November 27, 2015
Coming home from work last night, I heard a preacher tell his congregation that we should be thankful for our finances even when we think there is not much to be thankful for in that area.
He then explained that poverty level in the US is considered making $11,200 dollars a year as an individual. He also said that if that is what you made you were still in the top 15% of the world’s wealthiest people.
Having spent a year in Thailand, I can testify to real poverty. A girl working in the rice fields all day at that time would have earned 50 stang (sp?) which was equal to 2.50 cents as a baht had 100 stang. Little wonder so many women sold themselves as prostitutes for 100 baht or $5 for all night or short time. Now that the bases have closed they are living off of what they saved or are in deep poverty and pain since they went so long without doing hard manual labor. Don’t judge them. If the hard times predicted for the US comes you do not know what you would do to feed your families and maintain life.
Even that is relative, because the cost of things for them is different than for the affluent traveler or perceived wealth of the GI. I had to explain the difference between USAF stripes and Army stripes because I did not have super baht. Hence, I learned how to read numbers in Thai so I could see what a Thai would pay for the same item and then we could haggle to a fair price. Too often we look at a country’s system and compare it to ours and it is not a perfect apple to apple situation.
I have also seen many pictures of people in other countries in worse economic conditions. I have seen the picture of a vulture near a young girl just waiting for her to die. That is real poverty. Our poor are fat and suffer all the diseases of obesity. People here may not have all they might want, but most have far more than they need. Are there people suffering here? Yes, but many of those are doing so because of life choices, not lack of resources. Many have the resources to get what they need, but instead use them for things they do not need. Having worked in a rescue mission and a food pantry I can testify to that. It does get hard to separate the truly needy from the scammers and those who choose to be in poverty.
Our system of welfare does not inspire getting off of it and indeed enables many to choose to stay on it who could get jobs and move on. If they did that would free up more resources to help those who would work if they could, but cannot. I think it is great that states are starting to require drug tests or even some requirement to do some work to get food stamps and other aid. Work is a dirty word for some and so it will not be worth the effort to apply for the benefits.
“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 Note, it does not say he who cannot work, but he that will not work.
When I worked at the food bank, people came in better vehicles I was driving smelling of smoke and alcohol, the latest Iphone, blue tooth, tats and well dressed to get the $40 of food we supplied and to ask for rent and utility assistance. I suspect many had a large screen TV and cable. We would ask for their income data and most put zero or very low incomes and we were not allowed to verify that income. Bad policy, that is.
In the Old Testament, God required the owners of the field to let the poor glean the field after the owner harvested it. They had to come into the field and actually work to get it. It was not placed in baskets by the road for them to come by and get it or delivered to them. They had to work and they had to be content with what was in the field. They could not ask the owner to plant an acre or so of whatever crop they liked. We had people come to the food bank with a shopping list and asking for name brand items and get upset if we did not have them. That is not what is normally donated to the bank. I was raised to be glad I got what I got and to not complain but be grateful. It appears that has not been taught lately.
So, I guess Capitalism is not so bad. Our poorest are in the top 15% of the world’s wealthy. They are fat with the corresponding health issues. We have enough resources to provide for the scammers and lazy. We enable them to be that way rather than vetting them. People are trying sneak in here, not break out of here.
The irony is that those who are multi-millionaires are condemning the system that got them to that wealth. They claim to care about the poor but they would change the system that best provides for the poor and do little themselves with their wealth or power to fix the needs. Instead, they support policies that would keep the poor in poverty and not lift them out it. Go figure. Capitalism is not perfect, but it is not the problem. It’s naysayers are the problem. There is no better system.
November 8, 2015
A picture was posted on Facebook of a knight in armor with these words.
I am a Christian, but make no mistake.
I will defend the weak.
I will defend freedom.
I will sacrifice so that others can live free.
I will defend my family to the death.
I love peace, but I am a fierce enemy.
I live by a special code.
I live with honor!
I was born to be the WARRIOR.
This was obviously a military picture that was modified to be descriptive of a Christian. We are called to be warriors. Ephesians 6 describes our weapons and in 2 Corinthians Paul tells us more of our warfare by describing our true enemy and the tactics we are to use. We are in a war.
Yet, are we really warriors or must we admit that we have become draft dodgers by denying our calling? Why are so many AWOL or on permanent R&R leaving the few to do battle? Why are putting our armor away thinking the battle is over? Whatever happened to Onward Christian Soldiers, Am I A Soldier of the Cross and other Church Triumphant thoughts? Words now so vainly sung as we hide under our pews begging God for the Rapture.
We were called to engage the World, not be engaged to it or enraged at it, but engaged in spiritual warfare in faith the overcomes the World. Rise up Christian soldier and gird your armor on saying, Lead On, O King Eternal as we sing the victor’s song.
His Kingdom is forever and it is long past time for us to live as Warrior Princes and Princesses of that Kingdom rather than collaborators with the Devil or cowering in fear. Glory to His Name!
Maranatha, but until that time may we occupy until He comes as the gates of Hell cannot prevail before us as Christ and the Holy Spirit anoints and empowers His children to conquer in His love and by His grace. Holy is the Lamb who Was, Is and shall ever be the One who has conquered death and Hell. Faith is the Victory. Let us war by that knowledge. When the King is sent by the Father to set up His throne may we be found still standing by faith though scarred by the battles.
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Eph 6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Eph 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
2Co 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
2Co 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2Co 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
October 10, 2015
If only the good die young then I will be here a very long time because there is no good in me except for what God has done for me and the Holy Spirit who lives in me. Other than that I’ve got nothing.
We struggle with death and come to some peace with it when people die in their 80s, 90s and even 100s. When they die under those ages we are frustrated and confused. We wonder why an infant dies, a teen and even someone in their 40s. They are so young and had so much ahead of them. Some deaths are by disease and we cope with that a tad better than those who die by accident or murder. We may not understand how a five month old can die of cancer or heart failure, but we understand the frailty of the human body and its susceptibility to disease.
I do not know when the age of accountability kicks in. It may be different for each individual, but I do believe that all infants go to Heaven by God’s grace though some believe that God in His foreknowledge knows which child would grow up and believe and which wouldn’t. Indeed, He does have the foreknowledge and we will see examples of that shortly, but I believe infants are innocent. Thus while abortion angers me, I see God filling up Heaven with these children.
That said, Satan and his followers will be held accountable for that innocent blood and those children will rise up as witnesses against them in the Last Judgment therefore I do not condone abortion, but rather abhor it. There is grace, salvation and forgiveness for all who may have had a part in this if they repent and come to Christ. I know many have had regrets and suffer grief from their experience. Many were lied to or forced to abort. God knows that. They can find hope in Christ who will forgive and bring healing and peace to them. There is life after this event. I pray they will come to Him for that.
God has promised long life to the righteous and in His mercy He has granted long life to some who hate Him. He is giving them more time to be saved and thus they will not be able to say they did not have enough time to believe. Sometimes the righteous die young for the purpose of God. Sometimes He takes a child of His home early as a reward and sometimes to spare them sorrow. Sometimes it is because they have become too much of a stumbling block as they have become prideful and hypocritical. That is a last resort because God desires them to repent and serve here, but if not He may have to recall them to HQ for not following procedures and conduct unbecoming a child of the King. I am glad that His mercies are new every morning and that death is a last resort or I would not be here to write this. Some jump to the conclusion, like Job’s friends, that a young person dies because of sin, but that is not always true. Let’s look at a couple of circumstances where an early death was meant to be a blessing.
God was perfectly willing to allow Hezekiah to die young of an illness. He was not in sin at this time. Later, he showed too much of his kingdom to the wrong people and God was upset, but he was in good standing at this date. He certainly had faith. He sought God. We are not told that he violated any natural laws. It did not appear that God even wanted to glorify Himself through Hezekiah’s death. Then why was the good going to die young?
In fact, God wanted to spare Hezekiah some sorrow, but even more so the entire kingdom. Let us reflect on Isaiah 38:1-8 and I Kings 14:13. We are not given the whole prayer of Hezekiah. An argument that he could have used was that he had reigned a very short time in comparison to others that had been wicked. Another argument could have been that he had no heir and even the wicked kings had heirs. Whatever else he may have said other than asking God to check his service record we will not know until we get to glory.
We do know his prayer was answered by fifteen years being added to his life and reign. His son, Manasseh, would be born three years later and that would be bad news for the nation. He was a very evil and wicked king and reigned for fifty-five years. Read II Kings 21 to get the full details. Had Hezekiah died, the nation of Israel would have been spared its most wicked king. In other words, one death would have spared the many much evil. Hezekiah should have died of his sickness. I believe this happened as an example to us. God knew what he was about.
In Hezekiah’s circumstance, a father was spared and brought in a son of shame. In I Kings 14:13 we see a father of shame punished and a son spared pain. The son of Jeroboam was allowed to die because God saw some GOOD in him. Therefore, his death spared him from suffering the evil of the many. God would bring judgment to the nation, but the child would not be there to share in it. If you knew your child would suffer greatly in the future because of the sin of the nation would you rather the child to die as an infant and be spared that or watch the child go through the sorrow and maybe die in front of you at 18, 28, or 38? Going to Heaven is wonderful no matter what the age. It would grieve us but it would be a boon to the child or other loved one. We miss the big picture because of our tears.
We see death as a part of life, but a thing to be feared. God often rewards His children with death. Death is just going home for a Christian. Paul said that death would be gain for him. He would be with the God he loved for eternity and removed from all the trials of life. David’s son and Jeroboam’s son were blessed in their early deaths.
How much pain have we endured because God answered someone’s prayer to allow a person to live? We cannot possibly know. How much good did we miss because someone did not pray? Did we lose the person who would have cured AIDs or cancer because we did not pray hard enough for their mother to not abort them? How much have we, or the person, been spared because God did not answer the prayer? Indeed, many a mother may have wept over the corpse of a child that would have grown up to make Hitler and Stalin look like Sunday School kids. The point is to pray and trust Him for the answer.
We should thank and praise Him for His omniscience and not demand anything from Him but His wisdom, love and righteousness even if it hurts us! If we seek the spiritual healing spoke of in II Chron. 7:14 we will see the power of God active in our lives. When we do this then sickness or death will fall into perspective, we will let God be God, and true healing will begin.
In the long run, long life isn’t as important to the saved as to the lost. One more minute here is one less minute in Glory for the saved whereas one more minute here is one less minute in Hell for the unsaved, Let’s us seek to make every minute count for Christ and ask God to use us to get someone saved even if it is the last minute they have to live. Maranatha!!!
October 4, 2015
Have you ever tried to hug someone that you knew needed a hug, but they would not let you or struggled to get away quickly or just would not rest in the hug so they did not receive the comfort or the blessing that was intended? It took awhile for me to get comfortable in hugging churches because it was not in my upbringing. Church was rather formal and a shouted Amen might have caused a 911 call if it had existed so a hug might have just been like a lightning strike and sudden death. So it was hard to get used to and then when the ladies started with the kisses on the cheek it was another major adjustment even though it was usually older ladies with a motherly peck or younger ones with an brother/uncle one. It was still well out of my normal functioning parameters. Such signs of affection are often absent even among family members let alone among church folks.
Many times that is how we treat God. He reaches out hug us and we refuse to let Him. We may let Him put His arms around us, but we struggle to get away quickly when comfort comes by lingering in those arms. It is like my Pentecostal friends who say Baptists leave church before the Holy Spirit shows up because we best end at noon if we are going to get to Luby’s on time. We may stay quiet in His arms for a bit and yet our fears, guilt or lack of trust keep us from getting what He wants to give us and we need to receive.
Lord Jesus, may we submit to your hugs collapsing in tears and weakness resting there until the blessing takes complete hold of our hearts turning our tears of sorrow or despair into tears of joy that run down our face in a torrent like Gorman Falls.
Thank You for loving us and reaching out to our needs when we fail You so greatly because our faith is so small and our will is weak. You are love. You are truth. Let us see one arm as love and the other as truth when You hug us. It is in Your arms where the lies of this world will be silenced and all hate replaced . Glory and honor to You, O Triune God, that was, is and is to come! Maranatha! Maranatha!!
October 2, 2015
I am grateful for the rabbit in my yard. He doesn’t know if I an going to hurt him or not. H just sits there calmly, yet alert. My wife puts out food for him from time to time, yet he mostly finds his own food.
It is good to see one of God’s feeble creatures to remind me of how feeble I am compared to God. The bunny does nothing really to enhance my life, except to be himself. Being himself brings me peace and some joy as I watch him.In many ways, I am of no real benefit to God. After all He is totally self-sufficient needing nothing or anybody. He desires my love and fellowship, but as I do not force myself on the bunny neither does He force Himself on me. At times He watches me from afar, as I do the bunny, lest there is fear and running away.
One day, the bunny may feel secure enough to come closer to me on his own. I can only entice him with food and move slowly. God has to work with some people like that as well. I would love for the bunny to let me hold him and feed him. God wants that for man as well. The bunny may never do as I wish and that is sad. God is also sad when people do not come to Him in trust. After all, He has done so much to prove His love and earn their trust.
The bunny doesn’t know I am writing about him or my thoughts of him, Sadly, many people do not know God’s thoughts of them or that He wrote the Bible with them in mind. Sometimes, many times, I forget that. I can only imagine how many times He has had to watch me from afar because He knows if He approached me too quickly I would run away from Him rather than towards Him. Thus He waits as He feeds me, defends me, provides for me a home, a family and all the other gifts of grace.
Indeed, the bunny has just come closer to me, but will he stay if I move towards him? Unlikely. At times, we venture towards God, yet are ready to run at the slightest thing that He does that we do not understand or anticipate. As I am patient and letting the bunny work out his trust issues so God, who is far more patient than me, waits in love for me to work out my trust issues. I may never hold the bunny. God, however, holds me in His heart and even in His everlasting arms. I just don’t always believe it, so to me I am distant from Him and His arms. Thankfully, His Spirit can hold me without the flesh knowing it.
One day, when I fully collapse into His arms thinking that I just arrived there I will realize that I was there all the time. All my perceptions of distance were because of my mind perceived circumstances, fear and sins as distance. Had my heart trusted Him rather than what my mind was muddled with I would have realized that you cannot be far from an omnipresent God. Duh!
When I learn to fully embrace His embrace my dreams and His desires will come to fruition. It is good that He is holding me even when I am not holding Him. Thank you Lord for bunnies and your patient love! Glory! Maranatha!!
September 30, 2015
August 20, 2015
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
My friend John and I were discussing this verse and he used the illustration of a lit match. The flame itself casts no shadow, but the match stick does. The match stick is an obstacle and the shadow is darkness or sin. When we become an obstacle to the light of God we create darkness or sin.
My dovetail on that was that the closer and brighter the light the object becomes enveloped in the light and there is no shadow cast.
Thus God being nothing but Light cannot cast a shadow. Everywhere He turns there is light. When He shines on us we see the darkness of our shadow or sin because we are an obstacle to the Light in our lives. The way to overcome and stop being an obstacle and remove the shadow of sin is to run into the Light. When we become enveloped in the Light we are no longer an obstacle and our sin disappears.
Some of us need to run into the Light by being saved. We see the sin in our lives and know we cannot clean up our act to make the shadow go away. The Light of God clearly shows us the gravity of our situation. When we run into the Son, the Father no longer sees our shadow of sin for it has been enveloped in the Son.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Come to Jesus for forgiveness of your sins and let His light surround you and hide your darkest sins. Don’t hate the Light. Let the Light reprove you and then reprieve you when you repent of your sins and ask Jesus to save you and light your way.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Christian, we need to run to the Light as well. Too often, the world, the flesh and the Devil cause us to sin and we become that obstacle to the Light that is in us. We keep it from shining out of us and literally obscuring us. We are out of fellowship and walking in darkness without and within.
When that happens we need to run to the Light for forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We cannot hide our shadow or use human light to overcome it. Only the Light can hide our sin by His grace when we come to Him saying the same thing about our sin that He says about it. That is true confession. Admission of guilt is a part of confession, but real confession is looking at our darkness and calling it what it is not glossing over it as a mistake.
We must see that severity of our sin and hate it like He hates sin. Then and only then will we truly desire to run to the Light. Only then will be be free from the darkness because walking in Light will mean everything to us. We will grow to abhor the darkness and avoid it like we would if we saw a fresh cow patty in our path. We will smell the pungent odor of death in sin and darkness and cringe at the stench. That is homologeo, saying the same thing. That is confession. Run to the Light, my Brethren. Be enveloped by light so you can walk in fellowship with Him and fulfill your calling.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
We live in a world of darkness. We are called to be light, but we have no light in ourselves. We have light because the Light of the world has saved us. We are in Him and in Him is no shadow. Sinner or Saint, do not stay in the darkness! Run to the Light to be saved or restored. Run to Him and away from the World. Grace be unto you! Maranatha!!!!
August 11, 2015
Human nature itself proves we came from a Creator/Designer because every generation strives to create things and redesign old things. We even design nonsensical things because we need to create. We landscape to create a new atmosphere where we saw barrenness or just wanted something new. That is Genesis 1:2 being played out in us as having been created in the likeness of the Creator. We have created more things in the last hundred years than we ever thought possible while conquering the air, the deep sea and sticking our noses into outer space.
What have our so called nearest cousins created in millennia? Absolutely nothing because they are created by the same Creator, but like not like we were. To believe in random chance as the source of all we see is deny what is ingrained in our DNA by the Creator of the DNA. When we study DNA we are Divine Nature Analysis whether we believe it or not.
August 3, 2015
1Co 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Having spent many years in ministry and learning all I could via colleges and self-study I have come to the conclusion that we need more “in demonstration of the Spirit and power” and less of man’s wisdom in our preaching. While education in nearly all disciplines is wise and we are to go into the world and teach all nations making disciples, we seemed to have become obsessed to the point of near idolatry over degrees. It is extremely difficult for an Amos to serve in a realm where three degrees are required as much as three points and a poem in homiletics or expository preaching class.
Frankly, it seems clear that our method of preaching/teaching to make disciples is inferior to that of Christ’s since He only took three years to train the 12 disciples and the 13th audited the course since he was not of the original 12. Paul’s one on one training was also only three years and Paul only had three weeks to plant a vibrant church. While Mormons can field missionaries with a very brief training period we send men to school for many years. Some programs from ThB to ThD can take up to 15 years. Then the man may have great knowledge and eloquent speech but still have a status quo church that declines as he and his church ages. It would appear that we are missing something much like Apollos, who was a gifted preacher and well versed in the Law, yet lacked the basic understanding of the Gospel and had to be schooled by a couple who never went to bible college let alone seminary.
We are well versed in the wisdom and theologies of men, but that is not what Paul used in his ministry though he had more of that kind of wisdom than folks today with several degrees in various disciplines. Indeed, he counted all that he had as dung and stayed away from it as much as possible except when the situations warranted it to gain a hearing. His focus was Christ and Him crucified and the power of the Spirit who worked powerfully in Paul.
I fear that much of our infatuation with degrees is to impress men, both saved and unsaved. I appreciate what one local notable preacher said that all his degrees did for him was to get him an interview at the church where he now serves. I was told by a local seminary that a man cannot pastor in Texas without some form of doctorate. While it is difficult because churches have been trained by the theologians that they need a doctor, it is very possible to pastor quite well without a degree let alone a doctorate.
Many have stopped getting ThDs and now seek PhDs. The world respects those more and if ministry fails the chances of getting a teaching job or some other job is better with a PhD versus a ThD. A PhD might even generate a larger salary in a church ministry as well as a secular job. A church that has a pastor with a doctorate of any kind can bring in more affluent members and maybe a PhD does ever better. I cannot judge everyone’s motive, but it would be interesting to know what caused that shift.
Our appealing to the World through education has not really helped much. We may have more doctors in the Church than the medical career field. That may be indicate that we are more ill and forget that it was the doctors, Pharisees and Sadducees, that Christ criticized and condemned the most. Indeed, the greatest insult to that crowd was that to them He was just a carpenter’s illegitimate son and He picked unlearned fisherman and a hated tax collector for His disciples. He also hung out with prostitutes and thieves more than He did with the Sanhedrin. How terribly undignified Christ and His ragtag band were to the doctors.
I don’t remember how long after attending bible college it was when one of my buddies asked me if I noticed that my spiritual life had taken a downhill turn since coming to college. I had to admit that it had indeed slumped when I would have expected being in such a cloistered environment amid a great number of saints all preparing for the ministry or to be a pastor’s wife it would have soared instead of slumped.
I grew more when I was witnessing to the “heathen” and doing my own study in the library than I did in class. Oh, I graduated with honors so I learned stuff. However, it seemed my bible turned into a textbook and a manual on how to militate against the other denominations or cults more so than my own instructional manual for holy living. My manna from Heaven dried up and I was not in the Promised Land.
I spent more time reading about Calvin, Arminius, Covenant theology, Dispensational theology, theories of the Rapture, Tribulation and Millennium by various theologians, both dead and living than I did reading the Word of God that I came to learn. Indeed, much of that I have never used in my ministry because few people are interested in supralapsarian, infralapsarian or sublapsarian theologies. Sometimes I have to throw some of those words in a sermon so I can get some use out of them since I paid good money and spent time to learn them. Most people are just interested in knowing how to get through the nasty now and now in the grace of God until they get to the sweet by and by.
My early experiences with God were more rewarding than my graduating with honors. Though for a guy that graduated 55/57 in his academic high school class it was a cool thing to be in the top 10. I owed those honor cords to my wife who kept me from quitting after my third year of trying to explain how the GI bill worked to the business office who told me they knew about it before I enrolled. I gave them to her when I came down from the podium. They were her reward for my four years.
If is now 40 years since that day I went to church to get a guy off my back and ended up with Christ in my heart. It has been a long and winding road with joys, sorrows, some success and many failures. I have pastored, gotten pieces of paper, taught in a seminary, wrote books and ministered in many areas including social media to many people around the world. I have been received, rejected and oft times a Pharisee and in some areas, a Sadducee.
God has been very gracious to me and better to me than I deserve. He has done things for me when my education and man’s wisdom failed me. I am seeking to go back to my early experiences with Him or my first love. It was an amazing and simpler time.
Indeed, I think I was saved as an apostolic Christian though I was in a Baptist Church. I can remember making some statements that raised some eyebrows back then. I was more attuned to His voice and the Spirit’s leading before I became a theologian. My son called me that once and I told him to never do it again. It’s a good word, but folks called theologians are often confused, much like the scribes they use may, maybe, possibly, could be and quote their favorite men more than “thus saith the Lord.” Theologians thrived in the Dark Ages while many of God’s people had to hide in the dark to avoid theologians.
I wish I had never heard of Calvin and Arminius as well as much of the other stuff that has not profited my life or spirit nor those whom I have taught and given guidance. Often people come to me messed up because of some issue taught them by a theologian or pastor. Indeed, we have many camps who teach things they think are good doctrines based upon some theology that just does not pan out when placed under the light of Scripture. People put too much trust in the theologian of their choice and are not good Bereans who search the Scriptures to see if the things are are told are true.
I am seeking not to be more Spirit led than man led and to seek God’s approval more than the approval of men. I am not dumping doctrine for the sensational as some do, but there is a balance between dead orthodoxy and wildfire pietism. The Holy Spirit in not hobbled by the Bible, but neither will He do anything contrary to the Book He, the Father and the Son wrote. The Word and the Spirit will dove tail, not rabbit trail. I want that balance and that balance may seem unbalanced to men as His thoughts and ways are not ours. May God bring me to that balance to His Glory, by His mercy and grace. After all, He is the “same, yesterday and forever.” I believe it! May God bring you there as well so “that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Maranatha!
Interestingly. the two men that are admired most by my peers or pastoral acquaintances are D. L. Moody, 8th grade education, and Charles Spurgeon, no formal biblical training yet considered the Prince of Preachers.
July 14, 2015
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
No big ceremony or a license needed or even implied here. Simplicity is awesome. Man made it more complicated. For centuries it was just a contract between families and sometimes a spoils of war situation. Neither government nor church was involved with it unless you were a member of the royal family looking for a spouse.
Everyone has gone crazy over the SCOTUS decision. You prayed, you voted and now you just hand it over to God. Brethren, don’t do weddings anymore and you need not worry about polygamy, polyandry or anything else.
It is the Government’s license whereby you obtain government benefits so allow agents of the government to execute and certify the license. When you say, “By the power invested in me by the State of _____” you are acting as an agent of the State and should follow the laws of the State. Disagree with those laws? Then resign as an agent of the State. It seems very simple to me.
There is nothing in Scripture about the church doing weddings with a pastor as the officiant. It was bad theology around the eighth century that started the whole tradition. Dump tradition and stay on mission as dictated in Matt 28:19.20 and Ephesians 4:11-16. Let the Justice of the Peace do the license part and let the couple say their vows before God and family sans preacher and building like it was done for millennia before the eighth century. If they need a building they can rent a building like the Legion, Elks or whatever. Do it in the park or the backyard even in a barn having a dance afterward. Location is not important to God, only man.
God does not require a license and marriage is official with Him when they “become one flesh.” Even a one night stand is considered a one flesh relationship. (1 Cor 6:15, 16) That means there are already a large number of polygamists in God’s eyes even before it becomes legal in the country. The ceremony is for man, not Him. He is, after all, omnipresent. He does not dwell in what we call God’s house. He resides in the believer so if they say their vows in front of a group of believers they have had a church wedding for they are the Church. It is not a sacrament that must be performed by a pastor in a church.
Indeed, it is so much a tradition that at a marriage of a prostitute to a pimp the lady wore white. Yes, this happened. Not exactly following the symbolism. Many other people who have no church background will go through the marriage guidance classes though not really interested in the information just so they can have a church wedding. They never plan on ever being in church again, unless they divorce and remarry, but they followed the tradition. At least with funerals you will not have to do it again for that person in three to five years.
I also know it can be quite an income generator depending on the size and style of the church as well as the notoriety of the preacher. However, that is still not a reason to hold on to this tradition. I never charged for funerals or anything that I felt was part of my pastoral duties. Like the military, a pastor is salaried and on call 24/7 so an honorarium should not be required. Also, if you are performing the ceremony for families of the members this should be done as a ministry of the church with no funds needed. If you are doing it as an evangelistic outreach that is all the more reason to freely give. The preacher should do it freely and the church should be free as well. It should be a ministry to the Body, not a service provided by a vendor. If you cannot provide this as a free ministry then you should not offer it. Since we need to bail out of this whole thing it doesn’t matter, but I needed to make a point about one of the problems with being in this business.
Check with the Christian Law Association (www.christianlaw.org) as you may need to have a formal church meeting to change your constitution and bylaws and post on your website and bulletin that neither the pastor/staff nor this Church performs weddings of any kind.
One thing I learned in the military is the importance of the mission. You do what you have to do and sacrifice what you must, including your life, for the success of the mission. Why have your pastor go to jail, your Church sued and lose its tax-exempt status and shut down thus ending your mission in failure for a tradition? We should have gotten out of this business centuries ago. Will there be a hill to die on down the road? Very possibly, but this is not that hill. This is a molehill of tradition that needs to be sacrificed to stay spot on mission. Will you let it go in wisdom or foolishly fail the mission?
Just a thought. Sholom! Maranatha!