Monday, April 13, 2009

Standing Up, Standing Out

People often contact me with concern over my challenges to the Body of Christ. Some do so kindly and gently, others get downright ugly. On occasion, I am even charged with creating great discord within the Body. I cling tightly to the Word when I challenge Christians to a higher standard and even, at times, to resist conformity. I believe that the Word of God is offensive, confrontational and absolute. It alone is my measuring rod and my plumb line. I place no value in comparing myself to my neighbor, whether they are “godly” or “worldly” for neither are my model and guide. My goal, my focus is to be like Christ – period. Anything less than this is unacceptable and I, to the best of my ability, strive to only cling to what will produce His attributes and characteristics as the result.

I have come to realize over the last three years that living a life where you only seek to allow God’s Word to guide you can be quite tough. When you allow It to formulate your doctrines, beliefs, expectations and discussions, you will, without question, encounter adversity. What I did not know however is that the majority of the adversity that I have been confronted with has been from professing Believers. Many Christians hold so tightly to their denominational doctrines or their own personal opinions that they become greatly agitated at even the mention of turning them loose. This grieves me, my friend. To give a personal example, mere hours ago I was told that I am “hard-headed, self-righteous, self-seeking, hateful, devil-deceived” and “heretical”… all in one afternoon – all by professing Christians.

Why? Because I challenged the common Christian perspective of how we view Jesus and often miss the great depth and width of God’s immaculate plan. Several of those who contacted me did not even read the article addressing the topic because they had “heard about what it was regarding” and that was enough. My friends, I don’t say this in order to receive your pity or your endorsement. I say it to explain that unless the Body of Christ realizes that She is settling for elementary teachings, She is headed for a great fall. We have become satisfied with repeating empty prayers and sitting idly by as “clergy” and “ministers” do the “work”. It is time for the spiritually deprived Christianity clones to awaken from their slumber and move into becoming Christ-like Believers who will not waiver or settle for anything less than the fullness of what God has for us.

Christianity is so far from its origin, basic biblical truths seem like heresy! It is time for the Body to realize that being "radical" is simply adhering to what God deems as acceptable. We don’t need reformed. We don’t need reorganized. We don’t need new programs and ideas. We need to return to what Christ told us His Church is to be.

I want to be clear – I am not here to coerce or convince. I am here to point to the Truth. I am here to say, are you willing to look at what the Word says about matters and really allow it shape you? Will you set aside your presumptions or personal feelings on matters? Don’t believe the implied lie that you are not capable to study the Word for yourself. Don’t buy into the lie that looking deep into the mysteries of God is opening yourself up to deception. It is why I am alive! It is why I exist! It is my purpose to uncover the treasures that my Father has hidden throughout the ages! We must remain teachable and open at all times to what is presented via the Word. I was recently told by a great friend, “If a doctrine, a belief, an opinion... if it doesn’t line up with what you study in the Word, throw it all out… all of it - period.” What fantastic advice that we should all adhere to.

The bottom line is, I am learning to be more interested in pleasing the LORD than I am in pleasing men. It goes against everything I know. It often seems wrong. It often seems arrogant. It often seems prideful, but never before have I known such peace. Never before has the Spirit of the living God been so evident in my life. Never before has my purpose and destiny been made so crystal clear. Never before has the Word of God become so alive. Never before have I dared to go beyond what is easy and embraced by the masses. Never before have I stood up or stood out as I do today. Never before have I been an Ambassador for Christ, my King, my LORD, my Everything. He is truly making all things new. All praise, all glory, all honor, all that I am is due Him. It is all about Him. All of it. Everything. He is I am.


Harriet said...

Praise God!!!


natalie said...

You Challenge me. Always In a good way. I have been doing word studies on my own. It takes a while, but its pretty interesting. I had trouble at first because I didn't know what to study. Thanks Joel : )

Resting in Him said...

Joel I want to remind you - prophets in their day were not welcome most of the time. They looked funny, sounded harsh and were often greatly frowned upon, not by the pagans but by the ones who should have known better. Today nothing has changed. Anyone who stands and declares what the Lord says without dumbing it down or making it sound sweet will face troubles. We are people who despise correction, few will listen. Be encouraged, it will be worth it all.

mark-main said...

Keep on challenging Joel. It's needed. Those protesting the hardest are probably the ones that need to be challenged the most.

Joel Spencer said...

Harriet: Thanks for the hugs! lol

Natalie: Praise God that you are doing your own word studies! It is incredible every time what the origins of the Word are. Just allow the LORD to be your Guide and you'll never be lacking something to look into! Thank you for commenting.

Resting: Much of what you've stated is what I have been reading in the Word lately - Ezekiel in particular. One cannot "choose" what they are called to but we can choose whether or not we embrace it. I continue to ask the LORD if I too am in need of a "forehead as flint". Encouragement received and appreciated!

Mark: The thing is, I just don't think I could shake it if I wanted to. The voice of the LORD is crying out, we must hear and heed what the Spirit is saying, whether we like what we hear or not. There is a greater plan that we are in the midst of - it is so much bigger than you and I. Thanks for your words to push on!

unrelevant said...

How convicting. I just had a situation this week where I seriously called God into question. Of COURSE He came though. But my faith was so weak and my attitude so bad that I couldn't handle the pressure without having an outburst.

Like a Mustard Seed said...

"Don’t believe the implied lie that you are not capable to study the Word for yourself. Don’t buy into the lie that looking deep into the mysteries of God is opening yourself up to deception."

Man, may more and more people out there hear these words, take them to heart, and be freed by them...


Anonymous said...

As I read this, I immediately thought of the great men and women of faith – those mentioned in the Bible, as well as the great saints of a later time – and when you review the lives of those who dared to be different, those who were willing to ‘go against the flow,’ those who were willing to stand up and stand out, those who were willing to be radical for the for the cause of Christ, you will notice one similarity: opposition. Anyone who is willing to stand up and stand out in the midst of a society that is filled with a lot of carbon copies, it will always attract opposition, persecution, and yes, many critics. Often times, people don’t enjoy or like it when someone else is willing to ‘go against the flow’ of things and be authentic. While this type of person will attract some favorable people, he/she will also attract many critics (or should I say ‘haters?) (haha) Look at our greatest example - Jesus Christ. He was the most REAL, bold, and radical person to walk this earth. He stood up for what He believed in and it caused Him to stand out drastically from those around Him. It attracted positive attention, but it also attracted a lot of negative attention. It caused Him to have many followers, but it also caused Him to have many enemies (haters). Sadly, there are so many people (both outside and within the body of Christ) who are satisfied with their mediocre life. There are many who enjoy hearing the Word of God, but they prefer a ‘watered-down,’ ‘pat me on the back,’ ‘make me feel so good about me’ version. So when shakers arise within the body of Christ to propel them forward into a more real and deeper relationship with the Lord, it begins to ruffle some feathers. No one likes to be challenged when they are comfortable, complacent, or cold. No one likes to be shaken with they are satisfied with where they are. No one likes to be moved from the place of mediocrity. No one wants the waters stirred when they are enjoying the sail down the sea of complacency. It’s so sad, yet so true. That’s why for those of us who the Lord has called to be shakers and movers within the body of Christ, we have to keep on keepin’ on with the Lord. As long as we are being obedient to what HE said, then He will take care of all our critics (just like He did with Joseph, David, Esther – and so many more). One of my favorite quotes is by Tommy Tenney – which I actually posted as my MySpace and Facebook quote for today…how timely…lol) is this: “I don’t care if I offend you as long as I don’t offend HIM.” So many people within the body of Christ are so afraid to share the entire truths of God’s Word in fear of offending someone. As long as we are being Spirit-led and motivated by love and compassion, we should never be afraid of offending someone with the TRUTH. There will always be people who get offended regardless. That’s why we are to represent Christ boldly and unashamedly - no matter the cost and regardless of who rejects us or may get offended! May we all make it our aim to represent Christ boldly and unashamed! May we all strive to please Him and Him alone! Though none go with me, still I will follow…no turning back, no turning back. Whatever the cost! Whatever the price! I didn’t mean to write a short story (lol). Great post.GOD bless you my friend! GO with GOD, Chrystal

Amy said...

I fully support you and am right on the same page as you, my brother! Speak the Truth that the Holy Spirit reveals to your heart, what you encounter in your relationship with Him, and what He shows you through Scripture. Like you, I desire to be a Truth seeker and receiver and sharer and liver!

You are not the only one (sadly) who has been "talked to" in a manner that is not truly in a spirit of love about what you've been written. I just say this to encourage you, my brother, that yes...sometimes the Truth, will not be "heard" or taken gratefully. I am not saying I know all Truth (far from that), but rather, that some walk with hearts that are not open. My prayer is that both I, and others, will receive Truth and live it out.

I especially loved the last paragraph here of your blogpost. You summed up much that resonates with my heart, too.

~Amy :)
Walking In The Spirit

Joel Spencer said...

Unrelevant: I surely don't think it is wrong to cry out God for answers. (Read pretty much any of the Psalms.) We are all learning to live by the Spirit, so I encourage you to continue on the journey!

Mustard Seed: It is freedom indeed. Good to "see" you again in these parts.

Chrystal: You said a mouthful. Anything that is accepted by the masses always makes me question "why?". The real Gospel never appealed to all peoples in days past - It does not now - nor will It ever. It charges us to face the reality of who we are and who we are not. Only those who are willing to take a good hard look will find It.

Joel Spencer said...

Amy: Thanks for the comradery. I do not doubt that there are many who are hearing what the Spirit is saying in this hour. It is however the epitome of the "little flock" that the Word speaks of.

We press in, we press on - it is not about responses or results, it is about obedience alone. Thanks for stopping by again!

NINA said...

I enjoy reading your blogs because you address things that are not traditionally addressed but are found in the word. I found that most of the time it causes the readers to look beyond traditions and what they have been taught by man and come to their own truth. If nothing else they force people to come out of their comfort zone and seek the truth for themselves through the word of God. So I think you have effectively achieved that which you are set out to do. However, even though many people claim to be in disagreement, there is something that keeps them reading though there responses may not be positive. I myself would not respond to nor would I keep logging on to a blog which I felt totally contradicts the word of God. Why would I? The only reason would be because I was not confident with my own truth.When I first ran across these blogs I was skeptical because of some responses you made in another persons blog. As I read I realized that the titles did not actually describe the contents of the blog. I started out reading with my guards up and then realized, hey this guy is saying something. Your belief was just as I believed. Though you may have worded things differently or used a different route to get to the same place where I was we both met on common ground. Either way we were on one accord and there is only ONE truth. The body of Christ needs to get it together on one accord. Because no matter how you get to it, there is but ONE Lord, ONE faith, And ONE baptism. Most of all, ONE truth.

Joel Spencer said...

Nina: The key is are we daily ready and willing to listen to the voice of the LORD. What I grasp as absolute truth today may be old news five years from now. The mysteries of God are forever unfolding.

May the Body of Christ understand that She doesn't have everything already worked out. It is time for the repititon to end and the revelation to begin!

Anonymous said...

Have you ?

(Act 19:2) He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

(Act 19:3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

(Act 19:4) Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

(Act 19:5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

(Act 19:6) And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

deaconandusher said...

Usher: Hey Deak, when will this type of chatter walk into the "church" buildings, bear its face and proclaim to the masses the truth?

Deacon: Most are not ready yet Usher. The four-wall-church thinks it has it all together. This is why they scorn people like Joel. They call it "sewing discord" or being "disgruntled" or "questioning authority".

Usher: Isn't that what Jesus did?

Deacon: [silence]

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous: Um, yes.

Deacon: I like your creativity. Thanks for sharing it here!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for so many refreshing words of truth. What you speak is so freeing. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36 It is wonderful to be FREE.........

Jerry said...

This has got to be one of the most RIGHT ON blogs I have ever read brother....SERIOUSLY! It makes one think, reevaluate, and correct ones self, literally! This is something that needs to be read over and over again. With many people, the truth hurts, but what they forget is that the truth also heals. Great blog Joel!

In Love and Peace,

Nichole said...

Ok, so I came to read your Garden of Eden and Jerusalem blogs, but my attention was caught on this one first. I just studied on some verses in comparsion to this blog. This blog, We share this in common. Here is a scripture I would like to place here.

This is what your blog is speaking about to me:

Matthew 15:3,8-10 3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 10And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Ok, so where is the world now, and many "believers?"

2 Timothy 4:2-4 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Ok, and here is how we are to "judge" this:

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

What are we to do about unsound doctrines?

2 John 1:8-10 8Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

Joel Spencer said...

Jerry: The way I see it, love takes on MANY forms. It is not all "butterflies and rainbows" you know. I've found that although my watchmen-ish calling, if you need to call anythinbg, is not usually well-received. But I say, who is calling the Body to a higher standard? Who will step out of the flow of the masses and evaluate what we've deemed as "church"? I'm glad to see the comradery though, don't get me wrong. I know that the Shepherd is calling out His little flock and I'm proud to be alongside you as we follow His voice.

Nichole: I just feel that my whole life has been "toning down" who I really am ya know. I am called to stand and declare the voice of the LORD. Your clearly stated Scriptures sum it up well.

As you said, it is our responsibility to stand up for what the Word states as Truth. Social acceptability and false unity have prevailed in the Body for far too long. Thanks for sharing!