Sunday, November 11, 2018

Help! My Church Is Not Breathing

I have known of many local churches which have simply stopped breathing, in that they have ceased to show any signs of actual motivation or energy.  I’ve even pastored a couple of those churches over the last forty years.  And here’s what I’ve learned about “Church CPR.”

First, it is important to understand the precise nature of the emergency.  And, that’s really not very difficult since it is always the same uncomplicated thing.  The problem is Chronically Low Morale. This ongoing condition simply drains the life-energy right out of a church, over time.

I get that this doesn’t sound very spiritual.  The idea of morale sounds more like a military or corporate issue.  But, morale is also a very real and essential ingredient in the Church’s everyday life and operations. So, let’s look at how we can act immediately and decisively to save such a local church in this type of distress.  

The Foundational Idea…

But, we must begin with this foundational idea.  The Church only ever finds a durable and efficient vibrancy in the energy of the Living Christ. God's redemptive plan is for the Living Jesus to literally share his enriching divine energy with the individual members of His Church.   And, absolutely nothing can substitute for that divine connection to bring radiance to the individual believer, and, in turn, to the corporate Church.

  But, the practical reality is that the level of that radiance can be significantly impacted, and even entirely diminished, by the human condition - both in terms of the individual and the corporate Church. The simple truth is that the power of Christ is always available to the Church, but the Church is not always well positioned or even willing to avail itself of this wonderful and completely indispensable resource.  So, what follows is merely a prescription to correct the human ill condition if and when it occurs within the local church.  

But, please remain aware that the ultimate goal of this writing is not to restore the efficacy, efficiency, and emotional excitement merely to the "programming" of a local church.  The real goal is to enable the struggling church to recover Christ's shared diving energy which must always enable, enrich, and guide the individual believer and the Church's every corporate program and undertaking.  A church is only ever truly alive and healthy as it lives honestly under the Lordship and is intimately connected to the vitality of the Christ. 

Indeed, a healthy Spiritual life never emerges, for the individual or the corporate church, from merely the efficient prosecution of some noble level of busy work. It only ever resides in our truly intimate heart-oneness with the Living Christ.

 Now, A Fresh Look ... 
And, the first thing to recognize is that we are dealing with the needs of a people group.  And, all human groups are very complicated mechanisms.  But, one thing is universally true of mission driven groups like the Church:  to flourish, they need a clear leader and an orderly leadership structure.

What they do not need is feckless, indeterminate, squabbling, and/or competing leadership.  So first, if you are the senior pastor, know that it is important to provide very inclusive, but yet, clearly apical leadership to your church.  The good health of a missional group is very dependent on a clear leader at the top. 

And, it is important, as that apical leader, that you see yourself in the role of “Champion” or “Rescuer” for this distressed church. You cannot see yourself as part of the tragedy, and thus, just another victim within this circumstance.   

But, it is also almost certainly true if you are leading a church which has stopped breathing, that you, too, are emotionally stressed and hurting.  And, be assured, a lot of us have been there.  And, we absolutely sympathize.  But, you simply do not have the luxury of folding up in a puddle of your own tears.  As their rescuer, your consistent personal fortitude, is the primary key to your church’s survival and renewal.

Indeed, the providence of God often brings us to circumstances which tend to clarify and classify who we really are.  And, when it comes to the very primary roles into which we fall within the Church, there are really only four.  There are Leaders, Lieutenants, Followers, and Loners.  

Hopefully, if your church is in distress, pastor, this crisis will identify and define you as precisely the devoted and capable  Leader which your church needs.  Or, it will show you to be a person who is willing to become that leader.

Either way, the important thing is not to see yourself as part of the tragedy, but as God's answer to the tragedy - His EMT (Emergency Management Technician) in charge of directing a successful rescue.  So, the obvious first step is simply to prayerfully seek Christ's fresh empowerment for your leadership.  

And then, when you are freshly filled with His Divine Spirit for the task, dear pastor, it is time to provide your church with a unifying godly direction and truly meaningful corporate challenges. And, through all of those challenges, be sure you lead them from the front - not the back.  

"Background senior pastoring" (which might actually be acceptable, and even necessary, in a larger, healthier, more thoroughly staffed church) just won’t work in a small church in  distress.  In a smaller, distressed church, you have to be a leader which is visually and emotionally available to the congregation.  Don't try to do it all.  But, do clearly exhibit a sincere heart-investment in it all.

A Side Note regarding the Leadership Structure...

On the other hand, if you are reading this as a layman who often finds yourself in confrontation with the pastor or competing with him or her for that apical position of leadership in the church – stop that.  Instead, become one of your pastor’s loyal and truly helpful lieutenants for the sake of the congregation's recovery and true well-being.  

If you will take on this more supportive subordinate role, it's likely that, as you taste the successes of this better leadership structure, this new role will become very fulfilling to you.  But, if you just can’t do this – you are, and will remain, part of the "CLM" (Chronically Low Morale) problem until you can.  May God give you the grace you need to become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Now, the root cause of  "CLM" and the means of treatment…

First, we do need to recognize that there are always two facets to a corporate morale problem in the Church.  The first one is the physical side of the problem.  But, the second is the metaphysical, the spiritual side. 

Like a coin, these two sides of a morale issue are separate and distinct.  But, they are also intimately connected.  So, as we administer “CCPR,” (Church CPR) the idea is to save, not just the physical church (the numerical/social/programmatic functions), but also the metaphysical "soul" of the Church (its corporate spiritual health).  Fortunately, one plan of action can do both.

Now, the meat of the matter, the Root Cause of CLM...

Now, let’s identify what is the deep-seated cause of chronically low morale in a local church.  Again, it’s not complicated.  The cause is the Absence of a Shared, or Corporate, Inspiration within the group. 

To be clear, note that we are not addressing the individuals within the group, here.  We are talking about the group as a whole.  There are many, many reasons why individuals within a congregation might be personally depressed rather than well motivated.  And, at that molecular level, each individual circumstance must be handled, well, individually. 

But, truly, a church can be better as a unified group than it may be as disconnected individual members.  This symbiotic energy of a group working together is actually referred to as "synergy."  And, synergy is a wondrous thing to behold when it comes into play in any group, including a local church. 

So here, we're speaking specifically of correcting and maintaining the congregation’s corporate motivational level.  And certainly, this responsibility, at least initially, always falls smack in the middle of the pastor's  job description.  

And, know that, at least in the beginning, you, pastor, may, indeed, have to function, as "the Lone Ranger," i.e. the sole "Initiater" of this rescue effort.  And, isn't that, after all, pretty much the job description of Leadership.   By definition, "Initiation" is typically a one man (or woman) job, at least, at its apex

And here, at the risk of mixing our metaphors, is how this all  translates out, in completely practical terms, for the Rescuing Pastor.  You must simply be - or be willing to become - the “Chief Cheerleader” in your church.  And, what this means is that, for you, building and maintaining corporate morale becomes always, Job One - and thus, ever ingrained in all that you do.  

And, please do confirm this critical need for yourself, pastor.  As soon as possible, take the time to go and merely observe several truly vibrant, energized groups: social organizations, other local churches etc.  

And, even if these lively groups may vary in their precise nature or purpose, what you will easily notice is that cheerleaders are their common constant.  And, you will be able to easily identify the important contribution that these energized and energizing people make to the group's morale.  

So - here is how "Cheerleaders" in the Church typically pursue this important role…

First, God's cheerleaders simply employ the natural expression of their own authentic, Christ-enabled joy and excitement.

But, here is a simple reality which must first be faced.  If, within your personality type, you don't naturally or easily exhibit the trait of spontaneous “esprit de corps,” (that's French for "bringer of the party") then you are going to need to go to The Divine “App Store.”  

So, if you think yourself not naturally gifted as a cheerleader, look to this first.  None of us come with all the equipment we need for ministry.  

Thus, just do what we must always do in this case, confront your deficiency and ask the Lord to develop in you what the job requires.  Empowering positive changes in people’s character is what Christ does every day.  He will have no problem supplying you with the needed “character app.”

Cheerleaders identify and utilize every opportunity to inspire others.

Merely announcing or asking for something (as in the church bulletin or during the Sunday AM announcement time) doesn’t even compare to truly "stirring" someone to a cause. Merely raising the awareness of a need is vastly less impactful than actually drawing  people into that need.  

So, good cheerleaders don’t settle for merely raising awareness.  They perfect, in Christ, the “Stirring Skills” and then use them at every opportunity to inspire and maintain durable motivation. 

And certainly, it takes more time and effort to truly inspire people than to simply make an announcement.  But, if you want to really eliminate that chronically low morale problem, you have to go to the extra trouble to actually find a way to move them in their core – not just make them aware of stuff. 

And, good cheerleaders try never to overlook an opportunity to inspire.  So, a good rule of thumb is this: "Anytime there is a corporate victory – celebrate it!" 

 And, helpful to this idea is this working axiom:  It is always a huge cheer-leading  faux pas (that's French for "boo boo") to experience some corporate victory, and then totally neglect its celebration - after the fact.  From a financial achievement, to a high attendance event, to a new conversion, to the recognition of a layman's faithful, long term service – celebrate every shared victory.  And, never in just a ho-hum way.

And, "cheerleader pastors" give their people plenty of "Corporate Motivational Focal Points."

Focal points are very important, whether you are decorating a room, planning a party agenda, composing a photograph, or trying to motivate or re-motivate a church.  Focal points provide an "orientational" starting point for an intellectual and emotional "buy in." 

So, good cheerleaders identify and implement corporate motivational focal points within the overall church life at every opportunity.  And, the most effective Corporate Motivational Focal Points are fashioned from a simple, Three Element Cycle:  Challenge - Achievement - Celebration. 

When your church can face a meaningful challenge together (pretty much anything meaningful, big or small) - and then come together in a truly synergistic way to achieve that meaningful thing – and then truly celebrate that shared victory corporately – there is a sweet, life-giving energy which flows back into the church from that simple process.   

So, pastor, lead and cheer-lead your church through this life-giving motivational cycle over and over to generate new energy within the body.  If you do, it won’t be long before your church is healthy again and breathing on its own, as Christ is able to use this simple "morale-building mechanism" 

From prepping for Bible School, to raising money for a new church van, to painting the fellowship hall, to decorating the building for Christmas - it doesn’t matter.  If your church shares the rigors of the "foxhole" (the challenge) together, they will emerge a band of brothers and sisters in Christ who can joyfully celebrate their survival together - given the opportunity.

And, "cheerleader pastors" employ their pulpit to inspire...

If your church is "not breathing," pastor, and you are still giving them low-key "Teaching Sermons" on Sunday morning, you must address this tactic.  Teaching is certainly important, but so is Inspiration.  We must provide both.  And, we simply must not teach at the complete expense of inspiration.
 So, here is another good rule of thumb:  Preaching is for Inspiration, Teaching is for Direction.  Preaching is for Motivation and Teaching is for graceful Guidance.  

So, think about this.  If your church is suffering from Chronically Low Moral and showing no signs of vibrancy or energy - they are not actually going to go anywhere corporatelySo, they don’t actually need direction nearly so much as they need motivation.  

If your car's engine is broken, the correct priority to address that problem is not really to install a bigger compass on the dashboard.  So too, is your preaching ministry.  The idea is to simply match, especially your Sunday AM Preaching Type, with the real time needs of your distressed church. 

 And, even if you are, indeed, an inspirational type preacher in the Sunday AM, take a fresh look at your preaching.  If you are constantly preaching "church" - the corporate program - don't do that either.  

The Gospel is aimed at redeeming the character of the individual believer, not the corporate group.  If your individual members do not experience a Christ-empowered character renewal - you can forget about the spiritual health of your church as a whole.  It will not be there.  So, in the majority of your sermons, attempt to inspire the individual believer to pursue the personal newness which is available to them in the power of the Living Christ.  That is the true source of a durable morale in your church.

And, in the overview of your preaching ministry, no pastor, worth his salt, will ever stop pushing himself or herself regarding their preaching ministry.  Your God, your church, and your lost community will always need you to be the best you can be in your preaching ministry. So, always stay surprising and avoid a same-ole, same-ole "formula rut" in your pulpit. 

And, be sure never to entirely measure the efficacy of your preaching by merely how you feel about the structure and delivery of the sermon.   Rather, chiefly measure it by whether or not you actually inspired people to step up, and grow up in Christ.  

In short, when it comes to your sermons, don’t settle merely for good order and delivery.  Also insist on examining it for tangible results.

And, cheerleaders beget cheerleaders.  

 It will happen as your church begins to breathe again, that new cheerleaders emerge from the congregation.  So, it is important to welcome the help of new cheerleaders (this is the inclusive part of your leadership).  Make room for them to express their own "cheerleading gene" in the life of the church in ways which truly contribute and which are truly fulfilling to the cheerleaders, themselves. 

And finally, godly cheerleaders pray.

We are not talking about a want-list kind of prayer, here.  Agonizing, God-entreating prayer is certainly of inestimable importance to the life of the Church.  But, in this case, we are talking about the cheerleader spending much time simply enveloped in the easy and personally renewing companionship of God.  

 We are speaking of that personal seclusion which is spent with the Lord in the pure joy of His companionship.  The idea is to simply let these times define themselves in some mutually fulfilling way - perhaps just allowing your mind to drift in the "mind of Christ" or quietly listening for unforced revelations of divine insights - or, whatever.  The operative phrase here is simply "mutually fulfilling and unforced companionship," seeking after a true heart-oneness with God - for its own sake.
Indeed, this is the very essence of all that the godly cheerleader exudes and hopes to inspire in others.  A widespread and vibrant heart-oneness with God among your membership is the only real and truly resilient remedy for Chronically Low Morale in the Church.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

The "Dinosaur" Dictionary

   A Glossary of Key Theological Terms
        Translated from “Dinosaur Speak” to “Whippersnapper”
The Church (being thoroughly peopled with theological “dinosaurs”) is presently struggling under the weight of a significant failing.  And, that failing is this.  We have come to be far too much, a people of archaic, “insider speak” when exposing Christian Redemption to the uninitiated and the barely initiated. 

Indeed, over the centuries, we in the Christian Church have developed many important terms and concepts which denote and explain the workings of our faith.  But, what we have not done, is conscientiously updated those terms and concepts to communicate at the highest level with the always changing world.  

Thus, even at this late hour in history, we continue to use vague, archaic words which simply become gobbledygook in the ear of the non-insiders.  And, on top of that, we often use frames of reference which are very unfamiliar to the present world.

All of this has a sad impact on the young and the uninitiated, (the “whippersnappers”).  For these people, who are both within and outside the ranks of the organized Church, it makes for a much higher level of difficulty when it comes to grasping the workings of the Christian faith, and more specifically, the Christian redemptive process.   Obviously, a far better approach would be to use words they already understand and frames of reference with which they are already familiar.”

So, The Dinosaur Dictionary attempts to do that very thing for the “whippersnappers.”  And, who knows, perhaps there are even a few “dinosaurs” out there who also suffer from awareness gaps of their own scattered here and there in their thinking.  And, if there are, hopefully, this humble lexicon will also benefit them.

   The Dinosaur Dictionary:  
    A Glossary of Key Theological Terms

You will sometimes hear religious “dinosaurs” use the term, “Carnal.”  1. As used in the Bible, this adjective typically describes one who is directed in life by their own, self-concentric mind (as opposed to being God-directed).  2. The term also sometimes refers to general human baseness and the motives which drive it.  

Sample Uses:  [Note:  Brackets added]
1.      Romans 8:7 (KJV):  Because the carnal mind [the self-determined mind] is enmity against [antagonistic to] God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
2.      1 Corinthians 3:1 (NKJV):  "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal [those having an under developed awareness of the spiritual], as to babes in Christ."
3.      1 Corinthians 3:3 (NKJV):  "for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal [base and lacking spiritual dimension] and behaving like mere men?"

1. One can often hear “dinosaurs” using the term “Conscience.”       What they are really referring to is the  "Values Structure" within the core person.   2. Our values are our most deeply held life principles, tenets, beliefs, etc. and when taken together, these values compose our “Value System.” Our values are “the real substance” and, at the same time, “the working mechanism of our conscience.” 3. These guiding life principles exist on the deepest governing level of our core person, and are, in fact, so deeply held and well established in our core being that they typically function more like instincts than a cognitive thought process.  4. Further, our values actually serve as a kind of “life filter” which we use to interpret life’s every situation.  Thus, we pass all of life’s issues through this “interpretive value filter” in order to gain a perspective on those issues.  5. And, this is also noteworthy regarding our values.  Because our value system renders value judgements, it can sometimes create what might be called a “Cognitive Shell.”  A cognitive shell is formed when our values tell our mind that it is receiving useless or worthless information.  Thus, that information is then immediately blocked and dismissed without any further consideration.  An example of a cognitive shell might be a relational impass where one or both parties are no longer processing the contentions of the opposing view point.  4. So, with all of this taken together, very obviously, a value system (or conscience) which mirrors the divine value system is completely indispensable to the harmony of our relationship with God.  Our values system is the very basis of our core-oneness (“heart-agreement”) with God.  6. And, it is the complete and thorough renewal of our value system which is at the absolute center of God’s redemptive agenda, and all of the redemptive work of Christ.  7. And finally, the thorough renewal of one’s value system is entirely dependent on the merger of our character essence with that the Living Christ through the Spiritual Baptism (See:  “Spiritual Baptism,” below).

Sample Uses:  [Note:  Brackets Added] 
1.      Hebrews 9:14 (NKJV):  “…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience [amend your values] from dead works to serve the living God?”
2.      Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV):  “…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience [a bad value system] and our bodies washed with pure water.”

FAITH:  As in Redemptive Faith (that type of faith which actually saves   the soul)
Religious “dinosaurs,” as you might expect, use the term “Faith” a lot.  1. Faith, especially Redemptive Faith, is really just a true and profound humility before God.  But, it is really impossible to adequately define redemptive faith without including the ideas of Influence, Values, and Truth.  2. Influence is the sum total of our power to impact our own and the larger reality around us.  In short, our influence is the sum of our personal power to bend reality to our wishes.  The overarching idea of redemptive faith is to understand it as the willingness to humble our influence (the total of all that we are and all that we are capable of) before God’s influence.  3. Values (as noted above) are our most deeply held ideas, beliefs, and/or principles etc.  And, as noted earlier, (see "Conscience") our values become our interpreting mechanism for life.  Every circumstance of life is filtered through our value system.  And, resulting from that process, we then interpret a circumstance and determine our response to it accordingly. Thus, our values are the Inner Master Key to both shaping who we are (our character essence) and our behavior, how we respond to life’s circumstances.  So, to experience the forgiveness and renewal which results from the humble surrender of our influence to the Lordship of Christ (or redemptive faith) necessarily involves the surrender of our old values and the thorough embrace of the renewing values of Christ.  4. Truth is simply, “The correct interpretation of reality.” But, it is only the divine values which accurately distill authentic truth (the truly correct interpretation of life's circumstances).  So, if we rely on self-based values (those developed from our own selfish perspective) to interpret life’s circumstance (producing only our own personalized interpretation of reality) we find ourselves in constant conflict with God’s authentic truth (the correct interpretation).  But, as we embrace God’s values, in Christ, we start to share His interpretations of reality (truth) creating a very tangible like-mindedness (or oneness of heart) with Him in our core person.  Thus, the willing embrace of God’s truth is also a necessary ingredient of that profound humility which constitutes redemptive faith.

Sample Uses:  [Note:  Brackets Added]
1.      Hebrews 11:6 (KJV):  “But without faith [without a true and profound humility] it is impossible to please him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
2.      Ephesians 2:8 (KJV):  “For by grace [God’s naturally occurring goodness] are ye saved through faith; [real influential humility] and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [as we are connected to the faith of Christ through our Spiritual merger with Him.  Ref. Galatians 2:16 // Romans 5:10]

FLESH: When used figuratively
Religious “dinosaurs” often use this word figuratively, as it is sometimes used in the New Testament, to refer, not to actual human flesh, but to that collection of selfish appetites or motives within our core person which serve to generate base, self-centered behavior.  Often used as a metaphore for carnality.

Sample Uses:  [Note:  Brackets Added]
1.      Romans 8:3-9 (NKJV):  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh [those inner selfish drives], God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh [driven merely by our own desires] but according to the Spirit.
     “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded [driven by “fleshly,” self-concentric appetites] is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity [hostility] against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.   But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

2.      Galatians 5:16-25 (NKJV):  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh [that body of selfish appetites].  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 
      Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 
     “But the fruit [character fruit] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh [that body self-centered motivations] with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Now, let's consider the “dinosaur’s” concept of the nature of God's love. It has always been important to dinosaurs to understand, not just that God does love us, but how he loves us.  Thus, “dinosaur’s” have long understood the Trilateral Nature Of God's Love:  in that God loves us with a love that is based in His nature. He loves us with a love that is based in His position. And, He loves us with a love that is based in His expectation of performance. So, to accurately understand God’s love, one must understand all of these facets and that God’s love always exists in these three ways - at the same time And, because this is true, God's love is actually sometimes conditional and sometimes unconditional.
1. God's Love Based In His Nature: So, let's begin with the aspect of God's love that is based in His nature. This is the tender, all inclusive, unconditional love that we hear so much about; and, it fully fits the popular description. It is His larger love, bringing to every circumstance and issue of life God's deep concern for the well-being of all.  It is certainly the love of John 3:16 in the Bible. It is a forgiving love, a securing love, a welcoming love.  It is that unconditional love which constantly hovers over God's entire creation. This is the kind of love that we were exposed to in our infancy and earliest childhood from our loving parents. But, this is not the love that entirely governs and matures his creation or His human creature. Another kind of love is required for that.  2. God's Love Based In His Position:  God's maturing and polishing kind of love involves a type of love that is based in His position as the Governing Creator. And, especially regarding humanity, to explain this aspect of God's love involves a simple statement. It is this: God always loves us in the context of His larger responsibility to His creation. In other words, God's love for us, individually, is always set in His larger awareness of His responsibility to the whole of His creation.  It is this aspect of God's love, the position based love, the love of the Governing Creator, which places Him on the throne of judgment. It is this position based love that causes Him to look beyond just the immediate needs of the individual child. To be always a God of love, He must attend to the higher and larger concerns of the whole of His creation.  It is this same kind of positional love that causes us, as parents with a larger responsibility, to say "no" to our children for their own good, to punish them for their wrong doing, or to refuse to give them a position above principle or what is right. Good parents will always love their children on some level with that unconditional love that loves - no matter what. But, that is not the love that supersedes in the realm of our larger responsibility to them and to society. There, the rearing love of our parental position governs. The same is true of God's love for mankind. On the most primary level, God loves us irrevocably as His dear children. It is a very basic and unconditional love that is ever there. But, though it is always there, it is ultimately subservient to God's positional love, which is based in the context of His larger responsibility to the whole of His creation.  And, this position based love of the Governing Creator is very much a conditional love. And, it does, indeed, govern. So, this is the love that we encounter as God seeks to mature humanity and manages the affairs of His larger creation.  3. God's Love Based In His Expectation of Performance: Finally, let's consider the aspect of God's love that is based in performance. This is the love of John 14:21 and following where Jesus said this:  "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
"Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, 'Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; [the performance condition] and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our home with him [the loving response based in performance].  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.'" [Brackets added]
The love described here is a love that requires, even demands, something from us in the way of performance or reciprocation. This kind of love must be earned, even from God. It is not given except in response to merit. Thus, this type of God's love is also very much a conditional love.  The New Testament makes it clear that this expression of God's love will only be experienced by those who merit it. Consider, for example, in addition to the verses above, The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14 and following). Then simply continue reading in that same chapter of Matthew, the teachings of Jesus on how He will separate the "sheep" from the "goats" (Matthew 25: 31 and following). These references speak of an expression of love from God that is only given as a response to performance or merit.  4. Conclusions: So, “dinosaurs” have long understood what “whippersnappers” do not:  that God's love is not only unconditional; but, it is also very conditional in the ways described above. Like the sky, the sun and the clouds, the different types of God's love are always there together, and yet they are different to serve different needs.  To understand God's love only as unconditional will never really explain the real God with which we have to do. But, when we see His love in this three dimensional way, we can very accurately understand the God that is love and more accurately anticipate His actions and responses.

Sample Uses:  Listed in the text

A real favorite of “dinosaurs” is the term “Gospel.”  Strictly rendered, the word means, “The good news.”  Broadly rendered, it is used to denote Christian redemption in general, including its teachings and operational dynamics.

 Sample Use:
1.      Matthew 11:2-6 (KJV): Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, ‘Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?’ 
      Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.’”
Perhaps no word is more misunderstood or misused by “whippersnappers” than the word, "Grace."   Nevertheless, the enlightenment of the dinosaurs is this.  1. Grace, in both the common vernacular and in the biblical use, actually refers to an innate, or naturally occurring, goodness in both God’s and man’s character essence.  2. The more recent, and entirely inadequate, pop-definition of grace is “unmerited favor.”   However, this is really more the definition of “Mercy.”  Grace is a much larger term than mercy.  Grace produces Mercy; but, grace and mercy do not equally interchange, especially in the Biblical usage.  3. It is important that grace be correctly understood as a naturally occurring goodness within the character essence so as not to lose an indispensable redemptive truth.  And, that truth is this.  The symbiotic relationship which occurs between the believer and Christ as their character essences merge through the believer’s Spiritual merger with Christ, provides the believer with a whole new and very renewing level of this intuitive goodness.  The understanding of this absolutely transformative redemptive reality is not only lost but, completely lost in the “unmerited favor” concept of grace.

Sample Uses: [Note Brackets Added]
1.      Luke 2:40 (KJV): And the child [Jesus] grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace [innate or naturally occurring goodness] of God was upon him.”
2.    John 1:14 (KJV): And the Word [A figurative reference to Jesus] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace [natural goodness] and truth.”
3.      Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV): “For by grace [the goodness found in God’s nature] you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
  HEART:  When the terms is used figuratively

1. This is how “dinosaurs” typically refer to the human “Character Essence,” or the “core person” which is the true inner self.  The “Heart” is actually that part of our subconscious mind which forms our core person and uniquely identifies us.  And, it is worth noting again that our values reside on this deepest governing level of our subconscious person and, from that place of profound influence, effect the formation and responses of our character essence.  So, our heart can, indeed, be accurately understood to be the true and “un-veneered,” essence of who we are. 

Sample Uses:  [Note:  Brackets added]
1.      1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV):  But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” [the character essence, the core person, the true inner essence] 
2.    Luke 2:51 (KJV):  And he [Jesus] went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them [his earthly parents]: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart."  [in the private area of her mind]
3.      Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV):  “…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts [character essence or core person] sprinkled from an evil conscience [value system] and our bodies washed with pure water.”
4.      Matthew 15:18-20 (NKJV):  “…But, those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, [more specifically in this use, from one’s value system which defines our core being] and they defile a man. For out of the heart [true self, the character essence] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man...”         

The larger Church (primarily the whippersnappers) sometimes struggles with vagueness regarding the idea of Holiness. But here is what “dinosaurs” have understood for a long time, now.  1. In the simplest terms, to be “Holy” is to be single minded in one’s devotion go God.  Thus, a believer becomes holy before God when, on the most primary governing level of their core person (or “heart”), they are singularly devoted to Him.  2. But, to be clear, what is in play here is only that deepest, most primary governing level of one’s heart.  It is on that level, the level of one’s highest allegiance, that the believer’s devotion must be absolutely unshared with anyone or anything else including our allegiance to self.  3. However, at the same time, it is true that on more secondary levels of a believer’s core person (heart) there will certainly remain many other worthy devotions, the family, the job, important life goals, etc.  But, in the context of holiness, those lesser devotions must simply remain always subordinate to, and entirely governed by, one’s more primary devotion to God.  4. This singularity of the believer's primary devotion is enabled through the Spiritual merger with Christ.  Through that integration with His character essence, the divine faith of Christ supplements that of the believer to entirely subjugate all other allegiances to that most elemental devotion to God.  As a result, the believer is then no longer divided between a devotion to self and a devotion to God on this most primary governing level.  Now, the core being of the believer is “wholly” given to God and thus, the believer becomes “Holy,” or singularly devoted to God.  Thus, holiness can be simply and accurately thought of as a condition where the believer has an undivided “heart” with regard to his or her supreme devotion.  It is wholly given to God.  Thus, in God’s eyes, it becomes sacred, as being set aside to Him and to His purposes. 

Sample Uses: [Note Brackets Added]
1.      Romans 12:1 (KJV): I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy [entirely set aside to God], acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2.      Ephesians 5:25-27 (NKJV): Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy [pure and singular in her devotion to God] and without blemish.”
3.      Colossians 3:12 (NKJV): Therefore, as the elect of God, holy [made sacred by your singularity of heart] and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering…”
4.      1 Peter 1:15-16 (KJV): But as he which hath called you is holy [has a singular devotion to goodness], so be ye holy [singularly devoted to Him] in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy[undivided in heart]; for I am holy [undivided in heart].”

ONENESS OF HEART:  Primarily, with God
1. Christian “dinosaurs” often talk fondly of enjoying a oneness of heart with God.  What they are speaking of is what results from the symbiotic merger which occurs between the character essence of the Living Christ and that of the devout believer.  2. Christian “dinosaurs” understand that through this merger they do not become God.  Nor, do they become “homogenized” into the essence of God losing their own identity.  3. The simple redemptive reality behind this term is that the devout believer, through his or her Spiritual connection to the vitality of the Living Christ (which occurs through what the Church refers to as the Spiritual Baptism) comes to fully embrace the value system of God. In turn, this divinely orchestrated transaction then creates a beautiful harmony with God, in that His truth (His interpretation of reality based in His value system) is shared by the believer.  And this oneness of heart, this true like mindedness, then becomes the basis for a Christ empowered friendship which is both wonderfully durable and deeply fulfilling for both God and the believer. 

Scriptural Origins For These Ideas:
1.      John 17:20-23 (NKJV): “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
2.      1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (KJV): For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

1. “Dinosaurs” will sometimes use the words “Pride” or “Prideful” to describe the arrogance in the human character.  This arrogance alienates God and ultimately destroys the soul.  It is easy to note that “pride” is the diametric opposite of “humility.” And, that opposition perfectly describes the tension which exists between the soul condemning “Sin Attitude” of self-sufficiency (pride) and the soul redeeming attitude of “Redemptive Faith.”  2. Indeed, the lost souls will be so due entirely to their pride of heart, the idea being (in the context of redemption) that the prideful are those who remain arrogantly self-directed as opposed to being “humbly” God-directed in their life.  Such a person remains self-sovereign and largely charts his own life course and develops his own values and thus his own version of “truth.” And, he prefers not to answer to any other – especially God’s. 3. The “faith attitude” on the other hand is one of profound humility before God, a humility which fully embraces His values, His truth, and His directions for one's life.  4. Very certainly, the brand of “pride” described above destroys the soul as certainly as true faith redeems it.  And, “dinosaurs,” unlike many “whippersnappers,” never equivocate on this immutable reality.

Scriptural Origins For These Ideas: [Note:  Brackets Added]
1.      Matthew 16:24-25 (NKJV)  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life [to reserve his life for himself] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake [gives control of his life over to me] will find it.’”
2.      James 4:10 (NKJV) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
3.      1 Peter 5:5-6 (NKJV) Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…”
SIN:  Explained as a Value and as an Act
One will often find "dinosaurs" seriously preoccupied with the idea of “Sin.” 1. Sin is, firstly, a very primary “governing value” which occurs within one’s core person (or “heart”).  The “Sin Value” (as opposed to a sinful action) is the initial and most primary form of sin.  2. Basically, this value is the deeply held belief in the goodness of “Self-determination” (as opposed to being God-directed in life).  2a. And, this value, which exists on the deepest governing level of the core person, is entirely responsible for all of the outward expressions (or acts) of sin.  3. Nevertheless, it is the simple existence of the Sin Value, alone, which condemns the soul before God, entirely prior to any sinful act actually occurring.  4. Thus, it is the Sin Value (again, the belief in one’s own self-sufficiency) which becomes the primary target of Christ in His redemptive work.   His simple goal, then, is to remove the “Sin Value” from its place of dominance in one’s core person and replace it with a dominant “Faith Value.”  5. The Faith Value is essentially a belief in the goodness of a profoundly humble posture before God.   Again, in practical terms, the Faith Value expresses itself as the full and willing embrace of God’s value system, His truth, and His directions for one’s life.  6. As already noted, it is this transformative value which Christ seeks to bring to ascendency in one’s core person through the redemptive process.  7. And, this Dominance of the Faith Value is not only initiated in the core of the believer by Christ, but it is consistently sustained there by the constant synergy which Christ brings to the believer through the merger of our character essence with His (see Spiritual Baptism).   8. This Spiritual integration with Christ entirely alters the believer’s value system.  As described, it liberates one from a sin driven value system and initiates a faith driven value system which, again, is consistently enabled by the vitality of the Living Christ operating within the believer.

Scriptural Origins For These Ideas: In numerical order as they occur above [brackets added]. 
1. Mark 7:18-23 (NKJV) So He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?’ And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’”
2a. Genesis 3:1-8 (NKJV) …v.4 “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
2b. Mark 7:21-23 (NKJV)  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man."
3a. 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
3b. 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
3c. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV) Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
3d. Luke 6:45 (NKJV) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
4. Romans 8:3-4 (NKJV) For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
5a. Matthew 18:2-3 (KJV) And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, ‘Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’”
5b. Matthew 23:12 (KJV) And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
6. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
7/8. Romans 8:1-2 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

1. The best way to conceive of “the Spiritual” is, again, to return to the idea of “Influence.”  The Bible teaches us that God is a Spirit.  That is, it teaches us that God is the supreme influence in the Universe who, though incorporeal, nevertheless, has a completely unique personality and is able to perfectly effect His almighty will upon all of reality.  2. Recall from previous paragraphs that influence is the sum total of one’s power to impact one's own and the larger reality – to bend reality to our will.  Thus, stripped to this most abstract view of ourselves – human beings are each, a uniquely personal influence in the Universe.  3. So, when we speak of “the spiritual,” we are really talking about this more ethereal economy of “Influence.”  And this economy is actually the larger and more enduring dimension where God chooses to exist in His most natural state as the Supreme Influence (Spirit).  4. And, in this larger economy of life, each of us is known to God, not merely as a corporal person in this smaller physical dimension. But, we are also known as an important influence in His larger Creation.  And as such, we are not only identified, but assessed, accordingly. 5. Thus, when we understand the precise nature of the term "spirit," and its derivatives, great insight is gained as we read such verses as John 4:23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.”   And consider how the concept of influence relates to “the first admonition” in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  The idea is, of course, “with all that you are,” which is another way of say, “with your whole influence.”

Sample Uses:  Listed in the text

“Dinosaurs” often use this term to refer to a unique, stand-alone, redemptive event which occurs at a point after one’s embrace of the Lordship of Christ.  The Spiritual Baptism actually marks the believer’s entrance into the Renewal Phase of redemption.  And, it is through this baptism that the divine Spirit effects an integration of the human character essence of the believer with the divine character essence of the Living Christ.  This character merger results in a divine overwrite of the believer’s value system.  Literally, the believer is infused with the values of Christ, but in primordial, or infant, form.  Nevertheless, the vibrancy of Christ’s character essence within, immediately displaces the sin value (the motive of self-determination) as the dominant value in the believer’s subconscious and establishes the faith value (the motive of humility before God) as the now dominant value in the believer’s core person.  Thus, through this empowering merger with the Living Christ, a consistently faith-expressive life is enabled.

Scriptural Origins For These Ideas:
1.      John 14:15-23 (NKJV): If you love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
     “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.  At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
    “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’  
    “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’”
2.      Acts 1:8 (NKJV): But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

“Dinosaurs” talk a lot about truth.  And, the idea they intend to convey with this term is, “The correct interpretation of reality.”  When it comes to truth, there is one authentic and authoritative “Truth Giver.”  That is, there is only one authoritative interpreter of reality, and that is God.  Only His interpretation of reality is the always correct one in all of life’s circumstances.  All other interpretations of reality are simply deceptive delusions which serve merely to compete with the divine interpretations and confuse the issues.

Scriptural Origins For These Ideas:
1.      Deuteronomy 8:3 (NKJV): So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”

For a more complete, plain language explanation of how Christian Redemption works, read,
Spiritual Dynamics:  The Spiritual Realities Explained 
in Reading Room 3.