Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reaping Nagasaki

By Ramone Romero


This picture above came on August 9, 2008 as I watched the Nagasaki peace ceremony on TV. I didn't understand the picture, but wrote my thoughts about what "Nagasaki" means to me, primarily centering on the things I had not known.

Nagasaki is a mere footnote in most American history textbooks, mentioning only that the plutonium-based bomb was more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima. I didn't know the bomb had exploded over a church full of 850 Japanese Christians, or that over 8,000 Christians died in the blast. I didn't know Nagasaki was the historical center of Japanese Christian history and its countless martyrdoms during the Tokugawa government persecution. I wrote what "Nagasaki" illustrated for me: that we shouldn't demonize our enemies, but instead should love them, forgive them, and seek to know them. As Christ taught.

But those were just my feelings & thoughts. The picture God showed me had been something of an enigma: Was it actually a picture of the Nagasaki bombing? The foreground showed destruction like the bomb caused, although the wood would have been quickly burned. But why the remaining roof-like part? And why the hill of the 26 Martyrs?

Behind that destruction, the picture portrays Nishizaka hill, where on February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians were crucified (twenty Japanese, four Spaniards, one Mexican and one Indian). They had been arrested in Kyoto and Osaka for preaching Christianity, and had been marched through the snow to be executed in Nagasaki, so as to make an example to the large Christian population there. Today they are known and revered as the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki.

But other than the tragic ironies of history (which abound in story of Nagasaki), I didn't know what the picture meant. I only knew that I was moved in the Spirit as I saw it, and was moved in the Spirit as I tried to write about it. When I shared the picture with my spiritual mum back in California, she began to wail loudly in the Spirit with such intensity that she was very surprised. She sensed God's heart of passion for His children and it broke her heart! She couldn't read all of what I wrote because the Spirit was so heavily upon her. I couldn't understand why we were moved in the Spirit. So I waited and moved on with life and with God.

Uncomfortable Answers...

This year (2010) when anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima arrived, my heart compelled me to make a new picture about the bombings ("Nothing I Can Do"). After I had finished and written about that picture, I wondered about this two-year-old picture, "Nagasaki". I prayed about it again, and God said it was time to share the meaning with me.

When I first painted the picture, I had a feeling that it was about things in the future. When I prayed about it I felt the Lord say that more martyrs are coming, more atomic bombs, and more twisted justifications for these things which will result in again more of them. "Martyrs" is perhaps not a descriptive-enough word. "Sacrifices" is more appropriate, because the torture, maiming & killing of the people of Hiroshima & Nagasaki was justified as having been done in order to save American lives. It releases an even worse fragrance to know that the bombs were dropped by people who claimed to be Christian, and righteous-sounding prayers for protection of the crews & mission were offered in the name of Christ before the atomic bombers took off.

This kind of rationale will be used again in the future by various nations, particularly ones that will use it against America. It wasn't just atomic bomb power that America unleashed in 1945, it also unknowingly unleashed a powerful, twisted justification to excuse inflicting untold horror on people. This was fine with us (Americans) when we were the biggest guys on the block and the only ones who could throw atomic rocks, so to speak, but it will feel much different being on the receiving end of it.

Things We'd Rather Not Notice...

I just watched a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) on TV give a speech at this year's Nagasaki ceremony. He had been a student at the time, but he said that it was well known that students like him weren't at school then. They were at factories making munitions. The whole country had been mobilized and swept up in the war effort, just like back at my home in America, probably even moreso in Japan.

I read a book called "The Bells of Nagasaki" by a Japanese Christian named Takashi Nagai, who himself lived through the Nagasaki bombing and died from leukemia. He told of how the Japanese Christians had supported the nation and the war, and he repented of how the Japanese had not esteemed or valued human lives. He saw the bombing as a wake-up call to Japan and humanity to value one another's lives. In fact, Christianity in Japan had been systematically pressured for almost fifty years prior to the war to compromise its worship and support the Japanese gods and government. By the time the war arrived, almost no organized Christian groups had survived with an uncompromised gospel because they could not withstand the threat of persecution from the Japanese government and the social pressure to conform to nationalism.

That doesn't mean that any of them deserved the bomb. Not at all. God called us to love our enemies, not nuke them. War is political and is difficult to sort out. But the atomic bombings took things to a new horrific level. And worse, the nation dropping the bomb tried to excuse, justify and defend the new horrific level.

There is a message in "Nagasaki" for Christians everywhere, but particularly in America. In Japan the nation had been swept up in nationalism. Organized Christianity in Japan was also caught up in the nationalism. It is very like America today. Organized Christianity is often political and intertwined with "America" and certain political parties. The gospel is being compromised left and right, being swept away by political aims and platforms. What happened to the Christians of Nagasaki and Japan will also happen to the Christians of America if the gospel continues to be compromised and made to serve nationalism and politics. When the church loses her heart and soul (the gospel), she has no more testimony in the world, and all the world hears is the nation's voice. There is no witness of love in action or deed to offset whatever negativity the nation may be acting out or speaking out. The church then suffers with the nation when the sins of the nation return upon it. In the same way, America has wounded many countries and peoples (often in the name of being "benefactors" to them). If Christianity in America blends with nationalism instead of standing up to repent when America sins against other nations, how can Christians in America avoid suffering when nations retaliate against America for her sins?

Not all the Christians in Nagasaki were bad. Not even all the ones swept up in nationalism. It's the same in America. Not all Christians --even ones blind in nationalism-- are bad. Not all intend to dilute and subvert the gospel. Many, many, many are innocent and being led down a path that they don't know ends in inviting great suffering on the church and nation. Just like Nagasaki, what will return upon America will destroy the innocent and the guilty together. Atomic weapons are no discriminator of persons. Of course God has ultimate say of salvation. But is it His desire for us to invite such suffering on ourselves -- whether innocent or guilty? I don't believe so.

The Lord told me that the destroyed wood building in the foreground is a church. This painting and its interpretation are for the church, especially in America.

"We Are Making Martyrs..."

The hill of the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki speaks the same message. Christian persecution in Japan began when the reigning warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi suddenly changed from favoring the Christians (whom he'd previously even built a seminary for) to ordering them out of the country, and then crucifying the twenty-six in Nagasaki. Hideyoshi had published an edict expelling Christianity, in which he listed several reasons or offenses, but most historians agree that Hideyoshi didn't really care whether Christians stayed in Japan or not. In fact, after the crucifixion of the twenty-six, he didn't really carry out more persecutions (the heaviest persections and exterminations came with the next goverment, the Tokugawa family). Hideyoshi simply wanted the Christians to be subjugated to him in politics, loyalty, military power and support. Hideyoshi destroyed the lives of the 26 in order to terrorize Christians into subjugation (ironically like America used the destruction of lives in Hiroshima & Nagasaki to terrorize Japan into surrendering).

When we hear about all the martyrdoms that happened in Japan (likely in the hundreds of thousands during the Tokugawa era), naturally we want to honor their faith and revere their memory. We think of them as innocent. In the same way that we think of the Christians of Nagasaki as innocent. But just like Nagasaki, it was actually the innocent and the guilty being indisciminately destroyed together.

The Catholic Jesuits who brought Christianity to Japan often attempted to convert people in society from the top down. They converted several warlords to Christianity who in turn converted all their subjects, often at swordpoint. The previous ruler of Japan (before Hideyoshi) had been Nobunaga Oda, who had shown great antagonism towards various Buddhist sects, but who had shown great favor to the newly arrived Christian missionaries. When Nobunaga persecuted Buddhists, and later when Christian warlords destroyed Buddhist temples and made their subjects become Christian, the Jesuits marveled in letters at the "zeal" of these people and the "favor" God was showing the Christian faith in Japan.

Christianity actually was a significant power or political threat to Hideyoshi's rule in Japan, even if only indirectly. That's why he wanted Christians subjugated. Of course, in his official edict he listed various things the Christians had done (against temples) and taught (against Japanese religions). But the bottom line was simply power, as it is for most wars & leaders in almost all generations. However what he put in the edict and the list of grieviances the political Christianity had rung up shows that the Christians had given easy ammunition and excuses for their enemies to attack them. Granted, people will attack Christians just like Christ was attacked even though He preached love and grace, but we should not always assume that any attack on us is automatically the same thing as what happened to Christ or the apostles. First we must check to see if we have actually grieved our human brothers and sisters somehow. And if we have, we should "leave the altar and go and be reconciled to them", as Christ taught us.

Two months later, when I was weeping and painting another picture (about the Iraq war), I suddenly remembered this "Nagasaki" picture and felt that the two pictures were connected, but I didn't understand how. I heard this word in my spirit and wept in the Holy Spirit, that "We are making martyrs today."

The words "We are making martyrs" refer to how our politicizing (corrupting) Christianity is going to produce martyrs in the future when what we've sent around returns around to us. It is the same as how the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki suffered in large part because Christianity had been politicized and had become a political power. It is often said that actions speak louder than words, and in the same way the wounds our nations inflict (often in the name of God) are the loudest testimony against us. And when enemies attack, the innocent among us will suffer and be martyred. We are arranging for the future suffering and martyrdom of our own innocent when we set aside the gospel and strike with the sword today.

Ammunition Versus Deterrence...

In the same way that Hideyoshi listed peoples' grieviances with political Christians in Japan before persecuting them, in the future enemies of America will list peoples' greviances with America (and its political Christianity) as they attack America, even with atomic weapons. However, unlike Hideyoshi, many of America's enemies will not simply aim to subjugate America. When another friend saw the picture, two words came to him: "Fresh start." I didn't understand at the time, and hoped for a positive application even though the picture portrayed horrors. But it's a word about why many enemies will attack in the future. Some of them will attack in order erase America, in order to have a "fresh start" without America. The sowing of destruction and eventual reaping of destruction progressively increases in horror and violence as the years progress. Although many people become wiser and more humane as the years progress, sinful hearts also come up with newer justifications for wars and inflicting terror on enemies.

It is a cycle. If you use terror (including terrible weapons like the atomic bombs), you give ammunition to your enemies and future generations who will use your own excuses and rationales for such terrible acts against you. Again, as terrible as the horrific effects unleashed by the atomic bomb were, equally terrible is the unleashing of excuses & rationales for committing such an act. The twisted logic of the "justifications" for the bomb are harder to erase and eradicate than actual nuclear weapons themselves. Even though weapons may be eliminated temporarily, if the twisted 'justified' logic survives, then the weapons will be built and used again. Tragically, it is inevitable.

In grieving prayer, I asked the Lord if this can be averted. I believe some of it can, but not all of it. Much of the damage is too far done to be undone. Great, massive repentance is the biggest deterrent. But repentance is also one of the hardest things to do for proud nations such as America. Pray, and pray, and pray. And repent. Repent to all who will hear. Love all, and show it over and over again. I believe this is the best way to minimize the amount of bombs that will be used, but more importantly, it is the best way to witness to hardened hearts and save many of them for the eternal Kingdom.


See also: Justifying the Sacrifice of the Innocent

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bitterness in My Homeland

By Ramone Romero

Ahhh. Recently on Facebook I discovered the relief of the "hide" button in my newsfeed. I was growing irritated at the number of "friends" who kept posting note after note about Obama becoming Hitler or the US government trying to oppress its citizens, etc.

Just today I met with a friend from an actual totalitarian country and heard again some of how life really is under a real totalitarian government. The Tea Partiers or Tenth Amendment folks would say it's the same as what's happening or about to happen in America. But it's paranoia and fear speaking. Not facts at all. Of course they have their data which they find to confirm their suspicions. But it doesn't matter what the facts or data say. They'll find something to make themselves even more upset and afraid, whether it exists or not. When I think of the reality of what my friend's people are going through back in their country, this kind of talk from the Tea Partiers is simply insulting to actual oppressed peoples.

The United States is nothing close to a totalitarian society, nor is the government anywhere near totalitarian. Obama—faults and all—is nowhere near Hitler, and conditions in America are nowhere near what they were in pre-war Nazi Germany. However, the psyche of many people in America *is* similar to that of Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany was able to take hold of the national psyche through fear of "threats" and fanning national pride. Fear and suspicion abounded. In America today the strongest similarity to "Nazi Germany" is the atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and plain hatred among the Tea Party and conservatives.

The hardest thing for me is seeing this coming from people who call themselves "Christians". Last night I mused to myself that maybe if a Republican becomes president next time around, my "Christian" friends might go back to proclaiming the gospel in their online comments instead of posting up profanity-laced articles about Obama. But if a Republican is elected, likely the evangelization efforts of my friends would simply transfer to the conservative agenda like when they supported Bush.

Many "Christian" friends have said they don't give Bush a pass. It seems they think they have learned their lesson: now their gospel is just "don't trust the government". But they don't realize they were not hoodwinked by Bush or Cheney or anybody. It's not about rights, and it's not about the Constitution (as if it were the 28th book in the New Testament canon). They were hoodwinked by paranoia, the spirit of fear, and national pride. Being "anti-government" hasn't freed my "friends" from fear, pride, and having their passions easily manipulated just as they were prior to and during the Iraq war.


My friend I mentioned earlier who is from a totalitarian country longs for his people. He aches for them and wants them to be free and happy. The people who are controlling the country are crazy, he says. And they are. They're full of fear and suspicion, and their hatred comes to the surface all-too easily. My friend, living here, must watch his country's drama continue thousands of miles away. The tragic thing is that I am starting to know how he feels. I'm watching things in America from thousands of miles away. Just like the agents of the government in his country are full of fear, hatred and suspicion, in the same way the "movement of the people" in America (Tea Party, etc.) is full of the same kinds of fear, hatred and suspicion. America is not moving anywhere near totalitarianism yet, but this kind of spirit is laying the foundations for it in the future.

One day a week my Christian "friends" get together in churches and listen to the gospel, sing about it, and maybe even speak it to one another. They rejoice in God's grace, in the love He has given them, in the fact that He did not count their sins against them. They rejoice that God's love for them has born all things, believes all things, and has not rejoiced in their evil or kept a record of their sins. They behold this grace and give it to one another... once a week. And then they go out and show it not.

There is no greater threat to the United States than the church setting aside the gospel of God's grace in favor of political empowerment. And there is no greater damage "Christians" can do to the cause of Christ than to go on setting the gospel aside while proclaiming Christ's name at the same time. Christ's name is being blasphemed among the nations because of this. The nations abroad, the nations of unbelievers at home, and the nations of people who are Christian but move away from "Christians" because of the amazing un-grace coming out of "Christians".

Around the time of the election I had a dream that I saw Obama in the presidential office, but his face was darkened. Not in color, but in heart and spirit. When I woke up I thought it might be a warning dream so that I could pray that he not become evil or corrupt in some dark spiritual way. Yesterday I remembered that dream and did something that I had not done the first time: I asked God about it.
What was the darkness? Was it that he became evil or corrupt?

"No, not that."

What was it, then?

"He became hardened and embittered."


"Because Christians hated him so much and did not show him My Son or My grace."
The sad part is that if any of my "friends" read the short dream I shared above, cynically they would simply exclaim that Obama is already evil and corrupt. But they felt so before he was even elected. They would have felt the same about any "Democrat" elected. There is nothing I can say to them, nothing anyone can say. It is a spiritual problem. They might admit it is good to "pray for Obama", but after that moment of benevolence is passed, they'll go on wishing he was dead, cursing him and joking about what should happen to him.

The Bible warns us to guard our hearts against roots of bitterness which can spring up and defile many. I'm watching many hearts being defiled—and the gospel being defiled—from thousands of miles away. I'm grieving and crying. Part of me cannot bear to watch it, so I'm hiding newsfeeds and deleting "friends". It's too frustrating, and trying to talk rationally does no good. I am not going to argue about it. I'll just pray from now on.


"Reaching Across"

The package of "truth" is nothing without God's love. And without God's love, we don't know what God is actually doing. We start to miss what He's doing. And like many Jews did in the gospel story, we may eventually disown Him. In fact, it wasn't that the Jews had things "right", but rather that salvation was coming from them, and that salvation was Jesus. And He came not because of them, but in spite of them.

How often do we pride ourselves in our "group"—that we know God and "they" don't? How often do we pride ourselves that we are moral people because we have "the law", and that "they" do not? How many people have been wounded by our judgment? How many people have not gotten the aroma of Christ because we gave them an aroma of judgment instead? We have God's word, and His word will be spoken. But is His salvation going to come to non-Christians because of us or in spite of us?

Look, He's reaching out from the crowd, from our crowd! Many of us are judging, and although He is among us, He is reaching out. He sees there are some people hurting on "the other side." Some are rejecting Him, but some are hurting. Others are confused and just don't know. Many of us don't care. Some of us "in His crowd" see what He's doing. Some of us are angry. Some of us are being moved and having our eyes opened. But without waiting for us, He is stepping across the border. He is standing in the gap. He is reaching across.

What are we doing?


See also: "Give Freely!"

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Thought Not to Passover

By Ramone Romero

Recently at a prayer meeting a friend excitedly showed me a news bulletin she got from a certain church. It was filled with things about this or that prophetic season in your life—based on the cycle of the Jewish year, the old covenant festivals, events in ancient Israel, etc. While I can't remember the exact words or events, I think I can write in the same way as an example:
PASSOVER is coming up soon. Look for seasons of deliverance in your life. God is about to vindicate you in the eyes of your neighbors and those who have treated you wrongly. Be sure to give glory to God when this happens. There will be "plunder" that God will give you. Expect increase in your finances especially. This will be the beginning of a new journey, a new level in your spiritual walk. Do not look back to Egypt but continue to go forward, for this day is the Lord's Passover!
Is it just me, or does this kind of thing read like a horoscope?? I was shocked and horrified as I read the church news bulletin with two pages filled with things like this. I do believe God speaks prophetically today, and yes, I know He can take any event or word in the Bible and speak to us today with it, even at times out of its original context. But to try to align, order and predict our futures by the ancient Jewish calendar or the events of Jewish history? Does it make it okay simply because it's done with the Bible instead of with star charts?

More disturbingly, this kind of exercise misses the fulfillment. It fails to recognize that these things were shadows which pointed to the Messiah. Hebrews chapter one speaks of what was revealed to the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament as having been revealed in various parts, but in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, Jesus, who is the exact representation and out-shining of His being. Jesus is God's "word" to us today!

Each festival pointed to Jesus. Each event of ancient Israel's history pointed to the coming of Jesus and the fulfillment of all things in Him. Colossians chapter two says that the festivals, sabbaths and even the foods and drinks of the Old Covenant were shadows of Jesus Christ!

Are we not like the parable of the several blind men holding different parts of an elephant and making wild conclusions and assumptions without seeing the larger picture? When we take our eyes off of Jesus Christ and return to the shadows of the Old Covenant to try and discern our future (or the world's future), are we not choosing spiritual blindness? Although God told us explicitly in the New Testament that the festivals and events of Israel's history were meant to lead people to Jesus Christ (the "elephant"), in effect I think we are saying something like this: "Yes, God, You say it's an elephant and to look at the big picture, but I know there is more to this, so I'm going to pick it up and look closer at it because that's the way!" Meanwhile Father just wants us to rest on top of that elephant—to rest in the fulfillment of Jesus Christ and let Him carry us by His Spirit to new, unknown and unsearchable things and places in our lives.

After the prayer meeting where my friend had excitedly showed me the horoscope-like church bulletin, I walked back to the train station alone, nearly weeping as I walked because I felt the Spirit grieving so much. Sitting on the train home I asked God if I could draw a picture about this, and He gave me one. It is called,

"Back to the Wilderness"

It's a picture of a boy holding a scroll-like map with a Star of David on it, his footprints zig-zagging this way and that in the sand. And in the foreground is the Cross, and the white dove of the Holy Spirit is perched on the arm of the Cross, watching and a tear falling from His eye.

The boy is many of God's people in the churches who have considered "the cross" to merely be elementary, a sort of "entrance thing". They have thought that the more "advanced" teachings and "way" is found in looking at the ancient festivals of the Old Covenant. And in the world today, they are also trying to navigate the "end times" according to the literal nation of Israel today. They don't realize that they are walking in circles, and have gone back to the wilderness. They have returned to walking in uncertainty, walking in the flesh and in the law instead of walking by the Spirit and by faith.

While the picture applies immediately to looking to the past festivals and events of ancient Israel to find our way today, it also equally applies to looking to present-day "Israel" in order to discern God's "times", His movements in the world today, and what will happen in the future in the final days to come. God has given us the "way"—it is His Son—and now we are called to walk by the Spirit instead of according to the circumcision of the flesh. The Holy Spirit is waiting for us back at the cross! It is not about a holy day, a holy "land" or which people in the world are "holy", but it is about the Messiah Jesus who Himself is the Holy One!

A final thought. Maybe you, your church, someone or some church you know is getting excited that "passover" is approaching at the end of this month. Maybe you're looking for deeper meanings (deeper than "It represented Christ"). Or maybe instead you're praying for the nation of Israel today. Maybe you want to celebrate "passover", or maybe you want to find some Jewish people nearby so you can show them that you "honor" them. Here's an idea for you and your church:

When you see a Jewish festival approaching on the calendar, why don't you pray for the Jewish people that they see Jesus as the fulfillment of the event? Why don't you cry out to the Lord to open their eyes to see that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away their sins? Why don't we cry out to the Lord to show them that He Himself is their promised land instead of a strip of perishable earth in the Middle East? Instead of looking for other "ways" or supporting their desperate efforts to find fulfillment in their land, why don't you pray that they see that Jesus is their only true "way" and that they can find complete fulfillment and everlasting rest in Him?


See also: "Where is Your Center?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Included!

By Ramone Romero

Please click to read the writing on the batteries

Recently as I was taking a bath, God began speaking to me about the "power source" of most churches not being included in the New Covenant. We know that the gospel speaks of the freedom of the Spirit and about giving love freely. However we wonder how in the world this good news will be "financed", and have felt like it was a sort of "batteries not included" situation. The way that the church did it in the book of Acts doesn't seem secure enough or safe enough for us. So we've reached back to the Old Covenant to find the "tithe" batteries so that we can power our churches and keep them running.

For a Spirit-led study on the subject of "tithing" in Christianity, please read my spiritual mum's booklet at this blog: Transformed By Truth

When I showed this picture to Hazel, she had this to say:
While looking at your picture right now I'm getting that many church leaders see the tithe as their life insurance policy that everyone in the church must get plugged into, just in case depending on the promises of God in the new covenant gospel doesn't pan out materially speaking... Without the "tithe power" church leaders are afraid that they will cease to function as a church. They're afraid they will have to close the doors, and that their material livelihoods, and their lavish lifestyles will be at stake...

The "sheep" are the "tithe power" that pay for the shepherds lavish lifestyles, and keep the church life going. Those "batteries" are constantly needing to be replaced and recharged... so low in some churches that they can no longer function as they did before and are having to close down shop and lay-off workers.

Since many church leaders can no longer hear God's voice in these matters, they use their own voice (as the voice of God) to spiritually abuse the sheep that are under their care, fleecing them, even sacrificing some for their own selfish means. Many have not been a shepherd to the sheep under their care, but have behaved more like a ravenous wolf, devouring the weak sheep so that they can no longer walk, but have to be carried.

The sheep are being made weak by not being taught how to discern God's heart for themselves through the power of the Spirit, but are always having to depend upon someone else (a leader or anointed person) telling them what to do, and what to think, and how much to give. Pretty much like our government's welfare system. It's a "Big Brother will take care of you if you do what I say" kind of thing, instead of teaching people to rely on God's Word for themselves, and letting them know that they can each hear God's voice for themselves and don't need to come to another "anointed" leader to be told what to do in these matters.

In fact, it's God’s heart that many churches do close their doors because they are a great hindrance to the work of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They are not plugged into God's power source, the Holy Spirit of Truth, but are relying on themselves for power. Man's power supply quickly runs low, but God's doesn't. Moreover, since the church building isn't the church, but believers in the body of Christ are, God is preparing the hearts of more and more believers to start more and more house churches. I believe that these little "islands of power" will replace more and more of the organized churches that have become dead wood, because they have fallen away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe that even the bad economy is working to God's advantage to achieve His ultimate purposes in releasing His children from spiritual bondage to man-made doctrines and traditions in many churches. Although much has been hidden up until now, God is bringing everything out into the light... everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Only our sure foundation, Jesus Christ, will remain. As long as we are found in Him, and plugged into Him through His Spirit, we will remain also.
I was surprised to read Hazel's reply because the "dead wood" thing she said explains why I was impressed to make the church building wooden!

The "storm" with lightning striking is God's discipline coming to "knock out" the ungodly power source. His storm is not meant to hit us, but rather our dependence on flesh and the old covenant.

But, the more we try to 'protect' this power source, the more we ourselves risk getting struck by lightning! He wants to knock out the false power source, not us, and replace it with Him Himself—the Holy Spirit of freedom and life! He's calling us to willingly repent and so detach ourselves from flesh, old covenant and feeding off the lives of our spiritual children, otherwise He will have to "strike us" (or flatten us) in order to fix things.

I need to pray:

Lord, You know all things and You know our hearts. Often we know we're stretching things when we try to find "tithe" in the New Covenant. But then we go further in to convince ourselves, and we want the congregation to be convinced, too. God, so often we've quieted that little voice in our heads that said, "Hey, this doesn't quite fit the context"... and that little voice was You, Lord.

Forgive us, Father, in Jesus' name. Forgive us for trying to extract support from the sheep when You meant them to give willingly. Forgive us also because when we have reached back to the Law for the support of its tithe command, we cut out "the poor" that You meant to benefit from tithing in ancient Israel, and we said tithe was meant to support our church institution instead of being given to the needy (ancient Israel was commanded to give a significant portion of it directly to the needy).

Forgive us, Father, because when we preach to people about "giving", it only rarely if ever means "giving to the needy". The whole topic of "giving" in church is reserved almost exclusively for giving "to the church"—to the building, pastors, leaders and ministry projects.

Lord, please enable Your children to see the truth and to take the daring leap of faith to allow Your people to provide for leaders and ministries freely without being under compulsion. Teach us the greater blessings in store for us when we live by the Spirit alone instead of by the letter of the Old Covenant Law. Please open our eyes and convict us, Holy Spirit, and please do so before it becomes time for You to discipline us, in Jesus' name, amen.


See also: "Depending On Darkness"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Lord, I dedicate and consecrate this page to You, in Jesus' name. Use this place, this space, to share Your heart for Your people that You may share Your heart for the world through us. Call us to our knees here, Jesus, in Your love. Bend us, Lord, that You may touch the world. Open our eyes to see ways in which we have hindered You, and grant us courage to come to repentance, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.