Rejection

If I remember correctly, the year 2007 must have been one of the roughest years in the history of my life because I was facing and dealing with Rejection. There was way too much hurt especially because I was rejected by one of my former girlfriends without reason, which I still don’t know to date. Rejection is an interesting thing though.

There is a lot of rejection going around today, some necessary, some unnecessary but no one likes being rejected and being told that they do not measure up or they are not worthy and whatever crazy reason the rejecter may use for rejection. I made one very important discovery; rejection is actually for our good.

Now I know that the word says that everything works out together FOR YOUR GOOD! And I have always been told this by my friends whenever I was facing a hard time, even during this period of rejection, a good friend of mine whom we share a house with now, was telling me this. Now in my head I was thinking how on earth can rejection be for my good?? This beats sense because it hurts to be rejected.

But no rejection can compare or even come close to the rejection that we give our creator… God. We as humans have the audacity to reject God constantly as ugly as we are and as Loving as he is, we are impoverished and we reject the one who desires to enrich. This is hard to understand that we as people could reject God who is so good.

There is a fact in spiritual life that we all have to face at one point and that is rejection. Jesus said… “The servant is not greater than the master “. Therefore, because men persecuted Him so we too will get persecuted. The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16 – 17 faced rejection and worse still this was at the end of his life. If Paul faced it, and Jesus at the cross faced it and even cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” then certainly rejection must be a very important program for God to have in our lives. Why??

Rejection allows us to see God’s faithfulness. When things are going well for us and everyone is happy around us, our friends are by our side and our families are patting us on the back… there is a tendency for us to forget God. But when your boyfriend or girlfriend says “We are through..” your trusted friend turns against you… you will learn to say like Paul… “Even though all men forsook me, the Lord stood with me.”

Jesus promised in Hebrews 13:5… “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Compared to our human relationships and the weakness of the human heart, his faithfulness shines brightest.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t commit himself to any man?? He knew what was in men. He knows what is in us. The same people who shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” are the same people whom a few days later would cry, “Crucify Him!” And this is just how fickle the human heart is.

Rejection secondly allows us to be more like Jesus. We are always singing “Make me like you Lord” and if we are going to be like Jesus then Rejection is paramount in our lives. You never really know what true love is – giving for the sake of giving and expecting nothing back, until you have faced and dealt with rejection. Think of it this way… if people always respond to your love, you can subconsciously use your love to get something in return. But when you are rejected, when those close to you want nothing to do with you, then you have the opportunity to love like Jesus did – supernaturally.

True love is only learned and developed in the school of Rejection. There is no other way of learning true love. You must face rejection even as Jesus did in order to learn to love even as he does.

Three things may occur when rejection comes your way… Some people isolate themselves from others because they don’t appreciate or understand you. The problem with this is that it is in direct violation of God’s word, Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake the gathering, but let us encourage one another all the more as we see the day approaching. You might say… “But it hurts to be with others, and that’s fine. The bible says that we are living stones being fit together to build up a spiritual house. .. (1 Peter 2:5), therefore we are bound to chip each other from time to time, but it’s all part of the process.

Secondly, we might complain about rejection saying, “If I must be with people, then I am going to tell them how rotten I am being treated.” But if you choose this option then you are in bad company, for you are in the camp of the accuser of the brethren, Satan himself (Revelation 12:10).

Thirdly… Accept the rejection from people in your life and more importantly avoid rejecting God from your life. If days have gone by since you and walked with the Lord, today is the day you should turn back to Him. He is ready to receive you, Love Him, cling to Him and you will truly find blessing in your soul and on your life.

Jonathan Siaga

 

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I dream of a church…

Historians say that if we do not remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. In essence this simply suggests that if you do not know your history then you are a lost person in the journey you are in. For a while now I have been involved in researching a lot on the church and it’s practices and basically everything about it. I must say that I have encountered very interesting facts and truths that have been neglected through time and with the aid of a few key people in history.

This quest was fueled by things I found out about tithing from the bible and a little digging around for clues and leads. You might have read the article I wrote titled “Robbing God” I suggest that you read it to know where I am coming from with all this. Another very important thing I will ask every reader to do is to pray and ask God to open your eyes and your heart to show you what I am about to present to you.

Ok.. lets begin…. I dream of a church, that is as simple as One-Two-Three, yet is dynamic; an explosive thing, able to turn the world and a neighborhood upside down. The church as a supernatural invention; endowed with God’s gift of immortality; the way to disciple each other, and to transfer the life of Jesus to each other. An experience of grace and grapes, love and laughter, joy and jellybeans, forgiveness and fun, power and – yes, why not, paper. A church, which does not need much finances, rhetoric, control and manipulation, which can do without powerful and charismatic heroes, which is non-religious at heart, which can thrill people to the core, make them loose their head for joy, and simply teach us The Way to live. The church which not only has a message, but is the message; which spreads like an unstoppable virus, infects whatever it touches, and ultimately covers the Earth with the glory and knowledge of God. It’s power stems from it’s inventor, who has equipped it with the most genius spiritual genetically coded – a sort of heavenly DNA, which allows it to transfer and reproduce Kingdom values from Heaven to Earth, and transform not only water into wine, but atheists into fascinated apostles, policewomen into prophetesses, terrorists into teachers, plumbers into pastors, and dignified village elders into beaming evangelists in the process. It is like a spiritual family – organic, not organized, relational, not formal; it has a persecution-proof structure, matures under tears, multiplies under pressure, grows under the carpet, flourishes in the desert, sees in the dark, and thrives on chaos. A church that can multiply like two fish and five breads in the Hands of Jesus, were the fathers turn their hearts to the sons and the sons their hearts to the fathers, were its people are its resources, and which has only one name to brag about, the Lamb of God.

I would like to suggest to you that this is not the church that we have today. The nature of Church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritually extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, at the place where it counts most: in their homes. What am I talking about??

Few Christians would dispute that Jesus Christ, as He is presented in the New Testament, is the model for the Christian life. Jesus Christ IS the Christian life. In the same way when Christ rose from the dead and ascended, He gave birth to His church. That Church was Himself in a different form. This is the meaning of the phrase “The Body of Christ.”  A unified, one entity and not all the hullabaloo of denominations and sects we have today, with everyone claiming that they are right and others are wrong… and that is not what I am trying to do here either.

Followers of Christ appreciate the stories God has given us in His word. We discover much about God, life, culture, and even ourselves by following the journey of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments. How much do we learn from Moses and the Israelites’ pursuit of the Promised Land? Or the hard won insights of David’s rise from a lowly shepherd boy to king of Israel? Or the plight of Jesus’ disciples as they left their occupations to follow the Lord before being martyred? A whole lot… and in the same way, much can be learned from the efforts of the earliest Christians as they sought to be the genuine church that Christ Purchased with His blood.

But what do modern and postmodern Christians know about the history of the church that would help to shape present-day attempts at honoring God and being the Church? Very little. And this is where the problem lies – hence the saying by Historians if we do not remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. There is ample evidence to support this warning, yet we persist in well-intentioned but ignorant efforts to refine life. How you may ask?

There have been major changes in the Church all over the world over the past maybe half century have been largely window dressings. Pick a trend – mega-Churches, seeker churches, satellite campuses, vacation bible school, children’s church, affinity group ministries (e.g ministries for singles, women, men, young marrieds, young adults), contemporary worship music, big screen projection systems, EFT giving, cell groups downloadable sermons, sermon outlines in bulletins. All of these have been attempts to rely on marketing strategies to perform the same activities in different ways or places, or with particular segments of the aggregate population.

Some of you now are screaming “heretic” in your minds or even words that are similar in meaning to that, which is expected, which comes from little knowledge in the foundations of your faith. If you spend time searching God’s word for most of the common practices in conventional churches, you will rarely find them. If you go even further tracing history of those practices, you will discover that most of our religious habits are man-made choices. I even suggest that the pattern by which we “do church” these days, if you do it, it’s probably not in the bible as one of the practices in the early church.

Most of what we do in religious circles has no precedent in scripture. This includes of the many activities within church services, the education and ordination of clergy, the routines commonly used in youth ministries, the methods of raising funds for ministry, the ways in which music is used in churches, even the presence and the nature of church buildings.

There were three historical periods that a collection of changes were made in common Christian practices….

  • The era of Constantine
  • The protestant reformation
  • The revivalist period.

These changes however were as a result of passionate, though ill informed, followers of Christ. The believers during those periods during those times simply went along for the ride, which resulted in new perspectives and practices that churches have held on to for many years, so many years in fact, that you probably think of those routines as biblical in origin.

Not surprisingly, having changed the biblical model of the church, we have become adept at building support for our approaches through proof-texting, which is the practice of taking distinct, unrelated verses from scripture, often out of context, to “prove” that our position squares with the bible.

Does it really matter how we practice our faith, as long as the activities enable people to love and obey Him? Yes it does because from what I have found out, these perspectives, rules, traditions, expectations, assumptions, and practices often hinder the development of our faith. In other instances, they serve as barriers that keep us from encountering the living God. The way in which we practice our faith can, indeed, affect the faith itself.

It’s in my best interest and goal to search and scrub the word of God to determine the core principles and values of the early church and to restore those elements in my lives and the lives of those around me, so as to be true to His plan and that we may become the people He desires us to be and that the church may be all that she is desired to be. God has granted us a lot of freedom in the methods we can use to honor and connect with Him, but this does not mean we have free reign. A word of caution here: We need to strive to be humble and obedient people who seek His central will.

I know this is a lot to take in, but I ask that you take some time and research for yourself and find out whether this is true or false. Ask God to lead you and show you the truth about what church really is because I believe that your life, my life, everyone’s lives are a gift from God and is to be lived for God. Furthermore the church is one of God’s deepest passions. God cares for her well-being, as well as how she expresses herself on earth. So understanding how we got from the early church to the contemporary church, and figuring out what you will do about it, is very important.

What will you do about it?

 

Jonathan Siaga

THE 13th APOSTLE

Many of you are now wondering who the thirteenth disciple is because we only know of twelve. Well you know correctly, but as you read this article on Emperor Constantine (ca. 285 – 337) you will understand the title of this. If you have done church history then you probably know who Constantine is but if not then you probably think it’s the Constantine from the movie which is hugely wrong. So really who is this Constantine? Why the sudden interest in him?

Constantine as I have mentioned above was an emperor of Rome once, and is often lauded in the Christian circles as the one who granted them the freedom of worship, and also expanding their privileges. Yet his story fills a dark page in the history of Christianity which is very astonishing as you are about to find out.

By the time Constantine emerged into the scene, the atmosphere was ripe for Christians to escape their despised, minority status. How? Let’s look at the book of Revelation 2:8 – 11 where Christ addresses the church of Smyrna. This church represents the period in Church History from A.D 100 to A.D 312. In Smyrna, as in other places, Jews would sometimes take the heat of persecution off themselves by inciting the Romans against the Christians (Those of the way).

The Jews would present the communion in a wrong light by accusing believers of drinking blood and eating broken bodies. Thus in God’s sight they were no more His people in reality than were the Christians who, in the name of Christ, slaughtered Jews by hundreds during the crusades.

The pastor of the Church at Smyrna was a man named Polycarp, the last man personally discipled by John. At 86 years of age amidst one of the numerous waves of persecution, Polycarp was ordered to burn incense at the altar of Caesar. “How can I deny Him who has been faithful to me all these 86 years?” he asked. Consequently he was sentenced to burn at the stake. When the fire failed to come near him, a frustrated guard pierced Polycarp on the shoulder with his sword hence drawing his blood which put out the flame.

Lets move on to the Book of revelation 2:12 – 17 where now the Church of Pergamos was being addressed. The Greek prefix per, seen in words like “Pervert” means opposition. The suffix “gamos”  seen in words like “Monogamy” or “Bigamy” means “Marriage”.- which describes the next phase of Church history where Constantine comes in.

In A.D 312, the last of the ten Roman emperors who had persecuted the church was dead, ushering in a power play for the reins of the empire. Constantine, a young hopeful prepared to engage in a huge battle and according to legend, he saw a cross in the heavens and heard a voice saying, “In this sign conquer.” As a result young Constantine fell down to his knees and became a born again believer.

According to History however what really happened was Constantine was substantially outnumbered and noticed that the Christians were not enlisting in anyone’s army. Realizing this, he converted into Christianity, he then had access to potential infusion of new troops and the Christians responded by siding with him.

As a result of Constantine’s Edict of toleration, which forbade persecution of Christians, Christianity became the official religion of Rome. In fact soon all Roman Babies would be legally required to be baptized into the Christian faith. The Christians were in power but understanding the political expediency of concession, Constantine compromised  with the pagan priests and traditions that permeated Rome.

So a marriage took place that was clearly illustrated by the church and state working together as a political power, Christian symbols would be stamped on one side of the coin and pagan symbols on the other. He also ordered the construction of church buildings to promote the popularity and acceptance of Christianity. He thought that if the Christians had their own sacred buildings as did the Jews and the pagans, their faith would be regarded as legitimate.

Constantine’s thinking was dominated by superstition and pagan magic. Even after he became emperor, he allowed the old pagan institutions to remain the way they were – this included the temples, priestly offices, college of pontiffs, vestal virgins, and the title(reserved for himself) Pontifex Maximus – Chief of the pagan priests.

Following his conversion, Constantine never abandoned sun worship and kept the sun on his coins. He set up a statue of the sun god that bore his own image in the forum of Constantinople (his new capital). He also built a statue of the mother-goddess Cybele (though he presented her in a posture of Christian prayer).

In A.D 321, Constantine decreed that Sunday would be a day of rest – a legal holiday. It appears that Constantine’s intention in doing this was to honor the god Mithras, the unconquered sun. He seems to have thought that the Unconquered sun (a pagan god) and Christ were somehow compatible. Further demonstrating his affinity to with sun worship, excavations of St. Peter’s in Rome uncovered a mosaic of Christ as the unconquered sun.

All historical evidence indicates that Constantine was an egomaniac. When he built the Church of the apostles in Constantinople, he included monuments to the twelve apostles. The twelve monuments surrounded a single tomb, which lay at the center. That tomb was reserved for Constantine himself – thus making himself the THIRTEENTH and CHIEF APOSTLE.ImageAlmost to his dying day, Constantine “still functioned as Pontifex Maximus. In the fifteenth century this same title became the horrific title for the Roman Catholic pope. Truly a pagan magical mind was at work in Emperor Constantine – the self proclaimed THIRTEENTH CHIEF APOSTLE.

 

Compiled by: Jonathan Siaga