Time to Strip and Get Naked!

While in Ukraine recently four men from in a church in the Republic of Kazakhstan gave me several gifts as a thank you for what the Lord had done for them through our team’s ministry. One of the gifts was an authentic wine skin from their nation. A really special gift that arrived home safely in my long lost luggage. It sits near the desk in my study to remind me of these great men and their country (I hope to be there with them in 2009 as they have extended an invitation – and I have already invited my friend Dima (our second host) from Ukraine and Miroslav my interpreter to go with me). It also reminds me of the Lord’s comment.

Luke 5:37-39 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.'”

In other words – without going into too much depth about this comment – one obvious conclusion is that “Before the new wine can be poured, a new wineskin must be created.” (Brother Yun – Living Waters – page 266).

Well, in my humble opinion, the Church in North America is in trouble. I know, that was a blanket statement – but true in most cases. We have tasted the “old wine” and seem satisfied and think the “old” is better than the “new”. But, in some nations they were prevented from tasting the “old wine” due to communism and so are beginning to experience the “new wine” and like what they are seeing and tasting. They have no desire for the “old wine” because they have no idea what that might be and what that might taste like. They are too busy doing as the psalmist states: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. They are on the cutting edge of a new move of the Holy Spirit and are enjoying the taste of the “new wine” that the Lord is pouring out. And, interesting enough, they have a new wineskin that hardly resembles what we have here in North America. Thank you Jesus!

This “new wineskin” includes a lot less structure to their Church – a distinct lack of titles and “official positions” and a simple “do the ministry” and put your hand to whatever you see in front of you that needs to be accomplished. If there is a base guitar player missing at this service and you can play base guitar – go for it (just one of many, many examples). This “new wineskin” is one based in servanthood and loving the Lord, self and each other with their whole heart. This “new wineskin” is to do the will of the Master which is to “seek and save the lost” and that is priority number one everywhere you turn. Their worship is also a“new wineskin”. Yes, they have a few of the songs we sing here – but the vast majority of their worship choruses are home grown and new … and are seriously focused on loving and worshipping Jesus unlike a lot of the songs here which are declarations about the Lord and songs we address to one another about the Lord. And, their culture is much more entwined in their music and worship than the “no name” brand of worship we have here. There are no time limits to worship and the Word as they simply enjoy being in God’s Presence and will stay as long as the Lord wants them to – no time frames and so no time pressures.Great “new wineskin” in my opinion. It’s not that they are not busy people because they are and they have all the pressures of family and finances that we have here and more so due to the economic situation they face that does not exist here. They stay because they seriously love the Lord and find strength and refreshing in His Presence. And oh so much more!

I believe that in a short time they will be sending apostles and prophets to our nations here in the West to help us to discover this “new wine” and to teach us what the “new wineskin” should look like. But first we need to desire the “new wine” and walk away from the “old wine” which is familiar and comfortable. We need to defeat the spirit of religion (born again religion is still religion) and tradition that keeps us tied up and focused on things that are seriously insignificant and of little value to the work of the Kingdom and the salvation of souls. We need to become a “lean and mean machine” as the Church of Jesus Christ in North America and free ourselves from all the baggage that we have accumulated over the spiritual seasons we have lived through. Time to strip and get naked and let the Lord of the Church give us His “new wineskin” to cover us and equip us for the worship and the work that is set before us so that He can pur out His “new wine” into us.

I for one am ready and pray that it happens soon… I am weary of what now is and am not sure how much longer I can work with the apathy and lethary and lack of concern for the lost – when there is so much that can be done elsewhere in the world where people are actually hungry and excited about the Lord. (Excuse me for expressing my personal opinion and a feeling or two. I will stop before I really get going here).

10 replies
  1. Sharon Kuhn
    Sharon Kuhn says:

    I am going to dare step out and say that maybe the apathy and lethargy is because of a false conversion with no desire from the heart to serve an awesome and fearful and just God! Regardless of the reason for the lack of concern for the lost is probably because they don’t know their Bible because we have been fed a perverted message of God’s grace! god told Moses to consecrate the people and have them wash their clothes ( get rid of the filth of Egypt that still clung to them)themselves and come to meet their God.(Our society is still got the filth of Egypt all over themselves. How can they minister to the lost?
    Sorry. but it is what I believe. Until we can get the world out of ever last nook and cranny of our lives we can’t serve the God I know……
    Sharon

    Reply
  2. AngieF
    AngieF says:

    A while back I asked the Lord which of the churches in revelations best describes us. And this is the answer I received…… I know all the things you do,that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say ‘I am rich.I have everything I want. I dont need a thing!’And you dont realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy gold from me – gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference.
    Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends……….Rev 3v15-20

    Reply
  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    “god told Moses to consecrate the people and have them wash their clothes ( get rid of the filth of Egypt that still clung to them)themselves and come to meet their God.(Our society is still got the filth of Egypt all over themselves. How can they minister to the lost?”

    Sharon, I think you are right that there are various reasons, however, this one has ‘hit the nail on the head’ for a couple of people in my life.

    It’s the complacency that comes from the filth of our past, telling us lies like; “Yes, I know all that I am required to do and believe
    however, I think (out of my pride and fear)that it is ok for you guys but not for me, therefore, I’ll sit and resist you and call you fanatic, but don’t expect me to participate”

    A friend once said to me of someone else in my life, that he was praying for the “Holy Spirit to just creaaamm him” Sounds good. May be that we can all use a new wine infusion, eh?

    Reply
  4. Sharon Kuhn
    Sharon Kuhn says:

    GLAD TO HEAR kAREN, THAT i’M NOT THE ONLY ONE TO SENSE THIS. IF I MUST WEAR THE LABEL FANATIC THEN SO BE IT. BUT AS THE LORD SENT EZEKEL TO WARN THE PEOPLE I BELIEVE WE MUST ALOS WARN THEM AND THEY DONT WANT TO HERE WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY BECAUSE IT USUALLY MEANS THEY HAVE TO LOOK INSIDE AND THEN THEY CAN’T PLACE THE BLAME AND RESPONSIBILITY ANYWHERE BUT WHERE IT SQUARELY BELONGS. THEIR OWN SHOULDERS. NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR THAT THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS IS LIKE FILTHY RAGS.
    GOD ISN’T FOOLING AROUND THIS TIME. HE IS NEAR AT THE DOOR. WE BETTER OPEN IT, OR BE TOLD DEPART FROM ME, I NEVER KNEW YOU. INCREDIBLE, BUT TRUE. AND HE WASN’T TALKIING TO UNBELIEVERS.
    WAKE UP POEPLE.
    sHARON

    Reply
  5. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Sharon,

    I believe we never get all of the world out of us -I believe God looks at the heart and IF (and that is a big ‘if’) there is a willingness to “come clean” and get “washed in the Word” then He will go with that and use us to touch others. The “coming clean” is a daily affair because as we walk in this world the “filth of Egypt” can once again cling to us and defile us. So, each day we must go to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to search our hearts and go to the Word and renew our minds. If we do this, even though we are anything but perfect, we can be used mightily of the Lord.

    I believe that the biggest problem with believers not witnessing is:
    1> They don’t REALLY believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation and Heaven
    2> They are so busy with worldly (and sometimes good) things that they do not make room for eternal things (the best things)
    3> That many of those who declare the name of Christ have never met Him and are, therefore, false converts themselves and so cannot introduce someone else to someone they don’t know themselves.

    The Church is about to see major change as the Head of the Church – Jesus Christ – begins to fine tune His Body so it can be about the work of “seeking and saving the lost”.

    Reply
  6. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Angie,
    I sometimes read the Lord’s comments to the 7 Churches of Asia in Revelation and cringe as in each description I see features of the Church in North America. This is a season of change and the Lord is turning up the Refiner’s Fire (Malachi 4) and he will pull off and out the dross until He can see His own face reflected back to Him in the molten gold. Then He will know we are a pure vessel in His House and He can trust us to do His work in all the world.

    Reply
  7. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Karen,

    Fear and pride can certainly cause people to sit back and not move forward personally in their relationship with the Lord. Afterall, the Bible states that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God”. But, I believe it is often more than “fear” and “pride”.

    I believe it is a case of selfishness – they think they are okay with God and “to Hell with everyone else” as I’m busy getting on with my life.

    I believe it is a case of “two things we never talk about publicly – religion and politics” which use to be the attitude of this nation and still is in the over 40 generations. Your religion / faith is a private matter between you and your God (as you currently know Him)

    I believe (and statistics back me up) that believers don’t honestly believe in their hearts that Jesus is the ONLY WAY to the Father and into Heaven. So, there is no sense of urgency to share the Gospel as the Bible presents it with others.

    I believe that the “love of many will (has) grown cold” and so they have lost their first love and thus just don’t bother to share Him with others. Can’t share what you don’t have.

    Just some further thoughts on what the Lord needs to strip off of us.

    Reply
  8. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Yes Jesus is warning the Church – and many of us are the voice through which the warning is to come. However, unlike many of the Old Testament prophets who warned His people in the past we are to do it with love and grace. It can be said as a strong and certain message (the trumpet must sound a clear note if anyone is to respond) but the ‘clear note’ can be declared, preached, taught and shared lovingly and with the grace that belongs to Jesus alone.

    Sometimes I think our message gets rejected because of the way we present it – and with a “take it or leave it” attitude with which Christians present it. Instead, we need to see (as I know you are well aware) that people are on a journey (Christians and non-Christians) and often they have to move forward taking small steps at first that will, in time, lead them to a salvation experience or a deeper relationship with the Lord. So, our task – more than sharing the message although that is absolutely essential – is to be willing to walk with them on their journey. We don’t preach Jesus until we are willing to walk with those who don’t know Him and love them as Jesus would (see previous blog on “don’t tell them Jesus loves them unless…”)

    Reply
  9. Karen
    Karen says:

    Oh yes Ralph, I agree.
    Selfishness is the ‘king pin’ but under that are sub-titles such as self-centered, self-serving, self-absorbed, etc.
    All of that is pride!
    And, although I can see these things and can understand that human beings get this way through being hurt and wounded and afraid, and I can feel sympathy for the state they have got themselves into; I feel a frustration growing daily that makes me want to shake them until their teeth rattle and scream “Snap out of it! Stop watching your navel, you are not the most important person in the universe!”

    Reply

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