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Hello All-

My most recent post was to inform all of our email followers and wordpress.com followers that I  (Brian) would be blogging at our new website http://www.cellsoflife.org.  We have gone through and attempted to resubscribe all of the email followers (we are not able to do that for those that are following through wordpress.com).  A confirmation email was sent to you.  Take a moment and ‘confirm’.

If you have not received a confirmation email please 1) go to the site (www.cellsoflife.org)  2) click on the subscribe button on the right side and enter your email address.

All new posts will be at http://www.cellsoflife.org.  The site is not complete but the blog is up and running.

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The Bed of Recovery to the Chair of Recovery

Surgery: The Bed of Recovery to the Chair of Recovery

The subject of our series has been surgery.  It is the progressive process of healing.  Practically speaking surgery is the process of systematic incision purposed to extract something that is causing pain, or that has the potential to cause a fatal and tragic end.  Surgery removes that which hinders the experience of promise.

I heard a story (what we call testimony in the church) from a good friend and person I love dearly about the move that they made from their recovery bed to their recovery chair.  They had come through the surgical procedure.  They had been wheeled into a room that was prepared for them to begin their recovery process.  They knew that the process was to take some time but they were not completely prepared for the beginning of this process.

The room was not a room where they had privacy to recover.  The room was not prepared for an individual.  To their surprise they found themselves in a room shared by “victims” of surgery.  “Victims” of purposed incision.

They spoke about how it took some time for the numbing agents to subside.  The incisions of the surgery were painful and there presented a need to be medicated to aid the pain from the surgical procedure; and  as they came to their right mind they found themselves lying in a bed designed for their recovery.

An interesting thing to consider is that when we go through a spiritual surgical procedure where God is removing or has removed something from us that was a part of us for so long that it may leave us on our back for a period of time.  Laying on our back for long periods of time will also cause a new pain.  The pain that is experienced from lying on this bed of recovery is an indication that it is time to “change positions”.

When someone lies in a certain position for a long period of time the body will become stiff.  This stiffness occurs because there is a lack of movement.  This stiffness happens because the muscles in the body become accustomed to the position that they are in, but we must remember that the bed is only a phase within the process of recovery.

As I reflect on the person I wrote of above I remember they told me that their body began to “reject” the bed.  Their body was telling them that the bed in which the were lying was not helping the recovery and was now causing pain…so they moved from the bed to the chair.

As the “professionals”  came in to assess them, that is the doctors and nurses, and suggest that they move back to the bed, their response was simple…”I will move from this chair, but I am not getting back in that bed.”

Sometimes in a believers recovery process they will get to a point that they realize that the bed in which they are lying is now a new source of pain that is not aiding in the recovery but is, in fact, hindering that very process.  We must move from the bed to the chair of recovery so that we are not lying down hoping for healing but that we are sitting up expecting healing.  Moving from the bed of recovery to the chair of recovery is evidence that we are active and willing participants in the process of recovery.

Recovery is the process of surgery that prepares us to become a glorifying agent and manifested testimony of the work of the Almighty in whom we have placed our trust.  We cannot lie in a bed hoping for recovery without moving in faith expecting the hand of the Lord to be evident in the testimony that we hope to become.  We must declare, as my loved one did, “I will move where ever you tell me, but I am not getting back into that bed!”

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The Table of Exposure

Surgery: The Table of Exposure

So far we have considered what it takes to prepare for surgery and the fear that we have to face prior to surgery. I will further define surgery within this context as we contemplate laying on the table of exposure.

Surgery in our context here provides an allegorical perspective of the process we go through in moving through phases of spiritual maturation.   The preparation phase is that place we come to once we realize that surgery is necessary.  The fear phase, as described in the previous post, revolves around the inevitable changes that will take place in us as a result of the surgery.

Surgery is the sanctifying process the Lord performs in conforming us to the likeness of His Son.  In this process we will find ourselves uncomfortably vulnerable in uncontrollable situations.  This is the table of exposure.

At the time of surgery a person must allow themselves to be completely exposed.  They lay upon a table as the doctor(s) and the assisting team invade their body.  The one on the table is in their most vulnerable state, whether conscious or unconscious, having no control of the hands of the surgeon.

Laying on the table is a voluntary action, as being exposed to God should be for the one whose hope is in Christ.  It takes laying on the table of exposure to have the things that keep us from living a life to Christ “removed”.  The table of exposure is that place where a believer allows the Lord to place them on the path to discipleship.

The table is the beginning of the healing process.  The thing about healing is that before you can be healed you must be broken.  It is the process of brokenness that we often attempt to avoid.  However, in order to experience healing we must be broken.  In order to experience a break through we must be broken through and through.

Being broken is not something enjoyable because it always leaves scars.  Every surgery leaves scars.  Every place of exposure ultimately leaves memorable and often visible scars.

As we lay upon the table of exposure we realize that something is going to be “cut out” of us.  We should remember that no matter how many “surgeries” we must endure, and no matter how many things get “cut out” of us we are never left with being less of who are but less of who we were and more of who we are.

The table of exposure is the beginning of the healing process.  We must experience brokenness to be healed.  On this table we must, as singer DeWayne Woods declared, let go and let God.  Our victorious life is connected to those things that die from within us along the way — those things the Lord will “cut out”.

Scars are evidence that you have allowed yourself to be vulnerable, exposed and cut.  More importantly though, scars are the evidence that healing is real.

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Its not you Its Me

No, It’s not you…It’s me

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine posted on facebook a response to a comment where the person suggested that they were the type to quickly snip people from their life  at certain crossroads.  His response indicated that he was guilty of holding on to people and relationships far past their “expiration date”.  So that started a reflection process for me.

Change is the only constant that we truly experience in our lives.  Change is guaranteed to happen whether we like it or not.  Generally I embrace change.  This is true in almost every area in my life except relationships (I realize that I am probably the only one that is like this).  This has deep roots for me.  It is not with all relationships that I have this struggle but it is for a significant amount relationship types.

My general thought is this: there are some people that I want to do life with.  The key word is bolded.  A more accurate statement is that these are people that have obtained a certain status with me based on history, circumstance, like minded-ness, etc.  The bolded word is simply the indication that I, like most, do not expect that everyone that I am in relationship with will be life long…many will be seasonal.  No, I am not completely crazy…

That being said changes in relationship with seasonal people is always fairly easy.  This is true with considering relationships with organizations.  Our commitment to organizations may be based on several things which may provide a particular perspective to be formed about our relationship with the organization.  This simply means some places we can leave with no problem while other places require more motivation and thought before making changes.

As I reflected on my friend’s statement I saw a major flaw in me.  ( This doesn’t happen often 🙂  At least, I consider it a major flaw.  I, like my friend, held on to relationships beyond the expiration date.  My question to myself was “why”?

The answer was very simple.  As a matter of fact the spirit of the answer was similar to another life motto that governs me “don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do”.    The same is true in relationships.  You are to people who they “say” you are.

My biggest issue is with me.  Not that I didn’t know the above before, because I did.  I recall getting upset with people because they changed how they interacted with me.  I chose to hold on with an expectation and hope that the relationship could be salvaged or restored.  Truth is people have the right and prerogative to change decide how they will relate to me and anybody else…even if I am the perfect friend that you should never want to be without – LOL.

Actually, my disappointment in myself was not any “new” revelation that a person has this right and privilege.  My disappointment was that I seemed to expect those that I have chosen to do life with to define what that looks like the same way that I do.  That is my major flaw (well, one of them:).

Ultimately it doesn’t change me completely but it certainly changes something in me…I am just not sure what that is.  What I do know is that before I give the “life-tag” to anyone I need to make sure we are defining the term “do-life” in the exact same manner.

My commitment to people, organizations, etc. is not rooted in them but rather it is how I am wired.  Being vulnerable is a willing side effect to the desire I carry to build life relationships.  I do not believe that all changes in life change relationships.  I do however, recognize that people change based on their circumstances and that can be a catalyst for changes in relationships.

Well, I have no idea what all this means LOL… I hadn’t written on the blog for a while so maybe I just needed to write something.

I do know this though…  I am retiring the “life” tag for a while on any relationships – Business, Personal, Ministerial, etc.

No, It’s not you…It’s me.

Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

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Cultural Christian

Cultural Christian

What does it mean to be a Christian?  There are certainly several opinions of what it means to be a Christian today.  We are most definitely in a Postmodern society and often it appears that the approach to the Scriptures for some has “evolved” into what is more palatable within the constraints of societal popularities.

There is a view that the Postmodern Christian must be able to operate themselves in the context of what is acceptable while keeping their “values”.  A great example of this is the way the media made a mockery of Tim Tebow, essentially to prove that a Christian must “stay in the closet”, but adversely proclaim the heroism of Jason Collins.  Since we are a civil and supremely intellectual society I am sure there was no intended double standard — and everything on the internet is true.

The Cultural Christian is an interesting species.  They reduce the gospel to a message of values and principles.  For the Cultural Christian “judge not lest ye be judged” is the sum of the biblical message which, in the context of modernity, is applied to the disregard for the biblical standard of holy living.

The Cultural Christian strips the truth of the Gospel message in order to be acceptable to those that reject it.  The Cultural Christian embraces the environment often at the expense of the responsibility of being the “salt of the earth”.

It is definitely a strange time that we are living in if you are “Bible Thumper” — essentially that means that you believe in the Holy Writ and the message of Jesus Christ and that you desire, as God does, that none should perish so you tell other people of salvation through Christ Jesus.  We live in a time where we are to accept everything and stand for nothing.  We live in a country where there is free speech with the following disclaimer – as long as you don’t say anything about morality as described in the Scriptures.

Cultural Christianity is practiced by people in every facet of American society.  From the pulpits through the pews… From the outhouse to the White House.  Cultural Christianity holds a doctrine that focuses on following the teachings of Jesus and not Jesus.  It sounds the same but it is vastly different.

In its subtlety following the teaching Jesus is not the same as believing on, trusting in and relying on the finished work of Jesus at Calvary’s Cross ( a fairy tale story for the enlightened ) since does not require a commitment beyond a statement that Jesus had a good message and He is the Lord.  Following the teaching of Jesus does not change the heart of a person, as we can see by the actions of several high ranking officials that claim to be Christian not excluding the commander in chief.

It is however in this modernity that people will quickly attempt to impute Matthew 7:1 because of in retaliation of my previous without considering the basis of the statement — even James 2:14-17.

But I digress… The point is not to solicit opinions but merely to expose this Gnostic sect that call themselves Christians.  Well I am not a Christian if this is the “new normal”!  I declare that I am a Follower of Jesus Christ!

For the cultural christian church is something you  fit into your life, for the follower it, like the Synagogue, is at the center of your life.  More clarification is needed here but we will save that for another time.

Here’s to being a good old fashion sold out believer in the life and timeless work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of those that will submit to His Lordship believing against the practical-ness of life on a Hope that can’t be explained or learned but that must be revealed! (Matt. 16)

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A Traditional Death

A Traditional Death

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to read an article at Christianity.com by a former Professor of mine, Eric C. Redmond, titled “When You Sense Your Church is Dying“.  He also wrote on his blog under the same title where he referenced the article and gave some other comments and indicated that he had recently had an audience of three new believers within the 25 to 35 age bracket.  I do not know if that age bracket was the intended target audience for the article.

As is my experience with the Prof his article was thoughtful and thought provoking.  Ironically, a few days before I read the article I tweeted the following message “I would rather watch a church die from the outside than be apart of its death process“.  After reading the article my position remains unchanged.  That is not because I didn’t think the article had validity.  I know it does and I would encourage many to read and take heed to what is being communicated.

Redmond’s article encourages us to stay in a dying church situation providing us six considerations: 1) review the basics if the gospel 2) look for signs of self-interest 3) be slow depart 4) seek ways to give sacrificially 5) Avoid grumbling at all costs 6) pray for a Spirit-wrought revival.  These 6 things are all important (read the article).  The third is one of the most important in my opinion because I believe that in our culture today we move now and think and consider others later (Eph 5:21).  This way of responding counters much of the gospel message.

While there are several things I thought the article brought out I can’t say that I completely agree with everything that is said, at least without considering other contexts that people may be enduring.  The article seems to assume something about the person that is considering or in the process of leaving a dying ministry.  It assumes that the person is not being led by the Spirit.  Again, this may very well be an intended assumption and I readily admit that some are not but I don’t assume that most are not.

Many local assemblies operate in some form of denominationalism and/or traditionalism.  I attend such a church.  When a church is dying I would suggest that we look at why are they dying.  Why does it seem that so many churches that are preaching the gospel (the sound doctrine of the gospel) are finding themselves dying?  I would contend that many churches that are dying find themselves dying because they are stuck in “doing church our way” and are unwilling to make real significant changes to lovingly engage this dying culture (1 Cor. 5:9-11).  Oddly, this attitude of separatism is centered in today’s culture. (note: separatism should not be understood in the same light as sanctification — that is be separated for holiness unto the Lord for His purpose)

Unfortunately, we ask people to just accept the church as is and we often ridicule believers that want more out of their church experience.  I am the first person that will encourage a person to stay since their Spirit-given gifts can aid in turning around a dying situation.  However, if the board and congregation continue resist using a person then they may need to go where they can exercise their gifts.

The “this is the way we do it here” heart is not a godly heart at all.  Most churches do not even consider that several things that we call tradition are less than 100 years old; certainly less than 200 years old.  What was church like before then?  This also means that someone was a church innovator and took the way “we do church” and showed them  “a better way”.

Were these now traditions based on a response to the culture in which they lived?   It is more than likely.  Have we considered that at one time having an organ in the church was considered demonic?  Today you will be hard pressed to find a worship service without music because the dying churches died.

Should we allow traditionalist to thwart emerging leaders under the guise of “you have to put in your dues”?  The funny thing is the “dues” are rarely, if ever, defined.  They are often an ever moving target that is finalized by the death of the predecessor.  Many churches lack leaders because we resemble the world in our qualifications.

I agree that we should very carefully consider the body of Christ when making a decision like leaving a church.  I also believe that we must carefully evaluate the willingness the leadership and congregational culture if we are considering staying in a dying situation.  An unwillingness to move forward kept Israel living between the Red Sea and the Jordan River.  That is, they were exiled from bondage but unwilling to go into the Promised Land therefore they were living between the rivers (that would preach).

In tradition we find the richness of church history and doctrinal formations and positions. But when tradition becomes the only way we do church because “this is the way we do it here” then we could find ourselves dying a traditional death. When this is the case I would rather watch a church die from the outside than be a part of its death process.

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