Tuesday 25 December 2012

In the manger is the Bread of Life Part One

Joseph withdraws having laid Jesus in a manger
the shepherds kneel to worship the baby Saviour
Stills from Zefirelli : Jesus of Nazareth,YouTube
Chris Welch:Praise God for a totally different Psalm 91 LIFE FORM in a cow trough!!!! A cow trough!!!! What does that tell you about the BREAD for the LIFE OF THE WORLD!!!
Rich Novek:It tells me the Manna (daily portion of Christ IN us and as us) that comes from the unseen and unlimited Heaven is the only true Spiritual Food and Drink, born in the city named "House of Bread!"

Anne Parker: Manger Rap
a manger- a stranger- 
come danger- look out...
Jesus a baby- now adult- 

look out. dangerous in peace- 
did that mean all war would cease- 
or maybe -war just begun? 
a war on what? 
peace..a war on babies took place...
 but Josephs' mob was on the pace..
King Herod was worried about losing face...
 Jesus- now adult- grown up-
 do we keep him contained in a cup of thought? 
i think we ought to grow up in view-
 of him...manger-danger? 
How about creating a glory story? 
iconic- ironic..

Why are we focussing on this manger? I know I am this Christmas.

My friend Tim Elwell was encouraged by two elders in Havant Church to tithe properly.
Knowing the two brothers Simon Waters and Tony Powell, I can hear myself as I was in the 90s in their conversation.

The general charismatic line of teaching uses Malachi 3:10 "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse", together with Abraham's encounter pre - Mosaic Law with Melchizedek the King of Salem when he gave him a tithe of all he had, to supposedly build a new Covenant picture of tithing. Benny Hinn taught us this in Birmingham 1991, and Juan Carlos Ortiz wrote openly along these lines learned from his Pentecostal roots.
This whole area is discussed in the Pastor Pyramid and Tithing.

What these brothers were doing in good faith was to get Tim in a  "place of blessing" by opening his finances to the Kingdom.
Tim never found tithing to Havant Church to "work".
I must admit, from the 70s to quite recently I have found that my tithing did "work", but I tried to be sensitive to whom and to what I gave my tithe and offerings.

But what we are confusing is two things: GIVING and TITHES.
Giving is an openended New Covenant concept that simply states GIVE and it shall be given you, pressed down,full and overflowing.  It makes NO sense to an accountant.  Huge ministries run on this whole concept of supernatural addition when we give.

So this week, in a similar style to St Paul addressing Peter about circumcision, I addressed everyone equally, leaders and flock by email stating that just as Circumcision has been done away with, so has the Tithe.
We are NOT Jews.  But We DO GIVE. More or less or nothing as led.
You see the real issue as Nancy Gilmore writes is that according to Romans 12 the new Covenant equivalent of the tithe is....
Everything comes out from that.

But we need to open out our aperture, out from this issue of giving to a much wider view, and this is what my thinking has been centering on the manger this Christmas.

You see what Jesus is doing is frankly huge. It has bypassed the Jews, and now it seems it has bypassed the age of the church. Neither the Jews nor the Church "really get it."  As I have said before.....EVERY MOUTH IS UNSTOPPED....no one, not one has recognised Jesus in the manger, nor Jesus in the Festival of the  waving of the Sheaf on Resurrection Sunday morning.

In the next post I want to explain this more. Meanwhile as a pictorial illustration of what it is we are coming out from some of you may want to examine the two sides of the argument. It has become unnecessarily heated and in times past many of these sort of conflicts would never get reported and people of the world would be totally confused why say Lutherans suddenly parted from Catholics, or Anabaptists and Baptists splitting from the eucharistic denominations, and the Brethren from the one man ministry denominations....and so it goes on as God the Holy Spirit gives Light on what has always existed as a Pattern in the Heavenlies, but mankind was too wrapped up in his secular ways to bother looking intently enough.

As a result of the visit by the elders to Tim Chris writes:
Peter and Mariette,
I was very concerned to hear about Jonathan and Tony's visit to Tim Elwell.
Not the bulk of it, nor that they expressed enough concern to visit.
But the insistance on the tithe.
As churches press on into God, you will soon find yourselves on your
own in the old tithe belief.
I find it strange that God can speak to you about softening your leadership
pyramid style of 15 years ago, and still you believe that we have to "do" anything
with regard to our salvation.
Like circumcision, this is not a demand of the New Covenant.
Instead we participate in  an invitation to join the Kingdom Giving cycle
where we give and it is given us, pressed down etc.
We give as led. We support those in ministry, as led,and give to the poor
and the general advance of the Kingdom.
 Not even our right hand knows what our left is doing.
(The way Havant still runs....if we pay by cheque all and sundry
know what we are doing...AND DEMAND A TITHE to an institution
with charity status that is wrongly termed a church. A church is an ekklesia
made up entirely of those who are moving together on Word from the Living God.
"All those in a local area who are believers and call upon the Living God together")
Those who give Word , or are mature, know God is their life, and know God is their supplier.
If not enough is coming in, they go out and do a job, or do something self-employed.
In the Kingdom this is the norm. Only in worldly church systems is this deemed
a "shame" or a "failure".
In fact the "shame of Christ" is continually heaped on us as God's people,
and this is all part of surging forward with the Cross of Jesus.

So , one principle wasn't communicated to Tim and one wrong one was.
Tim said, since i am only receiving £150 a week i cannot afford to pay a tithe.
As we all know, anything we give to God, God honours and either gives more
back, or in the widow and the cruse story, expands what we have. So we
don't lose by it.

The ONLY requirement that we have is given in Romans 12.

The laying down of all we are,all we have, all agendas,all thought of

what we will ever be,who we think we are,what we even think is God's will...

Everything is open and laid bare before God.....we lay it all down as living

sacrifices....and whatever we hear the Lord tell us to do we do it.

There's no talk of tithe.
There's no talk of church on Sundays.
Because the first requisite has been done, and everything else is fluid
around it.
And Romans 12 is the result of 11 packed chapters of solid gold revelation
which is the outcome of laying the foundation of Christ in a group of believers.
You can't even get to Romans 12 if you haven't laid the Christ revelation.
So now are you beginning to see why Paul funded himself?
He funded himself to give God's own Word and Grace to kick in properly
in groups of believers....so that when they did respond it would be a Holy Spirit
response. It would actually be Christ Himself responding in a believer.
Havant was built at a time when we were all still working out what the gospel was.
It's on a mixture of sand and pure Rock. The Rock bit grows and expands.
The sandy bit just sit there like stuffed olives and never change year in year out.
And nor can they. Only Christ grows of Himself.

As Jesus Himself found, you can have Andy Elmes sized multitudes, but
when you get to John 6, they all walk off anyway. The only growth in the Kingdom comes
from 12 who get to understand there is an "exchange of life". And, actually, that's all you
need. Because when Christ  transplants Himself
it's explosive
it's exponential
it's 12 times 12 times 12 or much more....
I can see Jonathan Bundy and Tony Powell being called by the synagogue
to check out Jesus and the 12 disciples.
"Ummmm we noticed you weren't in the synagogue today?"
"No, we were down on the shore today preaching to a few thousand."
" So you were neither in the synagogue, nor paying your tithes?"
" No, not today. Today the Spirit led us to the shore"
" I see you are picking grain in the field on the Sabbath....."
"Yes we're quite peckish now....."

Ed Harding of New Wine Ministries, and in Havant writes:

Well as everyone got circulated  I'm feeling like having a go too , as  there is some  confusion what the Bible actually says !!

You need to read Matthew  5:18-19 - the key passage to understand all this .

The Law has NOT been abolished .  Verse 18 is very clear about that.

I hear Christians , including you , Chris , saying the Law has been abolished .
Jesus says the opposite ! It's there in black and white in verse 18 - or red if you have a red letter Bible !
Be very careful you don't bring the judgement of verse 19 on yourself .It's a serious warning.
What has been abolished is the requirement to KEEP the Law, which is very different and  so our righteousness is established now by faith alone .
Christians are not required to KEEP  the Law, including the law of the tithe.
Paul picks up the argument in Romans  and concludes in Romans 3:31 ..We UPHOLD  the Law.
Again we don't KEEP it . We can't , but we do UPHOLD it . What does that mean?
So carrying it from there the Law of the tithe has NOT been abolished , however we not required to KEEP it , as part of the Law. That distinction is crucial to an understanding of grace and New Testament theology , including Galatians 5 :1 all about our freedom.
Fast forward to Romans 3:31 and the way you UPHOLD the Law is to honour God with the tithe , but NOT to keep the Law !
As so many people got circulated I do hope this helps bring clarity and we are indeed free from the OBLIGATION to keep the Law to be righteous.
Nevertheless those who do seek to UPHOLD ( not KEEP !)  the Law and honour God with the tithe
are following sound biblical principles , but not under compulsion.
That's freedom and grace , and why God loves a cheerful giver.
Christmas blessings to everyone on the circulation list!

Chris replies

Dear All,
I'm glad you raised this Ed (comment above)
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not [h]the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches [i]others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever [j]keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus did indeed fulfil all things.
As a Jew.

We are not Jews.
So somehow we have to allow the Spirit to show us what " keeping the smallest letter or stroke of the Law means"
Because it doesn't mean circumcision
It doesn't mean  not eating bacon or winkles and shellfish

And it doesn't mean tithing to a priesthood....there isn't one....we all are.

It's not quite what the Catholic Church told us 1600 years ago.
There's no pyramid pastor.There are overseers who are simply just more mature
in the faith, and older, so they are called elders.
Some ministries are fulltime, some are parttime, some hold down jobs full time.
We are instructed to give to the household of faith.
The amount is unspecified. And the household of faith include those believers
who are living by faith. Those with jobs have their own funding.
Those widows, or those without jobs, or ministries looking to the Lord fulltime...
these are the household of faith.
Tithing to certain ministries means by definition they are not looking to the Lord
anymore than a salaried person. or self employed person is when things get tough.
We are free to do all things, give nothing,give 5%,give 10% give 90%. The New Covenant
has nothing to do with the amount we give.
We are justified by faith and the work of God is simply believing in the One who lives my Life
now He has entered.

As a father in the faith I must insist on this, for laying any other foundation is not Christ.

We do what the Spirit of God tells us, and particularly in the realm of giving we hardly let
our left hand even know what we are doing.

Kay Elwood has said she felt the Body of Christ is under attack. I am here by the Spirit of the Lord to say

Jerusalem too felt under attack when Jesus opened His mouth, because what they heard was attack.
I am attacking ofcourse, any self-reliance,or attempt at self-righteousness since Christ has truly done
all things. Some of you need to stop tithing and rest. You need to look again at your Saviour and listen to Him.
Tithing absolutely is not part of the New Covenant and never was, any more than not eating bacon was.
 While as I wrote before,giving everything to Him so He can take it all through the Cross, is.  But what that means in practice for each is up to Him and His
Spirit to show for He has been poured out to lead us into all Truth.

Kay Elwood writes

Dear chris. 

Matthew 23v23- tells us Jesus says that tithes and integrity go hand in hand. He has strong words to say to the nitpicking critical Pharisees. He says they have tithed even their herbs and spices whilst neglecting important matters of the law- like justice, mercy and faithfulness. He then says they should do both. in other words its not just outward actions but our heart attitude and that works its way out in our words and actions.
And 1timothy 5v17 (NIV) says the Elder who directs the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour  (AMP)- and of adequate financial support),  especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. And, the worker deserves his wages. 

Over 30 years of being a part of the body of Christ here I have no doubt that our Elders have led us and directed us well. We have first hand experience of their love , care ,help and direction personally and as a body. 

We are more than happy to tithe and give offerings. We want our Elders to be blessed. And I'm pretty sure most people don't tell their bosses if you feel like paying me then pay me you want. God is a God of order and so is the world He created and His kingdom runs on good sound principles. 


Kay Ellwood

 Chris Replies

Thanks for sharing that Kay.
If we were talking about a Company we would have a contract. And as a freewill step we willingly sign up or not. I had to (do that  with a company)recently, and I accepted in writing that every day was equal to me, so I will be working Christmas Day at normal rates. Since 400 AD we have carried over many beliefs just by momentum. We never checked them over in the Spirit. One recent one was the notion of one pyramid head, priest/vicar/ pastor. There is no trace of this in the NT. Nor tithing. The synagogue rabbi is not how the Body of Christ now works. Nor tithing. But for those living by faith...sure, we are invited to give. But just as Elaine Waterfield now lives by dependance on God targeting the virgin region of Migori, so do all new covenant ministries. In the Spirit there is no permission given to demand a tithe, this comes from the carnal mind, just as does laying out an Anglican Church in the form of a Temple with a Holy of Holies at the back. You can see where it comes from- great idea pictorially- but actually from the pit of hell.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone
Kay writes

Faith isn't faith unless its based on something God says. Its presumption. In my bible it says if a man doesn't work then neither shall he eat. Its not faith when a person lets it be known they don't work For a living they live by faith. Thats virtually asking people for money and no doubt its the people that get told that pay the money to support such a lifestyle. Even Paul was a tent maker to earn a living whilst preaching the gospel , and you couldn't call him a man who didn't live by faith.  I think I'll stick with what the bible teaches, and the Holy Spirit witnesses  with my spirit, and over 50 years of living this Christian confirms. I choose to live by faith on a daily basis to. And I hear The Lord clearly.

I'd also prefer not to discuss this anymore.  It's not faith building nor is it going anywhere.
Our salvation isn't at stake here thank The Lord.

Chris writes

That is exactly right. Faith isn't faith unless it's based on something God says. In Martin's(Kay's husband) case, if He has heard something specific about the Muslim world then God will supply and God will make clear.
You write:
 In my bible it says if a man doesn't work then neither shall he eat. Its not faith when a person lets it be known they don't work For a living they live by faith.
This is the way George Mueller felt to run things it is true.
I heartily already agreed with you. I wrote here
Those who give Word , or are mature, know God is their life, and know God is their supplier.
If not enough is coming in, they go out and do a job, or do something self-employed.
In the Kingdom this is the norm. Only in worldly church systems is this deemed
a "shame" or a "failure".
In fact the "shame of Christ" is continually heaped on us as God's people,
and this is all part of surging forward with the Cross of Jesus.
However the New Covenant is free. Isaiah 55 and John 7 specifically talk about God's water of Life being free.
The whole New Covenant community is described in Psalm 110...as those volunteering freely in the Day of His Power.
The Day of His Power began in Acts 2 and still continues.
The Levitical code of tithing to a priesthood or now a group of ministries is over.
The gospel only progresses as we GIVE OURSELVES.
Romans 12 as I have said demands everything.
What "everything " means at any instance is up to the Holy Spirit.

Ministries do not have the jurisdiction to claim a tithe,  to live from a tithe.
It is very interesting you writing :It's not faith when a person lets it be known they don't work .
Because that is exactly what ministries HAVE done since 400 AD in the Catholic Church.
We know they do work. Actually they are salaried employees of a system that operates just like
a worldly business, and it certainly IS NOT OF FAITH, because they equally have announced
they are not supported so PAY UP.
This has to stop in the Body of Christ if we are ever to rise to maturity. The Gospel is Free or it
is nothing. We all support each other as led by the Holy Spirit.
Simon Waters replies

Dear Chris
Your concern for Tim is good. I would however like to make three observations.
1. The New testament clearly talks about the care we as the body of Christ need to have for those having a hard time. I presume that as well as writing emails you have fed him, given money to him and offered shelter/ accommodation to him.
2. The New Testament also talks about the way that correction is carried out. If you have taken exception to what Jonathan and Tony said I presume you spoke to them first, then, when you got no satisfaction, you spoke to the leaders and then... well that comes in number three.
3. As Kay has said, I too totally and unconditionally love, respect and support our leaders. To me they demonstrate the love and heart of God both to those in our part of the body of Christ as well as those outside it. I delight to come under their authority just as they come under God's authority and make themselves accountable to others. I cannot help but wonder why, if you feel so strongly about this matter, that you are not actively looking for a fellowship where you are happy  with the leaders and their theology.
You may have noticed that I have only addressed this to those in the chain that you should have spoken to. In choosing to trash the leaders of Portsdown in the broad way you did I for one feel that you should not enter the building without first apologizing to the leaders and following that you should apologise to the body.
I feel hurt by your words- and they are not even aimed at me!
I have appreciated many of the words you have brought in the past, but St Paul is quite clear about those who prophesy without love in 1Cor 13.
Please consider what I have put forward and feel free to correct me if I have been out of line.
Your brother

I was annoyed by the phrase "trash the leadership" since my heart isn't about trashing anybody, but just getting folk to understand they are Jesus as them, and to so get that, that they have it by consciousness."
So I wrote.....Simon,
I think you ought to take back the remark about trashing the leadersship immediately Simon.
Since when does pointing out the wrongdoing of demanding a tithe from a New Covenant community constitute trashing leaders?
St Paul corrected St Peter infront of all inorder that they may all learn by it. The gospel is free. No circumcision. No tithing. There simply is no requirement other than love and giving by that love. It's an understandable mistake. We have all carried this teaching over from 400AD without asking the Holy Spirit. As for Tim. Ask him.
You are a good brother but it is important to get under your skin a bit in order that you grow. We have had an incredibly bland relationship you and I. Most unreal.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone
I then thought....if Havant actually allowed me freedom to share what would I say, how would I lead things?I put this on Facebook
Just out of interest what would be the Word I would share with Havant Church, a 30 year old church that is very similar to IHOP?
I think I'd run through the basics again. The fact that ALL the work has been done. I'd describe again what actually happened when Christ was crucified and all of them were brutally murdered by Death himself inside Jesus, and how the Spirit raised each one of them up in Christ, hidden,interleaved and interwoven in Christ in God.
That not one bit of Bible reading,praising,going to church,praying,soaking,was ever going to improve what has already been done on their insides. Maybe for a while I'd cancel church, all Bible reading, all quiet times so that they begin to leave all these umbilical chords to start to find Jesus own life within them as them, and maybe initially meet up in restaurants and pubs to share how they have been getting on. It would be a total 100% fast from all their tricks of the trade which they usually use to get that outside God of theirs to bless them every week. Maybe I'd ban tithing and offerings for a while so that they know they cant buy God's blessings either. I might let them give to each other meanwhile...especially the poorer ones. It would be a time of humbling for the leaders who have enjoyed instant dosh for years...though I know there have been hard periods. Nothing like for us lot though, who have had to find every scrap of cash ourselves. Gradually as we observe how Jesus is living in each one, and the sort of ways God was quickening them to actually be the Body of Christ in their own right, and not some general fuzzy shadow in the limelight of leadership....we'd try and aid and abet that process, just being sensitive to what Christ was doing in them.
Those that felt confident could then begin sharing what this new life in them was starting to be about. Perhaps we'd invite other non -believers to take a listen at this point and maybe ask questions.
Basically, like the tremendous disruption God caused in the very first church in Acts, we'd let the Holy Spirit completely overturn every fragment of what Havant Church considered to be their Christian life, individually or coporately, until at last people felt they were at least properly entering the growth stage which John called "young men", or Romans 6 to 8.
I'd try to have a lot of grace with Peter, and Mariette and John and Wendy Wilbraham, because of the good that they have achieved, but I'd try to be open to the Spirit to let Him break every last shred of Old Covenant domination in the church, until it really began to look like the description in Ephesians.....EVERYONE BUILDING THEMSELVES UP IN LOVE.....fitly joined by that which Every every every every....Joint supplies.

To which Simon starts to react a bit like chief packdog rounding up the herd

Dear all,
If you are starting to get fed up with Chris' pontifications- like the pope , being infallible in his judgements on us mere mortals; if you are getting frustrated by his harshness on our church and our friends in leadership; if you are annoyed at his attempts to introduce disunity into our fellowship there is one simple step to take- select his email, identify it as spam and from then on his turbulence will pass you by. Remove him from your Facebook friends if his diatribes reach you there- and pray for him. Not that he would become like us but rather he would experience the fullness of all God has for him.
Happy Christmas

Meanwhile Kay's husband Martin writes
Hi Chris,

As much as I like you as a bloke, and as much as you’re entitled to your views on matters, you’re now running the risk of being divisive.

And you don’t wanna do that….

You know the Bible well, right? You’ll know Titus 3:9-11.

9        But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
10      Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.
11      You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Strong words. Not mine, not yours, God’s. And they’re beginning to apply to you, in my opinion….

Please stop digging a hole for yourself. Please back off, get some perspective, and discuss matters humbly, in the right manner and via the right forum, which doesn’t include blasting people with circular emails.

I pray you, Christine and Ben have a relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful Christmas.

Your brother in Jesus,

I have said all I need to say.
You now know why the Lord didn't permit it until now even though I have been among you 12 years or so. In order that there be a heavenly record it needed saying once, whereas I have sat patiently through years and years and years of all your stuff. You can simply not say that is not fair. If I had said things first, even though I found them out 24 years ago, you would all have excuse. But saying them once after giving you all 12 years is extremely fair . What you are now doing is reacting like a set of packdogs, because your common belief system has been attacked. It would be no different if you Martin actually had the courage and mandate from the Lord to share the baptism in the Spirit a mere 500 yds from you in the Havant URC and questioned the validity of what they were trying to achieve week by week. We are where we are in God by our own choice and our own willingness to hear. John 7:19 I believe
Think about what you have written.
We as a group do not like what you say.
The bible does not like troublemakers
Therefore the Bible is calling you into question.

Now think.
Jesus overturns tables
Jews don't like anyone causing disruption in the temple.
It's a holy place.
Therefore and logically Jesus is not holy.
Let's kill him.

Identical logic. Can you not see that?

Thank God when He gives us His Spirit He gives us the whole deal and doesn't wait for our doctrine to catch up.
If anyone went to Havant URC (just down the road from our church) to talk to them, it would be the same deal. Jesus has done all these things.
They may have a hard time with things of the Spirit....but Jesus has actually poured out the same Spirit
for the URC as well, they just aren't making use of the package that came included in the Cross.

You would think from some of these replies from  Havant Church that they have a lot to learn...but the real truth thankfully is that they are a lot further on in the Spirit than they are in headknowledge. I think it is
true to say very few of them have caught galations 2:20 yet, so once you get them outside of a worship setting, they are right back into linear thinking again.

In the next post i want to lay out why Jesus coming in a manger is such a big deal.

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