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#1 Brian Rushfeldt

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 06:53 AM

I ask this question in search of not just a theological answer but a practical answer also. Scripture talks of suffering as Jesus suffered and denying ourself - What exactly does the suffering and denial look like in our modern western culture?

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

I think that to deny self and even to suffer has little to do with any kind of pain. The thorns into Jesus head , the spear in His side, the lashes, and the death was suffering. But I ask, isn't denying and suffering today refer to some of the lust pleasures , things we would like to enjoy but refuse. The flesh suffers and whines. I dread to think how this might lessen and even demean what Jesus suffered and it is not meant to do so. But none of us will likely be beaten, speared or stoned or die of attacks for Jesus.

So I have to think that denial of self and suffering is something much more practical in this age, like refusing the desires of my flesh, doing righteousness even when I don't "feel" like it, spending spare time praying/ ministering instead of at my hobby or tv, taking every thought captive and so on.

Feedback/understanding/revelation please .

#2 Lori Smith

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 01:02 PM

You have posed an interesting question. The answer for me personally, follows Tozer's view. Tozer abandoned all in order to embrace all that God has to offer; therefore, it is not simply denying ourselves of things in the world we might like to have, it is replacing those things with what Christ offers. Sometimes that includes human suffering. However, mostly for me, it means prefering all that God is.

What God has to offer is not compatible with what the world offers; it is better. To walk totally in the Spirit/led by the Holy Spirit requires purification. Things of the world grieve the Holy Spirit and we can not enjoy true intimacy with God when any of these things occupy our hearts.

Therefore, what it all ultimately comes down to: is a life that is totally consecrated to God in heart and mind; and that means ignoring those things that would keep us from the continuous growth in the fellowship and knowledge of God. Sometimes it means walking alone. Tozer walked alone, for he had difficulty finding those who desired to pursue God with the degree of totality that he did. But, Tozer had a better reward in the end for he Had God Himself as his deepest love and companion. I desire to walk the life that Tozer walked--a life where God and God alone has my heart. Then He can bless others through me, and my reward will be God Himself. I refrain from the world's pleasures not as a means of self-denial although I deny myself; rather, I deny myself so that I might remove everything from my life that pollutes it, so that I might have more of God.
In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer writes, "Jesus taught that He wrought His works by always keeping His inward eyes upon His Father. His power lay in His continuous look at God (John 5:19-21)."

#3 J.Carlos

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 09:59 AM

I ask this question in search of not just a theological answer but a practical answer also. Scripture talks of suffering as Jesus suffered and denying ourself - What exactly does the suffering and denial look like in our modern western culture?

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

I think that to deny self and even to suffer has little to do with any kind of pain. The thorns into Jesus head , the spear in His side, the lashes, and the death was suffering. But I ask, isn't denying and suffering today refer to some of the lust pleasures , things we would like to enjoy but refuse. The flesh suffers and whines. I dread to think how this might lessen and even demean what Jesus suffered and it is not meant to do so. But none of us will likely be beaten, speared or stoned or die of attacks for Jesus.

So I have to think that denial of self and suffering is something much more practical in this age, like refusing the desires of my flesh, doing righteousness even when I don't "feel" like it, spending spare time praying/ ministering instead of at my hobby or tv, taking every thought captive and so on.

Feedback/understanding/revelation please .


Hi there Brian Rushfeldt, I will quote the cross reference of the verse that you quoted.

Luke 9:23-24 "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

This is the cost of following Jesus - the cost factor.

another verse, you can found in Luke 14:26-27 & Matthew 10:37-39 in connection in Luke 9:23-24 and Matthew 16:24

Luke 14:26-27 says "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."
Matthew 10:37-39 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

It's the same principle, and what does it mean? Christ is telling about discipleship where first you need to deny your self, meaning all your worldly act before. Since that we are all ready accepted the Lord Jesus Christ in our life we are a new creation, we no longer us, but Christ. We deny our self, our old unrighteous hobby or worldly work. Second take up your cross daily and follow Christ, this is discipleship, since you deny your self, you will now give up all your possession, losing your self, giving up everything for the sake of following Jesus - and that is the cost factor, the cost of following Jesus and the cost of being a disciple of Jesus.

We must suffer as Christ suffered - God is glorified!

#4 Jay Turner

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:42 AM

I think the easiest way to define what it means to deny self is to start by looking at what self is. When I do things for self, I am doing it for me. I am placing my own wants, needs and desires as being more important than that of others and that of God. That is why when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2.3-4)

As we begin to see how others needs are equally as important as ours, we should naturally begin to place more value in our neighbors and their needs and less on ourselves. As we step out in faith and start looking after our neighbors interests, it can help to humble us, which in turn can make us more open to God.

One trap that I have fallen into myself is the whole idea that in order to deny self, I needed to give up the things that I enjoy like music, movies, etc, in order to follow Christ Jesus. The thing that we want to keep in mind is that God is the one who gave us all these things in the first place. He gave us our talents and interests, our visions and dreams. As we come to know Christ, the emphasis on our life changes and many of our interests begin to loose their context. We don’t necessarily loose the interests, but instead we don’t understand how they fit into our new lives with Christ. Because of this, we find ourselves going on CD and DVD destroying parties, trying to get rid of anything that doesn’t have the appearance of godliness. Instead we should start by asking God whether they have a hold on us and if they are things that we should give up altogether or if it is more a case where we need to see them in a new context.

As believers, we are called to be separated before God. We are to live in this world, but not of this world. But in the process of trying to be consecrated before God, we give up so much and to such a degree that we find that we no longer have anything in common with the rest of the world.

There are many people who are searching for God and will go wherever they need to in order to find the answers and the truth that they are looking for. But others are not at that point yet. They may be hurting or they may have given up altogether. Unless they have people in their lives who can be a visible witness, be a face through which Christ’s light can shine and a reminder that there is still reason to hope and to continue fighting, then many times they don’t have a reason to even try.

One thing that many believers don’t understand is how our gifts, our talents, hobbies, etc, can be a connecting point where we can come together with the lost and the hurting; to be the visible witness that they need. They can be avenue’s through which we can start building their trust. The more they trust us, the more they will value and be willing to listen to the truth that God has for them. Unless we can find a common ground where we can come together and start building the relationships where that can happen, then in reality, we are just shooting ourselves in the foot. In our very attempts at being holy and separated before God, we are destroying one of our greatest tools, that God has given us, to fulfill the great commission.

A large part of denying self is in seeking God for how to use the things we already enjoy doing and doing them in moderation, so they don’t become a stumbling block between us and God. He doesn’t want to deny us of these things, but instead to break us of the hold that they have over us, so that in time we can use them to Glorify God and advance His kingdom.

#5 Joel Stoddert

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:35 PM

I ask this question in search of not just a theological answer but a practical answer also. Scripture talks of suffering as Jesus suffered and denying ourself - What exactly does the suffering and denial look like in our modern western culture?

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

I think that to deny self and even to suffer has little to do with any kind of pain. The thorns into Jesus head , the spear in His side, the lashes, and the death was suffering. But I ask, isn't denying and suffering today refer to some of the lust pleasures , things we would like to enjoy but refuse. The flesh suffers and whines. I dread to think how this might lessen and even demean what Jesus suffered and it is not meant to do so. But none of us will likely be beaten, speared or stoned or die of attacks for Jesus.

So I have to think that denial of self and suffering is something much more practical in this age, like refusing the desires of my flesh, doing righteousness even when I don't "feel" like it, spending spare time praying/ ministering instead of at my hobby or tv, taking every thought captive and so on.

Feedback/understanding/revelation please .


I think you're right, Brian, in saying that denying self can take many different forms, and doesn't often mean, at least here in America, serious persecution or taking life-threatening risks. I would add, however, that for many believers in this fallen world, denying self can indeed mean being willing to suffer and even die for Christ. The Bible says believers make up a worldwide Body of Christ, and that we are to bear one another's burdens. In a practical sense, that means taking on the suffering of others as our own when it would be easier not to think about it because we're not the ones suffering. That may mean praying for persecuted believers, writing to people in limited access countries or imprisoned for their faith, making a sacrificial financial gift to a ministry to persecuted believers, etc. Here at home, where we deal mostly with other types of suffering, it may mean financially assisting a brother or sister who has been laid off, visiting a dying fellow believer, writing to a fellow Christian in prison, speaking out against attacks on our freedom of religion,and more.

#6 Jay Turner

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 10:34 AM

Here in America and in the Western World, we don't see the mission field as being on our front lawn. We see the great needs of the world to be in the third world countries, so we think of our part as doing all the support work like praying and giving money to support others ministries. That is a good starting place, but as we are playing those support roles, we should also be seeking God and preparing to go to fight on the front lines ourselves. Not everyone is called to go to far away lands, but there is great need right here in our own country; in our own cities and towns. The more, we as believers, go beyond the walls of our churches and get out into the world around us to be a light and to have an impact in our own communities, the better prepared we will be able to play all the various support roles to missionaries in other countries.

One of the problems that we see is that we harbor a very hands off approach to ministry. It is easier to pray or to give money than it is to go out to the front-lines of our communities. As we start going beyond the walls of our churches here, we start breaking free of our tendencies to let others do the work, and the great commission becomes more of a personal objective than an organizational one. As people see the impact of what we can do in our own communities and countries, more and more people will want to be a part of it, creating a snowball effect.

One of the opportunities that we see here is how believers and non-beleiers alike could start coming together to make change and to build community. The more of a close-knit community that we have, the more needs can be met, the more trust can be built and more lives can be impacted for God's kingdom. And of course the more lives are impacted and brought into the fold, the greater the foundation is to be able to play support roles for missionaries in other countries.

In order for that to happen, we need strong leaders and pastors who can see the possibilities. We need to be able to overcome our differences so we can start uniting and working together as a singular cohesive whole/body. We need to be asking the tough questions and looking at how we can go beyond the walls of our churches, so we can play a greater role in our communities. What that also means is that we may need to change how we see the church and how we do church. Instead of building churches that are designed around the congregation and the church services, maybe we can start community groups that have a common draw for believers and non-believers alike, then build buildings that are designed to help advance those groups.

The important thing here is that as the body of Christ we need to become more active in the world around us. It is possible for individuals with specific callings on their lives to implement it themselves, but it is so much easier when our churches and our denominations not only support these changes, but also play an active role in the preparation, creation and the sending. It is also important that pastors and church leaders take enough of a hands off approach where those who have the vision and the calling feel that they can take these ministries wherever God is leading them, without feeling they need to compromise to please the elders or the church board.

To get back on subject, one aspect of denying self and taking up our crosses comes with the realization that being obedient to God will quite often place us in direct opposition to what pastors and other spiritual leaders may think. Just look at Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther and so many others. Sometimes being obedient to God means that we must oppose or break away from those in places of spiritual authority. God holds us responsible for our own choices and sometimes the choice that is placed before us is whether we will walk in obedience before God or walk in the appearance of righteousness before men. Sometimes the two line up, but more often than not they don't. That is one reason why it is so important that believers know God for themselves and are willing to walk in obedience to the Spirit's guidance, and that we understand how each of us is on a distinct path, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.

#7 Dan Morrow

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 11:07 AM

Some practical examples from the world of business.

One of my employees gains knowledge of a serious, career threatening error I've made. It's fully within my rights to terminate the employee. Clearly using my positional power to "control" the situation is contrary to kingdom principles and would (further) discredit my witness. Do I have the guts to trust God and take ownership of the consequences of my error, or do I exercise my power of this employee to ensure the secret remains a secret to protect myself from my sin?

Every book, every expert, in the market is promoting a clear cut and proven method for growing my business into a profitable enterprise. The rub is that the Holy Spirit has made it clear that those methods aren't for me. For me to obey the Spirits leading will force me to take a very public, unorthodox, management risk that by all estimations will lead to, at best, some level of survival. Do I have the guts to risk my business and my credibility to allow the Holy Spirits guidance on a course of management and business strategies?

#8 Denes House

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 11:27 AM

Jay, how do you reconcile statements like this:

In order for that to happen, we need strong leaders and pastors who can see the possibilities.


...with statements like this:

To get back on subject, one aspect of denying self and taking up our crosses comes with the realization that being obedient to God will quite often place us in direct opposition to what pastors and other spiritual leaders may think. Just look at Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther and so many others. Sometimes being obedient to God means that we must oppose or break away from those in places of spiritual authority. God holds us responsible for our own choices and sometimes the choice that is placed before us is whether we will walk in obedience before God or walk in the appearance of righteousness before men. Sometimes the two line up, but more often than not they don't. That is one reason why it is so important that believers know God for themselves and are willing to walk in obedience to the Spirit's guidance, and that we understand how each of us is on a distinct path, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.


They seem contradictory. Perhaps you're defining "strong leaders and pastors" differently than most?

Do you truly mean to say that you think that walking in obedience to God more often than not means opposing people in positions of spiritual authority?



For those who are wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove..."

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#9 Marvin Harrell

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 03:46 PM

Do you truly mean to say that you think that walking in obedience to God more often than not means opposing people in positions of spiritual authority?

I would echo Denes' point, Jay. Just so I understand what you are saying, how are you defining the first reference to strong leaders and pastors?

As I understand your point, the first reference is to those evidencing the fruit/filling of the Holy Spirit and the second is to Pharisaical leaders. But are we not to show submission to God and denial to self in any/all circumstance that God places us? It's not so much about the situation or the people around us at that point but our submission (or taking up our cross) to God. Just interested in if I'm hearing you correctly.

Looking forward to your thoughts or input from others in regards to the positional relationship context.
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#10 Jay Turner

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 12:32 AM

When God speaks to me, it is normally not through dreams or visions or anything like that. There was one time though where I had been sleeping in and I woke up with a single sentence in my thoughts. I believe that God was talking to me in that time and what He said was, “My children have forgotten what it means to love.” I didn’t really know what He was trying to say to me in that, so I just filed it away. That was probably about 12 years ago.

Since that time, He has shown me a lot of different things ranging from abuses in the church, a vision of what the church could become if we will humble ourselves and let the Holy Spirit work it through us, different truths in scripture about God and the relationship that He desires to have with us and different aspects of the calling that He has placed on my life.

Thinking back, I can think of numerous times where I felt led to share some of these things with different people. Mostly I shared the aspects of building up the body of Christ and taking the church outside the walls. Many of the people were pastors or leaders in the church. There were some that just didn’t seem to get it. Others were too caught up in the politics of the church to be bothered with what I had to share. But it seemed that most of them were able to see the value in what I was sharing. The thing that they missed was more the opportunity that God was placing in-front of them.

I know through personal experience how tough it is to have a vision and a calling from God, yet not have anyone who will believe in you. I know what it is like to be part of a church where you are withering away, day-by-day, because you don’t have the support or the outlet to step out into the calling that God has placed on your life. I know what it is like to be ostracized by pastors and by the church for stepping out in faith and walking in obedience to where God is leading you. Because of this, I have learned that though we cannot rely on our pastors, spiritual leaders or the other members of the body of Christ, we can always rely on God to be here for us when no one else is.

We have to be obedient to where God is leading us above all else. If that means disobeying our pastors or leaving our church, then I would rather do that miss the calling that God has placed on my life. I have lost more friends and been through more spiritual abuse than I wish to remember, but I have not lost my faith in God. I am not part of a local church, at least not in the normal sense, and I probably will never be again, for the world has become my church. Yet in the midst of it all, I have never stopped fighting for the church. I fight for it every day of my life.

Of all the things I fight for, I fight to bring the body of Christ outside the walls of the church. We have become complacent and a bit too comfortable within the churches walls. I think we all know this and most of our churches are looking and praying for revival and the day of Christ’s return, yet are we ready to pay the price that it will cost us to become the bride without spot or wrinkle?

Just looking at what I have seen on this forum, I have brought up idea after idea of how we can work toward helping believers seek God for themselves and place the focus back on God instead of on our pastors. I have brought up ideas of how we can start moving outside the walls of the church, so we can have a greater impact on the world around us. Every once in a while I would get a comment in passing of how an idea was a good one, but more often than not, instead of picking up on an idea, running with it and seeing where we could go with it as a group, the response that I saw more in the lines of picking one or two points that someone didn’t agree with and focusing on those instead of seeing the value in what was said. I have seen this happen time and time again. Not just on this forum, but it seems that it is everywhere I go.

Are we dealing with spiritual blindness? Are we dealing with complacency? Maybe in some cases, but more than anything the biggest problem that we face is that we are so distracted with doing church, that we are missing the finer points of being the church. We focus on having correct theology when we should be focusing on people. If God wants us to have perfect theology and a perfect understanding of Him, He has all of eternity to straighten us out. But we only have this life to bring people into the fold and to prepare them for the life to come. We focus on building up our churches, perfecting our services and filling our pews when we should be preparing believers with the tools and the resources that they need, so they can go out into the world and be a light that shines into the darkness.

It seems that we have boiled the whole idea of ministry down to the point where it is mostly about giving our tithe’s and offerings, becoming pastors or missionaries to foreign lands or serving as deacons, ushers, nursery workers or Sunday School teachers. We tend to forget about all the gifts and talents that God has given to each and every one of us. We should be feeding those gifts and helping people to see how they can use them to glorify God. We should be bringing people together who have common interests and common vision and helping them to step into the calling on their lives.

To answer your question, we need pastors and leaders within our churches who are willing to look past the church politics and stop playing church as usual. We need to realize how this isn’t about us against them. It isn’t a battle between the believers and the un-believers. Instead, our greatest enemies are our need to do things as they have always been done and pastors and leaders who don’t see the real value of God’s grace. Grace isn’t just our key to salvation, but it is God saying that He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He just wants our hearts. It is better to be real and open before man and God than to live in the appearance of righteousness.

To bring this to a close, we are all leaders in our own way. Because of that, we all need to ask ourselves “What we are doing with the gifts and talents that we have been given? How are we encouraging and enabling others to step into the calling that God has placed on their lives? And how are we using the authority and power that we have been entrusted with? Is it for our own interest or are we placing God and others before ourselves?”

Like I said before, God doesn’t expect perfection. He just wants our hearts and to know that when He needs us, we are ready and willing to go. Our relationships with Him will not look the same. They should not look the same. So, lets stop creating molds of conformity of what we think a believer should look like. Instead let them become what God has created them to be, while being there to help them in their process of discovery. As long as they keep seeking Him, He will be sure to complete the work that He has started, for that we need not worry.

#11 Marvin Harrell

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 08:29 AM

Thinking back, I can think of numerous times where I felt led to share some of these things with different people. Mostly I shared the aspects of building up the body of Christ and taking the church outside the walls. Many of the people were pastors or leaders in the church. There were some that just didn’t seem to get it. Others were too caught up in the politics of the church to be bothered with what I had to share. But it seemed that most of them were able to see the value in what I was sharing. The thing that they missed was more the opportunity that God was placing in-front of them.

I know through personal experience how tough it is to have a vision and a calling from God, yet not have anyone who will believe in you. I know what it is like to be part of a church where you are withering away, day-by-day, because you don’t have the support or the outlet to step out into the calling that God has placed on your life. I know what it is like to be ostracized by pastors and by the church for stepping out in faith and walking in obedience to where God is leading you. Because of this, I have learned that though we cannot rely on our pastors, spiritual leaders or the other members of the body of Christ, we can always rely on God to be here for us when no one else is.


I think hear what you are saying, Jay. And I think I'm hearing your disappointment in some pastors and churches that you have been a involved with. So if I understand, it's about pastors and leaders not hearing what God is saying to them via His speaking through you? No judgment here, I'm just trying to understand what you are presenting.

We have to be obedient to where God is leading us above all else. If that means disobeying our pastors or leaving our church, then I would rather do that miss the calling that God has placed on my life...Yet in the midst of it all, I have never stopped fighting for the church. I fight for it every day of my life.


I'm a bit concerned about this point. It seems that you are abandoning what God has put in place when it comes to the church. When we are called the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, and to me that indicates a group and gathering of people. The concept of God's calling on our lives, in my opinion, can't be lived out in the vacuum of fellowship. Otherwise where is accountability to the Holy Spirit in one another?

As this topic is related to denying ourselves, I'm reminded that within a fellowship is much opportunity to take up a cross and humbly follow Jesus while walking along side fellow believers.

Of all the things I fight for, I fight to bring the body of Christ outside the walls of the church. We have become complacent and a bit too comfortable within the churches walls.

I hear that. The church can't be cloistered away. The salt does no good when it is kept in the salt shaker. It can only season when applied!

Just looking at what I have seen on this forum, I have brought up idea after idea of how we can work toward helping believers seek God for themselves and place the focus back on God instead of on our pastors...Are we dealing with spiritual blindness? Are we dealing with complacency? Maybe in some cases, but more than anything the biggest problem that we face is that we are so distracted with doing church, that we are missing the finer points of being the church...It isn’t a battle between the believers and the un-believers. Instead, our greatest enemies are our need to do things as they have always been done and pastors and leaders who don’t see the real value of God’s grace.

Agreed, doing and being are different things. But this topic is still about denying self.

I think that when we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, we live humbly with one another within the fellowship of the church and are causing a stir outside the walls of the church with those who have not yet experienced Jesus' grace and love. It works both ways if we are intentionally living in lock step with the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, I see as you do that too many people are stuck within the walls of the institutional church.

To bring this to a close, we are all leaders in our own way. Because of that, we all need to ask ourselves “What we are doing with the gifts and talents that we have been given? How are we encouraging and enabling others to step into the calling that God has placed on their lives? And how are we using the authority and power that we have been entrusted with? Is it for our own interest or are we placing God and others before ourselves?”

Indeed, all good questions, Jay. A great challenge to wake up and live like we have been called to live. And to tie it back to the topic, how are we denying ourselves daily and walking in relationship with Jesus in such a way that people take notice of His love?

Like I said before, God doesn’t expect perfection. He just wants our hearts and to know that when He needs us, we are ready and willing to go. Our relationships with Him will not look the same. They should not look the same. So, lets stop creating molds of conformity of what we think a believer should look like.


I'm not sure that "molds of conformity" is what is happening here. The Alliance started as a grouping of believers seeking to grow in relationship with Jesus and out of that came the desire to spread that relationship around the world. Yes, we are a denomination, but to quote L.L. King, " The Alliance is a unique missionary denomination-a maverick movement inot whose soul the Head of the Church breathed "Go!" from the very start." And a major part of being, doing, and going is the main question that started this thread, "What exactly does the suffering and denial look like in our modern western culture?"

Sorry for the length of this, everyone. But I want to make sure we all know that what is posted is worthy of response, no matter the length!
Marvin Harrell
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#12 Jay Turner

Jay Turner

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:36 AM

Marvin Harrell said: “I think hear what you are saying, Jay. And I think I'm hearing your disappointment in some pastors and churches that you have been a involved with. So if I understand, it's about pastors and leaders not hearing what God is saying to them via His speaking through you? No judgment here, I'm just trying to understand what you are presenting.”

I am almost disappointed that you would think that this was about me. Yes it is tough when you have something to say; yet no one seems to be listening. Just imagine what it would be like to have a severe speech impediment and how frustrating it would be just to get people to understand you. It doesn’t matter whether it comes from me or from you or from whoever. The point is that the body of Christ is so inured in doing church that it has forgotten what it means to be the church. We don’t need our buildings or our music or our Sunday services. We could get rid of it all and probably be the better for it. It is supposed to be about people and relationships, but we pervert it into something that God never intended it to be.

Marvin Harrell said: “I'm a bit concerned about this point. It seems that you are
abandoning what God has put in place when it comes to the church. When we are called the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, and to me that indicates a group and gathering of people. The concept of God's calling on our lives, in my opinion, can't be lived out in the vacuum of fellowship. Otherwise where is accountability to the Holy Spirit in one another?

As this topic is related to denying ourselves, I'm reminded that within a fellowship is much opportunity to take up a cross and humbly follow Jesus while walking along side fellow believers.”

So, what is the church? Like I said, it is about people and relationships. It is about coming together with others and inviting God into our communications and interactions. Right now, aren’t we the church? For didn’t Jesus say, “Wherever two or three are gathered in My name, I am there.” Church can take on the form of Sunday Worship and that conception of church, but just think of the percentage of people who go to church every Sunday and Wednesday, yet somehow get lost in translation. Church can happen anywhere and in any situation. It can take on a variety of different forms and functions, yet when I say that I am not part of “a” church, at least not in it’s normal sense of the word, you become concerned that I am abandoning what God has put in place when it comes to the church. This is just one of those molds of conformity that I was talking about. Marvin, just think of your job at the CM&A National Office. Do you have others that you fellowship with? Do you have people there to hold you accountable? If so, then in your time there, that is your church, whether you recognize it as that or not. So why do we feel the need to force everyone into the same mold?

From what we see in scripture, how much time during His ministry here on earth, did Jesus spend in the synagogue? From my recollection, I can only think of one time, and that was when read from Isaiah in Luke 4. Though it doesn't seem that He spent a lot of time in the synagogue, during his adult life, wherever He went, the church was right there where He was.

I realize how we do come with very different understandings of God, scripture, the church etc, but those differences are what make us the parts of the body of Christ that we are. We become the body as we realize the uniqueness of who God has created us to be, accept each other in the midst of their differences and learn to work together in spite of them. I think we have realized how we do have some pretty fundamental differences, but the question is, can we learn to accept each other and work together, all the same?