Monday, November 29, 2010

What is Love?

What is Love. Part II

Out of the depths of depraved humanity unfolds a living narrative complete with a living human being made in the likeness of sinful flesh. This image had been painted aforetime upon the fresco of prophetic lips with bits and pieces of descriptive glory. This narrative was not implemented as a result of unexpected circumstances; this narrative had been carefully crafted and set in unchangeable and indefatigable motion by the divine decree of Almighty God. The mystery of this narrative is unfathomable, from the love which propelled it, to the human instruments that were allowed to become players in that which was entirely divine.
The mind boggling scope and perfection of creation gives way to the mind boggling scope and perfection of destruction. Creation, hoisted up and presented upon the glorious scaffold of the power and authority of God’s creative command, this creation suffers the indignity of man’s willful disobedience to that very same Word. The scaffolding collapses under the weight of such colossal evil, and all hope seems forever lost. Enter sin, enter sickness, enter death.
Why in God’s dear name did He ever choose to create such a wasteland of wickedness? And when will God destroy such an unrighteous landscape and attempt to create something that obeys and worships Him? Surely God was finished with mankind after Adam’s representative sin. Surely God would withdraw His love and allow this creation to be consumed by the sheer force of His own righteous wrath. God’s justice must be fulfilled, and man’s disobedience must be avenged eternally. Why should God care, and even if He does care, what could He do about it?
And out of utter darkness there appears a light. Very dim and just a flicker, but a light nonetheless. Even before God sheds blood and clothes Adam and Eve with coats of skin, God makes this prophetic and redemptive promise:

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
am not clear as to how the Jews interpreted such a promise, but its full impact cannot be understood without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The phrase “the seed of the woman” is paradoxical since the woman does not have a seed. However, the Spirit that wrote those words takes another step through Isaiah and proclaims:

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
A further light; an increase in illumination; a prophetic incandescence. God is guiding His own narrative and is incrementally revealing it to those whose ears can hear and whose hearts seek Him. We now have pieces that say the seed of the woman, and a virgin, and even the name of God, Emmanuel. Although still cloudy and unclear, the pieces begin to form a coming reality, that when complete, will testify of this glorious plan which stood perfect and pristine in the waiting room of history before the first word of creation was even uttered.
Although there will come many hints and shadows, and even some bold prophetic images, without the Holy Spirit the Old Testament saints can only cling to the slaughter of animals and the promise of Almighty God. The angelic hosts are privileged to announce the final act of God’s eternal plan, however the central figure would still be understood through the prism of a national messiah. Peter would identify Christ but misunderstand His mission. And to misunderstand why He came is to misunderstand the entire plan.
We anticipated golden chariots and a celestial promenade that would come with great power and by sheer force usher in God’s redemption. Perhaps God would sacrifice a trillion lambs at one time and make atonement for the sins of mankind. Perhaps he would sacrifice one lamb for every sin. Perhaps God would bring a celestial lamb, created with a spiritual body that was colossal and beautiful, and with all of heaven and earth watching, God would sacrifice this stupendous lamb for mankind. We could only imagine the enormity of God’s redemptive plan!
Quiet. In the obscurity of history and with no fanfare or even respect, a baby is born to a peasant girl in the insignificant town of Bethlehem and in the aroma of an animal shelter. This cannot possibly be God! The culmination of the divine plan surely cannot begin with this humble birth from a daughter of Judah. It is beyond anything that can be understood and it defies the sensibilities of God’s people. No one had been listening and no one was there. Only Mary, giving birth to a son while still a virgin, pondered the meaning of it all. Joseph had been spoken to in a dream, but it was surely still a mystery to him.
A son is born from the loins of Judah. Angels and prophets and voices from heaven would surrender clues to His identity, but His mission would remain for the Holy Spirit to reveal. No one understood the resurrection since no one saw His coming death. And no one even caught a glimpse of what kind of death He would have to endure. That God would use a Roman instrument of punishment and death in His plan was beyond incredulous. Israel awaited their Deliverer who would defeat the power of Rome and return their nation to a place of power and glory. No one knew.
But now the curtain is opened, and the light shines brightly. God anoints the Baptist with a knowledge that is more wonderful than any man born of a woman could ever understand. The man, Jesus, is announced as “the lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world”. The pieces begin to fit and the light becomes brilliant. God does care about His fallen and rebellious creation. His kindness, His grace, His truth, and His miracles all speak of His identity. But still hidden is His mission and what it will take to accomplish it. No one could imagine that a brutal Roman cross will be the instrument of redemption.
The scientist sees God as a power, mathematical and ordered. The philosopher sees God as a concept and a mystical centralized intelligence. The lawyer sees God as a judge and a law maker. The rich man sees God as the creator of wealth. The astronomer sees God as a celestial orchestrater. There are many other images that man’s mind conjures up about the nature and character of God, but no one would have seen crucifixion as a revelation of God and His love. Death was something to be avoided and surely could never touch God, the giver of life.
But redemption had a vicious price tag, and there was no room for a bargain. That God knew all this before He ever created man is both a mystery and a revelation of His infinite love and goodness. Of what value is your love and goodness if it remains coiled up inside you and is never allowed to be a blessing to others? It would be nothing more than a section in a divine profile. But authentic goodness desires, and in fact needs, to be loosed upon others. And given the situation man was in due to his own deeds, the goodness and love that man needed must be described as redemption.
The redemption of mankind did not come with several different plans from which God could choose the most convenient. There was only one way, and that way was littered with humiliation, mocking, suffering, torture, bleeding, and even death itself. Death? God and death? That is the mystery for all eternity. How can God, the eternal and all powerful Creator of all that is, die? And yet wrapped up in this eternal plan of redemption is a glorious mystery which would become the focal point for either faith or rejection. God would become a man; sinless, born of a virgin, having miraculous powers, but a man nonetheless. And this God-man would stand as the eternal Lamb upon which all sin, past, present, and future would be placed. The millions of animals that were slaughtered in the Old Testament were only models, temporary players in the many prophetic rehearsals that depicted a coming event so mystifying, so disconcerting, and so glorious that it would change human history and change the eternal destinations of anyone who believed.
He walks the land of Palestine for 33 years doing good and even miraculous works. He even gives a small peek into His passion, but still He is a curiosity, an enigma, even to those who love Him. He refuses all advise and has in His heart an agenda, a mission, from which He will not deviate. When Jehovah instituted the Passover Feast in Exodus, He new there would be one universe shaking Passover that would arrive while Pilate was in power. It would be a day of reckoning, and much animal blood would be spilled in Jerusalem. Long lines with lambs draped around shoulders would wait their turn outside the Temple. The traditional spectacle would be repeated that day just as it had for thousands of years. But this day was different…very, very different.
While the line of worshipers moved slowly toward the Temple altar, a Lamb moved slowly toward an altar made with wood. Acting as His own priest, this Lamb does not flinch or run away, but He methodically moves toward the altar which had already made a place for Him. Perhaps He would recognize these Roman planks since they had been hewed from a tree He Himself had made. He lays upon the altar, and a Roman soldier raises his hammer and nails this lamb to the intersected planks. The altar is raised to heaven with a thud.
This Lamb must suffer.
You want to see God’s love? Open your eyes and see this Lamb writhing in excruciating pain. Do not for one second render that pain as purely physical, oh no, this Lamb endures the pain of the world’s sin. How that works is a gigantic mystery, but rest assured the pain associated with sin is meted out without measure. True to His nature and mission, Jesus asks for forgiveness for those who are crucifying Him. That alone cannot be fully understood.
Gaze at the grotesque figure of an innocent man, tortured and bleeding, and receive God’s love. Redemption is being paid at the ultimate price, and somehow, someway, God is being glorified in the death of His only begotten Son. I have seen several people die in my lifetime, but the most horrifying sight I have ever seen is watching my mother suffer for 5 hours and eventually die. I was there, I watched it, and it changed me.
It was not until several years later that I became a believer. I have thought about and meditated upon the cross many thousands of times since I became a believer in 1975. I have imagined my Savior being mocked and brutalized, and I have known He was thinking of me. It is in those times of meditation and reflection that I feel most unworthy and most grateful. I did not deserve what He did for me, and in light of the many times I have failed Him since I believed, I will never be worthy. But through this execution Jesus opened a portal to eternal life and has by His labor alone made me worthy. The greatest work of righteousness I have ever done could never add one ounce of value to the cross.
This has been a long post, but it always seems that when I speak of the cross I am flooded with inspiration. I am empowered by its majesty, by its bloody glory, and by the One who adorns its wooden grandeur. I am undone by its selflessness and sacrifice, and I am made whole by its redemptive power. I am reduced to brokenness by it unrivaled splendor, and I am granted the privilege of worship. I see bruises and scars; I see wounds and lacerations; I see gashes and stripes; I see thorns and swelling; I see slits for eyes and a beard massacred; I see a spear’s mark and I see impaled hands and feet; I see a chest heaving and lips gasping for air; I see spittle and matted hair; I see blood almost everywhere; and I see the physical demonstrations of unfathomable pain. And I see death.
But most of all…I see love.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What is Love? Really.

Rom.5:7-9 - 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

nything that is called love, but contains or offers no redemption, is an imposter and a fraud. And the Scriptures clearly teach that the highest level of the divine is love, and love is revealed and exhibited by redemption. The sentimental, syrupy brand of Hollywood love is a deception and a counterfeit. True love, God’s love, is manifested in His redemption, the redemption only found in the Lord Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross and subsequently authenticated by His resurrection. Halleluiah!
We, as believers in and receivers of God’s redemptive love, are called to a life that both reflects that redemptive love and offers our lives as a sacrifice to it. When we are involved with things and movements that are without God’s redemptive love, we do a disservice to Christ and we operate in a realm that is in fact antichrist. No man can serve two masters because he, by practice, will love one and hate the other. That teaching, from the very incarnate lips of the Master, places a firewall between His cause and all other causes. Before I enter into the eternal glory of Christ and His love, let me identify causes that are both spiritually hollow and also impugn the very character of the Risen Christ.

Morality. When followers of Jesus join moral crusades they reject the very nature of the gospel message and pitch their self righteous tents upon the law of Moses. Let us be very clear, all of us break God’s moral law EVERY SINGLE DAY OF OUR LIVES. There, the emperor has no clothes. Our calling is not to condemn the world, and Christ, from His own lips, said condemnation of the world was not His mission at all. He stated clearly that His mission was salvation, and He opened that door through His passion and resurrection.

And when those of us who so loudly tout our redemption as entirely woven from the fabric of grace, stand upon that foundation and rain down stones of moral condemnation upon the heads of dead sinners, we have identified ourselves as modern day Pharisees. Magnifying the sin of others is a self righteous labor that consistently blossoms through the nourishment provided by the fallen nature of others. What would people think of a person who labors in a cemetery, digs up corpses, and itemizes their past sins and their present decomposition? That person would be considered disturbed and his mission would be considered macabre.

Politics. Can there be any greater field where redemption and love are undetected? Harsh words, character assassination, exaggerated accomplishments, scheming, and vast amounts of financial misuse and squandering are all important parts of this vicious treadmill. The energy expended to acquire power is astounding, but only second to the gullibility of people who not only watch such a spectacle, but become willing participants and supporters. And when those supporters are professing believers in the Lord Jesus and His teachings, then it reveals the colossal force of deception.

When someone verbally embraces the teachings of Jesus, and then actively engages in endeavors that are antithetical to those very teachings, it manifests how sophisticated deception can be. The evil one is not satisfied with the achievement of believers being uninterested and apathetic to the gospel, he also desires, with astounding success, to have believers involved with causes that are counter productive to that same gospel and actually work against the kingdom of God and the teachings of Jesus. Think on that for a moment and shake your head.

Nationalism. It is quite a challenge to trace the history of God’s church and see exactly when the Bride of Christ gave her allegiance to any one nation. If you read some of the teachings of the Anabaptists you will discover a thirst to remain unfettered by this world, to say nothing of being wholly given to it. Where did the followers of Jesus decide to give their lives and hearts to things other than Jesus? I suggest that in large part it is a phenomenon seen most powerfully in America. If you travel to foreign countries and converse with other believers, you will sometimes see nationalism, but not nearly on the same scale as it is practiced in American evangelicalism.

In fact, just questioning the Biblical validity of such a practice can elicit scorn and castigation from brothers and sisters in Christ. Nationalism is void of love and redemption, and in fact divides believers around the world. The spectacle of one believer pledging his allegiance to France, while another believer pledges his allegiance to Canada, goes against every New Testament teaching concerning unity or complete surrender to Christ Himself. And when those two believers find themselves passionately attempting to kill each other on the battlefield, that in and of itself countermands all the teachings of the Lord Jesus. And usually wars are about money (land, lifestyle, etc.) It is a narrative that will always be unredemptive and void of God’s love.

Greed. Actually, elements of this cause are found in all the rest. It is the strongest and most pervasive of them all, and it stands in direct conflict with all things in Christ. Fallen man finds his security and even his worth in money. When the New Testament exhorts us to be content with food and clothing we manipulate it to mean some abstract principle which still allows for a variety of financial self aggrandizements. And here in America, entire teachings have sprung up that openly claim that God is in favor of greed, which they conveniently call “prosperity”. And most cleverly they insist that the path to such prosperity is by giving money to them. Isn’t the gullibility of people simply breath taking?

But listen as believers complain about taxes, gas prices, salaries, and a plethora of things associated with their own wealth. All of these are nothing more than shades of greed. And during election years, the overwhelming issues are about who can help the economy and provide good paying jobs for everyone. And believers are no different in their verbiage and what their hearts seek. The reason believers vote for conservatives lies predominately in their belief that such men will cut taxes, cut entitlement spending, not raise the minimum wage, reduce foreign aid, and many other things that they believe will help fill their own pockets. Like Fagin sang in Oliver,

“In this life, one thing counts
In the bank, large amounts.”

What a theologian Fagin was!

This is a short list of the things that have no divine love or redemption in them. I was going to conclude this post with a description of God’s authentic love and redemption, but I have decided to make another entire post about that. So I invite you to digest what I have written about and see if the New Testament teaches us to participate in such things. But even if you cannot fully endorse what I have written, perhaps it has ignited a first step in investigating the spiritual productivity of such things. But do not just tippy toe around, embrace the danger of finding out something that alters the doctrinal landscape that has become your comfortably bulwark.

Watch for “What is Love? Really?” part II.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jesus is Coming Back?

We have preached and taught that Jesus is coming back to this earth. We have sometimes insisted that He may return soon. We have suggested He is returning in judgment and with great power. In many different ways we have presented that scenario as verifiable truth.

But how can we expect the world to believe us when all the evidence they have is how we live in the shadow of that truth? Instead of living like pilgrims passing through, we live like indigenous people who believe their future is here. And in light of that, the world remains overwhelmingly unconvinced.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Relationships, Fellowships, and Associations

Acts 2:42 - And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

I Cor.1:9 - God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Cor.10:14-23 - 14Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
15I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
19What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
20But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
22Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
23All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

II Cor.6 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Eph. 5 - 10Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Over the years there has evolved a superficial view of which relationships a believer should have and which ones he should avoid. In general we call that doctrine “separation”. In fact, the doctrine or teaching of separation has all but been eradicated, and when it is addressed it is usually in the context of marriage. But in my experience, when a believing girl or boy falls in love with an unbeliever, they can usually come to my office and present an obviously awkward case for his or her salvation. Or the unsaved fiancĂ© will gladly recite some prayer in order to be married.
The verses I posted mean almost nothing in today’s brand of “anything goes” Christianity. Now the Scriptures clearly exhort us to have some evangelistic fellowship with sinners, even the most demonstrable sinners. That means inviting homosexuals or adulterers or felons over to eat with you from time to time. Much of the church has grown accustomed to a bushel style existence that loves the church events but looks down upon lost sinners. Some blogs that claim to be Christian mock and castigate the lost when their brand of sin is at odds with the bloggers moral sensibilities. But as lights we should seek those who dwell in darkness.
But I want to address the other kind of relationships. In the western world the visible church is fragmented into all sorts of beliefs and practices that range from similar all the way to bizarre and even into practicing the ways of other religions and calling them “Christian”. This is a serious situation that demands a Biblical response from anyone who desires to please and glorify Christ in their walk of faith. And with the onslaught of erroneous and extra-Biblical teachings it is imperative that we humbly, but decisively, separate ourselves from those who teach such things.

(Although this not the thrust of this post, there are some orthodx teachers who are so caustic, so self righteous, and even so nationalistic, that we should avoid them as well.)

We must not fellowship with those who label themselves as emergent or post modern or universalist, even if they project themselves as Biblical. But make no mistake, many who travel in such groups are well disguised and are very slippery in their doctrinal expressions. And many who tout an “orthodox” theology, complete with a statement of faith that seems to be Biblical, fellowship and retain ecclesiastical associations with heretics. What are we to make of that? And what is our Biblical direction when that occurs?
For instance, an emergent man named Dan Kimball touts a Biblical theology both in written form and by his own mouth. Although some of his practices, including his appearance, seems a little odd and unorthodox, he still maintains that he is Biblically solid in his theology. But he has many friendships, fellowships, and associations with men whose theology is not only suspect, it is rank heresy. Now that is a problem that demands a response.
Paul rhetorically asks, “What fellowship does light have with darkness”? And therein lies the obvious double mindedness. If a preacher, or any believer, has an orthodox statement of faith and forcefully suggests his theology is Biblical, how can he comfortably fellowship with heretics? Does that not cast some doubt upon his own theology, or at least how deeply he holds to his statement of faith and how wide are his acceptable theological parameters that are outside his own doctrinal descriptions?
For instance, if a man believes in the virgin birth of Jesus, but the preacher down the street teaches otherwise, can the “orthodox” believer exercise a spiritual bond of fellowship with that preacher? No, he should humbly but demonstrably avoid being his ecclesiastical colleague. It comes down to this: In today’s expansive theology many have abandoned any semblance of being separate from those who teach otherwise than Biblical truths. I do not mean to be nit picky, but we are far from that today. The Scriptures are not to be worshiped as we worship Jesus, however they are a glorious and indispensible part of a believer's walk. The moment we dilute the Scriptures is the very moment we are deceived into following human logic and reason.
If Jesus should tarry another fifty years, the church will continue to slide into a gooey conglomeration of beliefs and practices that have long since become untethered to any stretch of Biblical truth. Even the churches with Biblical statements of faith will by their methods and practices overtly mock that which they say they believe. Many are already exhibiting such behavior. And in the coming days, the individual believer will be sorely challenged by the swirling events unfolding around him that present a carousel of confusion. Here are some suggestions:

1. Do not become enamored with any man, preacher or otherwise.

2. Test the spirits, not as a caustic judge, but as a seeker of Jesus and His truth.

3. Beg God to keep you humble every single day. That will be a great challenge.

4. Devour the Scriptures privately, and use the older commentaries as aids.

5. No one’s views are completely accurate.

6. Avoid Scriptural controversy, and in general view “new revelations” as very suspect.

7. The greatest challenge of all will be to deepen you private prayer life.

8. Do not be pressured into having all the answers or understanding all the mysteries.

9. Strive to love everyone, even those from whom you withdraw.

10. Seek Jesus with all your hearts and do not let all the ecclesiastical confusion distract you from Him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

God's Sovereingty

Lk.2:1-6 -And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

he Jews constantly protested the Roman occupation, and they hated the Roman taxes. It was well known that the taxes usually ended up in the coffers of Rome itself, and did little to aid those in need. They were unfair and unjust. But I want us to draw our attention to the entire story of Christ’s birth.

The prophet had identified Bethlehem, meaning the house of bread, as the birthplace of the Messiah. Now God could have chosen a virgin who lived in Bethlehem to be the chosen mother of Jesus. But God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, chose a young virgin from Nazareth knowing full well that the fulfillment of Micah 5:2 would necessitate incorporating a Roman decree. Think on that for a moment, the Holy Spirit visits a virgin from Nazareth at least 9 months before the decree went out, and God knew that Joseph would have to take Mary to Bethlehem since they both were of the tribe of Judah.

A Roman decree of census and taxation became an integral part of the birth of Jesus because God designed it so. Think about the complaining today from believers about American taxes. In fact, the most recent political movements, which included many believers, were about publicly decrying taxes. And yet God Himself orchestrated the birth of His Son to include the oppressive Roman tax decree as a sovereign part of the prophetic narrative.

Should we complain about the taxation decree of Caesar Augustus (probably around 8B.C.) which brought Mary to Bethlehem? Should we question God’s wisdom in not choosing a virgin from Bethlehem so Rome would not have any part in it? Or can we glean from the narrative an exhortation to trust in God’s sovereignty and avoid complaining about circumstances since God is well able to both plan and bring about His will, even if certain events seem confusing to us?

‘For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

So the next time you are tempted to complain and criticize things that seem unfair, remember God is always at work in means and ways that sometimes are known only to Him. Jesus would later exhort His followers to pay their taxes to Rome. Persecution from within the church must be rebuked and corrected. Persecution from without should be endured with humility and patience and even joy.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.

ow can someone express thanksgiving to His Creator? Let us be clear, God Himself gave us life, and we took it and threw it all away. And then this same God came and gave us another chance, but in a colossal mystery, it cost God His own life. He died so that we could live. Go ahead, shake your head.

The depth and meaning and sacrifice of the cross is fathomless. Not just representative, but experiential in ever dimension and detail. Jesus, Son of the Living God, and indeed God in the flesh, writhes in mortal pain and is tortured by those to whom He gave life. The word “love” is always bandied about when it comes to Jesus, but that word seems so antiseptic and shallow. The cross, in all its gory majesty, speaks with words that cannot be uttered.

The concept of love is understood by sinners on a very selfish level, and we use it for all sorts of people and things. We love music, a job, an aunt, a favorite fishing spot, a story, clothing, a car, and on and on it goes until the word has become so diluted its meaning is practically worthless. And yet God has to communicate what He feels and shows to us by the words that we can understand, and he sends the Spirit to amplify and expand the meaning and reality of those words with a combination of emotions, images, concepts, imaginations, metaphors, and other intangibles that when allowed to collaborate inside our mental kaleidoscopes and guided by the foundation of Scripture, our hearts almost burst with wonder and worship.

Do not think that we have even touched the hem of His garment when it comes to then glory of heaven and the Risen Christ. When we think about Jesus and what He has done we must not stray from Scripture, but we can take the wings of Scripture and soar into spiritual astonishment. Yes, I believe in the deeper life and the things of the Spirit. We as believers have become so earth bound that we no longer spend the necessary time to allow our hearts and minds to fly high above the spiritually mundane. We are afraid of the uncommon because so many abuse it, but we are missing much of what the Spirit has for us!

God loves to see and hear His people dwelling upon Him. He is always ready to reveal another aspect of Himself to those who diligently seek Him, or even enlighten us further about something we already know about Him. You desire to give thanks to God today? Well do not offer Him some perfunctory “We’re thankful” concerning freedom or food or the catch-all “blessings”. The greatest thanks you can give unto our Redeemer is to seek Him at a special time and in a special place until you have made an unmistakable connection that both thrills you and changes you.

Thanksgiving, as it is supposedly projected today, is a diluted representation of the meal between the Pilgrims and a small number of Indians. It would do us well to remember that the Pilgrims, and all the white settlers that followed, systematically decimated the native Americans and by trickery and force took over the land that had been theirs. But it makes Americans feel good to think that white Pilgrims and American Indians dined together in peace and harmony and with God’s blessing. That is a self serving caricature. (I know, cold water.)

But we as believing followers of the Lord Jesus must give more than words and much more than an inaccurate historical reenactment to our God and King. The unsaved will settle in and consume a feast, but while we as believers eat that meal, we should deviate from the common and the norm. We should devote some quality time alone with the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. He is worthy of much more than a perfunctory holiday and a meal upon which we gorge ourselves. Our Savior awaits to meet with us.

Let us give Him the gift of thanksgiving by giving Him the gift of ourselves in His very presence! He has risen from the dead and He is alive!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


In many circles, internet and otherwise, discernment has become an end and not a means. If you are “orthodox”, and if you identify and call out heretics and the like, you consider yourself right with God and divinely endorsed. That is nothing more than doctrinal idolatry.

Let us not forget that it was none other than Peter who proclaimed publicly that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But the narrative reveals Peter’s heart was far from Christ. He was doctrinally sound but still not right with God and divinely rebuked. I continue to find it strange and revealing that the discernment sites are not discerning the doctrinal compromises in Christian love, humility, and the rest of the Christ manifestations. But the greatest of these is love, not the Trinity, inerrancy, 24 hour creation day, doctrines of grace, stand on homosexuality, or pro-life position.

Pursuing the Christ starts with the truth about Him, but that is just the beginning of the journey.

“That I may know Him…” - The Apostle Paul

The word "know" is the same Greek word used in Matt.1:24-25

24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

o we know the Christ in that kind of intimacy? Your doctrinal orthodoxy is foundational, but standing alone it is hollow and stark. And if your defense comes with more words of theology, then your defense arises from a keyboard and not an observable expression arising from the Daystar in your very being. If you desire to wear the moniker of “discerner” then you must do much more than arrange sentences; you must display a living manifestation of Jesus Himself, not just a written argument about Jesus.

You want to be a discerner?
Look deeply into a mirror; go ahead, discern.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Consider Him

Heb.3:1 - Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

he writer of Hebrews is, in this context, going to compare Jesus with Moses whom the Hebrews held in high esteem. But later in the chapter the Scriptures refer to Jesus as the Creator and Moses the creation. Quite a difference. But in this first verse we are exhorted to “consider” Jesus. That is a wonderful discipleship verse. In my own mind I believe the greatest and most comprehensive discipleship verse is “He must increase, but I must decrease”, but consider Jesus is another good one.
How would our lives change if in everything we did we considered Jesus. Not just a wristband that says WWJD, but a lifestyle that actually considered Jesus in everything and acted accordingly. Take an imaginary trip with me.

We are heaven, the throne room and dwelling place of God. In the very center is the Lamb who was slain, the Risen and Glorified Christ. He is beyond words and His brilliance lights the entire universe. His countenance is stunning and just one glance is so overwhelming no one can stand in His presence. We bow down and worship Him with exaltations that were unavailable to us on earth. His voice, His eyes, His robe, and everything about Him commands all attention, and the angels swirl around him saying,

“Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

ur entire beings are consumed with the knowledge and presence of the glorified Son of God. We have found our eternal rest in Him. Time is no more, we live in the eternal moment.

Now Jesus calls us over and tells us that He is sending us to a world where sinners need His redemption. He tells us that the price has already been paid, and He extends His hands to prove it. He instructs us to go and be His witnesses, and we will be given earthly bodies. We will get married and have children and have to earn a living, but our mission is to share His gospel and live as salt and light in that dark place. But Jesus tells us He will allow us to remember everything about where we are coming from, including Himself.
So we arrive in this world and begin our missionary journey, as it were. Of course we cannot tell people we have just come from heaven, but the memory of being with Christ empowers us daily. I want to ask you this: Would anything on this earth allure us? Would we care about the politics and nationalistic wrangling? Would we worry about money and the cares of this world? After being in God’s eternal throne room, would the Taj Mahal amaze us? And having seen the scars in the hands of Jesus, would we, could we, ever compromise and say there are other religions just as valid? So why would our lives be so different? Think about what conclusion sinners drew about the apostles in Acts.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

Our lives would be demonstrably different because we could not get the knowledge of Jesus out of our minds. His vision and His presence would saturate our minds and hearts, and regardless of what circumstance we found ourselves in, the presence of the Risen Christ would make us soar above it all. Our bodies would be walking upon this earth, but our hearts and minds would always dwell with the Lord Jesus. And with that, our lives would be so very different and unencumbered by this world, that others around us would surely notice something very different about us. I mean what would people think about a person who was so free from the cares and pressures of this world that his existence manifested Christ continually?
We would be so loving and gracious, and in view of the Lord Jesus, humility would come naturally. And when we were castigated or mocked by anyone, we took it without retribution and with a grace that baffled those around us. Being very aware of where we came from and where we would return to, we sought the good of others at our own expense. And having experienced in person God’s love for sinners, we would not think of condemning and judging. Redemption would be our very breath.

Of course we have not yet been to heaven, but we are going there. So what is missing in our lives that would reshape us in a way that would mirror the imaginary narrative I just outlined? In one succinct phrase:

Consider Him.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving the More Earnest Heed

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

These are not the times to become careless and indifferent. These are very possibly the end times, the last days, and our endurance will be sorely tested. To use the word “serious” in describing these times is to downplay their importance. If indeed it is true that Jesus is actually at the door and ready to return, should that not send shivers down our spines and cause our hearts to melt into repentance and a deeper commitment to worship and service?
But how often do believers become comfortable and even passive in their faith and expressions of that faith? How often have we succumbed to our culture and the pressures of this present life, and in doing so we become lukewarm? As darkness increases in scope and depth, should not light increase as well, even if that light remained the same? If you light a candle in a lit room its light is diffuse, but if you slowly begin to turn off all other lights that candle becomes increasingly bright, even when the flame itself remains at the same size and brightness. So when spiritual darkness increases all around us, and yet our lights become less and less observable, what does that indicate?
It reveals that we are being assimilated by the darkness. And go and sit in the average evangelical church and do you anticipate hearing the pastor speak with any kind of passionate urgency at the present situation? The incandescence that Jesus said should be ours has gone out and the vessels are indifferent to that. It doesn’t happen overnight, but little slips added to little slips and before long you are practicing a diluted and even bastardized brand of Christianity and embrace it warmly.
Let us examine the personal level, which actually is part of the collective. Do you spend daily time with the Lord? I do not speak of reading five minutes of Daily Bread or spending ten minutes reading the assigned verses that will help you read through the Bible in one year (highly overrated). Are there times where the Spirit imprisons your heart and binds you for a time to a section of Scripture where you meditate almost hourly until that portion of God’s Word breaks you and begins to reform your very being? I’m not saying that is the norm, but does that ever take place?
The majority of American believers have time for all sorts of things but precious little for any deep and meaningful feeding from the Scriptures. I am reticent to rehearse again the ratio between television, entertainment, sports, fellowship, in comparison to reading and spiritually consuming God’s Word. All of us are guilty before our Blessed Savior and all of us are in need of repentance and revival. We bare the shame of treating God’s Word as if it was just one part of a well rounded western religious lifestyle.
What about personal prayer? If our dedication to God’s Word is wanting, then our prayer lives are a much greater source of shame. The mice maze western lifestyle has all but consumed our time for any elongated and meaningful times of prayer. And since we have become accustomed to comparing ourselves with ourselves, we feel comfortable and just a slight conviction about the extent and depth of our personal prayer lives. In general, the average evangelical prayer life mocks the God he professes to serve. Is that not a primary part of a believers life, and have we not let it slip? And if nothing changes, today is tomorrow.
But the end is at the door, and even if we ourselves are saved, those around us are in eternal danger. This is no religious game; this is life and death…eternally. Do we still believe that God can pour out His power upon His people if they will seek His face and turn from their wicked ways? Do we thirst for more of Jesus or have we become satisfied with doctrinal scraps? The church is asleep and like Samson we do not even know our power is gone. Masses and masses of young people are graduating from high school and leaving the church, and we think that inventing more attractive activities will draw them back. But in reality, they leave because nothing is happening in our midst. The intense presence and reality of Jesus Christ is no longer there.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to give the MORE EARNEST HEED to the things that we have heard. That does not mean we should lightly salt our lives with some practical moral teachings, and participate in the church building program. That means we should, we must, circumcise our hearts and with brokenness and contrition and allow God’s Word to mold us into the present life of Jesus the Christ. Anyone who openly suggests that what we now live mirrors the Lord Jesus is deceived and a liar. And instead of being ashamed at our pitiful revelation of our Redeemer, the church becomes bellicose in the affairs of this world. Shouting and spewing redemption less moral invectives aimed toward those who are already dead in trespasses and sins is the very height of spiritual hubris and pharisee-ism. And while we assume the moral high ground, the visible church is filled with adultery, divorce, immorality of all sorts, and a dedication to greed and hedonism that rivals the Masonic lodge.

Shhhh…listen. Still no sense of urgency or crisis. To you, the individual believer, there may not ever be a massive repentance among the visible church. However God continues to hold us as individuals accountable. Are you still not discontent with the things of this world? Are you not yet tired of it all, the back and forth political wrangling, the debt ridden western lifestyle, the striving to fend off boredom, and the worry laden attempt to gain more and keep more? Is your soul still not exhausted and willing to turn and pursue a different direction?
If God Himself came down and told you personally that the return of Jesus would be in your lifetime, would that dramatically change the way you live? And if so, wouldn’t that mean that the level of your consecration to Jesus is dependent upon the chronology of future events and not the magnificence of His very Being and what He sacrificed for you?? I feel a tangible sense of impending doom and glory emanating from the very same event…the return of the King of all Kings. By His grace I will be a part of that glory, but also by His grace I want to be His instrument to warn and woo those who now stand in the impending doom.

As much as possible, I want to be Jesus.

My journey to that end has more in front of me
than behind.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Come Out From Among Them

II Cor.6:14-18 -Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Cor7:1 - Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

These words have been manipulated to mean a variety of things, usually centering on marriage, business partnerships, and friendships. And those things do have much validity in obeying the spirit of these verses and Paul’s teaching concerning levels of relationships. Look at II Cor. 7:1 and notice that Paul refers to promises. This verse follows the verses I first posted, so what does Paul mean when he says “these promises”. It is obvious that the Spirit, through Paul, is referring to the promises that say, “I will receive you” and “And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters”.
Now we know that salvation is by faith alone, and that by faith we have been grafted into God’s family and been made sons and heirs. So what is the Spirit teaching here? Carefully review the overall context and you will find that verses 17 and 18 are dealing with the depth of relationship between believers and their Lord. Verse 14 is obviously speaking to a believer since an unbeliever cannot be unequally yoked with another unbeliever. But God is exhorting and commanding His children to come out from among the unbelievers.
And God promises to increase the Father - child relationship when we separate ourselves from those who do not know the Savior. The Father does not just receive us as His property or His servants, although we are surely that, but God says he will be a Father unto us when we draw closer to Him by putting distance between ourselves and those who do not know and serve the Risen Christ. And almost all believers would agree to the teaching of separation as it concerns marriage or friendship, but there are a number of areas that are in direct violation of that teaching that the church blindly embraces.
The two major areas are interrelated and somewhat symbiotic in practice. They are politics and nationalism. And the reason I seem to consistently deal with these two issues is because I believe they are major stumbling blocks to revival, they are overt idolatry within the church, and God’s people cannot deepen their spiritual walk with Jesus Christ while those things remain intact. And I continue to get correspondence from believers who have recently been enlightened and are taking steps into spiritual freedom from these things. And since I am a nobody and my site is miniscule in the scheme of things, I must draw the conclusion that God is doing a wonderful work of repentance among His people.
Are we interested in experiencing God Almighty as a Father and we His children? And are we seeking reverence, the fear of the Lord, as well as intimacy? If that is truly the case, then everything must be on the table. We must provide the Spirit with access to everything in our lives, including the traditions of men that have crept in unawares. We must dare to be transparent and dangerously consider the possibility that in the area of relationships, callings, and goals, our practice is disobedient.
The word “yoked” refers to the wooden tool that joined two oxen and helped them pull together toward the same goal and target. They labored together in the fields and that yoke helped them accomplish the same task. Now the farmer would never have an oxen and a horse yoked together since that would cause an unbalance in speed and strength and would ultimately be counter productive to the task at hand. I want to take the metaphor much farther than that. Would a farmer yoke together a live oxen and a dead one? How would that relationship work in plowing the field? Of course you can see the problem that would cause.
The same is true when believers become yoked with unbelievers in causes, political or otherwise, since you in fact are yoked with a dead person spiritually speaking. And because that dead person seems willing to yoke with you, then we can rightfully assume the field that he is willing to labor in does not belong to Christ since he does not know or serve Christ. That can mean only one thing: YOU are laboring in the wrong field. Paul is very clear about joining forces with the unbeliever in endeavors that are anything higher than the issues of everyday living. It is permissible to be a plumber and work with an unbelieving plumber, but it is against Scripture to join forces with that same unbelieving plumber in moral or spiritual causes. Another picture of the yoke metaphor is this: Would a farmer yoke one oxen that faced west and one oxen that faced east? And yet that is exactly what happens when believers join forces with unbelievers, they are, or should be, laboring in different directions.
And those “conservatives” that scream loudest about socialism and being dependent upon the government for the things of this life, are the same ones who loudly give thanks to that same government who supposedly gives them their freedom. Can you not see the contradiction in all of it? The same people who promote less government also give their allegiance to that government, and aggressively suggest that government should legislate morality along the lines in which they agree. And in that political melee, and openly for all to see, believers join hands with unbelievers to accomplish the political goals they deem “constitutional”. So many believers treat the constitution as nationalistic Scripture.
And here we are as the church that lives in the west. We worship democracy and call it a divine gift. We reconstruct the birth of this nation so that we can also claim a divine creation with continued divine approval. And it does not even matter when this nation murders millions of unborn babies, or promotes sexual perversion, or is permeated by hedonism, or even publicly treats all religions as paths to God. Those who claim to believe the Bible will still pledge allegiance to this nation and soothe their conscience by claiming they are attempting to “bring it back to God” when it never was walking with God at all. We call that deception.
But stop and listen to these words. A great and sophisticated deception is aimed at those of us who have removed ourselves from politics and nationalism. A cloud of self righteousness descends upon us, and we are deceived into believing that as a result of our “coming out” party we are closer to God. Oh no, friends, that is not true. In fact, there are unbelievers who do not participate in politics or give their allegiance to this nation. So just because God has led us out from bondage in these areas, we still must pursue Him and seek Him with all our hearts. And we must humbly remember it was the Spirit that helped us and not our great intellect.
And perhaps the most difficult, at least to me personally, we must ask God to give us love and patience for our brothers and sisters who remain entrenched in things that do not profit spiritually. Let us remember that we were once aggressive and caustic as it concerned politics and patriotism. We once proudly claimed to be “conservative” and loved the “founding fathers”. We were virulent in our defense of moral issues even when speaking to blind people. We were self righteous and that same self righteousness desires to have a stake in our new position. We must daily refuse to succumb to that fleshly attitude, and repent when we fall into it.
Let us encourage one another in these issues, and let us also encourage each other to remain demonstrably humble and gracious and loving to the brethren from which we came. Jesus the Christ deserves all the honor and praise, and we as His servant sons, are striving to reflect Him alone, and surely not even us as faithful. As the Master said, we are unprofitable servants of the Most High God. We have no other gods before us!! Halleluiah!!!!
The Days are Evil

Eph.5:15-17 - See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

he days are evil? What does the Apostle Paul mean by that? There can be no doubt that in the context Paul is warning us that with each passing day we both lose opportunity in God’s kingdom, and that the end approaches when all opportunities will vanish. If you wish to remain deceived by false hopes and promises, then by all means continue to look to things on this earth. Listen to the politicians, look to the ebb and flow of economics, incline your ears to world events, and put your faith in men who are either conservative or liberal or something in between. In all of these, if you haven’t been convinced of their futility then perhaps you never will be.

But if something within your spirit is whispering, or even shouting, that the time is short and the gospel of the everlasting kingdom is the only message of hope, then you are hearing the Spirit’s voice and not the voice of man. Let us act accordingly.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Overcoming Evil

Marching relentlessly throughout history, and with a ferociousness that employs both overt and clandestine power equally, evil lives. This evil strives to convince mankind that all religions are universally true, and that the gospel is antiquated as revealed in Scripture. And at its core, this evil has attacked, redefined, ignored, and even mocked the person of Jesus Christ. It continues to use riches and success and everything that pertains to this life to divert attention from the life to come.
And if evil cannot completely tarnish the person of Christ, it will attempt to lure those who speak His name into self righteousness. Evil never slumbers or sleeps and its scope is enormous, active in the littlest things all the way to world wide events. Evil knows no boundaries and is never embarrassed by the depths of depravity into which it ventures. Evil hates God, and in particular, the Lord Jesus Christ. It will only compromise to leverage a greater evil in the future.

Sophisticated and cunning, evil uses different levels of pressure and a range of suggestions and logic. It appeals to the flesh, and even incorporates religion and the spirit world to lure susceptible and unsusceptible souls into sin and darkness. Evil has a plan and is well able to adjust and customize its approach in order to maximize its effectiveness. And when one avenue closes, evil can immediately change course and probe other spiritual weaknesses, or create one.
Determined and aggressive, along with skillful passivity, evil operates openly and camouflaged simultaneously. Evil loves to be neatly defined, which allows it to maneuver inconspicuously outside the defined parameters. Evil uses immorality, indulgence, and all sorts of sin in order to destroy people and their souls, however the main object never detours from drawing sinners into rejecting Christ, and drawing believers away from serving the Lord Jesus.
Evil itself is a mystery, but make no mistake, its tentacles lead back to the father of all lies, Lucifer, also known as Satan. This is a personal entity that hates God with a viciousness unfathomable to the human mind. He is not God’s equal, and this is not a great battle between comparable rivals. Satan has been defeated through the death and resurrection of the Son of God, however God holds the door of the ark open in hopes that many more will enter into God’s eternal redemption. But until the end, God allows evil to roam. We are not robots or just divine marionettes dancing for the amusement of the Creator.
We have been made in God’s image, and in God’s sovereignty, He has bestowed upon us the ability to choose between evil and good, Satan and Christ. Now many have chosen Satan without actually realizing it because they have been deceived. Some have believed in a false Christ and are actually serving Satan. Does that sound a little harsh and inflexible to you? Then you still do not realize the depth and force of evil and its captain. Imagine a demented person who wants to see people fall off a high cliff to their death. If they remain many yards away from the edge the possibility that they will fall over the edge is remote. But the closer they walk to the edge the smaller the distance is to death and tragedy. So if evil can allure people to live and think along the edge of spiritual disaster, then the task of complete damnation becomes much more possible.
Churches will gather and present research about death metal and black metal bands, and the evils of Hollywood and other rock and pop icons. They will hold seminars that decry such genres that lead young people away from their moral and spiritual moorings. Crusades for young people about sex and drugs are designed to have these young people eschew such things, and many times some do. But evil does not fight against such things because evil knows that when older people target younger genres they are blind to and ignore the ways evil has overtaken them.
Vows and professions and resolutions are all well and good, however there is only one way that actually stands against evil. We as believers are called to love, worship, and serve the Risen Christ with all our hearts, souls, bodies, and minds. This is our relentless journey; this is our labor of love. Evil invites us to depart from our passion to follow Christ, and if evil cannot get us to completely detour, it calls us to compromise. A little compromise at first, and then greater and more treacherous compromises down the road. Evil and its captain are hard at work endeavoring to besmirch the name of Christ and damn the eternal souls of men.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

otice what John says under the anointing of the Spirit. We who believe have been given salvation, strength, God’s kingdom, and the power of Christ, and through these the evil one is cast down. Brethren, we live in a world filled and controlled by all sorts of evil, but the entire earthly kingdom lies with the Wicked One. The acts of evil just expose the power behind this present earthly kingdom. But the church, the Bride of the Son of God, must not partake of this kingdom. We must come out from among the spirit of this world and become incandescent pilgrims who by our words and lives call to those in darkness. We must be Jesus, who said,

“My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

Open your ears and your hearts and listen, not just hear, what the Spirit is saying to the children of God in these last days.

“Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

Like a global tsunami, evil rushes around the world to execute the purposes of the enemy of our souls who realizes his time grows short. It is everywhere and it labors day and night. But in the midst of this tidal wave lives God’s people who have professed faith in Jesus Christ and are called to follow in His steps. And yet we have inclined our ears to the sirens of evil, and have become prisoners of that which is against God’s Christ and God’s kingdom.
What is the word of our testimony? Is it not the Lord Jesus Himself? Are we not imitators of God and the Savior? Are not our lives His very own property? Must we exhaust our lusts upon this earth and submit to its dictates? Are we blind to the beautiful satisfactions of evil, or deaf to the wonderful songs of Satan? Evil has provided a feast and we have accepted its invitation to dine.
Let us arise, awake, and return to our Blessed Lord and Savior with hearts full of repentance and a determination to serve and worship the Living Christ! Let the things of this world grow strangely dim and let the Spirit take inventory of everything we do. And let us die to ourselves and be resurrected in the power and person of Jesus Christ. Let this be a honest reflection of who we are and how we live:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.


Jn.19:16-18 - Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away. And He bearing His cross went forth into a pace called the place of the skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha. Where they crucified Him, and two other with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
I Sam.17:54 - And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem.

God. Jehovah. Jesus. All the attributes of God are interconnected and are inseparable and exist as one. But if there is one central revelation of the nature and fullness of Almighty God that more wholly unveils who God is to man it is the cross. If you could take all sixty-six books of the Holy Scriptures and follow each verse and each sentence like a divine path to its source and intended destination they would all gather at the cross. It is this magnificent act of sacrifice, death, and victory that defies human understanding, and without the personal apocalypse of the Holy Spirit it is foolishness. Justice and injustice; death and life; angels and demons; beautiful and grotesque; eternally planned but captured in 360 minutes; lamb and lion; goat and ram; common and royal; Roman and Hebrew; and God and man.
And the Savior Himself told us that the Old Testament Scriptures that the Jews studied, recited, and even wore as jewelry, spoke of Him. If you took a verse from Chronicles that only listed three men in a genealogy and as such seemed insignificant and unrevealing, and if you distilled it down by the power and guidance of God’s Spirit using the context in history and the lives of the men listed and other interconnections of the Spirit you would still find the cross. And with that understanding, the following story of David and Goliath is an historical and Scriptural alabaster box that when broken fills the heart of the spiritually minded believer with another glorious glimpse of the cross.
Even the little four year old vacation Bible school child has heard the story of how David defeated Goliath with just one God empowered stone to the center of Goliath’s forehead. It is a true story of God’s great and miraculous power over evil that can be revealed through any surrendered vessel and with the weapons of God’s own choosing. God sends His prophet Samuel into the house of Jesse and He instructs Samuel to anoint the future king inside this humble house. Now Jesse brought seven of his sons before Samuel being sure that the king would come from one of these. But Samuel did not have the witness of the Spirit about any of those seven and after inquiring about any other sons Jesse sends for his youngest, David. And David comes into the house stinking of sheep and in a blur he feels oil running down his face and hears Samuel talk of the King of Israel. The Word tells us at that very day the Spirit came upon David.
Not too many days later the Philistines were locked in battle against the children of Israel and they sent out a giant named Goliath to challenge anyone from the Israeli camp to fight him and decide the war. All the Jews were afraid and they did not know what to do so they did nothing. As it happened in God’s providence Jesse sent David with some food for his brothers and when he arrived at the camp he heard Goliath defying the army of the children of God. So David, anointed by God’s Spirit, asks, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?”.
They eventually let David face Goliath and with one providential stone Goliath is hit in the head, falls to the ground, and dies. So David runs to the corpse of Goliath, picks up Goliath's own sword, and severs his head off of his body, and upon seeing this the Philistines fled and the victory was won. Why did David cut off Goliath’s head? Well it represented a visual display of total victory and was proof that the enemy was completely defeated. But now follow as we go further through this historical account that will lead us to, yes, the cross.
Many times after a battle in Old Testament times the victorious army would behead the vanquished army or its ruler using that bloody act to symbolize how great their victory had been. In those days it was also a common practice for armies to display their victory by placing the heads of the slain rulers or military leaders upon stakes so other, would be adversaries would take notice and fear. In Judges chapter seven and II Kings chapter ten and elsewhere are examples of the heads of the defeated being used for emblems of victory.
But I draw your attention to I Samuel 17:54 - And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; and he put his armor in his tent.

There are at least two things that are peculiar to this verse. Why did David take the head of Goliath to Jerusalem? And also it should be noted that the city of Jerusalem did not as yet exist. It would be founded by David at a later date but it seems that the Holy Spirit was proclaiming it prophetically as "Jerusalem" for a reason. The practice of placing the heads of defeated enemies upon wooden stakes also served to warn travelers of the power that was in the city because many times the heads were staked high outside the city. Of course after many days the weather and the birds would strip the heads of all their flesh and eventually all that was left was a skull attached to the top of a wooden stake.
So when David took the bloody head to the future city of Jerusalem he would have placed it high on a stake to warn others of God’s power and to proclaim this great victory over the Philistines and that this city belonged to the Most High God. The place would become known as the place of the skull. Several years later David would take over the city from the Jebusites and name it Jerusalem, the city of peace.

Rom.16:20 - And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet.

Fast forward approximately one thousand years and journey to a place just outside Jerusalem. Look, there is the place of a skull, Golgotha. But so many years had passed that Goliath’s skull was now gone. Close to four thousand years earlier God had prophesied this day by telling Eve that her seed, the Lord Jesus, would bruise the head of the serpent. (Gen.3:15) Oh yes, there was something significant and symbolic about the head of Goliath.
More than any other identification in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the son of David. In Matt.1:1 it is the first description in the New Testament of the Lord Jesus as “the son of David”. And in the very last chapter of Revelation Jesus refers to Himself as “the offspring of David”. So from the beginning of the New Testament all the way through to the end Jesus is named the son of David. The greatest Patriarch, the greatest king of Israel, the greatest warrior, and the most compassionate and intimate servant of Jehovah was David. And of course he was just a shadow of the coming Son of the Living God. But Jesus, at the place of a skull, annihilated the enemy and won the victory over sin, death, and Satan himself. This was the prophetic fulfillment of the victory David had won over Goliath when he had placed his severed head at Jerusalem as a sign that loudly spoke of a coming victory at Golgotha.
Through all those centuries the skull itself was now gone but because the event was so significant people had referred to this place as the place of a skull. It was at this very place that King Jesus, still wearing human appearance, slew the giant and forever severed his head and held it up openly throughout the world and for all eternity. And just as the skull was placed upon a wooden stake to display the victory, the Lord Jesus, Moses’ serpent, was placed high upon a wooden beam just outside of the city of Jerusalem to warn and woo the whole world to the everlasting victory.
And everyone who looks and believes in true faith that this sacrifice is the complete and only way into the Celestial City of Peace, the heavenly Jerusalem, will be allowed into the Great City and more importantly the very presence of the Risen Christ, the Son of David. And the Scriptures declare that one day the Lord Jesus will actually rule and reign for one thousand years sitting upon the throne of his father, King David.
Remember, this magnificent and everlasting victory was once pictured in the story of a little shepherd boy who defeated the enemy with one stone and the anointing of God. Every Word that God has spoken is intertwined with all His Words and they are sewn together with one scarlet thread that winds around and through the victory that was won at Golgotha, the place of a skull. David had severed the head of Goliath and won the victory for the children of Israel, but the Lord Jesus had severed the head of Satan and won the victory for the entire world. Only believe.

Bethlehem, David, the valley of Elah, a stone, victory, a head, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jesus, Nazareth, Passover, Jerusalem, Gethsemane, Ciaphas, Pilate, Herod, thirty-nine stripes, a robe, thorns, mocking, a sentence, a street, a walk, a skull, two thieves, soldiers, Mary, John, nails, a spear, and
blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood,
blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood,
blood, blood, blood, blood, blood,


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Dark Side of the Moon

The mission of Apollo 8 was to reach the Moon, enter into orbit, and successfully return to the Earth. It would be the first time humans would leave the orbit of the Earth, and it would be the very first time a human being would lay eyes upon the dark side of the Moon. Since the Moon rotates once every 27.3 days, and since it revolves around the Earth the same amount of time, only one side of the Moon faces the Earth.
But when the men looked upon the dark side of our Moon, they discovered that it was similar to the lighted, or near, side. It had distinguishing craters and the basic soil makeup as the opposite hemisphere. The visible side of the Moon revealed with great accuracy how its far counterpart would appear. With a few features that would distinguish them, they were completely alike.

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (NIV)

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;

And therein lies the greatest mystery of all. Jesus is separate from the Father and yet the same. Go ahead, explain that; dissect that. Some Christian sects suggest that Jesus is the Father and the Spirit, and there is no Trinity as we understand it. I can excuse such a theology since the mystery is far greater than can be captured in some systematic theology. Like explaining the color “red” to a person born blind, with what words do you use to explain a spirit, much less the Godhead? The inexcusable theology is when men suggest that Jesus was not divine.
And it is that very spiritual truth that I want to explore. Exploring a mystery is a daunting task, but when the mystery is the Lord Jesus then it is also exhilarating and glorious! And we have as our guide the Spirit and the Holy Words He wrote through the hands of men. I do not speak of some scientific exploration or fact finding mission. How many believers treat the scriptures and the Christ as they would treat mathematical problems or instructional manuals? But this is much more than an expedition, this is a pilgrimage.
We are not searching for God in the abstract or in a vacuum. We are looking for God through the exclusive looking glass of His Son Who is both the window and that which appears through the window. Do you understand that concept? Jesus is the express image of the Father and yet John says He was with God in the beginning. I hope you can feel how sacred and ethereal the ground is becoming as we step carefully into this spiritual expanse. So often we are guilty of making God a set of do’s and don’ts.
Any religion that seeks God without embracing Jesus as His only begotten Son looks in vain. They are man made houses of cards that use the glue of morality, ritual, intellect, and the works of man as its foundation. There is no wiggle room and there can be no negotiation; Jesus is the one and only Creator God. He is not just the way shower, He is THE way. Through Him and His death and resurrection there was provided an escape, a rescue, through which any sinner born of woman can believe and be saved. And if you are searching for God, look no further than Jesus.

Like the near side of the moon, Jesus reveals the Father whom we have not seen. This is no ordinary mystery; this is THE mystery. But Jesus Himself publicly claimed to be the answer to this mystery, and He made sure His words were etched in paper and preserved throughout history. Even though wicked men attempted to eradicate and destroy the Scriptural record of His teachings, He was faithful to preserve them. And faced with the open and obvious teachings from His own lips, other wicked men attempt to change and distort what the Christ has said.
Look at Jesus. See the Father God. Two as one. Profound. Deep. And for our benefit God has given Himself names that mean something to us like Father and Son, and yet God is a spirit. The revelation is expansive and beyond human capture, but it has also been presented in childlike form. Man craves technology and knowledge and he rejects things that seem beneath him and without the necessary intellectual challenges that draw self applause. To the post modern mind, Jesus is way too simple to be the complete definition of the Creator. Sinners demand a hearing and are way too sophisticated to embrace profundity when it appears in simplicity.
Things that tingle the mind feed the fallen nature. Philosophy and imaginations fueled by “what if’s” and “How about’s” are gobbled up by the fallen masses educated by heathens and infidels. And the simple and humble man born to a peasant woman who allowed himself to be murdered is not even worthy of honorable mention when it comes to who is God. But He will be mentioned only if He is stripped of His claims and presented as a good or great man who had good ideas and probably manifested some divine traits.
But if a man stands and declares that he does not believe the far side of the Moon resembles the near side he is called a fool. But men who declare that God looks nothing like Jesus are called intellects. But every once in while one of their own countermands that dictate and leaves the reservation. Every once in a while the Spirit soars the wall and lights upon one of these intellects, and in a miracle that sinner comes to childlike faith in the Lord Jesus.
And when asked what is God like, the born again follower replies, “God is like Jesus. Jesus is God.” And that is usually unpalatable to the carnal mind and the fallen religious mind. It is not that God is simple. He is deeper and more profound than human minds could ever comprehend, but He has lovingly condescended in order to reach us. And God wasn’t satisfied with reaching out to us; He became one of us. Coming to us as a man, and in the likeness of sinful flesh, God says through the lips of Judah’s son, His own lips, “I AM. You who seek God, look at Me. I am God."
John tells us that it does not yet appear exactly what we will be when we get to the eternal dimension, but we do know we will be like Him. Who? Jesus. Read the Book of the Revelation and you will find something very curious. The Father and the Spirit willingly take a back seat, and the centerpiece of the book is Jesus the Risen Christ, the Lamb of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. The unseen side of God has now been revealed. And He doesn’t just look like Jesus…He is Jesus. The mystery is solved as the mystery continues. Halleluiah to the Redeemer King!!!

We Shall Never Die

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

ll our hopes? Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground. There can be only one hope and one source of our praise…Jesus. Everything we have, everything we are, and everything we will be is all because of Him. How we seem to forget and limit what He has done and continues to do and will complete, all for us. I do not remember pilgrims at this time. I remember and give thanks to the Great Redeemer and I remember the price He paid.

As we neatly cut the turkey and find room on our plates for all the food, let us be consumed with the aroma of His power and presence. He alone was worthy to suffer in our place and His face was set like a flint to be our slaughtered Lamb. I cannot put into words how unworthy I feel when I think about Him and His passion. To say I have fallen short is to elevate myself far above that which actually reveals the gaping chasm between my true self and His true salvation. I bring nothing of any value and no moral or spiritual merit. What He has freely bestowed upon me is all grace.

In my mind I’m going to be with Him forever. I abhor myself for having any affection for the things of this world. Spurgeon once stated that, “when we first set our eyes upon the Risen Christ we will consider ourselves a thousand fools for having been allured by anything other than Jesus”. Just the passing thought of eternal life is beyond me. And Jesus would have been so very gracious to save me and prepare an eternal paradise for me where I would live in perfect ecstasy. But He promised to prepare a place for me with Him…forever.

Oh heart and mind, how incompetent you are to fully embrace such fairy tales! I think that if I ever believed that in all its glory I would die at that very moment. I am such an unworthy sinner who deserves nothing, much less an eternity with my wonderful Creator. Oh lips, you are so accomplished at spewing forth so much nonsense and worthless chatter; when will you surrender completely to bringing forth that which always honors and lifts up Him? And you mind, how practiced you have become in wandering around and touching all kinds of useless and even sinful things; when will you settle upon Him and deepen the stakes and lengthen the cords of your tent right there? And you, heart, why do you listen to those sirens which do not profit?

And so I come before the blood drenched Roman planks, and I bow my sinful head and worship with a broken spirit and grateful heart. My Creator has loved me so deeply that He took my well deserved place of punishment, and He gave me a gift that soars above my ability to repay in the smallest way. He gave me Himself. All I can do is praise His matchless name…forever.
Celebrating Christmas?

Here is a good study on when Jesus was born.

Jesus was not born in December, and the holiday called “Christmas” is a man made construct designed primarily to benefit man and not God. It is curious that gifts are given to each other when Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Where are His gifts? The holiday itself has become a spectacle of hedonism and consumerism with a touch of religious sentimentalism. Great and expensive Christmas pageants are presented around the country while other believers are persecuted, live in prisons, or even starve elsewhere in the world.

If the church began to celebrate Christmas during Rosh Hashanah or on Yom Kippur, it might be more appropriate. And if we celebrated it with joy and worship without the clamor of presents and credit card enthusiasm, it might be much more representative of our faith. The world has not adopted our holiday, we’ve adopted theirs. The New Testament exhorts us not to observe days, especially days which we have invented. When we mold our faith and our God into things that are events to watch and be entertained, then we have removed the spiritual essence of our faith.

The observable manifestation of Jesus should always be embedded in the lives of those who profess His name and follow His Lordship. Theatrical presentations can be used for evangelism, and some people have come to Christ through Christmas pageants, but the observance of Christmas has now become a western spectacle that is so void of anything resembling Jesus or the New Testament, that even Jews and other religions celebrate it without feeling that they are compromising their own faith.

I attempt to avoid being legalistic or hysterical about the issue of Christmas, but I do not observe it any longer. The most insidious forms of paganism are those which shroud themselves in Christian verbiage and even go so far as to claim to be Christian observances in and of themselves. When a believer dresses up his child as Moses and allows him to collect candy on Halloween, that might be an issue. However, at least no one claims that Halloween is a Christian observance. But what if Halloween began as a ecclesiastical holiday designed to promote giving as outlined in John 3:16? And if over the years the goblins and ghosts had consumed that holiday to where they were the focus and not God’s gift of His only Son, would it still be appropriate for believers to celebrate it?

Gal.4:9-11 - But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

he account in Luke concerning the birth of Jesus was specifically designed to reveal His divine birth, and present Him as the virgin born Savior of the world. No New Testament writers recall with any specificity that event, and Paul says only that “in the fulness of time God sent His Son”. The birth of Jesus was not meant to become a holiday, and surely not the disgusting display it has become today. It makes us feel good and gives us that Norman Rockwell holiday spirit, but it is a mirage and a deception that for the most part draws us away from Christ and not to Him.

And yet those that trumpet their literal Bible stance are reticent to even address the issue, much less repent and adjust their celebration accordingly. I do realize that in the course of what is entrenched and accepted I am considered a nut and a Scrooge. I take no pride in that and I am aware that many committed believers celebrate Christmas.. (The word itself is compromise.) But perhaps Jesus is not returning as soon as some of us believe. And if so, perhaps God wants to sanctify His people in anticipation of a mighty move of His Spirit.

I do not believe in a world wide revival, however I do believe pockets of revival are possible if God’s people are willing to allow themselves to be pruned by the Sword of the Spirit. But if we resist being challenged in the obvious issues, how will we bow willingly to the more painful and sacrificial ones? And in the end, what have we sacrificed for Jesus and His kingdom?

The Lord has place a difference between you and the Egyptians.

Where is that difference? Where is that sweet smelling fragrance that identifies us as humble reflections of the Lord Jesus? I ask you this question: What holiday do we as believers celebrate that the world does not? The truth is that the New Testament exhorts us not to celebrate holidays, especially those in concert with the world. The historical birth of God the Son was probably in September or early October, but the greatest replication of that birth takes place when a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus and Jesus is “birthed” inside his mortal being.

When we celebrate communion, we do not eat candy straw out of plastic mangers. We eat bread and wine that represents the blood and body of Jesus on the cross, and we do that looking forward until He comes. But in true Israelite fashon, we have taken that which is good and made it into an idol. Do we celebrate the circumcision of the infant Jesus? In this latter part of December, I exhort you to take inventory of what is happening all around you. I believe the Spirit will reveal to you how much He disapproves of what men suggest comes from God. If you want to accurately observe the birth of Jesus, you will have to wait for naxt fall. This year's date has already passed.