‘Abide in me…I did the works that no one else did…I spoke the words that no one else spoke…because of this they have no more excuse for sin’ Jesus, John’s gospel chapter 15. It’s interesting to see that in this context Jesus was speaking to the religious class of his day; not ‘the sinners’. Jesus ministry and style were one where sinners would be drawn to him, they did not feel justified in their sin, but they for once felt hope and acceptance after years of guilt and condemnation. On the other hand the religious leaders were rebuked by what Jesus did and said- he violated their perceived ideas about God and ministry. Over the years I have heard many good men teach that as an individual believer you really don’t have the resources to ‘touch the world’ many have said ‘it takes thousands and millions of dollars to preach the gospel, you can only do you part if you chip in to this huge organization’. What these sayings do is in effect contradict the word of God. It leaves believers with the mindset that they really can’t have an effect unless they send money to a huge Christian ministry. But Jesus taught contrary to this; he told his men when he sent them out ‘don’t think you need a lot of equipment for this- you are the equipment- no special appeals for funds, keep it simple’ [message version]. The apostle Paul told the Ephesians ‘he that stole, steal no more, but WORK so YOU CAN HAVE MONEY TO GIVE TO THOSE WHO NEED IT’. And Paul addressed the church leaders at Ephesus, Acts chapter 20, and he told them ‘all the time I was with you I worked with my own hands to provide for myself and those who were with me- I did this to leave you guys an example’. The point is there is a lot of New Testament teaching on individual believers, working and living as normal people, not starting big organizations that collect/appeal for funds, who actually are having an impact in the world. It can be argued that the New Testament pattern is one of community and not one of nonprofit ministry. Many years ago I received a word that said ‘in your future ministry you will have no models to follow, thru your deeds and words you will show people Jesus’ ways’. Over the years I have tried to leave the example that you don’t need to appeal for money, you don’t need to see ministry as gathering all this money to do a great work- but you can simply work a real job [I was a firefighter for 25 years] and simply use your own money to do what God requires you to do- show mercy, do justice and love God and man. Jesus spoke and modeled in such a way that the normal way of doing ministry [the Pharisees of his day] felt convicted by the fact that he was doing things that they had abandoned long ago, he seemed to be violating the structures that they deemed important [healing on the Sabbath day]. Where are you at today? Leaders, have you simply modeled a way of church and ministry simply because that’s all you have ever known? It’s easy to get caught up in the rut of ‘ministry’ to go down a business type format that unconsciously makes void the word of God. Remember, Jesus taught us that we do not need to start with the mindset of collecting offerings/tithes from people, there are many examples [like the ones above] that appeal to believers to live simple lives, work for a living, and simply share the money you have with those in need. Don’t get caught up in the modern scenarios where we tell people ‘you really can’t have an effect by yourself, you need lots of money to have an effect’ the scriptures simply don’t teach that.
 ‘Guilt is the loss of the integrity of the soul, and the soul’s recognition of that loss’ Thomas Aquinas. I heard this a while ago and liked it. It has been said that man is the only creature with the ability to self evaluate; we can look back on our lives and make course corrections by Gods grace. I have been reading in the gospel of John a little- Jesus is talking to the disciples [John 14] and he’s getting ready to ‘go away’ he has spent time with them and tells them ‘the words that I have spoken unto you are not my own, but the Father that dwells in me- he does the works’. Notice, his revealing of God to his men was not so much an intellectual pursuit, but a thing he lived out among them. ‘The father is doing these works’ they ask him to show them the father and he tells them ‘I have BEEN with you for a while now, why do you ask me to show you the father’? His incarnation was the only way that God could reveal himself to man, there was nothing more that Jesus could say or teach that would trump the revelation of God to them by Jesus simply being with them for 3 years. He tells them that after he leaves he will send the Spirit and the Spirit will more fully reveal to them what’s going on, he will bring to their remembrance the things Jesus taught them- in essence they will have many ‘aha’ moments- times where they will say ‘now we see what he was talking about’. Saint Thomas taught that there will be times in life when we experience real guilt, not condemnation, but honest to goodness guilt. That thing the world thinks is bad, the therapists try to ‘soothe’ by saying ‘it’s not your fault’ but sometimes things are our fault! We have the ability to look back and say ‘now I see some of the mistakes I have made, things that I didn’t fully understand until now’ and this process is a good thing, something that we should expect to happen. Many believers practice a daily examination of their souls. At the end of the day they look back on their day and ask the Lord to show them any faults and they pray for forgiveness ‘I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters- that I have sinned thru my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words- in what I have done and in what I have failed to do’ trust the Lord today to lead you in right paths, and at the end of the day allow him to reveal to you the things that you don’t fully see right now, and if at the end of the day you realize you have gone off course, then yes- you have experienced guilt- the soul recognized some loss of integrity. That’s a good thing, not bad.
 KNOW YE THAT THE LORD, HE IS GOD: IT IS HE THAT HATH MADE US AND NOT WE OURSELVES- Psalm 100:3. The bible also says ‘of his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures’ ‘being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the word of God that liveth and abideth forever’ [James, Peter]. Over the years I have had various groups of people that I have related to in ministry; ex-con friends, homeless guys, ‘church’ members- in each scenario I have to be reminded that these people are from the Lord, that is God has divinely positioned them and me to cross paths at each juncture of the journey. There are some of you right now reading this blog who I have never met before; some hear us every week on the radio as well. It is our responsibility to hear what God is saying in each situation. Some of you have wondered about many of the things we have taught over the years- that is you too have had thoughts and questions about many of these things and you have been confirmed in your beliefs as you read this site. Others are in the more traditional role of ‘church/pastor’ and you might benefit from another aspect of the teaching while by passing some stuff. Our job is to recognize that all of us have been brought to this place by Gods word; he is the one that has made us [even at all these different stages] and not we ourselves! If you find yourself questioning why some paths you have taken might not have been the same as others; then just realize that it is the Lord that directs our steps; he has allowed us to journey to the place we are at right now and it is simply our responsibility to hear him where we stand. Don’t try and hear him where someone else is standing, that is don’t attempt to be ‘like the next guy’ you are unique and God has fashioned his word to speak to you and from you in a unique way. I just finished a prayer time; I pray for all of the former friends who I have worked with in the past, their kids and their ‘kids, kids’. Some of the parents have died, but I still pray for their offspring. I believe God has a divine purpose for all of those who I have crossed paths with over the years. Some of you I have never met, and never will meet; just take what the Lord has been giving you and run with it ‘one shall chase a thousand and two will put ten thousand to flight’ run well my friends.
 YE THAT LOVE THE LORD, HATE EVIL- Psalm 97:10a. The other day I had a discussion with a college student, they are studying biology/evolution and they asked a bunch of important questions. I gave the person an overview of the true things we have learned from evolutionary theory, but I also explained how science has also shown us the limits that the theory has [went into information theory and DNA and the fossil record]. The person then asked all types of questions about the bible- I went into the manuscript evidence and historical proofs of scripture. Then the person asked about a society ‘free from religion’ sort of like Lennon’s theme in the song imagine. I explained that this project has been tried before and found wanting; covered the history of the Enlightenment and how those who advocated for a society free from God could not justify law and morality; they ultimately have to borrow capital from Christianity. I also explained that these experiments ended up in failure [socialism]. After giving the student a broad overview for the reality of God they said they thought I should teach it to their fellow students because they are not hearing both sides of the argument. I believe the apologetic arguments for the proof of God and Christianity can only go so far, then you need faith to embrace Christ; but there are many sincere students who get lambasted for the faith and are being duped out of believing what is true. After explaining some of the views of Christianity the person actually began seeing some of the flaws with the arguments that they have heard on the other side. It is progressive and open minded and ‘pluralistic’ to hear both sides of these issues, but many times in the university setting the student does not hear both views. After listening to both sides, it is obvious to see that those who advocate for a Godless society ultimately go down a road that is evil, governments that destroy and devalue human life. We have tried the atheistic experiment and it has failed; you that love the Lord, hate evil.
 PSALM 95- I find it interesting that right now the country is fixated on the underwater video of the leak in the gulf, I mean they just recently released the high def.version! It seems that for some strange reason we keep looking at ‘this work’. In Psalm 95 God exhorts the people to praise him, to sing to him, to worship him with instruments. Then there is this warning to not harden our hearts when he speaks; the warning says ‘don’t be like you fathers, who when they knew what I wanted, rebelled and SAW MY WORKS for 40 years’. Seeing Gods work in this context meant seeing Divine judgment day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year. There is talk now that this oil leak might go on for a year! I am not saying the leak is ‘God’s work’ but there is truth to the idea that when we reject God we are then left with viewing things that are less than profitable. The children of Israel had a great opportunity to have seen the promised land and would have been the first generation to have dwelt in the land; yet because of their unbelief they instead saw Gods work in judgment for an entire generation. Lets worship and praise God daily, this creates an environment to hear the voice of the Lord, then when he speaks, be quick to hear [which means action] if not, we might spend the next few years staring at an underwater oil leak.
 FOR THOU LORD HAST MADE ME GLAD THRU THY WORK, I WILL TRIUMPH IN THE WORKS OF THY HANDS- Psalms 92:4. The Psalms talk a lot about God establishing the work, revealing his works to his people. Israel had a history of recalling the works of God; often times you read ‘where is the God of our fathers, the God who we heard such great things about’? As somewhat of a student of church history, we always want to be conscious of the fact that God is ‘making history’ even in our time; that is he still wants to set down some important markers, he still is enacting key moments in time. As believers we want the Lord to reveal to us in a fresh way ‘the works of his hands’ that is we want to enter into the works of the Lord. Now I am not speaking about being busy for God; involving ourselves in all types of programs and churchy type things, but more of an understanding of the times we are in and how we fit into the broader picture. Once we ‘see’ the times we are living in, the things God is doing [as opposed to men] then we will be working smarter- not harder. Remember, as a child of God you possess all the legitimacy to walk as a kingdom person, God will connect you to the people he wants you to be connected to, but your legitimacy comes from God. Once you see his purpose in this generation, and you part in it, then you will be empowered with divine energy to do your part. ‘Write the vision and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it- for the vision is for an appointed time, though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come’.
 ‘Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most high, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling’ Psalm 91:9-10. The other night we had some severe wind storms, as I walked out into my yard the next morning, I could barely open the door; one of my trees came down and covered the entire yard! As I spent the day cutting it with my new chainsaw; I realized that just a week or so ago I was looking at the tree and thinking I should cut it down some day. I have lived in Texas since 1980 and have never owned a chain saw, but a few weeks back I saw an ad in the paper and it was a great deal [35 dollars- electric] and I had to go for it. Then the morning I found the tree down I had first read Psalms 91 ‘he will give his angels charge over thee…no evil will come near your dwelling’ I realized the tree could not have fallen in a better spot. I had very little damage to my fence and no damage to the house, even though branches were up against the windows. As I spent the day cutting, I realized that in some ways this was a divine conspiracy! I mean why did I just happen to by a chainsaw, and why would I have been thinking about cutting this tree down just a few days earlier? As I watched the local news I saw all the damage that other trees did during the storm; it looked like a hurricane hit [you will see it with your eyes, but it will not affect you- Psalm 91]! The falling of the tree created a new area in the yard for me to see ‘further’ when praying early in the morning; it was a change in environment- in what I see as I pray. The Lord said to Abraham ‘look, all the places that YOU SEE, those are the places that I give to you, and your children/seed after you’. Sometimes the Lord allows some former markers to pass away so he can establish some new things. At first I was upset because I did not plan on spending a day messing with a downed tree, but then I realized if the tree had to come down, there really was no easier way to have done it. Sure these types of events interfere with you normal routine, but you might as well make the best of them when they wind up on your front [or back] door.
 CHRISTIAN THE LION- ‘Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet’ Psalms 91:13. The other night I watched the viral video of Christian the lion. It’s been a hit on U-TUBE for a while. It’s the interesting story of these 2 Christians who saw this lion cub for sale in a store; they felt the cub should have a home and they bought him and raised him at their church. When he got too big to handle they brought him to a wildlife refuge and he was set free. A year or so went by and they thought they would go back and see if he still remembered them. The video shows the tense first sighting- is he going to remember them? Will he attack them? As they stand there in the open, the lion eyes them from a short distance; then one of the men yells ‘Christian’ and the lion recognizes his ‘parents’ and runs and jumps playfully all over them. It’s really a great story. Jesus told us we would tread on the serpents and lions; that is we would have dominion over the things that we perceive as our enemies. Jesus also told us that the meek would inherit the earth. We often view ‘lion treading’ as some type of Samson re-play; he killed a lion with his bare hands. But the bible also speaks of a time when the lion will lay down with the lamb- that is in Gods kingdom things that were once natural enemies are now reconciled. Are you facing some lions in your life right now? Have you been worrying about what strategy to use to ‘tread them down’? Have you thought of dominating thru love? I am not talking about a peace treaty with the enemy; I am talking about the reality that love never fails. These men had complete dominion over their lion cub, they loved him and cared for him and when it came time where they could have easily been overcome by him, instead love prevailed. The bible says we now have faith, hope and love- the greatest of these is love.
 LORD THOU HAST BEEN FAVOURABLE UNTO THY LAND, THOU HAST BROUGHT BACK THE CAPTIVITY OF JACOB- Psalms 85:1. Today we find out if the ‘top kill’ method of plugging up the oil leak in the gulf will work. We have had the ‘top hat’ ‘junk shot’ and even the ‘sombrero’ as options in the past, yes the 1979 leak in the bay of Campeche tried the sombrero! The sad thing is all the politics surrounding the whole thing; those in the media who are simply cheerleaders for the president, they can’t be trusted as news people. Those who are only critics, they can’t either. But you do have some fair reporting by some. Anderson Cooper of CNN seems to be doing the best job. Chris Matthews actually said at one point ‘I guess the republican critics are mad that this president is so ‘damn’ competent’ well what would you expect from him. And Bill OReilly had Glen Beck on to discuss ‘are some of the presidents critics going too far’ that’s like asking Hitler to comment on the Jews plight! All in all the media have treated this situation very favorably to the president; Bush would have been hammered from day one. I find it odd that the pictures of dead birds and the environmental disaster of disturbing the wetlands [a true tragedy indeed] have caused such concern; yet the same advocates seem to care less about the disruption of ‘the natural life cycle’ that is called abortion. I mean if you had pictures of babies washing up on shore by the millions, would some of these advocates have the same concern? If the babies that ‘washed up’ all were aborted one minute before birth, it would be considered legal; one minute after birth- murder. We need to re examine our values. The above psalm tells us that when things go well for a land, that is a sign of God’s blessing; when things go bad, it is a sign that we are doing things that displease him. Our country is debating gays in the military, I am not against gay people, but should this issue be coming up at this time? We came off a year of a fabricated emergency on passing health care; a good cause, yes- but to have spent an entire year on nothing else, bad move. North Korea sunk a South Korean battle ship and killed 43 men- these countries are on the verge of all out war. Iran has no respect at all for us; they will continue to pursue Nukes regardless of what we say. And John Brennan, the top guy at homeland security just gave a public speech saying ‘Jihad is an acceptable struggle for Muslims and we are not at war with terror or Islam’ Okay, I agree we are not a war with Islam per se; but to call Jihad an acceptable Muslim struggle, you got to be kidding me! If we as a people turn back to God, he will be favorable unto our land; if we continue to see our struggle as one where gays in the military, abortion on demand; appointing the first openly transsexual persons to the administration; if these things are looked upon as the ‘moral’ priorities of this administration, then yes, things will not go well for us. When the president appointed Elena Kagan as the most recent Supreme Court nominee, one of the major news stations reported that she was the first openly gay nominated for the court. Then a day or so went by and they retracted the statement, but the reporter said it is an open fact that the woman lives in an open lesbian relationship with another woman, and that the people around her know this. Then another day or so went by and the news organization dropped the story. If the woman’s gay, I don't know. But this president seems to be pushing an agenda that the majority of the American public are not in sync with. Should we discriminate against gays, or cross dressers, or people who have had sex change operations? No. But is it possible that many of these people are struggling with deviant lifestyles? Yes. Is it possible that changing ones sex might be a disorder, and not simply a civil rights issue? Yes. Then why would this president be on such a fast track to appoint these types of people to the highest positions in the land? Our country still has lots of issues to deal with, and we should pray for the president and do our best to support him when possible, but it is obvious that he has an agenda that fundamentally undercuts many American values; if we continue to pursue this type of course, things will not go favorably for our land.
 TEACH ME THY WAY O LORD; I WILLWALK IN THY TRUTH, UNITE MY HEART TO FEAR THY NAME. Psalms 86:11. In the book of Hebrews repentance is described as a free gift from God, if he does not freely give it; we can never truly repent. This Psalm tells us that the Lord teaches us to fear his name; he unites our hearts to fear him. We often think of the fear of the Lord as something that we conjure up; a task that must be done, though we find it difficult to perform. Last night I saw the latest news on the Black mayor from the north east, Kwamie Kilpatrick, who was embroiled in scandals and got kicked out of office a year or so ago. Of course there were many racial overtones to his firing; both sides claimed racial motives. Last night he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for violating his probation; part of the rules were he had to show all of the money he had or would make; he still has a million dollar fine to pay. They found out that he had some money that he did not declare. So they sent him to jail for a couple of years. As I watched the story it was easy to get caught up in the arguments on either side; those who think he was picked on because he is Black, or those who think he got what he deserved. As I heard the former mayor speak, he shared his faith in the Lord, he told the judge he has rededicated his life, become a good husband and father; that he has made efforts to reform. The judge simply said ‘that boat has sailed already’ and he gave him judgment without mercy. As I heard the mayor I felt bad for him, he has done some wrong things in the past, and hiding the money was wrong; but this was not a case of some drug addicted person who went out and stole a bunch of money and shot a cop, this was a man who gave in to temptation in the past and seemed to be trying to make things right. Maybe they should have taken the money they found and let him try and restore his life. It would be sad if after he gets out of jail that his life took a turn for the worse and he never fully recovered. In all these types of cases the Lord has to grant us repentance as a gift, it is not something we can make happen on our own. Let’s ask God to unite our hearts to fear his name- ‘turn us again O Lord and cause thy face to shine and we shall be saved’.
 THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE UPON THE RIGHTEOUS AND HIS EARS ARE OPEN TO THEIR PRAYER- Psalms. The apostle Peter will quote this Psalm in his epistle. The last few weeks we covered some verses on justification by faith; we also hit the book of James and spoke on ‘justification by works’. As we read thru the bible we find many passages where God says he hears the prayers of those who actually do what is right ‘God will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly’ ‘the face of the Lord is against them that do evil’ over and over again, doing right works means something. In the New Testament Jesus speaks of us as candles, he says ‘who lights a candle and puts it under a basket? But you put a candle on a candleholder and it gives light to all those in the house’ then he goes on to say that we should let our ‘good deeds’ shine like the candle. Notice what Jesus means by saying ‘we shine’. He is not talking about fame or performance as we usually view it; but he is talking about the good deeds of social justice. In context our good works are the works of justice we do; defending the poor, reaching out to the hurting, speaking up for the voiceless. Jesus was not saying ‘we shine’ when we achieve fame, contrary to this he told us the least among us would be the greatest, have the most influence. A commonly used example is mother Theresa, most people have heard and are familiar with the nun who gave her life to help the poor in Calcutta, she spoke to kings and presidents thru out her life; yet she really worked in obscurity for many years, others made her famous, she did not seek it. God says when we do what is right he will work on our behalf, turn our enemies back; he says to Israel ‘if you only listened to me, obeyed my voice, then your peace would have been like a river and I would have done great things for you’ God wants us to do just things, to forsake sin and selfishness and pursue his face. It’s easy to equate ‘serving God’ with putting in the hours required ‘for ministry’. Thinking that if we preach, teach or do some other function, that we have met the weekly requirement for service; God wants our hearts, he seeks for those whose hearts are turned towards him. If we do what is right he will hold no good thing from us.
 THEY HAVE SAID COME AND LET US CUT THEM OFF FROM BEING A NATION- Psalms 83:4. During the time of the reformation in the 16th century you had various groups of Christians who felt the church lost her original purpose and purity, these believers sparked reform, that is they did not abandon all the previous creeds and councils of the church; they simply tried to bring God’s people back into shape. Because of this, most of the Christian denominations today have the same basic creeds and statements of faith that have come down to us from the early days. That is we have been able to maintain some sense of ‘national’ unity/cohesiveness even though we have many divisions. The enemies of Israel were not so much trying to wipe them all out; they were upset that Israel had achieved a national identity. When Gods people existed in Egypt, sure they were a thorn in the side of society at times, but they were still citizens of another people. In the New Testament Peter says we are a holy nation, a special people; that is the people of God right now belong to a kingdom made up of priests and kings [Revelation]. It is the enemy’s tactic to cause us to view ourselves as independent churches all doing good things for God, but still seeing each congregation as existing separately from the whole. In a sense the enemy has caused us to ‘stop seeing ourselves as a nation’ sure we still exist, and to be honest there are lots of us! But Like Israel in Egypt we too often are looked upon as a bunch of illegal aliens that the nation doesn’t know what in the heck to do with! Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating a theocracy [a govt. run by God] that is not a worldly/earthly one; but I am advocating that as believers, we should strive for a ‘national’ identity, that is we should appreciate all the great things that have happened and come down to us from the fathers of the past. We have sort of been given the baton and we need to run with it. But too often we don’t recognize that the baton is something that gets passed off to us, we are a living tapestry of people who together form this beautiful Joseph’s garment, the enemy would be happy if we simply lost this unifying identity. He doesn’t seem to care too much when we live in our own identities, when we lose the identity of a holy nation.
 TURN US AGAIN OH GOD AND CAUSE THY FACE TO SHINE AND WE SHALL BE SAVED- Psalms. As I was reading in the Psalms I came across a passage that said ‘why God have you allowed the wall of protection to come down’. The psalm goes on and recounts God’s work in bringing Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land; it says God took this vine from captivity and caused it to take root and its branches spread over the earth. And then God allowed her walls [protections/foundations] to fail. Last night I was watching the results of some of the elections across the nation. They showed how some politicians were rejected because of various flip flopping and stuff. They also showed a breaking scandal of some attorney general; he is running for higher office and for many years he presented himself as a Vietnam vet. He has said ‘when I served in Nam’ and stuff like that. News papers referred to his record as a Vietnam vet, and it was quite obvious that the man ran on a record of having been in Nam. Then it was found out that he never served in Vietnam; he was in the reserves stateside during the war. How did he explain this contradiction? He said he was taking full responsibility for this [sounds good] and then he said he will not let ‘a few misplaced words’ ruin his integrity. He said he meant to say things like ‘when I served [in the reserve, stateside] during the war’ and as he was questioned why he never corrected the many news stories about him being a Vietnam vet, he said he was not responsible for what the news reports. What’s the problem here? Okay, the man was caught lying, yes, like all of us he is a sinner and let a lie go on for too long. But in his apology, he said he was taking responsibility, while at the same time not admitting his sin. This is an example of what goes on over and over again in our great land. It’s not so much the fact that yes, people sin and have made mistakes; it’s just our continual unwillingness to accept the blame for our sins. Ergun Caner, the ex Muslim who is now a Christian and the president of Liberty University [Jerry Farwell’s bible college] has also been caught in a scandal where he has presented himself as a radical Muslim who was raised in Turkey and converted to Christianity in a radical way. But it has come out that though he was raised Muslim, he really grew up in Ohio [he lived in Turkey as a boy] and his conversion was not as radical as his testimony seemed to imply. He also seems to have misled people about his debating certain Muslim scholars, some people have looked into the situation and it seems as if he has not been honest about it. Okay, we have all made mistakes in life, and as a president of a bible school stuff like this can be damaging, but our response makes the difference between a successful future or one where ‘the hedge of protection is broken down’. God can, and does forgive all sins; but if we claim we are taking responsibility for our ‘misplaced words’ and then deny the fact that we lied, in essence we are not taking responsibility. God allowed the protections to come down around Israel because she accepted as normative things that were sinful, God would have continued to work with her, but she allowed sinful practices to become accepted in her midst. I do not see the hope of our nation being in the political realm, yet the continual dissembling that takes place, over and over again, can’t go on without us as a people suffering for it. As of the time of this writing [5-2010] there are still many national/economic problems that we have to face; there is still a fear that the problems in the European currency [Euro] will have worldwide effects for the worse. We should not think that we can continue to do business as usual without the walls coming down; if we want God to ‘shine his face on us once again’ we can’t keep doing stuff like this and thinking it’s acceptable, it’s not.
(1441) HE BROUGHT THEM TO THE BORDER OF HIS SANCTUARY AND TO HIS MOUNTAIN. HE CAST OUT THE HEATHEN BEFORE THEM AND DIVIDED AN INHERITANCE BY LINE- Psalms 78:54-55 As we wrap up our short study of Psalms 78, lets overview a few things. This Psalm covered the history of Israel and their trials and failings as they were brought forth out of Egypt and entered the journey for the Promised Land. God had places that he wanted them to be at, significant mountains that would be memorials for ages to come- mountains where he would give them the law, and hundreds of years later his only Son would be sacrificed on a significant mountain as well. These ‘high’ points were important, these were times/places where God was going to instill in them permanent change for the rest of their existence; they were to memorialize certain events [like the Passover] that were to become events that would forever be part of their culture [until fulfilled thru Christ!] God does stuff like this with us as well, you might have had a certain experience; been influenced by a certain teacher/preacher, studied a certain topic, or simply have had some supernatural experience with God, and you now realize that these were mountains, places that God determined to bring you to for a long time- and now you see that he has deposited something in you that will be with you for the rest of your life. Not all teaching/preaching falls along this line, but some does. These are usually things that carry more of a weight than simple exhortation, encouraging each other, or an ‘average’ Sunday sermon. These are major paradigm shifts, things that cause you to re-look at the way you see everything else, these are the mountains/borders that God has determined to bring you to. In this brief coverage of Israel’s journey with God we see they made lots of mistakes, times where God was truly mad with them; times where leadership was mad at them; and times when the people were really mad at the leaders as well. Yet thru it all God brought them to the mountain, they came to places where they could finally stand above it all and appreciate the eternal purpose that God was accomplishing in them- despite all the other stuff. Paul said the struggles of this present time were not worthy to be compared to the glory that would be revealed thru us; Paul understood that there were thorns in his flesh that God allowed in order for him to bring forth special stuff. Paul said God allowed these things to remain so he would not fall into pride over the abundance of revelations that he was seeing. I take it that Paul would have not been able to handle it, unless God left the thorn. Where are you at today? Has much of your thought life been centered around how to deal with the thorns? There is a time and season for everything, don’t get consumed with the juncture you are at right now, it’s only a place that in Gods Divine decree he has allowed, your purpose is not to ‘de-thorn’ the path, it’s to end up at the mountain, the place where you can rise above the mundaness of it all and see from a higher perspective. Trust God to get you to the mountain.
(1440) CAN GOD FURNISH A TABLE IN THE WILDERNESS? Psalms 78:19 The story is found in Numbers chapter 11, the children of Israel are stuck in the desert with no meat and fish and all the great food they had back in Egypt [they keep reminiscing about the good old days, sounds like Hannity and Reagan!] and God hears their complaints and gets angry. So how does Moses respond? He complains too! ‘God, why did you stick me with these people, did I give birth to them for heaven’s sake? Just take my life, I can’t do this anymore- I’m ready for a special rapture’ now Moses was running himself ragged, and actually God shows some mercy on him- before the lord deals with the complaining he tells Moses to take 70 elders and meet him at the tabernacle and God will take of the spirit/gifts of Moses and spread them to the 70, this will take some pressure off Moses. But then God will deal with the complaining, if you read the chapter it actually is Moses who makes the chief complaint ‘can God furnish a table in the desert’ and Moses gets into this debate with the Lord; God tells him in the morning they will have more meat they can handle, a whole months worth! Moses says ‘how, are all the beasts or all the fish in the sea enough to do this? There are 600 thousand footmen alone!’ The Lord says ‘can’t I do anything? I will do it’ and sure enough that night the lord brought a strong wind and it blew thousands of quail from the water over the desert and they were covered with quail. God did it. A few things to note; the people were being provided for by God with Manna, a type of wafer thing that appeared on the ground every morning- it seems as if this food was highly nutritious, yet probably didn’t taste as good as all the meat and stuff they were used to, they wanted what they wanted, and God gave them what they wanted! The church goes thru stages; one was the whole stage of mastering the techniques of getting what we want. You could attend seminars on it, watch your favorite TV preacher teach it, move to some city that has a mega church that embraces the doctrine- yet in the end God might just be giving us what we want, not because its best, but because we have rejected him. These debates go on forever; I have a prosperity brother who has been writing me for years; showing me ‘from the bible’ how Jesus was the richest man of his day, lived in luxury- on and on. These poor brothers have been taught a system of doctrine that gets them what they want, but not what God wants for them. I know the Lord will eventually bring the people into the promised land, and yes they will have abundance then, but to simply assume that the Christian walk is one where we live to fulfill our desires is very misguided indeed. Moses led the people on a dangerous journey, dangerous for him and them. The other day I posted an entry on Moses striking the rock out of anger and bringing the water out of it; we often don’t see the price Moses had to pay in order to fulfill his prophetic symbolism of the Cross. One of the punishments of Moses act was he would not be allowed to enter the promised land, which was a type of the Cross and work of God that he was to be a picture of; God needed Moses to strike the rock in anger in order for him to fulfill the picture we see from Isaiah 53 ‘it pleased God to bruise his Son’ that is Moses needed to be at a place of real wrath in order to fulfill the picture, yet mans wrath is not like Gods- Mans wrath always has a degree of human anger associated with it, God’s wrath is just and right. So how could God tell Moses ‘Moses, go and get perfectly mad, and strike the rock’ Moses was incapable of ‘perfect wrath’ so instead God used the wrath of man, which he could not really condone, to accomplish his purpose. In essence Moses really got mad, and paid a real price for it. He pictured God’s wrath in a limited way, and he pictured the reality of the punishment of Jesus, that is Moses punishment of not being able to enter the land was a type of Gods judgment on Jesus at the Cross. Get it? God allowed things to happen, even the mistakes, to work for his glory. We often measure ‘success’ by the worlds measuring rod, God does not use that as a standard. Maybe you’re at a place where you’re eating Manna every day, maybe the Lord is leading you thru a stage where he is restricting your intake for an eternal purpose; where you can say like the apostle Paul ‘I have learned to be content in whatever state I am, having enough or being in lack’ don’t get caught up in the vicious cycle of viewing the faith thru a lens of a never ending journey to get more, to feed your desires, to get back ‘what the devil has stolen’ sometimes we are actually getting the wrong stuff.
(1438) HE SPLIT OPEN THE ROCKS IN THE WILDERNESS, AND GAVE THEM DRINK OUT OF GREAT DEPTHS. HE BROUGHT STREAMS ALSO OUT OF THE ROCK, AND CAUSED WATERS TO RUN DOWN LIKE RIVERS- Psalms 78:15-16 The story of Moses striking the rock is found in Numbers 20, the Israelites were complaining about the lack of water and all the good things they had back in Egypt, but now thanks to this big shot Moses we are stuck in the desert without any water! So God tells Moses ‘I hear what they are saying, go speak to the rock and water will come out’. Now Moses had a temper, so he goes to the rock- preaches a short Baptist sermon ‘you bunch of no good nothings!’ and he hits the rock with his staff, twice! The water comes out and they all drink from the rock. In 1st Corinthians 10 Paul uses this story as an analogy of Christ and says ‘all our forefathers drank from the rock, which was Christ’. Jesus used the example of Moses making a snake statue and putting it on a stick [John chapter 3] as a type of his own crucifixion. One time the Israelites were complaining again and God sent snakes to bite them, so the people are dying and they don’t know what to do, God tells Moses to make a bronze snake image and stick it on a pole and when the people are bitten they just need to look at the snake and they will live. Jesus told Nicodemus that this was a type of his death on the Cross, that all who ‘look to the Son’ will live. The famous song ‘rock of ages, cleft for me’ also speaks of the imagery of Jesus being the rock from the Father who was opened up on the Cross. The above passage says God gave them drink out of the ‘great depths’; the New Testament says Jesus descended lower than any man, and that because of these great depths the Father exalted him to his right hand. I find it interesting that all these stories, written and experienced hundreds of years before Christ, just so happened to fulfill his destiny. We live in a day where we do not understand, or appreciate, the process of the cross in our own lives. Paul got to a point where he could glory in his weakness, in the fact that he died daily, he knew that it was these ‘great depths’ that would allow a river of life to flow thru his lips and pen; when God wants to bring forth some great rivers, he looks for some rocks that he can break.
(1437) FOR HE HAS ESTABLISHED A TESTIMONY IN JACOB, AND A LAW IN ISRAEL…THAT THE GENERATION TO COME MIGHT KNOW THEM, EVEN THE CHILDREN THAT SHALL BE BORN; AND THEY WILL DECLARE THEM TO THEIR CHILDREN. Psalms 78:5-6 I might overview this chapter the next day or so, it covers the history of Israel and Gods dealings with them. God set a testimony among his people for future generations to come and be influenced by it. This testimony was not only the written laws and statutes, but also the great works that he did; they were to memorialize them thru their holidays and holy feasts, just like the church does when celebrating the Lords Supper. This chapter will go on and tell us how God took King David from following the sheep and brought him to a position of authority in the kingdom. The Lord brought his people to a special border and mountain that he had foreordained for them to dwell in. He set up his tent among them and he poured down manna like rain all around their camps. This picture shows us how God dwells among us; he gives us certain prophetic people/leaders who will come from places of pastoral concern [following the sheep] and they will speak/teach things that are destined for generations of people to hear; that is this testimony is not simply a word about how to deal with your current problems, but it is a word meant to be transmitted to generations of people to come. God will let this ‘manna from heaven’ drop down all around the tents and camps where the people dwell, they will see/hear the works of God and be so impacted that they will declare it to their children and their children will also speak it to the following generation. I have found it interesting over the years when dealing with various subjects amongst the people of God. The other day I mentioned how some of my favorite theologians/scholars might have great insight into certain areas of God’s kingdom, yet they might have blind spots in others [like the nature of the ecclesia]. Yet I have found that there are whole generations of young believers who are now 2nd generation ‘organic churhcers’ and these kids, for the most part, have a better grasp on the principle and nature of the church. They don’t disdain the older guys, it’s just the idea in scripture of the organic church comes easy to them; they see right thru the old paradigms that many from the older generation can’t really see. Just a humble process of one generation of organic church movement ‘fathers’ having passed off to the next generation a ‘testimony in Israel’ a specific word/teaching that was meant to have long term effects for many generations to come in specific locations [mountains boundaries]. That is the things being taught by the Spirit are not simply one time truths that fade away in a few years, no these types of testimonies have staying power and future generations to come will all be affected by it. Have you been on the receiving/giving end of this type of testimony? Pastors, do you now say/see things differently in a permanent way? That is have you been taught in such a way that the things you have seen have changed certain ways you see church and the kingdom of God to the point where you will ‘never be the same again’? We all go thru stages like that, it’s important to remember what Jesus said ‘a good steward brings forth both new and old’ sometimes the new way of seeing things can be so overwhelming that we forget to teach the old stuff as well. It’s never good to neglect the great doctrines of the Atonement, justification by faith alone, solo scriptura, etc. But we also need to remind each other of the new things, the stuff that we have been corrected on during the journey. Gods purpose was to establish a testimony among his people that would be strong enough to reach down into future generations of people to come; he would rain this manna down from heaven all around their dwellings- it was an inescapable word from God that would become imbedded in the minds of many generations to come; when these things happen with Gods people, it’s always wise to get in on it at the beginning, it will benefit you more if you do.
(1435) I WILLPOUR OUT MY SPIRIT ON THE SERVANTS…AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY- Acts 2. This morning I read this chapter in the Message Bible. A few things stood out; as the Spirit came to the church they spoke in such a way that all the various dialects of the Jews that were gathered at Jerusalem for the feast, these all heard the wondrous works of God in their own dialect. These Jews came from various areas that spoke in different ways, yet the message of God was spoken in a way that they could identify with. Also we in the modern church usually get the cart before the horse, we are expecting God to pour out his Spirit on those who can prophesy- we are looking for God to find gifted preachers/speakers and for God to bless the talent. God is pouring out his Spirit on servants, those who have been shaped in the community of laying down their lives and not seeking self promotion for their gifts, these are the ones who are getting the Spirit and pouring it out on others in such a way that these other groups can for the first time understand the message of the Cross in their own context. That is they are hearing things in ‘their dialect’ for the first time. This chapter has been one of controversy for many years amongst the people of God. I remember in the early days how one time the fundamental Baptist church I attended had an evangelist come and speak; he told of an experience he had when he was younger- he was baptized by some Pentecostals in the name of Jesus, came up out of the water speaking in tongues, became part of the Pentecostal church and after a few years finally got saved for real! He then went on and gave all the horror stories of people that spoke in tongues and a visiting missionary was there who understood the language and later told the pastor that the tongue talker was worshipping satan in this foreign dialect. Then you have the other side, those who were raised Baptist, and eventually had a charismatic experience and now view their entire Christian lives thru the context of the Pentecostal message as being the best thing since sliced bread. Often times this culture will truly have the expression of the gifts flowing, but many times its easy to make the Christian life all about the gifts; creating atmospheres [meetings] where people get together to hear/see someone function in the gift. Many times these believers will spend their whole lives in a charismatic environment and never really catch the vision to reach out to the poor and hurting, to grow in their knowledge of the things of God in a greater way. In this chapter God fulfilled the prophecy of Joel and poured out his Spirit on a bunch of servants, yes they did experience a legitimate expression of the charismatic gifts [no one was praising satan in some Haitian dialect!] and yet their excitement was over the message of the Cross, not the fact that the Spirit gave them some gifts. In today’s church world we value the talents more so than the service mentality. We look for talented ‘prophets’ [proclaimers] whom the Spirit can fall on and use, we have gotten the cart before the horse. Peter said what happened on this day was God found a bunch of servants that he could entrust with the gifts of the Spirit, and he chose these humble ones to speak in such a way that for the first time a bunch of various dialects/groups would finally understand and hear the works of God in a simple way, a way that they could come and identify with the message of the Cross.
(1433) THE LAZY WILL NOT WORK BECAUSE OF THE COLD, THEREFORE WILL HE BEG IN THE HARVEST TIME AND HAVE NOTHING- Proverbs 20:4 Out of all the writings I have done about the poor and homeless, over 99% is pro homeless. But every so often I need to deal with the other side. A while back I met a new homeless friend here in Corpus, his name was Nick and he seemed like a nice guy. Nick was from out of state and the rumor was that he might have been hiding from the law for some reason. Nick was around 30 or so, had a decent truck and was an able bodied person. But over time I realized his problem was he did not want to work. Now there are guys I know who are hopeless drunks, good guys, but these are the ones you usually see begging with the signs. Most of the others actually do work, and many times people pick them up at the homeless spots for jobs. But Nick just did not want to work. At first he seemed to put on a good impression, he would talk about different schemes to make money, he was smart. He even told one of the other guys ‘I’ll pick you up early in the morning and we’ll go down to the shrimp docks and make some money’ he told my buddy that he picked him because these other bumbs don’t want to work! Sure enough Nick never showed up, my buddy saw him at the mission and said ‘hey, I was waiting all morning for you’ Nick made some excuse about driving up and down the block and never spotting him, you could tell it was a story. Nick also hung out with another older drunk who was good at begging, he was sickly and you felt sorry for the man, people would give him money- Nick saw this as a good way to get some cash. One day he showed up at the mission after a few weeks of doing some painting job, his girlfriend, who was homeless too, put pressure on him to work and they both started painting. Then lo and behold Nick showed up with his arm in a sling, he even had the x-rays to show everyone how he broke his arm when some college kids stole his ice chest at the beach and he reached in and grabbed it out of their car and broke his arm. No cast, and the x-rays to prove it! I didn’t even bother to look at the x-rays, which Nick seemed to want everyone to see, to prove it was true. One day I saw Nick on the other side of town holding a sign for money, he looked like a normal healthy guy asking for cash. I had a friend tell me ‘hey, I saw some guy begging for money at the Wal Mart, he looked like he was able to work’ sure enough it was Nick. The point today is sometimes it’s our fault, if people don’t want to work during the years of their youth, when they are young and healthy, then they will beg during harvest and have nothing. Paul the apostle rebuked those who did not want to work, but caused trouble; he said they should not eat! So we need to distinguish between those who are truly in need and those who are in rebellion, Jesus said some people were following him because they knew they could get a free meal [John’s gospel] as believers we need to be discerning, we also need to help those who are truly in need, we can’t put all the homeless in the category of Nick, but every now and then you will run across a Nick.
(1432) WHEN I RECEIVE THE GREAT CONGREGATION I WILL JUDGE UPRIGHTLY- Psalms 75:2 Many years ago when I was the youth pastor of a fundamental Baptist church, I had a new boy join our youth group; it was common to get new comers from the navy base where the church was located. He was an older teen [17?] but would attend our little group’s outings and all. Good kid. One time he shared how he needed to recommit his life to God; that he had slipped away from his earlier time of being baptized with the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Now, the church we were in did not look upon these experiences in a good light, it would have been easy for me to have challenged the boy on his past experience with God, but that would not have been the right thing to do. As his youth pastor I just encouraged him to remain on course and stay in prayer and fellowship. There are times in our walk with the Lord where we need to simply judge uprightly, that is we need to do what’s best for the person at the time, not necessarily always win the argument or prove our point. In the Christian experience we interact with many various groups of believers who have come to the table with different backgrounds. It’s a common thing for believers to not really appreciate that other believers might have come to the table with a different background. We all have a tendency to view our particular background as the best one out of the bunch; at times we feel a sense of security ‘knowing’ that our groups particular slant is the best slant. Then we approach other groups with a less than sincere acceptance of their ‘slant’. We all have groups of people that we will speak into thru our lives, ‘the great congregation’ so to speak. God wants us to do what’s right when we receive them, when they cross paths with us at various junctures in the journey. There will be times for reproof and correction, yes sometimes that’s ‘judging rightly’ but there will also be times when we need to look past our own concerns and simply do what’s in the best interest of the other person. Jesus said the Pharisees went high and low to make one convert, and after they made him he became a ‘child of hell’ more than they were. Paul said the Judaisers were glorying in the fact that they convinced the Galatians to become circumcised; these examples show us that we can be in leadership roles with the wrong motive, we might even be fooling ourselves, thinking that ‘hey, I wouldn’t be doing this stuff if I weren’t sincere’ but in these scenarios the thing that was motivating the leaders was the fact that they were able to convince others that their group was the right one, they were winning converts for their own glory, not for the sole benefit of the people. I want to challenge all of us today, what are we in this thing for? Are we more concerned with fighting for our particular view point than we are for the people? Do we have a tendency to present our views as the only views that can be right? Are we able to actually give a fair hearing to other sides of the issues, sides that we think are wrong, but to be willing to come to the table with an open heart and mind. You and I ‘receive’ the great congregation in many ways thru out our lives, let’s try and do what’s right when it’s our turn.
(1431) HE THAT HAS PITY ON THE POOR LENDS UNTO THE LORD, AND THAT WHICH HE HAS GIVEN WILL BE REPAID BY GOD. Proverbs 19:17 The other day I read an interview by an author who attended Liberty University [Falwell's bible school] as an undercover atheist, she was on assignment to see behind the scenes of evangelical Christians. She wrote her book and some of the insights are helpful for believers to see some of our blind spots. One thing that struck me was her criticism of how Christians talk about ‘giving to God’ she found it odd that to the majority of believers; they equated ‘giving to God’ with giving to their churches. She found it strange that believers seemed to make no difference between the 2. She also noted how when she asked believers about whether or not the church was responsible in the finances; that if this made a difference when speaking of giving to God. Most believers told her that it was their responsibility to put in the offering/tithe, and that they would not be personally responsible for the decisions of the leaders. I have always found it strange that in the bible, giving to God is primarily expressed thru meeting the needs of people, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, etc. and yet most believers do view giving to God as giving money to ‘the church’ or to a ministry. Jesus said things like ‘if you did not help the least of these, you did not help me’ and the above verse speaks of lending to God when we help the poor. I wonder if we will give an account to God someday for the fact that the majority of Christian funds in the American church are used to build/create comfortable environments for us to meet in? We spend most of our money on ourselves, and we do call this ‘giving to God’. Now many churches and ministries are doing a good work, sending missionaries out, helping the poor, etc. It’s just we as individual believers seem to think that this gets us off the hook. The bible says if we see a person in need and do not help, how dwelleth the love of God in us? There are many direct portions of scripture that say these things, most of the time we do not associate giving to God with what the bible actually teaches. We have developed unbiblical concepts on what the ‘storehouse’ in Malachi means, and we take this skewed idea of the storehouse and apply it to the meeting places of believers, and then we say ‘the tithe belongs to the storehouse’ it’s too much to do the whole thing right now, but I want to challenge you, are we overlooking actual direct commands of Jesus in scripture? Do we make the mistake of equating giving to God with putting money in an offering plate? I’m glad the author went undercover and gave us a glimpse into our own shortcomings, we could learn from her insights.
(1429) ‘There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth’ Psalms 72:16. Most of the time there is a portion of good truth available to believers from various sources; as believers we need to be picky at times, because if we simply consume everything from the buffet, we will get sick. The bible says honey is good, but too much will make you vomit! Years ago there was a preacher that I liked to listen to, he was from another city and I had heard him speak before and ordered some of his teaching materials. I noticed over time that though he associated with many famous prosperity preachers, yet he would make statements that showed he was not in total agreement with their doctrine. I then read a news story on a problem the church was having; the minister came under fire for putting pressure on people to give for the new building fund and yet was kind of frivolous in the ministries spending of money. One of the leaders in the church sought to expose the minister as a false prophet, they went to the courts and eventually the courts sided with the church. One of the complaints that was made was the preacher had bought a 4 thousand dollar suit for one of the church board members as a gift of appreciation. The disgruntled member thought this was wrong to do at a time when the church was putting pressure on people to give. The minister defended this act by saying Jesus wore an expensive coat, and that a woman also poured expensive perfume on Jesus [I’m not sure if he used one or both of these examples]. I have heard this defense made many times in the past by prosperity preachers, it is a lame excuse to be honest; I have explained this before and don’t want to do it again here. Let’s just say that these examples do not excuse ministries from financial indiscretions. The main point is even though this well meaning preacher, who I liked to listen to, tried to separate himself from the more extreme teaching of the prosperity movement; yet when all was said and done he resorted to the same miss use of scripture in defending himself; he could not avoid the traps of those who surrounded him. He spent time inviting these ministers to ‘the church’ went to do conferences in their churches and was doing lots of ministry things with them. In the above verse we read that there is a handful of corn in the earth, a quality supply of good meat [teaching] that God has made available to us, if we associate too much with teachers that are not really giving us the good corn, then no matter how hard we try, we will become like them. I want to encourage you today, what are the streams you feed from? Do you read the latest pop culture Christian best sellers? Things on how to get what you want out of life, or how you can succeed in some venture; or are you reading scholarly stuff, the Christian classics, the church fathers. If you spend most of your time surrounded by unbalanced teaching, it will affect you in the end, even if you think it won’t.
(1428) THE NAME OF THE LORD IS A STRONG TOWER, THE RIGHTEOUS RUNNETH INTO IT AND ARE SET ALOFT [ARE SAFE]- Proverbs. Been reading a little in Psalms and Proverbs these last few weeks, so much of it deals with receiving correction; seeking wisdom, going after knowledge. The Christian life is a process of dealing with things that we thought were true, or that our viewpoints were the ‘best’ on a particular subject, and then we get challenged on those points and divide over those views. I was listening to a radio preacher one Sunday, comes on the same channel that we broadcast on. I listened to him, not because he was really knowledgeable [to be honest, he wasn’t] but because he reminded me of all the drug addicts/ex con’s that I have worked with for many years. He was a brother that has been down that road. One day while talking about Jesus’ baptism he described it as ‘the day Jesus got saved’. Most teachers cringe at a statement like this [for many theological reasons] but I managed to overlook it and tried to see what the sincere brother was trying to say. To my surprise I recently read some article by an able scholar, he spoke of Jesus’ baptism as ‘being baptized and washing away his sins’. Frankly, I was shocked that he would say something like this. But I understand that people see things, and use common phrases, that others are uncomfortable with, over time if these brothers are simply stating things in ways that seem highly unusual to our common Christian language, but are still embracing orthodox Christian beliefs, then we need to approach these things with much grace. Recently I have posted various comments on excellent sites that have been re-hashing the historical critical method of scholarship, I have written lots on this before and don’t want to go into the whole thing again. But I found it interesting that many of today’s most able scholars, men whose sites I have on my blog roll, have disagreed strongly with each other. Now these are good scholars, not men who are simply uninformed about the subject. As I have read some of this back and forth, I see how even some of the best men can read past each other, and not fully see what the other side is saying. We all have a tendency to put our critics in the worst possible light, and to represent our position in the most noble light. Sometimes the only way we can arrive at a ‘more noble’ understanding of the subject [whatever the subject may be] is by returning to a trust in the Lord, letting our souls be renewed by Gods grace. I have this gazebo in my yard, I built a deck on top and placed a chair on it. It’s like a loft, sometimes I’ll just sit up on top and enjoy the escape from all the things that surround me. I’ll be praying early in the morning, the stars out and the planets beaming; and I’ll climb the loft and sit in the presence of God for a while. I just want to encourage you guys today, spend time in ‘the loft’ seek the face of God- if you are embroiled in controversy, maybe have been the target of criticism; then just spend some time with God. King David said how he wished he had the wings of a dove so he could fly away and be with God. The bible says ‘our souls have escaped like birds out of the snare of the fowler, the snare has been broken and we have escaped’ we do have these wings, this ability to be free from the snares and dwell in the presence of God. Our wings are prayer.
(1426) ‘You brought us into the net, you laid affliction upon us; you caused men to ride over our heads, we went thru fire and water; but you also brought us out into a wealthy place’ Psalms 66:11-12. Yesterday I mailed off a letter to a child hood buddy who is doing time in prison. We grew up as little hoodlums, he was Greek Orthodox, I Roman Catholic- but the only ecumenical act we ever engaged in was jointly taking the Lords name in vain. This last year he has been in touch with me, I have written and been a friend. This last letter he asked if I could give a shout out to him by name and also to all the brothers in Rahway prison; his buddies think he’s making it up that we were friends as kids. He has lost all- family, business, home- he is going thru depression and all, but I am encouraging him to get with the other brothers and read and pray, I am printing relevant sections from my blog and sending them as well. I stuck a bunch of my ministry cards in the last letter and he obviously gave them to some Christian brothers from the ‘free world’ who have access to computers and stuff, that’s why they wanted the shout out. The guys in prison do not have access to the internet. If you want to write him, his address is ‘ James Dalskov 558763 lock bag R Rahway, N.J. 07065’. Sometimes in life we wind up in situations where we feel like we are in a net, others ‘ride over us’ being told what to do and what not to do. Going from the free world into these types of environments can be tuff. But God can also use these experiences to do things in us that we never thought possible. At the end of the above verse it says when the process was over ‘He brought us out into a wealthy place’. I also got an email yesterday from one of our original guys who used to be a mainline addict, spent many years doing robberies and spending years in prison; he has been out for a long time and been clean for many years. He was letting me know that one of our other brothers just moved to Corpus and wanted to get a hold of me. I gave him the cell #, but those of you who know me realize that getting in touch with me by phone is next to impossible; I never answer my phone unless I recognize the number. The point today is God wants all of us to interact with society, the lost ones! The religion of Jesus day was centered on religious performance and ritual; though the concepts of justice and reaching out to the poor and needy were engrained in the Mosaic law, yet for some reason this priority was lost to tradition. Jesus would quote the famous verse from the prophet Isaiah about the Spirit being on him to do justice. When questioned about his legitimacy ‘are you the one or look we for another’ he replied in social justice terms ‘the poor have the gospel preached, the dead are raised’ etc. The proof of his ordination was not being licensed by the religion of the day, but the proof was the works of justice that he did. Leaders, what is the environment that surrounds you? Is most of your life spent on a preaching platform or stage? Are you rarely in the environment that Jesus and his men were surrounded by? The leaders of Jesus day were offended by his closeness to the world, the crowd he hung with, the prostitutes who wiped his feet with their tears; this whole scenario was unacceptable to the religious class of the day. The only time they referenced the hurting in prayer was when they said ‘Thank you God that we are not like them’ they spent their lives in a net, a religious place of bondage, many of them never came out into the wealthy place.
(1423) WHO KNOWS WHETHER YOU HAVE COME TO THE KINGDOM FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS- The famous words to queen Esther in the book of the bible with the same name. God said to Abraham that he called him when he was alone; he had no support base, no family, nothing. God told him to go to a country that he would later receive as an inheritance, Hebrews 11 tells us ‘he went out, not knowing where he was going’ often times on the journey we end up in places that we never planned on being; strategic situations where we might influence key kingdom leaders- the bible says ‘men of stature shall come over to thee and be thine’ ‘gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising’. God has ways of placing us in strategically important locations, places we are not even aware of! Yesterday I googled the ministry name and saw a few foreign blogs that have been posting our stuff, great! They are from Indonesia, the most populated Muslim country in the world; we have been ‘dwelling’ in a place that I knew not. Be sensitive to the people you are influencing, often times just your presence in a place can be a fulfillment of Gods calling, even if you have no idea how you wound up being there. Often times there are other key leaders [pastors, etc.] that God is raising up for a national/worldwide influence; part of your calling might be to influence them, keep them on course, so that they too will keep those they are mentoring in a straight path. I like the fact that God called Abraham when he was alone; it was really a personal calling between him and God; it’s good to have friends and supporters along the way, but in the end this thing started with you and God alone, it will be up to you and God to finish the race by faith. The bible says ‘look to the rock I have cut you out of, look to Abraham and Sarah, I called them when they were alone’ are you alone? Have people you counted on moved on? Are you feeling tempted to move on too? ‘Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee and uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness’ says the Lord- ‘endure hardness as a good soldier in Christ’ says Paul. ‘Blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life’ James. ‘To him who overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God’ Jesus.
(1411) DON’T MOURN FOR ME, BUT FOR YOURSELVES- In Isaiah 54 the prophet says ‘more are the children of the desolate than of the married wife’. In Galatians the apostle Paul uses this reference to speak about spiritual Israel [the church] and shows us how the spiritual people [those who did not come from natural reproduction- any children by natural means, those born not of the will of the flesh, but of God- John 1] will have much more offspring than natural Israel. Truly the church today has fulfilled this prophecy. In Isaiah 44 the prophet says God will pour water on the thirsty, floods upon the dry ground- and these will spring up like wildflowers along the water courses. Notice it’s the ‘dry ground’ the ‘desolate ones’ that have the promise of bearing much fruit. The title of this post comes from the words of Jesus when the people were broken over the fact of his being framed as an innocent man; his followers and the women were upset about the railroading of Jesus by the political manipulation of the day. Jesus warned that if they could get away with this ‘in a green tree’ just wait and see what will happen when the tree is dry! The analogy meaning if the govt. could get away with this when there still was a semblance of rule, wait until anarchy gets in the air. Many in our country are upset about many things, some feel that the recent health care law will permit federal funding for abortions [it’s really a technical argument to be honest] but the point is, would you feel better about the fact that the govt. didn’t fund your illegal execution? The fact is that we permit the brutal dismembering of children in their mother’s womb, hundreds of thousands of times over and over again, for the simple reason of convenience. This act is practiced as a means of birth control the majority of the time, and we as a people allow it. If we permit these acts to take place ‘when the tree is green’ what will happen when anarchy hits? The promises of God to those who are without children are wonderful, but he warned the women who were broken over his execution ‘don’t worry about this illegal act, because a day is coming when the women who never nursed children will be the blessed ones’ because the children themselves will experience horrendous acts against them; I think that day has arrived.
(1410) ‘But the Jews were so exasperated by HIS TEACHING, by which their rulers and chiefs were convicted by the truth…that at last they brought him before Pontius Pilate, at the time Roman governor of Syria, and, by the violence of their outcries against him, exhorting a sentence giving him up to them to be crucified’ Tertullian, [160-220 a.d.] church father from Carthage- North Africa. Proverbs tells us that wisdom was dwelling with God before the earth and hills were brought forth, that this wisdom from God rejoices with the father in the ‘habitable parts of the earth’. Jesus told the disciples that they were clean [set apart] by the words he had spoken unto them, that he chose them before the world was made to use them to bring forth fruit. In a sense God has pre-ordained a skill set of wisdom and understanding that he foresaw us communicating in time. He pre-planned this wisdom before the actual land/earth even existed! In each generation God has ‘set people’ whose job is to deposit these words/truths from God into a set area [city, nation, world]. It is thru the depositing of these words that others will be ‘set apart’-be made clean thru the words that we have spoken unto them. Be clean- how? The word also means being sanctified, that is God setting you apart in a specific way in order to carry out his purpose. When Nehemiah started out he had a burden for the city of his father’s that was broken down and destroyed, he then embarked on a special mission to a set pace to build, yes he had lots of resistance and opposition, but God called him to finish the task for a set season at a set time. Leaders, have you learned and heard things these past few years that have caused you to make course corrections? Were there things that you never saw until now that have affected the way you see God’s kingdom? These things are for the purpose of God to be fulfilled, he wants you to impact large ‘open spaces’ he has pre-planned areas for you to speak into, but he had to first set you apart, make you clean thru these words that he has spoken unto you.
(1407) THESE THINGS DOES THE LORD HATE…HE THAT SOWS DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN. HE DEVISETH MISCHIEF CONTINUALLY, HE SOWETH DISCORD. Proverbs 6. Okay, the health care package passed, many are upset and some have crossed the line in their language. Even though statements like ‘reload’ [Palin] ‘he’ll be a dead man’ [Boehner] and others are talking political speech, yet in this atmosphere we all need to avoid using words that can be taken the wrong way by unstable people. Recently here in Texas we had the famous school board controversy over what to include in the schoolbooks, I have written about it a few posts ago. One of the school board people is from my home town of Corpus; she is a Hispanic woman who is involved in politics a lot. Now, I’m sure she means well, but our paper had a picture of her sitting at her office desk with a bunch of anti white slogans all over her desk. I’m sure she does not mean to be racist, I’m sure she views her opinion thru the light of standing up for minorities, but the fact is you can’t have any ethnic representative openly advocate for their own race, and to use wording that publicly says things that imply ‘whitey is the enemy’ [she has regularly used the term ‘white wash’ in describing the white board members resistance to including more Hispanic people into the history books]. Now I’m going to be honest about South Texas politics, I have been living here for 30 years, many of the prejudices against minorities have been expressed by the majority Hispanic democratic leaders [I am not saying all Hispanics are racist!] The reality is the Black minorities have been discriminated against in the political system. Some have actually said ‘when they were in power they didn’t help us, now it’s their turn’ [a prominent Hispanic politician about not supporting president Obama]. So the facts on the ground are different than what many people think. I believe we should include prominent Hispanic and Black leaders into the history books, men like Cesar Chavez are truly great examples, but when any representative publicly says her goal is to advance her ethnic groups cause, and that the ‘white washers’ are the enemy- this is unacceptable speech too. Who has opened the door for this type of stuff? Gods people. One of the most prominent themes of American preaching is a theme that is shot thru with racist overtones. The popular prophecy preaching of the day teaches that Gods end time events are triggered by a special role that ethnic Israel plays in God’s plan. This system [dispensationalism] teaches that God most certainly prefers one ethnic race over another. It is in contradiction to the ethos of the New Testament which teaches that in Christ there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free- we are all one in Christ Jesus’. The people of God are the plumb line of society, the world around us will never display a higher level of morality than the church- when we as Gods people rise above these ethnic divisions, we will be like leaven in society that effects the whole lump. When we continually sow discord we displease God.
(1405) THE APOSTLES CREED
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.
HE SHALL SEE OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL AND SHALL BE SATISFIED; BY HIS KNOWLEDGE SHALL MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT JUSTIFY MANY- Isaiah. This past year I have been doing some reading on the Emergent movement as well as always reading some book on the ancient church; there are many moderns who long for the old days, sometimes referred to as ‘the smells and bells’ liturgy. Then you have some who are drawn to 19th/20th century liberalism- the social gospel stuff. One thing that all these groups need to keep in mind is the classic message of the Cross, that God was ‘pleased to bruise his Son’ on the Cross [Isaiah 53]. Some in their efforts to make Christianity more acceptable to modern man began to reject this doctrine, the Atonement. Many are surprised to find out that one of the great evangelists of the first great awakening, Charles Finney, embraced some of these views in his writings. Today these views are deemed heretical [the denial of the Atonement] but at the time progressive thinking believers were affected by the charge of ‘how can a holy, loving God punish an innocent person on the behalf of other criminals’? So after hearing the charge for so long, some adjusted their belief to fit the times. There are some things that the church has said ‘I believe’ about; these things are the non negotiables; it’s not that we can’t discuss them, or should be afraid of others who do question them, but to say ‘yeah brother, I hear what you’re saying about these classic doctrines and I believe you are placing yourself outside of the borders of classic Christianity, I love you and like dialoging with you, but this is where I stand, along with the ancient church’. Many Protestants disdain the creeds of the church; they feel that they are simply tradition and that all we need is the bible. This attitude neglects the importance of listening to the council of our fathers and those who have gone on before us, a rule that scripture itself testifies about [Proverbs]. As the Evangelical movement struggles in our day for a unifying voice, I think the creeds are a good place to start.
(1358) LOTS OF PEOPLE WOULD HAVE GIVEN ANYTHING TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE SEEING AND TO HEAR WHAT YOU ARE HEARING, BUT THEY NEVER HAD THE CHANCE- Jesus to his men- Message bible. This week we had the passing of the famed author J.D. Salinger. He wrote the famous Catcher in the Rye and around 3-4 other books. He dropped out of sight in 1965 and gave 1 interview thru out the years . Though he was considered a great writer [by some] he chose to ‘not write’ [or at least publish- some think we will find a hidden trove of his books]. He hated publishing and rejected the limelight and success. But in a strange way this added to his mystique and eventually his book would become standard reading in many high schools. In essence ‘many people would have loved to see what he was able to see/write, but never had the chance’. As I am reading thru the gospels right now it’s interesting to see ‘the Jesus model’- his men are arguing over who will be ‘the greatest’ as he is getting ready for the Cross! Come on guys, the time is short and you still haven’t learned? He asks them ‘who is greater, the one who serves or the one who is being served’? In their minds the one who is being served, the owner/master has achieved the greatness and success and notoriety. But then Jesus does the unthinkable [for a king] he takes a towel and washes the disciples feet, he tells them that he that becomes the least- walks away from the fame and recognition- this one is the greatest. Truly Jesus was the ‘small seed, the least of all seeds. But when he was planted he became the greatest tree in the earth’ He practiced what he preached. Who knows, maybe Salinger would have never gained the recognition of being a great author if he sought to be a great author. Either way he fulfilled the mystery of an enigma, he ran from the glory and it chased him till the end.
(1355) ‘For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly [it’s not your fault!] but by the will of him who subjected it in hope’- Paul addressing the church at Rome. A year or so ago I read a story on a famous underground author, Hunter Thompson, who committed suicide. Supposedly he was suffering from some type of sickness and simply left the world behind; he had ‘no hope’. It reminded me of the famous author Ernest Hemingway; he too shared the same fate. Both of these men rejected God. In the above passage of scripture Paul is speaking about the redemption of the whole creation. God was the one who ‘subjected it to futility’. When speaking about the story of David and his men a few posts back, Jesus said ‘have you never read what David did’ and he was talking about the story of king David eating the ceremonial bread and giving it to his men- it says ‘he ate, and gave to them who were with him’. At the last meal Jesus takes the bread and wine and says ‘this is my body which is broken for you’ a type of the sacrificial death of Jesus. He too ate, like David. How could Jesus also be a partaker of his own ‘bread’ [Cross]? Paul said that he was ‘filling up in his body the sufferings of Christ’ there is an aspect of suffering that the people of God go thru, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. These sufferings glorify God and in a sense ‘Jesus too receives glory from the broken bread’ [us!] The Hunter Thompsons and Hemingway’s of the world see futility and to them there is no future hope of redemption, they chose to ‘not hope’. Paul said the sufferings of this present time were not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in/thru us. James said ‘count it all joy when you fall into various trials and tests’. Remember, the creation is subjected to futility, not willingly, but by Gods purpose- don’t blame yourself for ‘the futility’.
(1353) THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS WERE UNTIL JOHN, SINCE ‘THAT TIME’ THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS PREACHED- When teaching Galatians we got into the ‘Kairos’ season- that is a time period when God said ‘the old dispensation has fulfilled its purpose and the new time has come’. In the above heading Jesus says it’s a ‘kingdom time’. One of the good things about the New Perspective teaching is they bring out Gods greater world purpose for the whole creation [Romans 8]. It is easy for believers to see their entire Christian lives thru the lens of individual salvation, while this is certainly an important subject, if this becomes the main focus of the believer he can become myopic and miss the greater intention of God- the ‘since that time the kingdom of God’ intention. When Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana, what exactly was he trying to show us? Do you find it strange that there just happened to be all these water containers sitting around? The Jewish religion was very familiar with the idea of ‘washings/baptism’ the temple system was surrounded by these baths and pools and in the gospels we see people linking water with ceremonial cleansing. No one said of John ‘what in the heck is he doing baptizing people in the Jordan’ they were familiar with the rite. Now Jesus doesn’t pick any old water buckets lying around, he is using the symbol of ‘old law’ cleansing, he’s saying ‘look, I just turned your water [old way of getting clean] into wine [my Blood which will replace/fulfill the old system]’. The significance of what he did was heavy. The appearing of Jesus in the 1st century and his death, burial and resurrection [ascension too] enacted a major change from old testament economy into a new kingdom age, the water served its purpose, but the new wine has come- party on.
(1343) One of the other themes that spoke to me from Galatians was the idea that Israel and the world were under a ‘schoolmaster phase’ until the fullness of times arrived. This phase was the whole economy of Old Testament law and rule. I felt like the Lord was saying that many of us have been led, and actually have arrived, at places and purposes the hard way; i.e. - the ‘tutor’ phase. That is God allowed the process of trial and error and discipline to work in us until we arrived at the purpose and goal. Isaiah says that ‘I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction’ yes, this way of ‘arriving’ is much more painful, but it still gets you there. Now the entire discipline phase for the world was the time period before the Cross. The law and the Old Covenant were the only way to ‘get there’ so to speak. If people wanted to have a relationship with God, they were either born Jews, or converted to Judaism. Today of course we have access thru the Cross. One of the earliest ‘cults’ of Christianity was a sect call ‘Gnosticism’ these early adherents mixed Greek dualism [material world bad, spirit world good type of a thing] in with Christianity, they taught that the God of the Old Testament was the evil God who created the material world, and that thru Jesus we can come to know the true God of the New Testament, the God who gives us salvation by delivering us from the material world. Though it seems like there are verses in the New Testament that teach that the ‘world’ is evil and that God wants to ‘deliver us from this present evil world’ [Galatians] yet in these contexts ‘the world’ is simply speaking of the lost system of man and the ‘way of the world’. In Christian theology matter is not inherently evil. The Apostle John would deal with the Gnostics in his first epistle by saying ‘whoever denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God- they are anti-Christ’. Because the Gnostics believed all matter to be evil they would reject the humanity of Jesus, John was targeting them in his letter. As I mentioned before the controversy over the Trinity was settled at the council of Nicaea [a.d.325] but the church still battled with the nature of Jesus. Nicaea said ‘God is one essence/substance and 3 persons’. But this did not fully deal with the nature of Jesus, various ideas rose up [Monarchianism, Dynamic Monarchianism] that challenged the nature of Christ. In 451 a.d. the church settled on the language that ‘Jesus is one person with 2 substances/essences [natures]’, though to some this looks like a contradiction to the earlier language of Nicaea, this council in 451 [Chalcedon] was simply saying Jesus was ‘fully God and fully man’ so anyway we were all under the discipline phase until the ‘fullness of times’. I am believing God to get us to the destination with less ‘tutoring’ if you will, less trial and error. Sure, we will never fully get to the point of not making a few mistakes and stumbling along the way, but as we get older hopefully we will ‘stumble less’.
(1342) WHEN THE SEED SHOULD COME TO WHOM THE PROMISE WAS MADE- As I was teaching thru Galatians this verse ‘spoke to me’ in a personal way [will explain it in a second]. I felt like the Lord was saying that there are long term promises/destinies that he has planted within us, both as individuals and communities, and that often times he is waiting for the ‘seed to come to whom the promise was made’. In the parables of Jesus the seed speaks of a few things. Most of us are familiar with 'the seed as the word’ imagery- ‘the sower sows the word’. But Jesus also speaks of ‘the seed’ as the children of the kingdom that his father has planted in the world. And of course in Galatians Paul is specifically referring to the singular seed, who is Christ. Every few years I go thru our radio messages and will adjust the programs I air. I often find that the messages that I marked as ‘o.k.’ are not o.k. anymore, it’s not that they are bad, it’s just I notice a tone/level of ‘seed’ [spoken word] that is not mature enough, it seems like as the years roll by the later messages just sound better. God has all of us in a maturing process; things that we thought were ‘deep revelation’ at one time, now sound quite silly. As I was marking off the programs that sounded too immature, I felt like the Lord was saying ‘the seed has come to whom the promise was made’ sort of like the lord was saying ‘son, I was waiting for your level of maturity to catch up to the promise’. Also in Romans it says ‘the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now’ I also felt like the Lord was saying the seed, as it pertains to all the people groups we relate to, were also in a ‘birthing process’ that too had to mature to a point where the promises could be inherited- ‘when the fullness of times was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law’ [Galatians] God has ‘fullness seasons’ times [Kairos] when he says ‘okay, the promises I made to you at the beginning of the journey are now ready to be experienced’ in essence the seed has come to whom the promise was made. Now, this sort of spiritual/symbolic way of hearing God, is it a good way to develop doctrine? No! Never, ever! Pope Benedict critiqued the ‘historical, critical’ method of liberal theology in his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ the method developed out of the liberal universities in Germany in the 19th- 20th centuries. Men like Rudolph Bultman would popularize it. It was a way of reading scripture thru an historical/archeological lens. Some of the ideas are good and profitable, but some are not. Many would reject the supernatural aspects of scripture and come to deny the resurrection. Not good. The Pope also warned against this way of ‘dissecting’ Jesus and Christianity to a point where you really don’t see the true Jesus anymore. The real Jesus of Christianity and history, the Jesus that we all have a relationship with by faith. The point being we want to go to scripture with an open heart and expectancy to ‘hear God’. While doing this, we also want to recognize that the scripture had the SAME MEANING to the first century church as to us today, the meaning never changes, the applications do. That’s the main point I want to make, so today the Lord might be speaking to you about certain ‘seeds’ coming to maturity in your own life, things that you have been waiting for and maybe the lord was saying he needed a maturing process to take place, both in you and the people you relate to. The ‘whole creation’ if you will.
(1338) GALATIANS 6- Paul closes this short theological treatise with some practical stuff; help each other out with their burdens, if you see a brother struggling, restore him in the spirit of meekness. Those who are teaching you Gods word, ‘communicate’ to them in all good things [share with them financially and materially]. Good advice that Paul gives to all of the churches he writes to. As we close our study of this letter, I want to emphasize that the majority of what Paul is teaching [over 90%] is great theological truth, it would be silly for preachers/teachers to grasp hold of any single verse and to exalt that above the main body of truths that we have discussed. It isn't hard for any preacher/teacher to go thru this letter on a few Sundays and teach the main truths of the letter. We desperately need to get back to doing it this way in many Pentecostal/Protestant/Evangelical churches- and yes, the ‘organic church’ guys too! We all have a tendency to pick out pet doctrines out of the New Testament and then to make the side issues the main thing. I think the main thing [justification by faith, the blessing of Abraham in context, etc.] is good enough without us having to try and find some type of ‘Rhema word’ that is not the main word of God. Recently a good man died, Oral Roberts. A few weeks have passed and I think it is okay to mention a few things. The media reported how many preachers showed up to the funeral in Cadillac’s and expensive cars, there have been various articles written about the legacy he will leave behind. Some wrongly said he was the father of the ‘Word of Faith/prosperity movement’ [E.W. Kenyon was the real father, and Kenneth Hagin and others lay claim to the title]. The point I want to make is Brother Roberts was a good man who did good things, but his way of doing doctrine is not my cup of tea. He was famous for popularizing the ‘seed-faith’ teaching. It comes from Paul’s letters when he does tell believers that if they give in faith God will bless them, true enough. But when we read the New Testament there are many warnings against greed and materialism, and when we take a simple practical truth from Paul, even though it’s true, and when this truth becomes our main message, then we err. In this last chapter of Galatians Paul gives practical advice about giving financially to those who are teaching you, good. But this is one verse in a letter filled with other main teachings, the important stuff if you will. For believers in our day to have built ministries/churches and to have as the foundation of these ministries the few practical side verses, is wrong. We need to focus on the main thing, and keep the main thing the main thing! [Redemption thru Christ's Blood, eternal life to those who believe, etc.] I don’t want to speak bad about brother Roberts, he was a good man who went home to be with the Lord, it’s just the discussion that has happened after his passing shows us how easy it is for good men to get sidetracked with a verse or 2 and then to exalt it out of context. As I conclude this brief study on Galatians, I think I will go back over a few main verses in the next week or so and give you some ‘practical’ things that I have gleaned these last few weeks. In a sense I will show you how God can speak to us in a personal way thru these letters, yet at the same time not losing the original meaning of the letters. One of the distinctions of the early church fathers was this Christ centered approach to the scripture, they looked for Jesus on every page. I’ll end with an example form Saint Augustine; he shared a thought on the story of Jesus walking on the water to the land, and that the disciples needed a wooden boat to ‘cross over’ he then applied the wood of the boat to the wood of the Cross and said how the Cross allows us to cross over to God, just like the boat let them cross over to the land. Now this is a simple example of applying scripture in a sort of symbolic way that is not in context, but nevertheless it’s okay to do. So I will do a few things like this in the next few posts. But while doing this, we want to not forget the main meaning of the letter, a good ‘side example’ should never negate the main body of truth.
(1332) Been doing some reading on church history/philosophy, it’s interesting to see the role that theology/Christianity played in the universities. Theology is referred to as ‘the queen of the sciences’ and philosophy was her ‘handmaid’. They saw the root of all learning as originating with the study ‘of God’. Many modern universities have dropped the term ‘theology’ and call it ‘the study of religion’. The study of religion is really the study of how man relates to God, his view of God; this would fit under anthropology/sociology, not under theology. Modern learning has lost the importance of the study of God and the role it plays in all the other sciences. The classic work of Homer [8th century BC] called the Iliad, has Achilles debating whether or not he should ‘stay and fight along the city of the Trojans’ and attain the legacy of a warrior; or to go ‘back to my homeland and live a long life’. He chooses to fight and lay his life on the line. The themes of the classics [courage, heroism, etc.] are biblical themes, even if God is not directly mentioned. The point being to try and exclude God from learning is silly, you can’t do it. Around the 17-18th century you had the philosophy of Existentialism rise up, as an ‘ism’ it really is a misnomer; ‘ism’ is a suffix that you add to the end of a word that makes it a system- ‘humanism’ ‘secularism’ etc. but existentialism is a word that means ‘anti-system’. Nevertheless the person who popularized this belief was a Christian, Soren Kierkegaard. The system he was rebelling against was the dead institutionalism of the Danish church, he felt that Christianity devolved into dead orthodoxy and lost all of its passion for true living and experiencing God. Nietzsche would pick up on this philosophy and apply it to atheism, and in the 20th century men like Albert Camou and John Paul Sartre would also embrace it from an atheistic worldview. They would say things like ‘man is a useless passion’ or write books titled ‘Nausea’ summing up the human condition. Though the 19th century atheistic humanists tried to give value and exalt the state of man, in their rejection of God and Christianity they were taking away the foundation for mans value. If you tell society that they arrived on the scene by some cosmic accident of evolution, and when you die you dissipate into nothingness, then how do you at the same time glory in his natural abilities to reach some point of Utopia? As the late Frances Schaeffer said ‘they were philosophers who had both feet planted firmly in mid air’. The point being when you neglect the reality and role that God and Christianity play in every sphere of life, you are then removing the foundation that these spheres were built on, true science and learning derive their basis from God. The greatest scientific minds of the past were either Christians or Deists, they were too smart to try and reject the reality of an eternal being.
(1324) THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY- Ephesians 3:9. One of my favorite historical persons is Einstein; I like him because he was sort of a rebel for his day. In the university he did bad, missed class and scored low. He could not find a job in his field of physics so he took a job in Berne, Switzerland as a patent approver. During his spare time he wrote a few papers on theoretical physics and these papers were circulated but had no good response. Why? No one took seriously the writings from a patent worker! Then one of his ‘letters’ made in into the hands of one of the top scientists of the day, Max Planck, and he would make history. Planck recognized the genius that others couldn’t see. In Ephesians 3 Paul says the Lord gave him [and the apostles and prophets] the gift of being able to ‘see’ and understand truths that were hidden in God since the beginning of the world. Now, it was good to have the gift, to be able to see the truths that others could not yet see; but this gift would be useless unless it came along with the ability to effectively ‘make others see’ it too. So Paul prays for the churches that he is writing to that they, by the Spirit, would have the gift to comprehend the mysteries that he was writing about. In essence the Spirit was Paul’s Max Planck! In time others would see the great things Paul was teaching but there needed to be the Divine work of revelation both on the part of Paul as well as those who were reading his stuff. Paul would call this dynamic ‘the fellowship of the mystery’. In the book of Acts there were those who willingly rejected this revelation and that was their own choice. Paul says they themselves made the choice to cut themselves off from eternal life. Today we don’t have ‘revelation’ [new truths] in the same way Paul and the apostles had, but we certainly have gifted ones who the Spirit is communicating truth to, but we must not make the mistake of Einstein’s peers, they saw him as a layman and initially missed out on the revolutionary truths he was seeing. They chose to cut themselves off from the ‘fellowship of the mystery’ how bout you?
(1316) I LIKE FREE STUFF! ‘FOR SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME MEN HAVE NOT HEARD, NOR PERCIEVED BY THE EAR, NIETHER HATH THE EYE SEEN, O GOD, BESIDE THEE, WHAT HE HATH PREPARED FOR HIM THAT WAITETH FOR HIM- Isaiah 64:4 Last night I caught a story on the news, it showed how terrorists were using an ingenious way to communicate; instead of sending electronic emails thru the internet, they would share a common email account and paste their messages to the saved drafts, then the other guy would simply read the drafts. The FBI/CIA could not detect the message. Over the years I have heard how people really don’t value teaching unless they pay for it, and the more they pay the greater the value. Some Christian motivational speakers have actually charged many thousands of dollars just to share a word from God. Paul wrote the greatest letters known to man [the New Testament] and circulated them freely and encouraged their duplication- we need to reevaluate the standards we live by. Isaiah said God would reveal things that were secret since the world began. In the gospels it says that Jesus fulfilled this verse thru his teaching. In Corinthians Paul said the Spirit is continuing this ‘revealing’ ministry thru the church. In Revelation chapter 5 you have the vision of John seeing God on the throne with a scroll; no man is worthy/able to reveal the things in the scroll. But Jesus, the Lamb who was slain earned the right to walk up to the throne and take the scroll and open it. Jesus continues to reveal things to the church based on his righteousness, not ours. He specifically instructed his men that the things he was freely giving to them [spiritual gifts and insights] should be shared with others free of charge [thus Paul’s unwillingness to charge for his very valuable insights]. We need to get back to the basic reality of scripture; no speaker/teacher was to become rich off of the revelation of God that was purchased by the Blood of Jesus. These spiritual gifts were not to be used for one preacher to gain authority over others, that is the idea that the most gifted one in the group would ‘be over’ the others was rejected. Jesus explicitly taught this to his men. The false teachers at Corinth were saying of Paul ‘sure his letters are weighty, but he’s not even on the scene, wait till he shows up’ in essence they tried to devalue the ministry of Paul because he was communicating thru letters as opposed to having some regular office where he was exercising authority over them. The important thing to remember is Jesus is the one who has earned the right to open the scroll, we simply freely receive the gift of communicating it as the Spirit wills. We should value the free things, on the news story about the emails they said how this tool of the internet and the free access of the emails were accomplishing more than the older ways that cost thousands of dollars to get the message out. As the people of God lets value the free stuff, don’t teach people that ‘the free stuff’ has no value. Don’t tell them that we are charging them for their good and not ours, these arguments fall on deaf ears as the media exposes the million dollar mansions and 5 thousand dollar a night hotel fees. Let’s use the wisdom of the terrorist, communicate the stuff for free, I don’t know how many lives have been changed over the years thru a free Gideon’s bible placed in the hands of some soldier or in the drawer of a hotel. These bibles are the free gift of revelation that Jesus poured out on Paul and the other writers of the New Testament, thank God that they never copy wrote the thing!
(1311) FOR YOUR SHAME YE SHALL HAVE DOUBLE [PORTION/BLESSING] AND FOR YOUR CONFUSION THEY SHALL REJOICE IN THEIR PORTION, THEY TOO WILL HAVE A DOUBLE PORTION IN THEIR LAND – Isaiah 61:7 In the book of Acts Peter says God has highly exalted Jesus and he has received the promise of the father [Spirit] and because of this he has poured out ‘this which you see and hear’. I like that, God gave 2 types of testimonies; things you see and things you hear. That spoke to me because I do both radio [hear] and blog [see]. I was watching a prophecy brother the other day, he’s a good man, comes from the strong Dispensational school. As he was reading the declaration of the angel in the book of Luke- that Jesus will sit on the throne of his father David, the wife said ‘gee, I never saw that before, Jesus has never yet sat on David’s throne’. And the husband said ‘see, your theological training is kicking in’. If you actually read all of Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts, you will see that the apostolic witness sees Jesus as presently ruling on the throne from the exalted right hand of God. They do not see an idea that the promise from the angel about Jesus has yet to be fulfilled. I am familiar with the distinctions that dispensationalist’s make, I just think they go too far in postponing the ‘actual/literal’ rule of Jesus to some future date. The apostle’s language includes the fulfillment of the Davidic rule with the present ruling position of Jesus at Gods right hand. I do not totally discount the reality that at the Second Coming there will be literal future aspects to that rule, but scripture already ‘sees’ Jesus ruling in Gods kingdom. Well anyway Jesus received this high position because of the shame and confusion [agony] he went thru. He now has the right to pour out things both ‘seen and heard’. He poured out the promise of the Father on his people and they became this great kingdom of Priests and Kings unto God and his father [Revelation and Isaiah]. In this present kingdom we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Jesus is the Lamb as it were slain sitting on the throne- he’s not waiting for some future date to receive the throne, he’s already there!
(1309) Got up early today, around 1:30, I usually try and lay down until around 2:30, but this morning I felt like the Lord was saying ‘no, today you need to start early’. So as I went outside to pray it was barely drizzling, but it’s really cold. I do pray in the rain often, but when it’s cold I adjust my prayer schedule. Right when I was wrapping up the prayer time at around 4 it started raining, I’m glad I started early. This morning I read ‘your people shall all be made righteous, they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting the work of my hands’ Isaiah 60:21. I felt like the Lord was saying to leaders/pastors ‘these people are my work, my planting. When I made Adam I put him in the garden that I created. He had responsibilities to take care of it and be a faithful steward over it; but it was my garden, not his’. We often worry about ‘the garden’ [the work/people that God has called us to] but the lord says they are his people, his ‘branch’ the work of his hands and he simply allows us to enjoy the field/garden with him. Paul told the Corinthians that they were God’s field, that some water and others plant but God alone makes it grow. Jesus said the kingdom was like a man who planted some seed and when he ‘slept’ God made it grow. ‘What, you mean I was sleeping when the thing was really productive’? Yes, humbling isn’t it. Isaiah said ‘I was in difficulty, oppression, going back and forth and then I said “ who are all these children that I have born, where did they come from?’” sort of like when you are at a stage in life where you can’t micro manage the thing, God says ‘there we go, now I can do a thing thru you that you can’t take credit for’. God said the people would ‘all be righteous’ that the garden was his responsibility and he simply put ‘you in the garden’ sometimes your most productive seasons are when you’re sleeping! [when your hands are off the thing].
(1305) I’M USING YOU FOR THEIR SAKE, NOT YOUR’S! Isaiah 59:21 says ‘this is my covenant WITH THEM’. I have been quoting the last part of this verse for years, I am sure I have said it in prayer at least 10 thousand times over my life- ‘ the words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth from this time forth and forevermore’ God says your ‘seed’ [offspring] and your seeds seed will quote and teach them. Good promise for church planters—but when I recently read it I felt like the lord was saying ‘leader/pastor- listen up- I am going to consistently use you and speak thru you, not out of some favor to you, but as a promise TO THEM!’ In Isaiah God says ‘I will give him as a covenant to the people’ [Jesus]. God takes people and uses them to fulfill his promises to nations/people groups. He has covenanted with these people groups, made promises to them that he would teach them and show them things that they never saw before. The Message bible says when Jesus preached in his hometown, the people said ‘we knew he was a preacher, but we didn’t know he was this good’! God promised that the people who sat in darkness would see great light. That kings/leaders would ‘shut their mouths’ because they were learning things that they never saw before. Jesus told his men ‘many people wished they were seeing the things that you are seeing/hearing, yet they never had the chance’ [Message bible again] God used Jesus to reveal truths that were hidden from the foundation of the world, he promised this to the people. When God uses leaders/prophetic people to reveal things that were previously hidden, he is doing this out of faithfulness to the people. He is keeping his promise to the people, he has made a covenant with them and God does not break his promise.
(1299) Last night I had a rough night, couldn’t sleep and dealing with lots of stuff. I wasn’t sure what to read [Isaiah or start Galatians] and I felt the Lord leading me to read John 14. Right after I read it I put the Catholic station on and they were quoting from it. In John 14 Jesus tells his men that he is leaving them for a purpose, that in his Father’s house there are many mansions. If he doesn’t leave them they will never become what he wants. In the New Testament [and old] ‘house of God’ refers to Gods people, in the Old Testament you did have the temple, but when referring to ‘the house of David’ it speaks of community/dynasty- so the ‘house of God’ are the actual people groups that God is bringing into his kingdom. We corporately make up ‘the house of God’. Now Jesus is not telling the disciples ‘I am going to build a room for you in heaven, and when I come back I will take you to heaven’ he is saying something more along the lines of ‘I am leaving you to make room for you to learn to function and grow on your own, when I leave the Holy Spirit will come and indwell you- you will become the new habitation of God’. In essence ‘he goes to prepare a place for us’ is speaking more along the lines of us becoming this corporate dwelling place as opposed to building a room in heaven. And his ‘coming again to receive us unto himself’ in this context is speaking of the Holy Spirit (one just like unto himself) being sent back after Jesus leaves, so this Comforter will dwell in us- he ‘receives us unto himself’. Thru out this chapter Jesus is speaking on a higher level than what the guys are hearing ‘where I go you know and the way you know’ what! We don’t know where you are going and how can we know the way? The disciples seem to be saying ‘hold this ship up Jesus, we are feeling a little intimidated, you’ve been telling us that we will have what it takes when the rubber meets the road- we sense that you are ‘pushing us out of the nest’ and if we don’t fly we will crash! Jesus knew that his departure was needed for them to become this house of God, this great community of diverse people groups [many mansions]. The disciples would become recipients of the Spirit and sure enough everything Jesus told them would come to pass, but at the moment of trial/decision they felt inadequate- they weren’t really sure they were ready. I know I can identify with them, can you?
(1292) I HAVE CREATED THE SMITH [blacksmith] THAT BLOWETH THE COALS IN THE FIRE AND BRINGS FORTH AN INSTRUMENT FOR HIS WORK, AND I HAVE CREATED THE WASTER TO DESTROY- Isaiah 54. God made the man who figured out if you get the steel hot enough you can shape it into a tool that will be effective. If God made the man who figured out this ingenious process, where do you think the man got the idea from? God will turn up the heat, so to speak, so he can re-shape some stuff in us. This last year I have tried to read up on some of the trends that go on in the world of Christianity. Sometimes I wonder if after all the great ideas, new ways of seeing things; lots of talk about the church needing to get back to social justice issues, all types of stuff I agree with, but at the end of the day I wonder how many of us are actually doing the stuff. Have we been duped into a system that enables articulators to have a forum, that produces a class of professional hearers of the articulators; but at the end of the day a great majority of us have not really been moved to act? Sort of like I can tell you how important it is to reach out to the poor and hurting, you might really belive me when I tell you this [in all sorts of ways- books, pulpit, etc.] but if all we have accomplished is to have come up with another subject to talk about, and for people to listen- then have we really accomplished anything? God wants ‘instruments’ for his work; tools that really function! It’s okay for the church to have great articulators and for people to have an attentive ear to hear- but it doesn’t stop there. After so much hearing and so much speaking, we then need some volunteers to get into the action! And this means more than just finding some ‘mission to the poor’ ministry that we can write a check to. I fear that the thing that’s lacking with most of us is the willingness to act, to get involved, to be the tool that actually works. Over the years I have bought tools that looked good, but were not well made. They might have been priced cheap, but they did not function well. Like buying the pens from the dollar store, what good is it if you got 50 pens for a dollar and none of them work? So in the kingdom God will often allow the heat to turn up because he wants to fashion some instruments that work, that do more than just speak or listen, but instruments that really get the job done. I have learned over the years that lots of people mean well, but if you want the job to get done you need people that don’t blame everything on others. People who are not professional victims, who find their whole identity in faulting others for their lot in life. I hired a guy to do a small job, to remove some wood from behind a rental house I owned years ago. It was maybe a 20 minute job, he had a truck. He was one of the guys I knew from working with addicts and ex-cons. I made the mistake of paying him the 25 dollars before the job was done. After a few weeks would pass I’d ask him ‘did you move the wood yet brother’? He would have some excuse why he didn’t do it. Finally I drove by the alley and saw the wood was gone. Great! I then found out that the renter got tired of the wood in the alley and hauled it off himself. We need people in the kingdom that act, that function and do what God tells them to do. We already have enough able articulators; enough people willing to buy the books and read about how the church should do more. We simply need some brothers who will actually move the wood.
(1290) YES, I DID IT AGAIN! I have a confession to make, yes I’m gonna come clean- last night I committed an act that I vow never to do again every time I engage in it- I channel surfed the religious stations. It’s not totally my fault, I woke up at around 12:20 and I am trying not to get up until at least 2-2:30. For a few years [yes years!] I was getting up every night and praying most of the night. After that time passed I stuck with getting up early, usually try to lay down till around 3, then the clocks went back an hour and I’m all messed up. So that’s why I channel surfed, I caught a few good teaching shows but then surfed and saw the ones that are so outrageous that the viewing public usually watches as a joke. One brother was quoting Zechariah [Old Testament book] and using a verse about a plumb line [measuring rod, line- a type of judgment and God bringing his people into alignment. I had a friend who wrote an entire book on these passages from Zechariah] and the brother was teaching how the plumb line represented a 7 fold return on money and church members and all types of stuff- I mean he was teaching stuff that when the true plumb line shows up, these are the things that need to be corrected by the plumb line! Then I surfed a few prosperity guys, and I finally settled on the Catholic station, they were doing a documentary on a catholic nun who started a ministry to the Italian immigrants coming to N.Y. and how she helped them and stuff. It was peaceful enough to leave on. So as I opened the bible to Matthew 13 to share some stuff, I saw the verse in chapter 12 ‘the men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment day with this generation [group] and shall condemn them, for they repented when Jonah preached and yet a greater than Jonah is here’ it seemed to fit. Okay this week I read some from Matthew 13, from the message bible, it really spoke to me. A few entries back I shared how I tore out the ignition from my classic 66 Mustang and had to get some parts, well I wound up ordering them on line and it took 2 days to figure out a minor detail, it’s sort of a trick you do to get the ignition cylinder to fit into the ignition switch- a secret locking pin and all, any way I thought ‘geez, I am spending too much time stuck at this place’. But when I wrote the entry I shared a little about going to auto parts stores and all, and then I read one of Jesus’ parables ‘the kingdom is like a general store owner, he knows how to get just the right part at the right time- either a new or old part’ I liked that. Sometimes we [leaders/pastors] go thru stages where we grasp hold of some ‘new part’ and we spend years stuck at that spot, it’s not so much that the part is bad, or wrong, but it’s just ‘a part’. You might go thru a stage where you find out biblical principles of finances, that’s fine- but don’t go and change the whole bible into a money manual! Or the house church movement. Good part, but people still need to grasp justification by faith and the other ‘old parts’. A good auto parts store will get you the right part, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s the latest technology [any part for a 66 mustang is not new] what matters is for it to be the part that works for you- sometimes we need the old parts!
(1238) PSLAMS 37- I have been meditating on this Psalm for the past few days, it speaks to our day ‘fret not thyself because of evildoers, for those who seem to prosper in what they are doing’. Recently we have had the political storm over ACORN, the community group who has it’s hands in all types of things. They actually have done some good in helping the poor, but the conservatives finally got them! What do you expect when your people offer help to a fake pimp and prostitute when they are looking for ‘housing’? Oh my, how have we fretted over the wicked. Or ‘a little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked’ last night I was reading the bio’s of John Wycliffe and John Hus, the two great ‘pre-reformers’. Wycliffe preached/taught out of Oxford England and would contrast the riches and wealth of the Pope with the poverty of Jesus and his men. He taught the ‘true church’ were those who knew God and were part of the spiritual community of believers, not limited to any earthly institution. He would send his poor preachers out 2 by 2 and they would infiltrate England [they were called Lollards]. Hus would read the writings of Wycliffe and lead Bohemia down the same road. Hus preached at the influential Bethlehem church in Prague and also had influence at the university. These men believed that ‘the poverty of the righteous would go further than the riches of many wicked’. They truly turned their world upside down while rejecting the idea that we all need to become rich in order to have real influence. This Psalm says the meek will inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked might seem like he’s spreading out like a huge tree, but his efforts are temporary. Jesus said the kingdom of God was like planting a small seed and it becoming a huge tree, are you looking to plant ‘a huge tree’? We often view the kingdom thru God using us to gather great wealth and resources, organizing some corporation, and then this ‘huge tree’ will get the job done. Jesus approach was to gather these outcasts of society, invest his life into them, and his life, death, resurrection and example would become the ‘seed bed’ that would start a worldwide revolution. Don’t fret over what it seems like the ‘wicked’ are getting away with, just simply follow Jesus, your little bit can accomplish much more than the riches of many wicked [geez, ACORN was getting millions, but the church of Jesus has been helping the poor for 2 thousand years. I don’t know why we fret over this stuff!]
(1222) BY THY FAVOR THOU HAST MADE MY MOUNTAIN TO STAND STRONG- Psalms 30:7 These last few weeks we have been hitting some single Psalms and reviewing some good books. I wanted you guys [and gals] to start committing to memory some of these verses. I also wanted to develop an appetite in you for reading, reading good stuff [you know, avoiding stuff like ‘the mark of the beast is here’ and other silly stuff]. I was just outside praying [early] and in the distance I saw the lightning. This last week we have had rain, thunder and lightning. Texas has been in one of the worst droughts ever, one of the Psalms I added to memory this last week was ‘the voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of glory thundereth. The Lord is upon many waters’ I have been praying it and incorporated it into my intercession time- not for literal rain, but in a spiritual sense. Yet it worked for the real stuff too! I want to encourage you guys, be steadfast in prayer. These last few weeks I felt the Lord speaking to me about not growing weary in prayer; we covered the parable of the lady who kept pleading with the judge and finally got an answer. Jesus teaching us on consistent prayer. We hit some verses from James on enduring thru trials and difficulty. The scripture says not to grow weary in doing well, in due season we shall reap if we don’t faint. Getting back to our verse ‘you have made my mountain to stand strong’ your ‘mountain’ if you will is the whole area/region that God has ordained for you to function in. To some of you that’s the local church group you relate to, others it’s the state or country. And for others it’s a world wide ‘mountain’ [place of authority/ministry]. God alone can make you fruitful in the field/area of influence he has given you, but it’s your part to maintain the field, the ‘home base’ the capitol city if you will. Scripture says ‘David [King David] dwelt in the fortress city and called it the city of David [he knew who he was and what area of influence he was to wield] and he built round about from the surrounding terraces and inward’. He knew that for him to have a broader regional influence he had to have stability at the home base, the main city [Jerusalem in his case]. As you trust God to show favor to your mountain, remember to be faithful to the home base as well. Jesus sent the Spirit to the church and gave her a witness in Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. If you don’t start at home, it will never spread to the uttermost!
(1219) SAVE LORD, LET THE KING HEAR US WHEN WE CALL- Psalms 20:9 I woke up too early yesterday, around 1 a.m. This has happened a few times in the last few days. So I just move the 3:30-8:30 prayer/study/teaching time up a few hours. It leaves me an hour or two extra to catch up on one of my books. At around 8:30 I felt the Lord wanted me to go and check up on the homeless guys, it’s been a few weeks since I have gotten with them, but I was tired and thought I would just spend a few hours with them. I brought the paper and headed out to the mission. Andy showed up, he’s one of the brothers who has struggled with alcohol for years, just got out of the ‘teen challenge’ program and is doing well. He has two other brothers, I have written about them before. He told me his older brother , John David, was supposed to show up at the mission this day and he wanted to make sure he didn’t hook up with the wrong crowd. Andy is 58 and he has a younger brother named Huey. I have fellowshipped with Andy and helped Huey out over the years, but John David is the oldest and he keeps his distance. He looks a little intimidating [to be honest, this stuff never affects me- but to some people they stay away]. If you see him as one of the homeless on the streets where I live, he is a little scary. Anyway Andy was glad I showed up, and Henry [one of the strongest homeless believers, really a fine Christian] showed up. Henry will actually come check up on me if I don’t come around for a few days. Well John David showed up, he has spent 40 days in a local drug rehab and looks great. He is on fire for God, has had a real experience with the Lord. He really loved fellowshipping this day. John David told me his whole story; when he and his family were living near Houston back in the 60’s- 70’s, he killed his best friend with a shotgun. His buddy was violent and one night was coming after him, John David pulled his friends shogun off the rack in the truck and emptied 5 shells into him, he had pellets in the bottom of his feet all the way to the top of his head. His father, who was also an alcoholic by the name of John, died a few weeks before this incident. Johns mother asked around for the best lawyer, she was told the name of a lawyer in Dallas who was the best [Percy something?]. He recently was Lee Harvey Oswald’s attorney, and after Jack Ruby shot him he defended Ruby. Sure enough she went to Dallas and the secretary told her the attorney would cost too much, that he wasn’t even in the building that day. She waited all day until around 10 p.m. and the attorney came out of the office. He asked her about the case and she told him and gave her title deed to her little trailer as payment. He took the job pro bono and got her son off at trial. John David told me that a year later he- quote ‘went and pissed on the grave of his dead friend’. He was ungrateful and unrepentant. Eventually the family wound up in Corpus and all the brothers are living on the streets. When they first got here they did okay, John David had his own concrete company and was making lots of money. He was doing well, but the alcohol and cocaine were his downfall. He told me he hated the homeless guys, he looked down on them and disrespected them. He eventually went thru five marriages and lost everything and became one of the most despised street guys in the Bluff. John passed his alcoholism off to his sons, one night his son was leaving the school dance, he was walking home drunk. A doctor ran him over and killed him. The doctor was also drunk. The boy was only 15, this was another setback in a long series of regrets. We spent the whole day having a good fellowship, I bought some grape juice [in the little bottles] a few weeks back, I felt like the lord said get some for a communion thing. Sometimes when I get with the brothers when we come back to the house we will do an outside communion/fellowship thing. Sure enough this was the day for the juice. I lent Andy one of my good books, he is a serious student and was sharing with me the stuff he has been studying recently. I know he’s reading right now so I lent him some good stuff. Henry took a few reference books, he keeps his books at my house and I’ll lend him stuff from my library as well. He will be preaching Sunday at ‘Church without walls’ a homeless church that sets up a tent every week and holds street services. Yeah, sometimes I don’t get the books back, but it’s worth the investment. John David was a different man this day, all the years I have seen him, never was he like this. He told me a few months back as he was sitting out by the intercoastal waterway where we live, he was strung out on coke, tired of his whole life. He screamed and cursed God, he said ‘if you are f…ing real, then do something’. It was within a few days that someone paid 5 thousand dollars out of pocket to send him to this rehab, the ‘king heard him when he called’.
(1218) REMEMBER ALL THY OFFERINGS, AND ACCEPT THY BURNT SACRIFICE Psalms 20:3- A few years ago the Lord began showing me the concept of ‘accumulated prayers/alms’ [good deeds]. The medieval church developed a distorted view of this idea; they began to teach that the good works of the saints who have died are like a bank of good deeds [treasury of merits] and that when Christians die without being fully purged [made holy] that they go to Purgatory. In Purgatory they ‘do time’ in order to be made fully ready for Gods presence. Right before the Reformation the doctrine of indulgences became a hot issue among many Catholic scholars. These Catholic teachers disagreed with the churches position on buying the good works of the dead saints in order to lesson the time of their loved ones in purgatory. The famous priest named Tetzel was selling these indulgences and that was what sparked Luther’s Reformation. Now, is the doctrine of purgatory/indulgences scriptural? No. Is the doctrine of ‘stored up good deeds/prayers’ scriptural? Yes. In Acts 10 the angel tells Cornelius ‘your prayers and alms [good deeds] have come up as a memorial before God’ in Revelation the stored up prayers of the martyrs ascends up to God like incense. Our good deeds and prayers do not earn us salvation, but they most definitely affect things. James says the fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much. John says that when we walk in holiness then we have confidence that God hears and will answer our prayers. Doing good is very important, not ‘religious’ ceremonial goodness, but religion as defined by James ‘visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction and keeping yourself unspotted from the world’. These are what ‘alms-deeds’ mean, works of charity. I find it interesting that 2 conservative Catholic scholars of the 20th century disagreed on the doctrine of purgatory as a waiting place after death. One was named Rahner, the other one was Ratzinger [Pope Benedict]. During the Reformation you had a Catholic group called the Jansenists [the leader was a priest named Jansen]. They held to the doctrine of Predestination [like Luther and Calvin]. They rejected certain forms of Catholic teaching; when the practice of devotion to the ‘Scared Heart’ of Jesus was introduced, they called it ‘cardi-olatry’ [idolatry and cardiology combined]. The point being you have many intelligent Catholic scholars who disagree with the official stand of the church. Even though the doctrine of purgatory is unbiblical, yet the concept of our accumulated prayers and good deeds going up to God as ‘a memorial’ [sort of like when Nehemiah prayed- ‘Lord look upon my sacrifice that I have made for your people and reward me’. Or Hebrews ‘God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which you have showed toward the saints’] is biblical. We certainly don’t earn salvation or merit grace, but to say to God ‘remember all your offerings and accept thy burnt sacrifices’ is okay.
(1217) THE VOICE OF THE LORD IS UPON THE WATERS: THE GOD OF GLORY THUNDERETH: THE LORD IS UPON MANY WATERS Psalms 29:3 Last night I was watching the news, I was doing something at the time [reading?] but for whatever reason I was listening and not looking at the screen. I heard a reporter asking one of the ‘tea party’ protesters about his views. As I listened to him speak against the socializing of the country, his disgust over the free hand outs and all, I thought I recognized the voice. As I looked up, it was Larry! One of the first homeless buddies I met in Corpus. He went West quite a few years ago, haven’t heard from him in a while. Larry was really smart, he had a couple of old boats, an old ice cream truck and an old school bus scattered all over the Bluff [where I live]. One of the boats was a small 10 footer, he had it at some boat dock, the thing was probably worth around 20 dollars. Every day he went and pumped the water out, it was funny. I had this old Datsun 280 zx that I bought during an early mid life crisis; I blew the darn motor in it. I was gonna junk it. Larry saw that I had an extra junk car sitting in my yard, I bought it for the wheels for around 100 bucks. He said lets put the engine from the junker into the good car. Sure enough we did it in a couple of days; pushing the cars under my garage doorway, using a bumper jack and chain as a lift. Pulling engines out and dropping the good one in, I could have never accomplished it by myself, he was a talented brother. He looked a little like Ted Kaczynski [unibomber] scruffy hair and beard. He looked exactly the same on the news show, I think Larry worked about five days the whole time I knew him, yet he was protesting Obama’s socializing of the country and the free handouts, stuff like this is too funny to not write on. Okay I read more from Wrights book [surprised by hope] he brings out the biblical basis of the believer’s hope, which is the resurrection, not heaven. He is correct on this. He traces the roots of Western thinking all the way back to the ancient philosophers [Plato]and shows how the Greek belief in the ‘immortal soul’ did effect the thinking of Western Christianity and eventually made it’s way into the church thru the medieval influence of men like Dante [his inferno] and other beliefs on purgatory and so forth, Wright is an excellent scholar and historian. He does quote the verse I used when first defending against the concept of ‘soul sleep’, the famous verse from Paul ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord’ he rejects soul sleep and teaches the correct doctrine of a believer being in Gods presence at death. Wright, like myself, does not see the future hope of the believer as ‘going to heaven when you die’ but correctly teaches the hope of a resurrected body and a new heavens and earth. He also correctly shows how immortality of ‘the soul’ is really not a biblical doctrine. For as long as I can remember, I have always believed that immortality referred to the resurrected body of believers and not to the soul/spirit. I have heard/read many good men speak of it as pertaining to the soul, Wright correctly shows us the biblical view. When I first read his defense a while ago, I was a little confused when he used an argument from scripture that immortality belongs ‘only to God’ and his argument that the ‘immortal soul’ was a Greek doctrine not founded in scripture. The reason I was a little hesitant when I first heard him make this argument [reading on line a few years back] was because I heard the same exact argument made by the 7th day Adventist church in their defense of soul sleep [the view that the soul is unconscious at death until the resurrection] but Wright has clarified that he does not accept this view. He also rightfully shows us that in scripture the divisions of ‘soul/spirit/body’ are not as clear cut as many modern Protestants teach. Over the years I have often heard the famous verses on the soul ‘receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls’ ‘he that corrects a sinner from the error of his way saves a soul from death’ [James] and in Hebrews ‘the word of God dividing asunder soul and spirit’ there is a very popular teaching that relates the three ‘parts’ of man with the Triune nature of God [Father, Son and Spirit] and tries to say that when the New Testament speaks of ‘soul’ it is speaking of mans emotions/will, and that the spirit and body are two other things. This really is not biblical, the two verses I quoted from James are speaking of the whole man, not his emotions/will only. This is a wrong teaching that many have embraced because of a low level of education in the pulpit [to be frank about it]. Which gets me to my final point, to all my Pastor/leader readers, try and read/listen to university level scholarship as much as possible. Avoid leaving the radio-TV on and hearing hours and hours of teaching that is really not high quality, it will affect you in a bad way. I called a ministry a few weeks back to order a special offer from the scholar/theologian who is the teacher. The cd’s were lectures given in a university classroom from a real theologian [not the guys running around with honorary doctorates!] I did have the chance to do something I have been wanting to do for a while. The offer was whatever gift you want to give to the ministry [money] you can give and get the cd’s. The poor sister asks me ‘and how much will you be donating today for the cd’s’ I of course tell her ‘I will be donating one penny’ she is silent for a few seconds until I tell her I’m just kidding. The point is try and read/listen to scholarly stuff as much as possible ‘the Lords voice is upon many waters, it thunders’ when God speaks to you thru the collective voice of the church triumphant [in heaven- I mean read the works of the saints who have died!] and the church militant [on earth] then you are hearing his voice over the ‘many waters’ the various communions that make up the corporate people of God, Gods wisdom resides in her.
(1215) BE WISE NOW THEREFORE O YE KINGS, BE INSTRUCTED YE JUDGES OF THE EARTH- Psalms 2:10 This is the psalm that speaks about the rulers of the earth trying to cast off the restraints of God and ‘his anointed’. Scripture says God will have them in derision; he will laugh at their stupidity. This reminds me of the atheistic enlightenment philosophers, men who embraced ‘rational thought’ and supposedly would not believe anything unless it was ‘scientific’, men like Nietzsche and Freud who felt like the problems with man were the restraints that the church put on people. Freud taught that the reason mankind suffered from so many ailments was because the church and religion put these Victorian restraints on man and that these false restraints [like not sleeping around] were the root cause of mans problems. So Freud tried to ‘cast off the restraints of God and his anointed’ he taught that man should fully embrace sexual freedom and do whatever he wanted, the result- total devastation of mans psyche [and body]. God had them in derision. Getting back to N.T. Wrights book that I’m reading [surprised by hope] Wright brings out a great point, he shows how the materialist [those who say they will only believe things that can be proven scientifically] are contradicting themselves when they reject the resurrection and historical claims of Christianity on these grounds. Wright shows that every one of them accepts all types of historical facts that can not be proven ‘by science’. Let’s see, do you believe in Lincoln? Or say the civil war? There are tons of non scientific historical events that people believe all the time, one time events that are nor repeatable and can’t be proven by the scientific method. He makes a good point. The rationalists said ‘we will only believe in reason, not in faith’ this is a false view of faith. Pope John Paul the 2nd said ‘faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth’ [Fides Et Ratio]. To believe in God, and to be reasonable/rational go hand in hand. The atheist claims to only believe in things that can be proven, yet the claims of Christianity [the death and resurrection of Christ] have more historical/rational proofs then any other historic event in history, the historical method used to examine things shows us that these things did happen, for real! Just because an event is a one time supernatural event, this does not automatically make it ‘irrational’ or untrustworthy. If the event passes the smell test of historical inquiry [which it does] then it is as ‘believable’ as any other historic event in history. You see, God said those who try to cast off the restraint of God and church would make fools of themselves, that they would think they were wise when they were fools. I think this is a good example.
(1214) YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HELL, OR ALLOW ME TO DECAY- Psalm 16:10 [my quick version of it!] This verse is quoted in Acts 2 and 13; it speaks of the Fathers promise of resurrection to the Son. Being I am reading Wright’s book on the resurrection at this time, I thought it good to talk a little. Wright lays out a good historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus. He shows how the liberal belief that the disciples ‘felt a real spiritual change after Jesus died’ wouldn’t cut it in a society that had other messianic figures rise and later be killed. The fact that these others stayed dead was a sure sign of their failure. Wright goes and gives a little parable on how the followers of past dead messiahs would have never gotten away with ‘let’s claim victory for our movement, even though our leaders died’. Good point, but the skeptics could point to Muhammad in the 7th century to refute this. But I get the point. Also, when I say ‘liberal theologians’ on this blog, I am speaking of historical liberalism, not the truncated view that certain fundamentalists hold to; you know, those who view liberalism thru the lens of what bible version a person uses, or whether or not you hold to certain end time scenarios. These views are not what I mean when speaking of liberals. Classic historical liberalism is a tag that gets put on those who begin denying the physical resurrection of Jesus and other fundamental truths of Christianity. So both Catholic and Protestant groups are not considered liberal, unless they deny the basic fundamentals [i.e.; you are not liberal, in the classic sense, just because you embrace the sacraments or other disagreements between Protestants and Catholics]. Now some liberals have done some good. The 19th century liberal scholars- Van Harnack and Albert Reitschal [I know these names are spelled wrong, but no spell check can fix stuff like this] challenged the development of historic theology by promoting the view that because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, that the early councils and systematic theologians lost the feel for story/narrative because they allowed Greek philosophy to influence their creeds and councils. They would point to the fact that much of the language used to ‘dissect’ the three persons of the Trinity was borrowed from the Greek philosophers and stuff like that. They argued that the church should return to her Jewish roots as seen in the Hebrew culture and begin ‘telling the story’ once again, as opposed to getting into the technical aspects of Greek language and thought. Now, were they right? Partially, in my view. But the problem with their view is it did not fully appreciate the fact that the New Testament did come to us thru the medium of the Greek language. So just because the Hebrew language is short on detail and long on story, this does not mean that the church also needs to be ‘short on detail’, because our New Testaments are in Greek. But they did make some good points. So anyway God promised Jesus [and us] that he would not leave us ‘in hell’ or allow us to corrupt/decay. The early church most certainly believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave, though the liberals have some good things to add to the conversation, some of their ideas are down right lethal.
(1213) MY EYES ARE EVER TOWARD THE LORD, HE SHALL PLUCK MY FEET OUT OF THE NET- Psalms 25:15 There’s a verse that says ‘our souls have escaped like a bird out of the snare of a fowler’. I hate snares, here where I live we have these lawn stickers, you know the type that when you walk in the house they stick all over you. You usually don’t know they are there until you take your shoes off and step on them. Proverbs says that when you walk by the house of the sluggard the weeds and stuff have overtaken it, the wall is broken down. God delivers us from these snares, he ‘plucks’ our feet out of the net. When you’re in a net you can’t pull yourself out. It’s not a matter of strength or effort, its gravity! You basically need an outside source to act on your behalf. That’s what we call original sin and substitutionary atonement. I just started N.T. Wright’s book ‘surprised by hope’ I think I am going to like it. He lives in England and is sharing from a ‘beyond the pond’ perspective. He already has laid out the case that the hope of the believer is resurrection, not evacuation! He will challenge the traditional belief of heaven as the goal, and speak about resurrection and how it relates to the here and now. That is when the church embraces a view that sees the departed soul in heaven as its goal, then we have a tendency to neglect the kingdom here and now. I get the point, and also see how Wright would appeal to the emergent brothers, but I have read Wright on line in the past and felt like he might go a little overboard in the ‘soul sleep’ category. These are the groups that believe the soul is in a state of ‘sleep’ or unconsciousness at death, and at the resurrection it reunites with the body again [true enough] and ‘wakes’ up back into a conscious state. This is not the classic/orthodox view, though some ‘Christian’ groups embrace it. The New Testament most certainly teaches that ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord’ [Paul] and ‘he had a desire to depart [die] and be with Christ which is far better’ [Paul again]. So let’s see what happens in the book, I do like his approach and style, as long as Wright doesn’t totally abandon the present, as well as future hope of the church. We have the assurance that no matter how difficult things get, no matter how many ‘nets/snares’ we have to deal with, that the lord will ‘pluck us from the net’ our hope truly is in the Lord, are your eyes ever towards him?
(1212) THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES, THOU ANOINTEST MY HEAD WITH OIL, MY CUP RUNNETH OVER- Psalms 23:5 These last few weeks I have been praying/meditating these single Psalms. Remember, try and pray them in the attitude of the ‘Jesus prayer’ [continual repetition thru out the day]. In the last chapter of Luke Jesus ‘opens up their understanding’ he shows them all the things in the law and the prophets and the psalms concerning him. They say ‘did not our hearts burn within us when he spoke to us’ they were fixated on his ability to reveal the scriptures to them. He also tells them to wait at Jerusalem for the promise of the Spirit, he sends us out like him. In Luke we read Jesus quoting Isaiah about the Spirit of the Lord being on him, how his calling and teaching were Divine functions. He tells his men he will do the same for them. Here in my ‘prayer yard’ I have all these scriptures and maps of nations and signs all over the place, my yard is designed for early morning intercession. A few weeks back I painted a plastic table with this verse, it was an old table that I had for years. I drew a picture of the loaves and fish that I saw on the church page of my paper and added this Psalm. It speaks to me of ‘the table’ that the lord sets before us. Proverbs says wisdom prepares her table, mingles the wine and sacrifices the animal. Wisdom also ‘sends out her servants’. I see a great picture of Jesus and his disciples thru this. He prepared his table [with his own Body and Blood- mingled wine and sacrafice] he sends us out to tell the world ‘all things are ready, come and dine’ and he gives us the Divine unction to carry this out [1st John]. David said the Lord prepared a great table before him in the presence of his enemies, God didn’t say in their absence. Psalms 110 says of Jesus ‘sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool- rule in the midst of your enemies’. Paul said ‘a great door has been opened for me, and there are many adversaries’ [Acts]. God has prepared a table for you, a place and giftings for you to function and feed his people. The process is not without difficulty and testing, but the important thing is to get the riches from the table to the people, to ‘send out the servants’ if you will. Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days it will return. Have you cast the bread yet? Or is the seed still in the barn.
(1211) LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, O YE GATES; AND BE YE LIFT UP YE EVERLASTING DOORS; AND THE KING OF GLORY SHALL COME IN. Psalms 24:7 God sees us as his temple, his city, his vineyard. We all have ‘gates’- doors, areas where we have been ordained to function; people groups who make up our parameters. God put Adam in a specific setting, he placed him in the garden and told him to take care of it, watch over it. Many animals would come and go and dwell within its borders, there was even a 4 lane river that flowed out of it. There was much activity in the garden; Adams job was to maintain the garden. The other aspects would basically take care of themselves. Over the course of Christian history there have been times when Gods garden has lost her focus, become haphazard and full of weeds. At these times he raises up people/movements to help bring her back into shape. Around the 7th century you had a man named Benedict start the first monastic order, the Benedictines. He would establish the famous abbey at Monte Casino; these monasteries would eventually become centers of learning and wisdom for the people of the time. In the 13th century you had the Dominicans and the Franciscans. Around the time of the Reformation you had the Jesuits, a brother named Ignatius left his wealth and former life as a soldier to found these ‘soldiers for God’. The Jesuits would play a major role in the scientific revolution, the percentage of leading scientists who were Jesuits was very high compared to their numbers. They would send missionaries into Japan and make the first inroads for the gospel. They would be persecuted and martyred in a famous city, they were crucified on the sides of the road as a witness for their faith. The name of the city where this happened was Nagasaki, sometimes the previous acts of violence that a society permits opens up the door for all types of future bloodshed. These movements arose out of a sense of the people of God losing her way, the church becoming rich in goods, but not in spirit. So God raises up people/movements to tell his people ‘lift up your heads o ye gates- look to me again and I will come in’ there are times when the garden lost her luster, the Lord didn’t simply plow it under, he allowed those who were tilling her time to get her back in shape. I think it’s time for all of us to ‘lift up our heads/gates’ so the king of glory can come in, he is a strong king, mighty in battle. When he comes in [thru our praise] then a banner of war is lifted up against the enemy, victory will not be far behind.
(1210) SAVE THY PEOPLE AND BLESS THINE INHERITANCE. FEED THEM ALSO AND LIFT THEM UP FOREVER- Psalms 28:9 I guess I will hit a few scattered Psalms, these last few weeks I have been reading the Psalms and trying to add a verse to memory every day or so. Sort of praying/meditating on them like the famous ‘Jesus prayer’. The Jesus prayer is an ancient simple prayer that says ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner’ but you actually say it all day long until it becomes part of your psyche. So these single Psalms can be used in this way. Okay, God wants to feed his people and bless them, Jesus told Peter ‘if you love me, feed my sheep’. In the 20th century you had the famous existentialist/atheist philosophers like John Paul Sartre and Albert Camou, these guys sought for purpose and meaning thru philosophy but wound up as nihilists [no hope] because of their rejection of God. Sartre would say ‘man is a useless passion’, Camou would say the only question left for philosophy to answer was the viability of suicide. The famous atheist Antony [Anthony] Flew, who has now become a believer in God [Theist], used to use a parable about a garden to challenge belief in God. He said man and his religious quest is like men who are journeying thru a forest and all of a sudden they come upon a garden; it is manicured and detailed in every way, it ‘appears’ to be a product of a designer. But then flew said as the men look around for the gardener they can’t see him, they then espouse all types of ideas about the master gardener. They come to various conclusions; he must be all knowing, very talented, transcendent- they develop views about this gardener/God that in Flews mind were just as silly as saying you might as well have no gardener at all! Flew thought if believers came to all these ideas about God, what’s the difference whether you believe in a God or not? The obvious answer is ‘then where in the world did the garden come from’. The challenges to Christianity, Theism, Deism try and convince people that there really is no purpose to your existence, you are a ‘useless passion’ you came from nowhere and are heading nowhere. Initially, this philosophy sounded liberating to those who embraced it. Sort of like telling the kids that schools out and you have no more teachers to listen to. But when you embrace this form of meaninglessness, you can not then try and instill purpose and meaning into people. Sartre and Camou rejected the foundational basis for man to have meaning in life, they tried to tell man ‘look, here is the purposeful garden, but it came from nowhere’. After many years of Anthony Flews insistence that there was no gardener, the evidence that caused him to change his mind was the evidence of design. He kept telling himself ‘there is no gardener’ and realized he was trying to convince himself of a lie, he knew he was logically wrong. He has since joined the ranks of those who now seek to know more about the master gardener.
(1201) In Luke 21 Jesus tells his men that there will come a time when they will be persecuted and brought before the authorities as a testimony. He tells them not to pre meditate what to say, but that the Spirit will speak thru them. God will supernaturally give them ‘a mouth [ability to communicate] and wisdom’ [something worth communicating!]. In Isaiah 8 the word says ‘take a great scroll and write in it with the pen of a man’ in Jeremiah 36 the Lord says ‘take another scroll and write in it all the words of the first scroll’. God historically has communicated truth to his people. Our bibles are like ‘2 scrolls’ if you will, all the words that were in the first part [Old Testament] were brought forth and revealed in the 2nd part-scroll [New Testament]. God has communicated much to his church; Isaiah was to write on a ‘great scroll’ lots of good stuff. Now, we [American church] have a tendency to master one part of the verse that says ‘mouth AND wisdom’. We have all the techniques down to get our message out, we know how to teach the verses that talk about ‘sowing into this ministry for a harvest’ and we communicate this type of limited message to the nations. I recently wrote an entry on how the Latin American countries have been inundated with this type of TV message, and many preachers proclaim this limited message over and over again to the masses, we have mastered ‘the mouth’ part. There are many African churches who have read the Gospels and New Testament and have come to reject the American success gospel. They came to this conclusion by their own reading of scripture, yet the American gospel mastered the techniques of broadcasting a limited message into the country. The natural indigenous church has come to rebuke us. We had the ability/finances to communicate, but lacked wisdom. In the 5th century [452 to be exact] Attila the Hun and his hordes marched up the Danube and struck fear into the hearts of the people, he seemed to be this unstoppable force that would make it all the way to Rome and topple the seat of the Western Empire. The emperor sent a party to try and reason with him, Pope Leo would personally speak to the raider and turn him back from sacking the city [though it would fall a few years later under Geaseric]. How could a simple Pope, without military might, stop a man that no human army could stop? God gave him ‘a mouth and wisdom’ he obviously spoke something that touched the mans heart. I think the American church needs to trust the Lord for more wisdom to go along with ‘our mouth’. We simply speak/communicate much too much, we have too much to say and not enough depth in what we say. We have churches in other countries who have been hurt by the tremendous immaturity of the things we are teaching them. These fellow believers have rebuked us and told us to please stop teaching this materialistic gospel to their nations. We desperately need both a mouth and wisdom to go along with it.
(1199) WHY ME? As we wrap up Luke 20, we see Jesus dealing with a few issues. The religious leaders are trying to trick him into saying something that will offend the people [or the govt.] ‘Should we pay taxes or not’ one of those questions that gets you into trouble no matter what you say, Jesus answered with wisdom. Again they put a question to him about the resurrection; he stumps them on this one too! Now it’s his turn ‘you tell me, how can Christ be David’s son if David prophesied about him, saying “the Lord said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” [Jesus was quoting King David in Psalms]. They had no idea how to handle his wisdom, they decided to go another route [like crucify him]. I find it amazing that Jesus saw himself in the prophetic portions of the Psalms, I mean He and the Father and Spirit all existed together from eternity, they had a Divine counsel that knew that one of them would eventually become man and die for the world. Yet the Holy Spirit would ‘give voice’ to the Sons agony and victory before the Son was born into a human body. Sort of like a pre incarnation of the Spirit thru the prophets, King David being one of the most significant of the prophets. Jesus would see his own agony being prophesied thru the prophets ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’- ‘thou hast done this to me’ David would say in Psalms 22. I read a good article last week about a Christian professor from Harvard. He shared how thru out the years he felt guilty that he had such a good life, that things always seemed to turn out good for him. Then one day he had a flat, got out of the car to change the tire and did something to his back. Since that time he has suffered chronic back pain that is excruciating, I could identify. Then after he took the job at Harvard one of his children contracted a deadly disease and his marriage was on the rocks. Then he found out that he had cancer, they treated him and he prayed that the lord would heal him, after a year or so it has spread to his lungs and other areas, he has around a year or so to live. He shared his thoughts and spoke of the sovereignty of God. Talked about what the biblical characters went thru, things that they suffered. He placed everything in proper balance and understood that though God didn’t ‘do this to him’ yet God did permit it to happen. I also realize that there are whole belief systems that as soon as they read this entry they started looking for the reasons ‘a ha, see, he didn’t know/practice a positive confession. That’s what happened’ this belief system confronts the suffering person with the same accusations of Job’s friends, not much help when your going thru hell. Jesus was reading the Psalms ever since he was a boy, he began seeing how he was fulfilling something that was put into action before the foundation of the world was laid. He was the second person of the Trinity who would come to the planet and suffer many things, he would be rejected of men and rise on the third day. He knew a lot was riding on his shoulders, he must have been impacted to some degree when he realized he was reading his own biography thru the writings of Kind David, especially when he said ‘thou hast done this to me’.
(1195) Was reading Psalms 19 and it speaks of Gods law being perfect; it converts [restores] the soul, makes us wise. By them we are warned and in keeping of them there is great reward. It reminds me of James ‘be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’. Some day I will teach the letter of James in it’s entirety, it is important and generally misunderstood. Many Reformers [I lean towards reformed theology personally] tend to say that James was saying ‘the faith that saves is active/working faith’ and that’s what James was talking about. While this certainly is true, James does say ‘see how Abraham/Rahab were saved/justified by their works’. This statement is saying something different than just ‘the faith that saves is active’ this is saying these folks ‘were saved’ by their works. I believe in the classic Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, don’t get me wrong. I think we miss it when we don’t leave room for something like ‘see how God also declared them righteous/acceptable when they did good works’. I think the statement ‘saved by works’ can actually mean something different than ‘accepted the Lord and got saved’. The solution is in seeing the fluent language of the New Testament when it deals with salvation/justification [soteriology]. It’s perfectly biblical to say ‘these people were saved [declared pleasing and acceptable in Gods eyes] by their works’ without having to apply it to the initial act of legal justification that Paul emphasizes in Romans/Galatians. Well I cant do it all right now, but will get to it someday. Today’s point was ‘keeping Gods commands, doing what he says’ brings great reward. It is easy to fall into the trap of becoming a professional learner/hearer of Gods word. Basically seeing our role as someone who learns a lot about the bible, preaches it, talks about it, but has little time to actually apply the things that it says. I was listening to a preacher who excelled high up the ranks of scholarly things; he became very smart in many things. He earned his masters and other degrees and was an accomplished writer and theologian. He then shared how the Lord began leading him to actually obey the things he learned in the Gospels. To take literally the words of Jesus on serving others and giving all your material goods away to serve the poor. He did it. He left his influential position as a teaching scholar, he moved to a foreign country and started a mission to the poor. I heard him speak on TV. I find it interesting that it can be so easy to make Gods word and Christian doctrine a priority, that is we can master knowledge of the things in them, but yet we might not actually be doing what it says. This is a danger for all of us. A big part of the present challenge to ‘institutional church’ deals with this. Many organic/community based movements are trying to get back to functioning and acting like the early churches acted. I of course think this is a good thing. One of the dangers can be falling into the trap of seeing ‘how we meet’ as the main criteria of what’s really ‘true church’ versus ‘institutional’. The New Testament does not teach that the way we as believers meet is the way to identify who are ‘true or not’. The New Testament says those who do the works are the ones who are of God. Works in an active/charitable sense, you know ‘pure religion before God is visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction and keeping yourself unspotted from the world’ type thing. So anyway today we learned that actually doing what God says brings great reward. It’s good to pray and read the bible and attend church, but if we are not doing the stuff, we are missing out.
(1192) ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DUMMIES? Still in Luke 18, the disciples forbid the young children from coming to Jesus; Jesus rebukes the disciples and tells them that the Kingdom of God is made up of little children. There is a theme in the New Testament that goes like this ‘become childlike in your faith and trust in me, but be mature in your thinking and understanding’. Often times these two things are confused. Why? In the letter to the Corinthians Paul will rebuke the wisdom of the world, he states that when he was among them he did not use men’s wisdom to convince them of the message of the Cross. Paul also encourages believers to be ‘child like’ as well. Many confuse Paul’s teaching with an idea that says Christians should not be engaged in the development of the mind. Paul was not rebuking all wisdom and forms of knowledge, but a specific kind of wisdom. In Acts 17 we read of Paul at Athens, the Greek intellectual city of his day [Alexandria was the philosophical center in Egypt]. As Paul disputes with the philosophers of his day he actually quotes their own poets/philosophers in his sermon, he does not quote from the Old Testament, but uses the sources that they are familiar with. Right after Athens Paul goes to Corinth, the cites are very close geographically. There was a form of philosophy at Corinth that was very popular, you had the Sophists and the professional speakers [Rhetoric] operating out of Corinth. The Sophists were the philosophers that came right before Socrates in the Greek cultural world, around 6 centuries or so before Christ. Their form of philosophy was what you would describe as the first Relativists [or post modern thinkers who appeal to subjective knowledge as opposed to objective] they taught that philosophy and arguing were simply things you do ‘just for the heck of it’. Sort of like a hobby of simply disputing things while never being able to arrive at truth, something Paul will rebuke in the New Testament by saying some people were ‘always learning and never being able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ Paul himself tells the Corinthians ‘where is the disputer of this world’. So the Sophists were famous for this type of thing. Now the great philosopher Socrates disagreed with the Sophists, Socrates taught that thru the practice of thorough debate and the art of constantly asking questions, that you could arrive at truth [seek and ye shall find type of a system]. He believed real knowledge could be found thru seeking after it. Socrates stirred the waters too much, he was put to death by being made to drink the famous hemlock, the city where this happened was Athens. So Paul more than likely is disputing the system of thought that said you could not arrive at objective truth. It’s no secret that his letter to the Corinthians has one of the strongest statements of factual [objective] belief found in the New Testament. The great chapter 15 reads like an early creed to the church ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures…’ It’s very probable that this chapter was used as a sort of creed in the early Pauline churches. So, what exactly was Paul saying [and Jesus] when they taught us to be like children, to reject the wisdom of the world for the wisdom of Christ? Simply that our approach to God and the things of God should be done in a humble manner, being childlike and open to God all throughout our lives. Paul was not teaching us that the following ages of great Christian thinkers was wrong; men like Anselm, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. It is perfectly acceptable for the believer to become well versed in the field of philosophy, to argue the Christian worldview from a biblical perspective. While it is true that no church was founded by Paul after his Athens visit, and some feel he abandoned his use of ‘worldly wisdom’ at Corinth because of this failure, but I think Paul continued to appeal to the intellectual world thru his great wisdom [God given] thru out his life [read Galatians and Romans!]. Ultimately it is the wisdom of the Cross that saves people, a wisdom that Paul said he communicated not in the words of mans intellect, but in the direct ability of the Spirit to speak. Sometimes that ability came thru a sermon that quoted the philosophers of old [Athens] sometimes thru the simple sharing of the message of Christ. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature with God and man, he knew the ideas of his day, so did Paul. Do you?
(1190) In Luke 18 Jesus gives the story of the woman who keeps hounding the judge for vengeance, the judge is not a good man. He does not fear God or care about man, yet he finally avenges the woman because of her consistent pleading. Jesus says we should learn the principle of consistent prayer thru this story. At the end of this chapter a blind man comes to Jesus and begs for mercy, Jesus asks ‘what do you want me to do’? The man says ‘restore my sight’ Jesus did. Some times we as believers overlook the obvious, we plan and scheme and strategize, we come up with bible formulas to make stuff happen, often times we forget to simply ask. Now, sometimes we have to wait for a while before we see results, but it is during these waiting periods that God enlarges us. I like studying Cosmology [universe] and science, one of the major breakthroughs in science occurred in the last century with Hubbell’s discovery of the expanding universe. Some have a limited idea of what this means; for instance if you took a game board and placed a bunch of stars and planets on the board, you could move the planets and stars away from the earth and it would give the appearance that the earth is the center of the universe, how else could everything be moving away from one point, unless that point were the center? Well this really isn’t what is meant by the expanding universe, a better model would be like taking a balloon and placing a bunch of stars and planets on the balloon, as the balloon inflates the stars and planets all move away from all the other points at the same time. The stars and planets are not actually moving; they are simply part of an expanding universe. So in this model the earth would not necessarily be at the center, because the expanding universe creates an environment where all things are expanding at once. Okay, I don’t know if you got it or not, the point I want to make is during times of waiting and asking and trusting, God ‘expands our universe’ if you will, he doesn’t just bring us along further down the road [distance] but he ‘enlarges our steps under us’ [Psalms] The bible says a mans gift makes ‘room’ for him. Jesus said he was going away to prepare a place for us, that in his Fathers house there were many rooms/mansions. We often read this as meaning Jesus is building us a spot in heaven. A better reading would be that Jesus was leaving the disciples so that they would ‘move into the room/place’ that God had for them [on the planet]. His leaving would allow the Spirit to come and then they would function in the capacity that God had for them. Sort of like saying ‘I am leaving to prepare a place for your gifts and abilities to function, they will only function by me leaving and creating space for you to function in by my absence’ got it? So the bible says a mans gift makes room/space for him, it expands your field of operation. The gifts are described as precious stones, in whatever way it turns it prospers. This speaks of a multifaceted gem, a diamond that you can observe from many different angles. During times of waiting God allows us to grow, not just in size, but depth. The bible says ‘God stretches out the heavens’ this is a good description of the expanding universe, given centuries before science knew about it. God also taught us that we would grow and expand during seasons of waiting and trusting, I think he knew what he was talking about.
(1170) yesterday I was reading the paper and saw an article on a local guy who attacked a cop with a meat cleaver, as I looked at the brothers face he looked familiar. It took me a few seconds to recognize it was Martin, a friend of mine. He stopped by a few months ago, just to say hi and all. I have had Martin over a few times, been to his apartment a few times. We fished together; he had lots of good questions. Martin is a good friend who I would get together with again if the chance arose. The picture and story in the paper would have you thinking he was an ax murderer, in reality the cop was off duty when he approached him. He is paranoid, and he probably thought they were going to jump him. Meat clever does sound bad, but it was probably a kitchen knife! We see people from different perspectives than God, people need the Lord. Well I know I said we were done with Luke 11 yesterday, but let’s get in one more. Jesus rebukes the lawyers for taking away ‘the key of knowledge’ and hindering others to find the truth. A few years back when Texas passed tort reform, I would be at the fire house and see the new commercials the lawyers came up with. Instead of advertising for accident victims, they ran commercials on other lawyers who were ambulance chasers. They were wanting the public to contact their law firm, so they could sue the other law firm who got to them first. Lawyers suing lawyers, now that’s what I call poetic justice! Here Jesus rebukes these ‘lawyers’ [religious leaders] because they did a specific thing, they rejected the gifts that God sent to them in the past. Jesus says ‘God sent you prophets and apostles and you rejected them’. In essence they wouldn’t hear the corporate wisdom/correction of God. I have heard this verse used in various ways over the years; some said this was speaking of the Christian church who reject these gifts today [apostle/prophet] some say it’s speaking of their own religious view of things. I think an overall understanding is God sends us messengers thru out the history of the church, we become acquainted with them thru their writings and the histories that tell about their stories. Often times the modern church is too quick to associate all past ‘churches’ as traditional, dead churches. This is a serious mistake in my view. When Jesus rebuked those who held to the traditions of men over God’s word, he was not saying that we should reject all tradition! He was primarily speaking of ‘the tradition of the elders’ a specific body of tradition that rose up around rabbinic Judaism, not tradition in general. Paul will instruct timothy to hold to the traditions that he was giving him [grounded in the word!] So Jesus rebuked the lawyers for their rejecting of the messengers of God, in essence they wanted to re invent the wheel all over again for each new generation, this in itself is a rejection of the communion of the saints that understands that we are all part of a 2 thousand year tradition of Christian believers. While wisdom allows us to discern between what traditions are good, and which are bad. Yet we don’t want to reject the entire body of Christian tradition that has come down to us from our forefathers. Jesus said he who receives those he sends, receive him. Jesus has been sending us prophets and wise men for centuries, are you hearing them?
(1126) Just started Nehemiah, I always loved the restoration books of the Old Testament; the prophets who were involved with the rebuilding of the walls and city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah hears about the sad state of affairs back in Jerusalem, he gets permission from the king to go back home and build. He faces opposition [of course!] and organizes the people to build their portion of the wall and gate. You will notice that once he gets a system going that works, he sticks with it! I recently read an article from David Brooks [writes for the Wall Street Journal?] it was in my local paper. He talked about a recent study that evaluated the top C.E.O.s of successful companies, the article was in keeping with previous studies. It basically showed that the most effective [not famous!] leaders were the old school guys who knew how to get the job done. They were skilled in their field, they knew how to implement steady growth over the long haul, and they were not ‘touchy, feely’ type leaders. They didn’t spend time getting their people to like them, or tried to empathize with them. They weren’t looking for the new fad thing to implement; they were steady, old fashioned guys that did not fit the mold of ‘the new, big idea’. Nehemiah was that type of leader. Once he organized the people and got them moving, he simply stuck with the plan. The critics said ‘what in the world do you think you’re doing!’ he just ignored them and moved ahead. I always get a kick out of it when I run into some ‘preacher’ during my normal rounds with the homeless brothers. My buddies will often introduce me as ‘John is a retired firefighter, and also a minister’ I have asked them not to say ‘minister’ but they say it anyway. I often look a little scraggly and the preachers will hear about ‘my little outreach’ and sometimes I get the sense of like ‘bless his poor heart, he’s trying’. They might say ‘and what do you do’ and it’s kind of hard to explain it to be honest, but every now and then they realize I’m the guy they’ve been hearing for years on the radio! Or they see the blog is all over the place and then they kind of change their tune, like people treat you better if you’re successful. I basically ignore the whole thing, it just hinders my work to be honest. But Nehemiah had his critics, they laughed at him ‘oh, and you think your gonna do what?’ One of the enemy’s strategies is to get you to listen to the critics, now there are times when you need to hear reproof and correction, but the critics are another thing. There the ones who can always tell you what you are doing wrong, but never get anything done themselves! These are the brothers that Paul called ‘busy bodies’ in the New Testament, they weren’t working or providing for their families, and had all this free time to critique everyone else. Let God give you the patterns and principles of how he wants you to accomplish the task, once you implement it, the key to success is sticking with it in the face of opposition. As the critics kept laughing, the walls kept going up, eventually you won’t be able to see them anymore!
(1105) Isaiah says ‘before you call/ask I will answer’. Have you ever had your prayers answered before you called? Here in my office I have these maps all over the place; Texas maps, U.S. ones and world maps. I recently felt like I should pray for the Lord to expand us on the world map. I picked India and simply began praying for India. I mark off the countries/nations when they contact me and I can see the progress as time goes by. I mean I was believing for India! ‘Lord, let me mark off the country, I know I will mark it soon!’ Then as I was updating the ‘Texas/global’ section of the blog, I realized that I have had India on there all along. They contacted me a while back and I simply forgot! They were on the blog, but not on the maps. So now I marked them on the map, they weren’t there before, I trusted they would be there soon, does this qualify for an answer to prayer? Yes. God said he would answer before we ask, he simply gave me the exact answer to this payer before I asked, strange isn’t it? Jesus tells his disciples ‘you guys are seeing and hearing things that many prophets and holy men have desired to see and hear, have not’. As Jesus was teaching the terms used to describe the responses from the people are ‘astonished at this teaching’ ‘where did he get this wisdom from’ ‘he teaches as one who has authority, not like the regular preachers’ it was obvious that when you heard him there was something more gong on then just the dispensing of knowledge. Jesus was fulfilling a divine destiny that would impact the world, those listening were just experiencing the tail end of the great drama, he wasn’t doing these things to gain a audience for heavens sake! He was simply fulfilling destiny; the audience came along for the ride. Scripture says ‘the people who sat in darkness saw great light’ the confluence of events in Jesus’ life allowed people who would normally be in no position to hear good teaching, to hear it. These people would benefit directly from the destiny of Jesus. In 1st century Rome there was a profession called ‘rhetoric’ if you lived in an influential cosmopolitan city [Rome, Corinth, etc.] you had the benefit of availing yourself of higher learning. Sort of like saying ‘I went to M.I.T.’ or Harvard, but in the lower class areas of Jesus ministry these things were not readily available. The Old Testament prophets said that ‘those who sat in darkness [these areas that had no real opportunity for improvement] would see great light’. God permitted the ministry of Jesus to bring ‘higher education’ to those who normally would not be able to access it. Jesus said ‘many prophets and holy men wish they were seeing the things that you are now seeing, but have never seen them’. God reveals things ‘to babes’ the humble class, so they might confound the wise! [Corinthians]
(1058) 1ST KINGS 10- The queen of Sheba hears about the wisdom and wealth of Solomon and makes a trip to check it out, she says ‘the half has not been told’. Solomon established an impressive economic and military system for the nation; he knew how to accomplish stuff. Wisdom [Solomon’s gift] allows for there to be action along with knowledge. Jesus knew how to use wisdom, scripture says he ‘is the wisdom of God’. The book of Proverbs [written by Solomon] personifies wisdom as Gods firstborn, God possessed him before all things. Scripture says ‘wisdom sends out her servants/ships’ remember when Jesus ‘sent the word’ and healed people? Or when the Leper was told to ‘go wash’ [by Elijah] he almost didn’t follow through because he was expecting some big show. Wisdom does not need you to personally ‘be there’ for all the action. I get frustrated at times when the modern church implies to the average saint that they really cant effect society ‘on their own’ but it is said in a way that makes the average ‘churchgoer’ think that the only way they can have a part of the action is in if they give exorbitant amounts of money ‘to the church’. And then ‘the church’ will send their money to other professional ministers who will carry out the job. Or the church will send their minister all over the world and he will do the job for them! This mindset ‘de-claws’ the average saint, it makes him think his main contribution is ‘the collection plate’! Use wisdom to impact society, you don’t always have to ‘be there’ [physically] to have an impact, but you are not limited to simply giving money to others who will act on your behalf. The believer’s greatest tool is his/her ability to make disciples wherever you are. Of course you can use modern tools like the internet. These things can be done for little or no cost and you can have a worldwide impact. The point is wisdom allows you to get things done by establishing systems of communication and ‘sending’ that can reach far and wide. In this chapter we read of Solomon’s navy, a previous chapter said ‘Hiram [and Solomon] made rafts and floated the trees to Solomon, there they were discharged for the work’. God can give you ‘divine rafts’ systems of delivery and discharge where you can impact large regions with little effort! All in all the wisdom of Solomon put in place systems that could carry the workload, without having to use actual manpower to get everything done by hand [can you imagine the manpower that would have been needed to hand carry all the trees!] To all my readers, you can impact ‘your world’ by listening to God and responding as he directs. Solomon said [in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes] that there was a poor wise man who delivered a city [and no one remembered him- non famous!] yet his wisdom gave him great influence ‘with the elders of the land’. Paul established the greatest ‘church planting movement’ known to man, and he did it on a shoestring budget! Don’t let man tell you that you can’t really accomplish much without being rich, you are a child of God and he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world! [note- as an aside, I was listening to a testimony of a minister who said how he thought it was sad that in the ‘ministerial’ environment there were times when the pastors would gather and the church members as well. But in these scenarios there seemed to be a distinction that was unbiblical; sort of like the ministers were fellowshipping amongst themselves, being excited over the plans and activities of ‘their church’ while the average saints were also fellowshipping amongst themselves and sharing about their lives and stories. In actuality the New Testament communities did not have these types of divisions. You did not have a separate class of ‘minister’ who ‘ran the church’ as a separate business enterprise. All the people [Elders and Saints] were of one community and their stories and lives commingled in a more communal way. There was no separation between the ‘classes’.] NOTE- I covered Solomon and his wisdom in our 1st Kings study, instead of posting them all here, just go read that study as well.
(1046) ‘The words of the wise are like nails fastened by the masters of assemblies’ Ecclesiastes 12:11. A few years ago I studied much on the apostolic movement and prophetic stuff. Apostles relate strongly to the gift of wisdom, they are foundation layers of ‘assemblies’ [of believers!] Much of modern Christianity has a tendency to fellowship mainly within their own circle. On my blog roll you will find sites that are reformed, catholic, emergent and prophetic. This does not mean that I agree with everything these various streams teach, but for the most part they all have something profitable to add to the conversation. I recently read a few stories on ‘modern day apostles’ these are humble men who have ‘fathered’ large church movements in other countries. Simple, non famous brothers who are spreading the gospel and planting churches in a humble way. They relate to, and train, other men under them to also launch out and bring the gospel to other places. For all intents and purposes [or as some say ‘intensive purposes’!] these men fit into the category of modern day apostles. Some use the term missionary to describe them. God has placed ‘wise men’ in the church who have the Divine ability to ‘sink nails’ [words of wisdom/ the Cross] in strategic locals for the construction of assemblies [local communities of believers]. Part of the verse I didn’t quote says ‘nails given from one Shepherd’ these men specialize in the message of Christ, they really don’t waste a lot of time on all the ‘new revelation’ stuff that the American church is consumed with. I would encourage all my ‘more reformed readers’ to be more open to the gift of the apostle, they are not all nuts who run around with strange doctrines. Many of them are dedicated servants of the Cross who are gifted with great grace to ground the people of God on a sure foundation. Their words are divinely placed in strategic locations and they play a major role in building Gods assemblies, they carry the words/nails given by the great Shepherd.
(1044)‘Cast thy bread on the water, for you will find it after many days…give a portion to seven, even to eight…sow your seed in the morning and withhold not your hand in the evening, who knows what one will profit? Or maybe they will both be good!’ Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2, 6- Many years ago I gave a bunch of our teaching tapes to some people up north, years later when visiting them I noticed they still had our tapes in their car! God wants us to ‘cast bread/seed’ scripture says some people hold back [horde] more then they should and it leads to poverty. Remember the children of Israel in the wilderness? Those who kept back the manna, it ‘bred worms’. Don’t be stingy when it comes to planting seeds [sowing Gods word] go ahead, give some to seven, even to eight; that is don’t be afraid to scatter the seed. Jesus taught in his parables that some seed planting would go to waste, but plant it anyway! And he also taught that the harvest is not dependant on us, he said ‘you sleep and awake and the seed springs forth, but you know not how’. If your faithful thru out your life to make sincere efforts to speak and do Gods word, you will be surprised at the effect. You will think ‘geez, I never realized what an effect we were having’. Jesus said when the righteous go before the judgment they will ask ‘when did we feed you and clothe you and visit you’ they were unaware of the effect their lives were having on others! I want to encourage you today, are you ‘liberal’ in your planting? Scripture says ‘the liberal soul shall be made fat’ [not politically!] there are those that don’t seem to have much [could it be because they are always giving it away?] but God continually gives them supply/bread to give to others. Hey, cast your bread upon ‘the waters’ [multitudes of people] for after many days you will be glad when you see the results.
(1042)‘Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber’ Ecclesiastes 10:20a- These past few weeks there has been much ‘silliness’ in the media. They have been going back and forth on the debate over whether or not Rush Limbaugh is the titular head of the Republican Party. To my dismay, the Obama administration has added fuel to the fire. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has enlisted the media to do his bidding, truly sad stuff. We have a national crisis and these guys are ‘cursing’ each other! Now, what do I think of Rush? He is an entertainer that captures a large audience. When he runs ads on his radio show that sing ‘Barack the magic negro’ then it’s time to shut him off. Both ‘cursing the king’ [open mocking] and ‘speaking badly about the rich’ [class warfare] are detrimental to our country. There is a proper way to disagree with the president, without demonizing the man. The same goes for the other side. Do I want Obama to succeed? You bet I do! Do I want him to succeed at stuff that I disagree with, like the expanding of funding for abortion? No. I want bad policies to ‘not succeed’. Now the media says ‘how dare you’! Yet all the while they wanted Bush ‘to fail’ in their view of what he was doing to our constitutional rights. They believed Bush was undermining our rights in his war on ‘terror’. So both sides want the other side ‘to fail’ in the things they perceive to be wrong. I am surprised [well, not really] on how the media is so willing to play this silly game. The market has been crashing, there are major world events going on, and Chris Matthews opens his ‘news’ show with ‘is Rush Limbaugh running the Republican Party’ you gotta be kidding me! Solomon said it was wrong to demonize people, even if you think their demons! I believe it’s all right to be critical of the administration when you have real disagreements with them, but to call our president ‘a magic negro’ is going way over the line.
(1040)Ecclesiastes 10:16-18 [Just a note, I wrote the last entry yesterday morning. That same day the stock market dropped below 7,000 for the first time since 1997 [it dropped to 6,700]. I guess you could say it was prophetic.]
‘Woe to thee, oh land, when thy king is a child [immature/inexperienced] and thy princes eat in the morning [spend and consume before earning it- deficit spending]. Blessed are you when your king is the son of nobles [doing right for ‘rights’ sake] and your princes eat in due season [they withhold consuming/spending until the proper time]...by much slothfulness the building decayeth, and thru idleness of the hands [a nation on welfare] the house drops thru’. During the end of the Bush presidency our nation passed ‘tarp’ a 700 billion emergency spending bill that was supposed to bail out the credit system. President Obama then passed another 800 billion dollar ‘stimulus plan’ that economists on both sides of the aisle disagreed with. Last week the president came up with another 450 million dollar ‘omnibus bill’, this one is filled with ‘ear-marks’ something the president spent much time condemning! Some of the forecasts I heard yesterday were telling, it is now becoming common to hear that we might experience a ‘mild depression’ this is something that people normally don’t say! Our president has not been a ‘radical liberal’ who seeks to socialize our govt. His choice to increase taxes on business, to expand ‘free’ govt. aid to the populace at large, to spend so much money that our nation does not have [we either borrow it from China-they buy our debt, or we simply print the stuff like monopoly money!] these choices can be devastating to our economy. So why try and do all of these things at once? The president believes that during times of economic crisis, you can ‘take advantage’ of the situation and make major transitional changes, thus the conservatives accusation of ‘socialism’. I believe the wise, adult thing to do right now [3-09] is to drop the whole ‘big bang theory’ of radical economic change and to deal head on with some major crisis. We still have not fixed the credit problem with the banking system. This is thee number one ‘adult’ problem that needs to be worked on. When you by-pass the serious issues, and hand out tons of ‘free money’ in essence you are ‘eating in the morning’, you are saying to people ‘you can have your cake and eat it too’. As noble and sincere as many of these democratic principles are, you must first deal with the real problems. When people say ‘let’s tax the rich’ [a class I do not belong to] they need to understand that during times of recession this can be devastating, your ‘great new agenda’ can turn into a disaster! Solomon saw the danger in ‘child princes’ [immature leaders] he warned against ‘eating before you put in a full day of work’. Though the theme of responsibility and a good work ethic do not always fit in to a liberal agenda, yet maturity faces reality head on and does not make decisions based on popular opinion. And don’t support the ‘united nations population fund’ a fund that provides money to China’s ‘one child policy’, a tragic human rights violation that forces women to have abortions! Our new president wants our nation to start supporting it, this is something that we presently don’t do.
(1039)Ecclesiastes 10:7-9 ‘there is an evil I have seen under the sun, AS AN ERROR WHICH PROCEEDETH FROM THE RULER: folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth’. In the last few weeks [3-2009] we have had an interesting dynamic at work. Our new president [ruler] has engaged in a type of class warfare; it goes like this ‘the rich and successful have been riding high on the hog for too long, the poor can not afford the same privileges as the rich. So we are going to tax the rich more and provide for the rest of the people who can’t provide it for themselves’. Now, I am not a staunch republican free market capitalist who believes that the free market solves all things. I have said in the past that the mandate for fair wages is actually found in scripture! That’s why many of the historic churches [Catholic] have sided on the side of labor. But in the current scenario we have dragged the corporate ‘big wigs’ before congress [which is always a joke, these guys are like the kettle calling the pot black!] and we have fostered a sort of attitude that says ‘lets make the rulers walk, while the servants ride the horses’. Even though I have been hard on the rich and famous in many of my writings, yet the reason many of them are successful is because they worked hard at it. I have been retired for over a year now, I retired with 25 years in as a firefighter. The main reason was because over the years my back started killing me. You get various injuries that come with my type of job, that’s just the way the ball bounces. Now, my retirement is solely the money that went into my account over the years, I get no type of injury pay at all! I always found it sad that there were many days when I would be at the homeless mission and many of these guys are in much better shape than me, yet many of them have been receiving govt. aid for years. I mean young guys who spend their whole check on crack! When the ‘ruler’ decides to put in place policies that simply say ‘even though you didn’t earn it, we will give it to you’ this undermines society as a whole. At the same time when the rulers call the business heads together and berate them, this is a game the servants love. It’s sort of like a dignified execution type thing. Third world countries kill the authorities they don’t like, we mock them. ‘Folly is set in great dignity, the rich sit in a low place’. I believe there is a time and place for our country to seriously look at corporate abuse, I myself have been a defender of the poor. But when you treat the poor in a way that says ‘nothing is your fault, we will solve your problems by taking from the rich and giving it to you’ you dignify folly. Many of my friends are poor because of very bad decisions they have made. Many of the ‘well to do’ have made wise decisions, when you simply transfer wealth from one group to another, without dealing with the underlying issues, you really haven’t addressed the issue at all.
(1038)‘The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding...for time and chance happens to them all. For man also knows not his time, as fish are taken in a net and birds caught in a snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it comes suddenly upon them’ Ecclesiastes 9:11-12. I was watching ‘King of Queens’ the other day, Arthur [Jerry Stiller] asks the waitress how much his coffee and donut will be, as he takes out his checkbook she says ‘never mind, it’s not worth getting a bad check for a few dollars’. Arthur is insulted! “How dare you” he then explains that his money was being transferred at the time in his ‘offshore accounts’. This reminded me of the time I had a renter who liked to bounce checks. He was an older brother who made more than me [as a firefighter] but couldn’t write a good check! So after a few months I wrote him a notice of eviction. He responded by telling me it wasn’t his fault the checks bounced, his money was in ‘off shore accounts’ [oh please!] It was funny, at the end of his response letter he says ‘sincerely, your brother in Christ’. This was the first time I had any inkling that he was a brother! So time and chance affect all of us, we can’t always control the ‘roll of the dice’. A few years back a bunch of guys lost money in their firefighter retirement funds, the guys at the station were all convinced by the stock guys to invest money in the stocks. Well, I looked at the papers and realized you could make a guaranteed 4%, tax free, from one investment. I was the only one who took this option. If you balance the risk of possibly making 5 % in the market [possible!] along with the risk of loosing it all, then why not do the fixed 4 % tax free? It comes to around 6 % with no risk of loss. It’s just common sense. Sure enough one of my buddies took my advice and did the same. Then the guys took a real hit, the stocks crashed and sure enough ‘time and chance happened to them’. As they were all mulling over their losses, my friend who took my advice was asked ‘how much did you loose’ he said ‘nothing’. He told them he took Johns advice. Now, even though we have little control over the global economy, we can make wise choices and prepare ahead of time. I have no idea why any sane person would stay in the market right now [2-09]. But people take bad advice, like ‘dollar cost averaging’ and say ‘well, if I just keep buying into a sinking ship, it will all average out some day’. I know of no other business where you are told ‘keep buying the bad product, someday it will average out’. While no one can time the market, you should be able to see storms coming. If you think the signs are saying ‘bad storm ahead’ then what in the heck are you doing on the ship! Solomon said there are events that we can’t control, many times we get ‘caught in nets suddenly’ things happen that are out of our control. These events happen to the wise, intelligent and fool alike. When stuff like this happens to you, don’t live in regret, but learn some lessons. Stop listening to the people whose living depends on you staying in a certain investment [like stocks!] I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these investors say ‘sure, you can invest in a C.D., but who can live on less than one percent interest’. While all the while you can be getting around 4 %, guaranteed! You see, people have listened to bad [biased] advice and have come up short. Well, the purpose of this entry is not to be ‘anti stocks’ but to show you we all need to re-evaluate at times. Many times ‘the same event happens to all’ because the wise are making the same bad decisions as the fool. Think ‘outside of the box’ hey, everyone in the box just might be wrong.
(1037)One of the themes of Ecclesiastes is ‘one event happens to all, both to him who sacrifices and to him who does not. Both to the poor and rich, the wise and foolish’. Solomon is writing from the perspective of ‘naturalism’, he sees only what is happening in the here and now. Even with this ‘worldly’ perspective he still favors the ‘God cause’. In essence it’s still better to obey and serve God than not to. Most believers are taught the virtues of standing strong in tough times, fighting the ‘good fight’ putting on that armor! The problem is these really mean little until the ‘rubber meets the road’. I am a boxing fan, love the sport. Most ‘observers’ have no idea how difficult/tiring it can be. Even other pro athletes will sometimes turn to fighting and not realize the strain of the game. I especially find it amusing when some TV star thinks he can do it because he’s ‘done it’ on screen. In the Christian life there are times when you realize ‘this is the season for sticking it out, for enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’. All the stuff you learned and were taught was for this time, the knowledge of ‘blessed is the man that endures tests’ meant little, until this day! I like Evander Holyfield, he had the heart of a warrior. Was he ‘great’? Probably not, he was what you would call a ‘blown up light heavyweight’ he worked out and got big. I know in the later years it sure looked like he was a full fledged heavyweight, but in the beginning he wasn’t. In the skill department he was not spectacular. We often minimize Tyson’s career/skills because he finished bad. I have heard commentators say he will not go down in history as a great fighter. I must admit he blew it many times, but if you simply look at the few short years he was at the top of his game, he might very well have been the most devastating heavyweight ever! But when Holyfield faced Tyson, he was less skilled [in my mind] not as strong [heavy fisted] but he was enduring, and he had this trait where when you ‘got him in trouble’ [hurt] he became more dangerous! He would actually fight better when hurt! To all you brothers who are in round 11 [or 14 for the old guys- that’s when championship fights went 15 rounds instead of 12] I want to encourage you, now is the time when sticking it out matters. When you question whether or not all you have taught was right on or a little lacking. When the critics seem to have a hotline to your number. Solomon also says ‘don’t listen to every word spoken about you, or else you will hear people curse you. For you yourself know you have spoken badly about others as well’ wow! Today [or this week, month, year!] is a time to endure, not a time to ‘show those critics a thing or two’ but a time to show the heart of a warrior, to stand up against the so called ‘bigger, badder opponent’ and win on sheer guts. I do realize that in our own strength we can do nothing, but I am appealing to the New Testament command to endure some stuff, to recognize that one of the reasons of testing and trials is they can come as a result of our effectiveness, our calling. After Jesus was baptized by the Spirit by John [and the father] he did a 40 day stint in the wilderness, when he came out of the desert he had power. Hey, maybe the Lord is working on your strength factor.
(1035)‘Who ever keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing… because judgment against evil is not swift, therefore men feel confident in their sin… though a sinner sin a hundred times, and get away with it, yet judgment is sure to come’ [various verses/ paraphrase’s from chapter 8- Ecclesiastes] as I continue to watch the political scene it’s sad how various media outlets [both pro and anti Obama] simply tell you what you want to hear. I found it interesting that during the campaign they managed to make Palin look like an idiot. She supposedly questioned her campaign handlers on South Africa. The rumor was she thought South Africa referred to the southern tip of the continent, as opposed to actually being a state/country itself. Hey, it’s a simple mistake if your main job is not world affairs. Oh did the media blast her as an idiot. Yet Biden was at some event, he spoke to the crowd about his ‘good friend’ who was there [the politician from the state]. He even told his good friend ‘Chuck, stand up for the people, go ahead don’t be modest, you deserve it’. Well, as he was telling his ‘good friend’ to stand up, some stage hand had to tell Biden ‘he has been crippled in a wheel chair for years, he can’t stand’! You see, the media chooses to brand certain people as idiots. Now, as we progress into the first year of the president’s administration, a few things bother me. First, don’t keep saying ‘the problems we inherited’ every president inherits stuff, that’s why you run for the office. It is immature to keep saying ‘I inherited the problem’ just deal with as best as you can and let the chips fall. Also, the Obama justice dept. just sided with the Bush administration in not granting constitutional rights to the detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are a few hundred that we are holding captive in Afghanistan and a few thousand in Iraq. Liberal civil rights groups have taken the case to court and are trying to obtain rights for the detainees. These prisoners are in the exact same situation as the guys in Cuba [Gitmo]. Yet Obama just argued for them to not receive constitutional rights. The exact opposite of what many of his supporters argued over Cuba. Even Obama has indicated that our country does not have to violate the rights of these prisoners [at Gitmo] in order to carry out our war on terror. Yet the guys in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t get these same rights? The problem is we need to get back to ‘obeying the commandments’ that is we can’t lie and deceive and speak out of both sides of our mouth and expect things to turn around. We can’t expand the murder of innocent children and think ‘well, let’s get over our love affair with the Fetus’. Just because a crime is committed ‘a hundred times’ [over and over again] and just because it seems like ‘we have been getting away with it’ [judgment is delayed] this does not give us the right to keep doing it. If we truly love our fellow man we won’t KILL HIM. If we truly are concerned about the rights of certain prisoners, then we can’t argue the opposite when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan. Leadership is tuff, especially when the media and opposing party call you a murderous war criminal [Bush/Cheney] when it’s your turn up at bat you better know what you are doing.
(1034)Ecclesiastes 8:4 WHERE THE WORD OF A KING IS, THERE IS POWER. AND WHO MAY SAY UNTO HIM ‘WHAT DOEST THOU’- The other day I took my daughters out to eat Chinese food. My daughter’s friend came along, she is studying to get her degree in geology. So I thought it would be a good chance to talk a little on Evolution. Though she is a Christian, she had no idea about the science against Evolution. We got into Eugenics [Darwin’s relative came up with this ‘science’ it was what Hitler used to justify the holocaust and the murder of handicapped people. It justified [in Hitler’s mind] the destruction of the weaker races in society. Though Darwin did not call for forced ‘natural selection’ yet this theory led to Hitler’s justification of it] I was surprised that she knew nothing about it. Especially the fossil evidence against Evolution, she is studying Geology for heavens sake! Some how we started talking about the various things you can read in the fortune cookies. My kids came up with stuff they have read and all. Of course I had to add my two cents, I said ‘I had a note that said ‘Chinese rule and Whites drool’. My daughter’s friend said ‘are you kidding me’! Of course I was. Now, when the word of a king goes forth [when God is speaking truth about any thing at any season- Evolution and its false claims, Church structure, Reformation] then our only option is to learn and make adjustments as time goes by. We all have a tendency to stick with the popular opinion, until it gets overturned. Wisdom allows you to spot the trend and get in on it at the beginning, to see that God is speaking about a subject and be willing to go with it as God leads. I am absolutely convinced that science will reject evolutionary theory in a few years. Like I said before, they will do it in an ‘unrepentant way’ but it will be done. Certain things going on in the ‘church world’ right now are going to be ‘the norm’ in a few generations. I believe the church is going to re-think our whole world view concerning ‘church’. Now, we will not abandon the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ [the body of Christian truth that all Christians hold in common] but there is going to be a revolution in our basic understanding of ‘church’. When God decides to ‘speak into the community at large’ we really have no option. We just need to listen and make adjustments in his time. The key is knowing when it’s God who is speaking! I do not advocate jumping into every new fad and new Christian movement that goes on in Christian circles. But I recognize there are key times when God is speaking with a loud voice to the church in the world, when God is speaking there is power. Don’t say unto him ‘what doest thou’ [or who gave you the right to speak].
(1033)‘DON’T SAY “WHY IS IT THAT THINGS WERE BETTER IN THE PAST THAN NOW” [GOOD OLD DAYS] FOR YOU ARE NOT ASKING A WISE QUESTION WHEN YOU DO THIS’ Ecclesiastes 7:10 [my paraphrase] Is God telling us never to examine our selves? Or our nation? No. But this question speaks of the journey of life. Lets see if I can come up with an original way to state this, I know! How bout we say ‘life is like a box of cherries’ [Okay, I pulled a Biden]. Let’s just say life is like a train/plane trip. Part of the trip entails some turbulence, there are spots along the way where the scenery is great, but also spots where it doesn’t look so good. Many years ago me and the family took the train from San Antonio to New Jersey, the kids were young and it was too long. But I love trains. Anyway when the train finally made it to my home state, my young daughter innocently says ‘why does everything look dirty’ [Ouch!] Trips have ‘built in’ obstacles, times where things don’t go as smooth as before. Why is it not wise to ask ‘why are things not as good during this phase’? It’s because the goal isn’t to continually have a great ride! The goal is to complete the course and finish the race put before you. I know American Christianity has for the most part rejected this, but it is without a doubt biblical. The apostle Paul ended his life in a rented room in Rome, Nero finally took his head off [Peters too]. Now, I am not saying we should all lose our heads, but we need to realize that God has a purpose for the bad spots in the tracks. This chapter speaks of the riches that we get in ‘the house of mourning’ the great things we obtain when the ride is rough. Are you asking the Lord ‘why is this happening to me, why was it better in days gone by’ try and retool your questions to ‘what do you want to teach me during this time? What kind of character development do you have for me during this phase of my life?’ these are the questions that should be asked. The American church spends way too much time trying to ‘beautify the journey’ learning tricks and confessions to make things ‘go away’, God says some of these things are here for a purpose.
(1032)‘A GIFT DESTROYETH THE HEART’ Ecclesiastes 7:7b Over the last few years I have read testimonies from Pastors who said they felt like they were unconsciously being manipulated to look good or perform for the community. Though they were well meaning, and the people they were ‘pastoring’ were also good people, yet the system of being a paid clergyman caused there to be a degree of inauthenticity. A famous quote of a quote [Frank Viola quotes another person in the book ‘Pagan Christianity’] says it’s hard to convince someone about something when their salary depends on them not being convinced! [paraphrase] So the actual position of being dependent on the offerings/tithes of people can put pressure on leaders to not deal with certain subjects. I have had fellow ministers over the years reject what I was saying simply because they felt it would affect their income. Their priority was on surviving. These men are not bad people, they mean well and don’t purposely want their message to be shaped by their dependence on a job/position. But in many cases the temptation is too great. Solomon said a ‘gift’ can corrupt the motives of people. While it is fine for ministers to receive financial help out of respect for their labor, yet we need to examine whether or not the salaried position of the fulltime minister is in keeping with New Testament ecclesiology. Are you tailoring your message by the support you bring in? Do you view success from the standpoint of material assets? Do you see ‘your ministry’ as a career choice? Lets all examine our hearts and motives, we might not be taking bribes in the classic ‘Mafia’ sense, but if we are allowing our financial support to effect the way we live and teach, then we are allowing our hearts to become ‘corrupted’.
(1031)ECCLESIASTES 7:19 ‘WISDOM STRENGTHENS A WISE MAN MORE THAN TEN MIGHTY MEN IN A CITY’- this chapter has a few good verses in it. It says it’s better to go thru some stuff than to live in continual ‘abundance’. Wise men have increased in the ‘house of mourning’. I watched some stuff on Lincoln the other day, it’s obvious that he grew in wisdom and stature as he battled depression and difficulty. His life’s motto was not ‘discover the champion in you’! When I went to Kingsville the other day I noticed our blog ad was not only running in the Kingsville Record, but also the Kingsville Journal. I am not sure how it got in there. I also have a bunch of papers lying around my office, papers from New Jersey and Houston and stuff. I have been getting some contacts from ‘former’ church members of years ago, they are on fire for the Lord. I kinda think they have friends who learned about us on their own and then they realized that they were talking about us. These old buddies see themselves as part of us, but many of them are not on-line geeks. So they run into other locals who follow us on-line and then they realize they are following our story. The point being ‘wisdom strengthens wise men more than ten mighty men in a city’. A few years ago I felt the lord said to start the blog and put the ad in regional papers. The ‘effort’ to do this was not as much as the various outreach projects I have been involved in over the years, but the results have gone much further. If you gave me ‘ten mighty men’ [employees/staff] and I sent them all over to effect the region, I don’t think they could equal the simple effect of me hearing and responding to the Lord in these simple ways. Now, we most certainly have ‘ten mighty men’ a group of both leaders and ‘regular saints’ [ouch!] who follow the journey, but they are a result of hearing and responding. The wisdom [ideas] from God have a greater effect than the efforts of men. Remember, the battle is not to the strong or swift, the victory comes from the Spirit of God. When we learn to listen and respond, the things we do will go far. When we put a lot of money and effort into stuff, without really listening, we get stuck with Ishmaels [something our govt. should learn!] Also, it is often in the ‘house of mourning’ [seasons of extreme difficulty] that God deposits the wisdom into you. Padre Pio [Catholic Priest] said ‘souls come with a cost, somebody has to pay the price’ are you willing to pay the price?
(1030)ECCLESIASTES 6:1-3 ‘There is a COMMON evil under the sun. Men who have much wealth and labor, they live long and have many kids, yet they have no ability to enjoy anything. They die and don’t even have a proper burial’ [paraphrase]. I was asked what I thought about a recent popular movie about a gay rights activist who was killed. I haven’t seen the movie but it’s up for awards. I told the person that even though I am not ‘anti-gay’ to the degree that many preachers are, yet the problem with media portrayals of the gay lifestyle is that usually [always?] they portray it as some type of civil rights struggle on par with the civil rights movement. I think it is an insult to compare the black mans struggle for equality with a person’s sexual preference. Now, the last word in the last sentence [preference] is what I want to discuss. Over the years I have been clear about my beliefs on homosexuality, I do believe the practice is sin. Now, are there many sinful practices of all types of people? Sure. But there is a political [and religious] trend going on that is trying to equate this action [not feelings!] to be compatible with heterosexual marriage. To show the person who asked me if I saw the movie, to give them an example of media bias towards homosexuality, I asked them when was the last time they saw on the news any story about homosexuals raping children. ‘Oh brother, are you saying all gays do this?’ Of course not, but there have been many THOUSANDS of cases on a yearly basis where gays have sinned sexually towards others, just like heterosexuals, yet you would be hard pressed to see it in the media. I remember a story where some gay men raped, sodomized and killed another person. This was not widely reported at the time. Also stories of people who have been harassed by the more militant branch of ‘the movement’. Do we see stories about the wonderful Christian civil rights people who have had their rights abused by homosexuals? Now, I believe Christians have been inconsistent in their arguments at times. Does it really make a difference if someone was ‘born that way’ or acquired the lifestyle later on? No. The scripture teaches all men were born in sin, if the ‘sin’ that you practice has been with you from birth, that does not justify the sin. I don’t know why we fight over this stuff. Even in the pro-life cause, to which I subscribe, we have made inconsistent arguments. The idea that no person has the right to take another persons life is of course true, but when we debate euthanasia we sometimes seem to be saying that elderly people should be kept alive at extreme costs. That if someone is 90 and has cancer and does not want treatment, but wants to die in peace without all types of procedures, then that’s wrong. Of course we should never force this on someone, but to tell them they have ‘no right’ to deny treatment is wrong. Why are believers inconsistent when they make this argument? Because the founding person of our religion, Jesus Christ, actually said that no man had the right to take his life [speaking of himself], but he himself chose to lay it down. The founder of our ‘movement’ said this! So it does seem a little inconsistent to make the extreme argument on the other side. Well anyway, the point is ‘there are common evils that happen to many people’. Just because a whole group of people [whether gay people or any one else] struggle with a certain type of temptation from their youth, this still in no way excuses the sin. Remember, you want to finish life well. Don’t be like the man in the above scripture who accomplished much, but didn't finish well [bad burial-remembrance]. Don’t think ‘Gee, every one else in society divorces, or lives their desires out, why not me?’ Because the media portrayal of these choices tends to be rosy, they do not show you the other side.
(1029)ECCLESIASTES- 5:1 KEEP THY FOOT WHEN YOU GO TO ‘THE HOUSE OF GOD’ [ECCLESIA] AND BE MORE READY TO HEAR THAN TO GIVE THE SACRAFICE OF FOOLS- Yesterday we had a good outreach day in Bishop and Kingsville [2 south TX. Cities] I had a few homeless brothers with me and we drove thru a few areas and hooked up with some of the brothers we have been working with for around 20 years. I am always tempted to answer more questions [speak more!] than I should. It’s important to let the brothers ‘do the talking’ they benefit more when there is a real give and take. I read this verse the day or so before the trip, it makes a lot of sense. To all my Pastor/leader friends, do you consciously make an effort to ‘keep silent’ when going to the ‘house of God’ [times of fellowship and community]? I know this needs to become learned behavior for many of us. We usually have grown up in a church environment that emphasizes the need for strong preaching, mounting the ‘sacred pulpit’ [double ouch!] and stuff like that. We are usually well intended, but we need to relearn some stuff. I was surprised how the homeless brothers shared many spiritual truths with clarity. One of the brothers does suffer from mental problems, he is extremely intelligent. He is a machinist who worked for many years in Ohio and knows his stuff. But he is a little unstable in his thoughts at times. Sure enough when he was sharing about the Lord one of the other brothers really took it to heart. On the way to back to Corpus I asked what they learned today. He said he really enjoyed being able to speak and help others. I could tell that this in itself was therapeutic for him, it truly is ‘more blessed to give than receive’. This is why Paul taught the interactive church meeting [Corinthians]. In the background there was a TV preacher on, my buddy put the Christian channel on for atmosphere. Some preachers were answering questions on the Rapture and all, it seemed to be ‘endless chatter’ on stuff that was not even true! I couldn’t but help wonder what the apostle Paul would have thought if he saw his writings being used in this way. On the TV there was no real sense of community, simply preachers telling people their endless views on various subjects. I am glad I tried to ‘keep my mouth shut’ as much as possible [hey, this is hard for preachers to actually do!] I too learned some good stuff.
(1028)TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE, IF ONE STUMBLES THE OTHER CAN HELP HIM. AND A THREEFOLD CORD IS NOT EASLIY BROKEN- Solomon understood the principle of 2 or more witnesses. Our laws usually go by this principle based upon Old Testament law, we recognize the importance of corroborating evidence. Yesterday I listened to the testimony of the Texas school board president as he laid out the case for teaching both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. He is a doctor who is well versed on the facts, not some ‘creationist nut’. He quoted sections of the most accepted literature on the subject. They were excerpts from books that evolutionists themselves published. These men stated the major problems with evolution [though they themselves believed in it]. First, the fossil record shows the ‘stasis’ of all things. Once something shows up in the record, it does one of two things. It either remains the SAME throughout its existence until the point of extinction, or it is alive today in the actual form of when it first appeared! In essence ALL the science shows that these life forms do not actually evolve. Number two, the advanced knowledge we have today in genetics and DNA show us the virtual impossibility of species ‘jumping’ categories and turning into other species. As noble as Darwin’s theory was, he simply did not have the ability to test whether or not this could actually happen, today we KNOW that this does not happen. And for the ‘third cord’. Evolution demands a simple cell, cellular life at the basic level that is sort of a ‘blob’ of simple matter that can be shaped and formed and change as time goes by. We have proven that this is absolutely not the case. The ‘simple cell’ is not simple! We have discovered that it is a complex machine that has very intricate systems and functions that far surpass our most advanced computers. In essence, the cell is NOT some shapeable, moldable matter that can evolve over millions of years. It is a complex thing that has to be functioning in a complete, cohesive way right from the start. Notice, all three of these scientific discoveries have nothing to do with religion, this is simply the process of science examining the evidence and trying to fit the pieces together. Many of the men who were helpful in discovering these facts were actually evolutionists, they also recognize that the science is moving further and further away from Darwin at a very rapid rate. A wise man told us many years ago that 2 proofs are better than one, but when you have three definitive proofs of something, you would be a fool not to give it some serious thought. Many evolutionary scientists are giving it some serious thought.
(1027)ELIJAH PRAYED THAT IT WOULD NOT RAIN- I woke up this morning with this verse in my head ‘Elijah was a man subject to the same weaknesses as us, yet he prayed that it WOULD NOT RAIN FOR 3.5 YEARS and it didn’t’ [James]. As the first few weeks of president Obama’s presidency gets into action, I can’t but help notice the dilemma we are in. First, I like Obama and Biden. It is obvious that the president is a little ‘green’ [immature] at this. The problem with Biden is he has made a career at being ‘antiauthority’. A true lawyer/politician at heart. All the years in the senate he learned how to argue the opposite case whether he believed it or not. During the Bush years he came out and floated a very bad plan on the war. He said ‘let’s divide Iraq into 3 separate states and let each ethnic/religious group run their own province’. Quite frankly, this would have been a disaster. But he became an arguer in opposition to whatever Bush was doing. Now, in his first few weeks in office he still had some of this opposition/critical spirit going on. Even Obama became visibly upset with him when he dissed John Roberts in public, or when he blabbed ‘there is a 30 % failure rate in what we are doing’. Basically, he has spent a career at pointing out the flaws of others while not really accomplishing anything. So what’s the problem? Well, when you do this stuff, and then find yourself in the same position of those you criticized, you reap much more than if you just kept your mouth shut. This week the U.S. struck the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan and killed many civilians. The president wants to make good on his campaign promise to step it up in Afghanistan and route the Taliban [opposition govt. in Afghanistan]. Where are all the liberal Democrats who said Bush was a liar who killed innocent kids? “Bush lied and people died” was on Kerry’s lips as he ran for president, though the ‘lie’ was believing the bad intelligence of the C.I.A. and acting on it. Kerry himself voted for the war based on the same intelligence! But lo and behold, yesterday Pakistan began talks with THE TALIBAN to strengthen their rule in the area. What was the result of the bombings in Pakistan? They are no longer going to cooperate with the U.S.. Secretary Clinton goes to North Korea, another person who spent much time blasting Bush on his incompetence and stupidly in world affairs. They said they would regain respect in the world, they openly mocked bush and Cheney as imbeciles. Well Clinton announced what wonderful progress she made while in North Korea. The next day North Korea announced its intention on testing a long range missile that could reach parts of the U.S. Now, am I rejoicing over the obvious failures of this team? No, I do pray for them. But if you spent much time openly denigrating the former office holders, you will reap it when you yourself are up at bat. Now, Elijah prayed for no rain because the leadership of Israel was wicked, they oppressed God’s people and worshipped false gods [ideals-idols]. Ahab [king at the time] was more concerned about the environment than the welfare of the people, he sent one of his men out to find water to save THE ANIMALS! Our country can not blatantly disregard the lives of unborn children and at the same time try and look tough while killing innocent civilians. We cannot tell one ‘ruling party’ “the fact that our soldiers are even there is the reason for all the problems” and then send an extra 10,000 of them into Afghanistan. We speak with a double tongue. It is obvious to me that our country is going into a time of ‘famine’, we have some very tough times ahead. The present ruling authority needs to quickly drop the criticism of those who are no longer relevant [Bush, Cheney, Palin] and realize that they have a serious job to do. I believe God can cause it to ‘rain again’ in our land, but we need to be mature in our understanding as well.
(1026)YOU CAN GO STRAIGHT TO HELL! I was watching King of Queens [TV show] the other day, and Arthur [Jerry Stiller] who is Doug’s [Kevin James] father in law tells Doug ‘I don’t want to die’ as the plane their on gets shaky. Doug tells Arthur ‘don’t worry, it’s not that bad’ and Arthur replies ‘you don’t understand, I don’t want to die, EVER!’ hey, we all gonna die! Then Arthur asks Doug ‘do you think I will be going up or down when I die’ and Doug reassures him that even though he’s been a real pain, he thinks he will go up. Arthur says ‘Good, cause thru out my life I have had a number of people look me straight in the face and tell me “Spooner, you’re going straight to hell someday”. So much for comedy/theology. Solomon tells us there is a time/season for everything; a time to cast away and a time to gather, a time to be born and a time to die. God has ordained that certain things happen at certain seasons. One of the pitfalls of modern ministry is we often seek God with ambition and determination. We come up with goals and plans [often good] and then we get in situations where we feel if people would just support us [with money] or ‘pastor so and so’ would just recognize my gift, then the plan would work! Most times these types of plans are simply results of well intended ambitious people. But God does things in seasons, when he ‘opens a door’ no man can shut it. When he ‘closes a door’ no man can open it. I like Sarah Palin [former republican vice presidential nominee] I don’t hold to many of her Christian beliefs [basically Assembly of God, end times stuff] but she seems to be a good lady who the media treated badly. I told one person who was all up in arms about her daughter’s pregnancy, the person told me how the sex lives of her kids were ‘fair game’. I asked the person if they knew about the sex lives of Joe Biden's kids. If they think his boys ever ‘slept with someone out of wedlock’. I asked if they even thought a question like this was relevant. They then realized that they were using a measuring rod for one political party, but would not use it on their preferred party. Nevertheless I heard Palin say ‘hey, if God opens a door I will run thru it. Or even if I see a little crack in the door, I will plunge right thru’. I sensed a kind of ambition in this statement that many believers have. I think it’s better to be less ambitious, and more sensitive to the seasons. Yes, seasons and ‘open doors’ are alike, but God works with us in process. He shows us stuff to mold us, shape us. After we ‘are shaped’ then we fit into the next part of the puzzle. We too often are looking for plans and schemes to follow; God is walking with us on a journey. I am sure all the people who told Spooner to ‘go to hell’ were sincere, but you cant live your life by what other people think about you!
(1024)ECCLESIASTES 3:11 ‘No man can find out the work that God has made, from the beginning to the end’. No man can completely find out Gods works from beginning to end. A few weeks ago as I was praying/meditating I had a thought; I said to myself ‘what in the world are the evolutionists going to say when science ultimately overthrows their theory’ and in a moment of clarity, I kinda heard ‘they will slowly develop ideas that will make it look like they were right all along, even when these ideas themselves are contrary to evolution’. I realized that mans inability to admit he was wrong will cause him to lie. Sure enough, a few days later I caught an interview on the P.B.S. news that had 2 scientists who were speaking on Darwin. It just so happens that both Darwin and Lincoln celebrated their 200 year anniversaries on the same day. During the interview these men reveled in the wonder and amazement of Darwin, they were falling over themselves in worshipping the man. They explained how evolution is this reality that is the basis of all types of scientific advances. They went on and on. The interviewer then asked about all the science and opponents on the other side. How there were most certainly proofs that seemed to debunk Darwin’s theory. They responded by saying ‘Evolution has opened the door for all sorts of understanding and theories, one of them is called ‘punctuated equilibrium’, evolution has made this idea possible. Therefore thanks to evolution we have these other truths to look to for answers’. These men were doing the exact thing I ‘thought about’ a few days earlier. They were taking the scientific data that disproves evolution, and saying ‘evolution made this possible’! Punctuated Equilibrium [or Equilibria] is a theory that was espoused to explain how things really did not slowly evolve over millions of years. In effect the scientific evidence shows us no slow evolving of one species into another. As this reality began to settle in, the scientists realized that they needed to begin floating alternative theories to Darwin. They knew that if they religiously stuck with Darwin, that someday they would be disproved. So they floated this competing theory. The theory basically says that since the fossil record shows no data that things slowly evolved, how do we answer this? They said ‘maybe things changed so fast [what!] that the fossil record didn’t catch it’. In essence this theory says things did not slowly evolve! This theory does not back up evolution at all, it denies it. In essence the evolutionists in the interview were contradicting themselves, they were taking proofs against evolution and saying ‘see, the wonderful knowledge of evolution has lead us to this point in human history where we now know species DID NOT slowly evolve’. Are you guys kidding or what?
(1023)ECCLESIASTES- I PLAYED THE GAME AND WON! Solomon was in a position where he could do and try anything. I recently read how a very famous Christian singer has come out of the closet and began living the gay lifestyle. He is married and has kids, he is in his fifties. He simply said he woke up one day and told the Lord that he was tired of fighting the desire and gave in. Solomon said he gave in to pleasure, he decided that trying to restrain himself was unfulfilling and he gave in to every pleasure his heart desired. Did it fulfill him? No, he said it was folly. He became the most successful business man in Jerusalem. No one before him was able to achieve the success and prominence in this city where he resided, yet at the end it meant nothing. In essence he played the game, by the rules, and it still wasn’t worth it. Yesterday I was helping out some homeless friends, a sincere older lady asked me if I had a few dollars, I actually didn’t. But I went to the store and bought a few things and took out an extra 20.00. I split it between 4 people; friends that I knew weren’t going to get drunk. They were so happy and grateful, I still can’t get over what a simple 20 dollar bill can do for people. In ‘this game’ that we are in [called life!] God is the scorekeeper, I realize that many modern ‘theologies’ have turned the tables. Some teach that God does keep score by how much material success we achieve before we die, they sincerely think this is right. I watched an exposé on U- TUBE that showed a CNN reporter interviewing one of the prosperity ministers who has come under fire. The reporter got smart, she actually read from scripture the passage where Jesus challenges the young rich man to sell all he has and give to the poor. She quoted the passage where it says it’s harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to pass thru a needle. The preacher defended his pursuit of wealth by saying ‘if you read the rest of the story, he sold his wealth and God gave him a hundred fold back.’ He said ‘God was telling the man to worship him with his wealth’. I actually was surprised that this minister said this, he does know scripture. He definitely was wrong about this, the rich man went away sad because he had ‘much wealth’ and did not want to depart from it! God keeps score differently than the world. Solomon tried all the options, he was way ahead on points. He was so far ahead that no one was going to catch up, he then realized that ‘being ahead’ wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.
(1022)ECCLESIASTES Solomon said there was nothing new under the sun. During the 16th century reformation you had a number of ‘offshoot’ movements that sprouted. Some define these as the radical reformers. Groups like the Anabaptists [re-baptizers] and others. As you read the writings of many of these groups you find that they were definitely seeing truth for their day. George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, was hitting the nail on the head when it came to ‘church as the building’ he exposed the limited mindset that many believers embraced. He would refer to the churches as ‘steeple houses’. Many of these groups were deemed heretical for a myriad of reasons. The Quakers would embrace a belief that emphasizes the truth from the Spirit versus the letter of the law. Some would carry this to an extreme and associate all ‘head knowledge’ faith as wrong. Any doctrinal correction from the more reformed brothers was seen as ‘dead knowledge’ coming against Spirit truth. So they would get branded with the heretic title by some. The same goes for the Anabaptists and many others. The sad thing is many of these movements were partial ‘reformers’ in their own right. They had good things to add to the debate. If you read some of their writings you would think they were a few hundred years before their time. I have read scholarly works from Catholic theologians on the Ecclesia [church] and what she is. These works were right on! Even though the average Catholic might not be aware of them. So you find real treasure in many of these groups. Their really is ‘nothing new under the sun’. You should avoid a mindset that begins seeing ‘my group’ or ‘my way of seeing things’ as the true group, and the majority of other Christian groups as false. While it is easy to see whole mindsets of limited understanding that exist in the church at large, I feel it’s dangerous to grasp hold of an idea that says ‘90% of all Christianity is dead wrong, they have all been duped until now’. This is sort of like the teenager saying to dad ‘you’re so behind the times, my new way of seeing things is better than yours’. Most times the teenager later realizes that this was an overreaction. I think we all need to read the great writers of days gone by, Bonhoeffer wrote excellently on the communion of the saints. Our Church of Christ brothers had real truth on the church as the people. The Catholic mystics new that there was more to the Christian way than simple knowledge, they sought a real experience with God. As you enter into this glorious communion of the saints, there will be obvious blind spots that you can find in many of these writers, but maturity allows us to by pass the faults of others [love covers a multitude of sin] while receiving the valuable stuff. Avoid the strong ‘they are all wrong’ spirit, remember ‘there is nothing new under the sun’.
(1018)JAMES AND THE RICH- as James encourages the saints he also rebukes the ‘well to do’. He tells them they have heaped treasure together for the last days and the rust of it will testify against them. He tells the poor believers that the rich blaspheme Gods name and oppress the poor. He tells the poor that God has chosen them to be heirs of the kingdom. One of the main themes of James is that God is on the side of the oppressed person, the down and out. God defends those who have ‘no voice’. They lack the finances and influence to speak up for themselves. Martin Luther King said the New Jerusalem is both a present reality breaking into our current lives ‘New York’ ‘New Chicago’ etc. He spoke of it as the beloved community. He understood that God was not only concerned with the after life, but with society here and now as well. One of the main purposes of prophetic ministry is to bring Gods people back into alignment and to speak out against injustice and materialism. I find it interesting that one of the main themes of James is defending the poor while rebuking the rich. Like we said before James was the half brother of Jesus, he grew up in the same home with the Lord. He experienced the tremendous ministry of Jesus for three years. He heard him speak the parables on rich men in hell and Lazarus in ‘Abraham’s bosom’. He saw the young rich man go away sad because he had lots of stuff and was not willing to give it up for a higher purpose. He heard the parable of the rich guy who wanted to build more storage for his stuff and feel secure by thinking he had abundance for years to come, but then Jesus said he would die that night. James picked up some themes from Jesus, one of them was that those who focused on material wealth were not focused on spiritual things. They seemed to spend most of their time thinking about their stuff. James was one of the lead apostles at the Jerusalem church, their were many poor saints living there. He was not preaching a prosperity gospel to them, he told them their present suffering was only for a short time. They would be rewarded by God for the difficulties they faced, the comfortable would have some stuff to answer for as well.
(1016)JAMES AND HUMILITY- ‘Humble yourselves in Gods sight and he will lift you up’ ‘He gives grace to the humble’ I was reading a testimony from a reformed type brother who is also an excellent writer on the ‘out of the institutional church movement’. He shared how early in his Christian life he was grounded in truth, he eventually became more reformed in his thinking and pastored various expressions of church. He recalled a few divine appointments in life where he was confronted by truth in a new way. He pastored during the years right after the hippie movement of the late 60’s and he ran into a few simple believers who simply challenged him on why the meetings he was pastoring were centered around his speaking gift. These were simple believers who came to know the Lord outside of the traditional church and naturally developed along the lines of a community. Now the pastor was much more knowledgeable in all things religious, but his humility caused him to rethink his understanding of what these simple brothers said. So over a period of a few years he studied the scriptures with an eye for this type of thing. He realized that most of the examples of one person preaching to a group were actually evangelistic in nature. The times the brethren met for fellowship were in fact not centered around one persons speaking gift, he realized that the questions posed to him from the simple believers were right. So he made adjustments to his ministry. This example shows you the need we all have for true humility. This type of openness is rare in ministry today, most leaders would have simply dismissed the questions that the other believers asked. Most well trained educated men would see their background as a defense for their practices. This does not mean we have no need for a well educated church, in this mans case he still uses his knowledge and education as a benefit for the church at large, it’s just we all have a responsibility to respond to truth in Gods timing. I have read testimonies of ex-pastors who felt like they were filling a position of performance and ‘looking good’ and living up to the expectations of people in a way that was phony. Men who felt like they had to go to some other town to simply enjoy being a simple believer. They were carrying a weight of fame and expectation that they felt were not a real part of Christianity. It was more of a by product of the development of the hired clergy position that they held. So these men left the pastorate out of conviction and humbled themselves in the sight of the Lord. I don’t recommend this for all pastors who see and learn these things on their journey, but this is the correct response for some. I simply want to challenge you today on your response to being confronted with truth on your journey. Do you have a tendency to dismiss all criticism as wrong? Would you have judged the simple believers who challenged your mode of ministry as ‘less than you’? I know I have done this at times, had the wrong response when confronted with truth. I appreciate the pastors/leaders who read this site, my goal is to help all of you on the mission God has placed on your lives. Some of you will have different responses to the things we share, my goal is that we would all come to maturity and unity as a corporate people in Gods timing. I certainly do not advise all pastors to ‘close up shop’ and start from scratch, but to some this might be a real option. But in each case if we respond in humility God will give us more grace, this is something we can all use. NOTE- The brother I used in the above example is Jon Zens, his web site is on my blog roll, it’s called ‘searching together’.
(1014) JAMES ‘with our tongues we bless God the father and we curse men, who are made after his image and likeness’ [my paraphrase] In keeping with the recent theme of James and Revelation [end time views] I want to talk a little about our view of human kind. We often read the words of Jesus in Johns gospel ‘ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you do’ [8:44] and we use this understanding to devalue humanity. The liberal movement spoke of ‘the brotherhood of men and the fatherhood of God’ sort of like we are all brothers, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and all other religions, we are all just on different paths to the same God. Is this true? No. Jesus is the only path to God. But does this lesson the value of our fellow man? James isn’t saying ‘only Christians are made in Gods image’ he is saying all humans have special value, they are made in Gods likeness. When we grasp on to belief systems that devalue human rights and dignity, then we are speaking and acting with a forked tongue! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders and told them they were going the way of satan by rejecting him as the true Messiah, the religious leaders were choosing to say no to Christ. Spiritually they were following satan as their father. But yet James says all human beings originated from God and therefore people have much more value than land [even the holy land!], animals, temples and all other images that can be found on the planet. When we ‘bless God’ and claim to be speaking for him from the evangelical pulpits and media outlets, then we must be careful to not ‘curse men’ or to give an idea that these ‘Muslims’ or any other ethnic/religious grouping of people are not valuable. A distinction should be made between the value and rights of all people, and the various religions and false ideas that people have embraced. The world should not be hearing a message from us that says ‘by golly, Jesus is gonna come back and wipe the ground with the blood of these Muslim nations who are attacking Israel. Their blood will drip from his clothes! Bless be to God!’ Don’t you see how these images are ‘blessing God’ and at the same time ‘cursing men’ who are made in his likeness? [I realize some of these images are found in scripture, but we need to correctly interpret them. All these symbols need to be seen thru spiritual eyes, understanding the true meaning of the verses and interpreting them thru the overriding view of the gospel].
(1012)JAMES AND REVELATION- I have been reading James along with some stuff on Revelation. James says ‘though the ships are driven with fierce winds, yet they turn by the steering of the captain. He sets the course with a small helm/rudder’. Also that the tongue is a ‘world of sin, it sets the course of nature on fire’. In revelation Jesus is depicted as a warrior LAMB. He is also called the Lion of Judah. He ‘slays the wicked’ with the sword [word!] from his mouth. The word for conquer/victory in Revelation is the Greek word NIKAN-NIKE. Yes, the famous sneaker comes from this word! Nikan was a Roman conqueror god. Rome was a conquering nation who used force and brutality to win. John depicts her as Babylon in his apocalypse. When we read of the victorious Lamb and his followers [believers] overcoming and conquering the beast, we are seeing the nature of Jesus kingdom at work. We too are lambs sent out into the world. We turn the other cheek, we forgive and love our enemies. We reject violence as a means of victory. We conquer too by the sword that comes out of our mouth! [The blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony]. What we say, as the corporate church of God, matters! We can turn entire ‘ships’ [nations and governments] by the things we proclaim as Gods people. We can also release the nature of man and cause a huge ‘firestorm’ without realizing it. When we present Jesus and his kingdom thru a view of ‘conquering’ [Nike] that is done thru violence, nuclear war, Jesus literally treading people’s blood until it drips from his garments, when we give this imagery as actual killing, then we thru our lips are releasing the violent course of man in the earth. We have believers reading the popular end times books and fantasizing about end time scenarios of survivalism and warfare. These images are actually things the 'beast’ uses to obtain authority and rule. To the contrary Jesus and his followers are conquering thru a different means. We are followers of the Lamb who ‘kills with the sword of his mouth’. When the citizens of ‘Rome’ [unbelievers] are confronted with the testimony of Jesus from our lips, then they ‘die to their old lives’ and are raised to walk in newness of life [Romans 6]. The blood imagery of Jesus being drenched in it, can be saying that Jesus identified so much with man in his bloody death, that as he ‘treads the enemy’ he becomes identified with the human condition so man can become identified with him. In essence Jesus ‘co-mingled’ with us thru death, so we could be united with him in life. The point I am making is we as Gods people need to be careful when we run headlong into violent war scenarios when presenting the word of God. It is obvious that Jesus is not literally killing people with a real sword [made out of metal] from his mouth. He conquers thru love and death and resurrection, the world conquers thru violence and oppression. When we ‘paint’ an inaccurate picture of these things thru our teaching/preaching, then we are releasing thru our tongues a ‘world of iniquity that sets on fire the course of nature’. This is not the testimony that we should be speaking that truly causes us to overcome.
(1003)CORINTHIANS 13:4-10 Okay, what exactly is this love that we need? Paul has told us that all religious activity apart from it is vain. Paul here simply gives us a picture of the way it acts. You can read this section and substitute your name for the word love ‘love puts up with stuff and is kind’ ‘John puts up with stuff and is kind’ [ouch] ‘It does not boast or show off’. ‘It does not seek its own benefit’ a ‘what’s in it for me’ type mentality. Love is being just like Jesus. James tells us ‘if you fulfill the royal law of scripture, you do well’. The law is to love thy neighbor as yourself. Paul also shows us why love outshines the other gifts of tongues and prophesy and knowledge. He says ‘we know in part, prophesy in part. But when we are made perfect and mature at the appearing of Christ the partial gifts will no longer be distinguishable. Only love will rule’ [my paraphrase] I find it interesting that Paul says knowledge itself will cease. Will actual knowledge cease? What exactly is ‘knowledge’? When we use this term in society what we usually mean is the degree of ones learning/education compared to someone else. If you have a masters and I have a high school diploma, we see a difference. We measure knowledge by the amount we have as compared to others. Now, at Christ’s appearing when we all ‘shall know, even as we are known’ this fine distinction will ‘pass away’. We still will have knowledge, but as a tool that we use to measure one another, it will cease. It wont make a difference how much of the ‘knowledge pie’ [know in part] you possess, at that time everyone one will have ‘all pie’. Knowledge is a funny thing, our understanding of it has developed thru the centuries. During the enlightenment era the concept of ‘what does it even mean to know’ was tackled. One of the famous sayings was ‘I know/think, therefore I am’ [Descartes? Hey, I forget sometimes] the study of ‘how we learn/know things’ is called epistemology. The enlightenment produced a way to approach knowledge that can be called ‘modernism’ mans modern way of knowing stuff. In essence, there exists real truth that a person can know and learn. There is/was a challenge to this mode of thought. Many in the Emergent church movement would grasp on to another theory of ‘knowing’ loosely defined as being in the category of ‘post modernism’. Some challenged the actual ability to know a thing. The emphasis is on who is actually viewing/learning the thing. The terms ‘metta- narrative’ are sometimes used to describe this dynamic. There is some truth to the fact that our context, who we are and where we are coming from, can shape the actual stuff learned. But the question is ‘does our perspective actually change the thing, make it real or not’. Some in the field of Cosmology have grasped on to this post modern theory and have surmised that the very act of human beings studying and examining a thing can in and of itself cause the thing ‘to be’. You can see how this theory would be helpful to the atheist. ‘Where did every thing come from?’ ‘it is a result of human kind’s thoughts and inquiry’ [Ouch]. This sounds a lot like the metaphysical cults that espouse that reality is a product of what you think, confess. That man has the power to create reality simply by the act of studying a thing. Well this is of course a challenge to the truth of God. Jesus and the Cross aren’t ‘real’ because men ‘put their mind to them’. They are real whether or not man ever thought about them. ‘Let God be true, but every man a liar’ Romans. Paul tells us that all these varying degrees of knowledge will some day ‘pass away’. We will all stand before a self existent God and give an account of our lives. This day is coming whether you ‘think about it or not’.
(997)JAMES 1:13-15 ‘LET NO MAN SAY WHEN HE IS TEMPTED “I AM TEMPTED BY GOD” [TEMPTED TO DO EVIL] FOR GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED BY EVIL, NEITHER DOES HE USE EVIL TO TEST PEOPLE. BUT EVERY MAN IS TEMPTED BY HIS OWN SINFUL DESIRES. HE IS DRAWN AWAY BY THEM AND TRAPPED. THEN WHEN LUST IS COMPLETE IT LEADS TO SIN, AND SIN WHEN IT IS FINISHED GIVES BIRTH TO DEATH’ [my paraphrase] James already showed us that tests are good things, but here he makes a distinction between a test and sinful lusts. It is never Gods process to test people to lust. This desire is imbedded in sinful man. Proverbs warns us to avoid ‘the harlot’ it says many strong and mighty men have been slain by her ‘by her a man is brought to a piece of bread’. How come strong men have been pulled down by her, not weak men? The point is once you allow the process to begin [being drawn away by your own lusts] then no matter how strong you are, you will lose! James teaches us that this process is a ‘three fold cord’. Scripture says 3 fold cords are not easily broken. I just finished a regular prayer time, to be honest praying for around an hour and a half seems very easy. It wasn’t that way at the beginning of my Christian life, but after doing it for around 20 plus years, it’s a simple routine. I am now in ‘stage 2’ of my normal daily routine; I am writing/teaching. Stage 3 will be when I clean the house [yes, being I am retired I do about an hour of cleaning every morning] during this time I review future radio messages and also listen to good teaching on c.d.’s or radio [theological stuff]. All in all I get a good 3-5 hours of daily prayer/teaching/studying in. yes I also read both scripture and books as well [once again the books are usually scholarly works of some sought. I try to avoid simply reading stuff that’s popular in the Christian bookstores ‘how I lost weight, made a million’ or whatever]. The reason I share this is to tell you that after you establish godly ‘3 fold cords’ [habits of righteousness] it’s hard to break them! Now, the same goes for ungodly cords. I have known [and experienced!] ungodly habits in life. Sinful stuff that’s hard to break. I have also noticed how many of my good friends who are addicted to hard drugs, many of them are extremely smart, they have talents, and all in all they could have been successful in life. But the enemy [and their choices] hooked them at a young age. People learn habits early in life. If you take someone at the age of 18-23 and train them in some addiction/habit, it sticks with them for life [until they allow God to break the cords]. Many of my buddies established habitual sin habits and these have dogged them for life. We all struggle with stuff and I don’t want to give the impression that it’s just ‘those people’. Now James tells us that God can break this process. James teaches us the wisdom of being ‘doers and not hearers only’. God breaks stuff when you decide to act and function toward his purpose on a daily basis. James will say ‘true religion is visiting the fatherless and widows and keeping yourself clean from the world’. Note the order, first commit to do good works, then avoid sin. There is a scripture that says ‘commit your works unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established’ [Proverbs?]. We learn the lesson of establishing habitual patterns of righteousness to go along with our head knowledge of truth. Do you have ‘cords’ that you are struggling to break? Have you established righteous cords [habits] that flow thru out your week? I don’t want to be legalistic about this, Jesus is the only one with the power to deliver a person from sin, but there are practical righteous habits that God wants you to engage in on a regular basis. You might not pray and study for 5 hours a day! But you can have a regular devotional time [even if it’s only 30 minutes a day] and stuff like this will make a difference. Learn to nip it in the bud when it comes to temptation, once you allow lustful desires to rule, it always ends up in death, even strong men are brought down by it.
(993)THE BILLIONAIRE SUICIDES- ‘Let the brother of low degree [not rich] rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. … so shall the rich man fade away in his ways’ James 1:9-11. These last few weeks have had a strange thing happen. After the recent fall in the stock market [1-09] there were 3 billionaires who killed themselves. I also watched on the news last night how a stock guy faked his death by crashing his plane, they found out he parachuted out first! Some of the news media said ‘I don’t understand these billionaires killing themselves, sure, they lost billions but they still have money’. This is the deceit of riches. These rich guys were in it for the game, not simply to have enough money to live off of. They fell for the addiction of the game. After losing great sums of money, they weren’t thinking ‘well I still have enough to make it’. No, they were thinking ‘I can never get back to where I was, I will never win the game now’ which to them meant having more than the others ‘in the game’. James said the rich will fade like the grass, they allow their lives to feel secure by the amount they have. When they lose that sense of security they feel all is lost. James was one of the lead elders at the Jerusalem church [Acts 15] he had spiritual oversight to a large group of poor believers. These were the same poor Christians that Paul was taking up offerings for [1st Corinthians 16]. James understood the temporary nature of worldly wealth. I find it notable that James lived and grew up with Jesus, he was his brother. What were the important messages he picked up by living with Jesus most of his life? He understood the shallowness of the rich man. James said ‘they will fade like the flowers on a hot day’. The billionaires took their lives because all that they were living for was gone. The hot sun came up and they were found wanting.
(992)JAMES 1: 2-4 ‘Count it all joy when you fall into various temptations [trials] knowing that the testing of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work [completeness, the end of ‘a thing’] that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing’. When I first started this blog, I was surprised that brothers from Africa quickly found out about us. I kinda thought that all the invites from the continent were part of the scams that go on incessantly on line. I can’t tell you how many ‘Dear brother, I am a Christian millionaire trying to free up my millions in the U.S.’ or something like that type pleas that I get. It usually gives them away when they spell something like ‘Godd blees yeo’. Yes, I admit I have responded at times by saying ‘I hate to inform you but I am an undercover F.B.I. agent, we have traced your computer to its location. YOU WILL BE EXTRADITED TO THE U.S. SOON!’ I quickly ask the Lord to forgive me after I send it off. But the African contacts were legit. The reason I am even mentioning this is because I feel the Lord has a purpose for messages like ours to go out to the nations. Not ‘my message’ per se, but the basic return to a Christ oriented gospel. Africa has gone thru a few decades of becoming ‘Christianized’ by the American gospel. The most prevalent strain of American Protestantism on the continent is the prosperity message. I don’t know if you knew this or not, but it is common to find African churches that are saturated with the prosperity gospel. Now, after all I have written and taught over the years on the abuses of this type of message, yet I do not see this development as totally ‘from the devil’. I believe it to be possible for the Lord to have used the basic message of self reliance, believing God to improve your economy, a basic message of ‘you can do it’ as a foundation for future growth. That is many Africans needed to be told ‘God does have a future and a hope for you and your continent, start believing and trusting God to turn things around’. But after the ‘elementary teachings’ of this type of message are laid, then the ‘more mature’ message of Christ’s calling needs to come in and build upon the basic self help gospel. So, James says ‘count it a blessing when you go thru stuff, God is working things in you, he is bringing you to a point of completeness in your life. Don’t look at all the trials as things from the enemy that must be rebuked, God allows trials for your personal growth and development’. There is a Christian message that teaches us that the Lord brings us to maturity thru difficult things. The basic message of ‘self help’ has an ethos that says ‘Confess, rebuke and apply all the bibles procedures and you will grow’. Much of this message has you rebuking the God ordained tests! Yes, we don’t like the tests. When the big test day comes along [or all the little ones] it can be nerve racking. So modern psychology says ‘lets avoid the pressure that tests put on people. Lets just tell little Tommy ‘you spelled the word the way you felt it should be spelled’ [Ouch!] I want to encourage you today, God has brought you thru some things for your own growth and benefit. You might look back ten years from now and think ‘Thank God I went thru those tough times, they allowed me to avoid going thru years of teaching and believing a limited gospel’. To all my preacher friends who read this site, God wants to ground you guys in some basic Christian truth, things that are foundational to our call in the kingdom. It is all too common for successful ministries to be built on self help principles. After many years go by this self help message can become too self centered, the people need to be taught ‘count it all joy’ once again.
(991)1ST CORINTHIANS 12: 8-11 Instead of giving you my definition for each one of the gifts of the Spirit, let me just give you a sense of where I’m coming from. Over the years I have learned the normal Pentecostal understanding of these gifts. I also have learned the ‘anti-Pentecostal’ view. I take a little from each camp. The strong Pentecostal view usually sees all the gifts as ‘supernatural’ I do too! But to them this means the gifts of Wisdom and Knowledge can’t be ‘regular wisdom or knowledge’. Okay, so what are they? Some teach that the ‘word of wisdom’ is simply a prophetic word about future stuff. The ‘word of knowledge’ is simply prophetic insight into ‘past stuff’. To be honest I have no idea how people come up with stuff like this [well, actually I do have an idea]. I see Paul as operating in a strong gift of knowledge, though Paul was trained and had a good education, the Spirit took all of his ‘head knowledge’ and quickened it. I see James as having a strong gift of wisdom, his epistle is the only New Testament work considered to be part of the corpus of wisdom literature. Of course the gifts of healing[s] and prophecy are supernatural, but wisdom and knowledge can be ‘supernatural’ without having to fall into some prophetic type category. If it’s wisdom and knowledge from God, then it is supernatural! I have known Pastors who had the gift of wisdom, sometimes they would come to the same conclusions as me, but they took a different route to get there! They might not have ‘seen’ all the knowledge portions of scripture that I saw, but the wisdom they operated in caused them to arrive at the same place. Some teach that after the Spirit fell on the church at Pentecost [Acts 2] that you no loner had miracles, dreams and visions or angelic visitations. Why is this wrong? The book that records more miracles and angels and visions than any other book [except for the gospels] is the book of Acts. In essence, one of the major New Testament books on these manifestations shows them to be a result of the Spirits outpouring! The point being these things didn’t end after Pentecost. I realize both camps [Pentecostal- non Pentecostal] have had their wars over this stuff. I find that both sides can be just as legalistic and judgmental in their views. I think one of the major ‘signs’ of being ‘Spirit filled’ is a life based on free grace. When people grasp the gospel and are filled with the Spirit, they should be free from living their lives out of a state of condemnation and guilt. Many ‘Spirit filled’ churches operate in the gifts [their view of them] but are just as legalistic as the non Pentecostals. To me this is not what it means to be ‘Spirit filled’. Overall we should be open to the working of the Spirit in supernatural ways. We should avoid making this the goal or identity of our Christian walk, but we should not reject or despise prophetic/supernatural things. They are available and necessary at times for completion of the mission.
(990)PROVERBS 31: 8-9 ‘Open thy mouth for the dumb [voiceless] in the cause of ALL such as are appointed to destruction [abortion, poor, unjust death sentences]. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy’. This chapter is famous for the second half, the virtuous woman. I have been praying parts of this chapter 3-5 times a week for around 20 years now. I pray the part ‘your wife we be like the merchant ships that bring their goods from afar’ over my wife. I also pray ‘your wife will be like a fruitful vine by the sides of your house, your children like olive plants round about your table’. For some reason the ‘plant’ imagery stuck in my head as a good prayer reminder. The other day, before Shelby passed away [my homeless friend] I was going thru the pictures on my cell phone. I happened to come across a picture I took of Shelby. I have a few pictures from the fellowships and stuff. This one was taken with Shelby and a few other homeless brothers at a park in Kingsville. Sure enough I put the picture as the ‘wallpaper’ [the first picture that shows up as you turn on the phone] on Sunday. He passed away on Wednesday. My daughter says ‘don’t put my picture on your phone’! Actually I kind of see it as a prophetic thing. In some way the Lord was telling me my friend was going to become a ‘memory’ real soon. Also a reminder for prayer. The day I found out about Shelby’s death I took a few homeless people around town to run errands and stuff. We stopped for coffee and one of the brothers insisted on paying this time. He had around 10 bucks and really wanted to. I paid, he left a 2 dollar tip. During the day they were trying to accomplish small tasks that can become real obstacles in their lives. I took one of the guys to the driver’s license place, he got his I.D. but could not get his license. They have a very old charge against him about not appearing for court on some minor thing. He never got the notice, they sent it to his last known address, he hasn’t lived there for years! He simply can’t fix this problem, he has no resources and ability to fix it! I of course helped him with the ride and some money and stuff. But when these guys get into these seemingly small obstacles, when you’re homeless and without a phone and regular transportation, they seem hopeless at times. Now, what do you think happens when the entity they are dealing with decides to mess with them? I canceled a credit card a few years back. I paid the balance and specifically said ‘make sure you cancel the card, I don’t want to keep getting notices that I owe an annual fee and stuff’! Sure enough, a few months go by and they send me a notice that I am delinquent for around 70.00 dollars [not an old balance, but a new annual charge!] and if I don’t pay it the fine will go up. What happened? Someone decided to simply ‘screw me’ [sorry]. The point being, when you are homeless you have very little ability to correct any wrongs done against you, the entity that is messing with you always wins. Society seems to think ‘they got what was coming to them’. The reason God wants us to speak up for all those who are ‘voiceless’ is because this is part of the purpose of Gods anointing. Jesus clearly was anointed for this purpose [Isaiah 11, 61. Luke 4]. There are times when the voiceless are ALWAYS innocent [abortion] and times where they did ‘get what was coming to them’. But Jesus requires us to treat the poor and hopeless with respect and concern. Every now and then I catch a show on E.W.T.N. [the catholic channel] the name of the show is ‘the church and the poor’. It’s the ministry of some priest [Wen Ho Lee? Something like that] who was a Jesuit priest living in the states and having a comfortable life. Then the Lord challenged him to give it all up and move to some foreign land and give his life away for the poor. His message is soul stirring. He often tells the people during the Mass ‘do you think coming to church and going to confession and doing religious things are the main requirements for a Christian’? He then goes on and shares the judgment scenarios that Jesus gave in the gospels. He shows how Jesus couches the judgment of man based on his treatment of the poor and down and out. He sounds like me! God requires us to speak up for those who cannot, he requires us to give our lives away. As you read thru this chapter [Proverbs 31] you will see that kings [leaders] are not supposed to get drunk [like Paul's admonition to elders]. Why? So they don’t forget to do justice and look out for those who are under their care, specifically the down trodden. God wants us clear and sober minded for a divine purpose, to be social activists on the behalf of those who ‘have no voice’.
(987) SPOT THE TREND LINES- One of the themes of proverbs is reproof, correction. Proverbs teaches us that correction/reformation are noble things. Fools despise it, wise men take it to heart. Over the years of dealing with controversial issues in the church, I have found different responses from good men. Most leaders do not initially appreciate correction, they [we] have a tendency to want to use our knowledge and experience as an excuse to not receive correction. We often defend our positions by thinking ‘look how many other men/leaders are doing it [it being whatever area you feel threatened in] so I am at least in good company’. While there is some truth to this [being in the majority] this doesn’t work well when there is a groundswell of reformation on the horizon. For instance, during the 16th century Reformation, I am sure the new reformers looked and acted like contrarians at the time. There were many good catholic priests doing their best to serve the Lord in the limited understanding of the ancient church. I am sure many of these men simply steered clear of Luther and his ‘rebels’ but ultimately God was wanting change! So today we have certain undercurrents of reformation, sure not all the current trends fall into this category, but some do. So leaders should be open to correction or reproof coming from a broad range of influential men. Over the years I have spotted ‘trend lines’, certain changes that I see/hear from a wide range of Christian expressions. When I see them coming ‘from afar off’ I try and make the adjustment before the trend ‘hits the fan’. This is another wisdom nugget from Proverbs, a wise man sees the change coming and prepares himself, the simple pass on and make no adjustments. Another important characteristic is the ability to ‘not change’ too fast or too much! ‘Meddle not with those who are given to change’ reformation takes time and is a process. If I learn or see some knew area of truth that most of my contemporaries don’t see yet, then it would be foolish to think that God has called me to ‘straighten them all out’. God often shows you ‘the trend lines’ so you in wisdom can plant certain seeds that will keep the other leaders on track as the train moves along. In essence your job isn’t to say ‘see, I know more than so and so’. Your job is to be open to avenues of influence that eventually bring ‘correction/course change’ to the rest of the body. I felt like the word for today was for us to re examine the reproofs that we might have heard over the years. Does it seem like we keep hearing the same reproof from different voices thru out our lives? Maybe there’s more to it than just a bunch of disgruntled believers. Wise men take note and seek God for his timing in the course change, foolish men make no adjustment.
(979)PROVERBS 28: 22 and 27- ‘HE THAT HASTETH TO BE RICH HAS AN EVIL EYE AND CONSIDERS NOT THAT POVERTY SHALL COME UPON HIM….HE THAT GIVES TO THE POOR SHALL NOT LACK’. I just finished making a radio program and wanted to share some stuff from my Proverbs reading. I still have the original cheap second hand desk that I bought over 20 years ago in Kingsville. I think I paid 20 bucks for the thing. Though it’s ancient and looks ‘crappy’, it still gets the job done. Over the years I have learned that it can be exciting to amass wealth. Yes even believers can ‘sanctify’ the pursuit of wealth, that is justify it’s pursuit by thinking ‘I am going after money and riches so I can fund kingdom ventures’! While God certainly uses rich people to do his will, the overall ethos of the kingdom is one where you choose not to pursue the wealth of the world, you instead pursue ‘spiritual riches’. This contrast can be found all thru out scripture [read my section on ‘word of faith- prosperity gospel’]. Paul actually tells Timothy ‘those that desire to be rich will fall into a snare’. Notice, Paul doesn’t say ‘unless they desire riches for kingdom things’. He simply says the pursuit of wealth is a deadly game, don’t be ‘wise in your own eyes’ and think that you can tame the monster! Recently the stock market had another one of the worst crashes in history. How many ‘pursuers of wealth’ had ‘poverty come suddenly upon them’? Another verse says ‘don’t set your eyes on wealth, they make themselves wings and fly away’. Ouch! As I sit here and type this entry I will be dropping of 3 months worth of radio messages in a little while. I made them from a cheap recorder purchased from radio shack. I store them in my cheap desk that I bought years ago. I am sitting on used furniture that I bought 25 years ago! I furnished my study/office with it. But yet I have a study filled with excellent books that I purchased over the years. Year’s worth of radio teachings that cost me next to nothing to make. I gave one of my homeless buddies a little money the other day. I take no offerings and spend a little under half my monthly retirement income on ministry stuff. To my amazement the Lord has allowed us to have real impact in a large region, and it’s done on a shoe string budget. ‘He that gives to the poor shall not lack’. Don’t seek to become rich, the scripture forbids it. Give to the down and out, give your life away. Be a servant of people, God will reward you and you will have enough to get the job done.
(975)PROVERBS 27:1 I made some plans to go to Kingsville last week. The morning I woke up I felt the word of the Lord to me [during prayer] was ‘Boast not thyself of the morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth’ [James]. Sure enough I got sidetracked and had to cancel. The next day I read Proverbs chapter 27, the spot where I left off last. I am kinda just reading a chapter at a time over a few month period. The first verse is the same one I just quoted from James! God does speak in stereo. I also read a good article from my January  issue of Christianity Today magazine. It was an excerpt from a new book titled ‘Brand Jesus’. Exposing the dangers of ‘marketing Jesus’ as a product. It was good. I just felt like the word of the Lord today was for us to be careful when we ‘boast of tomorrow’. When we plan great goals [which is not wrong in itself] which seem to be ‘Christian goals’. As I am writing this entry I can hear a Christian song from my TV in the other room. The singer is singing about the temptation of being a singer and glorying in the spotlight! It seems funny that he is sharing this struggle [of self glory] thru this medium. The point being it’s easy to ‘Christianize’ our self motivations. To approach ‘Jesus’ as a brand product that can do something for you. Improve you in some way. Maybe he can carry us to stardom and fame, hey he wants us to fulfill our desires doesn’t he? Well actually not the way the contemporary church preaches it. A main theme of New Testament Christianity is learning to lay down your desires and wants for a greater purpose. Now, this greater purpose will wind up being more fulfilling than what you thought you wanted. That's why ‘your desires’ are not a good measurement of the purpose of God. He that seeks to save his life [get what you think is best] will lose it. He who learns the secret of giving up his life [carrying the Cross, self denial] will find it. What are you ‘boasting about’? Where do you ‘see yourself’ ten years from now? Remember, we as believers do not measure success and fame the way the world does. Our reward is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior. I know this sounds ‘corny’ and old fashioned, but sometimes we need to be reminded about this type of lifestyle. We spend so much time boasting about our dreams and goals, Jesus gets lost in the background as some product who can help me achieve ‘all that I can be’.
(967)PROVERBS- Up early praying and stuff. A few years back when I started writing this blog I never thought I would write so much! I just took the spot where I was reading thru my yearly schedule and began teaching it. It’s really easy to be honest. Sometimes I just do a brief reading and then sit down and write [actually all the time- note that I always pray/meditate for at least one hour prior to writing. Scripture [actually Proverbs!] says ‘write the commandment on your heart [teachings of your father- Gods Word] and bind the tradition around your neck’ [teaching of your mother- church history and stuff]. When you do this it will ‘keep you when you lay down, guide you when you go out, and speak/talk to you when you wake up’. I am not advocating slack studying before preaching, I am advocating that you fill your mind and spirit continually, then when ‘the spot light hits you’ your ready!]. This keeps me from my old routine of reading and meditating slowly. So I try and read other devotional sections of scripture at the same time. I am doing Proverbs right now, I like the wisdom literature. The Old Testament can be divided into three sections; 1- Wisdom literature 2- The law 3- The Prophets. The ‘keeper’ of the law is the Priest, the Prophets are of course the Prophet. The wisdom literature; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job and Psalms [James in the New Testament] are associated with the ‘Sage’ or wise man [Apostle]. So Maybe during our ‘down time’ [days where I purposely don’t teach! Because it’s so routine to just get up, pray and teach that it can become a rut. I don’t want to brag, but I am two years ahead of schedule on all our radio broadcasts. I have around 630 individual radio messages already done!] So maybe I will just hit high points from these devotional readings. I recently read ‘LABOR NOT TO BE RICH, CEASE FROM YOUR OWN WISDOM’. I originally felt like just quoting it and saying ‘look! What is he saying now? Hear we go again on his anti prosperity campaign!’ And then responding ‘why brothers, I didn’t say anything, I just quoted scripture’. Well, I guess I just did it. ‘WISDOM BUILDS HER HOUSE, UNDERSTANDING ESTABLISHES IT AND BY KNOWLEDGDE SHALL ITS CHAMBERS BE FILLED WITH ALL PLEASANT AND PRECIOUS RICHES’. Over the years I have had friends who were really knowledgeable, but there knowledge was only available for a short season. Why? They didn’t have the wisdom and understanding to put systems in place that would be the structure that could contain the knowledge. Then you have those who are wise, they can get structures up. But then a year goes by and they are working on another structure! The old ‘house’ is either left for someone else to deal with, or they simply ‘walk away’ from the mortgage [spiritually speaking] and start all over. Then you have those with wisdom, knowledge and understanding. They get things going, they establish systems in place that can maintain and keep things functioning for the long term, and they make sure all these strong systems and ministries are ‘filled with precious riches’. It’s all too common for some very stable ministries to have the structures and systems in place for the long term, but then propagate a message that is ‘less than precious’. Lets ask God today for the grace to function in all three of these divine attributes. When it is all said and done, only God can provide the increase!
Been reading Proverbs. The best book on success ever written! Remember though, the same writer [Solomon] would also write Ecclesiastes and speak of the absolute futility of wealth and life apart from a greater meaning! Proverbs speaks of the principle of the ‘storehouse’. ‘The lips of the righteous are a well of life’ ‘the wise son stores up during the harvest, the lazy son sleeps during harvest’ all good principles of storing wealth [both wisdom and finances] and then operating out of the storehouse. Jesus said every scribe instructed in the kingdom ‘brings forth’ both new and old stuff. Notice he is bringing it out of ‘store’. A ‘garner that’s filled’ type thing. You have heard how foolish it is to live from paycheck to paycheck, well apply the same principle to spiritual teaching. Are you feeding from sources that feed from ‘paycheck to paycheck’ that is they start the week with the mindset of ‘what should I teach the people this Sunday’ and then come up with something during the week to say. This is not a storehouse! I like the idea of waiting on God and bringing it forth in his timing. Paul spent many years [around 15] being taught Gods revelation before he brought it forth. One of the reasons for all the shallow teaching in the American church is because we violate this storehouse principle. Remember ‘the lips of the righteous are like a well of life’ store up some wisdom, and in ‘due season’ [the right time] bring it forth. Jesus said the faithful servant knows how to ‘give meat in due season’ at the right time. Hey, I like the meat marinated over night, but if all I can get is a plain steak right from the store, I’ll take it. But the marinated one is much better! They said of Jesus ‘he teaches with authority, not like all the other preachers’ Jesus knew how to let the meat marinate!
STUFF FROM PROVERBS 22:16 ‘he that oppresses the poor and gives to the rich shall come to want’. There are many believers who struggle financially. Many of them are sincere believers who don’t understand why they are struggling. I want to encourage you to read proverbs and look for all the verses on giving to the poor. It is too common for sincere believers to tithe to church on Sunday and not realize that they are overlooking the main body of scripture that speaks of God blessing those who meet the needs of others! Also I have heard it taught that if you give to the wealthy you will be blessed [I heard this actually taught by a prosperity preacher. He used the book of Job and said ‘the world thinks giving to the poor is merciful, God says giving to the rich will give you a blessing!] I figured I would throw this verse in so you can have your mind renewed to Gods Word! Also I just retired as a firefighter. I knew the first month of transition would be financially difficult. You have to wait for your first check and all. I also felt the lord telling me ‘John, you have been slacking on giving to the poor’. The budget for my News Paper ads and radio come from my pocket, so I have been slacking on the ‘giving to the poor part’. So I took out some money [in single dollar bills] and when the guys would ask for a dollar or two I would give it. Not much, 20 dollars or so every week. Really simple. Sure enough I have been getting extra ‘income checks’ that I was not aware of. A few thousand over a few weeks. I felt the Lord said ‘give to the poor’. 26:27 ‘whoever digs a pit shall fall therein, rolls a stone it will come back on him’ many years ago at the firehouse we had an older captain [Kriegel- to all my buddies who read this site!]. He was a good guy, used to give me these Christian papers he would get from his church. The guys liked playing pranks on him. One day they knew he was going to Mexico the next day, about a 2 hour drive. So that night they put a sign on the front of his truck that said ‘HONK, I AM A GAY MAN’ [Something to that affect]. Sure enough he couldn’t figure out why all the Mexicans kept beeping their horns! One time he stuck this mouse trap in his kitchen locker. We all had these lockers for each shift and eventually stuff kept finding its way into the other shifts lockers! So we all put locks on them. Well during dinner if you were short on ketchup or something it was just easier sticking your hand thru the bottom of the cabinet than walking to HEB. The technical term in the Greek for this act is called ‘stealing’. So Kriegel stuck a mouse trap in his locker! One morning the guys are just getting on shift and they hear Kriegel screaming. He forgot his keys at home and stuck his hand in his own locker. ‘Who so rolls a stone, it will come back on him’! [I wonder how he knew sticking your hand thru the bottom would work?]
PROVERBS 30:24-28 Every time I read Proverbs I stop on this [as well as many other!] sections and meditate on it. The ‘Ants’ prepare. The ‘Conies’ [Badgers] take shelter. The ‘Locusts’ go forth as groups in unity without a single head [what, no Pastor!]. And the ‘Spider’ practices Divine Placement! We see preparation, storehouse, having some resource to fall back on. We see the concept of ‘taking shelter’ from the badger. Though badgers are tough animals, yet they ‘break easy’. Their skin is soft! So instead of crying about their weakness, they manage it! They hide in rocks! The Locusts have no single head [much like the organic church movement, they do believe in ‘Elders/Pastors’ but they practice plural leadership, getting away from the idea that church is everybody getting together to hear one person speak!] They practice unity in numbers! Wow, how much more can you accomplish when you have groups of people! And out of all the above, only one thing is in the singular. The Spider. She is fragile, by herself [quiet] and yet over time winds up in Kings palaces! True wisdom brings you before great men! Not a lot of sweat and blood, just divine placement! I see her like the Apostle amongst the other groups. Proverbs says ‘Wisdom sends out her servants and builds her house’. The Spider is wise. Beautiful for ‘situation’ is how Jerusalem is described. She ‘sits’ in an influential place. There are times in our lives [especially leaders] where we need to ‘re position’ and see ‘from a distance’. Sit in the ‘kings house’ if you will. Then you can get some direction before sending the Ants, Badgers and Locusts out! The Merchant ships bring their goods from afar. The Apostle [which is another term for a commander of a fleet of ships] needs to set the course right at the start, or else all the ships will be wasting lots of time. Plus it is next to impossible to turn the fleet around on a moments notice. Sit back and function in the wisdom of the Spider first!
PROVERBS (watch out for this number! Kidding.] I mentioned a few entries back about a local Pastor who had recently died. When I first came to Corpus I gave him one of our books ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER OR DEN OF THEIVES’. I gave them to lots of Pastors. About a year ago I heard him preach on ‘YOU CAN NOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON’ ‘THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL’. Themes that were very rarely heard from ANY preachers in this city! [Shame]. I don’t know if he preached it because our blog site and radio program are very popular with the local believers. This allows for many pastors who ‘by pass’ us to later hear from their people stuff like ‘why don’t you ever preach on the dangers of mammon’? And there you go! Proverbs says ‘there is that withholds more than is right and it tendeth to poverty. There is that scattereth and yet increases’. I took one of the homeless guys to Wal-Mart and offered to buy him a tent. It’s cold and his is leaking. I also paid for a weeks rent for another friend [not the rent I paid a few entries back]. I told my buddy ‘don’t spend more than 50.oo on the tent’. He came back from the aisle and said he didn’t need one. He admitted the one he needs is 70.oo and he could manage with the one he has. I told him ‘no, go ahead and get it’. I wrote the check over at the register and added it to some cash on hand and paid the rent for another friend. They at times even say ‘brother, we don’t want you to drain too much money’! There is that scatters yet INCREASES! Are you scattering? The friend with the tent looks clean cut and all, you would have no idea he is homeless. He works odd jobs and looks cleaner than me! I met him a few months back, he knows a lot of bible stuff. I gave him all the books and stuff I wrote on disks and after he read our stuff was really excited. Many things were confirmed in his mind. He had massive colon surgery 6 months ago. He has told me he has been in pain and needs to get checked. He is totally trusting God for healing and has refused the Chemo treatments. I dropped him off and walked to his campsite in the middle of a wooded area. It’s been a few years since I have been to the camps. I spent a little time with him and he was real excited about setting up the tent. It was around 35 degrees and raining. He promised to pay me back, I refused. I never let the guys pay me back, I see this as giving a ‘tithe’. Something that is rightfully Gods. While walking back to the truck, and thinking and praying for him over the past few days I thought ‘Father, take care of your son. It’s cold and these guys need your help’. They are great guys, many of them are reaping years of their parent’s broken homes and lives. David said ‘I have been young and now I am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread’.
PROVERBS ‘Wisdom sends out her servants/maidens and builds her house’ ‘She hath hewn out her 7 pillars. She hath killed her beasts and mingled her wine. She sends out her maidens and distributes the food/treasures’. Jesus said the Kingdom was like planting seed. Faith sends things forth. Recently I visited a web site [not here! Too many local guys think I am talking about them! Understand, the whole ‘paradigm’ that we challenge applies to everybody! Don’t get self conscious. I very rarely watch or deal with local guys one on one. Sometimes, but mostly these examples are from far away!] They are a good prophetic ministry out of New York. I would guess their budget and staff and facilities run in the millions of dollars. They do lots of stuff. On their site they mentioned that one of their main areas of ministry is their web site. I do like the site. To be honest we do much more teaching and in depth stuff then they do. I don’t want to boast, but give you an example. It might really be this ministries most effective tool. It is a product of much time and money and staff and buildings and millions of dollars of organization. It is a product that could also be done with no money, staff, buildings, etc. Now, I am glad they are doing what they are doing. Wisdom says ‘If you can prepare the table [good teaching/food] Set up the pillars [basic structure of people being the ‘carriers/temple’ of God]. If you can ‘send out your maidens’ [news paper ads, radio, blog, people]. If you can do it all without ANY of the very expensive machinery mentioned above, then BY ALL MEANS DO IT! I tell my buddies all the time ‘YOU GUYS CAN DO THIS’. You are not ‘called’ to simply be excited that I am doing it. You are to see that Jesus said to all the disciples ‘Go into all the world. Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds, keep it simple [Message bible]’. Don’t fool yourself into setting up a million dollar organization and then wind up producing something that you could have done by simply praying, studying and writing. You say ‘brother, but we need money to eat’. That’s the whole plea Paul and others were making when asking the churches to ‘help them financially’. They were trusting God for the basics. Our problem is we read these verses on ‘the basics’ and quote them in an environment that leaves the impression that Paul was speaking about some multi million dollar organization. Some say ‘well John, we are glad you are doing all this stuff for free. But why teach it to everybody’? Because we need to see the reality of all believers functioning without the need for tons of money and organization. It is a biblical doctrine to teach believers to go and give and live to have a real impact. We limit the Body of Christ when we don’t release them into this freedom. Well, if you have wisdom you can ‘send out your maidens/servants’. Scripture speaks of a poor wise man who takes a city. Jesus was ‘poor’ compared to the elite of his day. Paul as well. They knew how to ‘take cities/regions’ they had wisdom that exponentially increased thru the spreading of the Gospel. A true revolution of heart and mind. They turned their world upside down without tons of money!
PROVERBS- A few days ago I woke up and taught Revelation 11. One of the principle ideas of the chapter is ‘after the enemy makes war against you, AND overcomes you. The Spirit of life from God will fill you and you will stand up on your feet’. Whenever I teach a theme like this, it’s like asking for patience! Be assured stuff ‘hits the fan’ [dung- lets stay biblical!] So I just woke up and felt I heard the Lord say ‘If your strength fails in the day of adversity, your strength is small’ [Proverbs]. I then heard on the Christian music station a short testimony from a famous Christian counselor [Steve Arterburn]. He said when growing up his mom had a Christian background that taught temptation and failure will not affect you if you have faith. That true faith will basically safeguard you from bad stuff. I got the sense that he was talking about the Word of faith, Prosperity movement. He then said ‘but then when dad committed suicide’ it made her question her beliefs. And then he said ‘and when my brother died of aids’. I at this point said to myself ‘geez! I hope he doesn’t say ‘and then when the space satellite crashed into the house!’ I don’t want to make light of it, but it was getting weird! The point was he was showing that his mom allowed herself to view faith from an unbiblical standpoint. A few entries back I mentioned how the world news just did an expose on Kenneth Copeland. They quoted Jesus words ‘lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth’ and then showed all the expensive Planes that Brother Copeland has purchased with ministry money. A collection of very expensive Planes that fit more into the category of a collector/investor than a ministry thing. Brother Copeland is an experienced pilot and has a love for flying. I could see how he, thru his own belief system, could justify spending millions on stuff like this. Though Brother Copeland is not extravagant in other areas, it seems like the millions spent on a collection of ‘ministry planes’ from non profit giving is very questionable. The reason ‘churches’ get tax exempt status is for charitable outreach. The idea of meeting the needs of society. To use millions of tax free dollars like this is not right. Now, the verse we begun with. Adversity will come to every believer at one time or another. Jesus told Peter ‘satan hath desired to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy FAITH FAIL NOT. And when you are converted, strengthen thy brethren’. I was thinking the other day how King David could have been so much more successful if it weren’t for the ‘Bathsheba thing’. Or Abraham, what a man of faith! O, except for when he faked that his wife was his sister and she slept with the king. ‘But brother, that’s just one incident’. Your right forgive me! Shall we discuss Hagar? Or Peters denials, hey if the bible is fake, why in the world would these guys be writing such bad stuff on themselves! If you are making it up as you go you can make yourself at least look good! If you think about it God used all these guys despite/because of their humanity. I am not making an excuse for sin! But Jesus actually says that Peters denials and human failure would co exist with ‘his faith failing not’. Faith, in the mind of him WHO GIVES IT, wasn’t some way to by pass failure or discouragement. It was the thing that got you up the next day, after the Bathsheba’s, or the denials. It made you ‘get up seven times’ [Proverbs- a just man will fall 7 times and get up again, a wicked man falls once and stays down for the count. 7 is the number of perfection. Its like God says ‘I will allow you to taste a perfect amount of failure in your life. Just enough to purge you. But be assured ‘after you are converted, after you get back up, you will have this divine ability to strengthen your brethren!’] Do we use our faith to create around us perfect environments? Should we see it as some means to ‘build a fleet of Planes’ [or any other monetary thing]? Faith is being able to keep your eyes on the King. Beholding Jesus in the midst of all the stuff you go thru. Failing in the day of adversity means not being able to see tomorrow. It means you not only ‘denied him 3 times’ but you feel all hope is lost. You want to leave town and start all over. Don’t feel bad if this is you. God is simply showing you that ‘your strength is small’. Hey, when you are weak he is strong. God is just setting you up for some good days ahead! NOTE; I just re watched the story on Kenneth Copeland. You can find it on u tube [or religion news]. They actually show you the offering form from Brother Copeland. It says on the form ‘sow you seed expecting a 100 fold return’. Now, to be fair brother Copeland is not ‘promising’ a 100 times back, like the news reports. But the problem is when Jesus uses this language of the 100 fold return, he actually says ‘the deceitfulness of riches chokes the word’ so you don’t ‘get the full return’ [I taught all this in my FIRST BOOK!]. In essence the ‘100 fold return’ in no way is speaking about CASH! Now, many people like myself have tried to correct this for years. And the fact that many in this movement take it so lightly to actually twist Jesus words like this, it is now being ‘shouted from the rooftops’. [News!]