The church is

The Church Is.

© 2017 Leo J Woodman

“The church is not in need of reformation or restoration, nor  is it emerging. It has always been and will always be… those that gather around the crucified Christ. The church is.” – Leo  Woodman

 

To apply labels such as reformation, restoration or emerging to the church is to label it as being formed, shaped or coming to into being via man’s will. Yet we would claim to be only bringing about what the Lord had planned for His church from the beginning. The thought that man somehow is more capable of bringing about the Lord’s will more than He is, is to overstep our bounds with immense arrogance. Jesus said He would build His church, so we should not to presume that humanity has deconstructed it. As if that were possible. If the gates of hell or hades cannot prevail against His church, how can humanity?

 

The church must be something other than what we imagine it to be. It must be more than what we claim it to be. It must be beyond the ability of man to form or destroy. Jesus said He would build His church on the bedrock statement that the apostle Peter made… “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Although Peter made the statement, it did not originate with him. Jesus said; “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”1 God Himself gave Peter the revelation about Jesus. The bedrock foundation for Jesus’ church was from heaven, not from man. The origins of the church is not from man, but from heaven.

 

For millennia man has sought to control, manipulate, reform, restore or bring into being the church Jesus established in His own blood. As Jesus was teaching His disciples how He would die he made this statement… “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”2 Not only was He speaking of how He would die, but how He would build His church (His assembly). The cross, His death on that cross and His resurrection draw all people to Him. They are not drawn to an institution, organization or movement. They are drawn to Jesus Christ and Him crucified. They are drawn to the one that died for their sins. Drawn to the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. His church is built on Him, the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

His church came into being the day He gave himself for the sins of fallen humanity. His church is.

 

We need to look at the word of God to see the way His church would be built up from the bedrock of His sacrifice. Jesus Himself makes statements regarding how to draw people to Him. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”3   He commanded His remaining eleven disciples (apostles) to go and make more disciples from all the nations of the world.

 

In order for them to make these new disciples they had to share the good news (the gospel). They had to share what they experienced as they learned at Jesus feet, and what they witnessed at the foot of the cross. They had to share Jesus Christ and Him crucified with those that would listen. And when they came to believe in the Savior being preached to them they were to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. After these new disciples were baptized they were to be taught all that Jesus had commanded His apostles. Jesus and His commands built His church, it was not of human origin.

 

The how, where, and when of the building of Jesus church was revealed to the apostles by Jesus Himself before returning to heaven. This is what occurred before Jesus ascended to the Father… So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.4

 

Everything occurred just as Jesus said it would. Luke records the events of the building of Jesus church in the Acts of the apostles.When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.5 The apostles received the Holy Spirit Jesus as said they would, on the day of Pentecost. From this point forward they began to be the witnesses Jesus had said they would be. Beginning with Peter’s first address to the crowd gathered in Jerusalem.

 

Three thousand that had heard Peter speak about Jesus as both Lord and Christ believed, became disciples and were baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. The church was being built on the bedrock statement “Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God. Peter had preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and three thousand were drawn to the lifted up Christ! The church (assembly) of believers had begun in Jerusalem. Immediately the teaching of everything that Jesus commanded had begun… And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.6 Such a simple and humble beginning.

 

Luke records in Acts the the beginning of the persecution of the church that spreads the apostles teachings to Judea and Samaria just as Jesus said would happen. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.7 The building of the church continued unabated even though the powers that be in Jerusalem were absolutely against it. They were fighting God Himself and they would not win, as Gamaliel the Pharisee had warned them.

 

The apostles by way of their teaching and preaching had witnessed to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as Jesus had commanded. Soon their witness would go to the gentiles and the ends of the earth. This happened through the apostle Peter going to the gentiles first in his meeting with Cornelius  and his household, and later with the apostle Paul and his companions taking the apostles teaching to the rest of the world.

 

The church’s foundation is Jesus and His commands. It is continuing to be built to His standards. All believers are drawn to the crucified Christ. This truth has not changed and cannot be changed. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one will get to the Father except through HIM. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”8  The apostle Peter’s proclamation rings true today and until Jesus comes again.

There is no other name. The church is.

 

(all quotes from the ESV)

  1. Matthew 16:17
  2. John 12:32
  3. Matthew 28:19-20
  4. Acts 1:6-9
  5. Acts 2:1-4
  6. Acts 2:42
  7. Acts 8:1
  8. Acts 4:11-12

 

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Time doesn’t heal anything

time heals all woundsTime doesn’t heal anything

 

Time doesn’t heal anything

Time like wind and sand  bury  everything

 

But the wounds are right below the surface

They are bared every time the wind blows in the right direction

 

Time shapes and shifts our lives

But the past protrudes through the sand, a painful projection

 

Prayer is the balm for eyes of the heart

A salve for one’s protection

 

Man’s actions hurt and maim

Leaving others crippled and laim

 

God’s love covers all

A bandage for wounds great and small

 

Turn to him when the scars feel too deep

When darkness around you creeps

 

Know His love for you runs deep

Go to Him when you weep

 

The Father’s love will sooth the pain

He’ll help you get back on your way again

 

© 2017 Leo J Woodman

 

Uni-cultural

“Uni-cultural”

An essay

Following the great flood there was only one language. Genesis chapter 11:1-9 tells the story of a people with one language working together as one, until God confused their language. Language and culture go hand in hand. Language is a particular speech of a particular culture. God saw that the people were united because of their language and decided to confuse their language. When he did this they went their separate ways because they could no longer understand each other.

 

After going their separate ways; new languages, and cultures developed. The people of the world were no longer unified by language and culture, they became strangers and foreigners to one another. The world had gone from unicultural, to multicultural, from one community, to multiple communities. With the linguistic barriers came cultural barriers. The world would not be the same.

 

Division amongst the “peoples” of the world reigned from that day forward. I say “peoples”, but in all reality there never has been peoples, but only a people. Those that have been created in the image of their creator, one race. Webster’s defines race as

: a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock

: a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics

The definition list family, tribe, people, nation, stock, class, kind, interests, habits, and characteristics as markers of race. That list shows race is based on relationship and commonalities, not on a true genetic difference. The “genetic” difference is more about exclusion of others by distance, belief and culture. The imposition of “racial” purity, by the exclusion of those that are not “like us”.

 

Due to our ignorance, and arrogance we keep others at bay because they are not like us. We determine that someone is of a different race because they aren’t born into our family, tribe, people, nation, stock or class. We forget that those supposed racial differences are cultural, not genetic.

  • We humans depend heavily on our cultural Differences to give us identity. Just consider the way many Americans identify themselve: Native American, Irish American, Italian American, Asian American, African American and on and on it goes. Many Americans identify with a land, language and a culture they have never experienced first hand. In many case they are multiple generations removed from their cultures, yet they identify with it. It fascinating when you think about it.
  • Culture gives one “identity”. Humans crave identity some so much they will even claim to be a nationality, or “race” they are not remotely related to in order to find their identity. In recent time some have been found to claim that they are something they simply are not. Even when confronted publicly with their charade they will cling to their false identity. Even when taken to the level of national exposure “white” people have clung to their claim of being “african american”, and native american.

Jesus in his sacrifice has given all people in all places the opportunity to find their Identity and become one people, one culture. A uni-culture tracing its roots back to its creator. “All are one in Christ” as the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Galatian church. All are one, period. Paul makes it very clear in Galatians 3:26-29… So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.(NIV)

When people truly turn to Christ, becoming his disciples and follow his teachings there is no longer a multitude of religions, classes or cultures. There is only one Kingdom culture. It is the fulfilment God’s promise to Abraham thousands of years ago. In Christ the events of Genesis 11 are reversed, we become a people of unity and oneness again in Jesus. The Apostle Paul speak of this oneness, this unity in his letter to the church at Ephesus. Ephesians 4:1-6… As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.(NIV) All believers are called to be one, uni-cultural.

There is no room for divisiveness in the “Kingdom culture”. All religions, race, nationalism, sectarianism is to be done away with as we become the one people of God the Father. We have all been drawn to Jesus. So let’s do what the writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us to do… Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) We must remove the weight of multiculturalism within the body of believers.

We will never find our true identity in the world . We will only find it in Christ Jesus.

 

© 2017 Leo J Woodman

 

Mockingbird in the Mulberry Tree

Mockingbird in the Mulberry Tree

Saw a mockingbird in the mulberry tree this morning

He sang sweetly as he greeted the dawn

 

Many other birds flew by this bright morning

He remained while the rest had gone

 

He found a worthy opponent in the windshield of my Jeep

He flew in for a closer look

 

He bobbed and weaved and leaped

Crept up on him with a left hook

 

The bout finished he returned to his perch

Satisfied he’d deterred his foe

 

Watching the sky he did search

For any other that would have a go

 

© 2017 Leo J Woodman