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Yesterday, before the thunderstorm…
(Photo by Susanne Schuberth)

Let me provoke you here a bit. I argue that Satan has ruled the Institutional Church (IC) from her early beginnings and I also believe he did not stop there. The devil even goes so far to draw those into his spider web of lies again who once would leave the institutional church system because they saw its serious shortcomings. And it does not seem to me that he has had great difficulties in doing so. Whoever does not preach the true gospel of Christ, but a mixed version that is more pleasing to the listener’s ear, has become deceived whether they know it or not. But alas, they do not know it. If they did, they would not be deceived, right? They could repent if God gave them eyes to see the truth. It is so saddening to observe when they are confronted with the truth, instead of repentance, false spirits rise up and manifest the spirit of antichrist aka the ‘instead-of-Christ-spirit’ as Michael Clark told me several times in the past. There is our old self’s nature, our fallen human nature, the flesh that always wants to be like God without obeying Him and His Spirit’s leading (cf. Gal 5:14). In his recent recent article Michael wrote,

Man loves to try to do the works of God, accumulate knowledge, know with his own mind, and imitate God instead of knowing God intimately with his heart and allowing God to conform him into the image of Christ by the plan and design of the Father. The fleshly state of fallen man still loves to eat the fruit of that same forbidden tree instead of Jesus, the Tree of Life (See John 6:51).

Religious man loves to collect Bible knowledge and knowledge of doctrines so he can decide for himself what is good and what is evil. He loves to heap to himself teachers that tickle his religious ears and to garner to himself degrees in theology. Yet, when the New Testament speaks of “knowing the Lord,” it speaks of an intimate knowing that goes much deeper than a mere accumulation of facts.

In fact, if the cross which makes us suffer with our loving Lord has not yet been applied daily in our lives, we will most certainly go astray since our old nature is NOT willing to submit to God’s painful chastening and stripping off of ALL our desires and wishes to do something for God and to be seen and approved by man. Apostle Paul warned us here as he said,

”See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:8-14 ESV)

We read that we need to have been filled with His Spirit so that He can rule over our lives with His authority. We need to have experienced this sometimes extremely (!) painful circumcision of the heart where the former submission of our soul to Satan has been cut off completely so that we were freed to let Christ live in us. Brothers and sisters, there is NO way to avoid the way of the cross! We cannot jump over the abyss of the darkness of our own hearts and find ourselves in His light. Actually, our old nature gets blinded and feels very uncomfortable in His light which is so pure that no human being can stand it. We need to be fully emptied of our own likes and dislikes in order to be able to serve the living God by letting Him do what HE wants to do. Therefore, we need to be DEAD first before Jesus can pour His resurrection LIFE into us.

Imagine, dear reader, that all things we did for God without having waited for His guidance will perish like everything else which was created. These works count for nothing in the eyes of God. Only these works that God made for us to do (see Eph 2:10) will survive forever, which means, they will be remembered. Just one example from the Bible that came to my mind. Today we know that Jesus was appointed The Judge over all mankind. Let us observe His judgement on earth for example here.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mk 12:41-44 ESV)

Do we see the difference here? It is not about what or how much these rich people would give according to what the law or their own thoughts had told them. Instead, God who only sees the heart of man nudged this woman to give ALL she had. She was obedient to His voice and therefore Jesus approved of it. Today we can still read about it and remember this woman whom we never met. However, all these other things that were done for God were ignored by Jesus. Isn’t it amazing how different God’s judgment is from what we might be used to think?  🙄 As far as I have come to know our loving God, He always rewards our obedience immediately. For this very reason, I believe He gave this widow afterwards more money than she had before by speaking to the heart of someone else to bless her. But these are only my thoughts… 😉

In closing, I decided to add a poem below I had written about three years ago. At that time I was confronted with the observation how easy it is to go astray when you left the IC, which might have been God’s doing, and then you get more and more deceived by Satan without realizing it. I have been strongly tempted regarding these deceptions in my wilderness years, too. From hence, I do not judge anyone. But what I realize today is that we urgently need spiritual fellowship with brothers and sisters God gave us since we both need encouragement and correction from them whenever we miss God’s voice. Not that we can go to a meeting of believers and make any kind of fellowship or home church work as we see fit. Even if we think we were appointed by God to become a leader of others, we should not forget that the cross waits for all of us. If someone leads others and has not been crucified regarding their old nature, they will doubtlessly lead others astray. This is a great responsibility we need to face when we believe God has called us to minister others. Please, God, help us search our own hearts with the support of Your Holy Spirit here. Amen.

The Pilgrim’s Path

Men were as sheep who’d gone astray
All residents were on that way
Which seemed so easy, was so bright
As if God’s Heaven poured its light

Onto the earth from high above
But no – the dark or parts thereof
Created something similar
That birthed the hellish minister

A man who looked so fine and pure
That many thought, “A saint, for sure!”
He left the church for prophet’s call
And lost direction once for all

“How can this be?” might someone ask
“Why didn’t he fulfill his task?”
This story, oh, alas – it’s true
Could also speak of me and you

Please, be aware of Satan’s lie
Who says there’s nothing to deny
As long as you’re outside the crowd
“Awake, o man, lest you get proud!”

A pilgrim’s call will make it clear
We’ll share His disgrace in the rear
Of those who stand tall on their feet
And sit with comfort in their seat

It’s not our job to shout them down
Who show a shake of head or frown
Whenever we stand up and claim
To be His mouthpiece – that is vain

We ought to give our best for those
Who do not know our Lord that close
Instead, if one demands our life
We’ll leave it for Him without strife.

A prophet who is truly sent
Will as a pilgrim, not a gent
Love everyone who walks his way
And thus exhale our Lord’s bouquet