Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thoughts on Freedom

What ever possesses a man to leave everything behind and head into the darkness of the unknown? It might be the spirit of adventure. It might be the spirit of  escape. And, it might be the spirit of freedom. That is alright if you are single. But, what if you are part of a family, that changes the consequences. The cost rises with every person you include in the venture.

The stories of people escaping from East Berlin, remember that time, always gripped my heart. Some fantastic escapes took place by men and women and entire families. Ideas from hot air balloons, zip lines, to extensive tunnels, were used by very brave men and women. The images of those who died trying to escape must have been ever before them. Yet, they kept trying to escape.

Oppression is an evil power that has given millions of people the inner desire and drive to be free. There is some God-given inner voice that whispers to the soul of mankind, "I want to be free, I need to be free, I must be the one who decides my destiny." That voice, the desire to be free, has indeed brought that very freedom to millions across the earth.

I believe it was that voice that filled the hearts of the earliest settlers in this land. Many left their homeland yearning for religious freedom. Their conscious could never given in to the dictates of a government trying to regulate the voice of God within their heart. In their desire to worship God according to their own spirit they were willing to pay a very high price. Weeks and months on the high seas is taxing to the very hardiest of men. The families that took such voyages were brave to the extreme. Yet, they would never confess to bravery.

The dream of a land of freedom brought thousands upon thousand to our shores. Almost every person in this great land would find their roots in the family tree of those brave souls. I am aware of the countless who were brought here, not of their own accord. Indentured servants and slaves by the thousands were brought here, to the land of freedom. With free men and women all around them their hearts must have yearned all the more to taste the sweetness of broken chains and writs of servitude torn in half.

Our forefathers used a couple of phrases that I want to mention. The first being this land was the, Second Israel. A land of men and women who were seeking the heart of God and desiring to build a land that would honor him. The second phrase being, A Great Experiment in Self Government. They knew that it was indeed an experiment and that many things could go wrong and some things would go wrong.

The long journey across the treacherous and deadly Atlantic did not allow for the spirit of ease, nor complacency. Our journey today, I'm afraid, is filled with both evils.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ego and Prayer

John the Baptist said of Jesus and his influence, "He must increase and I must decrease." Those words from a very strong man, like he lived in the desert and ate bugs, encapsulate the biggest struggle in Christ following. John was bold and full of courage, he never minced words. His influence in the region was so powerful the religious ruling class took notice because throngs of people were coming to hear him and give allegiance to his message of prayer and repentance.

John knew that the message and influence of Christ was to be greater than his. He knew that Christ was the ordained and anointed one and that he would have to get out of the way. It is not so much that he would, have to, get out of the way, like he was forced. He knew that it was the way of God, that the Christ would come and fulfill what he, John, had talked about.

The ego is such a very important part of our humanity. It is what drives us on. It is the power in the spirit that compels mankind to excel, to explore, to invent. The ego is God's gift to the spirit of mankind. The determination needed to accomplish great things takes a great ego.

Ego has a dark side as well. The drive for power and prestige has destroyed thousands of people and those around them. The last forty years has witnessed the rise and fall of very powerful voices in the community of Christ Followers. Men, and women, have raise millions of dollars and become super-powerful, only to fall. Their empires, built on the money of innocent and loving people, seemed to be nothing more than monuments to their gargantuan ego.

When millions of people praise you and your vision, and your ego has not been crucified, your fall is assured. Leaders, in and out of the church, must have their own personal agenda, their ego, on the sacrificial alter. That is tough medicine, it is a hard thing to relinquish, my ideas, my desires, my plans, to God.

So often, we ask God to bless our plans and ideas. That seems perfectly normal, doesn't it? It is a bit backwards, when we should be seeking the mind, heart and spirit of God before we set forth with plans and ideas.

I would have faced less heart ache and disappointment had I practiced that last piece of advice.

Tedd Galloway is the pastor of West Adrian Community Church and the author of the soon to be released book, A Mother's Heart Moved the Hand of God. Morgan James Publishing is setting the release date. He is also working on a novel that will follow the first, The Crossing. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter

Monday, October 14, 2013

God- I'm Really Mad, at You

God, I'm really mad and I'm mad at you. Sounds like words inviting lightning and destruction, don't they? My opinion is there is no better way to be an Authentic Christ Follower than knowing that you can express the deepest pain and questioning in your soul. To think that an honest heart cannot make this expression is to really deny the all knowing power and majesty of God. We cannot say anything that will cause God to love us any less, or more, for that matter.

There are many times in our life when we can look back and say, "After that point things changed." I can honestly say that my greatest sense of spiritual freedom came when I told God what He already knew. I was mad, mad at Him, mad at my denomination, mad at myself. He already knew all of that, it was just that I needed to come to point in my trusting that I could honestly express my anger.

All around the world there is terrible injustice and pain. Innocent men, women and children die by the thousands and many of us cry to God, God please stop all of this. And, it continues day by day, month by month and on and....... 

After spewing out all of my anger, I shut up and spent time listening. No world changing revelation came to me. Very slowly I began to understand the revelation meant for me. All mankind is given the freedom to bless or curse, heal or hurt, give or take. When we act positive we can bless the poor, the innocent, the suffering. When greed and hatred fill our actions the innocent suffer and die.

God, by His understanding of me, allowed some terrible things to happen, so I would continue to be transformed into His servant.

It is OK to  be mad at God, He already knows and loves us anyway.

Tedd Galloway is the pastor of West Adrian Community Church and the author of the soon to be released book, A Mother's Heart Moved the Hand of God. Morgan James Publishing is setting the release date. He is also working on a novel that will follow the first, The Crossing. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Authentic Christ Following and Prayer

One of the deepest marks in authentic Christ Following is left upon us through praying. Many years ago I read a very small book about prayer. The book opened my eyes to the wonder and simplicity of prayer. A few hundred years ago a monk by the name of, Brother Lawrence recorded his thoughts on praying. He was given the kitchen duties in the monastery and found himself knee deep in potatoes and other vegetables. During his long days he began praying as he worked. Before long the kitchen was turned into a prayer room where the modest monk would spend hours in prayer. His time became known as, practicing the presence, and the name of his short written work.

It really changed my attitude about praying and set me free to pray, whenever and wherever. So many people of God believe that prayer must be confined to certain times of the day, in a certain room and in a certain posture. Nothing could, and should be further from the truth. Oh, yes, it is important to set aside a place or time for devotional prayer and corporate prayer in worship. That is without a doubt a valuable gift. But, if that is the only time we pray we short change ourselves, God, and the pressing need.

For years Donna and I have prayed with people over the telephone. Many  times a person has called and expressed a burden and almost always before hanging up we offer prayer. When you tell a friend or even a stranger, through conversation, that you will remember them in prayer what stops you from offering up a prayer right there, even a held hand and silent prayer is all powerful.

My congregation as West Adrian Community Church comes from a rather liturgical background. The worship prayer were printed in the bulletin and read by pastor and congregation. My fear was that the folks were being limited in their understanding of praying, private and corporate. We are finding more freedom in our worship prayer, yet I still compose one myself for the service and the rest are spontaneous.

The Apostle Paul instructed Authentic Christ Followers to pray without ceasing. It will change our life and leave deep marks from the Master upon our soul.

Tedd Galloway is the pastor of West Adrian Community Church and the author of the soon to be released book, A Mother's Heart Moved the Hand of God. Morgan James Publishing is setting the release date. He is also working on a novel that will follow the first, The Crossing. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marks of Authentic Christianity

The Christian life finds its beginning in the truth of Pentecost. For Pentecost was God's affirmation that Christ had indeed suffered and died for mankind, that He was raised from the dead on the third day and He ascended into heaven. The church finds her life blood in the truth of Pentecost. So, Pentecost, the life changing experience of being renewed by the Holy Spirit, is what I consider to be the first mark of authentic Christian faith and experience.

To follow that, the early church, as recorded in Acts finds itself devoted to what I consider to be more, marks of authentic Christianity. These being: Devotion to the teaching and words of Jesus, spiritual fellowship through worship and prayer and the celebration of the Lord's Table.

The Apostles were perfectly suited to talk about the works and words of Jesus. First hand experience is very powerful. The people always seemed to be caught up in the miracles of Jesus. The Apostles would be able to explain the nugget of truth that must be mined by thought and prayer. The healing of the blind, lame and leper always carried at least two truths. The first truth being the physical act itself, the healing of the body to a full purpose. The second truth being the deeper spiritual truth of blindness, uncleanness and even death.

There is a mystery and wonder involved in Christian worship and fellowship. It is hard to describe the setting, atmosphere, call it whatever you want, when Christians gather to pray for each other, when they comfort a broken heart, or counsel a wayward soul. That mystery goes far deeper than what the world might consider fellowship. O Sure, we drink our share of coffee and eat our share of cookies, donuts, and pot luck food. But, that is even an event of the Spirit. We gather with people who have witnessed the hand of God.

For the past nine months I have been leading, coaching, cheering on, a congregation that was tied to tradition and liturgy. Prayer was read and repeated and lacked a real conversational element. I am not in the position to say that liturgy and read prayers have no place in worship. But, I am in the position to understand that people need to feel that prayer is a wonderful opportunity to talk with their Father, who just happens to be living in the heavenly realms.

My early background was not one that practiced communion. I have over the past decade experienced the beauty and worship of communion. I believe that communion, as a whole, finds its beauty in the entire setting as set forth by the Apostle John. We pass over all too quickly the entire dinner and focus on the cup and bread. To follow Christ is more than the cup and the bread, it is the self abandonment of service.

Tedd Galloway is the author of, A Mother's Heart Moved the Hand of God. Soon to be re-published by Morgan James Publishing company. You can follow Tedd on this blog and on Twitter and Facebook. His email address is teddgalloway@live.com