Saturday, September 5, 2015

Knowing Our Place In This World

I've neglected my blog for a while now. I partially blame this on Facebook, because I can make instant "posts" to what is affecting me in this world at any particular time. That one thing has severely hindered my will to write blog posts for a couple of years now. It's not that I don't have anything to say, I just say it multiple times a day, through a different outlet.

Saying that - some things require a different outlet, as a small comment window on Facebook, filled with blog post worthy ramblings will often go by unread, even if the content is spot on. People are just too lazy to read. But, that doesn't mean that God will not draw the attention and focus from those who He would have read the post, even if it is only one or two people.

I made such a rambling just now and knew that I had to put it in blog form, as my Facebook feed will go largely unseen. So here is my post, copied and pasted for the whole World Wide Web to possibly see, instead of my current 563 friends on Facebook alone. This is my heart right now, in light of the recent things happening in my world, in our world.

Sinners are going to sin. Period. It's not our "job" to call them out on it, it's our "job" to continue loving them. Period. This is the same as Christ's example of dining with tax collectors and prostitutes, because it was so radical in His day to do so.
I have friends who are sinners. I enjoy their company. I enjoy talking to them and building friendships with them. I may not have the bond with them as I do with a brother or sister in Christ, but there are bonds there.They do not agree with me on everything, and they still love me (like, some may call it because the term "love" is strong for some folks). I do not agree with them on everything and I still love them.
The world is our mission field. Our command is to "go, make disciples", not "go, tell people that they are sinners", although that topic will come up from time to time. God has placed each Christian within their very own, personal mission field no one else has your scope of influence, no one knows everyone in your circle, do not take it for granted.
The recent events in Kentucky have given me new perspectives. I am firm on my definition of marriage, because I know from God's Word what marriage is to Him- It is the earthly picture of Christ's love for His Bride, the Church and anything contrary to husband and wife is a distortion of that picture. But, the world is going to be the world. Those who do not know God are not going to follow God. That does not mean we cave or bend to the world, it means that we continue to stand on God's Word and show the world Christ's example. We do not say "yes, you're correct and we need to re-examine our stance in this time and understanding place in time" - We continue to say "This is what God says and even though I disagree with you I still love you, I still call you my friend, my brother, my sister, my mother, my co-worker, my son, my daughter, my boss, my server at the restaurant, my check out person at the grocery store, my tax collector, my banker, my ........".
We are salt and light to this world. We are to show how God has made us different. I have seen this example in others and have learned (discipled, if you will) into a better understanding of what Christ meant when He said those words. This doesn't mean that I condone any sinful lifestyle, this means I love my friends regardless, even when everyone else turns their back on them. This means that I extend my hand any time they fall and not say "I told you so". It doesn't matter the particular application, we are to simply be Christ to this world. Period. How that looks to each member of the Body will vary, but all will have the same goal - To glorify the Father through Christ.
I always stand on God's Word as authority, even in these dark days, with major issues in opposition to God here in the USA; especially in these days. I will not bend, I will not waver, but I will continue to love my neighbor just as Christ did.
I could go into the implications of standing firm for God, being called a "hater" a "bigot" ,etc. but nothing could be further from the truth. The reaction from the world should not deter or make us waver. Continue to love. Continue to extend your hand. Continue to be Christ, even to death if that is the final outcome, with the words of Jesus ringing true from your mouth, in hopes that some will be saved "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do".

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Supporting Ministries - Christian Bands

Those 2 words - "Christian Band" seem to spark different mental images for different people. For me it is a refreshing sound to my ears, that Christians would form a band with the sole purpose of making music that glorifies God.

There are some other reactions as well, and I am also guilty of having mixed feelings when I hear those 2 words used together. I guess you could label me as bi-polar when it comes to Christian Bands, but more broadly Contemporary Christian Music as a whole. If you have read any of my other posts then you probably know that music is a topic that I discuss frequently. I've realized why lately as I have made posts on Facebook with the heading "Be careful what you consume" for the posts.

The mentality behind being careful what we consume sprung forth over 5 years ago as I wrote about it in this posting - The Purity Of What We Consume. Over the past 5 years God has matured this thought path in me and usually my examples show up frequently when I have conversations with other people. The path started at my conversion, which is when God took all of the secular music from me, quite miraculously. I loved the music of the world, I always had, especially after being introduced to my particularly favorite flavor/ style at church camp, of all places. The genre had bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, Def Leppard, Motley Crue and a whole plethora of other bands ranging from hair bands to grunge to the predecessors of death metal. I also delved into the early hardcore rap with NWA, Ice T and others. I also saw nothing wrong with this music, even though I professed to be a Christian since I was 8 years old and made excuses that I "just listened to the music" and that "the lyrics have no affect on me". Wrong on both accounts.

When I was first truly converted God replaced my love for the world's music with a desire for God centered music. I started gobbling up anything that had the label of "Christian" on it. Not too long afterwards God began working on me once again. He started opening up the "Christian bands" music and I saw that most had the same lyrics, the same focus as the world's music. So, once again I began to shed artists that were not truly glorifying God. I will not list the bands and artists in this post, but feel free to search through my blog as I'm sure you will run across several posts that address the topic.

Music affects us and we usually don't even realize it. Just take a day and listen to the soundtrack of that day. Pay attention to the places you go and the music that is being played. Listen carefully to the soundtrack in the TV programs and movies that you watch. Music is used everywhere to illicit emotions from cheerful in a grocery store to a pounding score in an action movie that quickens your pulse rate. Music does affect you more than you probably realize. Likewise a hymn or contemporary Christian song can increase focus on God too. Music is a great gift from God to us and He really desires us to glorify Him through it. We are even commanded to sing praise TO THE LORD (Psalm 30:4). As a matter of fact - What are psalms? They are songs.

God has developed a desire in me that the music I listen to praise and honor Him. I still like the crunching, distortion laden guitars and pounding bass drums, but I also love the smooth sounds of Southern Gospel. I have a varied taste in music, but the one constant is that "It must glorify God". But it goes beyond the veneer, because the bands have an agenda too and some in CCM have an agenda contrary to pointing to God, even though they may mention His Name every now and then. I heavily suggest checking out the theology behind the artists you listen to. As we have learned recently with the Gungor flap, which I wrote about yeaterday, not everyone believes the orthodox view of Scripture or of Christ, for that matter (ie Philips, Craig and Dean). So be very careful and be very diligent to test your music choices to the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

I have said all of this to point you, whoever God brings to this post and who is still reading, to point you to one of the most Biblical and God honoring bands that I know of - Attalus. I was first introduced to Attalus by a simple post from Matt Papa , another Godly focused Christian artist. Papa just linked to Attalus' video for "Broken Cisterns" and I was instantly hooked and quickly snatched up all of the musical offerings that I could find from this band. Attalus grew to be my favorite band very quickly. I played their songs constantly and I sang praises to the Lord using the soundtrack that God had graced me with.

I have prayed for these brothers, I have supported these brothers in anyway that I have been able to. The brothers that make up this band seek to glorify God through their music, which is how it should be, but sadly not how it always is. I ask that you, also, lend your support to this God honoring band as they are still in the production process of releasing a new CD, "Into The Sea".

You can become a partner with them in their ministry by taking advantage of the several "perks" at Indiegogo ranging from digital downloads to custom built guitar pedals to participating in "gang vocals" for the new CD. If the genre or style of their music doesn't suit your personal tastes you can still simply make a donation as well. Most of all pray for these brothers through this process. Making a CD and having shows is very labor intensive. They need God to sustain them and keep them focused on Christ and His glory.

So please partner with Attalus from this point forward. Listen to their music. Sing praises t God while listening to their music. Contact them and let them know that you are praying for them. Choose a perk at Indiegogo and get the remainder of the process funded for the CD. Be the Body and support the Body, in whatever way God leads you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Of Gungor And Scripture And Discernment And...

I am perplexed. Baffled. Puzzled. Bewildered. Confounded. Utterly confused. I can’t seem to figure something out that is taking place in perceived Christianity.

I have been a champion for always being wary of what you are consuming, especially when it comes to the entertainment that you allow to enter your mind and affect you to the core. (See Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here and here. I have been aware of the namesake for the band Gungor’s recent remarks about his views against Biblical accuracy. I did not, however, look into exactly what his remarks were until today.

I first starting reading an article about Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, which he was addressing Gungor’s stance against Biblical accounts of creation and publicly calling Gungor to repent. I stopped reading shortly into the article because I wanted to read Michael Gungor’s actual words first, without having an opinion formed about what Gungor said, without reading what Gungor said. (Here is a post directly from Ken Ham)

Having never listened to Gungor, the only opinion I had formed about Gungor was based on people expressing how “great” the music was that the band had been producing. I have never heard a Gungor song, I have never heard Gungor talk even. I had a fresh slate, no kind of preconceived notions of what this man believes. As I read Michael Gungor’s words I began getting the feeling that the term “fundamentalist” was being used derogatorily and that Mr. Gungor harbored some animosity for those that might actually believe what the Bible says.

Gungor’s arguments seemed to match up with the world outside of perceived Christianity. From belittling those that believe the Biblical accounts of creation and Adam and Eve to be factual to likening the Bible’s account of Noah and the ark to an episode of Star Trek I was seeing that Gungor has been heavily influenced by this world’s lack of understanding of Scripture. (Original Gungor post - Followup post)

I will stop short of calling Michael Gungor a non-Christian, but I think that may be a real likely thing. Why is that? Can’t someone believe science trumps scripture and still be a Christian? Sure they can. How is that? Because there are a lot of Baby Christians out there who do not have the proper understanding of scripture and do not understand the Bible’s true nature. It is The Word of God. Period. The Bible is not simply a narrative of events, a collection of nifty stories or an outdated list of rules as Gungor and others would try to persuade. It is a reflection of the Nature of God. And with that statement I end up firmly on Gungor’s naughty list of Biblical Fundies.

I am praying that the Gungors take Ken Ham up on his invitation to visit the Creation Museum and to learn what the Biblical narrative really is. The scientists at the Creation Museum have volunteered to meet with the Gungors and show them how a ship could fit all of the animals that scripture says it did. They will be able to see where the water came from, the paths that it carved as it receded, the fossil beds that its aftermath left. If Michael Gungor visits the museum and is a Christian he certainly must change his understanding of what the Bible says and change his perceptions of Scripture as true and stop ridiculing those that actually believe what the Bible says.

Saying all of this I come to the real point of this post, the reason I am confused. Many a true believer have held the wrong understanding of the Biblical accounts as Michael Gungor holds. I would even venture to say that there are probably other mainstream CCM musicians that hold the same beliefs. What I find perplexing is the castigation of Gungor in light of this, the night and day perception of Gungor without actually trying to have a straight forward and heart to heart discussion with and to Michael Gungor. Michael Gungor has been accursed by a lot of people for his views and his words (rightfully so?). So why is that perplexing to me? Because other musical groups that blatantly and obviously believe and teach heretical doctrine are openly welcomed in Christian circles.

It is a sad state that a wrong view of the Bible, maybe caused by a lack of study or discipleship, sets someone outside the camp with folks washing their hands clean of Gungor while groups like Philips, Craig and Dean are defended, praised and lifted up as “brothers” when their view of God is blatantly heretical. PC&D not only believe heresy they also teach the heresy of Modalism with a kicker of a Prosperity gospel in the “churches” that they “pastor”.

Discernment is a rare commodity these days. False teachers/ prophets abound in our world today, smiling and telling you that your best life is now, that you can speak things into existence. False religions are being held as acceptable simply because the popular adherents hold the same political views as most Conservative Christians do (Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney). The ones that must be named get a free pass, while Gungor gets tied to the stake in mainstream circles. Rather ironic, I must say.

So, what to do? My suggestion is to see how Michael Gungor reacts to Ken Ham’s invitation. No preconceived narratives from me on what “might” happen or what Mr. Gungor “might” say or do with the invitation. I am fairly confident though, that if Michael Gungor accepts the invitation, sees the Christian view of Creation, with the scientific backing of Christian scientists, with PHDs, that he will change his view of Scripture and become a radical fundie, just like me.

What this boils down to, in my view, is that people are too heavily influenced by the musicians they like. Entertainment, music, musicians, movies, etc. are all chosen with what the flesh seems to enjoy. That is an alright thing, but that definitely doesn't trump Biblical accuracy and doing a little research into a band that catches your ear. We are to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and I am really certain that music, which impacts your mind and spirit, must be investigated before "liking" it and adding it to your MP3 player. Christians must be diligent to always look beyond what their foot taps to and see what theology has laid the foundation for what you are consuming. If you know a band or singer has some questionable theology then you would be wise to avoid them at all costs. If the TV preacher teaches contrary to scripture then you must mark them as anathema and avoid them, not "chew up the meat and spit out the bones". 

Discernment is lacking greatly in all areas of Christianity. How is that remedied? By knowing what the Bible says, by studying scripture, by taking God at His Word and applying it to your life and letting it shape you (Romans 12:2, Philippians 2:5). Simply follow Christ and God's Word. Let God be your guide and not what is popular in the world or within Christian circles.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Should We Seek To Be Discerning?

Part 3 in the “What Is Discernment” series

One of the most common unbiblical biblical statements we hear these days is “Judge not”. Some do go on to say “Lest ye be judged”, which is straight out of the KJV Old English version of scripture. Thing is, this is a biblical statement, but only as long as it is said in context. A simple and blanket statement of “Thou shalt not judge” is neither correct nor biblical.

As we saw in me last post (Types/ Kinds Of Biblical Discernment) we are told to practice discernment. What is discernment? Making an informed decision based on knowledge to provide the correct reaction to a particular issue, action or whatever else we face. This is also the definition of judging something. We look, hear, smell, taste or feel and those senses reach our brain at which time we will use our experience (our knowledge) to make a judgment. What’s the first thing you do when you take the milk carton out of the fridge? Open it, twist off the top, look into the opening and then take a big old sniff. What you’re doing is practicing discernment. You do it every day, all day.

So why is practicing Biblical discernment frowned upon and seen as a hindrance by most church goers? Why are people who are labeled “fundamentalist”, “Bible thumpers”, “Holier than thous” and “Jesus Freaks” because they take seriously the things of God, most specifically God’s Word and instructions for this world.

God’s Word is a mirror of His character, it gives us a glimpse of God, in His chosen manner, to know what He requires, desires and demands of us. It is a sad fact that most Christians (professing, truly converted or false converts alike) have only a cursory understanding of scripture. Most preachers only feed their congregations milk, sometimes chocolate milk when they indulge their message with the sweet, feel good stories, but most of the time, in most of the church buildings attendees are given a baby bottle as they enter the door along with their weekly church bulletin. Why that is is open for discussion, either the preacher desires to be a buddy instead of a leader, denying God’s command for them to preach the Word in truth or the preacher knows that the people will choke from solid food instead of milk and the occasional pureed veggies. Either way, the preacher is wrong.

How do we feed a baby? It starts off with milk, then progresses to cereals, then to soft foods, then to semi-solids, then the baby usually starts grabbing everything that it can and shoving it into its mouth. It should also be a natural progression for a follower of Christ. We do not stick a T-Bone into a 6 month old’s mouth, but one day that child will have grown enough and developed the capacity to chew and digest a steak.

Where am I going with this post? I’m attempting to show that a Christian should be seeking growth, should be examining scripture, should be seeking Christ more every day, should be eating the solid food of scripture. This is the way to progress in discernment, as we stated in the last blog post, from an understanding of God’s Word in context.

This is not to say that we are to have a judgmental spirit about us or to be critical of people, but that we are to take all aspects of our lives and apply scripture to them. As I stated before, we do the same thing in “normal” areas of our lives and think it to be good. So how much more then should we be applying scripture to our lives? We are to use our judgment to decide the proper course, the proper path, the proper action to correspond to every choice we have. There is no secular/ sacred divide in the life of a believer. A Christian’s life will all be sacred, as the Spirit of God dwells within us, which is the catalyst and the way we must judge/ discern our actions, words spoken and all choices.

So, as we saw in the last post we have the learned ability to judge things, from the study of God’s Word. Then we have the Spirit within us that gives us the Supernatural discernment in other areas. These work in tandem, as a grace of God to guide us through our life, our walk with Christ.

Our lives are full of choices that require discernment and judgment.  As a follower of Christ make sure that those choices glorify God. Look at each choice with the question of “How will this affect my walk with the Lord?” then make the choice. Then things will become more black and white in your mind. As you practice your discernment you will begin to build on the foundation and grow in your discernment. We should desire to be discerning, we should desire to grow in understanding the Word of God.

Why would someone who has encountered God, who has His Spirit living within them, not have a desire to have a greater understanding and greater application of God’s Word in their life?  It shouldn’t be. This is why it is hard to understand how people who claim to have been changed by God can remain stuck with a baby bottle in their mouth instead of eating steak and potatoes. Is it that they are false converts? Possibly. Is it that they have not been taught the whole counsel of Scripture? Probably. It is also up to them to study scripture, to show themselves approved of God, not to depend on 1 hour sermons each week to be their only sustenance. It just couldn’t be or they would starve.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Types/ Kinds Of Biblical Discernment

Part 2 in the "What is Discernment" series.

What is discernment? Is it as simple as just telling the difference between what is “right” and what is “wrong”? If so, then what is “right” and what is “wrong”?

Ultimately, yes, discernment is telling the differences between what is right, be it lawful, good, meaningful, needed, desired or any other word you place on something that needs a decision to be made between two or more options. That leads to another question - “Does discernment have to be between something that is “good” and something that is “bad”? Could discernment between two or more “good” things? Which, at the surface level, would be answered with a yes.

This series of questions is why the Charles Spurgeon quote:
“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”
has rung in my mind for years. This quote puts into focus verses such as Matthew 7:15 and 2 Timothy 4:3-4 which we are told that their will be teachers, preachers, leaders that will so much appear to be men of God, but are actually tools of the enemy who have come to deceive, to kill and to damn.

So, this first post in this series on discernment I would like to define what Biblical discernment is and what the types of discernment are. In the upcoming lessons we will dive in and see why if we need to be discerning, should we be discerning and why we should be discerning. Although I do not want this series to be an all out assault on false teachers and things that are perceived as Biblical by many within evangelicalism, that will invariably happen as I use examples that are all around us. Daily.

The dictionary’s definition of discernment is:
dis·cern·ment noun \di-ˈsərn-mənt, -ˈzərn-\
: the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently

Would this be the same as the Bible’s definition and reasonings for being discerning? To a certain degree it would be as we are to discern each of the things listed in the secular definition of the word. Of course, scripture goes into more detail.

Let’s look at the different types of discernment listed in the Bible.

The first is what I will call “learned” discernment. This is not to say that discernment is something in and of itself that can be taught, but that learning brings discernment.
Hebrews 5:14 makes this point, that “those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”. The writer of Hebrews is talking about those that have a stunted growth, who are not growing in knowledge, who are not discerning. Paul also touches on mental growth in Ephesians 4:14 equating lack of knowledge in the things of God as being tossed around, deceived by everything that we hear or that proclaims to be of God.

Paul links knowledge and discernment in Philippians 1:9-10 and that we may “approve the things that are excellent”, which would be the things of God, Kingdom things. Paul also gives the straight forward definition and goal of discernment in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 telling us to “test all things” for the reason of holding onto what is “good” which are the things of God. 

This type of discernment is gained knowledge of the Word of God, gained through the study of scripture, prayerfully seeking God’s guidance. Knowing what God says, within context, about all things. Knowing the heart of God in all facets of your being while here on this planet. This is where so many professing Christians fail right off the bat in their walk. They are ignorantly deceived into accepting all professions of being “Christian” as true, because they do not know what being a Christian truly is. Every wind of doctrine is blindly accepted as orthodox because there is no desire to prove something or someone in light of what God has said in His Word. 

Knowledge is lacking in the non-discerning. This does not mean that these people are not Christians, but their reaction to being confronted about their lack of discernment and willful acceptance to things blatantly anti-God will be very telling, which we will explore in the next section. Gaining knowledge in the things of God, through study, through discipleship, through prayer are all a must. We cannot be lazy and expect to grow in knowledge to be able to be discerning as God wants us to be. 

Sadly many people want to stay in this willful state of ignorant bliss. They grasp onto the ear tickling false teachers on TV or pick up the latest trending book at the local Lifeway. They usually grasp hold of teachers, books and things that make them feel good about themselves or give a false stamp of approval to something they enjoy, which more than likely is something that does not bring glory to God. This is the reason the prosperity “gospel” is so rampant these days, because it is all about “me”. Who do we love more than anyone else when we are self focused? Me. How can I make “me” richer? Healthier? Successful? More loved? God takes a backseat to “me” and the only time the Bible is mentioned is as a proof verse, out of context, to say “Hey, see that, God wants you to have money”. That is not saying that someone with money is not discerning, but the desire of the heart for personal prosperity really exposes the desires of the heart, which is in polar opposition to the desires of the heart that mentioned in Psalm 37:4. 

In summary of the first “type” of discernment - It is to “know” what God says in His Word and to properly test all things against His Word, to actively and purposefully judge what we do, consume, say, desire, read, sing, listen to, talk about. Basically how we live our life in light of God’s Word in pursuit of knowing Him more and becoming more Christlike each day.

The next “type” of discernment I see in scripture is a “spiritual discernment”. This is when the Spirit bears witness with a Christian and they just “know” that something is of God. This is NOT merely a “feeling” or emotion, but the Spirit of the living and True God “making real” to someone what is true of God. This is the exact thing that Paul exhorts us to in 1 Corinthians 2:14
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Jesus also addresses the Spiritual discernment aspect of a believer in Matthew 13:11-17. He equates knowing the mysteries of God as a gift given to us, when it has not been given to the worldly person, the non-Christian. This is why a believer can read the Bible and be moved, enthralled, encouraged and more as opposed to someone who does not have the Spirit of God reading and in that the Bible is seen as dull, boring, full of rules, full of hate, etc. Jesus calls this in this passage as “eyes to see and ears to hear”, which are gifts of God, given by the Spirit, not learned, not “knowledge” from study or academics, but purely as Spiritually imparted. 

John sums this up perfectly for us in 1 John 2:27

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

There may be other “types” of discernment in scripture but they will stem from these 2 branches from the same vine. Ultimately discernment is simply “knowing” what God says and desires for us, His children, Christ’s body, to bring more glory to Him. There are also only 2 ways to have true godly discernment; given by God Himself, training and studying God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Continual pointing and reliance on the Word of God as our “proof” for anything is the motivation and desire. The goal is to glorify God. 

In the next post we will look into the desire for discernment. Should we have that desire? What if we do not have a desire to be discerning? What does it mean if we are complacent, seemingly feeding on milk and never growing in knowledge of the things of God? 

Footnotes and citations:
Matthew 7:15
New King James Version 
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

2 Timothy 4:3-4
New King James Version
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Hebrews 5:14
New King James Version 
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Ephesians 4:14
New King James Version 
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

Philippians 1:9-10
New King James Version 
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,

1 Thessalonians 5:21
New King James Version 
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Psalm 37:4
New King James Version 
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

1 Corinthians 2:14
New King James Version 
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Matthew 13:11-17
New King James Version 
11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

1 John 2:27
New King James Version 
27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Is Discernment?

Discernment. That word, these days, causes much strife and grief, especially among church folk. The question is then: "Should it?" As I begin this series I have my own opinion, but I am going to practice a little discernment off the bat and not interject my opinion at this point.

This series will reflect the biblical definition(s) of discernment, when we should practice it, when we shouldn't, how to practice it and other aspects. My plan is to have this be an ongoing lesson, hopefully with input from anyone who may happen onto this series. I have become increasingly frustrated with a call to not practice discernment, to just accept everything that adds the name "Jesus" or "Christian" to it as being orthodox. So many these days get upset, angry, that someone or something is pointed out as being in opposition to God's Word. That just shouldn't be. Why? We shall find out together.

I have no definite timetable or definite path that this series will run, only to be as biblically focused as possible. I cannot say that my personal viewpoints will not be seen and I actually think that they will be seen in detail. I have some very stern views, at this point, on discernment, but with the exploration within the series I am praying that I will be led of God to accurately divide what His Word says and apply it to myself and learn.

You are cordially invited to come along on this journey with me. To a destination of understanding and a pursuit of what God says about this topic.

Who better to start the series off with than Charles Spurgeon:

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Always Right?

I've had a thought today. Actually this thought has been playing a big part in my life lately. I've even developed a quote around it:

"Just because you may always be right doesn't mean that you must always be right."

Let that sink in for a moment.

What does this, somewhat, cryptic quote mean? Let me equate it to a Person, not just any person, but The Person, Jesus Christ. Here is the only person that lived who was always right..... about everything. But did He always try to win an argument? Did He always exert His knowledge and reasoning to prove Himself right? No. Just look at the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27). Here a young ruler in the temple came to Christ, knowing that he did not have what it took to be saved and asked Jesus what he needed to do. Jesus took him through a whole laundry list of sins and the young ruler said that he had not committed any of them. Really? I would think that he had told a lie, or even thought of telling a lie even just once, but Jesus does not address that issue. Jesus doesn't try to prove anything to him regarding those sins and the one he just committed by lying to Christ Himself in the flesh.

Jesus could have said to this fellow," Whoa there man. You remember that time when your mother asked if you broke the water bowl and you told her that your brother knocked it in the floor?" Which would have shown that he was a liar and didn't respect his mother and had hate in your heart for blaming it on your brother. No, Jesus doesn't try to prove this man wrong, but points to a place that He knows the young ruler will be pierced straight through. Money.

Or maybe a story that we can all relate to in one way or another, that of Peter's denial of Jesus. Jesus had told Peter that he would deny Him before the rooster crowed. Peter was adamant that he would never deny Jesus, but we all know what happened. Peter did just as Jesus had said, but yet Jesus never brought that up to Peter, unless you count the 3 times that Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him (John 21:15-17), which some say was Jesus giving Peter the opportunity to "un-deny" Him.

Of course, the ultimate way Jesus did not try to prove He was right was on the Cross at Calvary. Jesus, the Lamb of God who had never even had the thought of sin cross His mind, willingly said "I'm wrong", even though He was ALWAYS right. He bore the sins of the world, taking the wrath of the Father upon His own body, so that we could be reconciled to Him. He was always right, but yet He didn't feel the need to be outwardly.

Knowing these stories (and others) in the Word of God, we take them all in the fullness of scripture and see verses like:

Mark 8:35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 
1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 

Now, is this "laying your life down" the actual, physical stepping in front of a bullet or pushing your buddy out in from the path of a semi-truck and getting hit yourself? Probably not, but it could be. What the point of "laying your life down" is that you put other's needs, feelings, emotions and well being above your own. You may actually be right in a disagreement, but that doesn't mean that you keep arguing your point to the brink of losing your relationship over it. You can just realize that the "greater  good" is peace and love, in the Name of Christ. As He willfully laid His life for you, even though He was right, you do the same thing in this less weightier matter.

It's a matter of love, a matter of the heart, as all things are. Where is your heart in this particular situation? Is it so bent on proving you are right, that you have 5 points and 3 websites that prove you're right, really more important than causing greater strife? Is the feeling of, "Yes, I put you in your place!" showing the love of Christ, when Jesus was put in your place? Can we not just treat the other person as though they are right and just pray that God reveal it to them in some other fashion? Why must we prove ourselves "right" every time? We don't have to. All in the name of love and unity and to the Glory of Christ.

(This if course is not the case for heretical doctrine. We must always stand on the Word of God when His Word is attacked. Be careful here,, too, as how you say something can be just as important as what you say. Always speak the truth in love and let God do with it as He wills Ephesians 4:15)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Allowing The World To Point You To Christ

I woke up with a thought on my mind this morning. I don't know if it is an original thought or if I may have heard it from someone along the way and the dark recesses of my mind only recalled it this day (I will do a search after I am finished writing this post and will let you know at the end of the post if it is an original thought or give credit to the originator).

"Everyone in your life is either pointing you to Christ or trying to discourage your relationship with Christ"

I'm going to have to break that down, because this thought, while often true, doesn't have to be. As Christians we love fellowship with the brothers and sisters that God has put in our lives; our church family, our pastor, our "blood" family, friends on Facebook and even some co-workers. When we think of those that point us to Christ we think of those people and rightfully so, they know Christ as well, our spirits bear witness to one another and we are greatly encouraged with interactions. So, the first part of the quote is a given. But what about the second part?

Along my walk with Christ there has come others that are seemingly there to try and discourage my relationship with my Lord. They, too, could be close friends, professing Christians, family members, co-workers or even the cashier at the grocery store. Sometimes they may call you a "fanatic" or "Jesus Freak" or "Holy Roller", but all in an attempt to try and make you look odd or weird because you actually follow what scripture says; that you love God and love people. This can get you down because we, as humans, still crave acceptance and rejection is not what anyone wants or desires. They offer worldly "fixes" to your problems and do not point to God. What do we do then? Usually lay off a little bit, maybe turn down the volume knob from 11 when around those people. But, I say "Why?". Why would we want to snuff, maybe the only Light these people might ever see? Why allow them to think that a relationship with God should be based on their views or any other view not found in scripture but is rooted in the world view?

I suggest that when these people are placed in our life that it is not coincidental. Instead of allowing them to manipulate our actions, words or deeds when in their presence that we do the same things that we do when we are within the walls of a church building - Praise God. Do not let an attack drive you from Christ, but let it fuel an increased dependency to run TO Christ. Take it as yet another reason to seek His face, to lift this lost person up that they may sing the same praises to God as you.

Remember that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against things in the spiritual realm. Most people are under the influence of this world and their views are based on the morality (or lack of) that is set forth by people. Now, I'm not saying all people are possessed by demons, but I do believe a lot are. I believe those that are not have been lulled into the creed of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law", or more easily understood as "Let me live my life the way I want, you live your life, whatever feels good for you is perfectly fine", which I translate as "There are no absolutes and everyone makes their own truth about everything". This  of course, is not valid if you actually follow the Bible and God as Scripture reveals how a follower of Christ actually is.

Society says that all views are valid, until you start speaking in absolutes. This is self refuting because that statement is an absolute statement. This kind of thinking is better known as "post-modernism", which has infiltrated the "church" (lowercase c). I like to say it has infiltrated the perceived church, or what the world sees as the "church". Now that the World sees professing Christians say that we must question everything in the Bible, that the Word of God is invalid in some areas, that "sin" is not really sin and then see other's say that we must still follow the Word of God and actually still do, they are seen as "radical fundamentalists" or fanatics. I'd just say that they are actually Christians that are still seeking to follow Jesus Christ.

Back to the subject at hand, sorry for the rabbit chasing. Christian! Don't let this world discourage you from a true relationship with God. Seek people that can be a mutual edification between you and them, plant yourself in a true Church Body that loves and seeks after God in all things. Ground yourself in the Word of God. Purge yourself of as much of this world as possible. Seek Jesus Christ. Let the World be a constant reminder of how much you need God, in every step you take, every breath you take, every word you say. Let those that could be discouragement instead be another reason to praise God and call upon Him. Use this world as encouragement, to seek God instead of something that will drag you down and cause spiritual decline.

Seek God in all things. Praise God in all things. Speak of God in all things. Live to God in all things. Allow God to use you to further His Kingdom. Do not conform to this World and allow it to mold you. Let go and let God.

(I just did a fast search and did not find anyone else that had said the original quote of this post. This thought has been building in me over the past few weeks as a current trial has been developing. I have seen God greatly encourage me through the Body, I have heard worldly advise and I have seen attacks from people that claim to have the same Spirit residing in them as I do. I have let the latter affect me, but no more. I know my God is faithful and my God is able. I know that God fights for me and I know that all things He allows in my life are for my good. He has placed His yoke upon me and is carrying my weight  He is directing my path and He is ordering my steps. I have His promises that He will do only good for this situation, that I am not being punished for anything because Christ bore ALL of my punishment on Calvary. I need only trust that He is working all things for my good and just follow His lead. He is in control and I rest in that.)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Year In Review: My Top 4 Posts

Okay, I'm a little different. While most people who blog are posting their "Top 5" or even "Top 10" posts for the year I decided to scale back to my "Top 4". It was a very scientific process to choose my top 3 posts. I first had to open my Chrome browser and then choose "2012" from my blog list. It did get more difficult as I then had to read each post that I had written through the year. Yes, I realize that I was a slacker through the year and didn't have that many to choose from, but it was quickly evident that I had my 4 chosen. How? Uhm, I just liked them. Nothing more than that, no hit counts, no popularity search criteria; just my preference on the posts.

So here they are in reverse order, as to build a little suspense:

#4) God's Amazing Grace  - Written on my birthday of this year. I go back through my life and point out the grace of God throughout my life.

#3) Altar-ed Call - After seeing The Rhett Walker Band in concert I had to endure a very extended altar call before being able to purchase a T-Shirt.

#2) A Damaged Testimony - Just some reflections on how a lot of people perceive what a "testimony" is.

#1) The Scope Of your Influence - Yes, I am a huge Duck Dynasty fan. I love that show. The Robertson family uses the platform that God blessed them with to share the Gospel. I just was trying to point out that everyone has a distinct platform as well, or scope of influence, that no one else has and God can and does use that to reach others. Just because we are not millionaires doesn't mean that God can't use you to reach others. Actually that is His most common method, using His body. Plus I linked to clips of Phil and Jase sharing the Gospel before they were famous from their TV show.

Hopefully in 2013 I will be doing a little more writing. Pray for me to be able to do that. Although I am not a "real" writer, I do like to share what God puts in my life and on my heart through my every day circumstances. Hopefully I will be able to share how God is working in the midst of a great trial my family is embroiled in now, but can't at this time due to court proceedings. God has been gracious to me and my family. He continues to extend His yoke and allow us to put our burdens upon Him as He fights for us. He is our Rock and Shelter, He has promised nothing but good to us, even in the face of adversity we know that He is firmly in control and that no attack of the enemy has a chance against His will. We pray for those that seem to be our enemy, even though they do lash out and try to cause pain we still desire peace and to show God's glory through everything. We are not perfect and we have and sometimes still do react out of the flesh, but God still uses that to show us how much we desperately need Him in all aspects of our life - the valleys and the mountain tops. To God Be The Glory! Great Things He Has Done!

CCM Radio Observations From The Peanut Gallery

Admittedly, I do not listen to a whole lot of CCM radio. I've outlined the “why” in several blogs before (Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here and Here). The main reason is that Philips, Craig and Dean are prominently played and promoted and PC&D being heretics I cannot support that. A second, and close, reason is that the DJs are really “squishy” with what they say. Well, “squishy” is putting it mildly, they are sometimes heretical, and so I don’t listen. If CCM radio, in general, were to do away with the DJs and cut out the heretical songs and artists, then I might listen more often.

This past week was different in my listening of the radio. I basically worked alone in the office, so I pulled out my trusty boombox and turned on KLOVE. I did have to turn it down a few times, but being in and out of the office all day the turning down of the volume knob was few and far between. I was pleasantly surprised….. Except for one issue that has been being pushed this whole week; the 30 day music challenge.

On the surface we all say, “Yes, listen to Christian music exclusively and you’ll ‘feel’ better. You will ‘be happier’. You will ‘smile more’. You will ……..”. And therein also lies the issues, the music is being pushed as a cure to whatever ails you, wherever you have shortcomings in your life will miraculously be cured. Poof. That also opens up the true issue, pointing to music to change one’s life instead of pointing to Christ. Why can’t these DJs and stations (not only KLOVE – AFR does some of the same things) give a clear representation of the Gospel each hour instead of pushing their agenda to get people to listen to their station more? Why can’t a “Christian” station not promote Christ instead of what could very well be some great side benefits of an actual relationship with Him?

You see similar issues through the year, most notably during their pledge drives. This is where they set aside a few weeks a year to guilt their listeners into donating money. What happened to God supplying the means in His ministries? Instead of “God has supplied” it has turned into “our listeners make this happen”. This is a firm, yet subtle, insistence that “we” humans make things happen and we are to be praised for it. Wrong. Hudson Taylor put it greatly when he said, “God’s work done in God’s time will never lack God’s supply”. Taylor’s words should ring true to all Christians that instead of a focus on funding and all of the “what can I do” thoughts, we should place our focus on God and let Him bring in the support. That would take a huge burden off of all those involved, that is if you actually believe God will support His ministries. It probably wouldn't be a stretch to say there are a lot of “ministries” out there, radio stations, shelters, food banks and even churches that a long time ago took God out of the equation and He has decided to stay out. What is sad is that these ministries keep on chuggin’ along, trying to make ends meet, doing a lot of “good” but doing it in their own power, which doesn't glorify God and may actually be sin.

It would be really good if KLOVE were to say, “Listening to CCM music may make you 'feel' better, but the only One that can change you is Jesus Christ”, then go into a full Gospel presentation. That is something that is noticeably absent from “Christian Radio” - the Gospel. When all that a ministry is is to share the Gospel, not relaying the Gospel really shows a lot. Of course “Jesus” is mentioned from time to time, but for the most part it is a lot of “Do, do, do” and works, like M.A.D. Monday (Make a difference Monday). M.A.D. Monday is the idea of just being “good” makes a difference in someone's life AND you don't have to say anything about Christ in the process. Sure, paying for my lunch in the drive-thru may make a $5 difference in my checking account, but how is that impacting the Kingdom? How is doing something for “goodness sake” letting someone know about Christ? This kind of thinking goes along with the quote from St. Francis of Assisi, “ Preach the gospel and use words if necessary”. It sounds good , but it is detrimental to the Kingdom. (See this article)

I really want to like CCM radio, I really do, but I just can't in its present state. I can't like the fact that know heretics are promoted, I can't like the fact that works seem to be a major focus, I can't like that funding is shilled like carnival barker coaxing patrons in with promises unfounded. Why oh why can't the focus be on Christ? Why can't the pledge drives talk about how great Christ is and therefore how great an honor it is to join in His work, instead of telling people how dependent the station is on them? Why can't listeners be encouraged to share the Gospel, with words and in tangible ways that will make a positive impact on the Kingdom? I guess my listening to CCM radio will continue as normal, sporadic, with glimpses of hope that one day they will realize their focus is blurred. Until then, I will continue listening to my music via my phone's MP3 player 99% of the time, all the time having hope that God will one day be the focus of radio stations that claim to follow Him.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

To The Breaking Point

I've seen it firsthand. Actually I am seeing it more readily now. The bending of morality to the point of breaking. Once a person's morals are weakened then it makes it easier for them to bend and break in other areas. So, what is the reason for this? Let's explore it together.

Any number of "bendings" may start the slide down the slippery slope, which is then followed by any other "bending". All are rooted in either personal gratification or an skewed view of humanity and the Aleister Crowley view of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". In other words, "If it feels good to you then no one else can say anything about it". You may also have heard this, seemingly harmless, put as "Live and let live". It does sound quite cushy and respective of others, but it can and is very damaging. Of course, this way of thinking is built around the post-modern thinks of "all truths are valid", which is self-contradictory and refutes itself in those 4 words.

Truth is a "static" thing; it doesn't move, it doesn't waver and it is fixed. Nothing can change a truth, nothing can prove a truth incorrect or invalid. Some people today would have you believe that "truth" is whatever you perceive as reality. This could go as far as saying 2+2=5 can be correct to you. Of course, anyone with a 1st grade education knows that 2+2=4 and that there is no wavering and no other correct answer. In that same vein, we know that reproduction of life is by one male and one female, that is a law of nature. Some would have you believe that it is perfectly "natural" for those of the same sex to have "relations" and to have the same relationship that heterosexuals do. In scripture it is called sin and an abomination to God, since He created man and woman to be one, not a perversion for sexual desires between same sex people. But some, even some that call themselves Christians, would say that the Word of God is incorrect, even try to make a mockery of God's Word by pulling in archaic verses out of context while saying, "If you think being gay is a sin, then so is eating shrimp or cutting your hair". Of course this is proof that this person doesn't know the Word of God and that they hold human desires above scripture. This is a very dangerous place to be for a person. It would be better if that person would just deny being a Christian, as their portrayal of being a follower of Jesus is actually blasphemous when they try to speak contrary to the Word of God.

So, the perception that lying is normal is one of the things that some people bend on. Others may be drunkenness, drugs, theft, hatred, gambling, sex outside of marriage, speeding, slothfulness, abortion and any number of other things that go against the Truths of God. Once you have bent and broken one, it is not hard to bend and break another, then another, then another and then end up in the mind state of "Live and let live. To each his own. Who am I to say something is wrong?" That is exactly why we, as the human race, need a solid foundation in which to put our trust - Jesus Christ.

God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8), very unlike our human existence. Look at the rise and fall of societies, look at the short life of the U.S.A. for example. See how morality has declined in just the past 40 years. This may be due to the lack of reverence for God or the lack of reverence may just be an evidence of the human quest for independence from God, the view that "we" are god and "we" choose our path. Thing is that "path" is a path to destruction without God. Wavering on just one single fact that is plainly laid out in scripture will always lead to other errors. Laying aside known Truth will always end in destruction, which is where our country and our world is headed.

In 1973 Roe V Wade set the path for infanticide, which  has now led to a President and government that wants to force Christians to pay for this murdering of babies. This one court case, set into motion a series of events, a decline over 40 years that has culminated in 1.5 million baby murders per year, in the U.S.A alone. Our government not only allows these murders, but they promote and provide these murders.  Show me in scripture where killing babies is a "good thing". Show me where telling a lie is acceptable or there is room given to make excuses for telling a lie to try and change the outcome of something. Where in the Bible does it say that "all truths are valid"? None of that is in there and Scripture condemns all of that. So we can only conclude that anyone who promotes the things that God condemns cannot be a Christian at all, they are trying to make a mockery of God and His Word.

The breaking point is always within our reach. This is why we must always rely on and go to God's Word for EVERYTHING. While it may not lay out, in detail, the particular issues you may be facing, the principles are there. Do not try to bend God's Word to fit your stinkin' thinkin'. Turn your heart to the Word and allow your mind to be transformed by the Word

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gifts To The Messiah

Over the past 3 weeks I did a short study with my Sunday School class on the 3 gifts listed that were brought by the Magi (Wise Men) to Jesus in Bethlehem. Admittedly I had thought, "Gold? Yes, I can see that. Frankincense? Uhm....... whatever. Myrrh? What is myrrh anyway?

In our culture we lose what these last two gifts actually are. To the audience that the Gospels were originally written there would have been no denying what these other two, seemingly lesser to us, gifts actually were.

I just wanted to briefly highlight the significance of each of these gifts. This is in no way exhaustive, but I would encourage you to do a deeper study to open the deeper meanings within these three "gifts".

Gold, as we know in our culture, is very valuable. I have seen, in my lifetime, gold increase in value from $39/ ounce to nearly $2,000/ ounce in 2011. That is a large range, but it shows how much value we place on material things. Of course, even in the days of Christ gold had great value, probably more than today as it was much harder to come by. Today we have heavy excavating equipment removing tons of dirt to filter out mere ounces of gold. There are even reality shows, such as Gold Rush, that chronicle the elusive search for the riches contained in the Earth. Just watch an episode or two of this series and you will see just how difficult it is to mine gold. It is not easy. So, I look at how valuable and scarce gold must have been 2,000 years ago and understand that you couldn't walk to your corner Zales and purchase a gold ring or necklace.

Gold in the days of Christ was, for the most part, owned by the elite, wealthy and royalty. So, the gift of gold was to signify that Jesus was royalty, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16). 

Frankincense is one that we lose out on, because it has no perceived "value" in our society. We think, "Oh great, they brought Jesus incense." But when you realize what frankincense was to the audience of Matthew 2:11 it begins to open up a bit and reveal much more.
Frankincense was used in temple ceremonies as part of the worship to God. This was prevalent in the Old Testament, but was also mentioned in the New Testament, Jesus' time, as well. Our understanding of O.T. worship ceremonies is not really good, but the N.T. also uses this same type of worship ceremony (Matthew 2:11). We also know that the name frankincense in the Hebrew language meant "white", which we can also assume stood for purity. Putting all that together allows us to see that the gift of frankincense was an act of worship to Jesus the Messiah.

The last gift on the list was myrrh. This one was always a mystery to me. Even the name sounds odd and the spelling is quite odd in our English spelling. Myrrh is mentioned 16 times in the KJV version of the bible and as many as 19 in other versions (ESV). We know the myrrh was a spice and that it's most common use was as a perfume. Also, it was used during the burial rituals after the bodies were wrapped, the myrrh was applied. This was more than likely done to help mask the odors that would emanate from the body as it decomposed in the tombs. We also know that it was a very valuable commodity in the days the bible was being written.
If you read Matthew 26:6-13 you see the story of a lady that did something that some of the disciples got a little upset about. This lady, in the house of Simon the leper, came to Jesus and poured, what is believed to be, myrrh on the head of Jesus. They began to rebuke this lady for "wasting" the oil that she had poured upon Jesus' head and that it should have instead been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus stopped their rebuke and said; "“Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

We can then start to see that the gift of myrrh was to signify that Jesus would die, that He would be our Sacrifice. The myrrh was somewhat of a prophetic gift to the babe in Bethlehem. The obscure view that we have in the 21st Century would have meant very much to the readers of Matthew 2:11. Our view in this, as a side note to the gifts, means we must always look at the context of whom the bible was written. We cannot try to force into scripture our 21st Century lifestyles and instead should first look at the original audience and their understanding.
So, we now see a whole different and wonderful meaning to the gifts of the Magi. Instead of just simply being gold and a couple other expensive things we can see that each gift pointed to something wonderful about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He was royalty, He was being worshiped and He was our sacrifice. No longer will I look upon the gifts as I have my entire life, I will see their beauty in proclaiming to the world that "God is with us!"

(As a side note: nowhere in scripture are there "3 wise men" listed. This is an assumption made because there were 3 gifts listed. The gifts would also be used by Mary and Joseph as they fled to Egypt to finance their journey and life in Egypt.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Allowing The Body To Be The Body

Do you put a blindfold over your eyes when driving down the road? Do you tie your hands behind your back when having dinner? Do you bind your feet when going swimming? I didn't think so. Then why can't we allow the Body of Christ to work as God designed it to?

So many times we (and by "we" I mean "me") want to handicap the Body. I make excuses and have false reasonings  but what it comes down to is sin. God has been gracious to us, His children, to place us into the universal Body of Christ, but it actually goes further than that. He has placed us within local bodies, that must be given the opportunity to function.

I am learning this through a trial that is in my life at this moment. I have no control over anything, which is scary for me. I am a "fixer", I like to know what's going on and I try to figure out all the tangents that my puny mind can think of. Know what? Most of the time I am wrong and things work out differently, so my worries have been for naught. Of course scripture has a lot to say about this and I "know" these things, but only on the occasions that things are out of my control do I learn the lesson all over again. Why can't I seem to remember this in my daily life? Why can't Matthew 6:20-34 sink in without a trial?

Why can't I share my burdens with the rest of the body so they can come along side me in prayer? Why do I feel the need to deprive the plan of God to allow His body to function in the way that He designed? The short answer is, of course, sin. The long answer includes pride, our stubbornness or maybe even just not wanting to burden someone else with what we see as "our issues". I think it is the latter for me as I hear others who are striving and asking for prayer I "feel" that it wouldn't be "fair" to encumber them any more than they already are. Know what I'm finding out? That the saying "Misery loves company" should actually be "Needs need company".
This is wonderfully summed up in Galatians 5:13-14:
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Then Paul goes on to tell us in Galatians 6:2:
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

It really doesn't get much plainer than that. We are to actually take the burdens of others as our own and "bear" them along side. No prerequisite that we are to not have any burdens when someone else does, nothing about not wanting to impose on anyone else, just the admonition to "bear one another's burdens". What does that look like? I can speak from experience that it looks just like it sounds. We all have our "problems" and we all come along side one another and pray, seek God, comfort, hold up, lend a shoulder, cry together, whatever it takes to "bear one another's".

God has been so good to His children. Even in what looks to be a challenging time He has shown His grace and mercies. He is teaching me some things through a current trial, actually re-teaching my stubborn self. I will be sharing in the near future the trials that are before me and my family and ask for you, others in the Body of Christ, to bear our burdens and to function as He designed. He works through His people and He loves to lavish Himself on us. What may seem daunting is nothing for the One who created the Universe. Even if we can't see the end, you can believe that is a sure sign that you should immediately turn it over to Him.

Still learning and still asking for prayer.

Matthew 6:34:
Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Country In Mourning

I continue to mourn the lives lost of so many many children. What a horrific thing to lose so many children so brutally. My heart weeps each time I hear of their young lives snuffed out so quickly. No hope of defense. No hope of safety.

With the events this past week in Connecticut my heart is very heavy. My eyes well with tears thinking of this each time I hear a news report, each time a person mentions it. I can't imagine the horrors these children faced. I've fought myself on drawing a contrast to abortion and up until now have been successful. I've not said anything because these families, in grief, lost their dear children in a very different way than abortion.

These families got to know their children. They saw that these lives are viable and that the embryo that grew within the mother's womb was a life. A living person was conceived and was born, lived, and was taken, brutally. Abortion is the same, except the mother, father and the rest of the family never got a chance to know that dear child. They never had the opportunity to kiss their cheek, they never got to hear them cry because their diaper was full, they never got the chance to watch them play soccer, they never got the chance to hear them sing or to even see them smile. Their precious lives were snuffed before any opportunity of life.

 How great the horrors of Sandy Hook and how great the horrors of the abortion clinics across the United States. 20 children were heartlessly gunned down Friday and the nation cried together. Our President gave, what I believe to be, a heartfelt speech on the atrocities of that day. For once, since President Obama was elected, I saw a commonality with him. We cried together.

Thinking of that day and the days since, the memorials, the tears, the news stories, I hear wounded people searching. What I don't see is the same wounds for those that never even got the chance to attend school. Since Roe v. Wade America has grown callous toward human life. In the name of convenience or any other false rationale we murder children by the millions. The difference? That killing children by a medical procedure is "legal". I do not want to discount or even remotely lessen the crimes at Sandy Hook, but want to use that to emphasize how depraved our society has become. It is so hard to not see the hypocrisy of our President, of the media and of the others that rightfully condemn the actions of the gunman, but turn around and say killing other children is a choice. It's just doesn't make sense. A few years earlier the media that condemns this shooting would have championed the "healthcare choice" of the mother to kill this same child in the womb. Can they not see the irony in that?

What it comes down to is a need for the Gospel. Just as everything else in this world does. Christians need to stand up for life, they need to proclaim the Gospel and they need to be the voice for the voiceless. In a place in time that humanity has so collectively turned their backs on God there still is Hope. God is longsuffering with us. He knows how black our hearts are and He waits for us. But, He will not wait forever, He is returning one day (soon hopefully) and Christians need to be diligent in proclaiming His Name to all they come into contact with. God can and will use people to make a difference, that is His mode of operation that He chooses more than any other. He has commanded Christians to be the salt and light in this dying world and we must do that.... daily.... every minute.

Rise up followers of Christ and proclaim His Name. Shower this dark world with His light that He shines through you, the Light, the Christ.