What Was OK for the Church Then,

Isn't OK Now...

Not Now, Because He's Preparing the Bride for Himself!

Do you want to deepen the intimacy of your relationship with God? Really? If you do, you're part of the current move of God in this Day. Here's one way you can deepen your intimacy with the Bridegroom.

When God moves in new ways, He requires things that He didn't in earlier moves. For example: In the '60's, ministers didn't have to be filled with the Spirit to minister (they largely didn't even know about it!)

But after Jesus poured His Spirit out -- even into the mainline denominations -- effective ministers learned the hard way that they could no longer “get away” with ministering in their flesh -- God no longer honored their old, ministry “formulas”.

Certainly, many ministers never came into that Move of the Holy Spirit at all. They were "ministers", "pastors", "professional clergy" -- but not "effective ministers". An "effective minister" is one who has an effect in the building up of the Kingdom of God!

Most religious leaders then, like those in Jesus' day, looked at the Moving of the Holy Spirit in revival and said, "We're not interested -- the old is so much better." In Jesus' parable of the wineskins, He said that the spiritual leaders of His day rejected the new Move of God with that same, "The old is better" lie.

In recent years, God has “upped the ante”. He's already drawn thousands of people and ministers out of "old wineskins" and released a new Flow of His Spirit in them. But God's setting aside even more traditions today than He already has. In the past decades, He seemed to “honor” some familiar ministry formulas, but now He's honoring those who minister instead out of intimacy with Him and not “proven formulas”.

Here's one of those old formulas: One minister supposed to "mentor" me years ago, collected offerings for several years to build a huge sanctuary out in the back of the church property. Even though his sanctuary on Sunday morning had never, ever been filled more than two-thirds capacity, he explained that if he “builds a bigger auditorium, it will automatically be two-thirds filled.”

OK. Old traditions, old formulas... lots of stuff is getting tossed in the face of God's new Move.

Here's another one that's getting tossed. I'll tell you what it is, then I'll tell you why it's getting tossed:

The idea that ministers who are married can minister, spiritually apart from their spouses is no longer acceptable to God. In the past, “ministers” have been able to stretch, strain and shrug away a lack of "romance" with their spouses and still minister effectively in the Kingdom.

But not any more. That's coming to an end. Why?

Because in these days, Jesus is pressing in to prepare His Bride.

The fundamental VISIBLE manifestation of the INVISIBLE romance of Jesus for His Bride is the romance of His people in their marriages.

Check out Paul's dissertation on this relationship in Ephesians 5. In these verses, Paul explains how husbands and wives are supposed to relate together. He uses Jesus' love for HIS Bride (the Church) to explain exactly how husbands are to love their spouses.

As you read the passage, notice how the pattern Jesus sets is interwoven with how earthly husbands are to care for their wives. This is carried through all the way to the end of the passage where we find these words, taken from the First Wedding:

"For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh." (verse 31)

Read it carefully because here's the kicker: exactly who is Paul referring to here in verse 31? Husbands and wives? Nope. Next verse, “This is a profound mystery -- but I am talking about Christ and the Church.”

In this passage, Paul parallels our earthly, marital relationships with that of Jesus and His Bride -- even to the “leave and cleave” formula for marriage. Now, tie this in with the principle in 1 John 4 of the visible and the invisible:

“If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (verse 20)

There's a spiritual principle here: We can gauge how well we're doing in our invisible relationship to God by looking at how well we're doing in our visible relationships to our brothers and sisters. That principle applies as well here in the Ephesians passage -- we are to love our spouses as Jesus loves His Bride.

Here's the mind-blowing question -- the question that's really going to raise the hackles of ministers all over:

How strong and healthy is your relationship with your spouse? That's how strong and healthy your relationship to God is.

How's the intimacy between you and your spouse? That's how your true intimacy between you and God is doing.

The quality of our intimacy with God will determine the quality of our ministries. We can NOT effectively minister out of principle; we can NOT effectively minister out of formula. We can only minister effectively out of intimacy with God.

And the old formula which allows ministers to drift apart from their visible spouses and yet somehow keep ministering through our invisible Spouse doesn't work any longer. The reason it's no longer acceptable? Because in these days, Jesus is preparing His Bride -- He's calling to His Bride to prepare herself for the Wedding.

In other words: part of the main thrust of Jesus today is raising up His Bride. We can NOT be a part of this move if we despise or ignore our spousal relationships!

Let's go one step farther:

The relationship we have with our spouses IS the relationship we have with the Bridegroom! The relationship is one and the same -- just taken in two different dimensions. Intimacy in the horizontal is called “marriage”. Intimacy in the vertical is called “the Bride and Christ”.

One closing point -- possibly the VERY MOST IMPORTANT POINT: Do you want to improve the intimacy of your relationship with God? Then determine to improve the intimacy of your relationship with your spouse!

If you do, then INVEST in romance with your spouse! PURSUE love with your spouse and you'll CATCH GOD in the process! You don't even have to "think religious thoughts" like, "I'm taking my spouse on a date tonight, a time of sweet intimacy, because I'm pursuing God." Dump the religiosity. Just pursue your spouse with your whole heart, mind and soul and you'll find God, because in the Age of Christ and the Bride, intimacy works on both levels simultaneously.

And in the intimacy of Christ and His Bride, we'll be empowered for ministry like never before. Christ will be glorified and we'll have a heck of a lot of fun along the way!