Tag Archives: centrality of christ

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

“While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.” Mark 14:3

I’m not gonna lie to you.  There are things that I just don’t like about the way in which the Lord works with us.  In time, I do see the wisdom and the genius in it, but I have yet to grow accustom to the periods in life where the Lord is breaking you like the woman’s alabaster jar.  It does help to remember the breaking is for Jesus.

Maybe you’re like me.  I keep thinking about what’s in the jar… and the aroma that will fill the room.  I like those moments.  I often find myself trying to skip to the “good stuff”… wanting to leave the jar the way it is.  But the Lord is concerned with the process of breaking vessels.

If you’re looking for a big theological word… it’s called “sanctification.”  It’s being continually fashioned into His holy image.  For He knows the aroma is the reward of a willing piece of clay.  He is that aroma.  And His fragrance comes only through a crushing blow to our souls.

I have been giving this a great deal of thought.  I think the nature of this process is interwoven into the very fabric of the Triune God.  I don’t know what all that means yet.  Nevertheless, I do believe that it is somehow rooted in the community shared by the Trinity.  The Lord of heaven knows about self-denial.

Yes, the Lord must grow us up into His image through self-sacrifice.  It is what exists between the Father, Son, and Spirit.  Without a continual denying of self, the believer will not be fashioned into His image, nor can he be built together with other living stones.

The sweetness of the sacrifice will never come unless there is a willing disciple who is broken and spilled out.  The Potter makes us and therefore has the right to break us.  And that breaking can only bring forth a glorious display of His beauty IF we will surrender our constant obsession with self and learn the altruistic faith that unlocks the depths and riches of Christ.

I’m learning that I can give up my desire for control and hand the reins of my life to Christ.  He has relieved me from my post of being the watchman of my own soul.  You know what I’m talking about?  You know… that feeling when fear and uncertainty set in. It causes us to scramble.  It says, “I’ve got to do something!”

“For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against my enemies.”  Psalm 61:3

If I can only remember the Lord is not only the watchman of my soul… He is the watchtower.  I climb the stairs of this tower… I see the Lord there… and he reminds me that He has indeed relieved me of my burden.  I’m not the captain of my soul.  I’m not the “master of my fate.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist it. But for those who willingly submit, the yoke is easy and the burden is light.”  (The Cost of Discipleship, p. 37.)

I guess it’s just really difficult to grasp.  Lord, did you really mean your “yoke is easy” and your “burden is light”?  Have you really taken care of all my needs in one sweeping victory?  Will you cloth me like the flowers of the field?  Is your well really that deep?  Living water?  Lord!  Help me to receive it!

Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” And I cry out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

So… I start my descent back down the tower… taking what the Lord has shown me.  He knows I’ll be back soon.  And He never grows tired of my coming.  He never grows weary of reminding me how much He loves me.

It reminds me of the movie 50 First Dates (2004).  Lucy (Drew Barrymore) was involved in an accident that caused her to forget everything about her life.  She could be reminded of who she was, but after she slept during the night, she forgot it all and was back to square one.  (The movie is worth watching… check it out.)

Henry (Adam Sandler) loved her so deeply.  He decided that he would make a video for Lucy to wake up to every single day.  The video would remind her of who she was, where she was, who loved her, and whom it was that she loved.  Henry was committed to having his bride fall in love with him all over again… each and every day.

Henry reminds me of the Lord.

This truly is the greatest mystery to me: the Lord’s ability to bring life out of death; an empty tomb after a bloody cross; a new man from the mud and mire of a self-centered existence.  And He does it over and over again… new creation breaking through the old.

There is not a word in my vocabulary to describe the creative power and foolish magnificence of my Jesus.  And no matter how often we forget it… the Lord is patient and his mercies are new every morning.  He is glad to begin again with us.

Things move much slower in the Lord’s economy.  Not only is the Lord slow, as we consider slowness, but His way is foolish.  He moves when we sit.  When we are weak, He is strong.  When we fall, He rises up.  When we stop, he starts.  When we die, He lives.  Are you getting the picture yet?

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”  Psalm 127:1

So… relax.  Stop trying to make something happen in your life and in the church.  Let go!  Enjoy the Lord where you are… in the season He has you.  He loves you.  Trust that He will work it out.  Believe He will bring it to pass.  Turn from your own thinking.

See the Lord there in the tower of your soul.  He’s watching.  He’s got you covered.  Every morning He’s there… telling you who you are in Him and that He loves you all over again.  Brothers and sisters, receive it.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:22-26


Religion’s Chains

Man creates the “order of service” within religion.  Christ is the order of service within true Christian community.  Christ is the head of the church and we are the many members with different functions.  Not so in religion.

In religion, man is in charge and he uses the Scripture to support the false dichotomy of “clergy/laity.” In religion, there exists a hierarchal leadership reflected in “offices.”

In Christ’s church, there is equality among all believers and everyone brings something to the table of fellowship. In the true church… the Holy Spirit is free to direct the affairs of the Body. In religion, man uses the wisdom of the world to do as he sees fit.

In protestant denominations religion can be seen in man’s predetermining of who God is and how and when God will work among his people.  God is worshipped at certain times and in certain ways;  ways in keeping with man’s tradition. Jesus is presented only from that particluar sectarian viewpoint and it is only in that viewpoint that the congregation may express its Christianity.

At this point, people are no longer seeking Christ free from man’s agendas and cultural bend… they no longer seek the Christ of the New Testament.  They seek a Christ that is Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc. Even when they read the New Testament they read through the lenses of their denomination and cultural upbringing. 

You may only view Christ and his church a certain preordained way that has been decided by man in these religious institutions. You may only see the Lord and his Word in the way that had been predetermined for you.  On top of that… we are all influenced by momma, America, and Santa Claus!

We not only perceive Christianity through these cultural influences, but we perpetuate the influences and continue to cause harm to the Gospel that is presented to the world.  Of course, many can’t see this is what they are doing, but nevertheless, it is in fact what they are doing and have done for centuries.

Has anything really changed since the 16th century “Reformation”?  I submit to you there was only a reformation of pagan catholic doctrine and practice, not a revolution back to the heart of God. Luther’s “Protestant Reformation” was only a half-way reform.  He even admitted that he never intended to break off from the catholic church, only reform it.  He only wanted to tweak it a bit and keep the religion!

I strongly encourage you to look at the facts of history. Do we not understand that this is the model most Christians practice today?  They are hand-me-down models from the catholic church.  Almost every “new” version of church today is only that same religious system tweaked for the pleasing of man. 

Many Christians today are not seeing authentic Christian faith and practice, but only a revised version of a pagan religion!  With Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli… we only saw a return to Sola Scriptura (i.e. Scripture alone). Now it is time for a return to Sola Christus (i.e. Christ alone).

This is the purpose of denominations and divisions, is it not?  It prides itself in what it believes and doesn’t believe; in what it sees and doesn’t see; in how it appreciates things others do not. It does not seek Christ alone and unity among all believers. How can it when it wishes only to enrich its traditional heritage all the more and maintain its ‘distinctives’ from other Christian groups.

How can Christ be pleased in this? Can a Kingdom stand when it is divided?

This religious denominationalism (i.e. divisions, factions, sects) is rooted in the prideful hearts of men. It is proud of those who follow Apollos, Cephas, and Paul. It is determined to continue this way of life by attempting to hold on to this thinking and at the same time pretend to get along with others who are priding themselves in their own denomination.  If you doubt this… attend an annual denominational convention.

Does God work within religious institutional Christianity? Yes. However, his Spirit is only able to work in pockets of ministry. The Lord will never be free to move as he desires in the vehicle of religion that man has adpoted. This is why man will forever be hoping, praying, and waiting for a “revival” that will never come in institutional Christianity. 

Why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ is not truly welcome. Man demands that the Lord meet him on his terms within his religious rituals. The Lord says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock… you have pushed me out of my church and turned my house (i.e. my people, my Body, my Bride) into a house of desolation!”

I believe this is at the heart of the religious Christian institutions: celebrating man’s way and widening the gap between Christ and his people. Man has gotten so carried away in his “tweaking” of the Christian religion… he has given the religious person many different versions of Jesus.  They may choose from a long buffet of divisions. 

For example… the “conservative, liberal, charismatic, liturgical, King James only, independent, non-denominational, free will, Holy Ghost, post-modern, emerging, mystics!”  just to name a few.

Sure, there are deep problems with the anti-Christ models of leadership within the church. Yes, the institutional church does not match up to the church in the book of Acts. Church history testifies to the 1700 years of pagan accumulation and that the institutional churches reflect Constantinian paganism more than it does New Testament Christianity.

Anyone who cares about historical facts can observe this.

However, I believe the greatest problem of all–the starting point to leaving behind the religious and breaking free of its chains–is returning to the Person and the work of Christ. The church must learn the way of Christ all over again. The church must embrace the centrality and supremacy of Jesus before she can experience genuine community and the power of the Holy Spirit on the earth. 

Let’s not concern ourselves with trying to unravel the mess that has been made these last 1700 years.  Let’s scrap it all!  Push these religious models aside and start again with Christ. We do not need these chains!

We were set free from these chains by the cross. Do not become a slave again to the ways of the flesh. I believe you and I both can see that the religious games of pop-culture Christianity are getting us no where fast! We have been purposefully driven in the wrong direction long enough. May we be willing to start over again like the religious leader Nicodemus.

It is time to gather around at Jesus’ feet and listen to the words of our Lord.

D.D. Flowers, 2008.


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