Active Duty or AWOL?

February 22, 2015


Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me. Isaiah 6:8
Active Duty or Awol?

 

  • I am a soldier in the army of my God. The Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer. The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
  • I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.
  • I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity.
  • I will either retire in this army at the rapture or die in this army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out, or pushed out. I am faithful, reliable, capable and dependable.
  • If my God needs me, I am there. If He needs me in Sunday school, to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults or just sit and learn He can use me because I am there!
  • I am a soldier; I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up or pepped up. I am a soldier. No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me. I am a soldier. I am not a wimp.
  • I am in place, saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His kingdom! No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy or give me handouts. I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or catered to. I am committed. I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around. I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside. I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.
  • When Jesus called me into this army, I had nothing. If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead. I will win. My God has and will continue to supply all of my needs. I am more than a conqueror. I will always triumph. I can do all things through Christ. Devils cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me. Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me. Battles cannot beat me. Money cannot buy me.
  • Governments cannot silence me and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier. Even death cannot destroy me. For when my commander calls me from this battlefield, He will promote me to Captain and then allow me to rule with Him. I am a soldier in the army, and I am marching claiming victory. I will not give up. I will not turn around. I am a soldier, marching heaven bound. Here I stand! I will not turn around. Will you stand with me?
    The big question is, which part of the service are you in?

    • Active Duty: Serving the Lord faithfully, daily and on duty 24/7?
    • Reserve status: Serving only when called upon or twice a year, Christmas and Easter?
    • Guard status: Backing up the Active Duty group?
    • AWOL! Absent with out the Lord?
    THINK ABOUT IT – Keep looking up to God and know He is truly and always looking down at you!
    -Author Unknown

 


I am basically an optimistic person, but after 30+ years of ministry I have learned to be a realistic optimist. I know what age I am living in and that it takes more than pithy sayings and upbeat prose that we daily receive in e-mails to survive in the spiritual war raging around us. I am going to balance out the “Top Ten below or give the rest of the story like Paul Harvey says.

THE TOP TEN PREDICTIONS UNTIL HE RETURNS

1. The Bible will still have the answers, (but fewer will read it.)
2. Prayer will still work (but many will be said in ritual or lust and unheeded.)
3. The Holy Spirit will still move (if not quenched, grieved or resisted.)
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people (but most are ungrateful and stiff-necked. )
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching (but fewer will want to hear it.)
6. There will still be singing of praise (but much of it will be in a worldly manner exciting the flesh but not the spirit. )
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people (but few will seek them desiring material things more.)
8. There will still be room at the Cross- (but more preachers will deny the need for such a bloody religion.)
9. Jesus will still love you, (but only true for the Christian should He return this year.)
10. Jesus will still save the lost, (but fewer will come to Him because of the false gospels being preached.)

–Author Unknown- (Ron Shultz)

———

Now while all that may sound negative to some, you must remember that life is both positive and negative. Let the Power of Positive Thinking be abandoned. Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven and lost most of His “seeker” congregations when He let the loaves and fishes digest and then went on to spiritual meat. Most could not handle the milk of the Word but the meat of it really sent them packing to where He even asked Peter if he and the rest of the twelve were leaving as well.

Jesus pondered whether there would even be faith on the earth when He returned, which does make one wonder how many mega-churches will exist at that time and if they do how many of the clientele will actually be going with Him. It would not hard to be see that for every person in a mega-church there are far more saints suffering persecution and death around the world. While we suffer the drive to church and the too hot/cold atmosphere of our grand edifices the true Church is being bathed in blood and built upon its only foundation the Cross of Christ. Yes, there are at least some saved folks here in America/The West but most are fat, dumb and happy but misguided or our lands would be in far better shape spiritually then they are.

We are in an a age of apostasy not some golden age of revival and we must approach the positive side of these “predictions” in that light or many will become discouraged and fall by the wayside when they don’t see the “new wave” of the “new apostolic reformation” or get the “holy laughter” or just see the numbers of their congregations flux constantly or steadily shrink. Indeed, there are more “positive” preachers setting up people for a fall than for a blessing.

It has been said that War is Hell and indeed it is hellish but nothing like the War Against Hell that we are in daily. Carnal war will only cause a loss of possessions or at worse physical life. Losses in the War Against Hell are eternal. Those losses will be far greater for the unbeliever than the Believer but that should not be a source of comfort to encourage slothfulness, naivete, and binges of being AWOL or on extended periods of R&R. It should be a source of comfort that inspires the spirit to seek fewer personal losses and compel us to cry out for fewer losses of souls to the enemy.

As much as I would hate to see it perhaps the only way to true revival of the US/West is by the way of persecution. We have had way too many blessings and squandered them on carnal priorities and platforms. “Must I carried through the skies on flowery beds of ease while other fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?” Are we soldiers of the Cross or CEOs that face eternal loss? It is time for Churches to quit being a business and get back to our Father’s business or we shall truly hate the bottom line when the Founder and Owner of the Church returns.

Oh, that the cry might be, “So say we all!” Maranatha!


Some have suggested that the able bodied poor should perform some sort of work or community service to receive benefits.  Of course, others have opposed it.  FDR created the CCC and WPA which were pretty much working welfare programs.  Indeed, it was a fulltime job and not easy labor.

Lev_19:10  And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.

Deu_24:21  When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

God provided for the poor, but they had to go into the fields and harvest it.  The gleanings were not gathered up in a basket and handed to them.

Ruth_2:2  And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.

Ruth_2:7  And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.

This lady was to be an ancestor of Christ and yet she worked the field in her poverty.

Ruth_2:16  And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.

Even when Boaz was starting to love her and he had his people increase what she could glean he did not hand it to her.  She still had to work to get the extra blessing.

2Thessalonians 3

10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

12Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Notice he did not say those who could not work.  Truly disabled people and the elderly would be provided for since they could not work.  Widows over 60 who had no relatives were cared for by the Church and other poor in the culture sought alms.  True, we are not a people who find begging appealing, but we have many beggars in this country.  I was often asked for money even as I was walking into my job or on my way to perform jail ministry.

Many will not work because they do not like the salary they receive for the type of work they are able to do.  There was a time I worked for $2.25 an hour.  I took whatever I could get because I had a wife and two kids to support.  I could not afford to be picky.  There was a time I could afford to work or afford to die, but I could not afford to be unemployed regardless of the salary.  I have gone to work with 102 degree fever because I could not afford to lose out on a day’s pay.  I have even endured persecution at a job because I needed the money until I could find another job.  I was never able to afford quitting a job until I found another one.

If you are receiving public benefits, I see no reason why you cannot perform some sort of labor to give back to the public who is helping you.  It will help you as well when you can look back at the end of the day or end of a project and feel a sense of accomplishment rather than sitting on the couch doing nothing and being depressed because of your situation.  It may also help you land a job because the employer knows you have been working and able to take instructions and accomplish tasks.  He has a referral from the supervisor with glowing reviews.   Working for your benefits can only help you, not hurt you.

We also need to adjust our system so that the person is encouraged to get off the welfare program and progress, not stay on it and stagnate.  It should be an help, not a solution.  Indeed, it should be just enough to maintain you until you can get a job and thrive, not something on which you can learn to survive.  People were designed to thrive, not just survive.   Even in Paradise, God had Adam and Eve working.  The difference before the Fall is that they enjoyed it.   Since then, it has been difficult to find our ideal career so most of us long for wealth to where we can quit or retire to do nothing.  One person said that we rust out quicker than we wear out so our dream is really a nightmare.  We just don’t know it.   People who are busy in retirement are happier than those who just vegetate on the couch.  Work is good for us so we should not deny the poor the opportunity to work.

Shalom!  Maranatha!!

Law or Grace

February 9, 2015


The argument over Grace versus Law or a mixture like Graw or Lace has been going on for centuries. That is to be expected because there was such a radical change between the Old and New Covenant it was bound to bring about controversy. The Jews who had been under the Old for so many centuries could not grasp a concept of God changing it. The Gentiles who had never been under it could not comprehend the hang ups the Jews had over having a new relationship with God without a lot of rituals. Besides, why in the world would you want to pass up a ham sandwich or be tied to so many rituals?

We see the conflict and merging pains of the Jew/Gentile church in Romans 14 and 15. Gentiles come to the Lord’s Supper with a dish that was not traditionally washed with a pork roast on it. Jews not touching even a good pot roast because they heard that Lycinius bought it at the vendor who got his daily rations from the temple of Zeus. Both eyed each other with suspicion. The Jews were bunch of Pharisees to Linus and Avril gasped at the blatant lack of holiness of those pagans in the midst.
Those chapters are often taught incorrectly and abused by people trying to justify some sin or get people to back off a “gray” area. Many times they are taught with an attitude of, “Weaker brother, grow up.” That was the title of an article in a major evangelical magazine some years back. Paul is saying in those chapters, “Stronger brother give up your liberty.” If liberty needs to be given up until a weaker brother comes to understanding and strength then so be it. If he never grows up, then for the sake of peace and love then surrender your liberty until death.

Nothing Paul spoke about in those chapters had anything to do with gray areas. Indeed, he was saying the Gentiles had it right in principle, but terribly wrong in practice. Indeed, all days are God’s days and all meats are lawful, but don’t force your liberty on the weaker brother. He also told the Jews to not judge the Gentiles. Indeed, if they thought the Gentiles were the weaker brothers than they were also to walk in love with them. Shoving a ham sandwich in the face of your Jewish brother shouting, “Eat up! You’re under grace” is not loving or the way to teach. Calling your Gentile brother a stinking law breaking pagan is not going to convince him to change his opinion of the ham sandwich or you. Loving, but truthful, dialog and respect will go a long way.

All of this was going on long after the Jerusalem Council made its decree on what was required of the Gentiles. Four things were to be avoided; fornication, idolatry, things strangled and blood. That’s it. No other points of the Law or Jewish traditions, not even the Sabbath. That should be the last word on the issue for Gentiles. They had a chance to drop the hammer. Many of them were going about saying you cannot be saved unless you believe on Christ plus be circumcised and keep the Law.   If James had pronounced that we should be pork free and living in tabernacles once a year then those who want to have Grace and Law merged would have some legal precedence. He said not a word of any of that and yet through the centuries the same questions and battles keep coming up.

We live in an age like many others because as one of my professors said, “Human nature has not changed since the Fall and will not change until after the Millennium.” Humans tend to be active pendulums swinging from one side to the other instead of finding balance.   This is why we have those who are stuck in a dead orthodoxy and others practicing wildfire pietism. One cannot allow the Spirit to breathe His life into the Word of God so that letter does not kill and the other wants to dump all doctrine and sound interpretation for subjective feelings in the name of love allowing the Holy Spirit to have free rein. Sometimes the spirit that is having a free rein is their human spirit or even a dark spirit posing as an angel of light.   God is a god of balance and the Word and the Holy Spirit work in tandem. The Spirit will never contradict the Word that He was a part of writing and the Word will never hobble the work of the Holy Spirit. It is very difficult to find balance these days.

All that leads us to Galatians chapter three, where Paul is actively resisting the Graw they are seeking to bring about in the church due to some folks from Jerusalem teaching this error.   These fellows show up in that century’s version of Armanni suits with glowing pedigrees or degrees. People tend to gravitate towards them because they are taught to respect people like that. Unfortunately, many heretics and con artists can play the role and look the part. Paul, from a human perspective, had a hard time competing with that.   He did not dress like a bum, but he would not have been a “dress for success” type. Many believe he was a short man and after all he had gone through he would have had many visible scars along with bad eyesight. The other lads waxed eloquent when they spoke and sounded very erudite while Paul admitted he was rude of speech. All this would have been the death knell for the average person’s ministry except Paul had the truth and He was handpicked by Christ. With that background, you don’t quit. He was likely better trained then some of the pretty boys that showed up, but he relied upon the Holy Spirit rather than his own pedigrees that he considered as dung.

Paul wins the Galatians to Christ preaching the gospel of grace. The people were growing in that grace and the church was growing. Usually that is when the gainsayers and the naysayers start showing up. Folks see a work growing and either show up to criticize it or find a way they can get in on it though often they want in on it only to benefit their own agenda or line their pockets.   They want to come in and lead, not learn and participate. These lads that came up from Jerusalem were there to bring the Galatians into what they might have called the full gospel. Yes, Jesus saves you by faith, but you must also be circumcised and follow all of the Mosaic law to keep your salvation or to truly grow in sanctification.

Someone asked what a Legalist is and according to Acts 15 it is a Jesus plus anything else gospel. It is not having high standards. High standards are OK unless you make your standards a means of grace to gain favor with God or to keep from losing your salvation. Yes, we are to be sanctified and different from the world, but when you make jean skirts something to avoid there is no biblical principle for that standard. Some people chastise others for using technology like PowerPoint presentations and such and yet use other types of technology. You are crossing into dangerous ground and even over the line into legalism with such a mindset.

The only means of obtaining favor with God is through placing your sins into the hands of Jesus trusting in His vicarious atonement of them by His death, burial and resurrection as the incarnate Son of God. Adding baptism or other rituals including all or some aspects of the Law to that is legalism and you have fallen from the doctrine of grace into something else. You have been bewitched or fascinated by a false representation of the Gospel. (verse 1) You have not lost your salvation, but you have lost the blessing of it and not benefiting from a life of grace.

He asks a very direct question in verse two. Did the Galatians receive Christ by faith or by works of the Law? The obvious answer is by faith. That being true, why in the world are they looking for something else or be willing to take a downgrade?   He says that is foolish and vain. It is always good to look back and take stock of where and who we are now compared to the day we were saved. Have we strayed or added to the message because of experiences? Are we growing in grace or have we substituted something for walking in the Spirit’s guidance. Paul sends them back to day one and says look how you received Christ. Look what you have suffered for your faith and now you want to chuck that for a mutilation of the Gospel.

He then points to himself and asks what was the power in my message, Law or Grace? Did I do miracles by following the Law to the letter or by faith? Does anything those lads from Jerusalem say fit anything you have experienced in yourself or seen in my ministry? Hello! Wake up!!   Don’t be foolish!

If nothing else, look to the father of the faithful, Abraham. He believed God and he was called righteous. I know that James seems to say that Abraham was justified by works, but that is not what he is saying. Faith should manifest in works, but God cut the covenant with Abram and changed his name to Abraham long before the willingness to sacrifice Isaac.   He was saved by faith. The nations are blessed through Abraham because of his faith and we who have faith are blessed with him. Pretty clear to me.

James was dealing with a different issue. Many can say they have faith, but if they do then they will manifest that faith even if it is a weak, mustard seed faith some evidence of that faith will be seen. This is why great care should be taken when leading people to Christ using the “Sinner’s Prayer” at the end of the Roman’s Road.   A great many who have said that prayer never manifested anything. Nothing changed in their life. When Jesus truly comes into a life and the Holy Spirit starts working with the person there is going to be some changes. Will there be baby steps and struggles? Yes, but there will be something. I am afraid, we have chalked up many doorstep or jail house conversions when in reality we have made people twice the child of Hell by our capricious salesman approach. (Matt 23:15)

We go now from faith and blessing to curses. Who is cursed? Those who do not continue to do ALL things in the Law, not just a few. Paul’s argument before the Jerusalem Council was why put a burden on the Gentiles that even we Jews were not able to bear? The Law was holy, but since we are not it was a hopeless case to try and fulfill it perfectly. Each year you had to have faith that God would forgive the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement as He promised. Thus, it was faith that saved even under the Old Covenant.

The rich young ruler thought he was keeping the law and then Christ made it evident that the ruler was indeed covetous and idolatrous when faced with the option of following Christ or selling all he had. Paul thought himself righteous and doing a good job of keeping the Law until he had his Romans 7 experience. If by works of the Law no flesh shall be justified before God then what makes people think that tacking it on to the gospel of faith will justify them or increase their sanctification?

The Law has practical value. If you seek to follow it life will be better for you. Indeed, if you follow the dietary law you will be far healthier and may even live a longer life, but it does not gain you any favor with God to bring about justification.   If you break one commandment you broke them all. Perfection is required. When you think about sins of commission and omission and as David speaks secret or hidden sins plus the deceitfulness of the human heart you should do cartwheels and be glad for salvation by faith alone. Many who appear to be very righteous and are sure they are doing well will be shocked at the BEMA or the Great White Throne when God shows them their heart as it truly was in life. If it happens at the BEMA, the tears will be washed away. If it happens at the Great White Throne it will disastrous. Those tears will be for eternity. Make sure you know at which session of the Judgment Seat you will appear.

The law is not of faith. That should be game point. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law so why do we insist on dragging it into the Gospel? The covenant was four hundred and fifty years before the Law was given and was not annulled by the Law. It was given to bring us to Christ and to have some insight to God’s holiness, His sovereignty, as well as giving guidelines for social and judicial action. We can still learn many things from the Law, but it will not justify us or make us holy. It is either Law or promise; faith or works. The Law was given because of transgressions to teach us until Christ arrived.

God meditated the covenant between Himself and Abraham. God put him in a deep sleep so that he really had nothing to fulfill in the covenant. It was all of God.   The Law came by God, but in reality the people asked for it when they wanted Moses to be the only mediator between them and God. Moses, in that role, was a type of Christ for now there is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. The Law was only temporary. It lasted from Moses to Christ. Christ fulfilled it and tore down the wall between us and God by “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Col 2:14) Blotting out or erasing and taking it way should again be game point.   We needed a mediator’s help with the Law and Christ became that. Abraham’s seed, not seeds, came and redeemed us.

Had we been able to keep the Law, we would have been saved by Law, but the Law showed us our wickedness and helplessness. It taught us we needed a Redeemer.   It’s job was to be a schoolmaster to teach us that need. Once Christ came and we received Him the schoolmaster’s job was done. Indeed, the Law left us all in the same category, sinner. No one could exalt himself or get into Heaven by any other way than to receive pardon by placing faith in the Redeemer and His work. We needed grace and it was available by faith, not by works of the Law.

The promise was made to Abraham, while he was still a Gentile for there were no Jews and Gentiles at that time. There were only humans. God called Abraham to be a father of all the faithful and to bless all nations.   His lineage became Israelites via Jacob.   The first person to be called a Jew or Yehudi was Esther’s uncle Mordecai. Gentiles basically means nations and at the time of his call, Abram was one man among the nations. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the nations would be blessed by him or that God would save the nations through faith so that they could enter in a relationship with God like the one Abraham experienced.  Since Christ is the promised seed of Abraham, once we are baptized into Christ we are all children of God regardless of our ethnic background, gender or social status. We are one in Christ. We were once shut up in the stronghold of the Law but now we are the children of promise by our faith in Christ. Accept no substitutes or adulterations for the promise that was given.

We are free from the Law. Do not return to a yoke of bondage. Do not fall away from a life of grace. Enjoy the richness of relationship that it brings and the freedom from fear. There is much more to discuss, but those issues need another sermon lest like Eutychus someone falls out a window from sleep deprivation.   Study and know your freedom. Paul’s epistles fight Graw and Lace all throughout them. Be wise and not foolish. Shalom! Maranatha!!!


Romans 8

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Quit whining about how hard it is to be a Christian and the Church has no impact in the culture because of blah, blah, blah.  Christianity was birthed in one of the cruelest tyrannies in history and spread like a Texas grassfire.  Even today, the Church is stronger in places when it should have no chance of survival. Christians are persecuted and killed daily and yet the Church grows.  It is not growing here because Christians are not focused on the Kingdom and the King, but on the circustances and their own self interests.  When we die to self and look to Christ the Church will thrive.  Change yourself and you change your family. Change your family and you will change your church. Change your church and you will change your town.  Change your town and it will change the state. Change the state and it will change the country.  Change your country and you will impact change upon the world.

So, quit your whining.  Stand up like a child of God.  Dust off your armor and put it on.  Submit yourself to your King and charge Hell for its gates cannot prevail.  We are not called to be entertained inside some building’s walls.  We are called to enter into the fray between good and evil.  David faced his giant in the name of the Lord and so should we face our giants.  “Greater is He that is in than he that is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4)

Do not war against people.  War against the devil and take back his captives in the love of God.  Remember Saul was the greatest enemy of the Christ and he became one of it greatest saints.  The war has been won.  We are just in mop up mode and freeing hostages from spiritual Auschwitzs.  Faith is the victory and souls are waiting for you to free them from their bondage.  We do not have to sing “We shall overcome” for He has already overcome.  Stop whining and start winning as you were called to do. It is time that the Church rises up and makes the kingdom of Hell tremble at the name of Jesus as it did in the first century.

Rise Up, Fellow Soldier

There is power in the blood and victory in the Cross,
So why, Child of God, do you mourn like all is lost?
Take up your mighty sword, the blessed Word of God
And march into the battlefield where other Saints have trod.

When in joyful, singing faith we do them assail,
The Gates of deepest Hell have no chance to prevail.
Satan’s host may seem so many and so very strong,
Yet, before the toughest battle, we can sing the Victor’s song.

The Captain of the Hosts has already won the fight
And filled the darkness with His Shekinah light!
There is no foe that He has not already overcome.
The spoils are there waiting so let’s take us some.

The time is short and there is so very much to do.
You cannot imagine what Christ can do in you.
So rise up, my fellow soldier, and quit your looking down!
Look up to Him who shares with you the glorious Victor’s crown.

Sep 23, 1995


Love him who tells you your faults in private.

It is easier to guard a sack full of fleas than a girl in love.

Love does not pay attention to dignity. – (Jewish Proverbs)

Gen_29:20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

Lev_19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

Deu_6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deu_10:19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Mic_6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Joh_15
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
1Jn_4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
February is the love month, where supposedly some fat naked baby dude with wings zips around shooting people with arrows to make them fall in love. Frankly, being shot with an arrow is not going to make love the shooter let alone anyone else. We go crazy buying the object of our love all sorts of treats and trinkets and if you don’t then it is doing time in the dog house! Now, that’s love. For me, if you only go all out for me one day a year and ignore me the rest I’m not feeling the love. Save money and just have you own kiss and cuddle marathon. That is far more fun than reading some card with pithy sayings or rhyme.

The human race is in love with love. Why? Because God made us in His image and He is love. He created us so He could love us and we were to love Him of our own free will. That went downhill when Adam and Even chose love of knowledge of good and evil over long walks with God in the garden. Now our concept of love is as fractured as our image of God.
English is rather limited in the expression of love. We love our wife, kids, dogs, hot dogs, sports, car and on and on without any other word. Blah! Greek is far more descriptive. There is a word for familial love, romantic love, friendship love and perfect love like God has for us. We often claim we have that kind of love for God when if the truth were known we would find ourselves in the same state as Peter when he claimed undying, unchangeable love for Christ just a few hours before he denied Him.

Indeed, God is very into love. I had to quit with the verses as love is mentioned in two hundred and eighty one verses. The greatest human love story ever is in the Bible, the Song of Solomon. The greatest love story of all time is there as well. The story of how God reached out to His fallen creation time and time again throughout human history showing love and mercy whenever we got into trouble because of our rebellion against Him.
We often complain and think that God doesn’t love us. If you look back over your life with honest eyes you will see many things that as the Negro spiritual says. “It could have been the other way.” Even with what you see, you will never know the whole story until we get to that grand opening of “This Is Your Life” where all of what you did and what He did is reviewed before everyone. You will most likely find that some of what you felt were the worst times of your life were greatly mitigated by the love of God.
That being said, with all the love He gives us He expects and deserves our love in return as well as love for one another. He doesn’t just say love the ones easy to love or the ones we want to love. We are to love our neighbors, strangers and even our enemies. Whoa, tough job! Yes, and without His love in us expressed by the Holy Spirit, it ain’t a gonna happen. Even loving the ones we love can be a challenge at times so loving our neighbors with the howling dogs, the strangers we are not sure we can trust and our enemies are going to be a tremendous challenge! Thus, only by His grace and empowerment can it happen.
Many people say they love God, but are haters of almost everyone but themselves and I think hating themselves is what spurs on the hate of others. They are just projecting their own self-hate. We are all creations of God albeit broken creations. We are all mentally and spiritually challenged or we would love God perfectly and our fellow humans.
I had to unfriend a Native American lady on FaceBook because she was agreeing with some fellow who thought that Blacks (actually Dark Browns, read on) may have been created by a different god. Not only is that bad theology, but is not anywhere near a loving sentiment. God makes a strong statement in 1 John when He says if you say you love God and hate your brother you are a liar. Remember, only eight people got off that ark so we are all kinfolks. Some kin we are closer to than others, but we are related.
Indeed, race is a word Christians should strike from their vocabulary. That is a Darwinian phrase and has helped perpetuate many acts of hate over the years. There is only one race, the human race. (https://answersingenesis.org/racism/are-there-really-different-races/) In fact, there is only one color as science has proven we are all a shade of brown. So much for “Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight…” That song needs a rewrite.
So what’s love got to do with it? Everything!
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God’s plan for man has been about love from the beginning. It is we who have shunned His love and in so doing tainted the love we have for others and ourself. If you need some love, seek God through His Son, Jesus Christ and you will get more love than you have ever known.
For those of us who have received that love, it is one thing to talk about love, but true love is active.
1Jn_3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

May God bless y’all greatly. Have a lovely and loving month! Shalom! Maranatha!

Buying Blessings?

January 31, 2015


Acts 8
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

i have to wonder if some of the prosperity preachers are not guilty or nigh guilty of a Simon spirit? As much as they preach about giving money in order to receive the blessing of God, which in these days is administered and dispensed by the Holy Spirit, does that not seem like they are having people buy the power of God or the blessings of the Spirit? “If you want God to move in your life, invest your seed money into this ministry and the Spirit will be released unto you.” Selling the blessing of God ought to be as bad as trying to buy the power to be able to give the Holy Spirit to someone.

I watched a video that was given to me about some people who just walked the streets of various places and healed people randomly and freely. There was never any mention of money and the one guy told an atheist that he was healing by the power of Jesus and not his power so the atheist could be as unbelieving as he wanted to be. Jesus would heal him because He loved him, atheist or not.

You may not agree with the theology, but you have to admire the method. No planned big crowds, no pleas for money, just healing people for nothing but the love of Christ. Note also how many healers will blame the person they are trying to heal for not having enough faith for it to happen if it fails. Tell that to the lame man in Acts 3 who was looking for a hand out and got a hand up and was healed.

I admire the guy who told the atheist to just keep on being one because God will do what He does by His power what He wants to do. If it failed, it would not be the atheist’s fault. That takes boldness and faith to accept the accountability rather placing blame on the atheist or even worse on God.

Yes, I know ministries need money to operate, but I also know George Mueller operated an orphanage by faith for many years. He never told anyone, but God, about what was needed. God provided many wonderful miracles and the kids never lacked for anything that was needed. They once had an empty cupboard and empty bowls but Bro Mueller had them sit down and thank God for their breakfast. At the end of the prayer a knock was heard and it was a man whose wagon had broken down and he offered them milk and flour. The kids ate a good breakfast.

If God can do things like that for Bro. Mueller for years, He can do that for these big ministries if they are ordained of Him and not by some man or group.  He can also do it for small ministries and you.   If He is not providing then possibly folks are not listening to His guiding voice.

So, don’t try and buy a blessing lottery ticket by listening to those hawking such things.  Besides, some of these guys could downsize their house or sell their jet to pay for whatever they are asking you to give in faith to achieve.

Want God’s blessing?  Have faith and be faithful and He will give His child what that child needs.  God’s blessings are not bought by seed money, candles, shower caps with hand prints, rituals or whatever else.  God’s blessings flow to those who are His in a love relationship with Him by receiving the gift of salvation by trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins on the Cross.  He proved that He paid the debt by His resurrection.  He could only do that because He was the Son of God in the flesh.  The pure died for the impure, the innocent for the guilty, the sinless for the sinner.  Call out to Him for that gift and then watch for His blessings.

Shalom! Maranatha!!

Are You A Jonah?

January 31, 2015


Jonan 1

1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Are you better than Jonah? Are there people you would never witness to because you are fine with then going to Hell? Will God have to give you a whale ride to get you to “…go into the world and preach the gospel to EVERY creature?” (Mark 16:15)

Ironically, Jonah means dove, but he did not want to be the dove of peace to people of war. He was sent like the Holy Spirit to preach judgment and then peace when they turned to God. He liked the judgment part well enough, but not the peace part.

In the middle of the storm caused by his rebellion;

Jonah slept while the heathen prayed.

Heathen spoke to Jonah about God and was concerned about their souls. Jonah didn’t speak and didn’t care about their souls.

Heathen tried to save Jonah rather than him trying to save them.

There is no place for prejudice and hatred in the Body of Christ. All humans are created in the image of God and He died for them to bring them back home.

Do not be like Jonah and go kicking and screaming and then be bitter if Jesus saves someone you don’t like. Be thankful, He was willing to save you when there was nothing in you to merit His love.

All men are my temporal brothers through Creation and some are my eternal brothers through the New Birth. All of my temporal ones should have the chance to be my eternal brother.

Ask God to forgive your hard heart and foolish prejudice then seek out they whom you would not seek and show them the love of Christ!

Shalom! Maranatha!!!


Acts
9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Paul was not called to a prosperity gospel for suffering and prosperity are not terms that go together. Indeed, we could do a Sesame Street lesson here.

Prosperity
Health Name
It Claim It
Suffer

One of these things are not like the other. All you have to do is read Paul’s resume in 2 Cor 11:22-28 and you can see he was not in a ministry where he was well heeled, living in luxury and in great popularilty being constantly invited to synagogue, pagan temple and Roman forum alike.

You may say that was Paul’s calling but the rest of us are called to prosperity. That is not what Paul says.

Philippians 1
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

What kind of conflict was he in? O, minor stuff like persecution, betrayal and at the time this was written in a nasty Roman prison. He was writing to the Church at Philippi, not just the leadership and all things were written to us. The type of suffering may vary, but as Menno Simons said the true church will always suffer persecution. Are you ready? You won’t be if you expect an easy street life being showered in material blessings.

Shalom! Maranatha!

Lies+Emotions+Bias=Mobs

January 21, 2015


Act 19:32  Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Sounds like a great many meetings that I have attended.   Some were bored and doodling like me or trying not to be called on or asked questions not very relevant just to end awkward silences or stop endless quibbling.   Sometimes what was put forth as a policy in the beginning of the meeting got convoluted so much that by the end of the meeting the policy flip flopped.

At one place, I just started dropping out of meetings.  No one fussed or seemed to miss me so while they discussed the same things for months with no resolution I was out accomplishing tasks that were needed.   I even turned a meeting I chaired into a email session that saved me time because the face to face meeting had too many derails and rabbit trails.  I used that hour far more effectively.

Our story here started out with some silversmiths that made idols being concerned about their bottom line.  Paul was converting people to Christ, which meant they no longer bought the silver idols.  Angered by this the silversmiths started spreading the word that Paul was seeking to make Diana’s temple despised and upset the order of the world.  In a sense, they were right because Paul was preaching one God and one only, which smacked down all the gods/goddesses.  When people came to Christ, the idols would be done away with and temple attendance would go down, but that was not the real goal.  The goal was to win people to Christ.  The others things were the result of coming to faith in Christ.

Act 19:29  And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

Consequently, the whole city became emotionally confused, not having all the facts and running on high emotion can easily cause that. So they drag these men into the theatre to publicly denounce and abuse them.  People start pouring in and others seeing the crowd start heading that way as well.  As they go, they are probably asking what is going on and most likely got varying answers.  Thus when this crowd was complete you have the situation described in verse 32.

Act 19:34  But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Add to the confusion the introduction of someone or something despised and boom you have a two hour shouting session that makes anything you would hear at a Super Bowl game sound like a whisper.

In this situation a town clerk or government official comes in, calms them down by giving them the facts and sending them home.  He did well because often once the emotions have reached this peak facts mean very little.  It is a big swing from shouting for two hours to quietly leaving the theatre.

This method of spreading a lie for someone’s gain or agenda, raising emotions and getting those emotions expressed by shouting with the intent of leading them into violence of some sort has been practiced many times throughout history. Indeed, we have seen it many times in our life time.

Emotions are a wonderful thing, but don’t let them get out of control.  Seek the truth or facts first.  Facts should be the engine and not the facts you think you know or what you want to be a fact, but the truth.  I don’t know how many times I have had to send people links from http://www.truthorfiction.com or http://www.snopes.com showing that the thing they are elated about or angry about or makes them afraid are bogus.  Basic rules of thumb if it sounds too good to be true it probably is not.  If it is too horrible to imagine it is probably exaggerated.  If it says so and so said so and so about something, it is probably out of context or not said by that person but it was attributed to them.  It may even have been contrived to create unnecessary and excessive traffic on the network to try and bring down a server.  Don’t help a hacker.

To my Christian friends, did it ever occur to you that folks that are not exactly Pro-Christian might generate crazy stuff just to get you emotional so you will start petitions and look like a fool?  They could also write some of what seems like the most wonderful story or miracle just to have you share a million times a fairy tale as they laugh about stupid and gullible Christians .  I have been fooled myself because I trusted the judgment of someone I respected.  Preachers, be careful about using some of the stuff you see on the internet or was sent to you by a pillar of the church.  They may have been sincere about the post, but they may also be sincerely wrong.

Once you have the facts then let your passion fuel that engine.  Still, you don’t want to over stoke that engine or the boiler can blow and derail your sincere attempt to fix something, right a wrong or even advance a good thing.  In fact, it may be far better to let your faith fuel the engine and allow the passion to be pulled along like a caboose.  How often have you seen that illustration when speaking of the Christian life?  Facts are the engine. Faith is the coal car and feelings are the caboose.  Seeking by faith God’s direction when you have the facts will keep the emotions under control.  Maintaining control of emotions will keep you from being swayed by the mob and by His grace getting caught up in the melee.  That is the way to avoid being a victim or God forbid, a perpetrator of the violence.  No, you may not physically harm someone, but your words may beat down someone just as badly as if you used a hammer.

It has taken me many years to come to this understanding. I was raised in an area where bullying seemed like a rite of passage and people screamed and verbally abused each other rather than have rational dialogue. If you were someone they held a bias against your life would be rough. Compounded by being mentored by pastors who thought being rude and crude was being bold for the Lord it was no wonder I was led down that path and took on that mentality and demeanor.  Stirring the emotions was also part of their normal protocol and often generated negative actions and attitudes rather than positive ones.  Sometimes, whether intentional or not, there was even some half truths or speaking from the pulpit things heard in private. It is not easy to overcome that, but by the grace of God, I trust I am making progress.

So avoid lies, keep your emotions in check and ask God to remove any ungodly bias from your heart.  Stay away from mobs and make sure you are not a mob of one in your words and actions. The peace that will bring to your soul and your family will give peace in your community and country a chance.

Shalom! Maranatha!