Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pleasing and Acceptable: Allowing the Word of God to Define the Definitions: Part 7


* Remember to read the previous parts of this series first

To wrap up this series, I would like to present to you a short parable in order to make this a bit more understandable, if you'll allow me. Imagine if you will that today is your birthday. You have told me for 30 years that on this birthday, more than anything in this entire earth, you desire for me to give you a jar of strawberry jelly (I know this is seemingly silly, please follow along). You have told me that it is all that you want from me and it alone would please you. Nothing else could even be received, you said, so be sure to get it right! You even told me where to get it and how to present it to you so that I could fulfill your birthday wish.

When your birthday rolls around, I present to you a beautiful bag that I adorned myself with ornate gold and purple ribbon. I say "Look at the beautiful bag! I made it myself just for you" You respond, "It is what's inside that matters to me. It is the contents that I desire!" I hold it up to you and I open it and before your eyes you see a jar. As I turn the jar around you begin to see a label. "Peanut butter? You have given me a jar of peanut butter? What is this?" you ask in disappointment. I respond with, "Well I know what you wanted but I thought I'd just do this instead. It's still a great gift, right? Everyone told me that peanut butter is what everyone is giving these days! Aren't you excited?" You hang your head down low and say, "You have given me a jar of peanut butter. I cannot receive this gift for it is not even allowed in my presence. You could even say that I am allergic. I'm sorry, I cannot accept this gift. I am greatly disappointed. You must leave my presence now. You have been told the one thing that I would accept and you have failed." As tears roll down my face, nondescript beings come to escort me away from you. They ask me to open a small pantry door to my left. As I do, I peer in and see an endless sea of items within this vast pantry that seemingly has no walls. It is full of everything you could ever imagine. As I set the jar of peanut butter inside the pantry, I softly close the door. As I look above the door I see a small label and begin to weep. It simply states, "Unacceptable".

This, my friend, is what we have done and in fact are doing, to our LORD. We are bringing Him gifts all wrapped up in pretty packages yet the contents cannot even be allowed into His holy presence. It looks nice and we think it is great but in His sight is unacceptable. Will we continue to give our offerings out of obligation and law? Will we continue to offer up unacceptable worship because it is easy and costs us nothing? Will we continue to meet with the Body as we deem right even if it opposes the Word?

I am no poster child for doing it all exactly right. You will not find my name if you look up the names of those who have perfectly exemplified Body life. I have much to learn and it is a process. My ongoing challenge – am I learning? Am I consistently willing to leave behind traditions of men for the biblical plans of God? Words cannot express how grieved and even downright angry I get when I see what is labeled acceptable "Christianity" in my generation. It's in magazines, bookstores, television, "church" campuses, "Christian" music - it is everywhere! Nearly all of it completely contradicts His Word. I cannot say it enough! I would scream it from the top of my roof if I thought anyone would listen! I would buy an ad in the biggest magazines and newspapers in the world if I could! The fact is however, few will hear what the Spirit is saying and be willing to change. Few are willing to bring an actual sacrifice of praise. Few are willing to allow God to dictate what is acceptable and what is not. Few will even consider forsaking all that they've known to be Christianity and embark on a new journey of rediscovery. What we see in the Bible is what we see today. Few will see. Few will listen. Few will step out of the lines of conformity and go. Will you? I daily remind myself that I have enough areas within my own walk to address. I too have religion that was engrained within me. I daily seek to forsake what I like and exchange it for what my Father desires. It will ever be my life process, to live as Christ.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

For those of you who might say, "You know what, it is time that I step out and see if there's more to Christianity than what I've known" and desire to move in this, standing upon what the Word deems as acceptable unto God, I encourage you to address your mindset, not your actions. It is all about the origin, not the resulting actions. Turn your innermost being to the LORD. Change your mindset by putting on the mind of Christ. Formulate what your Christianity looks like according to the Word of God. Results will come when the origin is right. Walk by the Spirit. Be moved and guided by the Word of God, not by the trends of what the majority have deemed to be right and acceptable. Allow the LORD Himself to be your primary Guide and Teacher. Envelope yourself with people that model what the Word defines as acceptable unto God. Most of all, ask the LORD to speak to you, to direct your paths.

He is longing for His Bride to awaken and see. He is longing for Her to release worship that makes its way all the way to His beautiful throne. He makes the rules. He says what is worthy and what is not. We can no longer be ignorant when He has told us what He desires. We must be obedient. All that we do is for Him. Many have joined in on the discussion throughout this series. Many have asked "how" and "where do I begin". As difficult as it may seem, just go! Step out! Dare to see if there's more! Just what if a vast land that you never dreamed of awaits you and you never ventured out to see it? It is all about what our Creator desires and what He has deemed as acceptable. There can be no other way for those who truly desire to live for Him. No subsitute will ever satisfy. We must seek to be found holy, pleasing and acceptable in His sight above all else. May the LORD unveil our eyes to see all that He desires us to do and be!


Tessie said...

You said, "a vast land that you never dreamed of awaits you " and that is how I feel! It is amazing and wonder~full! I enjoy your blog, Joel. Thank you.

Harriet said...

Beautifully said Joel!!

There is so MUCH more than we could ever think or imagine awaiting us!
All we have to do is seek HIM.
He will show us our wrong thinking, and reveal our hearts, and lead us to His heart.

I thank you for these blogs too.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Amen! A beautiful analogy. It is not about what we want, but all about what is pleasing to Hi.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Correction to previous comment:

It is not about what we want. It is all about what is pleasing to Him.

Joel Spencer said...

Tessie: I'm so glad to see others who are walking in freedom. Thanks for letting us know you 're out there!

Harriet: That's just the thing, there are new treasures unearthed daily in this land of freedom! He will continue to reveal more and more of Himself to all who will approach Him as He desires.

Daughter: I don't think too many of us were trying to figure out who "Hi" was, but thanks for clarifying just in case. ;)

bpk said...

(I posted this here in order to make sure it gets read, even though it addresses comments from older posts within this series)

Daughter of Wisdom, My heart cries as I read what you are saying. I so wish you lived next door so that I could see you face to face and share with you and love on you as your sister. Your heart for the Lord and for His truth is so heard as you write. I know you are wanting to understand what His word says and what HE desires for you. I commend you on this.

I want to respond to some of what you said. I can only share what I have experienced and I pray that you understand from the get-go that I have never been hurt or bitter at the church when discovering the Truth of the Word.

Ok…Is it the time? Oh my goodness, if you could be in my house on Monday nights and see how the true body works and how the love multiplies and how JESUS is high and lifted up, you would see that the dim part we get on Sunday at the building has no comparison. We all come here and we know it is not about us and what we can get and how we will feel when we leave. We come all with one purpose and that is to glorify the LORD. It looks different every single week, none are the same. One week it may be praying several times, one week it may be one person is hurting and we focus on that person and pray or counsel or reason together in a solution, one week it may be quiet and just a few verses here and there, one week it is like last Monday and we had 16 (not important about the number, but show my point) and 14 of the 16 people brought something to the table…wow! No matter how small of a part of the meal, we had 14 that placed food on the table. But let me add, the 2 that did not speak brought something as well. They could have been praying, one was listening and it was a blessing to watch his wheels turning and it made all of us keep in mind that we need to make sense as we share.

Anyway, what I should say is that 16 people came and 16 people participated in one way or another. This is not possible in the building, we go out just feeling good when we had an emotion that touched us during the singing part of worship.

To mention the way I felt when I left the system…well, Joel put it well but I will add. I was a leader and a deacons wife and I gave my life to working for the system for 22 years. I thought that when I left the traditional church and did a contemporary church that I was free from religion. I was so wrong! I thought because I could lift my hands and I could wear my shorts on Sunday morning that I was free.

Oh my goodness (As annie says). I was so deceived. Well, I went to a church and knew that it was for a short season and God started showing me how we have fallen into the mindset that some how the church in the building is about us. I knew the truth 6 months before agreeing with my husband and leaving. The first 3 weeks, it was like what I would imagine coming off of drugs. I just needed a shot, another high, another fix, I did not know what to do with my freedom. I was scared! After 3 weeks and seeing how much more sweet my time with my Father was, I started settling down and seeking more truth. It took about 3 months for me to truly believe what the Word says and then I was done.

Yes God is working in lives of so many in and out of the church. He can do what ever He wants, He is God. But I believe that as I have studied, that God can do so much more in the soil when it is not bound by man made religion.

Daughter of Wisdom, I understand your concern, I see the desire. Get the book Joel mentioned and then maybe the one after that by the same author “God’s Ultimate Passion”. You will see and HE will show you what HIS passion really is…..and I can say that it is not the church as we see it. He wants Us and HE desires all we have, not traditions and doctrines. God bless and I am praying.

bpk said...

To Lauren who said it is like a dream…it is not a dream. God can and does really work in a body as Joel described. Not just here but in other places I have had contact with. We have been meeting for over a year and have not yet had any issue that took our eyes off of the purpose for us to be here. I will share the miracle we saw this week. Our shyest person here spoke up and has shared for the past 2 weeks. She has been here for 8-9 months and it was the sweetest words we heard all night. Praise God for a 14 year old who wants to find the heart of God. God used her here to complete His plan for us on Monday. Wow!

Anyway. Don’t give up! If any of you are anywhere near GA email Joel and come on by. Harriet came one time who is on here…”Hey Harriet” We got to meet part of our family when they came! I love everyone in here as much as my family, God continues to bring our community to us and us to them. Praise HIM!

Sorry to ramble but it is so awesome to hear all of your replies and to see your hearts for God.

Joel Spencer said...

bpk: Thanks for sharing your experiences. More people need to see and hear that this life of freedom is real. It is not arrogance, disgruntledness or rebellion, it is simply desiring to walk this life as God defines to be fruitful and accept no imitations.

We have found freedom. We have found life. We have found purpose. The LORD is truly revealing His Body.

Jimmy said...


I left the organized, religious, positional church eleven years ago after serving ten years as a pastor. I've found body life among believers in such special ways and beautiful ways that words cannot describe the sweet fellowship. For me to go back would be to die. The commandment of God is to "come out" not to "stay in". It was for freedom (mostly freeing us from sin, satan and the religious traditions of man) that Christ has set us free. The greatest freedom I ever found and experienced was the freedom from organized religion.

Home church can be just like Sunday organized church if people pursue the same agendas. Humility, servanthood, me last instead of me first ... no position, no power and no money involved ... love deeply and share life. Christ in us...the hope of glory. It's the new wine in the new wine skin we're pursuing ... and that journey can be scary, lonely and difficult at times.It's who awaits us at the end that makes it all worth it. "Well Done" is the goal of all whose hearts burn white hot with passion for the lover of their soul.

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion (those trapped in religion) ... we were like those who dreamed ... then our hearts were filled with laughter and our mouths with joyful shouting and they said among the nations, "the Lord has done great things for us". I've been freed from being a captive in Babylon (a false way to salvation / a false way to heaven/ man's religion)... I'm rebuilding Zion. The one thing the captives who chose not to leave Babylon forfeited was the joy and blessing of rebuilding Zion.

Joel, I'm glad I've got to walk the journey with you. You are one special brother and a true man of God. I'll love you forever.

Joel Spencer said...

Jimmy: Life outside of the city walls is surely a bountiful land. Here grows Kingdom fruit and all who eat of it grow into the true sons of God, capable of being an Ambassador for Christ. It is a journey I would not trade for anything. Thanks for sharing a small piece of yours here.