Saturday, October 17, 2015

Good Wine, Fish and Bread

Sometimes, I wonder why we serve God. I mean, is it for spiritual things or natural, temporal ones???

Are we guilty of following God for the tangible blessings, or is it really because our soul longs for more of Him? I just have to ask, because too often, I hear the scriptures that relate to the blessings of God's children in an earthly sense, rather than a spiritual one. The verses that promise great spiritual blessings are reduced to simple get rich quick schemes when we are done with them (and so are many of our church offerings--they sound more like auctions, than a time to give in God's House).

God is not focused on giving us every thing that our hearts desire--that promise was never made, without a disclaimer. God is concerned with providing all of our natural needs--food, water and clothing. We don't have to worry about our daily bread, He provides it. Clearly, if God wanted every child of His to have every earthly thing that they desired, then every child of God would be rich and every wicked man (conversely) would be poor. It doesn't require God or faith to get "things"--if it did, there wouldn't be any wealthy atheists or agnostics. As far as natural things go, He wants to meet our needs, and He expects us to be the vessels through which all of His children have their needs met, as well--and that must be done before we take care of meeting our desires. We are not to take care of "the least of these" with what we have left over after we lavish luxuries on ourselves, but before.

In God's Word, are many verses of scripture that relate to our blessings. One of my favorite's is Psalm 37:4. "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart." At first glance, it might look like a ticket to Extravagance City. Look closer. Before He gives you the desires of your heart, you have something to do. You must delight yourself in Him; to delight yourself in the Lord, is to crave more of Him, and more of Him, so much as to be insatiable! When you arrive at that point, then He gives you what you want--MORE OF HIM!!! Not a bigger house, or a better car, larger diamonds or the latest apparel. Our problem lies in what we delight ourselves in. We have become distracted by the "things", and it is a very subtle trick of the enemy, because in and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with having those things. They are not wicked, they are to be enjoyed--but we have placed too much priority on them; they now come before people, sometimes before worship, often before fellowship and the adversary watches us and says, "gotcha!"

Remember, it's the little foxes that will destroy the vine. We see the big things coming, and are not likely to fall prey to them, but the craftiness of satan gets us at the point of our lust--of the eye. His job is not hard, either; because we use scripture to justify and satisfy our whims. There is one that is often referred to as a guarantee to health and prosperity for the saints, if they have enough faith! "THE ELDERLY elder [of the church addresses this letter] to the beloved (esteemed) Gaius, whom I truly love.
   Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers." (3 John 1:1,2 TAB) This is John's greeting to Gaius--not, in anyway a promise or a guarantee of anything. It is simply John (somewhat of a father-figure, in ministry) sending his wishes and hopes for a beloved son in the Gospel. It is no different than you or I saying (sincerely), "Be Blessed!" How can I be so sure? Let's look at some of the words from the KJV translated back to the Greek, to see what John meant. The KJV reads this way: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." The word "wish" is the GRK word "euchomai": a desire (not a promise). above:comes from the GRK word "peri": which means about (not first and foremost). The word "prosper" comes from "euodousthai" and this word means essentially "have a good and safe journey throughout one's life". That sort of puts things in perspective.
God does not promise us earthly riches or wealth--or even a guarantee of health in this life. He did promise trials, if we chose to follow Him. He also promised to make the trials worth our while, in the great by and by! We are impatient though, and we want it now--and, then. However, if we are to follow the example of Jesus and the New Testament Church, we will have to make some drastic changes--for their focus was eternity, and heavenly reward. Jesus called the "barn-builder" of Luke 12, a fool, because he was so involved in acquiring earthly things, for himself that he became poor in the things that really mattered.

I want to serve God for the spiritual blessings--the glory, more of Him. I want His face and His countenance to be upon me, guiding me and directing me. I never want things to come before God--or my neighbors, near or far.

Lastly, whenever the Word of God declares that God will give us the "desires of our heart" understand that it is always "according to His will". And, His will is to deliver us home safely. His will is for us to love one another, and to prefer one another. His will is for us to be bound together with cords of love that cannot be broken--in unity. His will for us is that our focus be on the eternal, not the temporal.
You can get "good wine, fishes and loaves" anywhere, but His glory??!!! Don't settle!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Serpents Under my Feet

This turned out to be a great week...the only thing missing was the opportunity to be in fellowship with God's people worshipping Him, today. I have to go it alone, today; but alone time with God is quite awesome, too. I love it when He answers my questions, or teaches me through the Word, when I'm still long enough to hear His direction.

One of the reasons my week was more special than usual, was that I had a chance to see what God will do when I really live by my motto (Exodus 14:14), rather than interfering in His business and trying to vindicate myself. I KNOW (in my mind) that God has my back, and has everything under control; however, holding fast to that knowledge in my innermost being is not always easy. It's those times when your character has been trampled underfoot (by those who should be defending your name [Psalm 41:9, 55:12,13]) without any just cause--because you know you have done nothing wrong, that self attempts to rise up and repair the damage. It's hard not to seek out the people that you know are listening to the lies and telling them your side of the story. But, if you want to see the power of God in the matter, you must "hold your peace" only then will you see that "God will fight for you". 

And, that's what happened this week. For months, I have been enduring the nasty, petty and often downright mean behavior of others, only to have them paint a picture (to others) of me
as the offender. I got a call late one night from someone who had listened to this version of me (as the offender). But, it just seemed " off" to her, knowing how I handle conflict. Thank God for consistency. She knew that I don't let things fester, and that I make every attempt to resolve conflict; so, that conversation didn't feel "right" to her, and she had been bothered by it all week. Only then did I explain why it had not been resolved, and she told me what I said clarified things, and she felt better knowing what was really true.

I am thankful that God used her to show me (one more time!) His power to vindicate me...without my help. Does it hurt that only one person has bothered to question whether or not they have actually heard the truth? Well, of course; I'm human. Still, today, I'm overflowing with joy because not only does God have my back, but He is gracious enough to prove it to me, every now and then. 

As hard as some people have tried to destroy my character, over the years, God always brings me out and vindicates me. It may not happen immediately, or even all at once, but I'm okay with the trying of my's working for my good. While a few work against me, God is working for me; and in holding my peace, I'm trampling some serpents under my feet. I awakened with the 91st Psalm on my mind... I guess that's why. I needed to see the importance of holding my peace, and what it accomplishes. It binds my enemies under my feet. That way they have no control, and are rendered helpless! All they have is talk...they can huff and puff but they cannot blow down this temple, not while God is fighting for me.

Who wouldn't serve a God like mine...He's simply AMAZING.

I'm thankful for "shut-mouth" grace...Lord, give me more. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Not So Even Exchange

If you think about it, most of us, get baptized and receive His spirit, then we begin to give Him OUR own righteousness, rather than walking in His. Ours is less than worthless--in fact, it's putrid. The Bible tells us that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6, KJV). Isn't is enough that He took our sin and replaced it with His righteousness, and now the gift we offer back to Him is "filthy rags"? The original language of the Bible doesn't clean it up so nicely--it bluntly says, menstruous rags or garments of menstruation, in Hebrew, of course. We all know that can be pretty gross with modern products, but imagine strips of cloth (washed in the Jordan, and bleach...aghhhh). But, even that isn't the whole story. Understand that menstruation in that time, for the Israelites, produced uncleanness. Just having a menstrual period meant that a woman could not be with the general public--or her family for that time, and until the priest declared her clean again, after washing in the ceremonial baths reserved for that purpose. It was treated the same as leprosy, etc. Remember the woman with the issue of blood, that Jesus healed--it was her bold faith to press into that crowd and touch Jesus that impressed Him--because she could have been stoned to death for that act. (Leviticus 15:19; Luke 8:43-48).

I think as Christians, sometimes we really don't get it. We sing it, we preach it and teach it, and we certainly talk about it, but when the chips are down, our lives depict something totally different--and our words begin to tell another story, too.

When Christ went to Calvary, what He made possible for us is so much greater than what most people think. It's really mind-blowing. When we are "saved" this is what happens: we GIVE Him our sin--not sins, but sin; in turn, He GIVES us HIS righteousness. That is why I say it isn't exactly an even exchange--but He wants it this way--and we definitely got the long end of the stick, in this blessed deal!

How is it that we give Jesus our "filthy rags"? If we walk in His righteousness, we live by GRACE, alone. Grace governs our lives--not laws, or rules, but grace. Grace keeps us from sin--His grace. It isn't by a rehearsal of laws and rules that we can be saved, because "if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law." [Galatians 3:21b, ESV]. The Law of Moses must be kept in perspective. It was temporary, while faith was before and after the Law--it was the covenant that God established with Abraham long before the Law (some 430 years) and it supercedes the Law. Once faith came, we no longer had to live by the Law--which was temporary--to keep us, only until Jesus. In fact, when we live by the Law, or laws and rules, we do away with the power of the cross.  That is just filthy rags.

None of this has anything to do with us--it's ALL about Him, and His ability, His will and His decision to save mankind. He did everything, for us. All we do is give Him back the righteousness that He gave us--anything else is unacceptable, and frankly, inexcusable. 

How do we walk in grace? LOVE. Jesus told us: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Love destroys sin. Sin is powerless against it. How can you love God so completely and sin against Him? And how can you love your neighbor as if he were in your very own skin and sin against him, knowing the pain or trouble that will be inflicted? That's grace summed up, and it encompasses the Law, only it doesn't require us to keep the Law without providing us with the power to do it--now we have the righteousness of God given to us, via the cross at Calvary (and that precious shed blood of Jesus Christ!). What more could He give??? If you're still questioning whether that's all there is to it, Paul reiterated it twice. In Romans 13:8,9 and again in Galatians 5:14. What a glorious exchange!!!        #simplegrace

Grace works!   

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Lot Syndrome

Greed permeates our culture—not only outside the church, but within it. Somehow, we have found ways to justify it, “scripturally”. There are movements among the Body of Christ that have a mantra which speaks to our desire for more. One catch phrase of these groups is: “You possess what you confess”.  In other words, what we speak, we have. If we desire more money, a bigger home, a better car, or wardrobe—career, etc. it belongs to us, all courtesy of our words. We embody that power in our tongues. And, it sounds good, too. Scriptures such as “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” [Proverbs 18:21] and others are used to rationalize the theory that God wants us to have whatever we desire, right now, in this life—that’s the Lot Syndrome. It’s “green grass” all over again. It’s not seeing the forest for the trees.

It is a trap and it is an easy deception that the adversary has used rather skillfully against God’s people. Many of us have not had advantages of education, careers and the comforts of life so we now are finding ways to justify and rationalize greed, scripturally. There is nothing wrong with hard work, and there is nothing inherently wrong, with having nice things—even the finer things in life, but there is something wrong with having them, before meeting the basic needs of our brothers and sisters. Instead, we use these mantras and twisted scriptures to blame them for the fault that belongs at our feet. Real Kingdom living, is not having whatever you want, it is investing back into the Kingdom—and into people that God calls so that they can invest in others, and so on, so that the Kingdom can continue to grow. It isn’t, nor has it ever been accumulating vast amounts of wealth for one’s self. That was never God’s plan—He always made provisions for everyone—including “the poor, the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger among you”. God’s command to provide for the disenfranchised was always without strings, “bootstraps” and expectations but simply a command to give because He has blessed you with the ability to give.

God never promised any of us that we could have whatever we desire, unconditionally. The problem that we are confronting today is a lack of scriptural context. The other problem that we have is a lack of understanding of the origins of the current doctrine of the “Name It, Claim It Movement”. For those who believe its foundations are scriptural, they are not; its foundations are medieval, and skillfully woven by satan who watched and waited for opportunities to trap the apple of God’s eye—and we fell (and continue to fall) for his tactics hook, line and sinker, because they appeal to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye—and the pride of life. It works, and it is easy. It works well on people, who have come through the ravages of slavery, Reconstruction, the Depression, and more recently a sagging economy, and a fiscal crisis. With a twinkle in our eyes, we grasp eagerly at the magic of an incantation that will get us whatever we want.

Some years ago, I read two Christian novels by author Frank Peretti, Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness. When I read them, I thought that they were powerful; but I also had the mistaken idea that it could never happen in the African American church—that somehow, we would see through that trick and not be so gullible. I was dead wrong. We have actually been the most susceptible to the trick for the above reasons. In America, because African Americans have (for the most part) been the race who has lagged behind economically for centuries, we were most at risk for the deception. We were the ones who had the greatest desire to acquire more, simply because we never had it—our insight into the “good life” was limited to the images on television until the 1960’s, in general. And, it was right around that time, that the Word of Faith Movement began to explode on the scene in America—it had been there, but into the early 70’s it became more prominent. And, it appealed to us, with promises of health, wealth and prosperity. Still, the deadly plan was conceived long before that time, and here is a timetable to depict that:

Emanuel Swedenborg: “Grandfather of New Thought”
Belief in God as a mystical force, the human mind has the capacity to control the physical world, works-based salvation scheme—ideas that later became core doctrines of New Thought
Scientist and inventor. Born in Sweden; relocated to Holland in 1770 after his doctrines were condemned by the Royal Council. Later he emigrated to England.
Phineas Quimby: “Father of New Thought”
Theory that the mind possesses the ability to create and influence. “If I believe I am sick, I am sick, for my feelings are my sickness, and my sickness is my belief, and my belief is my mind. Therefore, all disease is in the mind or belief.”
Clockmaker. Born in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Moved to Belfast, Maine and had an office in Portland where he practiced his healing arts.
Warren Felt Evans

Student & patient of Quimby. Prolific writer of New Thought material. He wrote: Mental Cure, Mental Medicine and Soul and Body . He was known as "the recording angel of metaphysics".
Born in Rockingham, Vermont. Writer and founder of a mind-cure sanitarium in Salisbury, Massachusetts
Ralph Waldo Trine: “Evangelist of New Thought”
Rejects the uniqueness of Scripture by claiming that Buddha’s writings were duly inspired. Trine advocated theological pluralism, (Jesus Christ is not the only way to salvation, and every religion is the same; further all organized religions possess the truth and one must find unity in the “Infinite”). Trine focuses on the moral teachings of Jesus Christ rather on the work and person of Jesus Christ and the cross—he rejects the cross and the Gospel as archaic  and irrelevant. For Trine, peace with God and higher knowledge are obtained by tapping in to universal laws and becoming conscious of of man’s oneness with the Father.
Born in Northern Illinois, Trine became involved with metaphysics after marrying and relocating to New York. He wrote more than a dozen books and became a leader and visionary in the New Thought Movement, eventually settling in Claremont, California with his wife, Grace, a poet. 
Mary Baker Eddy
Founded the First Church of Christ (or Christian Science) and published the Christian Science Monitor. Eddy started the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, in Boston. She was also a Quimby patient and shared his view that disease is rooted in a mental cause, but differed theistically.
Born in Bow, New Hampshire. Taught over 800 students in Boston her theory that God never meant for humans to employ medicine, medical intervention or hygiene. Her case being that Jesus never used them.
Charles Emerson
Founded Emerson College after attending Boston University’s School of Oratory where New Thought flourished  and many of the leading proponents both attended and taught. There he studied Delsarte and Swedenborg. Emerson was a minister in the Unitarian church. 
Born in Vermont, and raised as a Congregationalist, he began preaching in the Congregationalist church at 19, then later in the Unitarian church at Chelsea Massachusetts while attending the Boston School of Oratory and studying under his mentor, Lewis B. Monroe.
Charles Fillmore
In 1889, he started the publication, Modern Thought. Later he founded Unity Church and organization with his wife, Myrtle and they became the first ministers in the metaphysical church. Fillmore believed himself to be the reincarnation of Paul of Tarsus. He authored several books, including: Atom-Smashing Power of Mind, The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Prosperity, and The Twelve Powers of Man.
Born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and having very little formal education, Fillmore was intrigued by mysticism at an early age and read many books on spiritualism, Eastern religions, and metaphysics. Later, he moved his family to Kansas City, Missouri, and he and his wife New Thought classes taught by Dr. E.B. Weeks.
Wallace D. Wattles
“Whatever may be said in praise of poverty, the fact remains that it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich”. Wattles wrote The Science of Getting Rich after studying various New Thought writers and formulating his “monistic theory of the cosmos”. Wattles practiced and taught creative visualization in which one uses his or her imagination to visualize specific behaviors or events (desired) occurring in one's life.
Born in Illinois, and lived in Indiana and Tennessee, in addition to authoring two books Wattles made an attempt at political office running on a Socialist Party ticket, in Indiana.
E. W. Kenyon: “The Father of the Prosperity Gospel”
1867- 1948
Kenyon was an evangelist, pastor and founder of Bethel Bible Institute in Spencer Massachusetts. Kenyon is the link between New Thought and today’s Word of Faith Movement. Kenyon combined New Thought philosophy with what was then contemporary theology and the Prosperity Movement was birthed. Although Kenyon’s writings reveal a level of critique against new Thought philosophy, they also demonstrate that, consciously or not, he incorporated New Thought teachings into his theological system. This is evidenced by Kenyon’s advocacy of positive confession theology, his deficient view of the atonement, and his elevation of human beings as well as his explicit teachings on health and wealth”.  D. R. McConnell, A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988, p. 45).
Born in Hadley, New York, Kenyon attended the Boston School of Oratory where New Thought was predominate.
“What I confess, I possess”.
John Kennington, who knew Kenyon stated that he recognized the strong similarities between New Thought (New Age) teaching and Kenyon’s teaching, and also stated that Kenyon admitted his leaning toward the philosophy. (McConnell, A Different Gospel, p. 25). 
Norman Vincent Peale
The Power of Positive Thinking; Guide to Confident Living were among the books written by Dr. Peale. Peale had no problem admitting his New Thought influence.  His books were widely read by mainstream Christians. Chapters such as:  Believe in Yourself, Expect the Best and Get It, Inflow of New Thoughts Can Make You, How to Draw Upon that Higher Power, How to Achieve a Calm Center of Your Life, How to Think Your Way to Success, and Change Your Thoughts and You Change Everything  reveal his New Thought philosophy on life.
Born in Bowersville, Ohio, Peale was the pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, a Dutch Reformed Church (Calvinistic).
Kennneth Hagin: “Evangelist of the Prosperity Gospel”
Hagin mixed Kenyon’s teachings with Scripture to make his revelations acceptable to the church; the danger lies in the authority assumed by leaders within the movement. Because of their special and personal revelations they become immune to criticism to those who might be skeptical or have questions. In his book How to Write Your Own Ticket with God, Hagin claims that Jesus’ appeared to him with the message: “Say it. Do it. Receive it. Tell it.” He reported various incidents of encounters with Jesus, as well as dying and seeing the horrors of hell, in 1933. He was so immersed in the teachings of E.W. Kenyon that he was accused of plagiarizing his writings. Hagin believed that Jesus wasn’t unique in His designation as God incarnate: stating, “Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth”.
Born in McKinney, Texas; moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1966. Evangelist, pastor. 
Founded Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Rhema Correspondence Bible School; Word of Faith magazine; established the RHEMA Prayer and Healing Center  and Kenneth E. Hagin Ministries.

By the standards of the current Prosperity Movement, those listed among the most faithful in the 11th chapter of Hebrews would be faithless--with so much suffering. Peter's very elect saints by today's standards, would be condemned as unbelieving, being oppressed, enslaved, and often tortured, too. How different is today's gospel, in contrast!
It isn't a new "revelation"--just post-biblical (and anti-biblical), nor is it godly

1 John 2 King James Version (KJV)

1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.