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.