July 28, 2016
None of us spend our money in a totally wise or sacrificial manner. Wasting a little or a lot is still waste. Yet, when men/women in the public spotlight do it more people are harmed than if you spend too much at Starbucks in a month. No one turns away from God or finds reasons to castigate the church because of your addiction.
I am far from perfect, but because of that common accusation, I have done all I could to show that was not completely and have served without pay or little pay. Once I told a church I would come pastor for $10K less than they offered because it was more than I needed and they never spoke to me again. I left a $65K job for a $20K pastorate + parsonage only to go back to work to keep the doors from closing and took no pay. I have asked God to make me self-supporting and He has done that. I once had to ask for a title because I could not do jail ministry without it. I was told that they wanted to give me a title, but could not afford to pay me. I said, what would change if you gave me a title since I am doing the work without pay now? I tell you this to show I am practicing what I preach, not to exalt myself. Hopefully, it will encourage others to follow suit or be encouraged if they are in similar conditions.
I could pastor a church or serve as a staff member of some sort for free now, even though a workman is worthy of his hire. Not everyone can do that, but those that could should. We need to send a new message to the world and the Church. They are tired of rich church leaders. Many who have sent them money with the promise they will be given much more from God because of their seed money have experienced crop failure and are bitter. Explain prosperity preaching and rich preachers to myriads of people in Africa, Asia and other places where Christians are constantly on the move to keep from being imprisoned, enslaved or killed. If it doesn’t preach worldwide, it isn’t biblical.
July 19, 2016
1 Co 2:
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.
Sometime back there was a commercial that asked, “Where’s the beef?” I think the Church needs to ask “Where’s the power?” Maybe the reason we don’t see the glory of God moving in our midst is because we have many words, some very enticing, but not the power as demonstrated by the Holy Spirit.
We have thousands of highly educated and some ignorant opinions being taught in the many sects that call themselves Christians. Much of which is man’s wisdom hence the variety versus one truth as taught by one Book and one Spirit sent by one God to one Body.
Some deny the power saying it doesn’t exist and others deny His full power by saying He can only do some things, but not others as God has made the Holy Spirit PRN instead of FT and He is no longer certified to do certain skills. Others believe in the full power, but only want it for their gratification or to exalt their ministry not God’s. Some abuse the power like the Corinthians.
Fortunately, there are some who not only believe in the full power of the Spirit, but welcome it wanting nothing but the glory of God, Jesus to be exalted, souls saved and edified that only the power of God can touch.
The Holy Spirit exalts Jesus, not Himself. He came to guide us into ALL truth, not leaving some truths to be hidden or grayed. He came to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He is here to be a comforter for the saved, but not in the way Grandma’s quilted comforter did. He gives the Church boldness to evangelize and power to walk in holiness in an unholy world. He gives life to the letter of the law so that the Word preached brings life not killing the hearer with a Pharisee or Sadducee spirit.
Yes, we do exalt man’s wisdom, even theological wisdom. We are more interested in what degrees a man has rather than the degree of control the Spirit has over the man so we call erudite men that may or may not have God’s wisdom. They laud the thoughts of men when God would give them profound thoughts. We do not need a spirited man to fill a position. We need a man filled by the Spirit in position for God to use him.
Many people have shaky faith because it based on the wisdom of man, not God. All they have are creeds or someone’s assurance that they are saved, not the inner witness of the Spirit. Hence they are tossed to and fro carried about by every wind of doctrine and cunning deceits of men. Thus they bounce from church to church not knowing what to seek in a church or pastor looking for the right words to fill their needs when the answer is within the Word and within them if the Spirit lives in them. The Holy Spirit, not their own. Introspection of one’s own spirit will either bring egotism and arrogance or deep despair.
It is time to seek the Lord for Holy Spirit preaching where the Spirit demonstrates His power to exalt Jesus and confirm that the words being spoken are from God, not man’s wisdom. Are there fakes and abusers? Yes, but that does not keep a man from buying his wife a diamond just because zirconium exists. Seek truth, trust God, learn to rightly interpret the Word in context and you need not worry about bad Kool-Aid in South America or here.
Think about it. What did the Church need in the first century to convince the unbelieving and silence the naysayers that we do not need today? What gifts does the Body not need to make it strong and healthy? After all, doctors have been wrong about the appendix and tonsils so be not surprised if some theological doctors have been sincere but sincerely wrong about extracting gifts and power from the Body.
Make your faith strong! Seek the Lord and all He might choose to give you. Seek people who believe God never changes, Jesus is the same, today and forever and the Holy Spirit is still the same!
July 3, 2016
I had a dear friend comment on something I posted on Facebook thanking me for sharing my life as my writings are inspiring. Below is what I replied and hopefully it will be inspiring to someone as well.
That is only because of Jesus. Flawed and weak as I am, my writings would be much, much different if it were not for Him. Whatever transpires in my life that inspires comes from Him. Whatever doesn’t inspire comes from me.
Indeed, if someone did a study of my sermons they would see a change in the last couple of years after I heard God say, “Will you let me be God?” He has also allowed me some insight to who I am without Him and that has created a desire to be more edifying in my writing.
Having spent so much time in a group that preaches grace on one hand, but lives in judgment and condemnation, I do sometimes have a relapse. While I would not change much of the content of my past sermons, I would change the delivery. While being bold and direct is how much of the Gospel was preached, it was not preached with the tenor that my peers and I have oft delivered it.
We tended to forget where we came from and to remember how frail we are and how good we were at hiding that frailty to maintain some form of perfection in our appearance. After all, a preacher must be perfect and we cannot allow our members to see our weaknesses or they will not respect us.
Sadly, that kind of mentality leads to hypocrisy and self-righteousness excusing our own sin while bashing other people’s sins. Instead of using compassionate language for the sinner and harsh words for the Pharisees and Sadducees we reversed it and became rude and crude in the name of boldness and taking a stand.
Indeed, our Bible sword was long and honed to be able to split hairs from a spider, but was made out of rubber as we studied and applied it to our own lives. We would rejoice as we lopped off the head of the ungodly and the backslid, but would not even allow it to mess up one strand of our own hair. We cared not who we offended be it sinner or weak sheep. We were men of God showing no quarter to the enemy, not realizing that in all our purported boldness we were as much an enemy to the Gospel as the devil for we did not portray Jesus as Savior extending arms of forgiveness in grace.as is His mission in this age.
We wanted to be the Judge and it is with judgment He returns and we do not have the call to bear that sword. We are called to rescue and redeem. Yes, speaking the truth in LOVE and calling sin, what it is, but not in the harshness we so often used. You can warn someone of sin and righteousness, but it should be because you want to lead them to salvation from Hell, not snicker and be glad if they do die lost.
I had asked God to purge me so He could use me more. Had I known what that would entail, I would not have asked for that , but I am glad I did. It has changed my life and is still changing it. Indeed, I have so much left to be purged that I am astounded He even wants to bother with me, but then that is the love and grace I thought I knew about after my conversion in ’75. I was a babe thinking I was a sage on the subject.
There are several things that have been spoken over me that I have yet to see, but I look forward to the day when they come to pass. I once wanted to be like Paul and Peter looking only at their victories, not their failures and the process of their tempering. I do have many of their weaknesses.
That was another of my flaws, wanting to be like men instead of being like Jesus. We are called to be conformed to His image. not the heroes of the faith. Indeed, that hinders our growth for we are not called to their ministry for their time, but for our ministry in this time. That means we will be shaped differently and Jesus will manifest Himself in us and to us the way He wants to work with our generation. We are to learn from their example, but we are His work for this time. They are light, but as the darkness deepens in our time God may make our lives much brighter than theirs so that we can see clearly in the deepest, darkest caverns to bring His love and salvation to the people dwelling in that darkness.
I want to be the Ron He wants me to be and to be as much like Him as I can be in my waning years. I am asking Him to make more far more useful and fruitful in whatever years I have left than I have been in the last 40 years.
The devil may think he has led me to my Thermopylae, but like that WWII general that replied, “Nuts” to the German call for his surrender, I do not have to surrender or wallow in the defeat of any battle for my Commander-in-Chief has won the war and though I be wounded and bloodied my dust off is on the way by death or Rapture and I shall return to march in the victory parade in Jerusalem when the King returns to reign! Glory to His name!! Maranatha!!
July 1, 2016
I have a branding iron that depending on how you turn it you could brand the cattle with a large I or a wide H. For those not from Texas or other cattle states, you branded the cattle to mark them as yours. Hence a design like Rocking R or Lazy S is used to distinguish your cattle on an open range from that of a neighbor. It also helped to retrieve lost or stolen cattle.
I was thinking of the things we do are like the cattle. We can brand them with a large I meaning with our ego or pride. Remember, the central issue of the problem of pride is I. Our deeds can have I problems. We give ourselves credit and they are all OUR plans about OUR desires. Then again, we can hand the branding iron over to God and let him turn it into a H showing that all we are, have and do are His and thus holy.
In business these days it is all about branding. You develop your brand and market it. Even churches get in on the brand thing and market themselves. The ticket is the to have the right brand to get people to buy your product or come to your church. Seeker church is a branding concept trying to find the right model for your demographics. I get that different fish require different bait, but like all things it can go overboard. You will not find a church for this people group and one for that one or for lovers of different genre of music in the Word. There was only one church per town where rich, poor, etc went to worship and serve God. Hmm, a sermon there, fer sure.
I really do not like churches running like businesses and using business models. Neither Jesus or Christianity are market items for they are not of this World. Thus using Madison Avenue tactics or techniques do not adorn or become the Gospel. They are actually hindrances. (Phil 1:27)
His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, but are higher. ( Isa 55:9) Why use thoughts other than His and methods that are trying to sell you what you do not need and cannot afford? That also might be a sermon one day. Do we really need to use methods that market baubles that are thrown away when they break or loose allure when we have a message that is worth more than the riches of the universe? I think not!
In the Christian’s life, everything he/she says, does or thinks brands their soul the souls of others as well as presents a picture of what to the World of what a Christian is, what the Church is about as well as who they think Jesus is and does today.
Branding cattle takes some expertise. You do not want the iron to be too hot to severely harm the animal. After all, it is an asset and means money down the road. You do not want it not hot enough or it may not brand the animal at all or make such a light mark that it can be easily altered by a rustler with his brand.
The only way we can be assured that the branding of our lives will be beneficial to us and others is to hand over our I iron to Him. He will turn our I into an H. When we allow that to happen, not only will it be His mark on us, but the resulting holiness will leave a mark on our families/friends/co-workers, church and job, our neighborhood, but may also be the start of a change in our state, our country and even the world.
Those who were branded by God, but walked away from the herd may see their grass is not greener, even dead brown, and be led by the light of your holiness. Those who were stolen from God by The Fall may see that have having the brand of Jesus on their lives is what they have been longing for and will come to Him to be redeemed. Once bought by the blood and branded by Christ, the old scars of satan’s brand will fade. They will joyfully display their new brand to the World thus drawing others to the herd.
When people look at you what brand do they see? Is it a big I or the H? Sometimes you can get people to cock their head left or right so they see an H even if it is truly a very large I. You can do what looks like His work in the flesh, but God will not bless it.
One day, we will stand before God for inspection. If you have His brand of salvation you will be allowed to enter Heaven. However, your life’s work will be evaluated as well. All the stuff you branded with the I will be burned up and will not follow you in. That which you let Him brand will result in rewards for you.
If you show up without His brand on you, you will not be allowed in. Your branding will all be large I branding because you held the iron. You may show Him all the work you did in church or the neighborhood using His name, but you will be as welcome as a cattle rustler. Your life was all about you and He never knew you. You and your works will be burned forever, (Matt 7:21-25)
Are you branded by the blood of Christ or the scars of satan and sin? If not the blood, today is the day to change brands. If your are His by blood and branding, is your life His? Will your life’s branding work here go up in flames or will you give Him back your rewards laying them at His feet because you know it was all Him and not you that earned them? If you are still breathing you can the iron over to Him! Will you do it? Maranatha!!
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Like a wild mustang on the range,
I roamed life without a plan.
Christians seemed to be so strange.
I swore I’d never wear that brand.
No one could put a saddle on me.
Many tried, but they ended up in the dust.
I was wild and I thought I was free.
Never did I see the chains of sin and lust.
Then one day the Master found me starving on the plain.
I saw love in His eyes and peace in His face.
I couldn’t resist, my heart had such pain.
I quietly let Him rope my neck with Grace.
He touched me with a nail scarred hand.
A drop of His blood totally cleansed me.
I now wear the old Rugged Cross Brand.
My chains are gone and I am truly free.
Satan had rustled and branded me with sin.
He deceived me into thinking I had a good deal.
His venom wasted this man from within
And placed on my soul his Hellish seal.
Let Jesus bring you back to His Salvation Ranch.
He’ll give you a reason to lift up a joyful hand.
Don’t pass up what could be your last chance
To wear that blessed old Rugged Cross Brand.
Nov 22, 1993