Category Archives: Prophetic Christianity

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 3) — We Are One Body

In our last post, we saw that God uses the model of family for His Church. He also likens His people to a human body. The two ideas are similar in how they cause us to relate to one another, if we heed them. Let’s take a look at the main passage which describes us as a body, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:

For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are still one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body … and have all been made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.

If the foot shall say, “Because I am not the hand, I am not part of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, “Because I am not the eye, I am not part of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?

But now God has set every one of the members in the body as it has pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where would be the body? But now are they many members, yet only one body.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, how much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And those members of the body which we think less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; our less presentable parts are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts have no need. But God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to those parts which lacked.

This is so there would be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care one for another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

In a healthy family, every member is valued. We share each other’s joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats. When one hurts, the rest are empathetic to his or her pain. Little children are not disdained because they are small and weak; they are treated more tenderly. If a family member moves away, passes, or chooses to be estranged, he is sorely missed. A healthy family pulls together as a team.

In a healthy body, every part is also valued. If one part hurts, the whole body is affected. Parts which are naturally weaker and more susceptible to injury (such as the internal organs) are protected, not despised. If a part of the body has to be surgically removed, the rest of the body suffers great hardship. The left eye, ear, leg, or hand does not compete for dominance with the right eye, ear, leg, or hand. They work together.

So it is meant to be in the Church, the “body” of Christ. We are supposed to take special care of those who are weaker or less capable. Those who are sick should be tenderly nursed back to health. Those with less visible functions (like the internal organs of the human body) are vital to the life of the church as a whole, and should be valued accordingly. If someone leaves or passes away, it is like an amputation has taken place: the rest of the body tries to compensate for the loss, but it is not the same without the one who is gone.

In the church body, we should not be envious of one another, vying for dominance. Instead, we should pull together, recognizing the unique purpose God has for each of us. There is room for more than one “eye” or “ear” (the prophetic gifts of spiritually seeing and hearing). In fact, the sight range and depth perception of two eyes working together is better than what one eye can do by itself. In short, we need each other, each fulfilling our God-given purpose, in order for the church to be healthy and fully functional.

Appreciating each other and being willing to work together in the church body is not easy. It takes commitment to unconditional love, as we see laid out in 1 Corinthians 13. It takes dependence upon the Holy Spirit and a continual dying to our own selfish ambitions. Some members of the local body are not as easy to love as others, due to irritating personality quirks or character flaws. We may be tempted to wish they would go elsewhere. But if we can remember that they, too, have a unique, God-designed place to fill, and that the body will be missing a part if they are gone, it helps our own attitude. Many is the time I have asked God to show me the good He sees in a brother or sister, when I couldn’t find much to like. He has been faithful to that prayer, so that when I saw their value from the Lord’s perspective, I came to love them.

In our next post, we’ll look at the Church as an army. We’ll see how that can be good or bad, depending on whether we keep it within the biblical concept of family.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 4 — We Are an Army

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prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 2) — We Are Family

familyIn our first post, we said the Church’s core job description is to be the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth. We also talked about the meaning of ekklesia, the Greek word which is translated “church.” It is an assembly of called-out ones.

The Church is referred to in the Bible using several different metaphors, but I believe the Scriptures reveal that the Church’s primary way to function is as a family. This is true of the universal church, but its best practical application is within the local congregation.

God’s people as family shows up already in Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve. We see the idea woven throughout Noah’s, Abraham’s, and Israel’s story. It is a continuous, consistent thread flowing through centuries of Old Testament history.

Mankind was originally created in the image of God. “And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness'” (Genesis 1:26). Family is God’s very nature, with two of the Persons of the Godhead being Father and Son. Since we have been made in His likeness, it should not surprise us that functioning as family is part of the Lord’s plan for His people.

In the New Testament, it becomes still clearer that God’s people are to follow the pattern of family. Believers in Jesus are referred to as the “sons of God” six times, including 1 John 3:1: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God….”

Romans 8:15-17 explains that we have been adopted by God the Father. As His adopted sons and daughters, we enjoy the same privileges and inheritance that Jesus does:

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

Throughout the New Testament epistles, members of the Church are referred to as “brethren,” “brothers,” and “sisters.” Those terms are used approximately 190 times in the apostles’ letters to the churches. Paul reminded the Corinthian church, which he had founded, that he was a father to them (1 Corinthians 4:15). He called Timothy and Titus his sons, although they were not biologically related (1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). John repeatedly referred to the Church as “little children” in 1 John. Paul also instructed Timothy in how to treat fellow believers: “Do not rebuke an elder, but entreat him as a father and the younger men as brothers; the elder women as mothers, the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1, 2). The portrayal of church as family is clearly primary.

You may already be thinking, “My church experience is not very much like family. I wish it were.” Sadly, that is often the case. It is one of the things which needs to shift, in order for our congregations to be healthy.

Or, perhaps you are thinking, “My family life growing up was a total mess! Why would I want my church experience to be like that?” You wouldn’t. None of us would. But, because we are made in God’s image, each of us has some understanding of what family should be, even if we have not had the opportunity to enjoy it growing up. There is a knowing in your heart what family done right should look like, and you long for that. And that is what God wants His church family to demonstrate to each other and the world.

In a properly functioning family, children are not valued for what they do, but for who they are. All the sons and daughters have equal value in their parents’ eyes. Younger children do not have the same responsibilities and options as the older ones, not because they are less important than older siblings, but because they do not yet have the maturity to handle those responsibilities or choices well. In larger families, older children often help care for the little ones, even teaching them some of the basic skills they will need to possess.

In the same way, God values all His sons and daughters, not for our deeds, positions, or functions, but simply because each of us is His own dear child. In the Church, we must learn to see each other as God sees us. Yes, there will be mature members who pastor or mentor newer believers. Some will have more visible ministries than others. But their position is not a measure of their importance. Neither maturity nor individual function within the congregation has anything to do with value, so may God help us to stop acting as though they do!

In our coming posts, we will examine other biblical aspects of what the Church should look like. We’ll also see how each of them can, and should, fit with the family model.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 3 — We Are One Body

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prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)

church buildingMany articles are being written in our day which are highly critical of the modern Church. Often the criticism is well-founded, especially in our Western culture. Truly, we seem to have drifted off-course, so that many church gatherings look more like entertainment clubs or feel-good social gatherings than the Church we see in the New Testament.

There’s another side to this, though. Some critics are proposing an opposite extreme — a so-called New Testament Church which is narrowed in scope to their own particular vision or preferences.

The two extremes spark a question. What is the local church really supposed to look like? It’s not a question with easy answers. In this series, we will look at some of the main components of church life and purpose, as we see them in the Bible.

Let’s start with a core job description:

The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

That’s pretty simple, isn’t it? — even overly simple. However, in the end, it all comes back to this. Romans 8:29 tells us that God predestinated us (both individually and corporately) to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Whenever the Church deviates from being the same as Jesus Himself would be on earth, we have missed the mark. Likewise, when we accomplish looking like Him, we’ve done what we were intended to do.

In the New Testament, the word translated “church” is ekklesia (ecclesia in Latin). Literally, the word means “the called-out ones,” but the common understanding was that it was an “assembly” or “congregation.” (See end notes.) So, a reasonable, combined definition would be, “a called-out assembly.”

Truly that is what the Church is, on both the local and world-wide level: we are called out of the world system, set apart unto Jesus, and we are an assembly of believers. By definition, no one of us can be the church all by himself. We need each other. “Ekklesia” cannot be separated from the concept of community.

This is why Hebrews 10:24, 25 (NKJV) says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting [encouraging] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Sunday morning services are one expression of how the local church can gather together, but by no means are they the complete picture, as we shall see as this series progresses. There are many facets of being the Church. If we tried to emphasize all of them in a single setting or time frame, we’d probably miss out on a lot.

In our next post, we will talk about the Church as family, which I believe is the starting point for restoring it back to what it is meant to be. If we get the family part right, our churches will become healthier, happier places, and everything else will flow quite naturally out of that.

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1. Ecclesia (Church). Simple English Wikipedia. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesia_(Church). Accessed 5-18-19.

2. Jackson, Wayne. “What Is the Meaning of Ekklesia?” Christian Courier. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1500-what-is-the-meaning-of-ekklesia. Accessed 5-18-19.

3. Strong, James and Thayer, Joseph. Concordance. My Sword Bible app. Accessed 5-20-19.

4. “What is the Definition of Ekklesia?” Got Questions. https://www.gotquestions.org/definition-ekklesia.html. Accessed 5-18-19.

Next (Part 2) — The Church is Family

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prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

Lee Ann’s newest book, Coming March 1, 2016 …

(And now is the time to get in on the pre-order sale!)

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann RubsamWhether you are new at intercession or have been at it for quite some time, no doubt you have some questions. Perhaps you have mentioned them to your pastor or other prayer warriors, but haven’t received the answers you were searching for. Maybe you’ve been too embarrassed to even ask, because you feared others would not understand.

In Your Intercession Questions Answered, I tackle questions intercessors commonly have, from basic terminology to more complex issues we all face as we walk out the ministry of prayer — questions such as:

  • How to “flow with the Spirit”
  • How to keep from burning out
  • What kind of supernatural experiences are normal in the course of prayer
  • How to know when you have “prayed through”
  • What to do to avoid word curses and witchcraft prayer
  • Why there are tensions between you and your pastor — and how to fix or avoid them
  • How to handle spiritual warfare wisely — and many more.

Table of Contents:
The Basics
Intercessor Terminology
The Prayer Language
Practical Know-How
Challenges Intercessors Encounter
Spiritual Warfare
Prophetic Experiences
Things to Embrace and Things to Avoid
Additional Terminology

SAMPLE THIS BOOK!

E-book:
Special pre-order $2.00 off sale on e-book edition, now until March 1, 2016 release date — $2.99. (E-book price 3-01-16 and after: $4.99)

Kindle at Amazon, Nook at Barnes & Noble,
Apple iBookstore, Kobo, or in multiple e-book formats at Smashwords.

U. S. paperback price $10.00 (Paperback not available for pre-order, available 3-01-16)

 

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 8)

propheticperspectiveI’d like to close this series by mentioning a few extremes which can cause us to become unbalanced or skewed in our prophetic perspective. I sometimes run into enthusiastic people who think everything is prophetic. No, it’s not. Not everything which happens is symbolic; not everything has a spiritual implication. Some things just are what they are, without being a message from God.

More than once, I have been dismayed to see “prophecies” based on sporting events – the Super Bowl or World Series, for instance. Significance is attributed to the teams’ names, the colors they wear, and the numbers on the backs of the star players. Based on the outcome of the game, predictions are made for the coming year. This is weird — very weird — and yet Super Bowl divination seems to be a temptation among prophetic people.

A few years ago, a major bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. For several weeks, prophetic posts flew in all directions about what that event meant in the spirit realm. Can catastrophic events carry spiritual significance? Absolutely! But not all of them do, and sometimes the conclusions people draw from them, especially when prophesying into the future, are coming from their own imaginations.

Some people have come up with prophetic messages based on natural markings on animals which resemble various symbols. Let me just say that a pinto horse bearing a spot which resembles a map of Russia does not mean God is warning of a coming invasion. Horses and cows regularly have markings on their faces resembling lightning bolts. These are not warnings of judgments coming from heaven. That goes for star-shaped markings (not a prophetic sign that an asteroid is going to hit the earth), or patches which resemble numbers. Calling such phenomena prophetic signs is silly.

Don’t try to force the prophetic. In these last days, signs will appear in the heavens, and one day Jesus Himself will be seen coming in the clouds, but don’t try to find spiritual meaning in every cloud or etched on every doorknob.

Don’t follow signs. Follow Jesus. If you follow Him, signs and wonders will accompany you, as you proclaim Him. If you follow signs, you will just get goofy — because your focus will be in the wrong place. You will always need something new to dazzle you more than the last wonder you experienced.

Let’s recap what we’ve talked about in this series. If we want to increase in our ability to view life from God’s vantage point we can do that by:

1.)  Slowing down in prayer and Bible reading, so that we can listen to what God has to say. (“What do You want me to learn from Your Word today, Lord?” “What’s on Your heart today?”)

2.)  Asking for God’s counsel in sticky situations and then waiting for Him to reveal His solutions, rather than forging ahead in our own understanding. (“What would You say or do, if You were in my shoes, Jesus?”)

3.) Asking what is really going on beneath the surface in perplexing events, and what He is up to in the midst of them. (“Lord, why is this REALLY happening, and how do You want to work good out of it?”)

4.)  Listening to our inner peace barometer — receiving guidance through peace or the lack of it. (“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” — Colossians 3:15.)

5.)  Paying attention to possible divine connections — unlikely people God brings into our lives to speak into us or assist us in some way.

6.)  Noticing repeated pieces of information showing up — through things people say, songs we hear, words or phrases which we zero in on.

7.)  Tuning in to connections God makes in our spirit between bits and pieces of seemingly unrelated information. God will suddenly “connect the dots” between them in our understanding, so that we know what He is up to.

8.)  Paying attention to weaknesses in ourselves, which God brings to light — sometimes in our thoughts, sometimes through other people — so that He can cleanse us of attitudes and wrong perspectives we were not aware we harbored.

9.)  Listening to other people’s perspectives so that the Lord can expand our horizons and show us angles we had not previously considered.

10.)  Listening to others through a 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 filter. Ask God to help you see past surface words to what is behind them. (We then use what He shows us to help bring healing to people’s hearts.)

11.)  Waiting for the Lord to reveal things to us, rather than trying to come up with prophetic revelation by our own effort. (Less is more: go for quality, rather than quantity.)

Here is a link to a wonderful article by Francis Frangipane, which very much ties in with what I have written about in this series — What Does Jesus Say?

Previous — Part 7

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 7)

propheticperspectiveAs you pursue living from a prophetic perspective, you will be surprised by things the Lord pulls up out of your own heart, which you didn’t know were there — fears, insecurities, idolatries, prejudices, attitudes, and offenses you didn’t know you harbored. This is part of the process He uses to propel us higher into His vantage point.

Our natural minds are like muddy streams, full of impurities, and we’ve been living in the murk for so long that we are not even aware of it. The Holy Spirit reveals our weaknesses so that He can clean us up. If we cooperate with Him in the cleansing process, our “stream” becomes crystal clear. We can see the way He sees and hear the way He hears.

As the Lord brings these impurities to our consciousness, rather than resisting His promptings or being horribly ashamed of ourselves, we can simply give them to Him, repent, and let Him fix them. You might pray something like, “Father, I didn’t know that was in me! Please forgive me, and change my heart. Remove any distortion from my thinking which colors how I view life, myself, and others.” As we humble ourselves and ask for His help, He is faithful to make the necessary changes inside of us.

Let the Lord use other people to show you weak areas in your life, too. We all have blind spots about ourselves — but people close to us have no problem seeing where adjustments need to be made. Although it is painful to admit we’re not perfect, having the courage to listen and to be willing to change takes us higher into who we are meant to be. The less we fight it, the faster we get there! Coming into seeing from the Lord’s viewpoint involves discipline, refining, and humbling.

Now, let’s shift gears a bit. Throughout this series, we’ve talked about listening to the Lord in various ways. We can also come up into God’s thinking by learning to listen to people. Listening carefully is a lost art in itself, which we really should attempt to re-cultivate.  But if we are to be truly prophetic people, we must learn to listen at a deeper level, through the ears of the Spirit, to what others are saying.

God always looks past the surface appearance to the heart. We can learn to listen to people’s hearts too, and in doing so, we become like Him.

I am convinced that much of the fragmentation which exists in the Body of Christ stems from jumping to conclusions about what our brothers and sisters are saying, missing the real meaning, and then developing bad opinions and feelings about them based on inaccurate hearing of the intent of their words. If we will make an effort to listen thoughtfully and ask questions when we do not understand one another, we will hear differently. In listening with the ear of the Holy Spirit, we are required to apply the charitable love criteria laid out in 1 Corinthians 13.

Step one of listening to people’s hearts is getting past hearing their outward words in order to understand the motives behind the words. But it must go deeper still. Even wrong motives may be spawned by a cry for help or love which needs to be responded to even more than the motive itself does. A motive is often a symptom of a deeper root which needs to be dealt with. It takes patience and careful probing to get at what is in the heart. But if we will take the time to do it, asking the Lord to give us His ear, God will be able to use us to bring healing to hurting people.

In our next post, we’ll deal with some prophetic perspective “don’ts” and conclude by summarizing the main points of this series.

Previous: Part 6
Next: Part 8

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 6)

propheticperspectiveIn previous posts in this series, we talked about gaining a prophetic perspective by

1.)  Slowing down in prayer and Bible reading, so that we can listen to what God has to say.

2.)  Asking for God’s counsel in sticky situations and then waiting for Him to reveal His solutions, rather than forging ahead in our own understanding.

3.)  Asking Him what is really going on beneath the surface in perplexing events, and what He is up to in the midst of them.

Another factor in gaining prophetic perspective is learning to pay attention to our inner peace barometer. Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts ….”

Peace, or the lack of it, is one of the most common methods the Holy Spirit uses to impart His guidance to us. If we will practice listening to the peace level we have within, we will gain a lot of ground in obtaining God’s vantage point on given situations we face. You may have a seemingly great opportunity present itself, which your rational mind says you would be a fool to pass up, and yet if the inner peace is missing in your spirit, it is a big clue that God is not in the opportunity. Conversely, through a deep-seated sense of peace, the Lord might lead you into an adventure which is entirely His will, but which outwardly looks quite risky. The rule of peace in our hearts is a mighty tool to help us move with God.

We can also increase prophetic perspective by learning to watch for divine connecting-of-the-dots moments we experience. Many people we cross paths with are God-placed connections — people whom we would not expect to be so. We may have a seemingly random conversation with someone, and even think afterwards, “What was that all about?” At exactly the right time somewhere down the road, God will recall that conversation to our memory to assist us in finding His plan.

Here’s a personal example, from about fifteen years ago:

A friend and I were chatting, and she mentioned a surgeon who had operated on both a family member and a friend. Although he had done general surgeries for them, she happened to say that his specialty was intestinal surgeries. Without knowing why, I thought about the conversation a few times after that.

Some months later, my husband was diagnosed with a large tumor in his digestive tract. Any of the general surgeons in our city would have been willing to operate on him, but the name of this particular doctor immediately was recalled to my mind. I felt certain it was the Lord’s leading, and we requested that he do the surgery. Through a random conversation, we acquired the best possible doctor — the only intestinal surgery specialist in our area. (And my husband is completely well today.)

Another way the Lord guides us into His perspectives is by connecting the dots in our thoughts between isolated bits of information. We suddenly have an understanding that multiple seemingly unrelated memories or ideas coming to mind are all part of one big jigsaw puzzle. By themselves, the pieces have little meaning, but when they are joined together, they indicate what God is doing or planning to do. This coming together of the pieces does not happen through logic, because our intellect would not be able to see the connections. It happens by the Holy Spirit interacting with our spirit.

Pay attention to repeat pieces of information which surface, perhaps through conversations, news articles, songs, sermons, prayers, etc. This is still another way God gets His thoughts across to us. What doesn’t make an impression the first time around eventually gets through to us through God-orchestrated repetition.

Once again, it is all a matter of listening for the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit. He occasionally drops revelation into us like a thunderbolt, but most of the time He speaks through quieter methods, so that we will learn to be intimate with Him. Learning to listen to His small nudges is part of the exciting adventure of coming to know Him deeply. Are you ready for the journey with Him?

Previous: Part 5
Next: Part 7