I took the above picture on Monday of this week. We had an inch or so of snow! I know for you folks north of the Mason-Dixon Line you are thinking, “So what? Why is that a big deal?” In west central Alabama it’s a big deal because we do not see a lot of the white stuff. For you who see this regularly it’s not a big deal. But for us? It’s a really big deal–and that got me to thinking. It took me until this morning–but I finally figured it out.
For those who see a lot of snow, an inch or so doesn’t mean much if anything at all. For us, it meant we pulled up a chair and watched it fall with great admiration at its beauty. Many of us were mesmerized by the scene as we watched it fall, collect on the tree limbs and cover the ground. Facebook blew up with pictures people were taking–each one showing the unique beauty of this very rare event. What does this all say about Kingdom Living? Glad you asked and I am even more glad to tell you.
Let’s start with something straight out of the Bible! What a novel idea in times like this! Look at Psalm 119:18–
Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.
(New Living Translation)
There is a deep crisis within the U.S. church. It has replaced The Truth with a cultural truth. The source of the problem is that many have embraced their personal interpretations of The Truth. Churchians and Tenured Pew sitters have become so accustomed to their views on The Truth that they have stopped seeing the wonder of The Truth. Just like people who are accustomed to seeing snow on a regular basis–they miss the wonder of God’s Creation. And just like us Alabamians who rarely see snow and stop what we doing to take pictures and post them on social media–people who walk closely with Jesus understand that The Truth is always amazing to us, teaching us the beauty of the life God wants us to live.
When we are locked into our personal views, opinions, and beliefs it leaves little to no room for God to WOW us. This entire Psalm is full of WOW moments, not because it’s the longest one–but because of the way the verses are divided. Each section begins, not with the name of a person, but a Word. The Word for verse 18 is Gamal–it means to ripen, to produce. David is sharing the way to a life that is full and rich; a life that produces what God created us to produce–each in our own way. And it’s found in THE Truth–call it His Law, His Instruction–better yet, call Him by His name–Jesus!
The chaos of this day is the result of NOT living by God’s instructions. We need to stop seeing The Truth of The Bible in the ways we are accustomed to seeing it. We need to see it the way we Alabamians see snow–with wonder and amazement. When you see a lot of snow–an inch or so is no big deal. When you are accustomed to your own views of The Bible you leave no room for God to ripen our life in order to produce what HE created you to produce. So stop seeing The Bible with the same-old-same-old view. What has that view produced? Watch the evening news. That will tell you what that view produces.
Hymns and songs have been written about this verse. But let me leave you with a story about what happen when God opens our eyes to HIS Truth rather than our truth. It’s found in 2 Kings chapter 6. Elisha’s servant goes out one morning and is filled with panic. An army has surrounded him and his teacher. Listen and learn from Elisha:
17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
2 Kings 6:17
It takes God to open our eyes–what when He opens our eyes–an inch or so of snow becomes an experience! And what an experience it is!
As of last night the CDC reports there are 122,653 of confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020 in the United States. This number is up from Saturday evening’s number of 103,321. People in the U.S. are panic buying. It started with toilet paper and hand sanitizer and now it’s milk, bread, eggs and God knows what else. People are scooping up self-rising flour who have never made a biscuit in their life! And the jury has reached a verdict.
Most people in the United States are found GUILTY of Having No Common Sense And Are Acting Stupid! It took the jury only 3 seconds to reach this verdict. When you consider the evidence it is no surprise at all. Just look at the evidence:
You ask a student “You have 3 apples and give 1 apple to your friend, how many are left?” and rather than the student imagine 3 apples, take away 1 and count what’s left, which is 1 then 2, 2 apples left, they have replaced it with common core math. To find the answer you take the circumference of Saturn, divide that by the number of species of ducks, multiply that answer by the temperature on the surface of Mercury, then subtract the number of Wal-Marts in the world, divided by 7.68345690 and subtract the number of people who will buy eggs today and Voila! The answer is 2!
Participation Trophies! You have achieved greatness by simply being present. Forget effort. Forget skill and ability. Besides, it’s plain meanness to reward success!
Entitlement has become the norm. Who needs perseverance? What’s the value in trying and learning from failure? You exist therefore you deserve!
Administrators tell teachers, “You have to teach for the state tests. Forget knowledge and wisdom–it’s the scores on those tests that matter most. NOT the students needs, but OUR need to score high on those tests!”
Many school systems have taken out vocational/technical schools because it’s more important for the students to go to college in order for them to ask “Would you like a fried apple pie with this order?” The number of high school students who receive a college degree looks great on the paperwork!
Speaking of college, OY VEY! Professors have concluded that they are the experts in their fields and are the sole depository of knowledge, and expect their students to be their little minions who perpetuate their jabber and twaddle. (if you don’t know the meaning of twaddle, look it up!) Cemetery Professors, excuse me, that should have been Seminary Professors, are the absolute worst!
And parents? OY VEY!OY VEY!OY VEY! They want to be their child’s friend! Great gobbledygook! This is enough evidence by itself to arrive at that Guilty Verdict!
Morality, what is right and wrong, good and bad, is determined by the individual rather than proven standards, such as the Bible. They even encourage their children to find their own gender rather than accept what nature gave them.
Consequences? What’s that? People are protected from the consequences of their choices and actions. There is always someone else, something else to blame. Oygevalt!Bupkes! That’s mishegas! It’s bupkes! Go ahead and kvetsh if it makes you feel better!(I love Yiddish!)
And finally, it’s more important to be kind than truthful–especially when truth hurts. A president once challenged this nation to be a kinder and gentler nation. Well, people accepted the challenge, and look at the mess we’re in!
Look at this nation now. More and more people are thinking more and more about themselves while thinking less and less about others. I heard one story of a shopper who was buying up milk. The business only allowed 2 gallons to be purchased. So she bought 2 gallons; then went back in a went through the self checkout with 2 more gallons. This continued until she had her minivan full of milk. Another shopper was doing the same with toilet paper until an astute associate saw what she was doing and cut her off!
There was a time when you didn’t need a declaration from the government to stay at home if you were sick. It was called Common Sense and Decency! There was a time when people cared more about others than themselves. There was a time when valor and restraint were considered virtues. There was a time when hard work was noble and the dream people held dear. And there was a time when it was appropriate to call out, in a kind way, stupidity in others. Well. . . what can I say? Too many people are null and void when it comes to common sense–and are stupid, I say, absolutely stupid! They make the 3 Stooges look like clones of Albert Einstein.
(This is NOT a political post, though it addresses politics and other matters. I remind you that if you cannot think for yourself, or respect a person who has different views than you, then Reader Discretion is advised. Any resemblance to any political party or theological view past or present, is strictly coincidental. After all, it’s not my “intention” to offend you.)
Ever since the final results of the 2016 election were announced, there has been a movement by a group that shall remain nameless, to undo the results, and are even attempting to change our current form of government that they consider unfair because their candidate didn’t win. By the way, it’s a process that has served this nation well since 1804. Then this unnamed political movement attempted to unseat the winner of the 2016 election with an impeachment movement. Since November 2016, this unnamed political party has espoused nothing but disdain and hatred for the POTUS. All this hate against one person has created a culture of hated and disrespect. Here’s a couple of examples.
February 10, 2020 Gregory Timm drove his van into a voters registration tent in Jacksonville, Florida because of hate. Mr. Timm had no regard for the safety or life of these volunteers who were simply exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right. His hatred for the POTUS turned toward people engaging in our Democratic Republic. Hate consumed Mr. Timm.
Then on February 28, 2020 Denver, Colorado Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca declared that if she ever contracted the Coronavirus she would attend every Trump Rally. Deep is the hate that would cause Councilwoman CdeBaca to want to infect people–mothers, fathers, children–with the Coronavirus because they have a different political view. Really Councilwoman CdeBaca? You want the Coronavirus to spread even further?
The outcome of “not my president” and “impeach Trump” is that people desire to harm, even kill anyone who doesn’t agree with them. At one time this unnamed political party cared about all people. Now this unnamed political party only cares about those who agree with them. This unnamed political party has created an outcome with the environment of hate.
Now, those of you who support that unnamed political party will vehemently disagree with me. You will tell me, “We didn’t produce this outcome of hate and disregard of human life because that wasn’t our intention. Our intention was to make our nation stronger and better.” Well, guess what Snowflake–Intentions are NOT the same as outcomes. If I offended anyone by calling you a Snowflake, that wasn’t my INTENTION. Don’t blame me or say I’m being divisive or ugly. Remember, that’s not my INTENTION.
You see, your beliefs and your attitudes about your beliefs regardless of your intentions produces OUTCOMES. Those Outcomes then take on a life of their own. Think of those Outcomes as making a snowball at the top of a peak overlooking a town. You wonder how big that snowball would get if you rolled it down that slope. Then you roll that snowball and it begins moving down the slope. It gets bigger and bigger and obliterates the town below. Don’t act surprised that your little snowball destroyed that town. You didn’t INTEND to destroy that town. But the Outcome remains–you were responsible.
Intentions will hide the truth; but Outcomes will always reveal the truth.
So, in the future, don’t think about your intentions, because the road to hell is well paved with intentions. Think about OUTCOMES. Outcomes requires that you look beyond the immediate–beyond what you want–beyond what others tell you what you want. Intentions won’t change the direction of our great, but sinking nation. By working together on a set of Outcomes that shows respect and dignity for everyone we can see real culture change. Outcomes that will build people up–not run over them with a van or wish they had the Coronavirus are what we need.
The above quote of George Orwell is certainly apapoe in today culture. I’m not certain when he wrote this, but it is prophetic, nonetheless. Though he was a staunch democratic socialist, decades later his perspectives are ringing true. I remember reading 1984 back in high school. In 1973 I remember thinking, “This could never happen here in the U.S.” It didn’t in 1984, but if he had entitled that book 2020, I wouldn’t be so naive.
It’s happening now. Truth is being redefined by cultural experiences and the views of a few who become vocal. Case in point: Hallmark. Hallmark dropped ads on their channels because of same gender people were getting married and kissing. Now Hallmark Spineless Board of Directors have changed their minds due to the threats of 3.5% of the people. This statistic comes from The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
It is not just the sexual identity, or lack thereof, that is at the core of this sickly and unsound illness that is imbuing our current culture with it’s foul regurgitation that traces its roots to the Garden of Eden. Truth is no longer a measuring stick–but an ethos that is concerned with those concepts that make people feel comfortable, at ease and justified. It is a commodious truth that people have gone after. Maybe I should have said “commode”.
Society today certainly hates Truth tellers because “truth” no longer means TRUTH! Truth means feelings, unsubstantiated hypotheses, and whatever a small group feels is truth. Those who embrace time tested and proven TRUTH are hated and berated because they do not follow a commodious truth. A small percentage of the population wants to dictate to the rest of us how we should feel, what we should think, what we should say, how we should act, and most importantly–surrender Truth to them to define.
I am not a conspiracy wacko, though someone had to be on the grassy knoll, but friends and readers, 1984 is quickly coming upon us. . .UNLESS we choose to be undeterred with the real meaning of TRUTH and to speak it. . .speak it with love. . .speak it with resolve. . .speak it regardless if anyone agrees with it. . .and not compromise the TRUTH for a commodious lie.
“Whenever the inappropriate fear of people eclipses the appropriate fear of God, it’s a short step to image management and control tactics. When we fear people, we tend to develop appeasement strategies in order to manage any perceived volatility. The tendency is to manage appearances in order to keep the peace. The truth? It’s really just conflict avoidance in order to get around dealing with dysfunction.“
J. D. Walt
The above words were the opening lines of one of my daily morning readings. We hear a lot, I mean a lot, of people saying, “Can’t we just get along?” My answer is a resounding
Does this mean I’ve lost all hope for and in humanity?
It’s thin sometimes, but no, I haven’t lost hope for and in humanity. This being said. . . we can’t get along. Now hear me carefully: WE CAN’T GET ALONG. . .IN THIS CURRENT CLIMATE. . .UNTIL WE CHANGE OUR PERSPECTIVE! You might have thought I would say “attitude” rather than “perspective”. But that’s not how this works. . .that’s not how any of this works!
Perspective is what influences and creates attitude. And in the current climate, the perspective is “peace at all costs.” Some call it “political correctness”. . .so do I. Now, I’m not advocating attitudinal anarchy. . . but there comes a moment when we have to accept that this fallen human nature is incapable of getting along. I said “fallen” human nature.
Fellow Disciples Of Jesus, Followers Of The Way, we cannot get along with the world . . . nor with each other as long as “getting along with each other” involves keeping the peace through compromise. Again, I’m not promoting attitudinal anarchy–but truth is–there’s a lot of it out there, including in the church.
So, what’s the option? Is there an option? There is an option–but we have to accept that not everyone is going to agree with it. The option we can choose . . . MUST choose . . . is to be true to God by becoming like Jesus. Jesus is the perfect model of graciousness AND truthfulness. Jesus chose appropriate moments and words that intentionally dwindled the number of “followers”.
Why? Because Jesus would not offer nor accept a fake peace built on compromise. Jesus DOES offer peace and it happens as we live each moment of each day by God’s Truth. And we offer the world The TRUTH. Not with arrogance . . . there’s too much of that already . . . but with the perspective of Jesus . . . the perspective that formed his attitude in life. What is that perspective? So glad you asked. . .
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)
There comes a time, a moment in a culture, when the desire to get along must die in order for the attitude of Jesus to be clearly seen so that Truth becomes clear. And it will be clear if we speak with graciousness and truthfulness. Today is such a time. We can’t get along–but we can be kind, like Jesus . . . and be faithful to God.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!
The Eternal Name—The Name for all generations to remember—The Name that God has chosen to reveal to us all is YAHWEH—I Am! His Name says that He exists as Himself. He isn’t shaped or twisted by our own ideas and conceptions. Whatever it is that we may think about HIM, doesn’t change who He really is. Whatever you say about God doesn’t change Him. Whatever you may believe about God, does not change the identity and nature of our God.
He is who HE says He is; not
necessarily who we think He is and not necessarily who others say He is. He exists as He truly is—
In Indescribable Glory,
Pure, Uncontaminated Beauty
And All This In Awesome And Breathtaking Majesty.
He has never been weaker nor stronger than He is right now in eternity, nor will He ever be. Think about the changes that have happened in the history of humanity. We have gone from walking everywhere to riding a horse to an automobile, to flying across the skies, even made the journey to the moon and back.
about all the changes that have happened just in your lifetime. Yet, God has never ever changed—not even a
fraction. He Is Constant And
Consistent To The Point We Really Cannot Describe All That He Is. This Is The Eternal Name For All Generations
As we have been looking through John’s Gospel, Jesus has been publicly using His Eternal Name. And it has caused a lot of discomfort and anger with the Pharisees because we are not supposed to say that name—even though God wants His Eternal Name remembered by all generations.
They felt like, “We can’t have this guy going around calling himself God. We’ve got to put a stop to it. We’ve tried to be reasonable. We’ve tried to show that He’s a phony, but many don’t believe us. We must put an end to Jesus!” So they begin to formulate their plans, but what they don’t understand is that God already has a plan. They want to wait until AFTER Passover, but God has ordained that this Passover is THE time for THE perfect sacrifice that will end all sacrifices. And now, it is time for THE Passover. Jesus has gathered His inner circle in that upper room. Everything is in place and they think it’s just another Passover. They know the ritual; after all, they grew up with it. But Jesus now changes everything. In public He had been using the Eternal Name, and now in a very private moment, He uses it once more. Let’s turn to John 14:1-7 (NLT)
let your hearts be troubled. Trust in
God, and trust also in me. There
is more than enough room in my Father’s home.
If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a
place for you? When
everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with
me where I am. And you know
the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am The Way, The Truth, And The Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
that Jesus said He is–The Great I Am—The Living Bread, The Light Of
The World, The Door, The Good Shepherd—is so true—truer than you may
even realize. But here, in a private and
intimate moment, Jesus reveals the Deepest Part Of The Heart Of God. He Doesn’t Say This In Public,
But Rather To Those Hearts That Are Longing For God’s Heart.
This leads me to The one thing you need to remember: You Do Not Follow Jesus In Order To Love Him. You Love Him In Order To Follow Him.
comes first—before the following. But—If
you follow Jesus in order to love Him, it becomes a list of rules and things to
do. This way becomes legalistic. And
after a while, you either love the rules more than you love Him; or you will
But…if you love Jesus first—it gives you the desire to follow Him. Here is how it works: You see His beauty and that Beauty pulls you in deeper. Then You Begin Seeking His Beauty, And His Heart So That You May Be Transformed BY His Beauty INTO His Beauty. In Other Words, You Follow Him!
In this very sacred moment, Jesus says something to every heart. For inside every heart is that deep, deep longing to be near to and close to God’s very heart. The heart knows what the heart needs but the problem is we don’t always listen to it. Many try to ignore it, but the longing is still there. Others try to fill it with everything else, but the heart is still empty. Jesus Knows What Their Hearts Long For, Thirst For, Hunger For—So He Reveals What Every Heart Around That Table Longs To Know. And it is true in your heart. Listen with your heart what Jesus is saying to it.
1. He Is The Way!
When Jesus said He is The Way He means He is the ONLY way to find release from the guilt and shame of our sin. And we have to get rid of all that sin because it’s standing in the way of us entering God’s heart and God entering our heart. He Is That Entrance Into Freedom From All That Holds Us Back, All That Puts Us In Bondage, And All That Chains Us To Fear And Condemnation. Jesus is the only entrance to God’s heart. Contrary to the view of many, there are not many ways to discover God.
There is only ONE way and that way is Jesus. And The Way is a Journey, and The Journey is first to fall in love with God. Not what He does. And not by falling in love with His ways. Falling in love with God—with HIM! Being captivated by His Glory—which is His love for you. Until you see HIS Glory—you cannot love Him the way He deserves to be love Once we are in love with HIM, then He is The Way that leads us into that Holy Journey with God. The Way means that God invites us into this Journey with Him.
It Is A Journey Filled With Adventure And Excitement Where God Uses Us To Reveal Jesus To Our World.
A Journey That Can Be Difficult At Times, Especially When Things Don’t Work Out
Like We Hoped, And Even When We Can’t See Where This Journey Will Lead Us.
It’s The Journey That Requires We Surrender Control To Him. It’s The Journey Where We Will Be Stretched
That Journey Where At Times The Only Thing We Can Hold On To Is God Himself. It May Even Be Frightening To Some.
But It’s Not A Journey We Make Alone. Jesus Is Right Here With Us Every Step Of The Way.
didn’t say “I am the pew.” But many
treat Jesus that way; confident and comfortable in the pew. But Jesus didn’t say that, He said, “I Am The
Way!” He invites us to travel this road
called Grace, and it’s a road that is meant to be a life time journey. Along the journey we will see, do and
experience so many things. The journey
at the end will be different than at the beginning. But one thing will remain throughout this
lifetime journey: Jesus walks every step
with us. It’s the journey with Jesus
where He leads us to wherever and whatever He wants for us.
2. He Is The Truth
Since it is The Journey that Jesus invites us into, we need some guideposts, road signs that help us keep us on the right path for The Journey. And here is what it looks like to call Jesus The Truth.
The Truth Is He Has Saved Us And Forgiven Us Completely And Not A Single Sin Brought Under His Blood Exists In His Heart Or Memory.
The Truth Is He Lives In Us To Empower Us.
The Truth Is He Gives Us A Holy Calling And Task That He Wants And Expects Us To Do.
The Truth Is He Holds Us Accountable To Share The Grace He Has So Extravagantly Given To Each Of Us.
Truth Is We Live Each Moment Of Each Day By And IN The Truth.
The Truth Is That People Are More Important Than Things—Jesus Did Things For People Even If It Violated The Way Things Had Always Been Because People Are More Important Than Things.
The Truth That We Must Grow In This Grace—Grow More Confident—Grow Wiser About The Truth—Applying The Truth In Real Life Situations.“What Would Jesus Do?” is more than a cute saying for shirts, bracelets and bumper stickers, it’s the way we live and respond to every situation life throws at us.
The Truth Is Persistent And Consistent For All Times, Places And People. It Doesn’t Change Or Fluctuate With The Times, Nor The Culture.
The Truth Is That Service And Sacrifice Are Part Of The Way. Service And Sacrifice Are What Truly Marks Us As Disciples Of Jesus And Members Of The Body Of Christ.
This Truth—Lived By Jesus Every Day He Walked This Earth As One Of Us—Is The Anchor For Every Age, Every Generation, And Every Moment Of Every Day We Walk This Earth.
Jesus As The Truth Is More Than A Creed Or Belief. It is the convictions that hold us, hold us closely when we need assurance of God’s love—and that challenges us to follow Jesus in The Way! The Truth Is That Jesus Is The Alpha And Omega, The First And The Last, The Beginning And The End. And whatever it is we do as believers in Christ, makes each day all about him and not anything about us!
Truth isn’t a weapon we use
against others. It’s the discipline that
reminds us that we are in love with God—and that God is in love with us.
3. He Is The Life!
The Life gives the journey meaning. It is The Life that should be the force
that makes our feet hit the floor every morning. Jesus is The Life that brings us to life with
a passion and excitement to be a part of what God is doing in our world.
people are waiting to die. They have
given up on the excitement and adventure of life. If Jesus is really in your heart, you don’t
have to wait to die to experience life, but you can start living, really living
with that sense of joy, purpose and anticipation of all that God wants to show
you every day. Jesus didn’t suffer and die
on that Cross for you to be sad and miserable; cranky and whiney; to grumble
His Life Is About Life That
Has An Eternal Meaning In The Here And Now. Jesus wants you to live and breathe, not
exist. And The Life is offered to you through
The Gift—the Gift of Perfect Love when Jesus went to the Cross to die for
you. But He didn’t just die for you—He
conquered death for you, too.
And the Resurrection Life isn’t just for that day when
the body dies. The Resurrection Life Is For Here
And Now. It begins with the Journey.
And the Journey begins with falling love with God. God is in love with YOU. Not with what you can do or ought to do. He is in love with YOU right now! Jesus is The Way into that love. Truth reminds us of this—that God is in love
with us. Truth isn’t a set of creeds—it
is more—Truth is a Person—Jesus Christ—And this makes Truth a Love
Relationship. This Is The Life!
is knowing we are loved by God—being in love with God—in the way that causes us
to be His Agents, Agents of Redemption for the world.
Are you simply waiting to die? Do you feel
that life has become too hard to do anything significant? Do you think it was easy for Jesus to forgive
the crowd while hanging on that cross?
Stop waiting to die—decide today to begin living.
What are you doing that is life-giving to others? Have you heard
of that TV series The Walking Dead? It’s
about the Zombie Apocalypse. Some call
it science fiction. It’s truer than you
may realize. The Walking Dead are all
around us. The thing is they don’t look
like those zombies on TV—they look like us.
But they are dead on the inside.
Well, here we are, my first entry from my journal as I read the Book of Acts. As a little more background to this adventure, I’m reading with critical eyes. Hold on now! I didn’t say “criticizing” eyes–I said “critical eyes”. I’m looking for things I may not have noticed before, those “nuances” that are not often pondered. Here in Chapter 1, I’ve found a few of them.
Acts 1 is primarily taught with the emphasis on the Ascension and the waiting in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came. And as I was reading, I was captured and convicted by Verse 3 (emphasis mine):
During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
Here is why this verse captured and convicted me. I was taught, trained, and expected to grow “the church”. The problem today is that “church” doesn’t mean what it meant by then. Besides, the Greek word used wasn’t “church”. (Sniff, sniff…I smell smoke and the heating of tar….as in being tarred and feathered). Hey, I’m just sharing what The Book says.
One would think that since Jesus knows He is shortly to be ascending back to Heaven, that He would teach and train them about the “church” and His expectation that they were to grow the church. Now, if this Book of Acts is truly more about the Apostles than the Holy Spirit, that’s what we would read.
But if Jesus is anything, He is CONSISTENT! Jesus taught about The Kingdom, not the church. OK, OK, He did mention “the church” in Peter’s declaration of His true identity. But Jesus didn’t speak English. I know, shock, shock. (Or for some, “Blasphemer! Blasphemer!”) The Greek word used was ekklēsia, and it means a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place.
Jesus focused on the instrument of God’s Power and Authority–and that’s the Kingdom of God. And I’m wondering, “What if we stopped teaching and training people for the church and followed Jesus’ own example and taught and trained people in The Kingdom?” The Kingdom is important to Jesus, because it’s important to God. And it should be important to us.
But us “Americanized” Christians would rather have the church than the Kingdom for only 1 reason. It gives us the illusion of control. But Kingdom, on the other hand, presents us with the hard truth that there is an Absolute Ruler, and it ain’t us!
There must be a new language spoken in the ekklēsia. It’s the language of The Kingdom of God. Our terminology, mindset and focus must go back to what Jesus thought was most important. That was, and continues to be the focus of Jesus. If last words are important, and they are, then let’s listen to Jesus as He teaches about The Kingdom of God. If our emphasis was on the Rule and Authority of God, rather than our own, I strongly suspect we would see the same results found in the Book of Acts.
Let me leave you with this final thought, and it’s not an original one from me:
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Well, here I go again on another Journey. It seems I’ve become a bit slack in my spiritual discipline of reading the Word. I was looking at my Bible on the desk and it was like I heard, “You know, it’s been a while since we talked. Don’t you think it’s time to catch up?” So I reached over and took it; then I found me a journal to write in, and an ink pen. That’s all: the Bible, a clean sheet of paper and a pen. No commentaries and not even Google to help me look up words and thoughts. Just me, The Book, and of course, the Holy Spirit.
Speaking of which (the Holy Spirit, that is), I’m wondering right now why did I have to have all those commentaries (because I started this journey with Jesus before the internet was so readily accessible)? And why do so many today have this book, that website, that author along side THAT Book? Over the past several years, I discovered to my amazement, that the Holy Spirit actually helps me understand what I’m reading! Who could have ever imagined such a thing? Well, God could.
Back to The Book. Where would I ever begin such a journey? There are so many books to choose from. One would think I would have to spend a lot of time deciding which book to begin with. This time, I had no trouble. He, the Holy Spirit, whispered, “The Book of Acts.” So that’s what I’m doing. I’m not reading a chapter a day–nothing against people who read the Book that way–just reading until I sense Him saying, “Let that sink in for a while.”
And this morning my Companion and Comforter said, “You know, you’ve been talking, I mean talking a lot, about starting back to regular blogging. Why not share what you’re discovering? After all, I did give you that gift of writing.” So who am I to argue with the Wisdom of The Ages.
Today’s entry is simply about the title applied to The Book Of Acts. It’s been titled “The Book Of The Acts Of The Apostles.” For many, many years I’ve insisted that those earliest editors misnamed this Book. I wish right now I could borrow Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean and go back to that first group of editors when they came up with this title and ask: “What are you thinking? It’s NOT the acts of the Apostles. It’s the Acts of the Holy Spirit in surrendered people!” Gee whiz, guys. You’re better than that! Think, man, then listen to that title. A bit short-sighted, don’t you think?”
Why do I think that it’s an inaccurate title? I’m so glad you asked me that question. To read Dr. Luke’s stories with the title “Acts of the Apostles” taints your thought processes, and it’s easy to conclude that what happened then, was “limited to a handful of select special people and not really for me or my time.” Calling it the Acts Of The Apostles limits what this Book can do in you and I.
First, it relegates it just another History Book. Now, I love History more than most. I blame it on my High School History teacher Ronald Pettus. He is a collector of artifacts, many of which he brought into the classroom. He filled my little mind with more than memorizing dates–but left me hungering to know more about the people and the times. This is a priceless tool in understand THE BOOK! If we see Acts are only a history book of a select few people, we’ve missed the point of Dr. Luke’s work.
Second, we slam the door shut to the potential of the Holy Spirit using folks like us. There’s more going on here than dates and geography. If we agree that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are all about Jesus (and they are), then Acts MUST be all about The Holy Spirit, and it is. Each Amen on that? The Book of Acts opens up with Jesus telling those first disciples about, guess who? The Holy Spirit! And in Chapter 2, all Heaven breaks loose on earth. And it all happens because of and through the power of The Holy Spirit!
Now, I want to add a little side bar comment about the current state of the church culture. For the last century, more emphasis is put on human understanding and abilities rather than The Holy Spirit. I see it in my Tribe as Progressives try to tell me they know more about what God wants and expects than the Bible. Add to this that so many in churches want to hear what someone else says about the Bible rather than read it for themselves.
The result has been that a powerful Stallion has been reduced to a gelding. People are following today, an impotent message about an impotent life. And once again, Jesus weeps. So staring tomorrow, I will share from my personal journal some of the insights and wonder I am discovering as The Teacher, teaches me.
And remember, Love God with all your heart. Love others and way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!
I am…started to say “surprised” but really I’m not because I saw it coming from a mile away. I am…started to say “amazed” but that’s not the word because there’s nothing profound or significant in it. I am…started to say “speechless” but there’s so much I could say. I am…started to say “fed-up” because I certainly am, but as a follower of Jesus I need to be more than just “fed-up”. I am…started to say “disgusted” and that certainly is an emotion that is present and prevalent in me right now. So, what’s the word I’m looking for?
Well, this wordsmith who usually finds something deep and profound is left with just this simple phrase: “I am sick and tired of it!” I realize these words lack spiritual depth and certainly are not words of grace and mercy, but they do describe where I am. I was feeling bad about it until I remembered Jesus, the week of His death, walking into the Court of the Gentiles and seeing that “spiritual flea market” of currency exchanges and sellers of animals for sacrifice. OK, so maybe it’s not so bad that I’m feeling sick and tired of it. I do think that Jesus was sick and tired of seeing those who were supposed to represent HIM on earth tied up to and wrapped up in so much that had absolutely nothing do to with the Heavenly Father. Hang on a minute while I take these cords and fashion me a whip.
Much has been said about the recent acts by NFL players hitting the knee or staying in the locker room while the National Anthem is played. And herein is my rub, those first 4 words–“Much has been said”! What “has been said” are words, lots of words, about anger and disgust. The only threat of action is to “stop watching them on TV”. Well, gee golly, that ought to change our culture and nation! But I didn’t see any change after Monday Night Football in our culture. Maybe after Sunday when sooooooo many are not watching NFL football our culture will change. Guess I’ll have to wait until Monday to see our culture change. Yet…..somehow I don’t think that act will bring about any real change, culture shift, or a “everyone lives happily ever after” narrative.
Look, people! That is their right and freedom. Even my son, Sargent First Class Matthew Burbank (combat veteran of 5 tours in some of the worst flea-infested-arm-pits parts of the world) acknowledges he paid a price (though he calls it a small price, but I, Dad, know better than that) for them to disrespect THE Flag that draped the coffins of his friends and comrades in arms. Before I continue my “sick and tired” thoughts, you need to think about this in a practical way. If we ban this form of protest it will not be long until another form of protest and another and another, until finally we will have lost one of the linchpin principles of this nation: Freedom of Speech. Remove that linchpin and soon thereafter all the other linchpins will be pulled and we will be living under tyranny, again!
Wait, I just heard something thinking, “OK, Mr. Kingdom Pastor, what would you suggest? Just go ahead and watch those games?” If that’s how you want to express your freedom to protest by not watching those games, then by all means, go ahead. But if you are wanting to hit those players in the pocketbook, then simply do NOT buy anything that has the Officially Licensed NFL logo. That’s where the money is made. By the way, that includes more than jerseys, t-shirts and caps. There are other products that are labeled “The Official _____________________(fill in the blank with a product or service) of the NFL.” But do you think that is really going to change our culture and our nation? You do? Look, contact me and I will arrange to sell you some great Gulf Coast property in New Mexico, or Montana if you prefer Montana.
What do I suggest? I am so glad you asked me that. Here’s my suggestion: HIT YOUR KNEES! Pray FOR, and not AGAINST those you see as the problem in our culture and nation. And then pray some more–for YOURSELF! Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters, quit complaining and start doing something that will make a positive difference in another person. Mahatma Gandhi may not have been a committed follower of Jesus Christ, but he certainly gave clarity to the teaching of Jesus and our responsibilities to God’s creation when he challenged people saying, “You must be the change you want to see in others.” Do you remember that time when the disciples saw a problem, people were hungry and needed to be sent on their way? What was Jesus’ initial response? “YOU give them something to eat!” So you who passionately profess to follow Jesus but consistently “pass the buck” and expect others to do something, “What say ye now, to Jesus?”
Hit YOUR knees in prayer. Ask the God of infinite mercy and grace to forgive you of your whining when you should have been doing something to reveal the presence of Jesus in your own life. Genuinely regret that you are a part of the “when all is said and done, more is said than done” crowd. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and mind with the Presence, Power and Provisions of God Himself, the power that caused The Resurrection to happen for Jesus! Hit YOUR knees and ask God to open your eyes, mind and heart to all those people you will see today who need to see Hope, who need to be made whole in Jesus Christ!
Then look for practical ways to do it. Take them out to lunch, to Starbucks, to somewhere and listen to their story. Offer to take someone who can’t drive shopping with you. Find ways to live UN-selfishly. Caleb Kaltenbach, in his book, Messy Grace, reminds us that as Christians we need to be known what we are FOR, and NOT for what we are AGAINST! And what we should be for is people coming into the loving Relationship that God wants everyone to have with Him.
Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters, and WATNFL (Whiners Against The NFL) card-holding-members, begin doing things FOR others that only Jesus would do. Watching re-runs on Sunday afternoons, Monday nights and Thursday nights will NOT change our culture and nation. But taking personal responsibility to show and share the love of Jesus, especially without words ever being said, WILL change our culture one life at a time. And the first life that needs to change may well be your own. I know this is true in my case.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And makes sure all the glory goes to Him!
OK, I admit it. Sometimes I don’t keep up with all the current events. The past 7 days, though, I have a good, a very good excuse. But then, don’t we all? Well, I feel like mine has some merit. Last Wednesday I had a heart ablation from which I am recovering very well. Then there’s this thing called HARVEY. As our tribe’s (some call them denominations) Disaster Response & Recovery Coordinator there is much work I have to do in this role as a Bond Servant of Jesus.
This morning I checked my Twitter feed and was seeing all this stuff about The Nashville Statement. It was a diatribe of hate, so I decided to read it for myself rather than read what others said about. I know, how dumb can I be! Wanting to read it for myself rather than trust all those progressive voices telling me what it means. I saw some tweets comparing the writers and signers as supporters of the American Nazi movement. Well, I read it and was left scratching my head wondering, “Where is the hate? Did Google lead me to the wrong site?”
So I went back to those Tweets. Aren’t they always reliable and truthful? I found this link to an article written by John Pavlovitz titled The Nashville Statement (A Plain Language Translation). Well I thought, “OK! I love plain language translations. Here I can get to the heart of the real NASHVILLE STATEMENT, not the wrong one Google gave me.” Well, there I go thinking again. And thus why I am writing this morning.
His alleged “plain language translation” was simply a rehash of all the hate speech I had seen on Twitter. After careful review and reflection of John’s comments and other similar reviews, I have reached an assessment, call it conclusion, not only about many progressives, but our culture in general. And here it is: “If you do not agree with me and my views then you automatically hate me and others like me.”
Really, John, et.al.? I realize that in the arena of discussion about human sexuality that there is some hate speech going on, especially in the name of the Body of Christ. And to those who express hate speech and identify yourself as (an alleged) Christian, I say to you, “SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU! REPENT IMMEDIATELY AND TURN TO GOD!”
I realize a lot of morons, excuse me, “well-meaning people” have taken biblical texts out of context to justify their position and made the Bible say things it doesn’t say. But if one will take the time to see the whole picture of the Bible, there are only 2 stories. The first story is God’s creation and His Intended Design. It was perfect in every way. And in the realm of sexuality it is very clear: God created them biologically male and female, both equally revealing His image. And marriage was defined as 1 husband (a man) and 1 wife (a woman). Together they were to live in perfect relationship with God and together explore God’s creation. Story #1!
The second story begins with the Fall, which introduces into God’s Creation a totally different purpose. The rest of the Bible is the story of God attempting to restore fallen humanity back in His Original Intent and Design and away from this “Fallen” purpose. Now anyone like me, who believes that God is busy setting back right all that we humans have messed up, is simply filled with hate, well John, you are all wrong about that!
Our culture has gone into a moral and spiritual wasteland when anyone with a different view or belief, is labeled HATEFUL! Quite frankly, I’m getting sick of it! But then I remember those words of Jesus: (Matthew 5:44 NLT) “But I say, love your enemies! Prayfor those who persecute you!” I hear a lot of people like John, who label themselves as progressives, pray AGAINST their perceived enemy and all the while calling for love above all. Is it just me that sees the hypocracy of progressives? They rant, rail and pray against their “enemy” while insisting that love should rule the day.
Yes, we are called to love but not at the sacrifice of the Truth. I’ve heard the argument, “What did Jesus say about homosexuality? Nothing, so we shouldn’t.” Well, He didn’t say anything against using meth or cheating on your tax return, or keeping that extra change that the cashier gave you, or a lot of other every day “stuff”. But Peter made the connection in 1 Peter 1:15-16–“15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And Holy is to be who and what God designed us to be. If that is hate, then maybe you need a new definition of hate.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you, and make sure all the glory goes to Him!
I was just thinking this morning. In my world of those who know me, many shudder when I say this. Some even do the face palm thing while shaking their heads wondering to themselves, “Dear Lord, what is this man up to again?” And a few even run and hide. I’m OK with that because I am convinced God gave me a mind–a mind to learn with and a mind to question things–sometimes everything.
I am thinking about that word “TAME” and its partner word “DOMESTICATED”. Somehow, there are those who think that the purpose of a relationship with God is about taming us. There are many tribes (tribes are groups of people with a similar belief system and mindset about God, also known as denominations in some circles) who believe that in order to follow Jesus, we must be tamed. They treat desire as if it were the modern-day equivalent of Biblical times leprosy.
And so this idea of desire is pushed back and beaten down so that respectability can rule and reign. As I was thinking about that word TAME I realized that it rhymes with another word: LAME. So what if we started seeing DESIRE as something to, well DESIRE, to want, to insist on having? Not just any DESIRE, but to have DESIRE for God–for what God is doing–and especially for what God wants us to do!
Can we agree, at least those smart enough to believe in Intelligent Design, that we have been created in God’s image? OK! God has DESIRES. So if HE has DESIRES, why shouldn’t we? Unfortunately many have traded in the God who has Great Desires for a god who is nice and kind and always gentle. In others words, a domesticated god. When something is domesticated it means we have TAMED it for OUR use, to use the way we want.
The True and Living God is neither TAME nor DOMESTICATED. He is wild with DESIRE! Oops, someone just said, “I don’t believe that! Prove it from the Bible!” Okey Dokey, be careful what you ask for; you just might get it, as in this case. God sent a messenger to Eli the priest saying He, God, would take away the priesthood from Eli and his sons and raise up priests who do what, and I quote God, “I DESIRE!” And in Isaiah 55:11–“It (His word) will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what IDESIRE and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” And Jesus said in John 17:24–“Father, IDESIRE that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Now, when it comes to US, should their be desire? Now David was called a man after God’s own heart. When he selected a worship leader, he chose Asaph. I am sure David, who loved to worship God, wanted someone just as passionate as he. Read these words of Asaph:
24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I DESIRE you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. (Psalm 73:24-26 NLT)
Let’s stop being Tame And Lame, and reclaim that word DESIRE. The enemy has used it for too long as a sign of evil. Desire, as God put it in us, is both good and necessary. When we become “tame”, the enemy no longer fears us. He has domesticated us, meaning, we are here for his pleasure and guess what else. His “desires”, desires which are to keep us away from our created purpose and to prevent us from being Warriors. One of the things that makes the enemy tremble with fear and trepidation is when he sees one of God’s Image Bearer’s doing exactly what Asaph wanted, to DESIRE God more than anything else. When God’s designed DESIRE flows through you, the enemy runs and hides. He wants you domesticated, God wants you wild and free as He designed you. If you are not living out your relationship with God with that God-Designed-And-God-Pleasing DESIRE, you have been Tamed And Domesticated by the evil one. And you are just plain old LAME. And that is so sad, so very sad!
Love God with all you heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him and it will as you DESIRE Him more than anything else on earth.
Pray tell, what good is a yo-yo without string? I mean, really? What’s its purpose? Maybe it will make for a good late, late night infomercial? “That’s right folks, a stringless yo-yo. It’s available in 4 stunning colors and for a limited time you can get it for only 4 easy payments of $16.43, plus a reasonable processing fee. But that’s not all, call in the next 17 minutes 14 seconds, we will send you another one in the color of our choice absolutely free, you only pay a separate processing fee. And for just a very limited time, because you know we can’t do this forever, we will reduce it by 1 payment. That’s right, only 3, you heard correctly, 3 payments instead of 4. Call 888-2ABSURD, operators are standing by. Batteries are not included.”
Can anyone out there in Blogland tell me what good is a yo-yo without string? The only thing I can think of is maybe a paper weight or something to throw at somebody who is really annoying you. (If you think of any other purpose, please share in the comments section below.) Right now I hear some of you readers thinking, “Where is he going with this?” (Be forewarned, I do have ESPN). As ridiculous as it is to think of a stringless yo-yo, there is something happening in our culture that is even more than ridiculous, it is disheartening.
Many people have chosen to build their life upon how they feel. They have chosen a purpose based on feelings, but wait, there’s more. They have chosen to identify themselves based on how they feel. A friend was sharing with me that his daughter who was, if I remember correctly, either a kindergarten or first grade teacher who had a parent that came to her at the first of the school year with important information about her child. She told this teacher that one day “he” may come to school as a “she” or may come as a “he”. It just depended on how he was feeling that morning. Not based on biology and plumbing, just on those feelings of the day.
And living this “stringless yo-yo” life is not only being promoted in the arena of human sexuality, it is being lived out in so many, too many human lives. Someone calls you worthless, a failure. That feeling creeps, even comes like a tsunami over you and you live each day believing you are just that and nothing more. You see others have success and lots of “stuff” and you “feel” like you are entitled to it. Feelings!
Let’s say you have a medical condition and you need a specialist. You don’t know one so you find one and make an appointment. You’re first question should be, “Where did you go to school and what special training have you had?” What if their answer was, “Oh, I only graduated high school. But today I feel like a neurologist. Oh wait, now I feel like a proctologist. Where are those gloves?” What would be your response? I’m sure it would be to exit that room like the Roadrunner in those old cartoons.
So why do people make the choice to live their lives based on feelings, either those feelings that have come from deep within or those feelings created by someone’s opinion of them? Living by feelings is like a yo-yo with a string. Up and down, up and down, over here, over there. It’s a roller coaster ride that never ends. And when you accept those “feelings” as your identity or even your purpose in life, the string is removed. You are that stringless yo-yo. But that is not the life you were created and designed for. Your life is much more than a feeling. The song is right, it’s “feelings, nothing more than feelings.”
There is a beauty, strength and design that exceeds those feelings. Solomon shared in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a path before each person that seems right,but it ends in death.“ God has a unique design for you that reflects His image. Go back to the very beginning of the Bible and we can clearly see it. Relationship–Perfect Relationship. Perfect Relationship with Him, self and others. This life is never based on a feeling, but on The Truth, Truth as God defines it.
And if you are living by and through your feelings, I want to take this moment to encourage you to take the time to really know God–His heart and purpose for your life. It’s found in the Bible. Take the time to read it for yourself, without add the interpretations and opinions of others, even mine. Ask the Holy Spirit to join you in this journey to help you understand the big picture, not isolated bits and pieces that will be used to confirm those feelings. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading, and trust–trust in the God who loves you right where you are. And loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to stay where you are, but to become all the HE sees in you. Even if others don’t see it in you, and especially if you can’t see it in you.
Remember, love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him. And don’t forget that God’s love is not a feeling, but His whole heart, a heart for you.