Tag Archives: truth

Don’t let Satan mess with you

In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.  Ephesians 4:26-27

footholdIn Ephesians 4 a stronghold is described as a foothold.  In the New Century Version, vs. 27 reads, Do not give the devil a way to defeat you.  Other versions say things like not giving the devil an opportunity or ‘don’t leave room for the devil.’  In other words, we are leaving a door open for Satan to mess with us if we stay angry. Not much more is said there, but boy there should be!

Let’s take King Saul for an example.  He had an anger problem. It would come out at David and it tormented Saul.  In 1 Samuel 19 it tells that Saul tried to pin David to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him.  In 19:9 it says, An evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand.  

First of all, it wasn’t directly from the Lord, but it was because a doorway was opened to Satan because Saul had disobeyed the Lord.  Saul had anger that he had not resolved, as well as disobedience. In 1 Samuel 15:23 Samuel told Saul, Rebellion is as the sin of divination (or witchcraft) and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.  Presumption is defiance and seething pride.  So this evil spirit came as a result of disobeying God.  It opened a door to Satan.

The rebellion probably came first, then the anger.  Then, because of the open door Saul was tormented by an evil spirit.  In the end, Saul lost his kingship and died in battle, taking his own life.  His sons were all killed on the same day. Not a happy ending.

Back to Ephesians 4, Paul goes on to tell us to Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice, in vs. 31.  Not opening a door to Satan is a pretty good reason to get rid of it!  

∇ So let me tell you my story on this:  The last few months have been a really bumpy ride.  I don’t want to exaggerate, but I would say there has been some demonic torment in there–especially with physical issues.  And with the car accident I had a couple of months ago. It all was like a barrage of bad stuff.

This last Sunday God spoke Ephesians 4:26 to me, and I knew exactly what He was getting at.  This last summer I, uncharacteristically, let my anger fly on a couple of phone service people.  They were from two different companies, and I felt perfectly justified because of their poor service and undelivered goods.  

No–I was not perfectly justified, and God spoke to me that this opened a door.  I let the sun go down on my anger and I gave the devil a foothold. He showed me that a couple of times after that I had let my anger fly again and it had to stop.  Yes, it had been uncharacteristic, but now it was becoming a pattern. A door had been opened and not it must be shut. This was the reason for the torment, the harassment.  

I immediately left my spot in church, went to an empty bathroom and prayed out loud to renounce my anger sprees.  I confessed it, asked for God’s forgiveness and then asked that He would shut those doors and seal them by the blood of Jesus.  It was a costly lesson, but one I learned the hard way. I must get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger and not let the sun go down on anything that needs confessed.  I will not give the devil an opportunity to steal, kill and destroy any longer.

What about you?  Have you given the devil any opportunities, any footholds?  Do you need to shut any doors by confessing fits of anger and having them covered by the blood of Jesus?

The good news:  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

Adrian Rogers, “Give Satan an inch and he’ll be your ruler.”

*Image from “Daily Tonic”

 

 


Two witness stands

For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So that they (all people) are without excuse.  Romans 1:18-20

witness stand

It would seem from these big verses that there could be two possible scenarios of putting someone on the witness stand.

⇒ The first scenario would be God putting all people on the witness stand.  God is sitting as a judge in these verses, and if He were to come down ask you how you would plead when it comes to the case of whether or not you knew He existed, and that He created the world–you would have say, if you were honest, “Guilty, your Honor.”

That tells me that deep down everyone really knows that evolution or the Big Bang Theory isn’t true.  Verse 18 says that we know it, but we have surpressed the truth through our unrighteousness.  In other words, we have pushed it down, drowned it out, or kept it from being known.  It’s like that tiny voice of our conscience that calls out inside of us tells us something we’re doing is a bad idea, or wrong. But we don’t want to hear it.  So what do we do?  We turn the music up, or we get busier, or we stay away from the people that might tell us we’re wrong.

In talking with people who have alternative theories of creation, in my experience, it seems that it they end up with more emotional rejections in the end, rather than intellectual ones.  Now this isn’t thousands of conversations, but dozens. Let me say that there are some that just want to do their own thing and don’t want to anyone tell them what to do.  It comes down to an issue of ‘what right does God have to tell me what to do?’  They deny God’s existence and creation because they don’t want Him to mess with their lives.

But the next category of people are those who end up with an emotional catch.  Here it seems that most of the discussions have led to hard personal topics where the statements begin with the question: “Well then, how could a good God let —- happen?”

⇒ That’s where I get to the second scenario witness stand.  It’s like they’re putting God on the stand.  This is what Job did.  In fact, God called him on this in Job 40:2, Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it.  Job’s question was about why he would lose his children and all of his riches, plus why he would be afflicted with boils.  Yes, that would cause me to wonder why my Friend would turn on me too.  And I would want some answers.

The whole book is filled with Job and his friends spinning their wheels, especially his friends.  But I think Job had a more genuine heart.  He was really wrestling with God, and God answered him.  God didn’t tell Job about His wager with Satan about how Job wouldn’t deny his faith in God if he took away everything.  God was proving to Satan that Job was following God because God was worth it, not because of all of his riches and blessings.  He didn’t tell Job that part, but He did show Job how big He was and how little Job was in comparison.

I love some of God’s questions to Job like Where were you when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 38:7 and Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place? 38:12 and Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or have you seen the storehouses of the hail? 38:22.

In 40:8 God said, Will you condemn Me that you be in the right?  Isn’t that what people do when they question God’s goodness or His justice?  Aren’t they putting themselves in the right and condemning God?

For those who have had hard things happen that cause you to wonder about why such hard and even horrible things could come from the hand of a good God–go ahead and wrestle with God as Job did.  But do it with a genuine heart that wants to know Him and trust in Him.  God will meet you just as He met Job.  But get ready for Him to answer you in ways that you might not expect and show Himself in ways that go deeper than you can imagine.

Just don’t put God on the witness stand with a condemning heart and expect to win.  And don’t use the line, “If God is good, then why is there suffering?” as a red herring to point a finger away from your own call to submit to God’s right to set the rules in your life.

Job ended up with a repentant heart.  In Job 42:6 he said, I repent.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.  In Acts 3:19 Paul said, Repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out, so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

That just could be the answer for all of us when we turn from trusting God and when we suppress the truth because we want to do things our own way.  When we stop trusting God because we think He has wronged us, we come up with alternative ways of living our lives that doesn’t include trusting Him and putting Him first.  We find other idols to fill our lives with that make our heart kind of crowded.

Some might hide it better than others, but if we’re not trusting in God, we’re still guilty.  And the answer is still the same: Repent.  In Job’s case, the outcome was a good one.  His fortunes were restored doubly.  God is that kind of a God.

Isaiah 30:18 says, Yet the Lords longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.

 


The Three “I am’s” of the Gospel Charge

I am under obligation both to the Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.  So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  Romans 1:14-16

Paul lists three “I am’s” in these three verses that have gripped me for a long time.  I underlined them to make it easier to catch.  I say gripped me.  I could use the word driven.  Paul used the words “gospel ambition” in Romans 15:20-21: And this I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of Him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.’

I became a Christian through and evangelist that came to my rural farming community through a Vacation Bible School ministry.  She and her ministry partner would come from hundreds of miles away for a week each summer to present the gospel to me and my community, a place where there was not a gospel witness.  It was there, from the age of four on up to the age of seventeen, that I sat under their teaching and heard the good news of Jesus and was discipled by the two.

They continued to pray for me and influence me well into my adult life.  The evangelist had a strong gift of teaching as well.  I secretly wanted to be with her at her death so I could receive her mantle (or cloak), much like Elijah/Elisha, even though she lived states away from me in a retirement home.  I didn’t find out that she had gone to be with Jesus until about a month later, but then God gave me a wonderful dream that I did get to walk her into the sunset off of a dock on a lake to go be with Jesus.  It was like He was saying that He did give me her mantle.

Along with that has come the passion that Paul describes in Romans 1:14-16.  He sums it up by saying: I am obligated to share the gospel with anyone and everyone; I am eager to come to you, whom I haven’t met yet; and I am not ashamed of the gospel because I know it is the power of God for salvation.

I am kind of like Clark Kent.  I don’t wear my cloak (cape) so everyone can see it, like a pastor or a missionary does.  I keep it under my principal’s clothes.  But it’s there.  It drives me and pulls me to places like the County jail, and to women’s homes that would never come to church–He calls me to go to them.  One time I was meeting with a gal who was just desperate for help and so she went to the phone book yellow pages and went to the church list and the church I attended was at the top of the list.  She called the pastor and said she was a mess.

He asked me if I would go meet with her, which I did.  In talking with her, I asked if she would like to know Jesus.  She said she would.  So I explained how she could do that and she said she would like to pray, so we prayed together.  We began to meet weekly for quite awhile.  We were at her house one day, and she had three unruly young boys–plus an unruly big black lab.  She firmly told the boys to keep him out of the house while we sat at the kitchen table and studied the Bible together.

Before we knew it, the boys let the dog in the door, which was right by the kitchen table.  The fiercely barking dog lunged straight for my face and jabbed his mouth at my cheekbone, just below my eye.  He had just been barking and his mouth was open, but yet when he got to my face, it was like it was slammed shut.  I firmly believe that God shut his mouth.  If He hadn’t, I would have a huge dog bite scar on my cheek.  God shuts the mouths of lions and black labs!

I think of this story just to say, you never know where God’s gospel ambition will take you, and how He will enable you to share with those who haven’t heard before to hear.  What a privilege.

Thinking about the three “I am’s,” why would we be obligated, especially since we’re saved by grace?  When we receive grace–the good news about how to escape from a common misery, then we owe it others to tell them the same good news of how to escape.  If I had cancer and someone shared a cure for cancer with me, I would feel a debt of gratitude to that person for sharing the cure and for being healed.  I would want to share it with everyone else who have cancer out of an eagerness to see them be healed, just as I was.

Paul found grace, so he was a debtor to tell everyone else the good news of grace too.  If I really get the gospel of grace, that I don’t qualify for it, and I got it–I would cherish it and gladly pass it on.  I would be obligated and eager because he has transformed my life with it.  God has also given me a reason to live and a hope for life after death.

How many people do you talk to that don’t really have that reason to live and that hope for life after death?  You have it, but maybe you don’t share it because you think they don’t want to hear it.  That would mean you’re ashamed of it.  It’s so easy to keep quiet because of that.  I have to remember to not be ashamed because the gospel is what people need, not anything else.

If I’m not ashamed of it, it means:

  • that I know that the gospel of God changes lives and there is no other way to find hope in life and death.
  • that I know I cannot rely on anything else to see change come about–not my personality, not a fancy presentation, not emotional stories, not cool music
  • that I must get the gospel out to whomever will listen

So, my thought is to be like Paul.  We are all debtors because of grace.  We have found the sin cure.  Because of that, we ought to be eager to share the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world.  Remind yourself not to be ashamed.  Being reconciled to God through Jesus is the very thing that everyone needs because all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  The payment for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus (Romans 6:23).

Go+for+souls+and+go+for+the+worst.+Some+men+s+ambition+is+art.jpg


God’s Enabling Grace

Through Jesus we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations.  Romans 1:5

So I moved on from reading 1 John all the way through every day to studying in Romans. As Paul is introducing himself and the Gospel of God, promised long before it happened to the prophets, written about in the the Holy Scriptures about His Son Jesus…he quickly gets to grace.

Paul wrote that through Jesus we received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.  That’s us!

In picking that apart, I was hit with the idea that grace isn’t just the gift that we get that is our entry point into salvation.  That’s a great thing and I don’t ever want to take it for granted.  But Paul links grace to apostleship and him being an apostle.  It’s God’s grace that woke him up on the road to Damascus.  Apostle means “sent one.”  So, in a broader sense, he isn’t just talking about the grace or enabling power that God gives him to be an apostle, but through Christ we get the enabling power to be sent to do whatever it is that He sends us to do.

That’s the only way I can do what it is that God wants me to do.  I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately.  There are two parts to what I’ve been thinking about.

 The first part of God’s enabling grace has to do with His actual grace in sending us out and how that works.  Have you noticed that there is only a small percentage of Christians that are actually about the Father’s business?  The rest seem to be busy with their own agendas, not really in tune with spiritual things.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 talks about how all Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for training, correction and training.  Then verse 17 tells us that being in the Word makes us complete and equipped for every good work.

grace.jpgIf you are not in the Bible on a consistent basis, you don’t get that equipping and then you don’t get that sending out.  Or, as Paul put it in Romans 1:5 the apostleship part of grace, the “sent one” part.  There is a woman in her early 40’s who has been in my Sunday School classes through the years.  Last year she reflected back on how I called her out at one point (I don’t remember it) when she talked about not having time to get into the Bible.  She said I pointed at her and said firmly, “That has to change.  You must get into the Word.  You need to make daily time for God.”

She told of she began to get up at 5:30 in the morning to meet with God, which is a commitment with three young children and a demanding job as a physician’s assistant.  She said it is now a pattern.  The interesting thing is her family now has made the commitment to be foster parents over the last year or two.  What I see is that their hearts have changed because God has pressed that on their hearts as they have been in the Word as a pattern.  They have become “sent ones.”

If you don’t have a real sense of a mission from God, stop and think about your time in the Word with Him.  Are you sitting at His feet?  Do you spend time soaking in the Bible and meditating on it, or are you whizzing through a five minute devotional written by someone else?

My second thought about God’s enabling grace is about his prevailing grace.  It is His grace that enables us to continue to do what He calls us to do over the long haul…when the going gets tough…when there is no one to run with…when you walk by faith and not by sight…when you are broken and weary.  It is God’s enabling grace that holds us by His right hand, that is our faithful Shepherd that makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, and restores our soul.  He does that.

I have been praying this Christmas season that He would appear with His enabling grace to me just like He appeared with the angels to the shepherds and to Mary and Joseph.  It is a Titus 3:3-7 appearing with goodness, loving kindness and mercy poured out richly because that is the kind of God that He is.

Finally, He visits us with this grace not so we can be fat and happy, but as Romans 1:6 says “for the sake of HIs name among all the nations.”  It drives us beyond ourselves to the nations.  He puts that in our hearts when we get close to His heart.

Paul said it in Romans 15:20-21, We make it our ambition to preach the Gospel not where Christ has already been named, but so those who have never been told of Him will see and those who have never heard will understand.

What  a joy I had my last two jail visits to tell a 50 something Native American woman the Christmas story.  She had never heard it before and had never read the Bible before or been to a Bible study or church.  This was the first she had heard the Gospel.  I didn’t have to go far, just 18 miles to a place where Christ had not been named to find someone who had never been told of Him–because I had been sent–because I had spent time with Him in the Word.  Don’t forget that!


There is wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb!

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for all sins, He sat down at the right hand of God…for by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.  Hebrews 10:12,14

It has been awhile since I have posted.  It has been because life has been moving at the speed of sound.  God has been moving in and amongst things, much like He was with Elijah when he took on the prophets of Baal, Ahab and Jezebel, and then he took off and ran, depleted and alone.  And then God came to  Elijah in a cave and he heard God speak in a still, small voice.  God told him he wasn’t the only prophet left and God had him get up and go anoint Jehu to be the next king over Israel.

When I read 1 Kings 18-19, it makes my head spin for Elijah because of the great showdown at the Mt. Carmel corral and then his emotional turmoil that followed–and then for me because I can so relate.  I too have been in the midst of many such spiritual showdown’s and roller coasters lately.  I would like to cry out with Micah 7:7-8 this battle cry: But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.   Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.

For the sake of brevity, maybe I’ll get to those in another post…But for now, I will get to my verse for today.  At jail ministry this last Sunday night, where God ministers to my heart just as much or more than He does to the women, I was blessed to share with three  women.  Two were Native American, one Caucasian, if that means anything.  Two of the three have been changed by the Gospel in visible ways over the last months of being in the Bible studies while being incarcerated.  Praise God for new life!

I started the study with the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  It’s along the lines of continuing the same sin patterns and wondering why they end up in jail again and again.  That’s opposed to allowing Jesus to break the chains of rebellion–doing things now God’s way instead of our way–taking the narrow path and not the broad path, from Matthew 7:13-14.

No one talks about the narrow path–not on TV, not in books, not on Jimmy Fallon or Oprah, or Ellen.  I remember a time on “The View” where they censored a gal who said she lost 15 pounds on her diet and said, “Praise Jesus,” and they bleeped out Jesus.  But later in the show someone else used the name of Jesus in a profane way and they didn’t censor it out.  That’s the broad path.  Everyone is on it, and everyone talks about it.  Not the narrow path.  They shut you down.  So you have to go to jail to learn about the narrow path.  What an irony.

Then the Holy Spirit got all warmed up and fell on us.  I began to share about how much God loved them and quoted Psalm 103:8-13 about how God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love, how He does not treat us as our sins deserve and He does not accuse and does not harbor His anger forever.  As high as the Heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for us and as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us.

I went on to say that the enemy, Satan, wants to steal, kill and destroy; BUT God knows the plans He has for them and they are for a future and a hope and not calamity and despair.  One of the gals talked about how she keeps feeling shame and guilt for her past and she can’t get past that.

That’s when I began talking about the blood of Jesus–hence today’s verses.  This is when the power really kicked in.  We went to the verses in 1 John 1:7 and 9 and 1 John 2:1-2 about how the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to please us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 2:1-2 talks about if we sin, we have an advocate, a defense attorney–Jesus Christ the righteous one who is the propitiation, the mercy seat, the covering, for our sin.

In the English Standard Version, the language seems to be more graphic.  I like that.  Like in the Old Testament when the Holy Spirit comes upon Saul, David, Samson and Gideon, it says that He rushed upon them.  I really love that picture.  Well in Leviticus 3:1-2, I really love this picture:  If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.  And he (the priest) shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and kill it at the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw the blood against the sides of the altar.

Oh God, throw Jesus’ blood against wherever it is You throw it to cover me from all unrighteousness!  We prayed on Sunday night that God would throw His blood to cover the ladies’ sins and wounds and scars and to bring healing and freedom.  It was Susan Powers from the 90’s that used to yell “Stop the insanity!”  I yell “Stop the insanity in Jesus’ name!”  All because of the blood of Jesus!  Throw His blood against the altar to cover those of us who are being sanctified.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.  Ephesians 1:7

*Image from ‘The Bleeding Temple”


Full of the Spirit

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said ‘Go stand in the Temple courts and proclaim to all the people the words of this life.’  Acts 5:20

This is what has stuck with me throughout this week, along with a few other thoughts.  It was the apostles that got tossed into jail for telling about Jesus and new life in Him.  The religious leaders were filled with jealousy, which is what 5:17 tells us.  It wasn’t any complicated scheme–just jealousy.  Anyway, an angel let them out and told them to go back to the Temple court and keep teaching.

What catches me is that the angel told them to teach about ‘the words of this life.’  The whole first few chapters of Acts are flooded with the accounts of the Early Church–about how the Holy Spirit has come and landed on them like tongues of fire.  And how when they prayed the place where prayed shook with power and everyone was filled with boldness.  And then there was so much Holy Spirit power that people brought the sick and they passed by Peter’s shadow and they were healed.

Acts 5-20So when they went back to the Temple Courts, they talked about Jesus being risen from the dead, exalted to God’s right hand as a Founder and Savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses of these events and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.  

I’m sure the apostles didn’t just mumble a sorry testimony and invite them to Temple too.  No, they were convincing witnesses about the resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives.  That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Go on to Acts 6 and read about Stephen.  He was described as being “full of the Spirit,” “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” and “full of grace and power, who was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.”  Now that’s an eye catcher.

People are looking for something to fill the holes in their empty lives, something big enough to occupy the space that they’re filling with things like their fascination with technology, the NFL, materialism, sex, drinking and other addictions.  If we offer a wimpy version of the Christian life, it is no more appealing than picking up an old textbook, or visiting their grandmother’s church.

But if you show them the real Jesus, and the “life that is truly life,” as 1 Timothy 6:19 says, or the abundant life that John 10:10 talks about.  And 1 Corinthians 4:20 it says that the kingdom of God is demonstrated in idle talk but in power.  

Last Sunday night I was at our County Jail for Bible study.  There were 6 Native American women and another jail chaplain and myself.  We talked for a bit to catch up on how they were doing, and as I began the study, there was a male inmate calling out loudly the whole time.  I stopped and asked what that was.  The women said it was a man in the holding cell.  They felt bad for him and said he had been yelling out all day in about ten different voices.

I asked if any of them had been at church with me the last summer when one of the women did the same thing and we stopped and prayed–and she stopped yelling out.  The women immediately begged me, “Please stop and pray.  Please pray.”  So we stopped.  The other gal with me prayed out loud first and me second.  We prayed that the spirits that were oppressing him would be bound and that the peace of the Holy Spirit would rest upon him.  Within one or two minutes the man was totally quiet.

I said, “Hey, do you hear that?”  And they said, “Hear what?”  I said, “My point exactly. It’s dead quiet out there.  Jesus did that.  He hears our prayers and has the power to work.  He will do that in your life.”  We got back into the Bible study and the jailers were stirring up a mighty commotion out in the hallway.  I mean it was like a circus out there.  It went on and on.

Finally I stopped and said, “I’m praying again.  This circus has to stop.”  I prayed that God would silence the commotion in the hall and that it would be so quiet that they could hear a pin drop.  Again, within a minute the noise stopped.  And again, I said: “Do you hear that?  Jesus did it again.  That’s what He wants to do for you.”

Today I met with a Native American gal that just got out of jail and treatment.  She came to church and is resolute about “doing the next right thing.”  She is making a break from the bonds of meth and alcohol.  I told her the story of what happened in jail last week.  Her brother is in prison, but God has gotten a mighty hold on him and he is a living, walking evangelist everywhere he was been incarcerated.

She told me about when he was back at the County jail and was with a guy I’ve known since he was a kid.  He was telling this other guy about Jesus and the other guy kept saying that he was a Native and believing that.  Her brother was telling him that it wasn’t helping his life and that  Jesus is the only way, and that He’s real and wants to save him too.

The guy said, “Well, if Jesus is real, I’ll pray for something sweet.”  Maybe he was being sarcastic, because it was 10 at night and he knew it wasn’t going to happen.  But they prayed that S— would get something sweet and that S— would see that God is real.  Not even 5 minutes later a jailor came to their pod where 5 other guys were, at 10:00 at night and said, “S— I have a cupcake for you.  I just thought you’d like it.”

This guy S— got down on his knees and started sobbing and said, “I believe, I believe.”

Now that’s proclaiming the words of this life!  Words of power, words that aren’t just words, but are about life changing abundance that people can grab onto and say, “Yes, He is real and can do things in my life.”

Now, I have to go stand in the town courts and speak words of this life…

*Image from Brittalafont.com

 


A stripped down, boring Jesus

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.  1 Corinthians 4:20

I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.  Psalm 78:4

I have been bothered for several months now by a question that has been tumbling around in my mind.  It has to do with the local church that I go to.  I’ve been noticing that the a large majority of the families’ children grow up and don’t end up walking with the Lord into their adult years.  It is something that I have been praying about and quietly analyzing in my brain, wondering what is really missing in our spiritual DNA.

I finally got an “Aha” about it over the last few days.  I’ve been talking with a friend BoredGirland fellow church goer who has an eight year old daughter.  She is concerned that her daughter is “bored” at church and Sunday school and we’ve been talking and praying about how to see change in her spiritual attitude.  I was telling this friend about this Youtube video that I watched when it hit me.

It was a video from Skywatch TV where Josh Peck and Steve Bancarz were giving their testimonies about how they grew up in church, but then went into New Age practices in their teen-aged years.  They got heavily involved for years and then God got a hold of them and they recommitted their lives and are now speaking out about how the New Age practices are infiltrated into the church.

Josh Peck said something that peaked my attention.  He said, “I quit going to church when I was 12.  I was bored.  I had heard all of the stories by then and thought I knew it all.  I didn’t, but I thought I did.”  Josh told of how he found supernatural power in New Age practices and got involved in astral projecting and other things.

That’s where I really got to pondering.  Could it be that others are the same way?  They are bored because they are we are giving them a stripped down version of the Bible–what I mean is this:  We are teaching the Bible hermeneutically correctly (not violating the principles of interpreting Scripture).  But when you don’t include the power and work of the Holy Spirit as a regular, every day, real life experience, you have a ‘boring’ stripped down version of the Christian life.

It is no wonder that when our kids are 18 (or younger) they look else where for ‘real fun,’ like partying, sleeping around, materialism and other thrill chasing.  It is because they haven’t found it in Jesus because we haven’t given it them!

This is tragic!!!  I have been a self-confessed Holy Spirit chasing, Jesus freak stuck in a Baptist body for decades.  It’s kind of an anomaly.  Now a-days it’s okay to raise your hands, but if I start talking about how God has spoken to me in a dream, people start edging for the door and saying, “Oh, look at the time,” or saying, “Oh, another one of your dreams.”  They don’t take it seriously, like they should maybe hearing from God.

Or when I start a sentence with, “God spoke this to my heart the other day, and I know I need to do —,” it’s as if it’s an alien language.  Or even to find more people than a small handful that join our weekly all-church prayer meeting–and then respond to any subtle or less than subtle invitations to join.  There are pockets of people that have enjoyed digging deeper into the Word and talking about what God is doing in their lives, but it is difficult to do it as a church body corporately.

And the outcome is…as 2 Timothy 3:5 states, Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  Now that is a scary description.  That is supposed to be for the pagans.  No, I don’t think they would have an appearance of godliness.  That would be for us!

(I do want to say that my husband and I are blessed with a small group Bible study  of about eight or so believers that are from all over.  Together we are enjoying practicing the gifts of the Spirit and sharing how God is at work in our daily lives.  We have seen the power of God in healings, we talk about how God has spoken to us in dreams, etc. and we pray together for boldness to impact the people we are connected with.)

What is the anecdote?  How do we avoid making church and Jesus boring?  How do we not have an appearance of godliness but deny its power? Here is a start:

  • We pray corporately for specific things and then celebrate when those things are answered, so young and old alike can see that God is real, that He cares about us and our daily lives, and that He answers prayer.
  • We have more corporate testimonies of how God is at work in our lives, how he has answered prayers, how He is using us, how He has spoken to us–whether it is in prayer, promptings, dreams, or even visions.
  • We get out of our comfort zones and go minister in Jesus’ name together.  If kids think that they have heard all of the stories before, nothing brings them alive better than telling someone who has never heard them before.  That’s where the kingdom of God is not just about words, it is about action.  Let’s put our faith into action!
  • We start inviting the Holy Spirit into our church in an active way.  We don’t just sing songs like, “Holy Spirit you are welcome here.”  We must really start teaching about His function and work, and then put those teachings into regular practice.  It doesn’t need to be hokey or undoctrinal, just apply Scripture.

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.  Acts 4:31

Oh God, may that be our church and the church across America.  May we not have a stripped down version of You so that others find you boring.  May we shake up our church buildings and gathering places because we are filled with the Holy Spirit and with boldness.  Fill our hearts with passion–fill my heart with the overflowing joy, peace in believing and the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).  Don’t let me be boring or bored with You and may it catch like fire.

 

 


Early Warning: “Providing advanced notice of some impending event or development”

If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.  But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know Him who sent Me.  John 15:18-21

I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.  They will put you out of the synagogues.  Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.  And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.  But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.  John 16:1-4

I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, but sometimes I catch wind of things that make my spiritual antennae go up.  This last week was one of those times, and I felt led to pass it on.  I have an I Phone, an I Pad, and a Mac Book Pro.  Hence, I use I Tunes (Maybe not much longer after this article).  In the IOS 12 update, there is this new “Device Trust Score” that seems rather odd to me.  Check out this article from Venture Beat:

Apple’s promise of transparency regarding user data means that any new privacy policy update might reveal that it’s doing something new and weird with your data. Alongside yesterday’s releases of iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5, Apple quietly updated some of its iTunes Store terms and privacy disclosures, including one standout provision: It’s now using an abstracted summary of your phone calls or emails as an anti-fraud measure.

The provision appears in the iTunes Store & Privacy windows of iOS and tvOS devices:

I Tunes Trust Policy

 

This provision is unusual for a few reasons, perhaps the least of which is that Apple TVs don’t make phone calls or send emails. As such, it’s unclear how Apple computes the device trust score for iTunes purchases made through Apple TVs, but there’s other potential “information about how you use your device” that could be scraped and abstracted…

It’s equally unclear how recording and tracking the number of calls or emails traversing a user’s iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch would better enable Apple to verify a device’s identity than just checking its unique device identifier. Every one of these devices has both hardcoded serial numbers and advertising identifiers, while iPhones and cellular iPads also have SIM cards with other device-specific codes.

Citing personal privacy concerns, Apple has said that it’s unwilling to share users’ private data, notably including phone call logs, even under foreign government demands — except under proper legal process. While transmitting and storing an abstracted number of emails or phone calls doesn’t come close to full call or email records, it’s an odd metric to rely upon as an anti-fraud measure.

This would not have bothered me as much if I hadn’t of just read this article by Megan Palin a week or so before, from the New York Post, (Sept. 19, 2018):

China’s chilling dictatorship is moving quickly to introduce social scorecards by which all citizens will be monitored 24/7 and ranked on their behavior.

The Communist Party’s plan is for every one of its 1.4 billion citizens to be at the whim of a dystopian social credit system, and it’s on track to be fully operational by the year 2020.

An active pilot program has already seen millions of people each assigned a score out of 800 and either reap its benefits or suffer its consequences — depending on which end of the scale they sit.

Under the social credit scheme, points are lost and gained based on readings from a sophisticated network of 200 million surveillance cameras — a figure set to triple in 18 months.

The program has been enabled by rapid advances in facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking.

The data is combined with information collected from individuals’ government records — including medical and educational — along with their financial and internet browsing histories. Overall scores can go up and down in “real time” dependent on the person’s behavior, but they can also be affected by people they associate with.

“If your best friend or your dad says something negative about the government, you’ll lose points too,” the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) reports.

The mandatory “social credit” system was first announced in 2014 in a bid to reinforce the notion that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful,” according to a government document.

In an episode on the ABC’s “Foreign Correspondent,” financial credit system Jie Cong, Tianjin general manager for financial credit system Alipay, summarized the system in black and white.

“If people keep their promises they can go anywhere in the world,” he said. “If people break their promises they won’t be able to move an inch.”

Under the system, those deemed to be “top citizens” are rewarded bonus points.

The benefits of being ranked on the higher end of the scale include waived deposits on hotels and rental cars, VIP treatment at airports, discounted loans, priority job applications and fast-tracking to the most prestigious universities.

Dandan, a young mother and marketing professional, is proud of her high score. If she keeps it up her infant son will be more likely to get into a top school.

“China likes to experiment in this creative way…I think people in every country want a stable and safe society,” she said.

“We need a social credit system. We hope we can help each other, love each other and help everyone to become prosperous.”

Now you might become a little jumpy when both China and Apple use the same verbage: “Trust Score.”  Hmmm.  So, dig a little further and you can read a host of articles about how China and Apple have been linked because it is so much cheaper to produce I Phones in China, saving Apple billions of dollars.  

This is one such article from The Daily Caller.  Writers Lieberman and Pickrell write about how Apple “contributes to the suppression of human rights and internet freedom” to become the ninth largest company in the world (not just tech company, company of any kind).  

• So it is no coincidence that the “Trust Score” rating in China begins to bleed into the United States via the Apple Company.  

Once again, perhaps it is time for me to get rid of my Apple devices!  Jesus warned us of this time over 2000 years ago, so don’t be surprised by it.

But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.  John 16:4

 

 

 


El Roi–The God Who Sees

I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.  Revelation 2:19

In Revelation chapters 2-3 there are letters to seven churches that are scattered throughout what was then called Asia.  God told John to write down both their strengths and their weaknesses. What strikes me as I read the letters again is this:  the words, “I know your works,” are repeated again and again. They are phrased a bit differently in some of the letters, like to Smyrna in 2:9, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and to Pergamum in Rev. 2:13, “I know where you live.”

Not only does God know the seven churches’ works, but He knows our works.  He told them things like, You have lost your first love, in Rev. 2:4 and, You have reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.  Remember then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.  Rev. 3:2-3

God didn’t just tell them words of rebuke, but also words of encouragement.  For instance, He told the church at Ephesus that they worked hard and had patient endurance.  Plus, they didn’t tolerate false teachers. To the church in Philadelphia, God told them that He knew that although they had little power, they had kept His word and didn’t deny His name.  God spoke of rewards to those who conquer and who keeps His works until the end.

† My question: What if God were to write you a letter?  What would He say? What strengths would He mention and what words of encouragement would He give?  Does it help you to know that He sees your heart, that He knows the things that you have done that no one else knows about, and that He knows the path you have taken?  

If God were to say to you, “I know your works,” would that be a comforting and encouraging statement?  When Hagar fled from Sarai in Genesis 16 because Sarai was dealing with her bitterly, the angel of the Lord came and spoke blessings to Hagar in the wilderness.  So Hagar called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing,for she said, Truly here I have see Him who looks after me. vs. 13.  That is where the name of God, “El Roi” is first used.  

El Roi, the God who sees, is a good thing.  God sees our works and                      He looks after us. He God who sees me.jpgsees our love and faith and service and    patient endurance, and He will reward us for those things.  On the flip side, He also sees the things that we need to repent of. As Hebrews 4:13 tells us, No creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to   the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  It is much easier to shed off the yuck knowing that God  has my best interest in mind.  

Forgive me for when my love grows cold and I tolerate false idols and teachers.  Wake me up so that you will not find my works incomplete. And thank you that You can trace my path and see my heart for You when no one else can.  You are the God who sees and who rewards.

 


To the God who is able and who is greater than all

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.  Jude 24

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  John 10:29

Have you ever  had bad stretches where things are just hard?  I’ve been in one of those stretches.  It’s kind of like that book, Alexander’s No Good Horrible Day that overstays its welcome.  I messed up my shoulder this summer from a pickle ball injury, just short of a rotator cuff tear.  Someone suggested I should come up with a better story than that, but in the interest of truth, it wasn’t from sky diving or fighting a bear–just a collision in pickle ball gone bad.  And it has lingered to the point where my left arm has not been useable for two months, in constant pain, and I’m awaiting a cortisone shot that will hopefully fix things a bit.

In the middle of that I went to the eye doctor thinking I needed new glasses and I found out instead that I had cataracts.  This week I go to get the first eye done, and the next soon thereafter.  I don’t appreciate getting cataract advise from people twenty years older than myself.  But apparently with computers and UV rays, younger people are getting them.  But it doesn’t fit into my busy school schedule.

Doesn’t pain know  this isn’t a good time?  I had to get a shot in the rump the other day just to make it through the day.  So the two above verses are well timed words of encouragement, cups of cold water in the desert:

God is ableGod is able, and He is greater than all.  Aren’t they good words?  No matter what we face and when–God is able.  Ephesians 3:20 starts with the same proclamation: Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.  And 2 Corinthians 9:8, And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  All things at all times for every good work.

Do you get it?   God is able.  Do I get it?  God is able.  Get my eyes off of  my issues and put them on the God who is able.

And He is greater than all.  It is one thing to boast about your                                   football  team that you God is greaterthink is better than everyone, but then that team gets beat.   God never gets beat, so you never have to go to work on Monday and eat crow.  God always wins!  We can boast about Him all the time.  So why don’t we?  We know 1 John 4:4, Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

So it is time for us/me to live like it.  What’s a little pain, or a few setbacks?  Paul said, Our light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, in 2 Corinthians 4:17.  They are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.

There, I’m encouraged already.  I hope you are too.

*Images by lovethispic.com; engageyourstory.com