07 November, 2013

The Measure of a Man

I live in a very progressive city. "My two dads." Transgender elementary school students. Exterminating unwanted children while saving soul-less fish.... Welcome to the Northwest. The place can be pretty backwards. As a Christian, one often finds them-self in the minority in their thinking and believing. However, I find myself grateful to live in a place that has at least figured one area out - and that is to stop pigeon-holing men and women.

Let's be clear: I am in no way one of those weird feminist-types, who take this idea to the extreme. However, I have never been of the belief that women belong "here," and men go over "here," and that's the end of it. And I have adamantly disagreed with anyone who does.

Women can go to work.

Women can preach.

Women can be pastors and leaders within the local church.

And men can stay at home...y their kids.

This is a combo teaching/ranting piece. My social media feeds have been inundated with posts of opinions and articles regarding this subject. And while I live in a region that celebrate what do as a full-time dad, it seems that one such group is still a bit on-the-fence: The Church. Religious teaching has led me to feel like I am somehow less of a man because I am the one staying home with my son. I had a pastor push getting a job on me once, even though I had a son I had to raise at home. Even when I do not talk about my finances, a job seems to get thrown into my conversations with Christians. They can't see how I can stay at home while my wife goes off to work. Other teachings in The Church make it appear that my wife is somehow not fulfilling her duty to our son, because she is not home enough. Thanks Church, for making us feel like losers.

I use capitol C for a reason. not every church in the world thinks these thoughts. However, too many still do. Men belong at work. They are providers. That is their job. Too many teachings still claim that if a man doesn't have a job, he isn't a very good man. And what irritates me the most is the fact that there is very little Scripture used to back this line of thinking. I remember reading one such "opinion" piece (it can't be called teaching, because it had very little Biblical-backing) that has one Bible verse:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
~1Timothy 5:8

That's it? You rip-off 8 paragraphs on the man's place in the family and you give me one Bible verse?? Taken out of context?! Yikes... You see, this passage is talking about taking care of widows. It actually states that it is the responsibility of children to take care of their parents as they get older - especially the women, who wouldn't be able to take care of themselves at that time in history. oddly enough, most Christians don't abide by this entire passage of Scripture. Most elderly are put into homes now, rather than taken care of by their kids. But we love verse 8, don't we?? According to many preachers I've heard from, if a man loses his job he needs to go find whatever scuzzy work he can in order to "take care of" his family. Hard work at a rotten job that barely pays the bills is seen as a badge of honor a pride.

You got that half right...

Pride is exactly what that is. Our society dictates that our provision is all on us. And the Church has written that mind-set into the Bible - even though it doesn't exist. To say that it is good for a man to forgo his pride and take on any form of employment in order to provide for his family is an oxymoron. That's because it is still an act of pride. God has given each of us unique gifts and abilities. And they are given for very specific purposes. To defy the call of God in order to make money is a supreme act of pride. It says that God is not doing enough to take of you, and that you need to handle that responsibility yourself. Jesus said to seek first the things of God, and that everything else we need will be added to us as a result (Matthew 6:33). Digging ditches and flipping burgers, while neglecting something God called you to, is not an honorable act. It is defiance. 

What about all those verses that talk about women's place in the home? Let me ask you this: does God condone slavery? That may not make much sense, but the passages that tell us that women cannot preach or work outside the home also tells slaves to remain servant to masters:

[T]he older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed... Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
~Titus 2:3-5, 9-10

The point of Paul's teaching on the place of men and women was so that the Word of God would not be dishonored. He did the same thing in 1Timothy 6:1, for the same reason. In that culture, women in ministry would have been deemed so offensive, that no one would have listened to them. Today, barring women from ministry would be deemed so offensive, no one would listen to those who do it. 
As a man, there are times when I feel I am not good enough, because I am not bringing home a paycheck. However, this is what the Lord wants of me, and anyone who says otherwise can shove-it. Stay-at-home dads are not inferior. We are not acting against the will and ordinances of God. Work for the sake of provision only is an act of faithlessness and often defiance. Those who claim that a man without a job is not a good man need to do what Walter Mathau said in "Grumpy Old Men": pull your lip over your head and swallow. 

Don't take this too far, folks. God expects things of us. But rather than teach our young men to get good grades to get a good job in order to make good money, we need to teach them this: find out what Jesus wants you to do and do it to the best of your ability. Rather than teaching that women belong in the home raising babies, we need to teach them this: find out what Jesus wants you to do, and do it to the best of your ability. 

There are days when I feel down on myself because I know I could have done better with my time. But know this: I work. That kid is exhausting. Dishes pile up. The bathroom is a mess. And I have been instructed to write yet another book (hopefully one of these things will eventually be published). I have instructions from God Almighty. They may not match what some Christians deem that they should be, but they are mine. My wife has a great job. She may want to be home at times, but I know she would eventually get cabin fever. She's designed for what she does. I am designed for what I do. And I'll be damned if I'm going to let sexist pastors and teachers and Christians force their old-school, 1950's gender roles down our throats because they misread the Bible. 

/End rant...
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
~Philippians 4:19

The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it. 
~Proverbs 10:22

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 
~2Corinthians 9:10-11

And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
~Deuteronomy 8:18 

21 August, 2013

Gratefully Cocky

This is the first chance I've had to sit and do this for some time now. I really want to finish hashing out the depth of the parable of the sower in Mark 4, but this something new the Lord has been dealing with me about this week and I want to share it with those of you in internet-land.

It is fun how the Holy spirit opens our eyes to biblical revelation in non-Biblical ways. I have been struggling with my mind-set recently - especially in regards to my actual mind. I don't do enough critical thinking any more. I have been cranky. I have felt empty. My brain has felt dull. And I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy uselessness. Being a stay-at-home dad will do that to ya. It can bring your entire countenance down. It caused my prayer-life to fade. That'll mess with your mind-set all the more.


That is sooooo vital to a successful Christian life. I have asked the Lord to help me with mine: to sharpen my mind, to give me greater understanding of Who He is and what He has done, to give me comprehension of the love He has for me and how it is already at work in me for the sake of other people. Oddly enough, the light clicked on today... while reading about the Seattle Seahawks.

If you don't feel like reading that very long article, here is the jist: the Seahawks have begun placing a huge emphasis on positive thinking and meditation as a part of their core values. Football has historically been a sport rooted in yelling, screaming, show-no-emotion, suck-it-up toughness. That has changed over at the V-MAC. Reading the article open my eyes to something...

Everything they do over there is Biblical!

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he..." ~Proverbs 23:7a

How you think about yourself will ultimately determine your course. The problem many Christians have is that we continue to place too high an emphasis on what we can do. This is the very opposite of grace. We have God's grace (His unmerited unearned favor) in our lives because of what Jesus did for us. However, we still try to "do it" on our own. I know for me, this has played entirely too true in recent months. I try to do enough housework to feel worthy of my wife. I try to do enough playtime to feel worthy of my son. And I unfortunately still try to do enough spiritual stuff to feel worthy of God. It is the "do good, get good" mentality. And it needs to stop.

Works theology must be removed from our thinking. Ephesians 2:10 says that God has good works for us to do. It doesn't say we have good works we need to do or else we are bad Christians who were never really saved in the first place. Jesus did something amazing for us, so that we could have an amazing life. He thinks very highly of each and every one of us. Our merit, our work, means nothing to God. Jesus blood is the key to our success in this life. Our job is not to work to make our lives better. Our job is to find out what God wants us to do, and then to do it to the best of our ability (Ephesians 6:7) - and our ability has already been enhanced by the Holy Spirit working within us. We must realize this.

The Holy spirit has been constantly bringing this to my attention: do not lean on the arm of the flesh. Stop trying to appease God with what you do. Stop assuming that if you do not "do enough" in any arena of your life that God will not move on your behalf. Find out what He wants you to do, and then do it. If your parents disagree, too bad. If your teachers says otherwise, don't listen. If your pastor preaches differently from the pulpit, ignore him for two minutes. Grace has got you covered.

So, why did I title this "Gratefully Cocky"? That's the term that dropped into my head this morning. I stopped reading the article, I put my son down for a nap, and I did what the Seahawks do. I sat down and pondered the Word of the Lord. It is difficult in our day and age to think highly of oneself without a laundry-list of accomplishments to back it up. That's because we place too much emphasis on our works. But Jesus thinks otherwise. According to Jesus, I'm a pretty big deal. I'm His favorite. I'm his brother (Romans 8:17). In Christ, I can do anything (Philippians 4:13). In Christ, I am love (1John 4:7). I am successful in every endeavor because of Jesus. That will make you cocky.

Without Jesus, I am a disaster. With Jesus, I am unconquerable. Satan will throw any and everything my way. Same holds true to you. But, unlike too many Christians, I will never blame God for the tests and trials in my life. With His ability upon my ability, I am going to blow them away - one-by-one. This is thinking highly of myself, because Jesus thinks highly of me, and because He has already placed His Spirit in me to accomplish these things. I just haven't given him enough time to show that to me. So from now on, I am going to spend more time turning things off around here, and listening and meditating on the voice of the Spirit within me. Scripture says God loves me and sings over me and thinks incredibly high of me - regardless of what I do or do not do. I'm a big deal around here, because He made me a big deal. I suggest you do the same. Don't sit and listen to the Word, then immediately run off and continue with life. That's where we lose so much of what God is saying to us. Slow down, ponder His Words. Let what He says about you truly soak in. And you'll realize that, because of Jesus, you're a pretty big deal, too.

For now, though, the next step is getting everybody on the meditation bandwagon. "Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice," [Russell] Okung says. "It's about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn't matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can't do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them."

2Corinthians 10:5, anyone??


09 July, 2013

Sowing and Reaping Pt3 (Cluttered Heart)

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
~Mark 4:18-19

Life has allowed me some time to finally go back to these thoughts on sowing and reaping. Jesus told us that this parable, found in Mark 4, is the lynch-pin to understanding all the other teachings on the Kingdom of God. So far, we have learned that being hard-hearted toward the promises of God will allow Satan immediate access to steal that Word of promise. Being of a "shallow heart" - one who is easy to forget, prone to give-up, or easily distracted - will allow the pressures of life access to scorch out the promise of God in our lives. Jesus shows us in this parable that three-out-four times the promises of God do not come to fruition in a person's life. And, once again, that is not because of some plan of God to teach us lessons - it is due to the condition of our own hearts towards God and His Word. The final "issue" we must learn to overcome...

The "Cluttered" Heart

I picked up a book at Barnes and Noble. The title is irrelevant (mostly because I forgot it...). The author doesn't need to be named (mostly because I don't want to defame them). I turned through the pages at random. Then I saw the words. Somehow, this individual had come to the conclusion that doubt is a perfectly acceptable, and even healthy, component of the Christian life. I'm not sure what Bible says that, but it certainly isn't mine...

Worry is rooted in doubt. It is thinking on all of the the "what-if" scenarios that could happen should God not come through in a way that would be beneficial and helpful to us. It is a direct result of fear - which is the opposite of faith. Worry (acting in doubt) is a sin.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
 ~Philippians 4:6, Amplified

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
~Mark 5:36

Do not fear therefore...
~Matthew 10:31a

Get the picture? These are commands, not suggestions. Jesus command to Jairus is the same command He gives to the rest of us. We have been commanded by God to lay aside worry and walk in a life without fear. He has given us His Spirit - a spirit of love - by which fear is cast aside (1John 4:18). Fear, worry, doubt, and Co., are not acceptable elements of the Christian life. That doesn't mean you walk in condemnation concerning these things. If you struggle with fear, make the adjustment. Look to the Lord for help, just don't accept these as fundamental elements to your spiritual growth, because according to Jesus, these demonic cohorts will destroy the progress of the promises of the Word of God. And, so too, will misplaced trust...

A few years ago, I was sitting in my living room watching Dr. Bill Winston, a pastor from Chicago, speaking on God's provision. He said something that blew-up within me. If you look over to your right, you will see the quote has become a staple for this site: "You were not designed to bear the the burden of your own provision." Why are we so determined to take care of ourselves? Somewhere along the line, the "American Way" became the Christian life. It is not your job to provide for yourself, to take care of your family, to amass your retirement account or nest egg. No. It is God's Word, His Blessing, that brings the increase. Look to the proof:

The blessing of the Lord—it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it].
~Proverbs 10:22, Amplified

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.
~Matthew 6:33, Amplified

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
~Philippians 4:19

 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work 
~2Corinthians 9:8

That is just a small sample-size of what God says regarding our provision. We have a job to do in this life. That job is to listen to, and obey, the voice God concerning our lives. Where we work, how long long we work, what we do for work, is up to the Lord. Somewhere along the line, we put all the pressure on ourselves. Too many Christians have placed themselves outside the Will of God, all in the name of the mighty dollar. Jesus doesn't mind us having money - and lots of it. This parable in Mark 4 is not condemning riches. Jesus is condemning the deceitfulness of riches - that they always be there for you. When we put our trust in our ability and in our money - or in our striving to make money - we place ourselves in a position where the Word of God takes a back seat. It will be choked out because of all the other "stuff" that we have put in the way...

Speaking of "stuff," that is the final component that the Lord Jesus specifically points out to us as being detrimental to the fruition of God's Word in our lives. What kind of "junk" stands in the way of us and God? For me, it's sports. I have had times where the Lord has been showing me all sorts of marvelous things. My prayer life is vibrant. I'm feasting daily on the Word. I'm full of strength, love, peace and joy. But then, March... Oh, that stupid college basketball tournament comes around and I get sooo wrapped up in teams and players I know nothing about 11months of the year. Next thing I know, it's April. I'm cranky. I don't want to do my Bible study. My prayers sound generic. Stuff got in the way. And don't get me started on NFL training camps...

The point is, we all have those fun things in life. God doesn't mind them. In fact, 1Timothy 6 lays out for us that He has given us all those things for our enjoyment. I know that the Lord smiles when I watch sporting events, because I'm His kid, and I'm having a lot of fun. The problem is when all the fun things in life take top priority. We neglect our time with the Lord. Our faith stagnates. Our hearts become dull, or in this case cluttered. The things of God get choked out, because we do not give them the time to grow vibrantly. 

So what is it with you? Do you worry too much about your future? Health, welfare, finances, children? I'm not belittling your stuff. I have issues in my own life. It can be difficult at first, to "let go and let God". But He will do it. He will provide, heal and restore. Is your hope, trust and time linked to your job? To your retirement? Your investments? Do you put all the weight on yourself, rather than on the Word and the Blessing? Stop thinking like that. Stop putting pressure on your job, your paycheck, what you can do. Just do what God tells you to do - and expect that He will provide beyond all you can ask or think (Ephesians 2:20). And make sure that all your fun stuff doesn't get in the way. Yes, this year the Seahawks will definitely contend for a SuperBowl Title. Yes, they are going to crush the 49ers, and it will be wonderful. Enjoy it. But don't neglect time spent with the Father. 

Father first. Family second. Football later. 

Clear out the clutter... 


26 June, 2013

Sowing and Reaping Pt2 ("Short Term" Heart)

One epic growth-spurt later...

My son decided he needed to wake up 2.5 times per night, every night for the past four weeks. You don't know the meaning of exhaustion until you have a child. But, that is not the personal story I want to tell; rather, I would like to share a brief tidbit of my own life before we continue...

Two months ago, Bill Coleman gave his final sermon as a pastor at our church (if he ever gets incredibly bored one day and decides to Google himself, he will now get to see what an impact that sermon had on my life). He preached on the waiting period Abraham and Sarah went through in preparation for the promise of God - the birth of their son, Isaac. Thought, after nearly 25 years, it appeared that it would never come, God have never given up on fulfilling his promise to His Covenant man and his wife. Pastor Bill pounded the point over and over - it doesn't matter what you have done, it doesn't matter how long it has been, if you are willing to believe then God will fulfill His promise to you. I'm trying not to cry. I have had a promise on my life for years; and just like Abraham (Ishmael!), I have made numerous mistakes to hinder the fruition of that promise. I was running low on patience. I assumed God had wiped His hands of me. Yet, here I am listening to a sermon so uniquely designed to my circumstances. I went and spent some time at the alter after, and another member of the pastoral staff spent time praying for me. After a few moments, he leaned down and said, "I don't know you, but the Lord is telling me just a bit longer. I don't know what that means..."

I do. More stupid crying...

So now we finally return to our series on Jesus' parable of the sower. You see, what had happened to me that day fits in perfect with the second charateristic Jesus shows us in Mark 4:13-20.

"Short-term" Heart
These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
~Mark 4:16-17

All Hell broke loose in the weeks following that morning! There was an assault on my mind concerning my future that overwhelmed me. It has continued to this very day. That's what the enemy will do. When we receive promises from God - either through His written Word, or through divine revelation like I received that Sunday morning - Satan sets out immediately to distract us. He wants nothing more than to cause us to quit on God and His Word. You can guarantee that whatever you find out from God, Satan is going to attempt to refute. When we see promises of health and healing, Satan will attack with sickness and symptom. When we see promises regarding prosperity and provision, you can expect attacks on finances of possessions. When you receive promises regarding a hopeful future, you can take it to the bank that you will be constantly reminded of what you can't do. In my case, a severe lack of meaningful experience, coupled with a further lack of contacts, was the demonic tool of the trade to cause me to doubt that God would ever come through on His promise to me. But it is important to remember this...

A delay is not a denial.

We see this principle that Jesus is teaching us when Paul writes those oh-so-infamous words: "thorn in the flesh"

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure."
~2Corinthians 12:7

I really enjoy tackling this passage, and we could talk about it alllllllllll night. However, I want to point out that the principle Jesus is explaining to us is at work right here. Because of the greatness of what Paul was receiving from God, Satan sent one of his cronies to stop him. God didn't crack this crony over the head, because then Paul would have no reason to trust Him. But keep this in mind: God doesn't "buffet" (many translations use the word "torment") anyone! Paul wasn't sick ("thorn in the flesh" is the same thing as "pain in the neck." It is nothing more than a figure of speech, such as seen in Numbers 33:55). Satan is not on the payroll any longer. God did not send him to do His dirty work. We see a spiritual reality taking place before our eyes. Paul is receiving great revelation from God, and Satan is doing everything he can to put an immediate stop to it. Paul is then relying on the grace of God to overcome - and boy did he ever!! 

The same will be true in each of our lives. If we are not callous to the voice of the Lord and to His Word, we can be assured that whatever He promises us will come under fire. Satan doesn't care if you get excited about God when that excitement never lasts for more than a few weeks at a time. Jesus is comparing the promises of God to "seeds." Seeds take time to to grow. God isn't holding out on us when we don't see the fruition of His promises immediately. Our faith takes time to grow. That is why we have the instructions to remain patient under trial in James 1. Hold fast. Delays are not denials. God is not giving Satan side jobs to harass you for His glory. And get out of His way. Hold fast to your confession - your harvest will come.  

26 May, 2013

Sowing and Reaping Pt1 (Hard-Hearted)

This isn't the first time I've shared some thoughts on this subject. However, recently I have been pondering it and have received some new insight that I believe we all need to put into practice. As I sat and began to write some thoughts, revelation continued to flow. It was my intention to write a single teaching on the Parable of the Sower. Then God got more involved. So, welcome to the first in a five-part series on Sowing the Word. First of all: do your homework.

Now, we will start with the basic element of this story - the one that is often discussed the most: are you good 'soil'? This is absolutely imperative to our Christian lives, because it is not rightly understood that Jesus just taught us that the Bible only works 25% of the time. Jesus shows us four different individual circumstances where the Word of God is put to work. In only one of the four circumstances do we see the promises of God come to fruition, and according to Jesus' explanation, the reason for such a high rate of failure is not due to some unknown, unforeseeable plans in God's Sovereign Will. It is due solely to the condition of an individual's heart.

Just because you are a Christian does not mean that you are 'good soil.' For the next few days, we will take a look at the various conditions of the heart that Jesus discusses - uses ample examples from Scripture (so that "by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" ~Matthew 18:16). On the last day we will do something different to cap things off from a different angle that Jesus gives us. For now, let us take a moment to analyze our hearts through the first example Jesus gives us:

Hard soil.
The first thing that happens when we hear from the God - be it through His written Word in times of reading Scripture or listening to teachings, or  through His Revealed Word in personal times of prayer and meditation - is that Satan sets out to immediately steal that Word. If we have developed a form of religious callous to the voice of God, we will be in no position to receive from His Word. This takes on many different forms.

Do you find the Scriptures to be outdated or dull? Perhaps you sit in church and struggle to pay attention, because you either do not understand your pastor or because you are like so many of us in this day that you can't help but play with your phone? The first issue we have to deal with is that of boredom. Leviticus and Ezekiel have a way of doing that to us. Many times, it is difficult to give God our full attention as we sift through the long passages of the Old Testament. But remember, God says what He means and means what He says. Those passages are there for our instruction (Romans 15:4), and must be given the respect and honor that we give to the "easy" passages of the New Testament.

Remember, we have the Holy Spirit within us already, teaching us and guiding us as we spend time with Him and the Scriptures (John 16:13, 1Corinthians 2:14-16, 1John 2:20). Ask Him to open your eyes and soften the callous of boredom.

~Religious Affiliation/Tradition
This has always been my experience with others. For some reason, it seems as if every generation is under the impression that they "know it all" when it comes to the things of God. We have seen this to true throughout history - especially since the reformation. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Hagin, Osteen. There's a small sample of names of men that God has revealed new facets of His Word to. Each one was mercilessly ridiculed for their teaching. The first three men are revered for being men of courage and faith - vessels by which the Lord restored Biblical truths to His people. The last two.... not so much. They (and so many like them today) are mocked and harassed by the people of God for "taking things out of context." Do we honestly think that there isn't more to be seen in the Scripture? Have we exhausted the promises of God already?

God didn't pour out those revelations [Calvin, Luther, etc.] on the Church all at once. They were always there, but He restored them one by one. That's the way He always works, both with His body as a whole, and with us as believers. He develops us a little at a time... We must never forget that. While we guard as precious the things God has already revealed to us in His Word, we must always remember there are things in the Word we have not yet seen. There are Scriptural truths we have not yet learned. There are Biblical revelations we have not yet received.
God isn't finished with us yet.
  ~Kenneth Copeland, 'The Blessing of the Lord'

That's my favorite passage from the book I am currently reading. Does this describe your thinking? Or are you closed off to receiving new understanding from God? There is a wave of God's revelation moving through this country right now. It has been unfairly deemed "prosperity theology." These "word people" are ignorantly portrayed as folks who claim that if we just say the right words, God has to do whatever we tell Him. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible shows us many outstanding promises from God, and He is continuing to reveal to men and women how to receive these promises (including how to pray in such a way as to get the results Jesus bled to give us).

I can tell that my friends think I am weird for expecting God to abide by His Word. However, if I cannot trust God to keep His Word, who can I trust? I expect to be Blessed financially (Proverbs 10:22, Galatians 3:13). I expect to be healed and live a life divine health (Psalm 103:3, Proverbs 4:22, Isaiah 53:5, James 5:15, 1Peter 2:24). I expect to live to be well over a hundred years old (Genesis 6:3). I expect to have my life redeemed from destruction(Psalm 91, 103:4, Isaiah 51:17). 

Apparently, I am strange for having such lofty expectations of the Lord. What about you? Excuses are too often made, regarding context and the part we as people have to play in God's Plans. Does this describe you? Are you callous to the promises of God, because those promises conflict with your religious affiliation, denomination or tradition? Scripture tells us to test the spirits to be sure they are from God. People will twist the Bible to say things that it doesn't. However, do not think that God was finished in the 18th century. He is revealing wonderful aspects of Himself. New revelation is continuing to flow from Him. Ask Him to show you gimmicks from the Blessed.

God promises us so many wonderful things in His Word. However, sometimes we are callous to these promises because we "know somebody." Perhaps we have been through something in our lives that has led us to question God's Word. We have made too many excuses for why God supposedly "doesn't" (insert your own ending here). We have begun to teach the ungodly, unholy, blasphemous and unscriptural idea that "sometimes God does and sometimes God doesn't." We make Job the poster child for our difficult times in life. We hail Paul's thorn in the flesh as the Biblical evidence that God "sometimes says 'no.'" We ignorantly proclaim that Jesus was a poor wandering religious tycoon of some kind. We do these things because we do not know any better. We do these things because our religion has taught us to. We do these things because our experience leads us to view our Lord and His Word through a colored lens.

Before you get too up in arms on me, let me tell you all that I have been there. I just proclaimed that expect to be Blessed financially, yet I've grown up poor my entire life. Sometimes I feel like I will never get out from under all my debts. That doesn't change the promise of God concerning financial well-being for His people (2Corinthians 9:8). I've battled (and continued to conquer in accordance with Romans 8:37) with depression for years. I have seen it ravage through my life and the lives of numerous loved ones. That doesn't change the fact that depression is a contradiction to God's promise. I once heard a sermon from Keith Moore, where he said that a depressed Christian is a contradiction of terminology. I posted it on social media and watched the wildfire of angry people begin to spread. Brothers and sisters, the Joy of the Lord is our strength. How then can depression also be a part of His Sovereign Will for any Christian? I refuse to believe that God leaves us depressed - and I'm sorry if any of you may take offense at that. 

Let me finished this though with something that the Lord has made very clear to me in recent weeks:

For the Christian, experience is the worst teacher.


Is Satan stealing the promises of God's Word from you before an hour even runs out? Are you callous to the joy of hearing from God? Because that is what we should be experiencing: joy. Imagine if I were to walk into your living and tell you that you had just inherited $1million dollars, tax-free. Your reaction would almost assuredly be that of relief, joy and excitement. The surge that would overtake your senses would be such that I'm sure you couldn't help but jump and shout. That is the reaction we should have when we approach the Word of God. I admit to you all out there: I do not react in that manner. I still have rough edges in my heart when it comes to God's Word. 

When the Scripture - God's Holy Word to His Holy people - tells me that financial stability is mine, healing is mine, redemption and protection are mine, how can I not get excited?? I may be too bored with a passage or a speaker to pay enough attention to actually see what God is endeavoring to get across to me. I at times still struggle because (no offense) my church often refuted and/or made excuses to quench my excitement over those promises, to keep me from getting too excited or taking something "out of context." And many times, my life experience has unfortunately tempered my excitement over those promises. 

Whatever the reason may be, if we have a callous, Satan moves in to immediately steal that Word sown in our hearts. May we all make it a point to spend time on our knees, daily, asking that our hearts be open and receptive to the ever revealing voice of the Lord. God isn't finished with us yet.

See you tomorrow...

29 March, 2013

For All...

With Resurrection Sunday soon upon us, the ads have begun to grow more frequent. Churches are setting out to fill the pews with those who rarely frequent their doors. sad to say, but it is sort of a religious "sweeps week" for many.

Don't misunderstand me: there is nothing wrong with radio ads for churches. In this fast-paced society, you have to take whatever means necessary to announce your existence to world. I'm just tired of  the silliness that is overtaking many of our churches. One such ad caused me to look the place up. They claimed to be a place that "actually does what it says it believes." After hearing them spend the totality of the ad praising themselves, I had to look them up.


Oh boy... 

On this Good Friday, I want us to remember that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for ALL people - rather than for the select few that many have been duped into believing about.

It still bothers me that so many churches can have the audacity to preach and teach the despicable notion that God plays favorites. The doctrine of election states that God, before the foundation of the world, predestined those whom He would allow to share in the gift of grace, while subsequently condemning others to an eternal damnation in Hell. It was His choice. It was His Sovereign Will. It cannot be changed.

And it was all done before time began.

Think about that for a moment: before time ever began, God determined who would have the opportunity to go to Heaven and who was destined for Hell. Before the foundations of the world. That means that eternal damnation was God's Will before He ever created this place. How can that be so? The only way for that line of thinking to be possible is for Lucifer's deception in Eden to also be the perfect Will of God. He would have had to intentionally set Lucifer on the Garden, because He needed an antagonist to tempt humanity into the Fall, so that those whom He predestined for Hell would have a means of getting there. It is absurd.

I read on this churches statement of faith (where they were pounded the election doctrine home with gusto) that people dying and going to Hell is proof that God's Will is does not include salvation for all.


God's Sovereignty does not stretch so far as to declare that everything that happens in this earth is His Will. a lot of things happen in this earth that are not the Will of God. If they were, that would again lead us to the conclusion that God's perfect Will for this earth was The Fall. He would have had to author the deception of Eden. That would ultimately make Him the devil. Disease, poverty, rape, murder, depression, civil wars, calamities and atrocities of all kinds - these are a direct result of the Fall of humanity. They are not the perfect Will of God for any of us. Likewise, the death and subsequent eternal damnation of any human being is also not the Will of God.

Every Scripture that people twist and manipulate to support the election myth (see what I did there??) can be seen properly through one simple Bible verse. 

[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
~1Timothy 2:4

All simply means all. This is not all of the "elect," but every human spirit who ever enters this earth. Jesus paid an enormous price for our redemption and salvation. It not simply "going to Heaven," either, but a complete freeing from all the Curse that came upon this earth at Eden. 

His blood redeemed us. His stripes healed us. His punishment gave us peace. It has all been done. It is finished. We don't have to beg; we need only believe. Churches need to preach this without fear and without disclaimers. God's perfect Will for all people, for all time, is perfect healing, provision, peace, and love. His perfect Will is that everyone be saved from both the Curse and eternal damnation. And just because that doesn't manifest itself to every human being who walked this earth does not change God's Will or His Word. 

I will leave you with the most cliche Bible verse imaginable. But I ask you to stop and read it very slowly, very carefully. Let it's truth wash over you this Resurrection Sunday.

For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that THE WORLD through Him might be saved.
~John 3:16-17 (all caps mine)

25 March, 2013

Church Lied

I need to stop doing this.

I need to stop being so reactionary. Having a child makes sitting down and spending time listening to instructions from the Lord more difficult. No excuses. I have been convicted. I have made the adjustment. New material is on the horizon. But I'm starting on a personal, reactionary note...

I had a professor in college who always took issue with a lack of what he liked to call "jazzy titles." The first batch of papers in each of his classes were always met with disappointment as he glanced over the tops of the pages and muttered, "no jazzy titles..." We learned real quick that a good piece of writing always comes with a catchy title. However, "God has A.D.D." or "The Inconsistencies of Jesus" are too inconsiderate - even when used for no other reason than to catch an audience. So we will go with this one.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
~2Timothy 2:13

If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.

Why is this so difficult for us as "believers" to grasp? Jesus cannot deny His character. Jesus cannot do something contrary to His Word or His Nature. And yet, I have been confronted with endless teaching to the contrary. It is infuriating. It is frightening. And worst of all, it is detrimental to my faith and to yours. 

Contradiction is the word I have used in the past when discussing the church and the Word. I stand in churches and hear about the faithfulness of God. I listen as pastors and lay-people declare that our God can and does do great things for His people. Everybody gets excited and praises God for His goodness and faithfulness.

Then it happens.

The CYA moment.

God's faithfulness comes crashing down when someone in authority says something along the lines of "sometimes God does, and sometimes God doesn't." Other times it sounds like "sometimes God delivers, but there are times when His Plan doesn't allow Him to deliver His people." 

"God gave me cancer."

"The Lord told me He needed me to hurt a little bit."
 "God decided I needed a trial."

"Lord, we don't know why You choose to do what You do."

Inconsistent. Contradictory. Faithless.

If I were the type of man that the Church has portrayed God as, I would have no credibility with anyone. I couldn't do anything for anybody, because I wouldn't be able to establish trust with anyone. My question to anyone who will listen is this: how can we trust God when we claim that He is inconsistent? How can we call God 'faithful' and continue to claim that He is responsible for things that He promised to redeem us from? We are unintentionally proclaiming that God cannot be trusted.

This proves that many of us do not believe the Bible as we claim to. It proves we have more faith in negative testimonies than we do in our Father's own Word. Just because something bad happened to a person, just because we see atrocities within the Bible itself, does not mean that God is inconsistent. Our faith must be in God - not in the bad things that happen to people.

Just because God turned a horrible situation into a good testimony does not mean that the atrocity was His Will. If that line of thinking were true, then sin itself would be the Will of God. Jesus has redeemed us. Redeem means "to rescue." He rescued us from the Curse (Galatians 3:13), but we are still hanging onto the curse with all our might, rather than proclaiming (by faith) the freedom that belongs to us by right. Just because we don't see the promises of God come to fruition in our lives or in the life of another, does no mean that those promises are not sure!

We are promised protection. We are promised abundance. We are promised health and healing. We are promised freedom from addiction and oppression. The question is: do we believe in these promises, or do we put our stock in the words of tainted testimony? Does someone's misunderstanding carry more weight than the Words of our God?

We're told to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1John 4:1). We hold the testimony of others up against the Word of God. If someone claims "God said," but their testimony flies in the face of Scripture, God didn't say that! That is why we're given this more sure Word (2Peter 1:19).

There is no might with God. He will do the things He promised us. He will deliver. He will heal. He will save. He will protect. That is our covenant right with God as His people.

The question is not "why did You let this happen?" The question is "why couldn't You protect me?"

Set you up pretty good for next time, didn't I...?

26 February, 2013


Being a new parent is a unique experience. I would describe it to you, but no two circumstances are the same. Here I sit, on the second day of being a stay-at-home dad, trying to establish good habits in my life... again.

During two months of maternity leave, my wife and I set out to establish a new life of discipline. We were going to spend all this wealth of free time seeking God concerning this new phase of our lives. We were going to read the three shelves full of ministry materials and books on Christian living and victory. Our days were going to be used praying together with our new son so that his life would begin immediately with a strong presence of parents who seek after God. His ears were going to be filled with the hundreds of hours of sermons and teachings on faith that are packed onto my PC. And every Sunday he would sit in the front of the church, bathed in worship and the Word. We were going to walk away from two months of time together with renewed hearts on minds that were going to be fixated on the love of the Lord Jesus.


Most parents might be chuckling at my lofty goals. Of course we didn't have time for all that - we had a screaming child who took up all our time and energy. The thing is: we didn't. James is the most mild-mannered child I have ever seen. The prayers I bathed him in from the moment Ally learned she was pregnant have caused this young man to be so full of peace and joy that I still marvel at how "easy" parenthood has been. We simply got lazy. 6seasons of The West Wing. 6seasons of Gilmore Girls. 8seasons of Scrubs. The Bachelor. Scandal. You get the picture... Only 3sermons. Only one-half of a book. Only 3times in the front of the sanctuary.

No guilt. No condemnation. Just a reality check. It was a reality check I had again this morning. One what had to be my four-hundredth attempt to do all the things I've promised to do, I began the next in a series of teachings on the Love of God. As I listened to the words on how to live in love, not bashing all the ridiculous denominational teachings out there (ok, that was low, but I'm getting better), I noticed something. My spirit felt stronger. I didn't feel as annoyed as I usually do with Catholics. I didn't pound the cat when he got on the table for whatever countless number of times it was. She got whacked, but the deserve to turn her into a hat was gone. I even felt kind of bad for using so much as a censored "potty-word" a moment ago. I was onto something. I pondered this more. A few things came to mind as the Lord showed me some things. And now, after a very lengthy intro, I will show you these. Starting with two passages of Scripture:

Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
~Matthew 12:34-35

My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. 
~Proverbs 4:20-23

So much can be covered in these brief passages of Scripture. For instance, how is it possible for Christians to teach that God makes people, or leaves people, sick and deformed, when the Scripture plainly states that It is medicine to our bodies? Or how is it that we can believe that, as disciples of Jesus, it is ok to watch whatever we want, read whatever we want, do whatever we want, when the Scriptures are quite clear that what we look upon in abundance drastically colors our thoughts and worldviews? So much to think about, but this is what the Lord brought to my mind...

Our lives need to be more focused on the things of God than most of us realize. While that sentence is sure to illicit a rounding response of "Duuuuuuuuuuuhh!", think on this more in light of the Scriptures above. We see instructions on diligence before us. We see actions that require time and discipline. Abundance doesn't come from 20minutes in the morning. Focus is required to achieve the desired results. Jesus told us that we bring forth good things when good things are stored within us. That's a huge Biblical principle. Faith comes by hearing the Word, according to Romans 10:17. The more abundant the Word, the more abundant the faith to bring that Word to pass. This is rarely preached. It not widely believed or understood. Christians struggle with issues they should never bother with because the mind is not set on the pure truths of God's Word. Perhaps those truths are twisted. Perhaps they are not yet known. Or, worst of all, they are forgotten - because the Word has not been given it's rightful place at the center of our hearts and minds.

Believe it or not, you have what you say. Whatever you believe will happen in your life is exactly what is going to happen (see Matthew 8:13; Mark 11:23-24; James 3:2-4). Jesus said we bring forth what we say, and what we say is a direct result of what we have been building up in our hearts and our minds through what we see and hear. While I am not really one of those "holiness" people who are anti-TV, anti-movie, anti-Harry Potter, anti-"non-christian" music, anti-beer, etc., I have begun to see that it is immensely important that we pay attention to what we "feed on." 

The human existence is three-fold: you are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body. And just as that body needs physical food to function, your soul and spirit need soul/spirit food to function. Jesus said that His words are spirit and they are life (John 6:63). We need to make a more conscious effort to feed on the Words of life. The music we listen to should focus our attention on what the Lord has done for us (I could do another Casting Crowns rant here, but I've gone over already as it is.). The books that we read should be full of words that reveal further all that Jesus has done for us and how much He loves us and highly He thinks of us and the victories guaranteed us as His people (anti-Francis Chan rant? OK, no). Abundant supply comes from abundant intake.

Once you come to full-realization of this principle, the amount of time you spend watching TV or sitting around reading Cosmo or listening to some kind of pointless pop music will drastically change.

This isn't meant to put anyone into bondage. You don't have to go off the deep end and break all your CDs in-half or throw away your movies or burn your every book. That's extremism. I know it well. But take some time to consider your situation. Examine your heart. What is your focus on? What is coming out of your mouth in abundance? Is it fear? Anger? Doubt? Depression? Weakness? Hopelessness? Profanity? Contradiction? Ignorance? Stupidity? Blasphemy? Do you think lowly of yourself? Do you assume God is far-off, doing whatever He wants, whenever He wants? 

Here is how you know you are on the right track: "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." ~John 15:11 


07 February, 2013


Over the past few days the Lord has been bringing this passage to my mind. In this crazy world, we are often bombarded with more than we feel we can handle. We feel overwhelmed, worn out, frightened and defeated. Far too often, we wonder if the Lord is even there. Perhaps we feel like God is testing us, or sending us a trial to toughen us up. It seems that our prayers are too often a cry for help that we send to the heavens in hope that God will get back to us in time. But that is not how we are instructed to handle the storms of life.

The Storms of Life...

That is the image Jesus gives us in Matthew 7:24-27,
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Is your life founded on the principles handed down in God's Word? That is the instruction we find from Jesus in this parable. It is the principle that the Lord has been pressing upon me all week. When your life is founded upon the promises of God, the storms of life cannot destroy you. 

What is very important to notice in this passage is this: the storms will come. Jesus never promises us that life will be sunny all of the time. But He impresses upon us that our defense against the issues of life is a strong Biblical foundation. I believe that there are too many cracks in our foundation. Too many religious ideas have filtered into our Churches. God's promises have been made void by our traditions and religious philosophies. As a result, we have a lower sense of expectancy concerning the promises of God. Our foundations are weak, our roofs leaky. But this is not what God has for us.

In 1Corinthians 10:17, we find that God may allow trials in our lives. But we must always remember two things: Jesus is the author of life, not calamity (John 10:10); and God always has an escape plan ready for us (1Corinthians 10:17b). We should not be living lives of fear, anxiety, disease, failure, depression, oppression, or of any other demonic concoction this side of the Fall. That is not God's plan or will for the life of any Christian.

Jesus promises in John 16:33 that trials are a part of this fallen world. They will come at some point; but look what this verse says to us in the Amplified Bible: 

 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

This world has no power to conquer us, defeat us or kill us. Though issues may arise, God has given us His Word and His Presence as gifts designed to fight against these storms of life. It is up to each man or woman of God to learn how to walk in them. We are promised protection in His presence and strength from His Word. Have you been making time each day to dwell in His presence? 

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
 ~Psalm 91

05 February, 2013

What Do You Believe?

Welp, let's try this again...

Those of you who know me know that this blog is an assignment the Lord gave me to do during what has turned out to be a very long season of preparation. I thought I would have a position somewhere by now. However, one look at the time stamps of this blog will show you: I haven't been doing my part. So, with my son screaming in yet another attempt not to go to sleep at bedtime, I embark on my assignment once more.

What many of you also know about me is that I am not a big fan of using quotes. I have grown weary of listening to sermons and teachings that use an excessive amount of others opinions, while using far too little of the only One's Words that really matter. It will surprise you, then, to see that I start of today with a quote. I have recently been "re"-reading (OK, going back and actually finishing for the first time) a book I was assigned back during my sophomore year of college. It is the out-of-print book by Alan Redpath called "Victorious Christian Living." It is an old book that walks the reader through the Book of Joshua. Don't tell my professor that I'm actually reading something now, it will only disappoint him. In the Introduction (that's right, before he even started teaching), I was struck by this phrase:

It has been my profound conviction for some years now that the greatest need of the Christian Church is the revival of the standard of New Testament living. There seems to be a very wide gulf between what we believe and how we live, a marked contrast between our position in Christ and our actual experience.

Forget studying Joshua; let's work on that! 
We claim to believe so many things about the Bible. Yet, our lives look markedly different than what God declares in His Word. I haven't been able to shake those words over the past few weeks. "A very wide gulf" is what he said. I think that sounds about right. So the question becomes: do you actually believe what God says about you? Do you actually believe the promises He has given to each of us? And, if so, why doesn't your life reflect that? 

Don't be discouraged by those questions. They are meant to cause a shift in our thinking. The problem that we all have is that what we deem to be our "faith" isn't really faith at all. We are still sitting around wondering when and if God is going to do something for us. That's not faith. Faith says, "I receive that. Thank You, Lord." With that in mind, I want to point out a few places from the Word that the Lord has been showing me where the gulf between promise and experience is too wide.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." ~John 14:12

Jesus - the Master - told us that if we believed in him we would "out-do" Him, for lack of a better term. Do you see very many people "out-doing" Jesus' ministry? You should. In fact, we all should. Unfortunately, very few Christians are at a place in their spiritual maturity where they can function in the fullness of this Biblical promise. As a result, we have made the classic error: we have re-written this Bible verse. I have heard too much commentary on this passage that goes along the lines of this - Jesus meant that we all collectively would do more than He did, because no one man or woman can do more than Jesus. 


Go read the sentence again. Jesus uses singular language when He speaks. He means that if one person would believe in Him, then that one person would do more than He did. Why? Because Jesus went to the Father - and sent the Holy Spirit to empower you and I to do all the works that He prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus only operated on the earth for three years. You and I have more time than that, so we should be doing more. We shouldn't be wondering why God isn't doing more in our lives for the Kingdom; we should be asking, "Do I really believe in Jesus as much as I say I do?"

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:19

Here we find the classic teaching of Paul on God's provision. Why are so many of us scrapping just to make ends meet? We should have more than enough. Jesus said He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). Certainly part of an abundant life would include enough to live on. The Scripture tells us that God desires to give us sufficiency in everything and an abundance to every good work (2Corinthians 9:8). Were we supposed to use it on everything but our food and light bills? Galatians 3:13 says that the Blessing is on all those who believe, and Proverbs 10:22 says that Blessing makes one rich. What happened to "He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2Corinthians 8:9, emphasis added)? I guarantee you that Scripture does not mean Jesus became financially poor so that we could become spiritually rich. He became financially poor (at the cross), so that you could become financially rich; and He became spiritually poor (at the cross), so that you could become spiritually rich.

So why am I broke?

The Scripture is very clear about how we are to deal with our finances. The single most important aspect of a Christian's finances is the Tithe. Modern-day Biblical scholarship is finding ways to cheapen the Tithe. I have heard it told that "New Testament Christians didn't practice the Tithe." True, they didn't... They sold there houses and brought the check to the Church. Shall we call the Deacons and have them stop by tomorrow? I jest, but you get the picture. Biblical Blessing and prosperity is linked to financial giving. Paul's declaration in Philippians 4:19 is in direct correlation with the Church's financial partnership with his ministry. So, perhaps we need to look into our own attitudes concerning the Tithe and/or giving. Or, perhaps we need to learn to be grateful for what we have (remembering that gratefulness is not the same as complacency). Or perhaps we need to raise our level of expectancy. Whatever it may be, there is a very wide gulf between God's promises for financial Blessing and the impoverished state of far too many Christians.

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." ~John 8:36

That is pretty self-explanatory. However, too many pastors and teachers talk about freedom as some sort of drawn out process that we all have to go through. I have grown tired of hearing about God walking us down the long road to freedom. I am even more tired of listening to the religious contradiction that God supposedly frees people from bondage instantly, while leaving others to go through a long and weary trek to spiritual release. That's a lie if ever there was one. The devil has been infiltrating that kind of demonic thinking for centuries, and it needs to stop. We need to have the mindset of the Apostle Peter, who said "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34). That puts a stopper to the idea that God may not actually be willing to free of from oppression or addiction. I learned this in my own life. Battles with depression and pornography have been conquered by changing the way I think from "God, will You ever help me" to "I'm free right now!" 

The way you feel has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Jesus has moved on your behalf. This is why I have been instructed to write this over the past few days. In the same way that we receive or salvation by faith, we must receive our freedom from oppression by faith. In other words, you may not "feel" saved, but you know that you are because you believe the Scriptures concerning your salvation. You know that you will be welcomed at Heaven's gates one day - that your name has been written in the Book - even though you have never seen your name in golden ink written in the Book. The same holds true concerning your freedom from sin and oppression. Just because you don't "feel" like you are different doesn't mean that you aren't a new creature in Jesus right this very moment (2Corinthians 5:21). What we all need to do is learn how to operate in that freedom and newness of life that is already ours by right. God's not slowly walking us out of prison. The cage door is wide open; the chains are already lying on the ground. We must do what Romans 12:2 instructs us: renew the mind. Renew the thinking. See ourselves as the righteous, the just, and joyous and the free. Indeed (sorry, couldn't resit that last bit).

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." ~James 4:8

Have you ever known someone (or been the someone) who has claimed that God is sending them through an intention dry-period? Have you known somebody who has claimed that God is being intentionally silent, in order to make sure they really wanted to hear from Him? I have. As a young man, I believed that kind of lie. Recently, though, I have learned better. So when I see people declaring that God uses silence to sanctify, or hear teachings about God intentionally withholding something from a person in order to make sure they really desire something of Him, I get really angry. That is in no way the heart of the Father. This is another "gulf."

If I intentionally withheld myself from my son, most people would consider me a really bad father. How can I possibly withhold my time and attention from him in order to make sure he really wanted me? How conceited! God is no different. He went through everything in order to establish relationship with each of us. He gave the only thing that cost Him something - Jesus - to reestablish intimate relationship with His creation. how many sermons have we heard about God wanting to be more intimate with us that anyone? Pastors will be quick to point out that the word the Scripture uses to describe this intimacy is the same word used for "intercourse" between a husband and wife. If God really desires to be that intimate with us, if Jesus is really "Emmanuel, God with us," then how can He possibly be withholding His presence and voice in order to teach us a lesson? Lie, lie, lie.

Our issue is not that God isn't speaking, it's that we do not know how to listen. We must learn to spiritually "tune in" to the voice of God. When we are not living uprightly, then we hinder our ability to come before the Throne and hear clearly from the Lord. Sin separates, repentance restores. Once we are sure that we are right before Him, we must learn to sit quietly with Him. This is my biggest slip up. Being silent in the presence of God is a challenge is this noisy, fast-paced, "ADD" generation. We do not know how to be still and know He is God (Psalm 46:10). We do not know how to detect that still, small voice (1Kings 19:12). And often times, we are waiting for something God never said He would do. Your not getting a burning bush. You are not getting the supernatural vision. If you need to "see something," then you never will. When you sit down for prayer, get right before Him. Then know that, since you are drawing near to Him, He is sitting in your midst drawing near to you.


 "A marked contrast between our position in Christ and our actual experience"

We are promised so much in the Bible that we are not tapping into. The Book of Ephesians shows us that God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (1:3). That means that those of us who are in Christ are Blessed with everything Heaven has to offer. This isn't a "when we get to Heaven" Scripture. It means that everything Heaven has to offer us is at our disposal when we are in Christ. We just have to believe for it and learn how to receive it and operate in it. Jesus informs us how to pray by saying, "whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24). There is no disclaimer there. Believe it, get it.  What do you believe?

“Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” ~Matthew 8:13