Saturday, December 17, 2016
I have been spending time in the Book of Exodus. It is a marvelous book of power,miracles,deliverance and the darkness of our own souls. In the latter parts of this book, the Lord God instructed Moses in the building of the tabernacle. It was a vision first and then detailed instructions on the building of what is said one of the ancient wonders of the world. Moses having plans in hand and the workers given to him by the Lord by name, undertook definitely one of the most important and challenging tasks a man or nation would ever perform..the building of a place where God would absolve the sin of a nation. A place where, the Pillar of cloud would descend while Moses entered to speak with the very One who created everything. So how was such a place constructed? There are chapters that detail every step and the care taken by the construction of each curtain, clasp and utensil. How was the pattern to be constructed. One phrase rings repeatedly from the mouth of God and carried through by Moses as he oversaw all the painstaking work. What was that phrase?
In such a phrase and spirit that tabernacle in all its Glory was constructed and when finished, the Almighty came down to fill it with the smoke of His glory. Moses had achieved it. His nation had done it. They had constructed a Habitation for the Almighty Himself. A place has been made where the very presence of God would dwell between the golden cherubim with wing pulled straightly forward pointing to the place where the Divine Presence was centered. Only entered into by the High Priest himself and very gingerly keeping himself in careful reverence lest that presence be violated and perhaps they and the nation should suffer for it because of irreverence.
So the question and perhaps the temptation of men would be to propose that in some imaginative effort well directed and an orchestrated action construct something that might touch that place at least a little. If that pattern can be uncovered, then perhaps there is a chance that one person or group may fashion something that God would be so pleased as to reveal Himself especially and perhaps only to that people. May I say it is heady stuff. It is intoxicating to take on such a notion and to see and fully believe if some method could weave such a reality, what would happen would be the glory cloud once again descending.
Friends, it has been tried. Many have even believed that it has been achieved in the efforts and teachings of some. The premise is if one is given the pattern by study or revelation and constructs such a way of life, it can be fashioned into something where the very presence of God is so strong, the ones who have worked to make that happen flee out of that very presence because it is so powerful no one could stand in it and live. Some take this as the lesson of Moses in Exodus. If one builds ‘according to the pattern’ by building ‘just as’ God has constructed, then glory awaits with all its rewards. And so they wait and build, tear down and build again. Cycle after cycle, pattern after pattern, revelation after revelation –ever learning but never coming to the full knowledge of the truth.
What is that truth?
Simply it can’t be done. The lesson of Moses and the Book of Exodus is NOT to provide a pattern for living in a ‘just as’ fashion. The lesson of Moses is it cannot be done. It is impossible. You see, the effort and the intricacy of that construction to the point of perfection was to provide a pattern that only one could fulfill. Only one could build ‘just as’ and ‘according to the pattern’. The whole procession of worship in that place on the most Holy Day of Atonement is type and shadow of the steps of Christ Himself. Think about it.
1 1> The priest who is to minister is first to wash in the bronze laver, this is shadow of the baptism of Christ to prepare Him for the work at hand.
2 2> The priest is then to provide the prescribed sacrifice. To kill and apply the blood upon the horns of the altar and to mutilate the body of that sacrifice to a degree where certain parts were to be exhumed and burnt as instructed. This signifies the actual sacrifice of Christ by His death.
3> The priest then took the blood and with a hyssop branch sprinkled the people with the blood of the sacrifice. It was this that ‘covered’ the sin of the people. This is Christ proclaiming the people called by His Father His brethren to be cleansed from their sin.
4 4> The priest then took the blood into the tabernacle. This was Christ’s resurrection and ascension into Heaven to perform the act of atonement with His own blood.
5 5> The priest was to take some of the blood and to apply to the horns of this ‘altar’. This was a special table and in itself it signified the Lord Himself where the sacrifice of incense – made solely for that purpose—burned continually before God. This signifies the ever presence of Christ constantly before the Father as the pleasing sacrifice to offer prayers and supplications for the people of God.
6 6> Finally after such actions, the priest could enter inside the veil and sprinkle the mercy seat as aforementioned with the blood of the sacrifice. This a picture of the consummation of the ages where Christ Himself was received by His Father and it was received as an acceptable sacrifice.
You see, the imagery and effort of the tabernacle was NOT to attempt its replication in any form as some have attempted. Its very nature was to show, the impossibility of replication. There is no formula or ‘pattern’ to build where God will indwell it that could be constructed or conceived. As God had supplied Moses with the vision, detailed instructions and called the talent, so He did with His Son which fulfilled all the patterns in the Old Testament God has prescribed in type to Moses.
We must remember that EVERYTHING in the Old Testament points to the Son of God in some form or another. He is the building God has made, He is the temple of God and only God can construct that. It is supposed to be that way.
Many have tried and in their own perception have constructed what they thought was the divine pattern only to see it in ruins as time and history marches on. I call this the Moses syndrome. No, there is only one building ever constructed that is eternal, it is Jesus Himself and He is the cure for our own self-deception of self-importance.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
I ran across a shared post on social media the other day. I told my
wife about it and she said "what's wrong with it? It sounds right
to me...it is the scriptures.." I sat back and looked again at the
scripture passage. And there it was again glaring back at me.
So what was the scripture?
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is
the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was mani-
fested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.Whosoever
abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him,
neither known him.Little children, let no man deceive you: he that
doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He
that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the
beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that
he might destroy the works of the devil.Whosoever is born of God
doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot
sin, because he is born of God.In this the children of God are
manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not
righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother..."
I John 3:7-10
I asked my wife again what was her conclusion. She did not say
a word. It was the look on her face that said it all. Why? Because
for people like us, this is just another rock in our already over
burdened knapsack.The scriptures here seem always open ended
and thus there is never a satisfaction of it to the point the party
believes that they have made it over the spiritual hump. On the
surface, the Bible is daunting and cut and dried it would seem.
We stood silent.There was nothing to say only a deflating hope.
Ever feel that way?
It is scriptures like this misapplied that suck the hope from people
and spread the pharasaic darkness once again.
What is the knee-jerk reaction? It is to do one of three things:
1> give up - this is what most people do. They go silent and
move towards the exit.
2> justify - say they are no worse than anybody else. It is a
good argument but the standard for comparison is
wrong so it does not lead to the light but to a
continual pull into one's own hell and deception.
3> plead - I won't say it is repentance because I have played
this game before. It is somewhat based on #2. In
the sense we really don't think we are a bad person,
we just need the right formula for victory. We agree
with those that speak so harshly about sin and
personal spiritual failure. Somehow we believe if we
can put more spiritual elbow grease this time will be
different.So we go to the altar and eviscerate our-
selves and the blood gushes but our god does not
seemingly hear us. Eventually we find the weakness
again succumb and again repeat the same process.
Never 'gaining the victory' as those examples that
teach us and smile in our faces with a superior
expression behind a facade so 'spiritually' crafted.
Quite a pickle we are in huh?
What really got me was the person after the quote said "It is so
clear, you don't need to explain it or look at a commentary..."
I thought about that and at the first conclusion, agreed with it.
It WAS clear. It WAS seemingly so obvious that anyone could
conclude the truth from it. The problem is I did not feel any
better and it certainly did not give me any hope. 'I am a goner'
I thought at the time of reading it.
These are the kind of scriptures that in their weight seem to
crush us and we want to run and hide because there is nothing
but dispair. We are without excuse. We have been charged with
a crime and everyone knows we ARE guilty. We are paralyzed
and led off in chains...
Does that sound like the gospel to you? It is like what Jesus said
"For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay
them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move
them with one of their fingers...(Mat 23:4) ... But woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom
of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither
suffer ye them that are entering to go in...(Mat 23:13)...Woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea
and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make
him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves...(Mat 23:15)
...Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallowa camel.
We cannot argue the law with a lawyer. That is a modern rend-
ition of what is inferred here What is the point?
We have 'masters of the law' today that on the surface tout they
know and do not.
What about the scripture from I John? Is there an answer with
any redemption for an imperfect believer like myself? I believe
there is and it is not one of the three points above.
How can I say that?....one word....CONTEXT.
What is the truth about this passage? When we fold it in with
the rest of the message of John -- the Apostle of Love, we may be
able to take something we can hold onto.
Here is perhaps an alternate application:
John wrote his epistle to the churches (house churches) that were
being assailed by Gnostics.Gnostics were people who had melded
Christianity with Greek philosophy and came up with a witches brew.
In their line of thinking there were two types of people. The fleshly
and the spiritual. The spiritual ones were so special that they
receivedsecret revelations from God and they believed it was proof
that they were so special, it did not matter that they engaged in
all types of sin.They believed that there was such a dichotomy in
the makeup of man that one could be both spiritual and yet have
fleshly appetites that could be indulged and it would make not
one iota of difference. John was combatting this crucible of evil
with the true gospel. In context, in the scripture above John was
comparing these debauched individuals that touted to be great
spiritual giants with the purity of being born of the spirit.
In context, the argument was not that one sins or doesn't sin. It was
to clearly identify one truly born of God and how they act. These
Gnostics were not a 'work in progress' they were the false brethren.
They were of those identified by Jesus in His quote above because
they acted like the scripture above from John.
When we see the scripture from John in such a light and perspective,
we can agree that we are not perfect but we are not lost....we are a
'work in progress'. Now some progress faster than others but we
"There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can
defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they
that defile the man."
So are we of the spirit or of the law: Here is what Paul says:
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me
free from the law of sin and death.That the righteousness of the
law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but
after the Spirit."
"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the
works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?...But if ye be led
of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
Is walking after the spirit a perfect walk? I think you can answer
that one. So what are we to do when we encounter people like
me? We be gracious like our God and give them the benefit of
the doubt? In other words we perform the weightier matters
of the law as Jesus said:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay
tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the
weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these
ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
The scriptures in the hands of one with a pharasaic spirit is very
much different than one with a disciple's heart. Many will be
surprised when they stand before Him and because they leveraged
the Bible -- unintentionally or not-- to condemn and imprison
receive a reproof.The moral of the story is if you are going to be
a teacher do your homework. I came from an environment that
also interpreted scripture in this flat sense and so my advice to
you is take nothing at face value from ANY one regarding the
scriptures. Your faith is worth investing in, so stop borrowing from
people who lend you truth, believe me you will find yourself
spiritually bankrupt. Get to work. Study to show yourself approved.
The key to the scriptures is absolutely the teaching of the Holy
Spirit but He needs something to work with...the rule is
don't jump to conclusions,htey are usually malformed and
will lead you down instead of up. There is no quick fix stop
looking for one.
This was Jesus' message, that was John's reflection of Jesus
in the first epistleand that should be our message as well.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Darker Days may be ahead for us all some say. We perhaps have been told it is then end of days. This is a theme historically used by leaders that manipulate through fear. This is their chief weapon against the truth and the diversion that puts into the minds of followers to stay in check lest they lose their place in the economy of whatever group they may be a part of. It is fear that is the toll that scrawls on the heart that causes us not necessarily to act but to do the exact opposite of that. All I know is I have been praying and praying hard. It was fear that kept me in check for years and it was fear that caused me not to act on what I knew to be right. So what are the arguments that freeze your feet and cause your immobility to act?
11> What if I am wrong? – May I say one thing to you regarding this. Follow your gut, intuition or whatever that comes from the inside from your heart. This is where the deepest of deceptions cannot touch. Say it out loud so your mind can hear it ‘What if I am wrong?’. Give voice to your fear and take it before God. ‘Repent’ of it and see if it leaves. If it leaves, you may indeed be wrong. My guess is it won’t. My guess is that you already know it is not wrong and it is that which is driving you and stressing you. You have done things in the name of God and Christ they have no part in. If you believe that your accountability for such actions is because you have followed someone and they will shoulder the blame, you are mistaken. I was told once to stop my efforts to do what I believed God had called me to do and my answer was ‘I will answer to God if I do not’. It cost me everything. My family, my ministry but in the end, I know it was the right thing to do…I wasn’t wrong. Will it cost you? Oh yes. It may even be a price you cannot pay but no amount of diversion and busyness will take the pang of not doing what you gut has already told you. We are to suffer in this life and it is better to suffer for what is right than to suffer submitting to what is wrong.
22> What will happen to my family? – This is perhaps the greatest of questions. I have lost my family because I decided that I had had enough of manipulation and what they called truth that was a chain not a bridle. I was not led, I was being dragged. A good way to assess your state. Are you being dragged or are you following? The main way to tell the difference is your own spiritual health. Are you growing in Christ or are you withering on the vine. Are you burdens being borne and shared by your leaders or are they only heaping on your life more weight and stress. Their strength is in your following not in themselves. They leech the light of a room to light and provide their way. More importantly is your dilemma: If you leave will your family leave with you. Let me answer that question: Where are you in life? If you are younger and are raising a family, get out now. If you have woven the lattice of your life into the fabric of those you follow and who follow, your task is much more difficult. What can you do? Perhaps the most important thing: pray. Pray against the principality you serve under. Pray God will give them repentance that they may change before it is too late. Most of these are good men caught in their own inertia to serve Jesus out of love for Him but the difference is they execute the will of those over them with no thought of what they are doing. They will not be spotless in the presence of Christ for their duplicity. Pray for your fellow members to give them strength and to keep their own integrity and spirit. Your main enemy is still fear. I will tell you these men who lead will run when they are opposed. When exposed, all they will do is scurry for cover. Keep your family close. Pray with them. Be honest with them but be careful. May your words be few and your prayers be many. Be wise as a serpent but innocent as a dove. One more thing do not linger until the time of the kool-aid. Cults self destruct and the tragedy is that many are caught in their undertow that had all intentions of leaving. Your family is at stake, live like it. Build their trust by your actions and never surrender your integrity.
33> What kind of life will I have if I leave? – I will not lie to you. The false reality of the pink cotton cloud of the brand of security you have been living in for years will be gone. Tragically, it was never really any security at all. In a cult or dysfunctional religious group, you live in an alternate reality what security and spiritual covering and leadership are offered. Your cost for that is your life. Your life. YOUR LIFE…get it? I was a slave for over twenty years. I cannot get that time back. I cannot get that time back. YOU are wasting your life in people who will throw you out of their synagogue for an honest question. You know it has already been done. The Kind of life you will have after leaving? A REAL one. One with pain and suffering and regrets and guilt. One where you have to face yourself perhaps for the first time in your life and say ‘I was wrong’. A life where you will cry in anguish for the loss and the reality that your life is not in your power to control nor was it in any living person’s power to control. For once, you will have to set your fate into the hands of the Almighty. It is the deepest and most courageous thing to do. To go to the cross yourself and see all your past die in front of your and to be dead for a time. BUT…there is a resurrection. It is not glorious but it is real. You then will have fought to have your life back and God being the gracious One that He is will be with you to live the rest of it.
There is something happening in the Spirit. I have just caught its scent on the Holy wind it is not a hurricane of power but a lilting cool breeze in your desert of the Spirit. With all the evil in the world and the lack of any standard currently in America, there is a swelling so deep in the ground to those who are plugged in and listening it is undeniable. What is it?
It is this:
When the enemy shall come in , the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up standard against him. Is 59:19
The word standard here is defined in Hebrew as a ‘confined stream that the wind of Jehovah impels.’ This is why your thoughts will not recede and cannot be blocked or repressed out of your life. It is your confined life, your stream, that is driven by the wind of Jehovah..’ Your resistance to what you are living under is not in your strength and desire but in His. If you stay . take courage. Pray and protect the boundaries of your life and family.. If you leave, call me, the number is on this blog. I will help in any way I can do so. You are not nor ever will be alone. You have God. May your stream spring from hope and may the wind of Jehovah always compel you to do the right thing in your confinement. The door is open. Step through it. You will be amazed at what is waiting for you.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
It has been a few years since the departure of Rich Mullins and his mentor Brennan Manning. These two have influenced my life more than anyone. Basically, I had to be reconstructed after a demolishing of my and my wife’s faith from the group we were a part of for twenty plus years. In the temporary hell, there were a few people on the shore of that lake of fire. It was Rich and it was Brennan. Rich through his music showed me that we are all flawed to the point of irreparable and it would take some power higher than my own to put me back together. I am reminded of the scripture of the shepherd who wrestled the lamb from the lion’s mouth. A piece, an ear. What I was in had devoured most of me and my wife. We were pieces on the floor. I was told the very God that I would look for to help me had only a curse and an eventual second death planned, at least that is what I was told.
There was Rich on the shore and Brennan to give me a hand up. They first spoke in their words and music that was gibberish. But as I read and re-read, I began to get the message through the din of past conditioning. They said things like ‘Do you really understand that God loves you and that perhaps is the most critical question to ask and answer this side of the grave. The first time I read it, I blinked and said ‘Yeah, I already know that…’ but although I said it, I obviously did not believe it. Then as I read about one instance in the gospels when the Lord ate with the publicans and sinners and looked at the people he was with, I saw the whole meeting and what He said as quite profound. Why the second, third and fourth look? Because I am dense, and the leathered hide that I was, the scriptures had to penetrate were well worn, cracked and dry and dead. Yet the oil of the Spirit of Christ poured over me and I soaked it up as much as I could.
So what about the publicans and sinners? These were the ones that were the connecting tissue between Jewish society and the Romans. They were the tax collectors and administrators who meted out Roman control at the street level. Roman society was not what we think. Yes it was quite a lot like our society today. There was the use of alcohol and possibly drugs. There was sexual behavior that much reflected our modis operandi today. In other words, to put it point blank, most Romans had both male and female partners. There were children in the mix as well. So, when we talk to the connecting tissue of the Jewish society to the Roman overlords, it is not much of a stretch to believe that in that group of individuals, there were all kinds and varieties of relationships going on. More than likely, there were in that group at the very least engaging in experimentation that was on par with their rulers - it was a part of doing business. What was Jesus message to them: hellfire and brimstone? No. It was the story of the Prodigal Son. I was stunned. Jesus in the midst of that swirl of lifestyles spoke about coming home. About coming home. Uhhh…about coming home.
It is not about comparison of lifestyles that God is after, it is the heart of his son or daughter. Does this mean He excused the biblical imperatives? Definitely not, that was part of His message to them. It was as if He was saying “DESPITE your life and what you have done to yourself, I am still waiting, I am still looking, I am still in love with you…”
There I was in someone else’s pig trough sold as a slave eating the husks of condemnation and self hate when that fact came blazing through. God loves me. Not for what I can, have or will ever do. Nope, it is the lost son he longs for and has gone to great lengths to let me know that He loves me.
That is the one thing Rich and Brennan have left as a liturgy and a legacy: the love of God. God accepts us for what we are and then washes us, dresses us and adorns us. That is part of the process of our return not before we return. We need look no further than this story of the Publicans and Sinners. In it we see the drunkard, the adulterer, the lesbian, the gay and may be some of the darker sides of sin. There is Jesus telling the ALL to come home. We cannot expect to arrive there whole and fully functional. Some will arrive as a leg, as piece of an ear…but we will be there.
My seat will not be near the Savior I am sure. My seat will be at the farthest end of the table. I know that now and will keep that with me. I will be amongst the beggars at the gate of God’s favor nothing more. I know what I am and all my failures but the very fact I will be there is enough for me and is not because I did anything right because I haven’t
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Is what has happened in your life the will of God?
It is perhaps a most difficult question to tackle and understand. Is the will of God a spinning gyre that runs smoothly towards its known conclusion or is it a bumpy chaotic descent into unrelated and unexplainable chaos? It is not a new notion to consider. There are the Calvinists on one hand and on the other the followers of Arminius. One side says that God knows the outcome and so moves all towards His irresistible will and grace. The other says it is our free will that determines the outcome and if we serve God, then things will be chosen that reflect that state.
There is a principle that is in the word of God that addresses this conundrum: we reap what we sow.
In my case, I am reaping a series of bad choices. I cannot stand before God one day with a clean mind and say I did all correctly and according to His will. No, far from that. But if we are to apply this principle, we need to ensure we go back far enough. We read the signs and markings along the way and take an objective measure of what is going on. This is what gives us the true measure of the reaping…when we started to sow. If we can find the origin of the path of a series of decisions, then we can gain perspective on how we have arrived where we are. One thing is for sure, the current location is not made by a decision that was made halfway down the path. Nope that inflection point you may be considering was the decision you made where you went wrong and that has brought you where you are may only be one of the points along the continuum of your point of origin. To use a ‘point in the middle’ is as bad as assessing your life at your current point. Why? Because if that point was bad to begin with, then the conclusion you will reach will be full of erroneous thoughts and feelings. You must try to find the point of origin.
After thinking about it, I started out in life and came to the realization that God was real and the Savior was calling me to Himself and that is what I consider any Christian’s point of origin. So what are the conditions when you started out with Christ? Well, if you think about it, they were the best of conditions. Your point of origin can be considered perhaps the purest location in your life. As life happens we move with a level of initiative but we do not move alone. God has sent His Spirit to teach, guide and even protect. When we are sensitive to Him, then the decisions we make are more likely to bring us back to the smooth track of the gyre of His will. It is when we do not listen, that is when the ride gets bumpy. Decisions that come after that may or may not be with the correct perspective. There is a lot of ourselves in any decision we make. Especially when it comes after a series of bad choices.
So you get the picture right? What we are reaping is compounded as we move along from a bad decision. So what is the answer? If we get off track, it sure seems like we never can get back on track. What a terrible state we are in aren’t we? No hope of return, no way back.
Friend, that is not at all the case. Look back again and find that worst decision you made and where it has brought you. I have found mine. It was the root of all of it. It was a move I never should have made, it was a job I never should have taken. This set into motion everything. Funny thing is there were plenty of warning signs that this was not where I should have been. I ignored the signs and pressed on. Reason? My youth and short sightedness. I can from that point reel off a series of events that has brought me to where I am. It was because of my passive nature, I let circumstances and others decide a path I was to walk. While they were all the while telling me, it was the will of God. So I believed and continued to ignore the signs. God did try to spare me a few times through situations I went through that temporarily wrested me from a bad decision and caused me to stop and think about the next step. Well, after a series of bad decisions, I made some along that same line. Yet the doubt and feeling that I was veering further away was ever growing. I had picked up speed down the bumpy descent into madness. There was no controlling it now, I was caught in the inertia of my own life. It was at that time, the fruit of my life was not confidence but an ever growing crop of doubt and fear. All the while the circumstances and others were telling me it was the evil crouching at the door. Funny how we can see the whispers of the Spirit of God as something foreign to us. My answer to that is, it depends how long the thread of our lives has unspooled from that first bad decision. There was no way out now. The door is shut. All the while the voices we are listening to are telling us to keep going, stop questioning and just keep going. So what can save us from that fate?
This is where the Good Shepherd steps in and wrests out of the lions mouth. The further down the road we have gone, the less there is to save. But rest assured, it is not yourself nor the voices of others who have brought the point of inflection where you veered off into the valley of bad decisions. No, far from it. You have been ripped from that which would have destroyed you. Does it hurt? Oh yes, sometimes the pain is unbearable. But the Hand that has brought you with His purpose to set you back on track. So what about the children along the way? Well again take personal responsibility. It is not their fault. They are products of your bad decision. You weren’t listening even when God shouted at you with a megaphone. In fact, your current pain may be their way of redemption.
So, if God intervenes along a bad path, it will hurt, you are reaping what you have sowed but the intent is to stench the blood, pour wine and oil in the wound and bandage you up and restore your perception of who God really is. He is the one who brought you to Himself, perhaps in the midst of a series of bad decisions. In short, He rescued you in the beginning, He has been with you in every bad decision and has pulled you from the lion’s mouth in the nick of time. For what purpose? To bring you back to His smooth track. Will there be bumps after that placing? Oh yes, we have to get used to his steerage again and the reaping from bad decisions doesn’t just disappear. The trick is to see them as what they are. They are fruit from a series of bad decisions..NOT His will. In all of the throes of life when we belong to Him, we will arc toward the path of His will. That is our comfort and our hope.
“I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it's both. Maybe both are happening at the same time.” – Forrest Gump
And so it is.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
“I've found it is the small things….that keeps the darkness at bay…” Gandalf
So I ask you, what is in a word? When it comes to the Bible it is everything. I have been re-reading a book that has helped me immensely over the years in ferreting out the truth. The truth not as we want it to be, that’s too easy. No real truth changes us, transforms us and that is God’s design for us when it is applied. It makes us into something else. It in fact changes us. I doubt whether my children would recognize me today. They might say ‘We have nothing in common anymore..’ so in their minds, 'what is point in carrying on a relationship, we are different people'. I would counter that it is the differences in us that strengthens us both.
Truth is never afraid of confrontation and debate because the more that this happens, the more it shimmers and reflect its nature.
The book is a classic study of exegesis and its application to our lives in the modern era. The focus is on preparing sermons that truly reflect the words as they were written and to provide a building on that foundation. The truth is, exegesis is a requirement if any proper application is to be done from the bible to our lives. This is especially true to those who preach the Bible and are responsible for other’s lives before God. This is why in the Bible it is the teachers who will receive the harsher judgment. So what should this warning from the Holy Scriptures itself cause us to do? To take the matter seriously and study before speaking. And we wonder why there is a dearth of sound teaching in the churchscape today.
In this book, there are two basic paths that have to be trod:
1> there is what the bible has said in constructs of speech, verb tense and meaning, singular or plural 2> there is the meaning of those words that reflect or at the least attempt to reflect exactly what the author meant by them.
The proper application of both maxims is the latter should come from the former, not vice versa. Unfortunately, entire doctrines and religious systems have been built by reversing these in priority.
Where the Rubber hits the Road
Let me give you a personal example
In my former world, the entire system was built upon the structure of two verses which if understood, it was said, would unlock the deeper things of God by starting one out with a good foundation. What were those scriptures? Hebrews 6:1-2. In those scriptures, a hulking book was composed by the leader that systematically laid out these scriptures into pieces and those pieces looked at in a very detailed manner.
Sounds good right?
But the end result has to do with what path (as mentioned above) was taken first. If pre-suppositions are in place before the analysis begins, one is left with eisegesis – (reading into what one wants to see, not what is there). While, this would never be admitted, the proof is in that volume itself.
I do not want to bore you but it is important to provide a little detail. In that group, water baptism along with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Baptism of Fire was the preparation, and path to Christian maturity. Without those properly understood and properly applied, there was no way forward. So these three baptisms were to if I were to paraphrase the teachings: ‘they [the baptisms] were meant to be one work of the spirit’ where the result was when coupled with faith and repentance produced a born again person equipped for proper service for God. Well, in a nutshell that was kernel of the teaching.
There was faith and repentance that were gifts and when coupled with ‘encounters’ (the baptisms) [sic- I don’t like to call the baptisms encounters here but to be honest that is context of the religious system even though they themselves would not use this word either. Works do not really fit the bill here either and do not properly reflect the sacerdotal nature of what the teachings infer and expound upon. Each baptism (water,fire,spirit) in the teaching has the Holy Spirit as the primary agent].
Why have I spent so much time on this point?
Let me ask you a question, are the details important? They say the falsity and farce is in the details and so it is. To put it succinctly, the details are all that matters. So, if the one leading you has not done the work and been DISCIPLINED in it, the results can be catastrophic for those that follow them.
AN EXAMPLE a study of a single word
So my example obviously is about the scriptures in Hebrews 6:1-2 with a special focus on the word ‘baptisms’ in that passage (it could be ‘washings’ in some translations). If you look at the discourse above on the three baptisms, an interpretation and a conclusion would be that the baptisms in Hebrews are water,spirit and fire. After all, what other baptisms are in the Bible? This is what was concluded, detailed and supported as the final meaning of the word in the book written that was followed in my former world as truth and so correct thinking.
It was solid, supportable and consistent. All traits of truth.
But wait a minute….
Let’s look at the Greek words used for baptism.
Baptisma – this word is used for grouping and listing baptisms. That is, one would use it for classifying the types of baptism in the New Testament. As detailed above these would be water,spirit and fire (and Johns’ baptism). So classifying means they are related at least in the word used to describe them. Looking at the above, the word used and the conclusion reached above i.e. “ ‘the baptisms were meant to be one work of the spirit’ where the result was when coupled with faith and repentance produced a genuine fully formed and properly practicing believer” one would use this word (baptisma) of baptism to group and link these together.
Logical right? Consistent? It would appear so – at least in the Book written as the codex of the group.
Baptismos- this world is used to contrast or make distinct for comparison the act of baptisms. Interestingly the word baptismos is also used in the gospels to describe the pharasiac rituals of washing utensils and themselves for cleansing. It is used to enumerate the types of baptisms (washings) that one might practice. The point being baptismos is used to compare and contrast not to enjoin or integrate them.
So, what word do you think was used in Hebrews 6:1-2? If you followed the teaching I did once, you would have picked the first (baptisma). Right?
You would have been wrong.
Baptismos is the word used in Hebrews 6:1-2.
Why does this matter?
It is because the context of Hebrews 6:1-2 is to enumerate the basic foundations or teachings of Christ – to the Hebrew. The word baptismos here is to set apart Christian baptism from any other ritual washing the Hebrew may have engaged in their former life (proper hermeneutics please).
To make this distinction is more in context with the audience for which it was written to impart basic foundational teaching and raises Christian water baptism to is proper level in the life of that Hebrew community.
So what is the conclusion?
From an exegetical perspective:
The teaching I used to follow and mentioned above on Hebrews 6:1-2 is invalidated because of its suppositions and lack of analysis, exegesis and hermeneutics. It sounds good but the result of this one scripture even the single word ‘baptisms’ has produced an entire systematic teaching based on faulty interpretation.
Moreover, this particular teaching can invalidate a movement. In particular, it is not a stretch to say that Historic and current Latter Rain – that espouses this errant doctrine should be called into question. After all, what else did it get wrong? (There are so MANY other violations).
What is the principle violated here? It is that as the most notable reformers believed, each word has ONE meaning. The primary responsibility of those who lead today is to take that fact and meld and form teachings that reflect that ONE meaning.
As a final reflection, I shared this on this entry because, it is an illustration of the power of the word, one single word, to free the masses from religious systems and their bondage. It is the ability for one man to speak the truth and stand in the maelstrom and be untouched. That is true deliverance and freedom – not man’s words or machinations but sola scriptura.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
No, not the old movie, the writings. I have been studying and meditating on Proverbs for the last month or so. When you rarely preach, you are able to spend time on subjects that are more for yourself and less for the hearers. My graduate studies have been lax over the last year with all the turbulence. My wife’s health, Moves, Unemployment, a Heart condition and a broken Pelvis, I can’t say life has been rosy and circumstances have been positive. But in the midst of all of that what I can say is God is still good in any bad condition. He has been my one (outside of my wife) constant and on Him I am and will always set my course towards Him. In the mistakes that have been made, He has always been my Redeemer. One to set me back on course. In the proverbs, I see God’s constancy and the ever grinding wheel of justice, truth and wisdom. If I were to reach three conclusions or lessons in Proverbs it would be the following:
1> God is always sovereign and has the last word in any situation in my life.
2> Guarding one’s self from the many faces of evil (lasciviousness, wickedness, deceptive practices, self-promotion, pride, bad company, slothfulness, offense) will keep one’s mind and heart clean so the Way can be clearly seen and trod.
3> Family training and honoring one’s senior is the way of wisdom, knowledge and prosperity. In fact, the book of Proverbs was written from Father to a Son not yet ready to face the world in all its severity, brutality and unrighteousness
The writer warns the son to listen to him and to mind what wisdom the father can bestow. In the end times, the Apostle Paul has much to say about the relations between parents and children – basically there is none. This characteristic is perhaps the telling of the times. It is also a main manifestation of cult like behavior. While a group may not be a cult, if the ear markings surrounding it are centered around children grown or otherwise sacrificing a relationship that was God ordained, it is not a healthy place. Yes, I know that sometimes sons and daughters look at their parents as in the wrong and even evil ( that is the spin inside some groups) but there is no denying the scriptures ingrained in the Proverbs. The whole premise really comes from pride. In most groups that are veering towards toxic, one begins to hear that the group is part of the ‘true’ church. In many groups, there are even doctrines that are practiced that bend scriptures to cause the delineation between the group and mainstream faith. It is these that begin to seed the pride which grows into arrogance. Frankly, one becomes arrogant in toxic groups and looks at others who call on the name of Jesus, as I have heard from their pulpits, as sub-normal Christians. It is in this vein all the breaking of relationships rests. The thought goes, if one can reduce another to sub-normal, deceived, weak, etc, they can ‘de-humanize’ them. To some groups, we in the mainstream are retarded. When I began to see my former way of life and realized it was not about Christ at all, it was about submission to authorities who in my opinion abused that place of leadership, I am the deceived evil one. You know, the one that took them in and loved them as my own, raised them, provided for them and always supported them. What a wicked misuse of the scriptures. If anyone has half a mind and reads through the genuine Apostles’ works, they will clearly see, there were from the beginning different points of faith but the same Lord – so to call it misuse is not out of bounds here. We have rejected their ‘truth’ and so we deserve their shunning. It is hard to fathom but this is believe it or not, commonplace in toxic groups. So, who is really sub-human here? It is a question to ponder.
One thing Proverbs has resoundingly established, whatever is the real truth will come forth. The fool always manifests he is a fool. The wise rise on the eyes of God and the wicked and prideful are remembered no more. I guess depending on what side of the fence one is on, I could be called either one. But in reality, the opinions of men do not ultimately matter. It is not in us to build beyond our lifetime. There really is no legacy other than love, that’s it. But there is a passing from one to another and the chief crime here is the denial of that very thing. I have accomplished much in this life. I have made mistakes I would not wish on anyone. But as the Proverbs so richly set forth, I have God as a solid foundation and on Him I will rest and wait for the only assessment that matters. To believe some else has that or partakes in that ability or place is sorcery.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
“There are people who go after your humanity…that tell you that the light in your heart is a weakness. Don't believe it. It's an old tactic of cruel people to kill kindness in the name of vitue.”
Tonight, my wife is weeping. It has been so many years since familiar voices were heard. Even when conversations are held there is a wall there. It really does not matter who created it. Each on our side have fortified it in some way or another. We are all imperfect but the thing we can do that, though we are flawed, when genuinely practiced will be perfect.
What is that one thing?
It is to love. Why? Because when it is genuine, it comes from one place and He is perfect.
Religion will always supplant love in the life of a legalist. Its possessors spout their doctrine to whitewash the sepulchers that hold their bones – devoid of life. Their walls remaining impervious. What is this really? It is false virtue. It has the appearance of life and even to some appears beautiful. However, the more it is lived out in one’s life, the more void is created –eaten out from within and eventually collapsing under its own weight. David spoke of evil as a luxuriant tree seemingly prospering in the face of those who resist it but in the end – eventually – it is rotted from the inside, cut down and burned. What is left is scattered on the winds of history.
The false virtue is always extreme in dysfunctional groups that focus on minutia that has no real relevance to the Way. Even though one following such is pointed to the minutia continually to disarm them of the power to perform personal reasoning. This is accomplished through some indirect and mis-applied virtue that is splattered on the psyche of the follower to the point it appears what it is not - genuine virtue.
This is the most heinous of acts: Taking the word of God and reducing it to control and not to free the bonds of God's children. In the end what is produced does not look at all like heaven but shrinks to twilight and that place where personal initiative becomes nothing more than reaction to improper stimulus much like a caged animal responds to electric shock.
How do I know this? Because when a person in the grips of false virtue is given a decision, they cannot make it, they are frozen in the state of ‘I don’t know what to do’ …so they do nothing.
They regress to a hope and prayer that the feint scratching from the other side of the wall grows less frequent and more feint until the sound is only something that they perceive in their minds alone. This is akin to the loss of a limb and the phantom pain.
A relationship was once there but now it is reduced to only a painful memory and one caught in such only seeks the repression so that it no longer abides with them. They become less like what they were and formed in the image of their focus: the one in whom they look to as an example. And it is not the Christ because if it was, there would be no wall, there would be no division only a bridge.
This is why relationships outside the bubble of the dysfunctional religious groups are so difficult.
Why did I write this? Well there are at least two reasons:
First, it is for the reader who has lost someone dear and feels the phantom pain. Friend, please know that the pain you feel is on the other side of the wall as well. Although self imposed repression is occurring, so is the pain, the memories and the nagging doubt that something is wrong. How do I know this? I know this because the God we serve is Love. What indwells us is the very Spirit of Love and that cannot be repressed forever. False virtue can keep the body, mind and soul busy and distracted but it cannot control the spirit.
Second, for the slight and vaporous chance that the one on the other side of the wall will put down the notion of being offended (because it is founded in false virtue) and let themselves feel the phantom pain because it comes from a place that records what really has been done...what has been eviscerated from them by those that never had any one’s interest but their own. That once again they bend towards the wall they have built and listen for the scratching on the other side that brings the ultimate truth: they are still loved, they are forever caught in bonds of affection. One day the real scratching will cease but in the mind, it will never stop because it will be heard in the heart. It is the virtue of love and tragically their judgement.