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Monday, June 18, 2012

Old Wineskin Christian or New?


But First You Must Dump the Old Wineskin
Among Christians, and we are all guilty when we hear or see a problem or fault, it is "the other  guy", or "that church" with the problem.  We read or hear something profound and we think "boy, THEY NEED TO GET THIS!" -but meanwhile we are oblivious to the "beam in our own eye" as we seek to point out the speck in our brothers eye.

Catch-words like “factious” "trouble makers", "divisive", "Lone Ranger Christians", "carnal", "truth-rejecters", "un-loyal,  "troubled", "discord sowers" are some descriptions and labels we carelessly used.

We are all pretty good at backhanding those we disagree with.. 
After leaving our local church which we had helped establish and build, after 24 years, we found ourselves for the first time counted among with the  hundreds who had drifted through our assembly over the years.  What an eye-opener! 

We did not leave disgruntled or with a desire to return to worldly living. 
We wanted to leave in peace, quietly, and we rejected the "bon voyage" service to "honor" us for our 24 years of service.
We intended to return and visit regularly, and 3 months later had serious thought of returning thinking we had erred in leaving, and I was willing to go back and say how sorry I was for leaving.  

But the very night those thoughts went through my mind, God spoke to me twice in night visions which revealed the darkness within ourselves and our need to go into "the wilderness" which meant separation from all that we had been part of. It was like stepping off a cliff only the Lord was waiting for us to really trust Him with all of our Christianity.

From the time we left, my wife and I returned to diligent reading and study of God's Word, and prayer.  The Lord was doing a work in us that continues to this day.
We discovered much to our dismay, it was much easier to walk away from the institution of church than it was to get the institution of church out of us! -"purge out the old leaven that ye may be come a new lump". 

As we continued in God's Word, however, we continued to recognize more and more of what we left behind and the need to become "a new wineskin". 
The old wineskin had to go, but WHAT was that?

===> Becoming a new wineskin is not following a new church or pastor!
It is not changing churches, it is not about what building you fellowship in, it is not doing house church, it is not about anything outward.  It is not putting a new church label on yourself.

After 24 years of church, we found becoming a new wineskin does not happen over-night.
Wineskins are made from the flesh of animals. This represents our "beastly" nature. You know, the one that likes to be admired, heard, respected, adored, loved, followed, complimented, believed, is comfort-driven, self-centered, materialistic, angry, vengeful, selfish, lazy, and our entertainment-pleasure-loving-side.

Yet all the while, the same old "beast" dresses up in a nice suit and tie, smiles, sings Christian music, and talks about God.
The man in the mirror can sure deceive us.

It was most painful for God to reveal ourselves honestly, and most of us cannot stand what we see, when we see ourselves.
Is it because there is far too much of us and far too less of Jesus looking back at our reflection in the mirror of His Word?
Could it be we have not followed Jesus in taking up our cross?
Mat 16:24    .. Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Did He really mean it?

 I recall the impact of one verse in particular that blew apart my concepts of what I thought I should have and achieve as a Christian and church member:
Luke 14:33
So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
We are not talking lip service here. He really meant it.

Renounce all:  literally to say adios by departing or dismissing; figuratively bid farewell, forsake, take leave, send away.

This not only means renouncing our ownership of all our "stuff', we have accumulated, 
it even means renouncing ALL OF OUR Christian doctrine and beliefs.
Is that too radical?  It was too radical for many followers of Jesus in John 6:66 also.

I am not saying all our ideas and teachings are completely wrong, what I AM saying is we must be willing to renounce them all as Jesus taught.
It is a step few Christians realize that Jesus required of us.

 If there is something worth keeping, let God affirm it to you in prayer and the Word after you renounce the teachings of men, and all manmade "Statements of Faith".
Every time I have renounced ownership of  old church doctrine and tradition, God has been able to teach me the truth right out of His Word.  Every time God revealed truth, it was different from what I had learned "in church".  And the Lord gave understanding to go with it.

The new wineskin..
Do you want to REALLY be one? -and be filled with new wine of His sweet anointed Word hidden away inside your vessel? You cannot get that blessing of a new Wineskin without throwing away, or walking away in most cases, from the entire OLD one!

What? Do you want to patch-in some old ideas, traditions, formulas, "creeds", "faith statements", words, and habits, that are not found in the Bible, and think you can still be new? 
 The New Wine will pour out through those old patches!  Forget it!

Hear the word of the Lord;
 Luke 5:36 And he spake also a parable unto them: No man rendeth a piece from a new garment and putteth it upon an old garment; else he will rend the new, and also the piece from the new will not agree with the old.
37 And no man putteth new wine into old wine-skins; else the new wine will burst the skins, and itself will be spilled, and the skins will perish.
38 But new wine must be put into fresh wine-skins.
39 And no man having drunk old wine desires new; for he says, The old is good.

Did you know the Lord has saved THE BEST WINE for "The Last"...?
 -The best revelation of His Word, the best restoration of His power and authority, and the best revelation of Himself to us?

We must go on to renounce sin in our lives as God reveals it.
I am talking about hidden sin that must be overcome.

Holding grudges, hurts, anger, fear, doubt, covetousness, desire to control, always be right, unbelief, self-hatred, unforgiveness,  even murmuring and complaining!
-anything that is contrary to the nature of Christ must be renounced and God's deliverance received. 

The truth is today, in most churches, you can cover just about all that corruption by attending church faithfully, giving financial support,  activity involvement, and being a nice person outwardly, -like we did.

 We know because  we lived this way, but only after leaving we found that "all we as sheep have gone astray" and "our righteousness was as filthy rags".  -all while sitting in a church pew and somehow convincing ourselves  I'm a new wineskin because I don’t party, commit adultery, or steal and "believed"...
 Will you trust God enough to renounce "all that he hath" both materially and intellectually?

It took me 2-3 weeks to pray a prayer of renouncing after seeing the truth of what Jesus said in Luke 14:33.  I also asked him to "judge me" for the many sins I have committed as a Christian. 

We can honestly say we would not trade the 8 years of our present walk with Christ outside the camp of old wineskin "Christianity" for the 24 years of servitude to the system of Christianity. Time and space will not allow to express the joy and thanks we have for God's grace in bringing us out of the old wineskin of our traditions.  

It is worth it.