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Sunday, February 2, 2014

On Philippians 4:18-19--What do I need?


Indeed I have all and abound, I am full, having received from Epaphroditus, the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:18-19.

We know that Paul wrote this while in prison, but he said “I have all and abound.” The he, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, says that God shall supply all our needs. So, what do we need?

Most basicly, a person needs the Holy Spirit indwelling, so that, if someone is so infuriated by one's faith in Jesus is about to kill one, one can stand for God to death. Of course, there is a sense that that is as easy as making one decision to stand in faith, and then there are no more ethical decisions to make.

Far more difficult, in another sense, is to continually live by faith when the world around us chooses, for whatever reason, to merely refuse to do more than give one a minimal amount of human respect. That last phrase can mean different things. For myself, I worked at one business after another in which I saw persons with less ability promoted. On the opposite side, if the reason for their promotion was their willingness to be unethical towards others, there is a sense I gladly refuse their “promotion,” and equally disrespect, to the same degree God does, their supervisor or owner who thinks that to be good. I know that I have it better than my brother that is imprisoned, tortured, or not given proper medical care or nourishment on account of his faith.

Further, I desire to work unto God, and not as unto man. I spent a number of years working for a company that is considered to be a company with high corporate ethics. I know that one of the founders was very public about his stand for doing the right thing, from a humanistic perspective. From the inside, it was a better place to work than other large businesses I worked for, in that they paid a little bit more in comparison to their direct competitors. I appreciated that little bit. From the inside, I could see that, in my opinion, the next three promotion levels up were, to greater and greater degrees, jobs in mass production lying—to customers, employees, whomever. While I now believe that the church is an informal group of believers that comfort and encourage each other, at that time I believed what I had been taught of the church being a group that had special meetings at certain times, that showed that one did not forsake the meeting together with other believers. Now, I can say that oftentimes, while I may have been in the same room with other believers, we really weren't meeting together, but watching a ritual on a stage. Either way, the law in the U.S. That says that a business must give an employee time off for their belief is easily circumvented; at that business, when one is initially interviewed, one has a place on the application of when one will work, and if one in the interview says that one will not work Sunday mornings, one doesn't get hired. Upon working there, it eventually came to be that, as a “lean” business, there were never enough persons on the floor to help customers except Sunday mornings, when there were far more than were needed. Businesswise, this wasn't a problem, in that sales personnel were to put away new freight, and that had been piling up all week, so it was catch up time. Now, admittedly, that is nowhere near as bad as what my brothers in the persecuted world go through, but at a spiritual level that the persons in management don't understand (and, then again, maybe they do subliminally), it is still a subtle persecution.
Recently, Frank Viola, in his “Christ Is All” podcast spoke about “error in emphasis”. What this is is to teach a doctrine that may be correct, but to teach it in either a) an unbalanced manner, as when the Bible at cursory glance appears to teach opposite things, which means there is an aspect of truth to both sides, which at times needs be shown to our hearts by the Spirit, as using words to deliniate the degree to which each side is true is extremely difficult, or b) teaching a doctrine to such a huge degree over all of the rest of God's communication to man that, even if it is being taught correctly, it is taught to the exculsion of other important teachings.
I think of this in that the above scripture ties into what is currently called “prosperity” teaching. There is a sense prosperity teaching is true. If I believe in Jesus, then I wish to honor Him with my life. If I don't get addicted to something like illegal drugs, I will be more prosperous because such a thing will not take away my money (as that is expensive), my freedom to work (as I won't be in jail for it), and my ability to work hard and with my ability not inhibited. Of course, addiction is a tricky thing. Some persons are addicted to coffee, which is legal, and actually gives one a “pick-me-up.” Further, when coffee was introduced to Middle Ages Europe, many workers used beer for the same purpose in the morning, but had inhibiting qualities. The Industrial Revolution, with the machinery invented, would have grown more slowly than it did if coffee had not been introduced to society first. I write this knowing that there is some degree that I am addicted to white sugar, and most of us in North American society have an addiction to white sugar, coffee, or both. It is so common we don't even think about it, until someone who is really pushing natural foods starts talking.
In between barely getting by jobs in my life, I have started a small business twice, and both times I wound up in bankruptcy. I can remember working just about every moment of the day six days a week, sitting in the basement of my house doing books late at night until I was too tired to keep my eyes open. Work can be addictive; even if you aren't making any kind of money, other business owners, to some degree, respect you that they don't non-business owners. 

One might think that for we who are believers, given that scripture directs us to not forsake the gathering together with other believers, that we, at the next level, have a “need” for fellowship. This is tricky. I say so because, as it is in scripture as something we should have in our lives, that seems to come next. The problem is that in North American culture, way too often, our plugging into some ritual of being part of a corporate church is used as a substitute for true fellowship, and then it is implied that that “gathering” is fellowship, even if it is only believers in a room. I say this as, looking back on my life, the closest experience of the fellowship that is true church was when I was in a secular liberal arts college, and in that antagonistic situation, the group of believers I was part of, which was connected to an international Christian college student organization that emphasized that they were not a church to the degree that “everyone” knows that they are not a church, was the best example in my life of church, as in a group of believers that comforted and edified each other. On the converse side, because I have moved a number of times over the latter part of my life, and what is marketed in our society, even in the “Christian media”, as fellowship, is a well-meaning stage presentation, true fellowship has been difficult to find. All of what I see in the “Christian media” is there because there is money behind it. The music is, actually, better. These persons, to the greatest degree, are everyday believers with an ability in music, which is, in turn, marketed by a recording company. Of course, since the early days of “Christian rock”, the late 1960's and 1970's, when it was overtly rejected by certain Christian leaders, the music has not been controversial, ironically the opposite of who Jesus was and is. I might say that I recognize that, within believers in the African-American community, there may have been the same reaction to rap with a Jesus message, but as I don't live in that subculture, I don't know about it one way or another. The same might be said of other things believers are doing in other subcultures of the world that I don't know about. 

Much of “Christian teaching” comes out of a certain group of voices that at some point have been leaders of institutional churches, where the money collected could be used for “media ministry” which promoted the leader. Whether the leader overtly knew he or she was doing self promotion is inside that person's spirit. Much teaching that I have seen actually has little teaching in it, and what there is is doctrine so basic that a new believer could pick it up from reading the Bible and interacting with other believers. The early church was in a culture which used oratory as an entertainment medium and its practicioners, at first, came into the church by faith, but later came into the church as a secular power mechanism, it appears. For centuries, we were implicitly taught that was the way it worked.
Today, an embarrassment to believers in Jesus are many of the supposed “teachers.” If a Christian musician does something contrary to Christian ethics, the record contract is cancelled. Not so the “teacher.” A couple of days ago, on the internet, a secular news source made a list of 15 “preachers” who, from their humanistic perspective, had been involved in wrongdoing. Half I had never heard of. Of those I had heard of, on one of them, the only offense they listed was offending the socially liberal leaning media. All the others had listed true public problems which contradicted Christian ethics. Unfortunately, on some, the offenses they listed are not as troubling as other ones done that I know of. Further, there are other names that could easily have been on this unnamed writers list. That is, in part, due to these leaders having control of an organization's money. It is profitable to do “teaching” that excites, but doesn't actually teach, and is directed where the unbelieving world isn't watching, to a large degree. There is an aspect in which that is unforunate, and another aspect to which it is fortunate.

I need fellowship. I need teaching that is thought out, not a stage show, done my brothers and sisters in Jesus that are willing to give and take, answer questions, and are willing to be equal to other believers.
I don't need any believer pontificating to me. If a supposed leader can talk, but refuses to be available to give, to quote Francis Schaeffer, “honest answers to honest questions” or even receive questions, he or she may have my prayers, but not my respect as a teacher of the life that is in Jesus.

I write this in that, since the end of 2004, I have been effectively unemployed and disabled, although not in the eyes of the government. Beginning tomorrow, I go off for some training that, hopefully, will help my son in his move from a military career to one in the rest of society. I don't know if that means I will post more in the next two weeks or less.

My son & I have a business of selling various items.  On eBay, the store name is "navygamer."  We have a website, www.shop.savvythrifty.com. On craigslist in Hampton Roads, VA, the search word is 757-735-3639.  If, perchance, you see something you need or want, it would assist me.

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