with other believers. I love my wife and kids. I work hard at my job. I respect my parents. I love missionaries, and good preaching.

The difference is that I am not as hampered by the traditions of men. Do I still have some man-made traditions in my life? Yeah, but now I can better see them for what they are. Some of them are left-over 'masks,' some are 'band-aids,' and some are 'crutches.' Knowing this is helping to bring healing to these areas of my life; I am becoming a better human being under grace.

The difference is that I have more inner peace. I know that I am accepted in Christ. I am not trying to gain favor with God by crossing my t's and dotting my i's. I have a stillness in my heart that I didn't have before. I hear God better than I did.

The difference is that I laugh more. I am not so 'stuffy.' I can let my guard down. I can be a 'normal' person. I am not as two-dimensional as I was. (sigh of relief) I can play Texas Hold 'em Poker without a guilty conscience, or ad-lib a rap song in public about why I love my wife. (LOL) And I have friends that I never had before. Close ones. Ones that are like family.

The difference is that I can be more 'real' and more 'relevant.' I don't have to wear my hair like my preacher does. I can wear more contemporary clothes, and the frames of my glasses are kind of cool. My wife got a tattoo...and then a few more, and I had to admit that the New Testament gives her that liberty. I couldn't just judge her action with a broad brush, I had to give her the liberty that Christ gives her. That was hard, but under grace, I have to allow other people the freedom to walk with God themselves; I can't tell them how to walk with God. (another heavy burden taken off my shoulders)

The difference is that I am not as critical of other believers (although I am harsher in my words against 'religion' and the traditions that unnecessarily bind up God's children). Denominations are not as distinct. I am not of Cephas, or of Apollos, or of this group, or of that one; I'm just a Jesus-lovin' Christ-follower. And if you're one too, then I'd love to hear all about it!!

The difference is that the love I feel for Jesus has exponentially increased, and my worship of Him is more utterly abandoned. I sing louder. I clap harder. I spread my hands toward heaven. And, I don't think about what the other people are thinking about me; I just 'love on' God.

The difference is that a whole bunch of New Testament verses now mean something to me personally. The law is abolished - that's for me!! Christ is my Vine - that's for me!! Reign in life by One - that's for me!! The entire New Testament has opened up in a very real and personal way. It's not just about dress codes, Bible versions, standards, and 'my church vs. your church'; it's about the Lord Jesus Christ and my union with Him, and His life in me, and ... wow! I just can't get past how AWESOME Jesus is!!

The difference is that I don't have so many fears. I am accepted by God, why should I fear what man will say to me or about me? I don't walk on eggshells. God has 'got my back' and He walks before me. I still have old hangups in this area where my mind needs transformed, where my new life in Christ hasn't quite taken over yet...but I have more hope than I once did, and more courage. I don't have to always be perfect.

Life under grace looks like an abundant life, a full life. It's all that I could ever ask for. It's the best of my old religious life, but with the added benefit of freedom.

I'm still growing in it. I'm still learning about it.

And, I highly recommend it.

(Read 'Grace Walk' by Steve McVey! It changed my life!)

Author: Christopher
•11:40 PM

Hebrews 9:2-3
"For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;"

The writer of Hebrews describes the Tabernacle of the Old Testament as actually being comprised of two tabernacles separated by a barrier. The first area held a candlestick, a table and the show bread which was on the table. The second area had a golden censer, and the ark of the covenant. Inside the ark of the covenant was a pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets upon which were written the 10 commandments.

"Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the FIRST tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the SECOND went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:" (vs. 6-7)

Note that there are two locations - the first tabernacle, and the second tabernacle. And there are two types of people - the priests and the high priest. There are two functions - serving God and appeasing God with blood. And, two time frames - continually and once.

Also: The FIRST tabernacle had to be entered BEFORE the SECOND one could be entered.

Any priest could go into the FIRST, but only one special priest could go into the SECOND.

"The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: " (v. 8)

The FIRST tabernacle was symbolic of the Law itself. The SECOND tabernacle, the place of God's presence, represented a life of unrestricted access to God Himself. The FIRST was essentially a temporary arrangement until a complete overhaul could be made allowing unrestricted access to the SECOND.

The Holy Ghost showed that the way into the SECOND was not yet open to everyone "while as the first tabernacle was standing." As long as the FIRST tabernacle was in place, as long as the LAW existed, there could be no unlimited access to God.

As Jesus died on the Cross and gave up the ghost, something happened within the Temple. "And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." (Mark 15:38)

The barrier separating the FIRST area from the SECOND area was torn - a breach was made, and unhindered access to God was granted.

When the veil of the temple was rent, access was given to the SECOND place. That is, the FIRST place had come to an end.

If the way into the 'holiest of all' was NOT made manifest while the first tabernacle was yet standing, THEN once the way was manifest, it could only mean one thing - the FIRST tabernacle had come to an end. The Law had been "abolished."

We have passed THOUGH the FIRST, and have entered the SECOND. The barrier has been removed, and the FIRST has been destroyed behind us. We now sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We sit IN our High Priest at God's right hand.

We sit. In God's presence. In the SECOND place. NOT in the FIRST. God's presence, NOT God's law rules our lives.

We have entered into HEAVENLY places, and the EARTHLY law of Moses no longer applies.

Part 2:

There are a few other things that I'd just like to point out quickly. In the FIRST area, the items were all OUT in the open. In the SECOND area, the three main items are WITHIN the ark of the covenant.

The Ark with its Mercy Seat is Christ. Within Christ, the believer finds resurrected life (Aaron's rod that budded), daily spiritual sustenance (the pot of manna), and a new way of life (the tablets of the Law).

The tablets of the Law represent God's NATURE, His character. The FIRST tabernacle HAS BEEN set aside (the rent veil proves this), the Law has been abolished, but God's nature has NOT been changed.

The tablets within the Ark symbolize the character of God, his holiness flowing out of who he is; holiness is the firstfruit of Love. This character, this holiness, is NO longer to be found OUTWARDLY; it is IN CHRIST. It is INSIDE the Mercy Seat.

And, as we have Christ within our hearts, the laws of God are also inside our hearts. We are partakers of the divine nature after all, and that nature is Love. Love is shed abroad in our hearts.

And THAT is the rule we live by.

I hope this helps. Next time perhaps I'll writer about those cherubims :)

P.S. So saying that God has written his laws upon our hearts is the same as saying that the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost is the same as saying that we are partakers of the divine nature...which is love :)