Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Yeast of the Pharisees

From Jesus -

"I'm sorry that they hurt you
I'm sorry they told lies,
I'm sorry they didn't see things
Through the Father's eyes.

Holy Spirit comfort them
Tell them what you know,
That you and I are all they need
To encourage them and grow.

Tell them that I love them
And admonish those who care,
To paint the truth as little lies
And little children ensnare.

Don't look to men for counsel
They do not see their sin,
Everything you need to know
Can be taught from within.

Hold on to my Holy Word
For every letter is true,
Talk to me but listen hard
Cause I'll explain to you,

About every truth and every lie
That meddling demons spread,
To change my religion into bondage
And spread the yeast through the bread."

Luke 12:1 "...Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."Seven Woes to the Modern Day Pharisee by Josie Burness

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jesus loves homosexuals...

So what would Jesus think of homosexuality? Does Jesus love homosexuals? Well how I see my bible is that if it is a sin Jesus loves sinners, and if not, Jesus loves everyone, so he must love gay people.

Christians do not realise that they are persecuting homosexuals. The persecution of gay people starts with this "love the sinner, hate the sin" mentality.  Please don't take this the wrong way, I am a Christian too.  The judgement and condemnation that comes when we decide and target something as a sin, no matter what theory we put behind it, hurts people. 

What if I decided picking your nose and eating it was a sin. I'd have plenty of scripture backup about bodily fluids. Now if you have ever done this you must repent. Don't get all high and mighty about the severity of the sin compared to being homosexual because the bible makes it clear that a sin is a sin no matter the degree. Now you can't come to church if you pick your nose and eat it. Make sure your children don't, because they won't be accepted either.

This is what happens when we focus on sin instead of the life changing work of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the starting point, but who would have faith in a God who condemns them? Love everyone, I think Jesus said. Let him do his work on that dirty nose picking habit.

I had a dream that changed me forever on how I felt about homosexuals. I was speaking to a gay man and explaining how Jesus loved him too. He wept and wept and as I held him in my arms I could feel the sadness from the persecution, the relief in knowing he too was saved and the love he felt for Jesus.

It's time for a change, love people, don't prevent them from entering the kingdom.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Finding Purpose

Do you ever wonder what your purpose is? If you were called for a particular thing? Are you waiting for a calling or a purpose to fall out of the sky?  I have learnt a few things about finding our life path, and one of the biggest obstacles is actually ourselves.

Secret to finding purpose number one - you where created.

"Delight yourself in The Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

This may seem like a basic fact to most who believe in God, but it is a factor missed when looking for what you should be aiming for. If you where created, then you are not a surprise to God.  He's not going to say "hey there, I am shocked you like motorbikes, what a surprise, don't do that!" The desires of your heart from youth that you can identify, before the cynical bitterness of adulthood, and negative comments set in, is your starting point.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:13,14a

Secret to finding purpose number two - free your mind.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke if slavery." Galatians 5:1

Sometimes what God wants to do with our lives is not within what you have been told is acceptable from a Christian point of view.  For example a friend of mine wanted to dance, she was looked down upon by the church she attended. Another friend was upset that some brethren where skipping church to attend the local markets, and set up their own stall, until she heard the testimonies that were starting to come out of it.

God may be saying this to you;

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:19a

Secret to finding purpose number three - prepare to change.

If you think sitting in the same church in the same superb for your whole life is how you will fulfil your destiny then you will miss it.  

Why do you attend the church you attend? Did you ever ask God where you should go? Or did you just go their because it was around the corner.  I have to confess I have gone to church just because I wanted to go to a service while on holidays, but I promise you there where no divine appointments there. No prophetic revelations or God encounters beyond the normal experience of church.

Other that than I have always sort God on where to fellowship. Some amazing things have happened too. It is just how I have been since my big God encounter, and was surprised to find not all are like that.  God lead me to this full on charismatic church when my husband was still very conservative and I protested.  I said "lord he will never come here!"  Not only did he attend there, but he was filled with the spirit, spoke in tongues and healed there.  God knows best!

You have to be prepared to move. Maybe a different church, maybe a different superb, maybe a different state or country.  Abraham moved around, Moses moved around, Jesus moved around. 

You might think that niggle is the devil pulling you away, when it could be God calling you forward...





Thursday, September 5, 2013

What is Salvation?

 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jer 1:5a)

What is salvation?  I have had so many times in my life when it has confused me, or I thought I had it figured out then I came across another formula and doubted.

Whether we speak of being 'born again' or 'saved' or even just 'children of God' there are countless different theologies of how to determine whether or not we are 'in' with God.  If you are a believer and get confused, then how much more confusing is it if you just want to know what it's all about?  How would a person seeking God get a straight answer?  There are pamphlets with formalised prayers, and how to books galore but they aren't consistent.

The worst is when you believe and you meet someone whose formula doesn't fit with your experience and they doubt whether or not your a Christian.  I will never forget a time in my life when very 'spiritual' people were putting so much pressure on me to follow a certain way of life that I started to wonder if I was really a believer or not. 

God knows everything, right?  So it is not a surprise to him who has faith and who doesn't.  And God doesn't see things like we do.  We might try to work out what a persons status is, but God just looks at them as his child because he knows that in x years they will worship him.  

You see, my life doesn't fit the text books.  The first thing is that we all try to pinpoint a time in our lives when it happened.  The thing is, I have known God my whole life.  There was a moment in time when I had my huge spiritual experience but my journey with God didn't start there. As a child I was part of Religion and learnt all the scriptures and certainly had faith, but looking back I know I didn't really understand it.  In my late teens I had decided that God probably didn't exist, and if He did, no-one could say they knew the correct meaning of everything.

I know that God was always with me because He saved my life when I was 18 years old.  I had little to no faith, and wasn't even sure if there was a God.  I certainly didn't understand Jesus and his life.  I was in a car with my best friend and her boyfriend driving in outback Northern Territory from a day trip on a winding road.  I was lying down in the back seat, without a seatbelt on trying to have a nap.  While I was lying there I had an experience that I understand now, but at the time I just thought it must have been an angel.  It was like a voice, but it came with a peace and calm that made me not afraid.  It said "Your going to have an accident, but if you just keep lying down and relax you'll be OK."  The next second there was screeching and I could feel the car loosing control, a hard impact then it rolled over.  The way the car rolled made me in a standing position, but had I sat up, without a seatbelt, I would most likely have been propelled towards the windscreen...

So next time you try to judge someone as to whether or not they are a Christian, I want you to remember this story.  God spoke to me at a time when I really didn't know him.  I was His. God knows who is his and who isn't.  So whatever stage your at in your journey don't stress over the technicalities.  God already has His name on you, watching you, protecting you, loving you.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Midas Touch

"The Midas touch, or the gift of profiting from whatever one undertakes, is named for a legendary king of Phrygia. Midas was granted the power to transmute whatever he touched into gold."  (mythweb.com)

The teaching of prosperity in Christian churches sounds much like this Midas touch.  The "name it and claim it" idea is something I hadn't heard of until well into my Christian journey.

The first time I came into contact with the connection between God and money was when I was at a home group and a young lady said that she was believing God for a million dollars.  I almost died!  I was gasping and in shock, only to hear someone encourage her to keep believing as he believed God would give her a million dollars too.  What was this?  I thought.  I couldn't see any correlation between the pursuit of wealth and God.  

Since that time I want to share with you what I have learnt about prosperity. 

The Focus is on God First

Jesus said "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-20)  Jesus also challenged a rich man to give up his wealth and said "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 10:25)

"No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24)

How do these scriptures correlate to the pursuit of wealth through Godly doctrine?  And then there's this;

"If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing.  They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."
 
So I am right, I think, that an unhealthy focus on money and teachings about this is a problem.  The focus must be on God, and treasures in heaven.  On focusing on your God given calling, and doing that.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You Can't Give Money or Tithe to Get Prosperity

When I started attending churches that taught tithing, it was something I had grown up with so understood the basis for the doctrine, but having someone tell you that it was linked to your own wealth always made me feel a little uncomfortable.  There is something ethically wrong for a preacher to stand up before his congregation and say that they must give money to the church in order to be prosperous themselves - when he is the one getting his wage from the money.

David said that he had "never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." (Psalm 37:25) We shouldn't have to beg for money in church for the ministry.

At one stage my giving got out of control, and I was giving large amounts of money away, and believing that God would bless me by having me win a prize home.  The problem was that I was encouraged in this lunacy by well meaning people who didn't realise my behaviour was actually based on mania, not the word of God.  I had taken the scriptures that say "When the Lord your God brings you into the land ... a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide.." (Deut 6:10-11) and decided that it was God promise to me that I will win a house.

I never won a house.

If we give our motivation should always be pure, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) I did give out of generosity, but I did often believe my obedience in giving was required to gain.

Most people don't go to the extremes I did, but I still hear people saying they are waiting for God to give them money.

 We Don't Get Rich Sitting on Our Arse

Most people have heard this story;

A man was caught in a flood.  Two men came by in a boat to rescue him, but he waved them away shouting "No the Lord will save me."  One hour later another boat came along, but again the man said "No the Lord will save me."  Eventually a helicopter arrived but the man insisted, "The Lord will save me."  Unfortunately the man drowned and at the gates of heaven he asked St Peter, "Why didn't the Lord save me?" and St Peter replied "for crying out loud - he sent two boats and a helicopter, what more do you want?!"

What on earth do you think will happen if you just sit at home on unemployment benefits dodging the government to receive your allowance, because you are waiting for God to give you things?  You can't just be a lazy bum and say "God prosper me, I want that car, I want that house," and expect it to fall out of the sky.  Get off you backside and do the things that God has put in front of you to do.  And don't overspiritualise it.  If your gift is washing windows then get out there and bless us by making those windows clean!

It is hard economic times, but God expects us to take the steps along the path before us.  All the promises in Deuteronomy of prosperity to the Israelites that people claim today for themselves required obedience.

What has God asked you to do?

Your Heart Must be Pure

I had a dream.

A man walked into this room and started touching things, and everything he touched turned to gold.  He had the Midas touch.  Then his clothes turned to gold and it was hard for him to breath.  Then I saw a large pool of gold ornaments and precious jewels, and there was a body lying on top.  The man looked dead, but then I realised that he couldn't move because all of his clothes were gold.  He was suffocating to death.

Then another man came in.  As he walked through the room I saw that he was touching things and they were gold, but he was fine.  He was happy and laughing and didn't even seem to notice the gold.  His clothes were fine and he was unaffected by the suffocating effect of gold clothes.  He was pure of heart.

Without a pure heart, prosperity teaching will suffocate you.

Gideon suffered from this effect of the "Midas touch".  He acquired an amount of gold and "Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town.  All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family."  (Judges 8:27)

Don't let your gold be a snare to you, and always remember "You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24b)

Rules Taught By Men

Jesus made reference to rules taught by men. So when He said that he was referring to the current religious structure. Are there rules taught by men in today's religious structure? Everyone must agree that the answer is in the affirmative. So how do we know what is just a rule taught by men, and what is a requirement of God.

Lets take a look at the thief on the cross in Luke's gospel;

Let's put aside arguments of proof of heaven, or where the apostrophe should be or it's interpretation. I think we can all agree that Jesus was saying that the thief was 'in'. So what do we know about the thief?

He was a sinner.
He deserved to die for his sins.
He accepted Jesus
He was saved

Could it be that simple?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Out of Church Movement

It is an incomprehensible thought. That God would actually lead a person out of church.

We are so conditioned that we should go to church when we believe something, whatever the denomination or belief that we don't question. Going to church goes hand in hand... Or does it...

Ever since I believed I have always prayed and waited for God to lead me to which church I should go to. I guess that's because of the way I met God (http://josieburness.com.au/MyStory.html). He came to me while I was minding my own business. What happened is that I have ended up out of church.

What if people go to church but that's not actually where they should go. They think they should, so they find their nearest place, their local church, or even just go where their family go. Some people have been going to the same church their whole life and never bothered to question why.

"Church" is not in the bible. That's right. The early Christians had fellowship, bible reading, prayer, healings and tongue speaking, and often gathered together, but you never find a prescribed Sunday service. It's just not there. It came later under the formalisation of the Catholic Church. In the bible there was no denomination. Just gatherings of believers.

The word "church" was formed later. The bible uses "ecclesia" which just meant a gathering or assembly, and had connotations of called out ones.

If we look at "church" today it is not a reflection of what we see in the New Testament scriptures. We are letting ourselves be bound to this Sunday Service idea without looking at its origins, reasons or necessity.

The Lord said "see, I am doing a new thing" (Isaiah 43:19)

Are you ready? Are you listening?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I want to tell a story.

Once upon a time there was a woman called Georgia. Georgia worked part time as an assistant for Frank.  One day, Frank found out that Georgia had been posting on Facebook when she was meant to be working for him.  Frank was very angry, as he paid Georgia an hourly rate.  Frank sent Georgia notice and was going to dismiss her immediately.

Georgia was very sorry.  She went and apologised to Frank and begged him to forgive her.  There was no way she could compensate Frank, and all she could offer him was continued service.   Frank forgave her, and took back the dismissal he had sent to her in anger.

Georgia was actually a Pastor's wife, and worked part time to suplement her husbands small wage from the ministry. That weekend at church two men approached their doors, hand in hand.  Georgia rushed to intercept them, and said "can I help you?".  One of the young men said " yes, we are looking for answers about God".  Georgia said "homosexuals will not enter the kingdom of heaven, you must repent, and please do not hold hands in my church as it will offend."  The young men turned and walked away.

The next day at work Frank approached Georgia.  You see Frank was a member of the same church, which is how he found out Georgia was posting on Facebook during work.  She had been updating the church Facebook page.

Frank said "Georgia, yesterday I forgave you for trespassing against me"
Georgia said "yes, and I am so thankful"
"You should have known better, yet two men who didn't know anything about God were turned away  yesterday by your unforgivness.  You are no longer forgiven.  Take your stuff and leave"

One of the boys was Franks son.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."