Rethinking Matthew 18 Conflict Resolution: 'The Importance of Context and Culture'

I like to joke that I would view my life worthwhile if my tombstone read:

“He got them to pay attention to context and culture!”

Matthew 18 conflict resolution

Rethinking Matthew 18 Conflict Resolution

Working a crowd into an “amen-ing” frenzy with a proof–text having no biblically legitimate application is a widely practiced and learnable skill. A shoe salesman’s persuasion, with Tony Robbins’ charm, and a breathy evangelist’s passion can entrench a good bit of doctrinal and methodological nonsense into the Body of Christ. Accuracy sometimes suffers in direct proportion to heart rate and goose bumps: an adrenaline rush being equivalent to “the anointing” or “the Spirit moving!”  Mmmmmm . . . maybe . . . maybe not . . .

Continue reading

Discerning “False” Prophets

business is full of thoughtsBalaam gave the only accurate Messianic prophecy in the Pentateuch and he was a false prophet! There’s more to the issue of who is or isn’t a “false prophet” than an accurate/inaccurate prediction of a future event.

Continue reading

“Dysfunction Junction” – Has No Unction!

beijingtibetGod is magnificently redemptive. None of us would have any hope if that were not the case. Yet we must not confuse His redemption for His approval. Many people abiding in or gathered in dysfunction, is not the kingdom Jesus died for. Our redemption includes the healing/reconfiguration of Adamic brokenness, not the normalization of it “under grace.”

Continue reading

It's Just a Bag of Beans

It’s Just a Bag of Beans: 'Bible Knowledge Without Application'

The individual goal in this life is transformation into the image of Christ so that the life of Christ might be manifest in the earth. The goal is not “doctrine and Bible study.” Few things are more inoculating against the manifestation of the life and ethics of Christ, than listening to sermon upon sermon without any correlated obedience to the one we heard last week. It is like collecting coffee beans and believing you have a cup of coffee. We don’t. We have a potential cup of coffee.

Continue reading

Speaking the Truth in Love by Michael Rose

I think my good friend, Michael Rose, hit a homer on this one. Guest blogging it here!

spkgA famous comedian from the southern USA jokes that by simply adding the phrase “Bless her heart” to the end of a statement makes it somehow okay, no matter how harsh. For example: “That baby sure is ugly! Bless his little heart” or “Betsy sure looks fat in that dress. Bless her heart!”

We laugh, but Christian folks can say some pretty harsh things and attempt to justify it by claiming they are “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Too often, we Christians can cross the line and speak into something that is quite frankly, none of our business.

Continue reading

The Real Church Dilemma by Jose Bosque

Guest Blogger: Jose Bosque

MP900289918I have had this article on my heart for months. I am both intrigued and broken hearted as I contemplate this issue. Why do born again brothers and sisters that I am acquainted with come so close to dealing with the issues of organized church in their own Christian walk only to pull back and never truly engage? They claim to be hungry for a genuine Christ-centered walk, yet they seem incapable of escaping the trappings of a church-centered religion.

Now when I speak of the “real church” I am talking about the One Church of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Church He is building. I am not talking about a physical structure but of a people in whom the God of Love dwells. That is the true church – the ekklesia. Unfortunately, the counterfeit is well known. These counterfeits often look like glorified amusement parks and country clubs that masquerade as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s not about the name game, either. I don’t care what an organization calls itself. They may be Independent, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Baptist or Catholic etc. These names are man-made labels used for identification and separation that will find no place in the Lord’s eternal redemptive plan. What I am talking about is a Bride for a King who is pressing in to break free of the bondages of human religion and embracing the freedoms and joy of a life in Christ.

Continue reading

The Other Guy’s Church Needs “Revival”

"Here & Now" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.The idea of renewal, reformation or revival  (whatever one wants to call it) can be quite stimulating, when it is the “other guy” who has to abandon his error to come to the light.

I know so many who can speak quite elegantly and esoterically on the topic of revival, renewal, reformation, unity, oneness, city-wide unity, etc. However, these same individuals don’t exactly line up to be the first to abandon their beliefs and practices that hinder the very thing they wax eloquently about. There’s a bit of a con game going on. We are fooling ourselves in these things unless we get down to some bedrock issues that carry a lot of emotion with them.

These are great concepts when it is the OTHER church, the OTHER home group, the OTHER denomination, the OTHER network, who comes under discipline or whose “theology” is “off,” or who has to embrace “reform” and come out of “religion.” Religion is like spiritual halitosis. It is always the other guy’s problem.

Continue reading

Love Pirates!: 'Agape versus Eros'

Flying the Jolly roger of eros

Love Pirates

The following is an excerpt from our upcoming book: Money and the Church: A Better Way to Live and Give.

Greek is a far more precise language than English.  In English, love is a very obtuse term. I can love my wife, hot dogs, and my car. I hope there would be a difference, but our language doesn’t help the distinction!

In Greek there are four words commonly used for love: agape, phileo, eros and storge.   Eros refers to any love that is self-centered, not just the familiar sexual aspect. Eros is often quite clean and respectable. It presents itself as something that it’s not. Any love that under the surface has self-satisfaction and self-gratification as its motive is erotic. The Greek symbol for eros was a snake swallowing its own tail, consuming itself. Eros can be deeply set in the ethics of many faith communities.

We can believe we are ambassadors for the love of God, when in reality we are spiritual pirates. We run up the flag of love for others, but when people get close to us, they discover the Jolly Roger of eros:

Continue reading

Equipper’s Survival Guide

PressureSpiritual abuse is like finding a coin in your backyard. There are two sides to it, and they are both dirty.

I certainly have no time for ambitious, authority-addled manipulators who use and abuse the ekklesia in the name of God to satisfy their own need for greatness: pimping the saints for their own needs, milking them of their time, talent, and treasure for ego-validating dreams and plans.

Yet, there are also thousands of humble, self-sacrificing, and faithful men and women who tirelessly serve the ekklesia in love, who struggle to keep their sanity as they face the onslaughts of the adversary, their own brokenness, and alas, miserable treatment by the ones they serve: being pimped for other’s needs and being told it is “serving the body.” Sacrifice for others? Yes. Pimping? No.

Continue reading

Relationships: Winners and Losers?

MP900316768Relationship is a hot buzzword these days. It’s easy to agree with rhetorically, much harder to enter into experientially, because there is a real cost for real relationship. When dogma (“accepted” theological opinion), ego, position, organizational reputation, and most of all assets (cash, buildings, properties) have to be defended, it is not possible to have an open relationship in transparency. That’s because without an inner work of freeing grace, when someone has something to lose in associating with you, they will sacrifice you and their relationship with you first rather than give up these other things that they are emotionally, psychologically, and financially invested in. Christ has come to set us free from all of it so we can be free to love one another without other encroaching agendas.

________________

Copyright 2013,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.

This ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those who partner with us and believe in the message of a radical grace in a new covenant understanding. If this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible contribution through our Paypal button to help? Thank you and God bless you.