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  • Writer's pictureJohn Chiarello

Perspectives on the Cross

[STUDY] PERSPECTIVES ON THE CROSS- events surrounding Jesus and his friends and other insights from the gospels.

THE FINAL DAY these past few weeks we have looked at the circumstances surrounding Jesus and his friends, their struggles and weaknesses. Thought it fitting to do one from the perspective of Jesus himself. Theologians have questioned how much Jesus himself knew of his own purpose and destiny. When he was 5 years old did he fully comprehend the things that awaited him? Of course not, but at the age of 12 he most certainly was seeing the ‘writing on the wall’. His own mother Mary was told early on ‘this child will effect many, nations and people groups will stand or fall based on his life’ oh, and one more thing Mary ‘a sword will pierce thru your own heart also’. Did she reveal this to her son? Did she embrace the fact that she too would experience terrible loss over her involvement in the life of Jesus? The bible says she ‘pondered these things in her heart’ she basically realized that a little more was going on than meets the eye, this strange experience, prophets and religious experiences that are intruding into her average life. Seeming to see future things about her son, things that he wasn’t fully aware of at the time. Oh well, file it away until another day. As Jesus grows in wisdom and stature he begins to grasp more fully the day that awaits him, he sees the prophetic things that surround him, things that were unexplainable, except for the fact that God was showing him what must happen next. Is he wondering somewhat? He goes out to his cousin John at the age of 30, John says ‘behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ he tells Jesus ‘I am not worthy to fulfill this task, I am not worthy to even untie your shoes!’ Now steady John, I know this seems to be going too far, you being the one prophesied by Malachi, the ‘Elijah to come’ but I have to deal with a much heavier matter, you said it right when you just called me ‘Gods Lamb’ I will fulfill my destiny in a way that my closest friends don’t understand yet. Some of them are very close to me ‘swords’ will pierce thru their hearts. They do not fully see the bigger purpose, their attachment to me was meant for a higher purpose, my father knew that to get their attention they would need to be involved with me in some way, then when my destiny is complete, they will forever have been effected. John baptizes his cousin and from the sky a voice says ‘this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’. Jesus knew the course by now, too many signs for all of this to be some type of coincidence. But what about my friends father? My disciples, people who have become emotionally attached in some way? The recent discussions over the DaVinci code and stuff like that have caused many to wonder about Jesus’ ‘love life’. Was Mary [the female follower] possibly more than a friend? [By the way, the answer is NO!] But people have asked. The Catholic Church has changed it’s stance on the traditional belief that Mary Magdalene was the same woman that Jesus cast 7 unclean spirits out of, the prostitute. But whether she was that Mary or not, we don’t know. But surely she must have been affected by this whole scenario. This person who accepted her fully, he truly did love her, but not in the way normal people would define it, but yet in a greater way! It’s hard to explain, he knew her brief attachment to him would end with a sword piercing thru her soul as well. But what could he do? This was part of the destiny he now fully understood, his friends can’t really see it all yet, they are being drawn into this drama by events that seemed to be an accident, Jesus knew better. As the tragic day draws near, though it will end great in the victory of mans redemption, yet tragic in the sense that he could not really live a normal life with his good friends ‘attending the school reunion’ are you kidding! I am about to fulfill a destiny that will impact the world! No time for that sort of stuff. Now we have already covered the emotions of Judas, Peter and others. Is Mary [the disciple] thinking ‘who knows, maybe Jesus will marry me? After all it is a custom for many of the religious leaders of the day’ was she hoping for more than his destiny would allow? He realizes that he has brought these friends along for a ride that they didn’t fully see yet, but when it’s all over it will have turned out all right, but for now they will sacrifice the normal pleasures of life. Jesus has now spent 33 years contemplating the big day, he now fully grasps what it’s all about, no more possibility of persuading him to not go thru with it. Sure, his friends will try ‘God forbid that you even have the thought of going to Jerusalem to die! Why are you even having these thoughts’? Peter felt responsible in some way to help his friend out, to intervene in any way he could. Jesus was determined; there was no stopping him now. Oh well, let the chips fall, we did all we could do. He begins to agonize over the actual event itself, wondering if there might be some other way. Mary [his mother and the disciple] was surely praying for it, they hoped with all of their hearts for another end, they have prayed and asked God ‘please help him, we love him so much, please let him live!’ Jesus is very tired now, it’s been quite a long road to this point, he now fully grasps what’s going to happen, he hoped he could have handled it a little better. He doesn’t want to show weakness right now, but he is fully man and fully God. The man says ‘Father, I know we have come to this predetermined place. My mother heard about it from the prophet at my birth, I realize that I have come for a much greater purpose, but PLEASE, PLEASE listen to me, if it’s possible, let me not go thru with this. If there is another way, please let’s do it that way’. He knows deep down inside that he shouldn’t be asking this, he prepared himself mentally for this day for quite some time now, but a big part of ‘this day’ would be his struggle, his inner turmoil. His friends will one day read what went on behind the scenes, they will get a glimpse of the intensity of the struggle; they will see why he seemed so intense at times, things that they didn’t really know about, but the agony was part of the whole story. He will sweat drops of blood; the turmoil seems too much to bear. Sure, those around him would taste part of it, but they would have no idea how much it was effecting him, he was the target. He comes back to his disciples, they are sleeping! ‘Didn’t I ask you to pray? I really need you guys right now, please don’t give up on me now!’ they were dumbfounded ‘why is he so upset?’ they weren’t seeing it from his perspective. ‘It is enough, I am now going to be given to sinful men, they will do to me as they will’. Jesus once said ‘when the salt looses its flavor, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under men's feet’. The three year ministry of Jesus had lots of flavor, many who followed his calling were really blessed, I mean no one could teach like him! Plus he really did do a of lot good, lives were touched for ever, but things are now wrapping up with him, his friends didn’t turn out as good as he had hoped, they are denying him left and right! The flavor is being lost, he is about to be cast out and trodden under men’s feet! His long awaited for day has arrived, the day he looked forward to ‘for this purpose was I born!’ he would say, but yet he was in agony, you could almost taste it! So here we go Jesus, the time has come, any last words ‘You will see me coming in the power and glory of my fathers kingdom, do what you have to do’. Wow, we never had a final statement like that! They scourge him, a brutal act of whipping a person until his flesh falls off of his bones, ‘some king’ quick lets cover his face with this bag ‘Whack’ they beat the hell out of him ‘prophesy now Jesus, who hit you’. Well let’s nail the prophet to the tree. He is suspended between heaven and earth, he looks down. His mother is there, his poor mom. She somehow knew this day was coming, she hoped it could have been avoided, but it’s here. She remembers the prophecy from years ago ‘a sword will go thru your soul Mary’ the sword has penetrated. The other Mary now knows ‘it will never be! I had hoped that maybe this person who loved me more than anyone would be mine alone’ but he was given to the world, Mary will never be the same. Jesus is determined, it’s gone too far now, his friends are tasting death themselves. He mentally knew what the Cross would entail, being forsaken by God for the sins of men. A feeling of ‘forsaken-ness’ that no other person would ever be able to comprehend, though he intellectually knew it, yet he still had never really tasted it. No man ever has. What’s it feel like Jesus, if your who you said you were, come down and we will believe. They put a sponge on a stick with  ‘vinegar and gall’ actually an act of mercy from his executioners, they had experience with others who have died this way, right at around this point they all drink the gall, it was a painkiller of sorts, helps you thru the pain- Mick Jaggers ‘mothers little helper’. He refuses ‘no, I'll drink in the pain’ seems a little self destructive? He cries something that is misunderstood, they think he’s calling for Elijah, but his words are garbled, he is unrecognizable for heavens sake, a truly tortured man! He was once again calling to his God. It all seems too much, way too much intensity for such a short life. He had his struggles, don’t get me wrong, HE NEVER SINNED, but did go thru stuff. We heard lots of rumors about him, but now this day, this tragic day has arrived. Of course we know it was really a great victory, but tell that to the pitiful figure on the Cross as he screams ‘Oh my God, why have you forsaken me like this’ and dies.

(1440) CAN GOD FURNISH A TABLE IN THE WILDERNESS? Psalms 78:19  The story is found in Numbers chapter 11, the children of Israel are stuck in the desert with no meat and fish and all the great food they had back in Egypt [they keep reminiscing about the good old days, sounds like Hannity and Reagan!] and God hears their complaints and gets angry. So how does Moses respond? He complains too! ‘God, why did you stick me with these people, did I give birth to them for heaven’s sake? Just take my life, I can’t do this anymore- I’m ready for a special rapture’ now Moses was running himself ragged, and actually God shows some mercy on him- before the lord deals with the complaining he tells Moses to take 70 elders and meet him at the tabernacle and God will take of the spirit/gifts of Moses and spread them to the 70, this will take some pressure off Moses. But then God will deal with the complaining, if you read the chapter it actually is Moses who makes the chief complaint ‘can God furnish a table in the desert’ and Moses gets into this debate with the Lord; God tells him in the morning they will have more meat they can handle, a whole months worth! Moses says ‘how, are all the beasts or all the fish in the sea enough to do this? There are 600 thousand footmen alone!’ The Lord says ‘can’t I do anything? I will do it’ and sure enough that night the lord brought a strong wind and it blew thousands of quail from the water over the desert and they were covered with quail. God did it. A few things to note; the people were being provided for by God with Manna, a type of wafer thing that appeared on the ground every morning- it seems as if this food was highly nutritious, yet probably didn’t taste as good as all the meat and stuff they were used to, they wanted what they wanted, and God gave them what they wanted! The church goes thru stages; one was the whole stage of mastering the techniques of getting what we want. You could attend seminars on it, watch your favorite TV preacher teach it, move to some city that has a mega church that embraces the doctrine- yet in the end God might just be giving us what we want, not because its best, but because we have rejected him. These debates go on forever; I have a prosperity brother who has been writing me for years; showing me ‘from the bible’ how Jesus was the richest man of his day, lived in luxury- on and on. These poor brothers have been taught a system of doctrine that gets them what they want, but not what God wants for them. I know the Lord will eventually bring the people into the promised land, and yes they will have abundance then, but to simply assume that the Christian walk is one where we live to fulfill our desires is very misguided indeed. Moses led the people on a dangerous journey, dangerous for him and them. The other day I posted an entry on Moses striking the rock out of anger and bringing the water out of it; we often don’t see the price Moses had to pay in order to fulfill his prophetic symbolism of the Cross. One of the punishments of Moses act was he would not be allowed to enter the promised land, which was a type of the Cross and work of God that he was to be a picture of; God needed Moses to strike the rock in anger in order for him to fulfill the picture we see from Isaiah 53 ‘it pleased God to bruise his Son’ that is Moses needed to be at a place of real wrath in order to fulfill the picture, yet mans wrath is not like Gods- Mans wrath always has a degree of human anger associated with it, God’s wrath is just and right. So how could God tell Moses ‘Moses, go and get perfectly mad, and strike the rock’ Moses was incapable of ‘perfect wrath’ so instead God used the wrath of man, which he could not really condone, to accomplish his purpose. In essence Moses really got mad, and paid a real price for it. He pictured God’s wrath in a limited way, and he pictured the reality of the punishment of Jesus, that is Moses punishment of not being able to enter the land was a type of Gods judgment on Jesus at the Cross. Get it? God allowed things to happen, even the mistakes, to work for his glory. We often measure ‘success’ by the worlds measuring rod, God does not use that as a standard. Maybe you’re at a place where you’re eating Manna every day, maybe the Lord is leading you thru a stage where he is restricting your intake for an eternal purpose; where you can say like the apostle Paul ‘I have learned to be content in whatever state I am, having enough or being in lack’ don’t get caught up in the vicious cycle of viewing the faith thru a lens of a never ending journey to get more, to feed your desires, to get back ‘what the devil has stolen’ sometimes we are actually getting the wrong stuff.

(1438) HE SPLIT OPEN THE ROCKS IN THE WILDERNESS, AND GAVE THEM DRINK OUT OF GREAT DEPTHS. HE BROUGHT STREAMS ALSO OUT OF THE ROCK, AND CAUSED WATERS TO RUN DOWN LIKE RIVERS- Psalms 78:15-16  The story of Moses striking the rock is found in Numbers 20, the Israelites were complaining about the lack of water and all the good things they had back in Egypt, but now thanks to this big shot Moses we are stuck in the desert without any water! So God tells Moses ‘I hear what they are saying, go speak to the rock and water will come out’. Now Moses had a temper, so he goes to the rock- preaches a short Baptist sermon ‘you bunch of no good nothings!’ and he hits the rock with his staff, twice! The water comes out and they all drink from the rock. In 1st Corinthians 10 Paul uses this story as an analogy of Christ and says ‘all our forefathers drank from the rock, which was Christ’. Jesus used the example of Moses making a snake statue and putting it on a stick [John chapter 3] as a type of his own crucifixion. One time the Israelites were complaining again and God sent snakes to bite them, so the people are dying and they don’t know what to do, God tells Moses to make a bronze snake image and stick it on a pole and when the people are bitten they just need to look at the snake and they will live. Jesus told Nicodemus that this was a type of his death on the Cross, that all who ‘look to the Son’ will live. The famous song ‘rock of ages, cleft for me’ also speaks of the imagery of Jesus being the rock from the Father who was opened up on the Cross. The above passage says God gave them drink out of the ‘great depths’; the New Testament says Jesus descended lower than any man, and that because of these great depths the Father exalted him to his right hand. I find it interesting that all these stories, written and experienced hundreds of years before Christ, just so happened to fulfill his destiny. We live in a day where we do not understand, or appreciate, the process of the cross in our own lives. Paul got to a point where he could glory in his weakness, in the fact that he died daily, he knew that it was these ‘great depths’ that would allow a river of life to flow thru his lips and pen; when God wants to bring forth some great rivers, he looks for some rocks that he can break.

(1365) THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT- I was reading Mark’s account of the last supper. The disciples realize the importance of keeping the ancient feast day and they ask Jesus ‘where do you want us to prepare the meal’? Just a chapter earlier they were glorying in all the ‘holy buildings’ of the temple and Jesus told them ‘see all these wonderful places- there shall not be one stone left upon another when all is said and done’- ouch! But now he seems to need a building, or at least a place to sit down and eat. He tells his men ‘go into town and you will meet some guy carrying a water container, follow him into the house and ask the master where the room is, he will show you a large upper room, all furnished- that’s the spot’. Jesus didn’t need to spend any money on building his own temple; he knew the voluntary community would provide places to meet. They sit down and he tells them ‘understand, this is the New Testament, the new ‘oath’ the scroll of redemption that John will write about in Revelation, it is being purchased with my Blood’ they seemed to not comprehend what he was saying. He often made statements that went right over their heads- then he quotes another one of those obscure prophetic scriptures that nobody seemed to focus on ‘the chief one will be smitten and the sheep will be scattered’ [Zechariah] he tells them ‘see, the prophets said you guys are going to be scattered, be offended and deny me’. Peter says ‘what! No way Jesus, maybe these other guys but not me’. Poor old peter, Jesus says ‘buddy, you will be one of the worst’. Man things don’t seem to be going good at this point, I mean when the leader of a community is about to face his toughest test yet, the last thing he needs is a bunch of offended staff! Nevertheless he takes with him Peter, James and John and they head off to the garden, you know the place where they crush olives to get the precious oil, very prophetic indeed. Jesus tells the guys ‘stay here while I go and pray’. He walks a little further and falls down and is in agony ‘Father, all things are possible with thee, I know I have come for this purpose in my life, but please, if there is another way to accomplish this, then let’s go the other route’. Who knows, maybe the father will do something that no one expects? He goes back to his men, hey maybe they will say ‘wow Jesus, as you were praying Moses and Elijah appeared to us, like before- and they told us ‘the father said there’s another way’. But instead Jesus finds them sleeping! What, you guys couldn’t even pray with me for an hour? I’m here pouring out my life for you, giving it all I got, and I was hoping that the 3 years I invested in training you might have had better results, you guys are letting me down. This happens 2 more times and Jesus says ‘enough, go ahead and sleep, I’m going to have to die and seal this scroll in my Blood- after 3 days I will be back and go before you into Galilee, but these will be the longest 3 days in the history of man’. Of course we know the rest of the story. As the church worldwide enters into Lent, let’s remember the price that Jesus paid for the New Testament signed in his Blood, as Protestants and Catholics let’s celebrate the historic churches 40 day season of fasting and prayer, you don’t have to do a ‘full fast’ maybe just a Vegan type fast, which was what the early church practiced, but let’s try and be a little more appreciative of the price that was paid so the ‘table’ could be set. Jesus said ‘this is my Blood, the whole thing rides on me’ he met the challenge and redeemed the world, may the world be grateful for it.

(1355) ‘For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly [it’s not your fault!] but by the will of him who subjected it in hope’- Paul addressing the church at Rome. A year or so ago I read a story on a famous underground author, Hunter Thompson, who committed suicide. Supposedly he was suffering from some type of sickness and simply left the world behind; he had ‘no hope’. It reminded me of the famous author Ernest Hemingway; he too shared the same fate. Both of these men rejected God. In the above passage of scripture Paul is speaking about the redemption of the whole creation. God was the one who ‘subjected it to futility’. When speaking about the story of David and his men a few posts back, Jesus said ‘have you never read what David did’ and he was talking about the story of king David eating the  ceremonial bread and giving it to his men- it says ‘he ate, and gave to them who were with him’. At the last meal Jesus takes the bread and wine and says ‘this is my body which is broken for you’ a type of the sacrificial death of Jesus. He too ate, like David. How could Jesus also be a partaker of his own ‘bread’ [Cross]? Paul said that he was ‘filling up in his body the sufferings of Christ’ there is an aspect of suffering that the people of God go thru, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. These sufferings glorify God and in a sense ‘Jesus too receives glory from the broken bread’ [us!] The Hunter Thompsons and Hemingway’s of the world see futility and to them there is no future hope of redemption, they chose to ‘not hope’. Paul said the sufferings of this present time were not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in/thru us. James said ‘count it all joy when you fall into various trials and tests’. Remember, the creation is subjected to futility, not willingly, but by Gods purpose- don’t blame yourself for ‘the futility’.

(1325) BEFORE SHE SUFFERED SHE GAVE BIRTH, BEFORE HER PAIN SHE GAVE BIRTH. WHO EVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING? SHALL I BRING YOU TO THE POINT OF BIRTH AND NOT FINISH THE JOB? FOR AS SOON AS YOU SUFFERED WITH BIRTH PAINS THEN YOU BROUGHT FORTH WHAT I WANTED- Isaiah 66:7-8 [my paraphrase] In Johns gospel Jesus said when a woman is going thru birth pains it’s difficult because her time has come, the moment of accomplishing the purpose. Jesus says ‘she has sorrow’ but after she gives birth she forgets the sorrow because a man is born into the world. Jesus makes this statement as he himself is entering into his time of sorrow; he prays ‘Father, if it’s possible for me to not have to go thru with this, if there is any way you think we can do something about this situation, then please lets go another route’! The agony was very real, he wasn’t afraid of death, but he dreaded the fact that he would ‘become sin’ for us; he would be separated from the Father and experience extreme turmoil. He sweat great drops of blood, a physical act of excruciating anguish that causes this to happen. Jesus told us that we too had to be willing to carry our cross. I know some feel Jesus was talking about his cross and death, but in context he was talking about the difficulties that would come along with following him and denying ourselves. Peter said that when we go thru fiery trials that we should take comfort in the fact that other brothers are going thru the same things, even worse things than us. A few years ago a prominent local figure was arrested and sent to jail for soliciting a minor over the internet; he worked for the parks/beach dept. and was active with the Fire Dept. and EMS. Of course the news shocked people; he seemed to be a good person who gave of himself to help others. A year or so later I read an article that he had died in prison, though the article did not go into detail there were enough hints to tell that after he went to prison he rededicated his life to God and tried to make amends. It also said how his kids attended his funeral but his ex wife wanted nothing to do with the man. I thought to myself how hard it would have been for him and his family to have gone thru this tragic thing. I put his family on my prayer list for a few years, a time where I pray for fellow believers who have messed up and are in jail, whenever I read these stories they become part of this prayer time. Or people who have terminal illnesses, don’t you think it would be hard to pray and continue to do God’s will knowing that you only have so much time left? There are times in life when the purpose of God must take precedence over the things we are going thru. I am not saying these examples are the only types of ‘cross’ experiences people go thru, but they give us some insight into the difficulties that can happen. In Hebrews the scripture says that Jesus endured the Cross, despising the shame and has been seated at the right hand of God. Make no mistake about it, the shame and agony of the Cross were not things that ‘felt good’ to go thru, they were things that were despised, but they were things that needed to take place in order for a greater purpose to come forth. I mean whoever heard of a woman giving birth before the pain, and likewise we believers will go thru some tough things before Gods purpose will be fulfilled.

it’s funny [or sad?] the other day I told you how when I read Micah chapter 6, the first verse spoke to me. Then recently I have been going thru some things, and this morning the first verse in chapter 7 is ‘WOE UNTO ME’ old brother Micah was definitely a prophet! Lets do one of those Jeff Foxworthy things, you know ‘you might be a redneck if your front yard looks like a salvage yard’ type stuff. I get amused when brothers/Pastors tell me about their sufferings, you might ask them ‘okay brother, tell me what’s going on?’ and they might say ‘well, my parishioners are gossiping about me’ oh please, this stuff doesn’t even register on the meter! Here's a good way to define it ‘you might be going thru some stuff if people say to you ‘cheer up things cant be that bad’ and after they get a glimpse of the things, they say ‘you know brother, things cant get much worse’! Hey, we all need a sense of humor. Or say if your history was one of eating chocolate cakes, and you say ‘I fell off the wagon, I ate too many sweets this month’ of course that would be bad, but the difficulty will be measured by what type of wagon you fell off of! So Peter tells us to rejoice thru suffering, he also tells us that we shouldn’t suffer as evildoers. That is if your in prison for murder, sure your gonna suffer, but what the heck do you expect! But Peter also suffered for past sins, things that he did wrong. One of the gospels says right after the Rooster crowed, Jesus looked at him and he went out and ‘wept bitterly’. You see, Peter had a destiny to fulfill. Jesus knew that he had to taste some difficulty in preparation for it. Time was running out, Jesus has been training these guys for three years, he has given them all the great teachings about the kingdom, tried to instill in them a new mindset, showing them that this new movement of his church/kingdom would be lead by people who are like sheep going to the slaughter. These leaders would taste much death in their lives; as a matter of fact these death experiences would be totally necessary for the purposes of God to be fulfilled. But its been three years now and Peter is still struggling with pride, trying to create this macho image of himself, in on this great revolutionary movement ‘hey, look at me, the Messiah has come and I am one of the inner circle’. But he saw Jesus lean on John the disciple’s breast at the supper ‘the special disciple who Jesus loved’. Jesus would confide in him that Judas was the betrayer ‘what about me Jesus’ thinks Peter ‘why not let me in on some of the secrets too’? still struggling with self worth. He will see some things, but first he has to face his Cross, his day of failure, the thing that will torture him for the rest of his life ‘How could I have been so stupid! I denied the Lord! My whole purpose for existing, the reason I am here; I have committed acts of betrayal against Jesus and myself!’ Now hang on Peter, this is part of the preparation, be careful to not get too consumed by this failure, it has a purpose ‘what purpose, what good can come out of this whole sordid affair’? Now, there is something else going on down the road, Judas starts feeling guilty too, he is appearing before the religious leaders, he tells them ‘I have betrayed an innocent man, I have stooped very low in my life. Not only do others see me as a failure, the one of whom Jesus said ‘it would have been better if this man were never born’ [the man who cant escape his own guilt!] but I too see myself as one of little worth’ he tells the leaders ‘here’s the damn money, 30 pieces of silver, please take it back’. They don’t want it either! ‘No, please take it, I’m trying to penalize myself in some way for what I’ve done, you don’t understand, I need you guys to take it, to in some sense absolve me of my guilt’ it was too late, he set the course and could not change the outcome, he tried, but the eternal laws of guilt and reaping were bearing down on him ‘too much to bear! I can’t stand this damn guilt anymore’ he does the tragic deed; he ends it all on some tree. As he hangs himself his ‘bowels’ gush out, his insides were killing him and it just seems fitting that he detached himself from them in his death. He chose wrong, make no mistake about it, this act is never acceptable! Well Peter will go on to be one of the greatest leaders in Gods church, I’m sure he remembered the words of Jesus when he said ‘don’t forget Peter, the least will be the greatest’ Peter will ascend the heights of church leadership; he will be used of God in a great way. History tells us when Nero killed him that he requested to be crucified up side down, he did not feel worthy enough to die like his Lord. Old brother Peter, I guess he never really overcame the guilt of that day. That one damn offense that haunted him thru out his life, this terrible thing allowed him to taste death in such a way that would qualify him for great things. But why couldn’t there have been some other way? who knows, Peter will write to the believers ‘it’s good if a man suffers justly, if he lives with difficulty as an innocent victim’ but he also said ‘let none of you suffer for your own faults and actions. Don’t put yourselves in situations where you will have to live with the penalty of your own guilt, it can be tormenting!’ Peter knew what he was talking about.

 [note- we often live our lives putting the best possible face on our situation; we all want people to think the best about us- while interacting with a lot of old/new friends these past few months I have seen some of you are divorced, others seem to be ‘swinging’ and the rest of us have our secret sins. A big part of being honest with each other and God is being able to embrace our situation- to also accept people, even if you disagree with their part of the journey. I just felt like I should post some stuff about the situation of Christ, his life and the things that surrounded him. It’s hard to be an open book, to live with your own failures staring you in the face [I am speaking of myself, not you]. Jesus was by no means considered to be part of the upper class of society, his education and upbringing were from a low class area- he was despised by lots of people. I hope this post helps.

still jumping around in the prophets, was surprised to see how many verses I quote during prayer that come from Micah. Just read the famous prophecy about Jesus ‘out of thee Bethlehem, the least of all places, shall come forth one that will rule, have great authority’. The strange thing about the calling and destiny of Jesus was he grew up and spent his whole ministry in a sort of backwoods region of the ancient world. His spoken language [Aramaic] was considered underclass. You see two very distinct types of living in our New Testament; Rome was a strong civic center, an upper-class place where knowledge and politics ruled the day. These outlying areas that Rome conquered and placed leaders over them, these areas were low class places. You see this play out in the gospels, a sort of fishing/agrarian lifestyle, as opposed to Rome and her obvious ruling aura. Paul going thru all these legal loopholes as he defends himself. Appearing before these puppet kings and rulers, going up against the quasi religious authorities that Rome allowed some freedom for the sake of stability in their realm. That’s why you see the religious authorities appealing to Pontius Pilate, he, as Rome’s representative, had the power to execute Jesus, the religious authorities did not. So anyway Jesus starts his ministry in these territories that are basically low class. He gathers around him a hapless bunch of followers, and starts his little ‘movement’. That’s fine, let him humor himself; after all he isn’t the first to claim some type of Messianic title and to think he will challenge society. He does seem to have somewhat of an aura that compels people to listen to him, this irks the religious class ‘why are you listening to him!’ They figure if they ignore him he will go away. His family actually thinks he is becoming unhinged, the type that would need one of those interventions ‘Now Jesus, we love you, we know your into this religious thing and all, that’s fine. But we are now getting a little worried, you seem to think you are on this special mission from God, that you must complete it at all costs’ They feared he was losing his mind! But hey, there is only so much you can offer a person, if they don’t get the help, it is their choice. So Jesus continues riling up the authorities, his silly movement consists of him spending all his time with these low life’s of society. I mean, can’t he see their pulling him down! He has these whole nights where he prays to God, and then these underclass are pulling at him, always needing help! Geez, they are in their circumstances because of their own sins, just let them reap what they sowed. Well don’t worry about it, he will soon fade. He is causing somewhat of a stir with the Roman authorities, they really are not up on all the religious questions that seem to be causing the problems between him and the Jewish religious figures, but the territories are experiencing disharmony, Rome does not like this! So settle it quickly before things get out of hand, these Jews might seem harmless, but they have a history of rebelling against other nations who bring them under tribute, so we need to quell the uprising. So Jesus continues on this somewhat destructive course, I mean even Peter tells him ‘there is no way we are going to let you go to Jerusalem and be killed! Now this thing is getting out of hand, listen to some sense man’ Jesus responds ‘get behind me satan, you are more concerned with the things of men than of God’. Jesus really believed he was on this divine mission, nothing we say to the guy can dissuade him! But really, how much ultimate effect can he have, he is from this low class area, what an ignorant bunch of hopeless slobs! Well the day has come, enough is enough, for some reason the Jewish leaders won’t leave it alone, now they managed to frame him with some trumped up charges and get him before the Roman court. Pilate has a lot on his plate, the leaders at Rome want him to settle this thing, quickly! So he does a brief reading of the charges and sees that this Jesus is accused of claiming to be Gods Son, this sent one from eternity past into this time and place of human history. How could this be, what type of god would predetermine his own Son to arrive in these low class areas, this cant be. Pilate asks the man himself ‘do you really think you are Gods Son? Brother, you better start speaking up for yourself, you don’t realize we are not playing games here, you managed to stir your people up to the point where they are pressuring me to execute you’. Jesus is somewhat different than all the other criminals, he seems to be in control, saying his only crime was speaking the truth. He claimed to be Gods Son, the promised messiah spoken about in the Old Testament prophets. How does he know this, how can he be so sure that this destiny he seems to be fulfilling is really from God? Maybe he’s just misreading the whole thing, sure Micah says God predestined one who will come from this area, but how does he know it’s him? Pilate has a tuff decision to make, as he mulls it over his wife tells him ‘don’t have anything to do with this man, I dreamed a dream, this man is just!’ Wow, my wife never told me anything like this before! I know, I will give the Jews what they want, convict him of the crime and pass the death sentence on him, but there is this tradition they have, during this special religious season [Passover] they have a custom of pardoning one who is going to face death. Surely they will pardon Jesus, the only other guy scheduled for execution is Barrabas, everybody knows he deserves it! The day arrives, Pilate goes thru with the plan and the people holler ‘crucify Jesus, let Barrabas go!’ What! He has really done nothing wrong, I wouldn’t have even passed the sentence if I knew you would actually go thru with the whole thing. He is mad, the Jews tricked him ‘I know, I’ll put this accusation over the cross- THE KING OF THE JEWS, this will stick in their craw!’ he does it, they are infuriated ‘don’t say he is our king! Say he claimed to be our king’ Pilate says ‘what I have written, I have written’. Well this isn’t the end of our story, but I have gone on too long for now. Who would have ever thought this simple carpenter from such an insignificant town could have stirred up so many emotions, man he is carrying this destiny of his thru the lives of many people, he took it all the way to the leaders of the empire for heavens sake! Oh well, we tried to help the poor guy, we tried to talk him into dropping this whole purpose and destiny thing. We tried to tell him ‘good, we are happy you are healing and helping people, you managed to get this little following of unlearned men’ [not illiterate, but no higher learning in the whole group, not even Jesus!] but he took the thing too far, he wouldn’t back down. He got way too many people mad, the ruckus made it back to Rome and they did what they thought they needed to do to settle things down, just make it go away. Boy were they wrong.

[1086] The last day or so I didn’t write any posts, but if I did, they would be something like ‘to be honest, today was a difficult day. Recently there have been some ‘old demons’ from my past that have haunted me. They visit every now and then, they always eventually leave, but they have a tendency to leave some marks’. Now, that’s as close as you can get to confessing stuff on a public blog! James says ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray for each other that you might be healed’ it’s hard to confess your faults when the modern church is consumed with image ‘how we look, who’s the new up and coming ministry on the horizon’? Geez, I feel like ‘if I can survive this day, that’s fine with me Lord’. Well enough of me. I have been reading the prophets, let me give you some advice; if times are hard, read Psalms. If you need wisdom- Proverbs. And if you’re in the mood to get chewed out, read the prophets! It’s hard to not feel convicted when reading the brothers. I was also thinking about the lives of people who have impacted society to some degree, often times they are tragic figures. Jesus, from the natural standpoint did not look like he had it together; sure, he was healing [helping] people, a couple of resurrections and all, but as the leader of this rag tag team of radicals, things weren’t going to well. The disciples thought they were in on the beginnings of a revolutionary movement that would throw off the oppression of Rome. The war that led up to the eventual overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was actually initiated a few years earlier by this type of mindset. In the apocryphal books [the catholic books between Malachi and Matthew in the Old Testament] you have the recording of the Maccabean revolt, when the Jews attempted to throw off the ruling govt. The whole history of Israel was one of learning how to be a free people, coming out from the rule of other human governments [Exodus, Joshua, etc]. So these disciples of Jesus really thought they were in on the right political party, the one that would succeed in turning things around. After all, if you were waiting for some Messianic figure to show up, if your bibles [old testament] said he was going to come and deliver you from the Roman oppressors [read Mary’s magnificat] you would naturally think that Jesus was going to set up a physical throne out of the city and Rome would be cast off. But what happened? This great religious leader, this miracle worker, he is always talking about this new kingdom. He’s dropping little hints that it’s not going to be what they think, he says things that seem to not even make sense ‘the last shall be first’ ‘he that seeks to save his life shall lose it’ ‘this kingdom does not come with observation, it’s within you’. Oh well, the disciples figure ‘what the heck, we cant understand all that he’s saying, but man he’s got the authorities scared. I mean you can feel it in the air brother!’ So they stick it out, but he also drops little hints ‘the son of man is going to go to Jerusalem [Yea, now were talking! This is the part we’ve been waiting for Jesus, no more of this talk about laying your life down, that’s just depressing] and be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified’ What! What are you telling us? We quit our jobs, left our homes; we gave up a lot for this movement, now your telling us your gonna die! This is way too much to handle! By all outward appearances he seems like such a tragic figure. They accuse him of not being able to help himself ‘if this man were the Son of God [legit] surely he would come down from the Cross [a place of weakness, public humiliation] and save himself. He helped others, and he can’t even save himself!’ The accusation was he must be a hypocrite, he talked a big talk, but even his closest friends are no where to be found. One of the most vocal [Peter] is out right now swearing up and down that he doesn’t even know the man. ‘Jesus, I have no idea who your talking about’ the bible says he cursed and swore, lets try and be tactful, this is a Christian site ‘I don't know what the hell your talking about’ how’s that? What a sad ending to such a promising career, he seemed like he had so much going for him. Man, could he teach! You know we heard when he was only 12; he was asking the scholars questions that they couldn’t answer. One time he stood up in the synagogue and opened up this scroll, you know the Isaiah one. He read this strange verse about Gods Spirit being on some future person, how that person would do justice for the poor, speak out against things that he felt were wrong. He would be genuine, then you know what happened? He said “this day is this prophecy being fulfilled in your ears” Man, it gave us all chills. But what in the world happened to the guy? We heard he was unstable and all, the religious leaders have diagnosed him as a nut! But how do you explain all the good he was doing, after all nuts don’t raise the dead? Oh, that’s easy, he was doing it by the power of satan. Well I guess they were right, after all look at him now, such a pathetic figure. Naked on a cross! All that we expected from you, you could at least have the courtesy of deconstructing in private; I mean really, do we all have to watch this tragic end? Well of course we know the rest of the story, it didn’t actually end tragically. But he couldn’t seem to find help/vindication until after he died, can you wait that long?

[1098]been reading a little in Matthew, lets look at chapter 4. After Jesus fasts for 40 days and goes thru the temptation, he ‘re-locates’ he hears that John is in jail and leaves Nazareth and goes to Galilee. Now in another gospel account we read how the imprisonment of John upset Jesus. John’s course is already fixed, he is going to die. Jesus knows this. Jesus also realizes that these things are happening to John as a result of his calling and relationship with Jesus. John actually sends a note to Jesus while in jail, he asks ‘are you the messiah that was to come, or should we look for another?’ Some feel John was doubting, others think he was saying ‘Geez, I am your cousin for heavens sake! Don’t you remember the day I baptized you? Even when Aunt Elisabeth, my mother, saw Mary when they were both pregnant with us, the story goes I ‘leaped’ in my mom’s womb. What’s going on FRIEND, cant you get me out?’ So it’s possible that Jesus was having a hard time not intervening for John. Maybe Jesus was thinking ‘John, I want to help you more than you know. For heavens sake I don’t want you to die! But some day you will go down in history for fulfilling this purpose. I too will die soon as well, you must foreshadow my death as the forerunner, the one prophesied to come and prepare my way. Its hard for me to let this happen, it’s part of my Cross too’. Now Jesus enters a new phase of his ministry, he begins teaching and gaining a crowd, the bible says ‘his fame went all thru out Syria’ and the last verse of chapter four says he gained a following that extended to 5 different regions/cities. God expanded Jesus’ borders and influence thru great difficulty. He just went thru a great test and the realization that he was about to lose a close ally in John. Certain sign posts on the journey are beginning to happen, and God is increasing his influence thru it all. I want to encourage you today, you might have just gone thru [or going thru!] some stuff, be aware that God might be expanding your influence, he might be positioning you for the next step. When God told Moses ‘my name is I AM’ God was saying ‘I am the one who is here in the present moment’ can you ‘see’ God from where you are at right now ‘in the present moment’ if you will? Yes, you might ‘lose a John’ someone that has been with you for quite some time, a person who identified and saw things like you, but we all eventually walk the road alone, doing what we know needs to be done because it’s our purpose. God told Abraham ‘I called you when you were by yourself, no one else was around, I made you into this great nation and people. Don’t forget your beginnings’ it’s difficult to lose those close friendships, it feels like we lost  part of us. But God says ‘I AM present’.

[1100]Yesterday I went to my P.O. box and had a bunch of mail. My prosperity friend wrote again, he writes every so often. He’s the older brother I mentioned before, kind of ‘corrects’ me every now and then, recently he has simply thanked me for the messages [long letters!] I also had a package from Jackson, Mississippi. It was a book by a brother who emailed me about a month ago. He is a reformed elder [minister] and must have found out about my site. He kindly asked if I would review a book he wrote last year. I really don’t have time to do a full book review; but Jack, if your reading this here are a few comments. I read the book yesterday, the title is ‘Corinthian elders’ by Jack Fortenberry, put out by bridgepoint publishing co. Brandon MS.  I liked and agreed with 90% of the book, much like the themes I teach on organic church life. Jack lays out a good case for unpaid elders, but also makes the case for ‘paid’ apostles [not salary, just worthy of the hire type thing] I have heard and am familiar with this distinction. I believe the New Testament leaves room for the monetary support of elders/leaders, whether apostles, pastors or whomever. I also believe strongly in the ‘do it at your own expense’ mentality of Paul [I receive no money, ever!] But this would be about the only disagreement I would have. I do recommend the book to our readers. Okay, just read a little more from Matthew, Jesus healing and doing good, teaching in ‘their’ synagogues and going thru the cities and villages. I just like his style! Freewheeling, couldn’t care less about what the religious class were saying, his disciples said once ‘don’t you know your offending the leaders’? He said every plant that his Father didn’t plant would be rooted up. He had no time to present a phony image of himself to people, he knew he was losing support amongst the religious class, but he also knew that system was on it’s last leg [Judaism apart from Christ] so he said ‘let them be offended, who cares!’ Ah, what a preacher. The blind men come, he says ‘do you really believe I can do this’? He heals them, but he wanted to know that they were becoming convinced. They had to be willing to go out on a limb for him. After all, Jesus healed people who did not fully believe in him before. They asked once ‘who healed you’ and the man said ‘I don’t know, all I know is I was once blind but now I can see’ [Johns gospel] but this time it’s different ‘do you believe or not’! It was time to be willing to lay it on the line for Jesus. ‘Yes, we have been sick for too long, we need help! To hell with our damn pride, please help us’! Okay, they walked away seeing. No one did this stuff like Jesus! How could you not hear his teaching, the religious leaders were telling the people ‘he doesn’t fit our mold, stop listening to him!’ They were being eaten up by jealousy, the same thing that haunted Cain. He killed his brother Abel because his brothers works were accepted, his weren’t. The religious leaders could not stand the fact that Jesus was being accepted by the common folk, he was moving in on their place of authority. They fed off of the limelight, the prestige of position. Jesus would have none of it, he tells the people he’s healing ‘Don’t spread the word about this, okay’ and sure enough they go out and tell everybody! Jesus fame spread abroad thru the whole country, but he was heading to the Cross for heavens sake! No time to gloat in the honor of men. Yes Jesus was truly one of a kind, people were fascinated by him ‘isn’t he the carpenters son? Isn’t this the kid we played stick ball in the street with’? They  couldn’t connect this Divine destiny with the boy they grew up with, he had them all wondering. But don’t forget, he told Peter and Andrew ‘follow me guys, I will teach you how to catch men’. He knew the way to ‘catch them’ wasn’t the route of the religious class, they just spouted their doctrinal positions all day long, told the people how bad they were, the average folk saw right thru the hypocrisy. Jesus had a different style, it would take him all the way to Golgotha, the ‘place of the skull’ [death].

[1101]Jesus was telling the disciples that they were going to go thru some stuff ‘you think that I am come to bring peace? No, but a sword! Families will be divided, they will deliver each other up to death!’ he said we would be brought before kings and governors for his sake. How? By some type of presidential invitation to give the inaugural prayer? I don’t think so! We would be brought before authorities as a witness, just like Peter said, that Jesus gave a good testimony before Pilate, he certainly wasn’t on the way to a prayer breakfast! So Jesus is preparing his men, he is telling them that they too will have cross’s to bear, they will suffer and sacrifice for the greater purpose, they will die to their own desires and dreams, it’s not about us or what we can get or accomplish in life. This is what’s so insidious about the American gospel, it's basically a cross-less message. We go to church and live our lives for self attainment ‘what can I get out of this’ type of mentality, Jesus told us those who seek to save/preserve their lives will lose them. Yet the American church is consumed with building our portfolios for heavens sake! We need to hear Jesus words, there most definitely will be times of difficulty and suffering for a higher purpose, don’t try and get around the cross [your weaknesses] don’t cover them up [cross’s entail public humiliation] simply recognize the reality of them being part of the Christian life, when you get to the point where you can embrace it, allow it to take it’s full course, full impact if you will, then you can embrace the death experience and come out on the other side. That’s the only place where truth and life exist, every thing ‘pre-cross’ is simply mans agenda.

[1103]A few posts back I discussed John the Baptist, just read Matthew 11 and this is the chapter where Jesus says much about John. Now John was in jail and he sends the messengers to Jesus asking if he is the Messiah or not. I explained this a few days back and won’t do it again here. But Jesus begins telling the people that John was the one the prophet Malachi spoke of ‘God will send the messenger Elijah before the Messiah; he will prepare things for me’ John was also called ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness’. Jesus says to the people ‘what did you go to see? When you went to hear John in the desert, were you finding a reed shaken with the wind [a wishy washy pleaser of men] or did you expect someone in a three piece suit?’ John basically ran rough shod over the entire image of sophistication and affluence, yes he was rough and looked a little scraggly [leather loin cloth and eating locusts!] didn’t dress the part, that’s for sure! Then Jesus gave a description of the day, he said they were like kids in the market place saying ‘we sang for you and you didn’t dance, we mourned for you and you didn’t cry’ he was telling them that they expected performance, they wanted to illicit a response from those who were supposed to be teachers of the law. He said they were never satisfied, they complained that John didn’t eat regularly and must be demon possessed. Then they accused Jesus of eating too much! Ah, there was just no pleasing this bunch. Reminds me of the political world of our day. A few things; these last few weeks I have tried to share the story of Jesus and his disciples. The feelings they were experiencing and the things they had to deal with. In the case of John the Baptist Jesus said he was the specific person spoken about in the Old Testament, as we identify and see ourselves in these stories, we should NEVER begin viewing ourselves as the actual persons spoken about in the stories! For instance, many have read revelation chapter 11 and began seeing themselves as the actual witnesses spoken about, the ‘two witnesses’ thing. Many have become cult leaders by doing this! From my part of the world David Koresh did this in Waco. But the Muenster prophets did this 500 year ago during the Reformation, so the tendency to begin seeing yourself as actual biblical characters ought to be rejected! But you say ‘well brother, how do you know I’m not one of the two witnesses spoken about in revelation’. The reason I know is because I’m the other one and your not one of them! ONLY A JOKE!! Take my word for it, none of us are the two witnesses in Revelation 11. Just needed to make sure everyone stays on track here. Now back to John [the Baptist!] he challenged the people to ‘repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ in the message bible it says ‘change the way you think and act, because Gods kingdom is here now’. Yes, this does include turning away from sin, but it also means we need to look at things from a different view. Much of what I have written on the nature of the church would fit in here. As people see the church for what she really is [community of people] they will act differently, their  priorities will change. I took a few homeless brothers to a park/lake area in my town and we had a good fellowship. These guys are smart! One was a realtor in San Antonio for many years, the other is like a scholar of sorts. I mean I mentioned the philosopher Immanuel Kant and my friend read and was aware of his system of belief! As we talked we shared a little about the wrong priorities of much of modern day church. My one friend [the realtor] said if the church was really doing it’s job in reaching out to the poor and oppressed, then there would be no need for the mission out post that we meet at. He understood how so much of  modern church spends millions on facilities and salaries and stuff, yet the lost world is really not being touched in a real way. The overall discussion was good, these guys knew their stuff. The lake area we were at is off the beaten path, hidden inside some nice subdivision. We were surrounded by nice expensive homes, I’m sure many sincere believers were in them at the time, others at work trying to make a future for themselves. The collective offerings given by all the residents on any given Sunday is probably in the thousands, yet right outside their windows were a few homeless Christian brothers. If I weren’t with them they probably would have had the cops come and harass them. John was preaching in the wilderness telling the people ‘change the way you think and act, God’s kingdom is here right now’ I think John knew what he was talking about.

(1105) Isaiah says ‘before you call/ask I will answer’. Have you ever had your prayers answered before you called? Here in my office I have these maps all over the place; Texas maps, U.S. ones and world maps. I recently felt like I should pray for the Lord to expand us on the world map. I picked India and simply began praying for India. I mark off the countries/nations when they contact me and I can see the progress as time goes by. I mean I was believing for India! ‘Lord, let me mark off the country, I know I will mark it soon!’ Then as I was updating the ‘Texas/global’ section of the blog, I realized that I have had India on there all along. They contacted me a while back and I simply forgot! They were on the blog, but not on the maps. So now I marked them on the map, they weren’t there before, I trusted they would be there soon, does this qualify for an answer to prayer? Yes. God said he would answer before we ask, he simply gave me the exact answer to this payer before I asked, strange isn’t it? Jesus tells his disciples ‘you guys are seeing and hearing things that many prophets and holy men have desired to see and hear, have not’. As Jesus was teaching the terms used to describe the responses from the people are ‘astonished at this teaching’ ‘where did he get this wisdom from’ ‘he teaches as one who has authority, not like the regular preachers’ it was obvious that when you heard him there was something more gong on then just the dispensing of  knowledge. Jesus was fulfilling a divine destiny that would impact the world, those listening were just experiencing the tail end of the great drama, he wasn’t doing these things to gain a audience for heavens sake! He was simply fulfilling destiny; the audience came along for the ride. Scripture says ‘the people who sat in darkness saw great light’ the confluence of events in Jesus’ life allowed people who would normally be in no position to hear good teaching, to hear it.  These people would benefit directly from the destiny of Jesus. In 1st century Rome there was a profession called ‘rhetoric’ if you lived in an influential cosmopolitan city [Rome, Corinth, etc.] you had the benefit of availing yourself of higher learning. Sort of like saying ‘I went to M.I.T.’ or Harvard, but in the lower class areas of Jesus ministry these things were not readily available. The Old Testament prophets said that ‘those who sat in darkness [these areas that had no real opportunity for improvement] would see great light’. God permitted the ministry of Jesus to bring ‘higher education’ to those who normally would not be able to access it. Jesus said ‘many prophets and holy men wish they were seeing the things that you are now seeing, but have never seen them’. God reveals things ‘to babes’ the humble class, so they might confound the wise! [Corinthians]

(1110) yesterday I fell asleep on the couch watching Shindler’s list, of course I have seen it before but it’s worth watching a few times. My daughter woke me up to give me a letter she found in the mail box from an old friend of mine. I was surprised to have received a letter from Leonard; I used to preach to his dad in the county jail back in the 80’s, I became friends with the whole family [6 sons 5 daughters- if I can remember?] One of the boys eventually became one of our best brothers in Kingsville today. Still serving God and drug free after many years in prison and on hard main line drugs. The last time I spoke to Leonard [now in prison] was around 19 years ago. At the time I was ‘backsliding’ and ran into him in some alley in Kingsville. He ‘jumped’ me, hit with a sucker punch. I can still remember it. I took my glasses off and whacked him hard, I had him on the ground nailing him in the face, his sisters pulled me off. A bad time for me. I don’t think I have spoke to him since, I know all is forgotten. I have heard from his brother how he is back serving the Lord and all [in prison!] and his brother has kept him updated on ‘our journey’ [the progress of the ministry since those days]. I will read the letter later today. Now, Shindler’s list was good, there is a scene where the kids are being separated from their mothers and being taken to the death camps, the mothers are weeping. It reminded me of the Old Testament prophets words ‘Rachel weeping for her children, they are no more’. This verse was fulfilled in Jesus day when king Herod slaughtered the children, the wise men did not reveal to the king who Jesus was so he slew the kids from 2 years and under. God had his prophet speak about young children who would be born at some future date and who would live very short lives. They were important enough to make it into the prophetic history of Israel, don’t tell me God doesn’t care for the unborn! At the end of the movie Shindler buys as many Jews as he can to save them, and he begins regretting that he didn’t do more, he cant seem to see what he did as noble, something effects him and he is wracked with the guilt of not doing more. There are a few verses that I come across every few years, and when I read them I stop and allow them to have full impact. One is the verse from King David where he mourns over the death of his son ‘Oh Absalom, my son Absalom, would to God I had died in your place’ this verse reveals the brokenness of God over the loss of his Son, an aspect that is rarely seen when discussing the Atonement [God was punishing Jesus on our behalf, Penal substitution. Yet at the same time broken over his death!] The other  verse is when Jesus says to his friends ‘the things concerning me have an end’ it strikes me as both sad and tragic, his friends were hoping for a full life ‘long live the king’ type of a thing, but Jesus was surrounded with the reality of death. His close friend John recently died, they took his head off in prison. He is traveling a road that will end fairly soon, his friends wanted more. Jesus said ‘greater love has no man than this, that he would lay his life down for his friends’ how does a statement like ‘the things concerning me have an end’ affect you? What would you say to Jesus if he expressed these feeling towards you? We would want to say ‘No way, don’t talk like that!’ we would be more concerned with the things of men than of God. Live your life to the fullest, don’t get me wrong, but live it with the understanding that we are all mortal ‘the things concerning us will soon come to an end’. Shindler did all he could do, at the end he felt like he didn’t do enough. Live well.

(1122) Jesus is getting ready to eat the Passover meal with his disciples, a woman pours very expensive oil [perfume] on his head. The disciples [Judas] are mad ‘we could have sold this perfume and made money! Oh, and we could have given it to the poor too’. Which meant put it in the offering bag Judas was in charge of. Jesus rebukes his disciples ‘you always have the poor with you, but my time is very short now. What this woman did was a prophetic act preparing my body for burial’ [I wish he would quit talking like this!] Jesus says what this women did would be told all over the world, wherever his story would be told. Quite a bold statement, don’t you think? Jesus has this little rag tag group of followers, they are feeling somewhat let down, I mean Judas goes out to betray Jesus right after this act. He goes and makes a deal for thirty pieces of silver, what was in his mind? The trigger seemed to be the fact that he didn’t get his hands on the perfume money! Go read the story, it’s in there. We often brand Judas as this guy that was all bad right from the start, understand, Jesus knew his men were in his movement for political reasons, a sort of messianic group that was challenging the system if you will. His men did not realize the nature of his movement yet. So it was quite natural for Judas to feel disappointed, in some way he realized he was not going to get what he wanted by being a member of ‘Jesus church’. So Jesus sits down with his men, takes the bread and wine and breaks it, showing them that it will be his own act of brokenness that would be the glue that would hold this group together. The prophet Isaiah said ‘as many as were astonished at your torment/suffering, so likewise you will reach many nations’ Jesus knew it was in this act of sacrifice that he would be planting the seeds of true revolution, a little too much for the average follower. He even will pray in the garden ‘if its possible let this thing pass, lets do it another way God’ when he returns to his disciples they are sleeping, he will tell them ‘its enough, I now have settled what will happen, lets go’. We often think that the Father told Jesus ‘no Son, you must do this’ but in a little while Peter will cut off the ear of a soldier in trying to protect Jesus, Jesus will respond by saying ‘don’t you know I could call down angels right now and get out of this’ maybe the fathers answer was ‘Son, this is up to you, its totally on your shoulders now. If you decide not to go thru with it, its your choice’ the bible does say that Jesus purchased us by himself, that is it was riding on him. I don’t want to be too dogmatic about this, just something to ponder. Of course we know the rest of the story, this selfless act of Jesus would be the seedbed for a great worldwide revolutionary movement that will touch all nations, it was not an easy cup for him to drink.

(1150) In Luke 2 we see the prophetic events surrounding the birth of Jesus, notice how his mother Mary is keeping these things in her mind. We also see the first recorded relationship of Jesus with the temple and its leaders. He is 12 years old and questioning the doctors of the law. Both his questions and later teachings amaze people. This will begin a long and strained relationship between the popular themes of the religion of Jesus day and the breaking in of God’s kingdom. He will combat a mindset in Judaism that was obsessed with the temple and the rites that surrounded it, the religious leaders had their ‘tower of Babel’ if you will. A system of temple and religion that said to the world ‘look at us, look at how important we are!’ Jesus will later rebuke the leaders for their love of men’s glory. He will say ‘how can they please God, who seek the honor that comes from men’. I believe one of the areas the evangelical church needs to ‘grow in’ is the popular end times scenarios that seem to be focused on a future literal temple being rebuilt, and the anti-christ making a covenant with natural Israel, and the whole teaching that places so much emphasis on some future temple. While there are varying views among well meaning Christians on this subject, we need to keep in mind the significance of the ministry of Jesus and the temple of his day. It would be a mistake to  miss the spiritual significance of the destruction of the temple in a.d.  70 and how that represented the change from the old law to the new covenant age. I believe the most significant signs surrounding the temple and its destruction have already happened. I seriously question the popular teaching of the prophecy teachers and their obsession with some future temple. Jesus will eventually overturn the tables of the money changers in the temple courts. The religious leaders will even arrange the events of the crucifixion around the rites of the temple, making sure the religious requirement for cleanness was not violated while they kill their Messiah! The eventual destruction of the earthly temple will signify a new glorious building plan of the New Testament church, the true temple of God [made up of all ethnic races who receive the messiah]. Yes, Jesus had a long history with the temple, he told his men at one time ‘see all these expensive buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another when all is said and done’! I wonder why we keep looking for the stones to be ‘set back one upon another’?

(1151) Just finished reading ‘Coming to Grips With Genesis’ by Terry Mortenson and Thane Ury, probably the best argument for a young earth view put out in the last few years. Though I am still an ‘old earther’ it’s a good read. I am in the middle of ‘Last days Madness’ by Gary Demar [Preterism] and yesterday the book I ordered last ‘Why we’re not Emergent’, by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck, showed up at my door. I am about 1/3 rd thru it. I recently read a quote from one of the famous philosophers that said ‘it is the mark of a mature intellect to be able to read and grasp another persons view, to understand what they are saying and where they are coming from, without fully embracing their view’ [paraphrase] I am applying this wisdom to all three of the above books. Not because they are not good, or because I disagree with everything in them, but because all people share from a limited view of the things they are seeing from their perspective [yes, me too!] that’s why God tells us there is safety in a multitude of counselors [not all counselors from your limited group either!] Okay, in Luke 3 John the Baptist is baptizing and calling people to repent [obviously not an emergent brother, or post modern or neo orthodox- yes, this can go on for ever- he told them what was right and wrong!] Look at the three groups coming to him; he tells the regular people ‘sell what you have, give it to the poor, share your stuff with those who are in need’. He tells the tax collectors ‘stop taking more money than you’re supposed too! It’s okay to collect a normal amount, but don’t go overboard’ and he tells the military ‘don’t use your power in an unjust way, when things go wrong, don’t bear false witness. Don’t cover it up’. I think all of these areas can apply to our lives today. There is somewhat of a resurgence of liberal social justice issues emerging in the church. It’s not out of the mainstream to talk about ecology, or ‘the military industrial complex’ and things of that sort. But we also must realize that in order to have these types of discussions there are times where we say to people ‘yes, we are not perfect, we have our faults. But it is still wrong to kill babies, or to discriminate against minorities, and to neglect our neighbor’. Would you tell a backslidden Christian who was hiding Jews in Nazi Germany ‘who do you think you are hiding these Jews, you are just as bad as Hitler’! Though the church has made mistakes, and Christians have been hypocrites, yet the reality of the ‘wrongness’ of killing Jews is not effected in any way by the perceived hypocrisy of the religious right. It’s still wrong to kill Jews whether or not Jimmy Swaggart messed up! The point being as the church tries to cast off the image of moral superiority that offends the world, we at the same time need to tell the world ‘yes, these things are still wrong, and these other things are still right’. When society came to John in the wilderness, he told them ‘what they must do’ he did not engage them in a long discussion on whether or not we can even determine what they need to do! He simply called them to repentance and back to the original intent of the law, he was preparing the way for Messiah.

(1152) In Luke 4 we read the temptation of Jesus by the devil. The basic temptation to lust [eat bread- hedonism] to gain self glory [all the kingdoms will be yours] and last but not least, the temptation of victim hood [cast yourself down!] Being I am reading somewhat on the various ideas of the inspiration of the bible, let’s do the response of Jesus to the bread test. Jesus said ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’. Over the centuries you have had various views on the inspiration of scripture, did the historic church believe in it, some ask. Others say the doctrine was invented by scholars in the 19th century. Some say the main intent of God is inspired ‘the voice’ of God, while the individual words are not. Karl Barth is considered one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. The Swiss scholar had a view of inspiration that said the bible ‘becomes’ the word of God to us when the Spirit himself communicates to us thru it. It was sort of a ‘Rhema’ type teaching, that which is popular among Word of Faith churches. Barth was actually making a noble effort to regain the authority of scripture at a time where many scholars were throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Is Barth's idea the same as what the historic church believes? No. Does his idea have some truth to it? Yes. There are times where we as believers ‘hear’ God in a special way thru scripture. He might even speak to you in a way that is ‘out of context’. Sort of like if you were seeking insight to something, and then a verse says something that causes you to see things from a different perspective. The verse might not be speaking directly about your situation, but you know the Lord has spoken to you. This is okay for personal stuff, but you should not use this method to develop doctrine. Jesus told the devil that we need to live off of every word from God, the whole voice of God in context with the whole story. To proof text stuff [picking out single verses and making them say what you want] is not eating every word! As the church changes and reforms in our day, some have seriously questioned the idea of inspiration. Some have questioned the idea of whether or not we can even know what God is saying! Ultimately, the truth of God must be objective in order for any case to be made about anything. Is it possible for things to be true even if the record of those things are not infallible? Of course! We believe the history of our country and the history of the world based on fallible documents. We can know certain facts beyond a reasonable doubt with out having to have an infallible recording of those facts. But this is not what the church teaches about the bible. The church teaches that we have an inspired record of those facts. The word of God is true, it does not err! I believe this, though I am somewhat of a radical in the things I teach, whether it’s on church reform or end time stuff or railing against the prosperity movement. Yet without a truth standard that we can all go by [the bible] these arguments would all fall to the ground. As we change and reform as the people of God, we want to be open to different sides of the debates that go on in the church, hear and listen to what people are saying. But don’t reject/challenge things just because it’s popular to do so, in the end we don’t want a whole new crop of believers who don’t believe in the word of God, this would hurt the cause of Christ.

(1153) Almost finished with the book ‘Why we’re not Emergent’ [by Kluck and DeYoung]. It’s an excellent book, I recommend all of you guys to read it. I agree with much of the book, but it comes short when defending the historic reality of public preaching. It does show the biblical basis for declaring truth [public preaching] and shows the connection between a movement that questions whether or not truth can be known [Emergent subjectivism] and it’s de-emphasis on pulpit ministry [the two go hand in hand] but fails to see that the organic church reform movement does not really challenge the need for ‘preaching’ in so much that it challenges the style of church being a lecture hall environment where people simply sit and listen week after week, month after month and practice a form of ‘church’ that was absent in the new testament story. But all in all I liked the book. Now in Luke 4 Jesus says ‘you guys will want me to do the same miracles in my home town as in other places’ he prophesies their future questioning of him about the legitimacy of his calling. Jesus was ministering in an environment that was performance minded. The Pharisees and religious leaders loved to put on a public display. The people saw ministry as ‘we will pipe and you will dance!’ Yet Jesus will correct this mindset, he tells them the story of both Elijah and Elisha. He says there were many people who lived in ‘the days of Elijah’ who did not see him function. There were many lepers in Elisha’s day and only Namman got healed. He is telling them ‘your measurement of prophetic ministry is not based on Gods truth, you are basing it on public exposure instead’. They even tell him at another time ‘if you are for real, show yourself to the world!’ they simply associated ministry with public performance, and Jesus would have no part of it. Just because someone is sent by God, does not mean they will come and preach/publicly perform at the drop of a hat! Jesus actually offended people by not stopping and mingling with the crowd. In John’s gospel Phillip says ‘the Greeks want to see you’ they were at the big public gathering, the great feast. Word had gotten out about the success of Jesus ministry, now is the time to gain some exposure! Phillip tells Jesus ‘hey, these intellectuals are willing to hear you speak’ Wow, what an open door to the Greek thinkers, now's the chance to show them my talent. Not! He tells Phillip ‘unless a grain/seed falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone. But if it dies it will bear much fruit’ in essence he was saying ‘these Greeks can find/see me if they want to die to themselves and take up the Cross and follow me. They can find me in true discipleship, but I am not going to go and put on a public show for them’. Leaders, have you fallen into this trap? We all have at times, don’t feel too bad, just repent!

(1157) I have been stuck in Luke 6 for a few days, let’s hit it briefly. Jesus is walking with the disciples thru the grain fields; they pick the grain on the Sabbath and eat some. The religious watchdogs got him now! ‘Why do you and your followers break the commands’ the religious leaders of his day are 3rd-4th generation Pharisees, their office began a few centuries earlier during a time of captivity from foreign powers. Though they know a lot about ‘the bible’ they have developed this entire tradition around their religious lives [the tradition of the elders- rabbinic Judaism] and it was this interpretation of the law that they used to judge people. Jesus responds by reaching back into the history of David and says ‘don’t you remember when David was on the run from Saul and he entered the house of God and ate the special bread and gave some to his men’. Notice, Jesus will also tell them ‘which was unlawful to do’. He doesn’t seem to challenge their accusation by saying ‘no, I am not violating the Sabbath, just your view of it’ instead he says ‘yes, I am greater than the Sabbath’ in so many words. I find it interesting that Jesus saw himself as the David who shared the holy bread with his men, a type of the future communion meal that Jesus will inaugurate. He associates his movement and followers with a time in David’s life where the world was against him. David was on the run, he was attracting disgruntled men around him, a time of difficulty and going up against the authorities of the day. Sure, David will also go thru a stage of life where he will become the legitimate king, but this is not the David that Jesus is identifying with at the time. As you read thru the chapter they will accuse him again of healing the mans hand on the Sabbath, and Jesus will give the famous ‘if the blind are leading the blind they will both fall into the ditch together’. It really took guts for Jesus to say stuff like this, he had more problems with the religious folk than any other group! In today’s ‘church world’ you have well meaning people who believe the main job of the church is to defend orthodoxy, to fight for the truth at all costs. Others see a re-thinking of everything, they will say things like ‘Jesus was not a Christian’! Simply meaning that Christianity developed a culture and system that became more important than the person himself. I see validity to both views at times. When you read Jesus and his following, try and look past the technical examining of Jesus thru a microscope, and see him thru a magnifying glass [the big picture] the psalmist said ‘magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together’ the religious crowd were always looking thru a microscope.

(1158) Just finished an early morning prayer time [early means 3:30 -4:00 till around 5:30-6:00 am] I say this to let you know that doing regular prayer is still really important! We can get so hung up on the ministries [Christian business] that we are building that we neglect the real house of God [my house shall be called a house of prayer- remember?] Any way I got a letter the other day from a childhood buddy who is doing some serious prison time in Rahway N.J. I have had many, many good friends over the years who spent lots of time in prison, usually for robberies related to drug addiction. This friend has much more serious charges, he will not get out in a long time. He’s really going thru some serious depression, he is ‘trying’ church and all, but it’s not helping. It’s funny [not really] that this old buddy has kept in touch over all the years. This old friend knew me to be somewhat of a violent person, he ‘experienced’ my violence a few times. But after I converted to the Lord he still kept in touch, sort of like ‘wow, who would have thought John would get into religion’? You know, one of those types of things. But now, after 30 years I guess a real door is opening. I was copying some stuff for him off this blog [p.s. you preachers/churches that are copying our studies and books from this blog, great, keep doing it. But if you can, make me a bunch of copies and send them to me, I don’t have the capability to print mass stuff!] and the ‘darn’ printer messed up. I then went to delete the document, and lo and behold, I deleted the printer from the computer. You know, its stuff like this that makes it tuff to do the Christian thing. You wind up getting mad [at least I do] say a minor curse [you know, not the big one like the kid in the TV movie Christmas Story] and then you finish the project, asking the lord to forgive you, trying to download the printer hardware [who in their right mind saves the disk!] and trying to be spiritual while performing the whole task. Well anyway I got the stuff printed and will send it out soon. I have had a few letters from old friends in prison that I need to respond to. I already sent them some study materials, but need to do some more. I was reading Luke 7 earlier, Jesus heals the roman soldiers servant, raises a woman’s child from the dead. He’s doing one on one ministry while fulfilling the greatest ministry that any one could ever have. Jesus made time for people, while at the same time avoiding the ‘fame and recognition’ crowd. He just didn’t rub shoulders with the elite class! I had a good friend tell me ‘I don’t know who those people are’ when discussing some famous media persons [Benny Hinn, etc.] he was a homeless brother, who knew lots of stuff about the lord and Christianity, but told me ‘if these people you are naming are TV stars, I don’t know them’. I thought it strange how there are different groups of Christians who live their whole lives and never interact with the famous crowd [good thing in my view]. Jesus fame went out, don’t get me wrong. After he raises the kid in Luke 7, word got out. But you get the feeling that he really didn’t want the word to get out! It seemed to hinder his ministry, the whole town winds up at his door and he can’t hear the father’s voice like that. He finds time to pray all night, or to launch out in some boat. He had a mission to complete and becoming famous was not a secret desire of his, sort of like ‘I knew if I waited long enough my day would come’. His day came alright, but like the prophets said ‘why are people saying “we want the day of the Lord” they don’t realize what they are asking for’. Jesus day was great agony and suffering, yes a resurrection too, but first the Cross.

(1159) Just read the story where the prostitute pours expensive perfume on Jesus. A Pharisee named Simon invites Jesus to dinner, the woman comes and does this act of worship, she wipes his feet with her hair, she cries and worships him. The Pharisee thinks to himself ‘wow, if he were a prophet he would have known what type of woman this is’. The problem? He did know. Simon simply assumed that a true prophet would not receive a wicked woman. So Jesus does one of those things where he tells a simple story that even a child could understand, he says ‘Simon, there were these 2 guys that owed money to a lender, one owed much more than the other. The lender forgave them both, which one do you think would be more grateful’? Simon, not realizing that he’s on the hook, says ‘O, I don’t know, I guess the one who owed more’. Caught ya! Jesus says that’s why this woman is so extravagant towards Jesus, she was forgiven more than Simon. A few things, it is becoming popular today to teach that all religions mean well, they want to worship ‘the God of Abraham’ and we should be open and accepting of them. First, this woman worshipped Jesus. She was accepted because of her willingness to love and know him. Paul told the religious folk at Mars hill ‘I will reveal to you the unknown God that you have this altar set up for’ [Acts 17]. In all of our pluralism, we need to bring people to the Cross! Two, Simon simply misjudged Jesus. He figured if a prophet was really a prophet, he would act a certain way. Simon was simply wrong. If you look at this woman’s conversion, most evangelicals would say ‘she didn’t get saved’. I mean Jesus does put some liberal spin on it. The woman loved much, so she is forgiven much. What! Where are all the steps that end in a sinner’s prayer! You know according to that standard none of the apostles made it either [you find none of them asking Jesus into their hearts!] The point being we want people to come to Jesus, to know him and accept him as the messiah. Too often Christians can be a little technical in all the aspects of conversion while overlooking the main thing. The apostle John will write ‘those that do good are of God, and those that do evil are not’ Wow. Of course John also taught that those who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh are antichrist. So the basic belief in Jesus as Gods Son, the deity of Christ, is a foundation of the faith. But John’s test is not what type of conversion prayer you prayed, but a changed life. Simon invited Jesus to dinner, he was a Pharisee who was willing to give Jesus a chance. But he was too quick to come to a judgment about him. Over the years I have had friends who might get challenged in some area of reformation, something that God is doing to change things. Often they will say ‘O, I know about that belief. I have had friends try and tell me that before’ but they respond in a way that says ‘Yes, I have heard it and judged it and rejected it’. Too quick to think that God can’t be in it. Yes, John also told us to test the spirits, because every thing out there is not from God. But make sure you are not rejecting a prophet because you think he’s hanging out with the wrong crowd!

(1160) In Luke 8 Jesus gives the parable of the sower, in the parable the last group are the good ground that the seed takes root in and bears fruit with patience. In psalms one David says that the good tree planted by the water source brings forth fruit in its season/time. Both of these teachings show us that God’s kingdom, though explosive in nature [starts really small, gets really big!] works along the lines of patient, steadfast plodding. Faithfulness is needed because it takes time for the root system to develop and get to a point of consistent fruit bearing. When I moved to Corpus around 17 years ago, I bought a small grapefruit tree. It was about a foot high, now it’s a huge tree that always produces fruit. I have fruit all year long. Right now it’s got around 50 ripe grapefruits, and around fifty new ones ripening. I have had friends tell me that it’s not natural to have them produce all year like this. Maybe so? The point is it took a long time and lots of watering for the first few years. But now I hardly ever mess with it, just prune it every now and then. Jesus also taught that the things which grow fast [the seed on the rock] don’t have enough time to develop strong roots. They shoot up and are not around for the long term. This doesn’t mean every big ministry has no roots! But it warns us to be careful when things grow big fast, make sure there is some strong root connections to under gird the tree [good ministry relationships with other stable people!]. I like the parables of Jesus, they make a lot of sense and are not long, drawn-out sermons that nobody ever remembers! The psalmist said the tree planted by the water brings forth fruit that lasts, it is a mainstay for those who come back year after year looking for fruit. It is no good to have a tree that has great tasting fruit, but dies in a few years. It’s better to have fruit that might not be as flashy, but can sustain you for life.

(1162) I mailed the materials off yesterday, let me mention one more thing about the letters from my friends in prison. The letter from Leonard, it is full of praise and thanksgiving and glory; it reminds me of the testimonies of new believers. Many times over the years I have noticed good friends of mine come to know the lord, doing things in ministry and fellowship together. Sometimes these brothers struggle for years and go back to prison. The genuine brothers really do experience a ‘mini’ revival when this happens. It’s common for the average person to judge them as getting ‘jail house religion’ they can’t see that the process of chastening and the guys renewing their faith are a real process that brings great joy to them. Believe me, I have seen this happen many times and know that for the most part these guys are not faking. Okay, in Luke 9 we have lots of good stuff; Jesus sends his guys out light ‘don’t take money, extra goods, etc.’ Herod hears about Jesus and wonders if it’s John the Baptist risen from the dead [guilty conscience no doubt!] Lets hit the statement ‘some of you standing here will not die until you see the kingdom’. Over the years commentators have had various views on this, a common view is right after Jesus says this the transfiguration happens and this might be referring to that, it’s possible? The New Testament has various statements like this that the critics of Christianity have used over the years to debunk the faith. The famous atheist Bertrand Russell wrote a book called ‘why I am not a Christian’ one of the reasons stated was the so called missed prophecies of Jesus, these statements in the bible about Jesus coming kingdom that would take place within the lifetimes of those who heard him. Russell also rejected the faith based on a faulty idea from the philosopher John Stewart Mill. Mill said if every thing must have a cause, then God must have a cause, and if God is the first cause, then why not say the universe/world are the first cause instead of God. Russell believed this faulty argument, the law of causation does not teach that every thing must have a cause; it teaches every effect must have a cause. Any way Russell got duped by this fictitious argument and kept it his whole life. But back to those who read the statements in the bible about Jesus coming quickly, the things being written that will happen shortly [revelation] and stuff like that. There is some truth to the Preterists argument that the ‘last days’ that were taking place were speaking of the end of the present age of law and the introduction of the new age of grace. These brothers also link most of the ‘seeing the kingdom come’ verses with a.d. 70 and the destruction of the Jewish temple and law system. There are various views on these subjects. What about Jesus saying that some of the disciples would not die until they saw God’s kingdom? Preterists think the transfiguration happened too quickly after the statement for it to be speaking of that, it’s possible? I think some of the Preterists are too ‘futuristic’, let me explain. Jesus is functioning and operating out of the reality of Gods kingdom, he’s healing people, raising the dead, doing all sorts of things that are contrary to the natural order of things. He is introducing God’s kingdom to his disciples, they are actual witnesses to the events of Gods order breaking into mans order. The greatest events of this kingdom that they will witness will be the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, these ‘parts’ of the kingdom will be the most significant aspects that they will ever SEE in their lives. I prefer to see the reality of God’s kingdom, and the statements about certain followers being alive at the time of God’s kingdom coming, thru this lens. To push the majority of the significance out to a.d. 70 and the destruction of the temple seems to miss the great reality of Jesus death, burial, resurrection and ascension as actual witnessed events of the first century church. So, Russell and others who thought Jesus statements were false prophecies did not really see the reality of these things. I do believe that the events surrounding the destruction of the temple are important, and that you can find many verses that speak of the passing of the old testament order as the ‘end of that world/age’ but I believe the actual work of Jesus in redemption, as being witnessed by the early church, would be a better ‘location’ for the explanation of these types of things. Got it? [note- the main point being the importance the new testament puts on the eyewitness accounts of the disciples to the work of Jesus in redemption, any connecting with ‘the seeing’ of things and the witnesses of those things ‘seen’ has to be viewed thru this lens, the most important ‘seen things of the kingdom’ are without a doubt speaking of the great work of Jesus. This was so important that when Peter mentions the replacement for Judas office, he states that the new apostle must have been a witness of these things from the beginning of Jesus ministry]

(1163) Just read the story where the disciples tell Jesus that they found some people casting out demons in Jesus name and the disciples told them to stop because ‘they followeth not us’. It reminded me of one of the first official ‘church sermons’ I preached. It was during the early days of ministry, I was a youth pastor at a Fundamental Baptist Church, the pastor was a good man, he would ask me to preach every now and then. I remember speaking on this verse and sharing how we as Christians shouldn’t cut others off because they are not part of our group, it was a courageous message at the time, being young and all. This type of sectarian mindset was strong in this group. Jesus told his men to not forbid others who claim the name of Jesus. I realize that there are many different groups of Christians in the world today, it would be ignorant to believe that some of the doctrinal differences do not matter any more. But it would also be childish to view these brothers and sisters from a view point that sees them as all wrong, or even lost! The real fundamentals of the faith are held by the majority of these groups. Yes, it sounds liberal, but we all meet at the Cross. I noticed recently in the Corpus paper, that a church that advertises in the section where I run this blog ad, changed the name of the ad [and church?] they are a good Baptist church that would emphasize the ‘come as you are’ type of thing, the last time I saw the ad, it had a new name for the church called ‘acceptance’. I believe sometimes we might go overboard in the unity thing, we don’t want people to think there are absolutely no ground rules to this thing, there are some basic rules. But we want them to know that they do not have to be just like us [whoever ‘us’ is!] in order to be accepted, Jesus says if you name the name of Jesus, you’re in, can’t get much better than that.

(1164) Went to the radio station yesterday to drop off some programs, picked up a local Christian paper and read an interesting prophetic word for our area, I did like it but felt some of the more ‘interesting’ aspects of certain images need to be kept to ourselves unless we feel strongly that God wants us to speak them. I stopped reading on line ‘prophetic words’ a while back, too much area for error, to many wild images that might, or might not, mean anything. To publish them to the world might be a mistake. Okay, I read Psalms 2 and Luke earlier, felt like ‘the word’ for today had to do with declaration/decree. In Luke Jesus sends them out by 2’s and when they come back they are excited about being able to cast out demons. Jesus warns them to rejoice over their names being in heaven and not over their authority. He tells them they have power over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall hurt them. In Psalms 2 God says he has set ‘his king on his holy hill- declare the decree, this day I have begotten thee, thou art my Son in whom I am well pleased’. There are times in prayer where we simply decree/declare stuff. I just finished praying from 4-5:30, early outside prayer under the stars. I look towards the regions of Texas and the country while praying for those areas. My yard ‘just happens’ to be located perfectly for this. I look south to the valley, scan over the Texas Mexico border and pray for the areas working up to Laredo and over towards Del Rio. Then scan over to the San Antonio/Austin section. Up thru Houston/Galveston, jump thru Beaumont and hit New Jersey, then the nations. I do lots of decreeing/declaring during this time. Things like ‘cities of Judah, behold your God’ ‘let your doctrine drop down like rain, your speech distill like due’ ‘you will call a nation you do not know, nations that do not know you will come running to you’ [bible verses]. Lots of stuff like that, this decreeing is a form of prayer. Now Jesus said we do have the authority to do stuff like this, but the church went thru a whole spiritual warfare stage where we spent years decreeing things to the devil! Every now and then you might need to tell him ‘get thee behind me satan’ but avoid getting into long drawn out conversations! In Psalms 2 Jesus is pictured as the king who is PRESENTLY sitting in his place of rule and authority, we are ambassadors of his kingdom on the earth, he tells us ‘ask of me, I will give you the heathen for your inheritance, the ends of the earth for your possession’. He says this right after the decree thing. You say ‘now brother, you don’t believe that for real, do you’ you bet I do! As I pray for these ‘ends of the earth’ on a regular basis, we have blog ad’s running in these cities, our radio show hits the Texas borders, and I get contacts from all over the world from people reading the blog. Yes, God will do what he said if we do our part. He said ‘ask of me-decree/declare’ are you speaking?

(1166) yesterday I was finishing up Last Days Madness, by Gary Demar, and the book by Mark Noll showed up at my door [the scandal of the evangelical mind] I got thru the first 50 pages and really like it a lot. I do realize these books are dated, they’ve been around for a while, but I have been trying to catch up on the classics that I have never read before. Lots of my library has scholarly stuff, but most of the books were purchased at half price books, or ordered from Amazon, so I tend to miss some of the classics. I just read Luke 11, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. I like Luke’s version of it ‘give us bread day by day’ the daily bread request. Then Jesus goes right into the story of the guy whose friend shows up at his door, he realizes that he doesn’t have enough bread for his friend so he goes to another friend at midnight and asks for help. The other friend is in bed, but because of his friend’s boldness and persistence he gives him bread. James says we have not because we ask not, then he says sometimes we have not because we are asking out of selfishness, to simply get stuff to feed our lusts. Did James contradict Jesus? Did Jesus teach that we get whatever we want? I do find it interesting that Jesus gave us the story about the friend right after the Lords Prayer. In the Lords Prayer we ask ‘give us enough bread for today’ and then Jesus shows us what type of ‘bread asking’ this is. Asking for another! Basically when we recognize that we don’t have the wherewithal to meet the needs of others, we go to God and say ‘lord, I know these friends of mine are looking to me for answers, I really don’t have what it takes to be honest about it, but if you can give me some bread/life for them I will do my best to share it with them’. I like that, Jesus gives the bread to those who recognize that they are insufficient, they know they don’t have the ‘intellectual gravitas’ to cut it! When I was reading yesterday, I also grabbed one of my church histories off the shelf and started thru it. I like re-reading the good stuff, there are too many facts in these books to read them only once and think that’s enough. So as I’m reading thru I realize that it’s a very good read, you know, one of those books that reads easily. I was reading Karl Barth's history on 19th century Protestant Theology and it was a tough read. He was teaching on Immanuel Kant and it was rough, maybe because it’s an English translation of the Swiss theologian? Kant is tough enough on his own, but reading him thru a translation of Barth might be a little too much. So anyway I felt good about myself when reading Bruce Shelley’s church history, I mean it was easy, I thought ‘yeah, maybe I can hack these intellectuals, look, this read is child’s play’ I then flipped to the title to see the exact wording, it’s ‘church history in plain language’ which in layman’s terms means ‘history for dummies’ oh well a good dose of humility does the soul some good. Jesus said those who recognize that they don’t have ‘the bread’ for their friends on the journey are in good shape, they know to go to ‘other friends’ and ask for help, they’re not too proud to realize they don’t have all the answers. I think we need more of this in today’s church world. We all need to receive from one another. I like Nolls book, he shows the need for the intellectual wing of the church to receive from the ‘non intellectual’ wing. But he also takes the evangelical church to task for its neglect of the Life of the Mind. Hopefully I’ll share more in the coming posts. But for today this is all ‘the bread’ I have, thank God we all know where to go for some more! [I also ordered Brian Mclaren’s Generous Orthodoxy, but the order messed up. I will try and review it in the next month or so, it’s important for the emergent critique]

(1167) Last night I had a rough night, I thought I would skip the Monday morning intercession time, I do pray regularly during the week and figured it would be no big deal. But when I got up [a few hours ago] I felt the Lord wanted me to pray, so I did the normal intercession thing [3:30-5-5:30]. I read earlier in Luke 11 where Jesus is accused of casting out demons by the devil, he then corrects the accusers and says when a strong man is in control of his house, his goods are at peace, but when a stronger man comes upon him and overcomes him, he robs him of his goods. During my prayer time I quote lots of stuff, one of the regular quotes is ‘strengthen the bars of our gates, bless our children within, let peace be within our borders and let out garners be filled, providing all manner of store’. I felt like the Lord was telling me that when we pray we are ‘binding the strongman’ and ‘our goods’ [the people/communities we are working with] experience peace. Jesus said when the leader is leading his ‘goods are at peace’ I thought this was interesting. I at first felt like I was the one who was being overcome by the strongman, having a tough day and all, but then I felt like the lord was saying ‘no, when you persevere in prayer, you are overcoming his goods!’ [The people he holds in bondage]. Jesus also gives the famous quote ‘a house divided against itself can not stand’ I think Lincoln quoted this during the Civil war. As of today [7-09] I feel this is a sad description of the political environment of our country. I am not a conservative per se, or a liberal! But as a Christian I think we should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. I want national heal care! I don’t have any medical coverage for myself right now, so yeah, I want it. Our country is in pretty bad financial shape right now, don’t let the media fool you. We have sent representatives to China and other nations that lend us money, we have asked them to please not cut us off as borrowers, this my friends is not a good thing. California has the eight biggest economy, in the world! They are giving out i.o.u’s for heavens sake! I am not an alarmist, but you would have to be blind to think that things are all right, and yet the politicians are making decisions based on their political interests. I know our president means well, but it is simply irresponsible to try and initiate a trillion dollar national health plan at this time, he realizes this, but they still talk about it as a possible option. Or to be the only country that passes ‘cap and trade’ laws [cutting back pollution- or simply new laws to make more money for the govt.] as of now the bill has passed in the house, but is having problems with the conservatives in the senate [Democrats and Republicans]. Obama just went to the G-8 [meetings with the top industrial nations] and not a single nation would bind itself to any pollution control mandates. But they agreed to ‘try not let the world temperature rise by more than a few degrees over the next 50 years’ wow, what a deal! The whole point being these other industrial nations laugh at us for doing what we do. In a time of national economic crisis, you cant pass laws that would put an extra burden on any type of business in the U.S. Now, I believe the environment is important, but we our not ‘the globe’! Global warming is warming effecting ‘the globe’ if the other nations on the globe don’t give a rip, we are fooling ourselves by strapping our nation with restrictions, we cant change the global environment by ourselves. Now to be doing all this at a time where the world markets are thinking of raising our debt risk is truly irresponsible. Then why are  we doing it? Because the political wars are on and each side wants to score points with it’s base, truly sad. Lincoln quoted Jesus and realized that a nation divided against itself would not stand, I fear we are looking like that nation more and more each day.

(1168) Jesus told the Jews that they were seeking a sign and they would get no sign except the sign of the prophet Jonah. He was speaking of his death and resurrection [I explained this in the ‘Messianic, Jewish, Gentile’ section under the John Hagee comments]. Jesus also warned us about the things we see, accept as models for the way we live as individuals and as a society. He talked about the eye being the gateway to the body, what we ‘look at’ informs the way we live. Whenever I hear of these reports of a 5 year old accidentally shooting someone, I think to myself how in the world do these kids know what to do with a gun? They obviously were informed to some degree by ‘what they saw’ whether it be a cartoon or whatever. The point being what we see gives us information that can be acted upon. Now I am not saying that every person who sees a shooting will commit murder! But you get the point. What ‘we see’ as a society also effects the way we live. Right now the senate is grilling Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonja Sotomayor. She is the first Hispanic women to be nominated to the court. I really have nothing against her to be honest, but she has made statements saying she believed that the fact that she is Hispanic and a woman, that that would help her to come to better conclusions that white men. Maybe so? The main point is if you had a white women say that her ‘whiteness’ would help her make a better decision that a Black/Hispanic woman, she would be thrown out as a racist. But we allow minorities to make statements that are at their heart racist in nature, because it’s cool to be on the side of the minority. So we ‘see’ how this is wrong, basically a double standard, yet we allow it because it’s trendy. Now, I know I lose readers when I talk about this stuff, but frankly I could care less. I do not believe this woman is a racist, and I think she should get on the court. But we need to stop allowing double standards like this to slip by. Of course she just got overturned by the Supreme Court for her ruling in the Boston firefighter’s case. The fire dept. gave a promotional test, around 16 White firefighters passed and 1 Hispanic, no Blacks passed. So the city simply thru out the test. This stuff is blatantly racist at its very core, every body knows this! Things like this fuel these white skinhead groups; this makes other ethnic groups mad at Blacks. When you allow certain racial prejudices to exist in society, it affects the ‘whole body’. Jesus said we function according to the models that we are given, according to the things we see others do. When young kids see the blatant acceptance of racist actions as acceptable, they will grow up with the same frame of mind. I realize that many people who use this lens for their worldview are good people, I also realize that because of past sins against minorities that we do need to try and make up for these sins as best as we can. If institutional racism has kept minorities out of the colleges and other professions, then lets do our best to right these wrongs, but you cant right them by discriminating against the white grandchildren of those who might have been part of this institutional racism, it simply breeds future generations of racist thoughts and ideas. If the ‘light’ [the things that inform us as a people] that be in us is dark, then the whole body [society] will be affected in a negative way.

(1169) let’s finish up Luke 11. Jesus is invited to dinner again at a Pharisees house, you think the brothers would have learned not to do this by now! So as Jesus eats he doesn’t wash his hands first, the Pharisee ‘thinks within himself’ wow, this is the proof I was looking for, he’s not the one! Of course Jesus knows his heart and rebukes him for being  more concerned with outward religion/cleansing than the heart. Jesus tells him ‘did not he that made the outer things [material world] also make the heart/soul of a man’? He was rebuking him for having a sense of ceremonial cleanness, a view of ‘being clean’ that was legalistic, but Jesus said God was more concerned about our inner actions and thoughts. Now, he does connect the ‘right heart’ with a particular act of worship. He says ‘give alms [do charity] with all that you have and this is what cleanness is about’. The same rebuke the prophet Isaiah gave to Israel of old, he said ‘this is not the type of fast God wants, to do outward acts of casting yourself down and rending your garments, but God wants you to loose the chains of those who are suffering, to set the oppressed free’ the same type of idea that is expressed when Jesus quotes Isaiah in the synagogue and says ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me for opening blind eyes, preaching the gospel to the poor’ the anointing of Jesus, God’s religious way of ordaining people, was to do justice and show mercy. Jesus rebuked this Pharisee because he lost the original intent of Gods law and digressed into this religious mindset that was looking to find fault, that was obsessed with outward standards of holiness [they washed their hands obsessively! It wasn’t just a one time deal before a meal, this ‘washing’ became a religious obsession with them, this is the mindset Jesus is rebuking]. Jesus corrected this mistaken view and showed him what was really important, to do charity, justice, mercy and good deeds, this is the new testament sacrifice of the believer [along with praise- Peter] and Jesus said when you  do charity, this is what makes you ‘ceremonially clean’ in the eyes of God.

(1170) yesterday I was reading the paper and saw an article on a local guy who attacked a cop with a meat cleaver, as I looked at the brothers face he looked familiar. It took me a few seconds to recognize it was Martin, a friend of mine. He stopped by a few months ago, just to say hi and all. I have had Martin over a few times, been to his apartment a few times. We fished together; he had lots of good questions. Martin is a good friend who I would get together with again if the chance arose. The picture and story in the paper would have you thinking he was an ax murderer, in reality the cop was off duty when he approached him. He is paranoid, and he probably thought they were going to jump him. Meat clever does sound bad, but it was probably a kitchen knife! We see people from different perspectives than God, people need the Lord. Well I know I said we were done with Luke 11 yesterday, but let’s get in one more. Jesus rebukes the lawyers for taking away ‘the key of knowledge’ and hindering others to find the truth. A few years back when Texas passed tort reform, I would be at the fire house and see the new commercials the lawyers came up with. Instead of advertising for accident victims, they ran commercials on other lawyers who were ambulance chasers. They were wanting the public to contact their law firm, so they could sue the other law firm who got to them first. Lawyers suing lawyers, now that’s what I call poetic justice! Here Jesus rebukes these ‘lawyers’ [religious leaders] because they did a specific thing, they rejected the gifts that God sent to them in the past. Jesus says ‘God sent you prophets and apostles and you rejected them’. In essence they wouldn’t hear the corporate wisdom/correction of God. I have heard this verse used in various ways over the years; some said this was speaking of the Christian church who reject these gifts today [apostle/prophet] some say it’s speaking of their own religious view of things. I think an overall understanding is God sends us messengers thru out the history of the church, we become acquainted with them thru their writings and the histories that tell about their stories. Often times the modern church is too quick to associate all past ‘churches’ as traditional, dead churches. This is a serious mistake in my view. When Jesus rebuked those who held to the traditions of men over God’s word, he was not saying that we should reject all tradition! He was primarily speaking of ‘the tradition of the elders’ a specific body of tradition that rose up around rabbinic Judaism, not tradition in general. Paul will instruct timothy to hold to the traditions that he was giving him [grounded in the word!] So Jesus rebuked the lawyers for their rejecting of the messengers of God, in essence they wanted to re invent the wheel all over again for each new generation, this in itself is a rejection of the communion of the saints that understands that we are all part of a 2 thousand year tradition of Christian believers. While wisdom allows us to discern between what traditions are good, and which are bad. Yet we don’t want to reject the entire body of Christian tradition that has come down to us from our forefathers. Jesus said he who receives those he sends, receive him. Jesus has been sending us prophets and wise men for centuries, are you hearing them?

(1171) Just read the story where a brother asks Jesus to help him with his finances; he asks ‘tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me’. Jesus says ‘man, who made you think I was about money stuff’? Then he gives a famous verse ‘beware of covetousness, for a mans life consists not in the abundance of the things that he owns’. It’s strange, but this is one of the first verses I memorized as a Christian, there was no particular reason for me to have focused on it, but now all these years later it seems to have been prophetic, being a major part of our teaching is based on this verse. Jesus then gives the parable of the rich man who tore down his barns and built greater ones to store his goods, Jesus puts these words in his mouth ‘I will say to myself, soul you have many goods for many years down the road. I can now find comfort in my wealth and enjoy the coming years’ Jesus says the man died that night. He then warns the rich to be rich towards God, and not to find a sense of security by the size of their 401 k. I remember seeing a commercial on investing, it shows a woman discussing her wealth and she says ‘I feel so safe’ about her wealth. She was expressing the feeling of security that comes from investments. It caught perfectly the warning of Jesus, covetousness has effected the church because we have allowed our financial empires to give us a sense of peace and security, contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus warned us to beware of this type of mindset, if it wasn’t a real danger that people would fall into, he wouldn’t have told us to beware!

(1173) I have a few things that I need to hit on today. First, recently there has been some criticism of the freedom to blog. Some have said that because blogging is so accessible, that for that very reason those who blog are not credible. I would like to point out that any venue of ‘speaking’ whether it be Pulpit, TV, Radio, whatever- has both good and bad aspects to it. Around a month or so ago the lord spoke to me from Romans [I think 13?] ‘The powers that be are ordained of God’ while it is true that anyone can do anything [blogging, public speaking, etc.] it is not true that anyone/everyone is doing it by Gods grace. So to be sure, anyone can blog, but if God is giving anyone a voice of influence, be assured that he alone [God!] has the power to ‘ordain powers’ or set up those who have authoritative voices in the community. Number 2, I want to comment on the book ‘scandal of the evangelical mind’ by Mark Noll, but I still have a few chapters left. But let me say I want all of our ‘followers’ to read it, especially you pastors and leaders. I recently checked my email [something I only do every few weeks, or once a month! I got away from the distraction that it can cause] and I had a few church planting networks contact us. I am glad we have some readers who are actively planting churches. One of the things Noll brings out in his book is the lack of good intellectual learning available to the average evangelical Christian. I like Noll, don’t agree with every thing he says, but I do agree with him on this. To all of our leaders/church groups that follow us, make an honest effort to buy, borrow or READ BLOGS that have good in depth teaching. You are a product of what you read. If the majority of your Christian experience is simply listening to modern success type preaching, then you and the people you lead will suffer for it. Now, lets do Luke 12; Jesus gives the famous story from the birds and flowers, he is rebuking the natural instinct of man to find security and interest in the pursuit of material wealth. He says the birds do not invest, they have no storehouses or barns, yet God feeds them. The flowers don’t struggle and toil, yet they look great. Then Jesus says he doesn’t want us preoccupied with the material pursuits of life. He says the unbelievers allow their lives to be consumed with this stuff and we should not be like that. Okay, Jesus is not teaching financial irresponsibility, but he is telling us not to allow wealth building to become an adventure that consumes our thoughts and time. When I first became a Christian I had the ‘disconnection’ that Jesus spoke about here. For many years I passed up chances to make wealth and stuff like that. Then after a period of listening to a lot of off balance teaching that focused a lot on money, I got into the money thing. Investing, real estate, the whole 9 yards. It wasn’t that awful, but I did notice that I spent lots of time thinking about investing, buying books and tapes on the subject; catching all the business and investing shows on TV. I did it all. Then I went thru a period of time where I walked away from the whole deal. It took time to sell the rentals and all, but I realized that for me it was a distraction, it affected the way I viewed God’s kingdom and work. Most of the money teachers/preachers had a feeling of disdain towards the verses like this. I realized that the overall environment of the financial/wealth building focus was something Jesus was against. Being consumed with the stuff. So today, where are you at personally? If you’re a Pastor, do you do this? Has your teaching become affected too much by personal success and wealth? Are you simply a believer who wants to sell out for the gospel? After I retired I stopped balancing my checkbook, put my investment money in a fixed interest savings, and really backed off of the regular overactive concern about wealth. Of course I still check my account on line a few times a month, making sure the automatic bills are being paid, checking up on my direct deposit from my retirement. But that’s all; I have no other schemes or ‘fishing lines’ out there trying to bring in some type of financial harvest. That’s a simple return to basic responsibility without spending an inordinate amount of time thinking ‘money thoughts’ all day long. Jesus said the world was consumed with this stuff, are you?

(1175) Lets talk a little; here in my office I have a couple of tool boxes that are around 70 years old. They are machinist tools that belonged to my father’s dad. He died before I was born, but as a boy growing up I used to regularly go thru the interesting tools, micrometers and stuff. The reason they are in my office is funny, a few years ago I was in New Jersey visiting family. My mom would kid with me about stuff, and sure enough I found out that my sisters ‘boyfriend’ was gradually depleting the inventory of the tool boxes for drug purposes! My sister has had a long, sad history of drug addiction, and her friends too. I actually have made some headway in helping her present boyfriend of a few years, he is almost like one of the buddies I help here in Texas, the same type of friendship and all. So I would kid my mom ‘gee, I always looked forward to getting these tools as an inheritance someday, I thought at least I will get something. And now I find out that they have been making their way out the back door for the last year or so’. Now, my mom laughed and all, I know it sounds strange, but it was kinda funny. But she does ask me if I feel bad about it, I told her I would get over it. But I said if I’m on my way back to Texas on the plane, and we have some bad turbulence. And per chance the pilot informs us ‘folks, we regret to inform you that we have encountered mechanical problems. They are so serious that we believe we might suffer loss of life before the flight is over. If you have loved ones you need to call, go ahead and do it now. One more thing, we might have a slim chance of repairing the engine, but we don’t have the proper tools. Does anybody on board happen to have a micrometer’? I told her then I will be mad! One other thing, my mom asked my advice about borrowing money from a reverse mortgage, I told her if the charge and interest are in a reasonable range, then do it. I feel my parents at times have felt guilty over the years because I left Jersey when I was 18 years old, and they thought I would eventually move back. You know, it’s common for kids to launch out when their young, to face the brave new world. And after a few years wind up back home. But in my case I never went back. So there has always been a sense like ‘gee, we never really helped John, he’s had to fend for himself all these years’ and I felt my mom was asking me about the reverse mortgage sort of like getting permission to ‘sell’ part of any future inheritance. I of course have advised her to sell her house and do whatever she needed to do to get herself in a better situation. My parents are divorced and my mom lives in an expensive home that is taxed at a very high N.J. rate. So my advice has been to sell it years ago. But anyway I told my mom to do the reverse mortgage if the price was right. So she borrowed around 25 thousand from the equity at around 6 %, an okay deal. Then I find out that they charged her 25 thousand as a one time fee, along with the 6%! I told her ‘mom, that means they charged you 106%, not a good deal’. Oh well at least I still have a few micrometers. The point is my poor mom does not know financial stuff, I felt bad for her, not me. They basically ripped her off. In Luke 12 Jesus said some servants that knew their lords will and did not do it would suffer many stripes [punishment] and those that were ignorant and did wrong stuff would suffer few stripes. The fact that my poor mom was ignorant of the deal didn’t protect her from taking a loss. In the world of reformation, God changing things in the church, new ways of seeing and doing things, I have Pastor friends who really are like my mom, they are good people who have a basic grasp on stuff, but they are out of their league in other areas. Then there are those who do see and recognize the real problems that the church is facing, they see the limited paradigms that the people of God have functioned under for all these years. Jesus said both groups would give an account for their response to truth. Those who really knew what was wrong, and let it slip by will suffer much. But those that didn’t really know what was going on in the current church world, they served faithfully to the best of their ability in the limited mindset of church and ministry, they too will suffer, not as much as those who had more understanding, but yet they will suffer. I believe God wants all of us to serve him and do our best to live up to the things he requires of us. I also believe that too many of us [Pastors/Leaders] struggle for too long in places and ideas that are outmoded and calling for change. If we simply take the attitude ‘well, people have been doing it this way for years’ without truly educating ourselves as much as possible, then we too will suffer. Hey, don’t get stuck on the plane with out a micrometer, it good prove hazardous to your health! [get it? The right tool for the journey- hey it’s the best I can do]

(1176) In Luke 13 the people ask Jesus about a current event, there were these people who Pilate executed and mingled their blood with their sacrifices. Jesus says ‘do you think these sinners were the worst? No, but unless you repent you too will perish’ and then Jesus volunteers another news story ‘and what about the 18 people that died when the tower of Siloam fell, do you think they were worse than the common man? No, but you all need to repent’. Recently there was a story in the news about a nurse who worked for an abortion doctor, she testified to the fact that there were times when the babies were born alive, and you simply left them to die. She explained that on one occasion the doctor placed the tiny baby in a disposal basin and put it in a closet. She went back into the room and heard the poor mutilated baby crying its brains out. She finally took the baby out and held it until it passed away, the baby lived for 45 minutes. We as a society have a tendency to look back at the past injustices of man; we see the horror of slavery or the holocaust. We often think ‘how could people have been so blind to have allowed these atrocities to happen’ and yet we allow for things that are worse. Jesus rebuked the people of his day for thinking that other people must have been worse because of their fate, he said not so, you too allow for evil things. Picture a white doctor dismembering a baby, the arm is cut off. But by some accident the baby comes out alive and screaming. Let’s say the baby is Black, then let’s say he stuck it in a disposal box and left it to die while screaming in a closet. Can you honestly tell me that this act is not as horrendous as the poor Black slaves that were killed on the ships from Africa to America? Or the innocent Jews who were gassed under Hitler? One of the things that disturbs me about our current president is when he was in the Illinois senate he was one of the few [if only?] senators who voted against a bill that would have protected the live birth abortions. They tried to make it illegal to not administer treatment to a child that came out alive. I know the politicians lie and say ‘well, we voted against it because it would have opened the door to the pro life groups’. I don’t care what your reasoning is, if you cant protect the life of an innocent living baby, you have no right to be in office. We are talking about the babies who popped out alive for heavens sake! Jesus told us to beware of the tendency to look at the abuses of others while not seeing that we are just as bad. I can think of no greater application than this.

(1177) I would like to talk on a few things today to be honest, I just heard a good radio debate on evolution and it gets me in the mood to argue; but I am still in Luke and want to hit some stuff. Jesus said he came to set a fire on the earth, that he would cause divisions in homes and among ‘families’ [even church families]. His radical kingdom passion had people lining up on opposite sides. Mother and father against son and daughter, stuff like that. I have found that most revolutionaries get this type of response, it comes with the territory. You find some who hear and think ‘wow, this is the best teaching I have ever heard’ and others who say ‘look, he’s stirring the waters too much’ Jesus was that type of a preacher. Okay, let’s do the science thing; the debate I just heard was good, the presenters of the Christian show did a good job airing it, yet they were a little confused on thinking that Intelligent Design and Creationism were the same thing, they are not. Lets talk a little on the Scientific Method, during the enlightenment of the 18th century you had the method develop called ‘the analytical method’ this added to the scientific method and stated that you had 2 sides to examining and learning stuff- the inductive side [gathering of facts/data] and the deductive side [coming to some basic conclusions based on the facts]. The biggest problem with modern science in my view [if I can be so bold] is it’s inability to rightfully use the second part of this method, that is there comes a time where any scientific endeavor has to capitulate to the overwhelming inductive data and come to some basic set of beliefs. You can’t go on ad infinitum looking for missing facts to prove your conclusion. That would be getting the method backwards. So for example if you are looking to prove that a living cell can come into existence ‘by chance’ without any real cause, then you look at as many examples of living things and try and trace a point where something popped into life without a prior cause. After a few hundred years of doing this, science has gathered tons of real evidence that show us that this never happens. Now, if your theory on evolution NEEDS this to happen, and you continue to promote that this ACTUALLY HAS HAPPENED, you are basically taking the scientific data and coming to a false conclusion, you have deduced an idea that is not consistent with the facts. Now, you can argue that there still is the slight possibility that new data will arise to back up your theory, possible. But the point is you can’t promote your theory [evolution] over other theories [creationism or intelligent design] and say yours is science while the opponents is not. This just is not true. The field of intelligent design is loaded with scientific facts that lead to the conclusion that there was intelligence behind the created order. They have the science to back up their theory, evolution does not! [Darwinian macro view] So anyway Jesus said he was going to set fire on the earth, he was starting a revolution that would get out of control, I think it’s time for us to start some fires.

(1178) Jesus is in the synagogue, the religious leaders are watching, sure enough he does it again. He heals a woman who had a sickness for 18 years. The ruler of the synagogue stands up and in a non direct way says ‘well, we have 6 other days to come and get healed, if you need to be healed get it in those days, not on the Sabbath’. Now this brother is the God ordained leader of this group, I mean Jesus himself said to obey those who ‘sit in Moses seat’ [basically the pulpit of the synagogue]. So how does Jesus respond? Does he simply think praising God and speaking only ‘nice’ words will get the job done? Jesus responds ‘you hypocrite! Don’t you rescue your own beast on the Sabbath if it falls into some ditch?’ Jesus minced no words, he let him have it. Paul does stuff like this as well, he says some teachers mouths needed to be shut, and Paul was on a mission to shut them! The point being we don’t take this approach with every one we disagree with, but there are times when leaders get in this mode of survival, they want to be happy and wealthy. They want that for their people, and any perceived intrusion by the Kingdom of God into their little world is seen as a threat, in these cases truth trumps personal doctrine and security. Sure Jesus was tough on the brother, but he showed him an error in his thinking, he showed him how he wasn’t allowing the same grace and mercy for human beings as he was for animals! He showed them how their ideas of Gods law [Sabbath keeping] were way off track, he then let the chips fall. The people in the room were obviously in shock, Jesus by passed Pastoral etiquette and rebuked this man to his face [Like Paul did with Peter] I know one thing, this was a lesson that he [they] would never forget.

(1180) FRIEND, GO UP HIGHER- its 5 a.m. right now, just finished around an hour prayer time. In a few hours I will be heading to San Antonio for the day. My daughter’s birthday is today [7-25 Bethany, the oldest is 24]. Her boyfriend of a few years proposed to her last night. We will be riding the inner tubes at one of the rivers and hitting the good spots, river walk and stuff like that. San Antonio is one of our outreach cities; it will be a prayer time as well for me. In Luke 14 Jesus says when you get invited to a wedding don’t take [seek] a place of honor and recognition, but take the humble seat. Because if you go ‘for the glory’ the person who invited you will have to tell you ‘I’m sorry, but this seat is reserved for someone else, but you can sit here in the back’ and the man will have been humbled on purpose, as opposed to having done it himself. This theme is pretty consistent in the teaching of Jesus, he was instilling the mindset that greatness in Gods kingdom would not be measured by worldly standards. Religion in Jesus day developed along the lines of class warfare, you had the leaders hold a special place over the people. God’s people were already under Roman dominion, they felt like they were always having to answer ‘to the man’ being on their guard for stepping on the wrong toes. And religious Judaism fell into this same mindset. The leaders primarily saw their role as being in charge of people, that is they derived joy out of knowing they were a special chosen group, better than the average laymen. In essence the leaders were always going for the best seat in the house. Now Jesus comes along, he really rebukes them all thru out his ministry, he’s been taking the outcasts of society and elevating them to a position that really offended the clergy! At the same time he’s been telling the elite class ‘you belong down here, in the back of the room’. Ouch! He was really changing the mindset of authority and leadership in a major way. Leadership was not to take a pre imminent role among the group, they were to be servant leaders. Jesus tells those who take the low road ‘friend, go up higher’. It’s funny, Jesus will exalt and use the lowly in a great way, it’s just they aren’t in it for the fame.

(1181) Well we had a good day at the river yesterday, we went to San Antonio [New Braunfels] and rode the river in the inner tubes. I actually pray regularly for this area, stuff like ‘your people will rise up and overflow the river banks and flow into Judah’ ‘you will be like fountains dispersed abroad, like rivers of waters in the streets’ [bible verses] so it was cool floating down a river with hundreds of people who you regularly pray for. On the ride back I also noticed some famous churches along the highway, basically good people, charismatic type personalities who I used to catch on TV [I haven’t watched shows like that in a few years now, not because their bad or wicked, but too disconnected from the historic context of Christianity- a simple success gospel with no real attachment to the historic church]. So it was fun. Okay in Luke Jesus says when you have a dinner [B.B.Q.] invite the poor and down and out, don’t invite the rich and well to do [man, he is so hard on the affluent!] because if you invite people with the mindset of ‘reaping a harvest’ now, you forfeit a true reward. Jesus says the reward you get will be at the resurrection [no material mindset here, no money thing in the here and now] this is Luke 14 by the way. It’s a mystery to me how so many well meaning streams of Christianity can completely by pass this central mode of Jesus teaching. James, Jesus’ brother, wrote in his epistle ‘when you favor the rich in your assembly and treat them better than the poor you are doing wrong’ [James 2- by the way this is the only reference in the New Testament that speaks of an assembly that can be translated as a place to meet. The context of James is Jewish believers, he obviously is referring to meeting at the synagogue. That probably would have been a better translation. The term for church, Ecclesia, never refers to a building]. So James obviously picked up this mantra from Jesus, you know, the whole negativity on the rich type preaching! Well today we see how Jesus wants us to approach our service to him, when we love our neighbor we are to act and show kindness and spend money [hey, brisket isn’t cheap!] and do it all with a mindset that says ‘no, I am not doing all this so I can get some type of financial reward in the here and now, Jesus will reward me at the resurrection’ I like this stuff, you might not like it, but I love it.

(1182) I JUST GOT MARRIED AND AM NOT ALLOWED TO COME- Ouch!  In Luke 14 Jesus gives the parable of the great supper; he says a man makes this great feast and sends out his servant to tell the intended guests ‘all things are ready NOW, it’s supper time’ [not breakfast time! Supper time is a time of completion, Galatians says the fullness of the times were already present in the 1st century]. So the servant goes and tells the people ‘come’. But the people make excuses, one says ‘I have bought some land and need to go see it’ [his lucrative real estate business was too important] another said ‘I have bought some ox and need to go try them out’ and the last guy said ‘I just got married, I can’t come’. It’s been said in the annals of famous repeated jokes from previous Pastors/Teachers that this was the only brother who had a legitimate excuse [sorry about this]. So the servant comes back to the man and says ‘I invited all the intended guests [1st century Israel] and they couldn’t come’ and the master gets mad and sends the servant back out to gather all the poor and lame and outcasts of society, and they come. But the original guests are left out. This parable, like all the others, must be seen in context. Obviously Jesus is speaking to the nation of Israel and telling them that as a nation their time has come, he is their Messiah and the supper is ready. In New Testament thought [as opposed to the multitude of various theologies that people espouse] the appearing of the Messiah in the first century was the defining moment in all of human history. The national rejection of Jesus by Israel did not postpone Gods intended Kingdom work. The other guests that came to the table were all the Gentile nations who benefited by the rejection of Israel [book of Romans]. The supper time indicates that Jesus initial presenting of himself to Israel was not a sort of evangelistic call to get saved [though that was a small part of it] but it was Gods plan for the ages being fulfilled, it was a passing away of a former age [law- Old Testament economy] and a bringing into existence of a new way, the Blood of Jesus and his New Covenant. This new way was presented as ‘a full course meal’ so to speak. It was there in its fullness and would be inaugurated by the Messiah, whether Israel wanted it or not. So when we read the epistles in the New Testament we read a story of God bringing in many Gentile nations, the non Jews are now considered citizens of God’s kingdom and fellow partakers of all the Divine blessings that were restricted to Israel under the first covenant [Ephesians]. When we read the New Testament it is important to read it thru the proper lens [this being one of the pairs of glasses!] when you do it this way it allows you to see the truth of many other things. It puts the proper perspective on things. We as Christians are not waiting for a Kingdom that has been postponed for 2 thousand years, but we are already partaking of the benefits of ‘the supper’. Sure, there will be a great future day when the King returns, that’s true. But we are already living in the Kingdom at this time. In essence we are the eternal generation that Jesus spoke about when he said ‘some of you will not die until all these things are fulfilled’. If you see this ‘some of you’ as the church age, the people of God from day 1 until now. Then truly some of our brothers and sisters have gone on to be with the Lord, but there are still some of us hanging out on the planet; but whether we are alive or not when Jesus returns, I know for sure that ‘this generation’ [the church] will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled [note- I am not saying this is the only way to read these verses, but I think there is much truth to some of the way I just taught it]

(1183) I HATE YOU! Felt like this was a prophetic word to all of my critics [KIDDING!] Jesus said unless we hated our families and lives we could not be a true disciple. Over the years I have seen the church go thru stages; one of the areas of popular teaching is the entire field of family life. Now to be sure the bible speaks about family life, husbands loving wives and bringing up their children in the fear of God. But I want to give you another side, while I don’t believe Jesus was speaking of ‘hate’ in a way that means anger, but I do believe the people of God have at times made ‘family things’ an idol. I remember years ago when first coming to Texas, I had a good friend who made the second trip back to Texas with me. He had a hard time [as I] in trying to make it as young kids in a strange new world [you know, cowboys and stuff shooting regularly in the streets- or Bush and his cronies running rough shod over the population as Cheney acts as an oil czar!] At one point my friend, who was now married and had kids, was having a hard time making it. We were both in our mid 20’s with families and kids. I had just started our church and he was an original member. My focus was on doing Gods work and branching out in outreach to as many people as possible. I was working at the Fire Dept. and doing my best to ‘run the church’. My friend told me one day he decided to leave Texas and take his family back to New Jersey, it was rough on him to be sure. At one point I could sense he was missing his natural family back home, he was raised by his Cuban grandmother [she used to make us some great Cuban food!] and he expressed a feeling of ‘wow, I can’t wait until I get back home and grandma can make us good food again’. While his love for his natural family back in Jersey was fine, yet he based his decision on past family affinities, as opposed to current situations. I felt he made a mistake in going back. Jesus challenged us to put his kingdom first, even ahead of well meaning family things, things that can be hindrances at times. When I first started helping street people and addicts, I had some people say ‘gee, why don’t you help your natural family and not worry about all these other people’ some thought I was rich and spending lots of money on these friends. Then when they found out I was simply doing it on a fire fighters salary [now a retirement check] they kind of had the feeling ‘gee, the guy doesn’t make that much, he shouldn’t be spending the little he has on these bums’. You know, you can’t win for losing! Jesus wants us to do what he says, sure he also wants us to be responsible people as well, good family lives and well adjusted kids. But as in any area of life, we need to keep the proper balance, there will be times when you will need to make a choice between what’s better for you and your family situation, or moving ahead by faith in the Kingdom. My buddy went back to eat some good Cuban food, but I fear he might have missed out on the real supper the Lord had for him in Texas.

(1185) THE SHEEP AND THE COIN- Once again Jesus stirs up the crowd, as his teaching ministry flourishes he gains a listening audience of tax collectors and sinners. Basically he’s speaking the language of the people. It’s interesting to note that around 70 % of the Old Testament quotes of Jesus found in the New Testament are taken from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. This translation was a collaboration of 70 scholars [so the tradition goes] and was the Greek cultural version of the Old Testament that was popular in the Greek speaking world, it was also seen as an ‘impure’ version among the religious leaders of Judaism, it was not the most pure Hebrew text that the orthodox used. But Jesus was attempting to speak to the common people as much as possible and he wasn’t the type of preacher to engage in these long debates over the most pure text of scripture! So anyway he gives the stories of a man who lost 1 sheep out of 99 and goes and finds it; also the woman who lost 1 coin out of 10 and she too seeks for it. Jesus says that’s what he’s doing when he receives these so called low class people; he’s seeking the ones who are lost. He says when they find the lost sheep/coin they bring it home and call their neighbors and friends and rejoice with them. Jesus did put a priority on spiritual riches versus natural stuff, to seek the lost and save them was valuable in his eyes, to live your life based on class issues was not valuable. The religious leaders despised these down and out folk, they wouldn’t stoop so low as to actually befriend them. That was the real accusation they made against Jesus, he was ‘their friend’ this just irked the religious leadership terribly! It’s too easy for well meaning Christian leaders to live their lives in an environment where most of your time and thought is spent in public speaking, running the 501 c3 operation of ‘ the church’ and mingling with the elite crowd as much as possible. The lifestyle of Jesus was a total repudiation of this professional ministerial class, they were building their careers while Jesus was out looking for sheep.

(1186) PARABLE FROM A PARABLE-  I woke up this morning and was praying for ‘my sons’ [this refers to all the people we are reaching out to] I had a dream and after thinking about it I felt the Lord wanted me to pray this. Then I opened Luke 15 and read ‘a certain man had 2 sons’ and figured I’d better do it. In Luke 15 we have the parable of the prodigal son, a younger son [inexperience] approaches his dad and requests too much money to soon [economic stimulus- 800 billion, possible health care cost- 1 trillion. You get the point] and the son goes into a far country and wastes the money [it could have had a better effect if spent properly, i.e.; I like Nancy Pelosi, but I heard her defend the Democratic plan for the economy as green jobs, energy reform and insurance reform, while these are noble things, they are not things that drive our economy] so after the son wastes his money, he repents and says ‘I will go back to my dad and admit I blew it, I will tell him I am no longer worthy to be called his son [doubting his legitimacy, citizenship!] and will work as a hired servant’. The father receives the son back, makes a huge feast [media adulation] and all is well. Oh wait, the older brother [more experienced conservative type, he knew all along that this younger inexperienced person would blow it, he’s just waiting for others to see it too] the older brother comes close to the house and hears all the ruckus ‘what’s going on’ he asks. They tell him your younger brother is home and your dad thru him this big bash. He gets mad, he says he has been doing right all these years, faithfully serving in a conservative way, he never wasted the people’s money! And now, after all this waste, this younger guy is getting all the credit for things. He’s being treated in a way that I have never been! Being appreciated and all. The older brother refuses to rejoice as well, he really doesn’t want the young brother to succeed. I believe many people who voted for ‘the young son’ thought he would be more main stream than he actually turned out. Some fiscal conservatives thought he would be a pragmatic type, who could talk to both sides and come down in the middle. The truth is he has turned out much more liberal than expected by the moderate group who voted for him. I am not saying this is bad in itself, but this is political reality. Now, there are some major things that can go either way right now, and I fear that some of the more conservative ‘brothers’ really don’t want the younger brother to make it. Just like they did to the last president [the Dem's to Bush]. The point is we do need to root for the success of the younger brother, even if his wasteful spending lead to ‘a famine in the land’ we need to allow room for rejoicing once again, and the possibility of things going well for all parties involved. It’s only natural for the older group to feel animosity towards the younger brother, he was treated with great bias by the media, they truly did a disservice to the country by not fairly presenting both sides. Too much adulation, I heard a recording of two reporters at one of the appearances of Obama during his campaign. On the air they were having a conversation about Obama’s I.Q. it went like this ‘What do you think his I.Q. is? I don’t know, but it must be one of the highest I.Q.’s of any president ever. Do you have any idea what the number is? No, but I have a feeling it’s really high’ now, lets be honest, when the opponents hear this stuff, they develop a natural animosity to the man. The older brother heard the tremendous noise from the party, a party he really didn’t deserve. And this caused him to not want to side with the younger man. The father finally says ‘look, you are all in this together, you could have partaken of the inheritance all along, just like your brother is doing now’ the father turned the conversation from ‘us versus them’ to one of ‘we are all the same family’ I think we need to heed this parable.

(1187) CASH FOR CLUNKERS- In Luke 16 we have the parable of the steward who wasted his master’s money. Jesus says there was this employee who was reported to have swindled his boss. The boss calls him on the carpet and the employee gets busted. He thinks ‘geez, I am going to lose my job [you know, the recession and all] what will I do for cash?’ [Oh, I don’t know. What about taking whatever you can find?] He says ‘I can’t dig [why not?] to beg I am ashamed [now we are running out of options] I know, I’ll contact all my bosses debtors and reduce their bills’. He takes option number 3 and gets in good with the guys who owed his boss money. Notice, this option really didn’t produce wealth, it simply lost it. Right now our country is doing the ‘cash for clunkers’ program, you can take your old gas guzzler in and the govt. pays the dealer $4,500 dollars for the car. The dealer then destroys it. The idea is the govt. is getting the polluters off the road while the dealers are doing business. You know how many of these clunkers could put my buddies to work? Guys trying to buy clunkers for a few hundred, these so called clunkers that are being traded in are pretty good vehicles. If you simply gave them to unemployed people who really needed them this would help them and the economy. How many junk yards could have done business with the parts? I realize the reason for destroying them is for environmental concerns, but we are having major unemployment right now, this deal doesn’t help them. So the steward wrote off some value. Then at the end the Lord commends the guy for being wise, doing what he had to do. The parable ends with the famous verse ‘you cannot serve God and money, if you try and do both you will wind up hating one and loving the other’ note to you readers, if this verse just offended you, in a small sense you are ‘hating one of them’ right now. I like Jesus forward preaching, you never left the sermon wondering what his point was. In life we all do what we need to at times, this employee cut off two viable options right at the start [work, beg] make sure the reason you seem to have no options isn’t because your standards are too high. I get a kick out of some of my buddies who wont work for a ‘measly 7 dollars an hour’ but have no problem dumpster diving for a left over pizza! Sometimes we are the problem. And sometimes we are ‘unprofitable’ because we are too caught up in the material pursuits of life. Jesus does say those who were not faithful in temporary riches [money] would be unfaithful in the true riches [spiritual wealth]. I know there are many ideas on what this means, but one way we become faithful in natural wealth is by not letting it consume us, by not being too preoccupied with the obtaining of the stuff. These are the main points of Jesus in these stories; we seem to miss the main points a little too much.

(1188) Right after Jesus gives the parable of the wise steward [Luke 16] he launches into the parable of the rich man and Lazarus [yes, I know some think it not a parable! I explained this before] it’s like Jesus was hitting the subject of riches and poverty thru the whole chapter. In verse 14 the bible says the Pharisees, who were covetous, were there. We often don’t think of them as covetous, Jesus says they esteemed the things of men highly while those things that men value are an abomination in Gods eyes. They valued their image/status a lot, how others viewed them. Often times people seek wealth and fame for these reasons, thus they coveted money for the wrong reasons. Jesus also speaks of John the Baptist ‘the law and the prophets were until John; since John came on the scene the Kingdom is being declared’. John was a transitional figure, the people of Jesus day knew lots about the law and prophets, they were sticklers when it came to ‘bible facts’ but John came on the scene and turned the tables upside down. He was a different sort of preacher, that’s for sure! With the preaching of John [and Jesus] all of a sudden there was this whole new context to put everything else in. The didactic teaching of the Old Testament was not being seen in context. Jesus himself will show his men all the things that were written about him in the law and prophets. In the end of this chapter Jesus tells the rich man that if his brothers don’t hear ‘the law and the prophets’ then they will not listen, even if one rises from the dead. Jesus was showing us that it’s possible to know bible facts, without really grasping the reality of God. I just read an interesting article in Christianity Today magazine [8-09] it showed how the countries of Latin America were being inundated with a very limited preaching of the prosperity gospel. How the country is flooded with ‘Christian TV’ and how many uneducated preachers have gotten a hold of the principle of ‘sow money into my ministry and God will bless you’ yet many of these ministries have no real preaching of the gospel. Jesus rebuked the lifestyle of the Pharisees because of their underlying sin of covetousness, they knew how to quote scripture and function as religious leaders of the community, yet they weren’t really listening to the one whom scripture testified of [Him]!

(1189) In Luke 17 the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God is going to come, Jesus tells them that the kingdom does not come by observing things; it’s not about geopolitical events if you will, but it is ‘within you’. He then says some will come and say ‘see here’ or ‘look there’ and Jesus says ‘go not after them, don’t follow them’. What were the Pharisees asking Jesus? To the first century Jewish mind, their expectation of the kingdom entailed the setting up of the messianic rule thru the messiah. They were looking for an outward, physical kingdom that would be set up at the capital city of Jerusalem and throw off the dominion of Roman rule. They in essence were looking for the same exact thing that the modern prophecy teachers have popularized over the last 50 years or so, they wanted Jesus on the throne and openly fighting off Israel’s physical enemies. Jesus clearly told them this was not the way the kingdom would come, or be expressed. He also warned of those who would be obsessed with ‘looking there’ or ‘seeing here’ those who would be scanning the geopolitical landscape with the goal of finding specific signs that would ‘hasten the kingdom’. Over the years I have observed various strains of belief that exist within the Christian church, I have always been uneasy about the proliferation of end time books that espouse a very limited view of end time events. Many of these scenarios are a compilation of prophetic portions of scripture from all over the bible, but they seem to ‘paste’ them together as one divine master plan that will all culminate in our day. They take Daniel, Ezekiel, Thessalonians, the Gospels and Revelation and seem to find a pattern that has all these various references speaking of one specific period of time, namely the late 20th [or early 21st] century. These passages speak of ‘the beast’ ‘the anti christ’ ‘the prince that will come’ and other descriptions of wicked men and rulers, but they apply all these verses to one man who is yet to appear on the scene. This is not the proper way to do ‘bible study’. Some of these passages might refer to the same person, but some have had their fulfillment centuries [or millennia] ago. Let’s just hit one scenario for today. In Daniel we read of a prince that will come and in the middle of the last week [7 year period] will cause the sacrifice to cease. Most commentators teach this in a way that has a future ruler who is yet to establish a peace treaty with Israel and in the middle of a 7 year period he breaks the covenant and stops the sacrifices that are taking place in a restored Jewish temple based out of Jerusalem. Now, the prophecies of the Old Testament do have remarkable accuracy. You find the appearing of Jesus prophesied to the tee from the 490 year prophecy of the ‘70 weeks’ of years. You can actually trace the years of the prophecy and they do bring you right up until the time of Christ’s appearing to Israel in the first century. But what about the last 7 [or 3.5] years? Does the prophecy about ‘the prince causing the sacrifice to cease’ mean that we have to postpone the last 7 year period for at least 2 thousand years? Right after Jesus appeared to Israel he entered into a 3 and a half year period of ministry, he in essence was with them for the first part of the last week. What happened in the middle of the week? He dies on a Cross and becomes the final sacrifice that God will ever accept for the sins of man. He in effect was the prince that caused the sacrifice to cease in the middle of the last week. But what about the other 3 and a half years? And the abomination that makes desolate that Jesus himself talked about? Let’s see, you have the nation of Israel rejecting the messiah for a 40 year testing period. They continue to practice animal sacrifices and this practice itself is called an abomination in the book of Hebrews. God was telling the 1st century Jewish community that they had so much time to accept or reject their messiah. 40 years has always been a time of probation for Israel. But they continued to reject the final sacrifice of Jesus right up until the destruction of their city and temple in A.D. 70. When Rome sacked the city under the military leader Titus, they actually besieged it for 3 and a half years. This time period was considered one of the most terrible times of trials for the nation. It was reported that women actually reverted to eating their own babies! There were also a few candidates for the ‘abomination that makes desolate, standing in the holy place’ you had the zealots [radical group] who actually desecrated the holy of holies on purpose to bring a quick uprising, you had various periods of time where certain Roman emperors attempted to set up an image of themselves in the sacred court [Caligula]. You had times where swine were purposefully sacrificed on the altar of God [Antiochus Epiphanies in the days of the Maccabees] and of course you had the actual sacrificing of animals, which the New Testament describes as an ‘abomination’ taking place in the city of Jerusalem. The point is we have a whole bunch of historic events that we can look at and see if they play any role in the various scattered prophecies in scripture. I am not saying that this view is the only valid view, but we have a type of ‘prophecy teaching’ that takes place in the U.S. that seems to discount all these other options. It is a view that is obsessed with outward signs and telling the average Christian ‘look over here, see this sign’ it is a view that Jesus rebuked when he was confronting the Pharisees. They, of all people, had every right to believe that Gods kingdom was about an actual setting up of a military type rule that would throw off Israel’s enemies, Jesus flatly told them that this was not what the kingdom was about. If the Jews of the first century were told not to look at the kingdom thru this lens, how much more should the American church re evaluate her view on end time things?

(1190) In Luke 18 Jesus gives the story of the woman who keeps hounding the judge for vengeance, the judge is not a good man. He does not fear God or care about man, yet he finally avenges the woman because of her consistent pleading. Jesus says we should learn the principle of consistent prayer thru this story. At the end of this chapter a blind man comes to Jesus and begs for mercy, Jesus asks ‘what do you want me to do’? The man says ‘restore my sight’ Jesus did. Some times we as believers overlook the obvious, we plan and scheme and strategize, we come up with bible formulas to make stuff happen, often times we forget to simply ask. Now, sometimes we have to wait for a while before we see results, but it is during these waiting periods that God enlarges us. I like studying Cosmology [universe] and science, one of the major breakthroughs in science occurred in the last century with Hubbell’s discovery of the expanding universe. Some have a limited idea of what this means; for instance if you took a game board and placed a bunch of stars and planets on the board, you could move the planets and stars away from the earth and it would give the appearance that the earth is the center of the universe, how else could everything be moving away from one point, unless that point were the center? Well this really isn’t what is meant by the expanding universe, a better model would be like taking a balloon and placing a bunch of stars and planets on the balloon, as the balloon inflates the stars and planets all move away from all the other points at the same time. The stars and planets are not actually moving; they are simply part of an expanding universe. So in this model the earth would not necessarily be at the center, because the expanding universe creates an environment where all things are expanding at once. Okay, I don’t know if you got it or not, the point I want to make is during times of waiting and asking and trusting, God ‘expands our universe’ if you will, he doesn’t just bring us along further down the road [distance] but he ‘enlarges our steps under us’ [Psalms] The bible says a mans gift makes ‘room’ for him. Jesus said he was going away to prepare a place for us, that in his Fathers house there were many rooms/mansions. We often read this as meaning Jesus is building us a spot in heaven. A better reading would be that Jesus was leaving the disciples so that they would ‘move into the room/place’ that God had for them [on the planet]. His leaving would allow the Spirit to come and then they would function in the capacity that God had for them. Sort of like saying ‘I am leaving to prepare a place for your gifts and abilities to function, they will only function by me leaving and creating space for you to function in by my absence’ got it? So the bible says a mans gift makes room/space for him, it expands your field of operation. The gifts are described as precious stones, in whatever way it turns it prospers. This speaks of a multifaceted gem, a diamond that you can observe from many different angles. During times of waiting God allows us to grow, not just in size, but depth. The bible says ‘God stretches out the heavens’ this is a good description of the expanding universe, given centuries before science knew about it. God also taught us that we would grow and expand during seasons of waiting and trusting, I think he knew what he was talking about.

(1191) THANK GOD I’M NOT LIKE YOU! - Jesus said 2 men went up to the church house [temple] to pray; one was a tax collector [a despised class in the 1st century, they collected taxes for the Roman govt. from their own people [Jews] they were seen as sell outs] the other man was a Pharisee, those who were deemed more holy than everyone else. You know, the whole aura of the room would change when these guys showed up [the preacher/pastor is here, watch what you say type of a thing] the Pharisee prayed ‘I thank you God that I am not like other men, adulterers, liars and even like this low class neighbor of mine, this tax collector’ he saw his religious life as a means to self betterment. Something that made him a cut above the rest. He tithed, fasted and attended the temple meetings. Now the tax collector was struggling with guilt, the weight of all the years of being hated and despised, sure he pretended it was just part of the job, but it affected him. He even feels unwanted at the temple, I mean this Pharisee is using him in his sermon illustration for heavens sake! He does not even feel worthy enough to look into the eyes of other people, fearing he might see someone that he has had shady dealings with in his extortion type job. He simply says ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ Jesus said this man went back home accepted in Gods eyes, the religious leader did not. This week [8-09] the congress went on break, they are back home in their districts and getting an earful, angry constituents chewing them out. The conservative media says these folks are mom and pop types, just innocent citizens expressing themselves. The liberal media say they are republican plants who are part of the K street lobbying conspiracy to thwart health care by the corrupt insurance profiteers! Probably a little truth to both views. The problem is our country has about 20-25 % who are uninsured [around 40-50 million people] the rest of the population has insurance, when the liberal media portrays the country as being willing to sacrifice their present system [whether it’s broken or not] and to have a possible increase in taxes, when the media says the 80 % of the insured really do want to do this for the 20 %, they are not being realistic. I want universal health care, I don’t have insurance right now and I need it! But the reality is most Americans are not willing to make more sacrifices for a group of uninsured people who for whatever reason have not been able to get insurance. Many seniors are worried that their Medicare will be affected, it surely will. Right now about half the country wants it, about half say leave the thing alone. Our society measures ‘winners’ by the success that they have attained, one of the scoreboards is how well you are doing compared to the next guy ‘I thank thee that I am insured, been responsible, done what I was supposed to do. I give tithes/taxes of all that I possess, fasted [been frugal] but look at this other 20 %, they are reaping what they sowed, sure they don’t have health care, but why couldn’t they have done the responsible thing and gotten it like me? Now you’re asking me to sacrifice for them’ the main reason why people are against it is not because the conservative lobbyists have tricked grandma to go to the town hall meeting and scream, the reason is people will only go so far to ‘help the other guy’ when you tell people that they should be willing to make all types of sacrifices for the betterment of the whole, this usually does not work. Some people are saying ‘hey, I don’t even have a job and you’re asking me to agree to support one of the biggest expenditures in U.S. history’. There are many reasons why people are disgruntled, as of today I think the president is not going to pass reform. Maybe some type of a private co-op thing, but not  reform with a public option [like Medicare]. When society digresses to a point where one group is pitted against the other, ugly things happen. Both sides [liberal/conservative] have misrepresented stuff, have used racial/class distinctions to fight the other side, no group has clean hands in this stuff. The church/people of God should function with a higher morality, speak with a clear voice and not misrepresent issues or people. I believe that overall, we should have true health care reform. I realize there are many pros and cons to the debate, but as a principle, we should strive to provide care for all Americans whether or no they can afford it. This principle is noble, it doesn’t help when both sides brand the other as the real enemy, look at the issue, take a principled stand and let the chips fall where they may.

(1192) ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DUMMIES? Still in Luke 18, the disciples forbid the young children from coming to Jesus; Jesus rebukes the disciples and tells them that the Kingdom of God is made up of little children. There is a theme in the New Testament that goes like this ‘become childlike in your faith and trust in me, but be mature in your thinking and understanding’. Often times these two things are confused. Why? In the letter to the Corinthians Paul will rebuke the wisdom of the world, he states that when he was among them he did not use men’s wisdom to convince them of the message of the Cross. Paul also encourages believers to be ‘child like’ as well. Many confuse Paul’s teaching with an idea that says Christians should not be engaged in the development of the mind. Paul was not rebuking all wisdom and forms of knowledge, but a specific kind of wisdom. In Acts 17 we read of Paul at Athens, the Greek intellectual city of his day [Alexandria was the philosophical center in Egypt]. As Paul disputes with the philosophers of his day he actually quotes their own poets/philosophers in his sermon, he does not quote from the Old Testament, but uses the sources that they are familiar with. Right after Athens Paul goes to Corinth, the cites are very close geographically. There was a form of philosophy at Corinth that was  very popular, you had the Sophists and the professional speakers [Rhetoric] operating out of Corinth. The Sophists were the philosophers that came right before Socrates in the Greek cultural world, around 6 centuries or so before Christ. Their form of philosophy was what you would describe as the first Relativists [or post modern thinkers who appeal to subjective knowledge as opposed to objective] they taught that philosophy and arguing were simply things you do ‘just for the heck of it’. Sort of like a hobby of simply disputing things while never being able to arrive at truth, something Paul will rebuke in the New Testament by saying some people were ‘always learning and never being able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ Paul himself tells the Corinthians ‘where is the disputer of this world’. So the Sophists were famous for this type of thing. Now the great philosopher Socrates disagreed with the Sophists, Socrates taught that thru the practice of thorough debate and the art of constantly asking questions, that you could arrive at truth [seek and ye shall find type of a system]. He believed real knowledge could be found thru seeking after it. Socrates stirred the waters too much, he was put to death by being made to drink the famous hemlock, the city where this happened was Athens. So Paul more than likely is disputing the system of thought that said you could not arrive at objective truth. It’s no secret that his letter to the Corinthians has one of the strongest statements of factual [objective] belief found in the New Testament. The great chapter 15 reads like an early creed to the church ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures…’ It’s very probable that this chapter was used as a sort of creed in the early Pauline churches. So, what exactly was Paul saying [and Jesus] when they taught us to be like children, to reject the wisdom of the world for the wisdom of Christ? Simply that our approach to God and the things of God should be done in a humble manner, being childlike and open to God all throughout our lives. Paul was not teaching us that the following ages of great Christian thinkers was wrong; men like Anselm, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. It is perfectly acceptable for the believer to become well versed in the field of philosophy, to argue the Christian worldview from a biblical perspective. While it is true that no church was founded by Paul after his Athens visit, and some feel he abandoned his use of ‘worldly wisdom’ at Corinth because of this failure, but I think Paul continued to appeal to the intellectual world thru his great wisdom [God given] thru out his life [read Galatians and Romans!]. Ultimately it is the wisdom of the Cross that saves people, a wisdom that Paul said he communicated not in the words of mans intellect, but in the direct ability of the Spirit to speak. Sometimes that ability came thru a sermon that quoted the philosophers of old [Athens] sometimes thru the simple sharing of the message of Christ. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature with God and man, he knew the ideas of his day, so did Paul. Do you?

(1193) The rich ruler asks Jesus ‘what good thing must I do to inherit eternal life’? Jesus responds ‘you know the commandments, do these and you will live’. The man says I have kept them since I was a kid, Jesus says there is still one thing lacking ‘go, sell all that you have, give it to the poor. And come and follow me, you will have treasure in heaven’. As you continue thru the chapter [Luke 18] you see that Jesus then gives the famous ‘it is easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to make it to heaven’. The disciples wonder ‘who then can be saved’ and they also tell Jesus they forsook all in this life to follow him, Jesus says they will be rewarded both now and in the future for their sacrifice. Now, I explained this section of scripture many times over the years, the camel quote and what Jesus was telling Peter about ‘getting more in this life and later as well’ either read the short book ‘house of prayer or den of thieves’ [on this site] or go thru the ‘prosperity gospel/word of faith’ section on this blog for an explanation. I just want to hit on one angle today, over the years it has become popular to make a charge against the historic church that when they made vows of poverty and did stuff like that, that they were simply being deceived out of the truth of wealth and the devil tricked them into ‘forsaking all to follow him’. Many preachers who have made this charge are well meaning men who have been wrongly influenced by the prosperity/materialistic gospel without realizing it. In this story Jesus clearly challenges the rich person to sell his goods, give to the poor and follow him. If this type of teaching was limited to this one story, then I could see where people might be taking it out of context, but this theme of choosing Christ over the material pursuits of life is woven all throughout the New Testament. You find it in the writing of the epistles, the book of Acts, the Revelation of John. I mean this is a central theme of scripture. To charge that the people in church history who have actually felt that Jesus wanted them to ‘sell all and follow him’ to say that they were being tricked into doing this by ‘church tradition’ simply is not true. Many believers have made these choices because of what they read in the bible, many of them went on to found great worldwide movements [some of the famous Monastic movements were started this way] and their lives truly were a fulfilling of this type of teaching. In essence they left the pursuit of material wealth and founded movements that continue today for the cause of Christ. I do realize why many well meaning Pastors have overlooked this, but this still does not excuse the fact that a majority of the New Testament speaks against the pursuit of wealth versus the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t a Bishop, or Pope, or Reformer or Orthodox priest who told the man ‘sell all you have and give it to the poor’ it was Jesus himself! I think it’s time we stop accusing the saints of old who have made this same decision because of the words of Christ, they were not acting out of ignorance or tradition. It is our modern day ignorance that often is the problem.

(1194) HELP THE POOR AND YOU WILL GET TEN CITIES- It’s Sunday morning right now, around 4:40 a.m., just finished around an hour and a half prayer time. I want to mention that there are regular prayer times when I pray a specific intercession thing, and also just times where I talk without any particular structure. I have noticed that the structure really helps a lot, when you’re done praying your focus is much stronger, just a hint to all you Pastors/leaders. Now, I was going to do Zacchaeus [Luke 19] but think I will just hit a few things. Notice in the story that when he repents, he ‘gives half of his goods to the poor’. Also in our last post I mentioned how the rich ruler was told to ‘sell his goods and distribute to the poor’. Ever wonder why these guys don’t feel lead to run down to the temple and put in a tithe? We have a habit of reading the bible thru a certain lens, that lens ‘colors’ everything else. Now, when Jesus gives the story of the guys who were given so much money [pounds] and then when he returns he asks ‘what did you gain’ you’ll notice that the 10 pounds [around $450.00 dollars] gained the same amount, good, this guy gets ‘10 cities’. The guy with 5 pounds [around $250.00 dollars] gets 5 cities and the guy who hid the pound in the ground loses out. As I was reading this story, I realized that the money I spend every month on ministry stuff is between ‘5-10’ pounds. That covers all of the stuff I do, yet when praying this morning I realized that we are regularly preaching/reaching a whole region of Texas [at least 10 cities] plus the New Jersey area, and of course thru radio, blog and paper ads we have contacts all over the world. What! How can you have a ‘10 city outreach’ [large region] with only ten pounds? Don’t you know we need millions to reach the world? There goes that stinkin thinkin again. Jesus said ‘the things that are impossible with men [like reaching a large region with 10 pounds] are possible with God’. I want to challenge you today [especially you leaders] have you fallen into a mindset that sees money as the solution to the problem? Do you see ‘faithfulness to God’ thru the lens of giving money to ‘the church’? How often do you regularly, personally meet the needs of others out of your own pocket? When we obey the Lord in giving to the poor [not thru the church budget, but personally] then God will increase your parameters. As I was doing the Sunday morning prayer thing a little while ago, I walk around the yard and prayer over regions. I have around a 5 foot section of railroad track set up in my yard, these are real parts of track and piling that I picked up over a year period when they were tearing up all the old tracks and putting new ones in. They are a composite road of all the cities that I used to drive thru on my way to work. When I pray in the yard and see the tracks it reminds me of the Lord increasing our parameter. I used to personally drive by the tracks in Kingsville when picking people ‘up for church’ now we reach all the cities on a regular basis, the ‘10 cites’ if you will. Be faithful in the little and God will give you 10 cities.

(1196) WE STILL KILL THE PROPHETS- At the end of Luke 19 Jesus rebukes Jerusalem for not knowing the time of her visitation. He says there were things that were presently part of her peace, but because of a wrong ‘timing’ issue, she couldn’t see them. In Revelation 21 we read of the New Jerusalem, God’s holy city. The chapter says she is the Bride, the Lambs wife. She is ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ this city truly is a product of God. Jesus sits at the right hand of the father as its head, a ‘present’ [not future!] reality. In the New Testament the church is described as ‘The Israel of God’ ‘The New Jerusalem’ ‘The Bride of Christ’ ‘The City of God’ it’s not hard to see that John is speaking of the church. He also says there was no temple in the new city, but the lamb is the light of this city and God dwells [tabernacles] directly in this city with his people. The gates of the city bear the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and the ‘foundation’ has the names of the 12 Apostles, this being a symbol for the church being comprised of both Jew and Gentile people [though the Apostles are also Jewish, they represent the new Gentile church, and the 12 tribes show that natural Israel would still play a part, but only as she is connected with the church]. In the New Testament [and Revelation] natural Jerusalem and natural Israel are described in strikingly bad terms, John calls her ‘spiritual Sodom, the place where our Lord was crucified’. The writer of Hebrews says those who continue in the sacrificial system and law, after the Cross, are treading the Blood of Jesus under foot. The basic theme of the New Testament is that thru this New Covenant in Jesus Blood, all nations and people groups [including Israel] can partake of this new City that comes down from God out of heaven. The temple and its sacrifices are associated with ‘old Jerusalem’ and the coming judgment [that came in A.D. 70]. John’s description of the new city having no temple was theologically significant; he was saying the old law system had no part in her. Truly the book of Revelation is a wonderful prophetic book given to the ‘new Jerusalem’ and Jesus himself said the things that John wrote about were realities that would ‘happen soon’ [soon even to the 1st century readers of the letters!] Johns prophetic vision [actually Jesus’] is a wonderful prophecy that belongs to us, it is ‘part of our peace’ if you will, but because we know not the ‘time of our visitation’ many of the things written in it are hidden from our eyes.

(1197) JESUS ASKS A QUESTION- In the beginning of Luke 20, the religious leaders ask Jesus who gave him the right to do what he was doing ‘who gave you this authority’? He tells them ‘I will answer you if you answer my question’ say on ‘the baptism of John [John’s destiny to impact the nations] was it from men or God’. Jesus clearly shows us that there are 2 different ways that men receive authority, from men or God. Now the religious leaders were no idiots, they knew that John was a prophet from God. So they reason among themselves that if they say God, then Jesus will say ‘why didn’t you believe him’ and if they say ‘from men’ well all the people would be in an uproar, they knew John’s mission was from God. So they tell Jesus ‘we can’t answer the question’ Jesus says neither will I answer you. What was going on here? Religion in general has certain protocols that people go thru to receive authority to function. In Jesus day you had all the hoops that the Pharisees and religious rulers jumped thru to become legitimate, to ‘be ordained’. Jesus operated outside of that system. Now, this did not mean that all those ‘in the system’ were not of God [you know, the strong anti –institutional church thing] but yet Jesus and John were not ordained in that way. Over the years I have seen how certain limited views of ‘local church’ and what it means to be ordained have at times fallen into this mindset. Ordination, in the bible [Paul ordaining/recognizing elders] was the simple process of Paul telling the local believers who they could look up to and go to for advice in his absence; it was a simple type of a thing. Though Paul himself had the official ordination of the day [he was a Pharisee] yet he himself would say that he had to go thru a process where he counted that past as ‘dung’ so he could gain Christ [Philippians]. His past knowledge and learning was not dung, but the whole idea of status and legitimacy that came thru that way of feeling authorized/accepted had to be abandoned. I believe the Lord uses both ‘ordained’ and un-ordained people to carry out his mission on the earth, when people are sent by God with a divine mandate, their authority comes directly from God. Ordination and all the other tools that the Christian church has used over the years are okay things in their proper place. But when it comes down to the bottom line, your authority either comes from God or man. I think I know who’s I want, how bout you?

(1198) GET OFF THE TRACKS! Jesus said the stone that the builders rejected became the head of the corner, the chief cornerstone. Whoever falls on the stone will break, but whoever the stone falls on, watch out, you will be ground into dust! Jesus said this in the context of Israel rejecting him as the Messiah. Christians are notorious for making the main thing a side issue, and then making side issues the main thing. In the history of Christianity there have been numerous times when the Lord used people to encourage radical change in the church. Right before the 16th century Reformation you had a sort of pre reform movement. The English scholar/clergyman John Wycliffe headed up a strong teaching ministry out of England [14-15th centuries]. He had such a strong influence on the population that during the Catholic repression of his movement many people died all over the country. Wycliffe taught the basic New Testament doctrine of the mystical church, he had said that the true church consists of all the spiritual children of God, whether they are part of the institutional church or not. He did not claim that there were no believers in the Catholic Church, but he resisted the idea that God had placed the sole authority on the earth within her. He rejected the Petrine doctrine of the Pope. His books were eventually condemned and he died for his position. Then you had John Huss, the Bohemian reformer [modern day Czech Republic] who also headed up a strong movement in his land, he was a student of the writings of Wycliffe and many local Bohemians supported him. He too would eventually be killed for his position. A few years ago the Catholic Church officially did an investigation into their treatment of Huss, they apologized for the mistakes made and recognized that Huss accepted the Pauline idea of the mystical church versus the Papal system. I found it interesting that the church acknowledged that there was a difference between the two. These men were fire starters who’s ‘fires’ would burn right up until the present day. Jesus said when you live in a time of significance, a time when God is doing real reform. You can respond in a few different ways; you can resist the thing the Lord is doing and hurt your purpose and destiny, in effect you can ‘fall on the rock and be broken’. You can fight the thing God is doing [the main stone] and suffer for it. Or you can find yourself sitting on the tracks, not realizing that the thing ‘the stone’ [prophetic voices] is targeting are the actual things you are doing! When that happens the best option is to get off the tracks, these reformers have a tendency to not slow down.

(1199) WHY ME? As we wrap up Luke 20, we see Jesus dealing with a few issues. The religious leaders are trying to trick him into saying something that will offend the people [or the govt.] ‘Should we pay taxes or not’ one of those questions that gets you into trouble no matter what you say, Jesus answered with wisdom. Again they put a question to him about the resurrection; he stumps them on this one too! Now it’s his turn ‘you tell me, how can Christ be David’s son if David prophesied about him, saying “the Lord said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” [Jesus was quoting King David in Psalms]. They had no idea how to handle his wisdom, they decided to go another route [like crucify him]. I find it amazing that Jesus saw himself in the prophetic portions of the Psalms, I mean He and the Father and Spirit all existed together from eternity, they had a Divine counsel that knew that one of them would eventually become man and die for the world. Yet the Holy Spirit would ‘give voice’ to the Sons agony and victory before the Son was born into a human body. Sort of like a pre incarnation of the Spirit thru the prophets, King David being one of the most significant of the prophets. Jesus would see his own agony being prophesied thru the prophets ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’- ‘thou hast done this to me’ David would say in Psalms 22. I read a good article last week about a Christian professor from Harvard. He shared how thru out the years he felt guilty that he had such a good life, that things always seemed to turn out good for him. Then one day he had a flat, got out of the car to change the tire and did something to his back. Since that time he has suffered chronic back pain that is excruciating, I could identify. Then  after he took the job at Harvard one of his children contracted a deadly disease and his marriage was on the rocks. Then he found out that he had cancer, they treated him and he prayed that the lord would heal him, after a year or so it has spread to his lungs and other areas, he has around a year or so to live. He shared his thoughts and spoke of the sovereignty of God. Talked about what the biblical characters went thru, things that they suffered. He placed everything in proper balance and understood that though God didn’t ‘do this to him’ yet God did permit it to happen. I also realize that there are whole belief systems that as soon as they read this entry they started looking for the reasons ‘a ha, see, he didn’t know/practice a positive confession. That’s what happened’ this belief system confronts the suffering person with the same accusations of Job’s friends, not much help when your going thru hell. Jesus was reading the Psalms ever since he was a boy, he began seeing how he was fulfilling something that was put into action before the foundation of the world was laid. He was the second person of the Trinity who would come to the planet and suffer many things, he would be rejected of men and rise on the third day. He knew a lot was riding on his shoulders, he must have been impacted to some degree when he realized he was reading his own biography thru the writings of Kind David, especially when he said ‘thou hast done this to me’.

(1201) In Luke 21 Jesus tells his men that there will come a time when they will be persecuted and brought before the authorities as a testimony. He tells them not to pre meditate what to say, but that the Spirit will speak thru them. God will supernaturally give them ‘a mouth [ability to communicate] and wisdom’ [something worth communicating!]. In Isaiah 8 the word says ‘take a great scroll and write in it with the pen of a man’ in Jeremiah 36 the Lord says ‘take another scroll and write in it all the words of the first scroll’. God historically has communicated truth to his people. Our bibles are like ‘2 scrolls’ if you will, all the words that were in the first part [Old Testament] were brought forth and revealed in the 2nd part-scroll [New Testament]. God has communicated much to his church; Isaiah was to write on a ‘great scroll’ lots of good stuff. Now, we [American church] have a tendency to master one part of the verse that says ‘mouth AND wisdom’. We have all the techniques down to get our message out, we know how to teach the verses that talk about ‘sowing into this ministry for a harvest’ and we communicate this type of limited message to the nations. I recently wrote an entry on how the Latin American countries have been inundated with this type of TV message, and many preachers proclaim this limited message over and over again to the masses, we have mastered ‘the mouth’ part. There are many African churches who have read the Gospels and New Testament and have come to reject the American success gospel. They came to this conclusion by their own reading of scripture, yet the American gospel mastered the techniques of broadcasting a limited message into the country. The natural indigenous church has come to rebuke us. We had the ability/finances to communicate, but lacked wisdom. In the 5th century [452 to be exact] Attila the Hun and his hordes marched up the Danube and struck fear into the hearts of the people, he seemed to be this unstoppable force that would make it all the way to Rome and topple the seat of the Western Empire. The emperor sent a party to try and reason with him, Pope Leo would personally speak to the raider and turn him back from sacking the city [though it would fall a few years later under Geaseric]. How could a simple Pope, without military might, stop a man that no human army could stop? God gave him ‘a mouth and wisdom’ he obviously spoke something that touched the mans heart. I think the American church needs to trust the Lord for more wisdom to go along with ‘our mouth’. We simply speak/communicate much too much, we have too much to say and not enough depth in what we say. We have churches in other countries who have been hurt by the tremendous immaturity of the things we are teaching them. These fellow believers have rebuked us and told us to please stop teaching this materialistic gospel to their nations. We desperately need both a mouth and wisdom to go along with it.

(1202) I hit Barnes and Noble yesterday, picked up; 1- everything must change, Mclaren [couldn’t find generous orthodoxy] 2- surprised by hope, N.T. Wright [the one on justification was there, but felt this one would be better] 3- why we love the church, Deyoung and Kluck [I liked their first one, ‘why we’re not emergent’ they seem to be filling in the role of countering Viola, Barna] and last but not least  4- will Catholics be left behind, Olson. I have heard him before, he is an ex fundamentalist/evangelical and defends against the dispensational model of eschatology. The reason I wanted to mention these books is not to show off, but I want to encourage our readers to get a broad depth of what’s going on [and has gone on] in the Church worldwide, the current trends if you will. I of course realize that these few books don’t cover everything, but they challenge us to think and read from a broad based perspective, hearing what the Lord ‘might’ be saying thru other groups of Christians. Okay, lets hit one verse, in Luke 21 Jesus says as the times of judgment draw near, be careful to not fall into three traps; 1- Overeating 2- Drunkenness 3- excessive worrying. I find it interesting that Jesus mentions excess and worry as traps that believers need to avoid. How do these fit together? I finally started a subscription to the San Antonio paper, I’ve been running our blog ad in there for a while and got tired of picking the paper up every other Saturday to make sure the ad was running. I also get the Corpus paper delivered. Sure enough they did an article on one of the major prosperity ministries in the Fort Worth area, they were holding some meetings in the area. They were critical of course, quoted the main speaker ‘God has ways to get the money to you’ spoke on reassuring the audience to give, don’t let fear keep you from giving. One trucker who was in debt said he came to test God because he really needed to get out of debt. The whole environment was money focused, the article mentioned how many millions the ministry brings in annually. Jesus said fear and worry lead to excess, wanting ‘excess food, drink’ or creating an overabundance to kind of be your safety net if things go bad. Paul said we live in the world, but we use the things in it [money, material stuff] without abusing them, we don’t center our lives around wealth and investing like the unbelievers do. Sure we can be responsible and knowledgeable in these areas, but don’t make it your God. After reading the article in the paper you got the feel that the Christian group who was holding the meetings were joined by a common bond of wealth, that is the desire to make it, talk about it, focus on all the scriptures and techniques to get it. And of course at the end of each sermon they would be challenged to ‘give it’ these types of environments are focused on the wrong thing. Jesus said beware of excess, beware of letting the cares and worries of life lead you down a road where you are trying to find security in your portfolio. God will meet your needs, don’t get me wrong, but the focus should be on God, not on getting our needs met.

(1203) In Luke 22 Jesus sends Peter and John into town to get things ready for the Passover meal. They ask Jesus where they should get a room, how will they know where to go. Jesus gives them real specific instructions ‘you will meet a man carrying a container of water, follow him into the house. Then ask the owner of the house “where will we meet” and he will show you a room all  ready for the purpose’. How did the man know what to do? Did he have a dream/vision from the Lord? Probably. I was watching a show the other day that was dealing with angels, they were showing clips form the popular TV shows about angels. They showed a clip from ‘touched by an angel’ and it really spoke to me. The angel is sent to some guy and tells him ‘God loves you, but he does not like what you have become’. Sort of like the saying ‘God loves the sinner but hates the sin’ but it was powerful because it was done dramatically and open for the public world to tune in and watch the show. Then the clip ended and the preacher hosting the show rebuked the use of stuff like this on TV and said how in the bible angels only mete out judgment when dealing with sinners. I got the type of feeling that they were from the camp that gets offended when other groups/media try to deal with biblical things, sort of like ‘how could God step outside of the parameters of orthodox belief and speak to people’. The brother wasn’t offensive, he was simply sharing their point of view that ‘true, biblical angels’ don’t do stuff like that. Actually biblical angels do do stuff like that! You do have stories in scripture where angels appear to unbelievers and give them direction [Acts 10, Cornelius]. The point is sometimes believers develop belief systems, and these systems become our identity. If in any way we feel that others are ‘moving in on our territory’ [holy things] we often respond out of ignorance/arrogance. We feel like our very identity is on the line. Many good Christians/preachers live their whole lives this way. I don’t know if the man that Jesus sent Peter and John too for the room was a believer or not, but God is able and willing to use whatever means possible to accomplish his purpose. Now, I am not saying that God uses all religions and any type of belief to get stuff done, but I am saying that God is not boxed in by a system that must respond only in a certain perceived way. Christians need to let down the mindset that seems to say we have a corner on the market of God acting in the nations/world. While we know and believe Jesus is the only way to the Father, yet the Father is creator of heaven and earth and he most certainly can send an angel to get his message across if he wants to.

(1204) There was this man stuck on a deserted island, he was there for 30 years. Finally one day he saw a ship pass by and he started a fire to signal it. When they came to his rescue they saw that he had made 3 huts. They asked him what they were for; the first one was his house, the second was his church. What about the third one? Oh, that’s the church I used to go to [you have to be a Pastor/ex-Pastor to get his one]. I am about 1/3rd thru with the book ‘why we love the church’ [Deyoung, Kluck]. While it’s too soon to review it, let me make a few comments. First, I really like these guys a lot, I read their first book [why we’re not emergent] and will stick with their journey for now. They write from an informed historical perspective. Unashamedly Calvinist [like myself] but yet cool enough to challenge the other cool guys [emergent cool]. I don’t know if they did a chapter on ‘ecclesiology’ [their view of local church] but it would be helpful if they did/do one. They do a great job defending the historic gospel, they defend the ‘church’ and all of the great things the old traditional ‘churches’ have done over the years. They rightfully take the emergent crowd to the woodshed on their willingness to reject certain historic claims of Christianity. But I think they do not really see the legitimate challenge to the church as community versus the people who ‘go to the church on Sunday’. I think their voices are important to hear, and everyone who is reading the organic church stuff should read these guys, but I am not sure they fully see the biblical idea/concept of church as community in the New Testament. In their noble efforts to refute those who have gone too far in other areas, they might be missing the truth of the Ecclesia as defined in scripture. Okay, enough said. Jesus is eating the Passover with the disciples, he tells them he will not eat/drink with them again until the Kingdom of God comes. Was he speaking of a future restoration of nationalistic Israel and his eating the restored Passover/Communion meal at that time? I don’t think so. After Jesus rose from the dead it was important for the ‘witnesses’ [disciples] to have seen testimony that Jesus rose bodily from the grave. He tells Thomas ‘thrust your hand into my side’ he eats with them on a few occasions. He was showing them he was really alive. John’s gospel is the only one [I think] that mentions the blood and water coming from Jesus side after being pierced on the Cross. In John’s letters he speaks of the blood and water as a testimony. John also says that they were testifying of the Son, who they saw and whose hands have handled. John was combating the soon to rise Gnostic/Docetist heresies that would doubt the physical resurrection of Christ. They would say he was ‘a phantom’ [spirit]. So, why did Jesus emphasize his eating with them ‘when the Kingdom came’ [after his death and resurrection]? I think he was giving them a sign/truth that he was physically coming back. They still did not fully grasp what he was going to do, there would be some who would doubt that he really died and rose [see 1st Corinthians 15]. He was telling them that he was really going to die and really come back from the dead. The whole Christian faith stands or falls on this single reality, Paul said ‘if Christ be not risen then we are of all men most miserable’. Jesus said ‘don’t worry guys, when I come back we will eat again’.

(1205) THE LAMBS TABLE-  Jesus has the meal with his men, he tells them because they have stuck it out with him thru the temptations he is appointing to them a kingdom just like his Father did with him. They will rule [exercise authority] over the 12 tribes and ‘sit with him at his table’. A few verses earlier Jesus said ‘the hand of him who will betray me is at the table’. I want you to see that ‘the table’ is a reference to the communion of the saints that Jesus brings into existence by the breaking of his Body and shedding of his Blood. Jesus was more than likely telling the disciples ‘because you guys have stuck it out, you will be the first tier of leaders in my new kingdom [the church] and will sit at my table in this kingdom [a type of the communion table]’. Now, he just gave them a lesson on what it means to exercise authority in his kingdom. He told them the world exercises authority over people by being in charge of them, ruling over them. But Jesus says he is among them as one who serves, that authority in the kingdom means you will serve others and give of your life for others. Truly the apostles will go on to found the great church of Jesus Christ thru much difficulty and suffering, none of them held the honor of a 4th century bishop in Constantine’s Rome. So the picture of them having authority at the table in his kingdom can very well mean the church. Now, I do not discount a real [literal] future application to stuff like this. I know I have riled up all my dispensationalist friends over these last few years, and I fret every day because of this! [Not] But I do realize that many good Christians read these verses and do not apply them in this way, that’s fine. My job is to show the other points of view and allow believers to come to their own conclusions. I like the Catholic scholar Scott Hahn, I don’t agree with everything he says, but I like his teaching on the book of Revelation and the ‘Lambs Supper’. Scott sees the prophetic significance of the kingdom and the church meeting around the communion table thru these images. It’s a glorifying of the Lamb type of a view, as opposed to seeing the anti- christ on every page. I disagree with Scott’s application of these truths when he applies them only to the Catholic faith. I like the idea of seeing ‘the lambs Supper’ as a glorious view of the communion of the saints of all ages, I would just give it the broader application of applying to all the saints, not only Catholic ones. Jesus told his men that they continued with him in his time of trial, because of this they would have authority in his church. I think this is a lesson for us all.

(1212) THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES, THOU ANOINTEST MY HEAD WITH OIL, MY CUP RUNNETH OVER- Psalms 23:5 These last few weeks I have been praying/meditating these single Psalms. Remember, try and pray them in the attitude of the ‘Jesus prayer’ [continual repetition thru out the day]. In the last chapter of Luke Jesus ‘opens up their understanding’ he shows them all the things in the law and the prophets and the psalms concerning him. They say ‘did not our hearts burn within us when he spoke to us’ they were fixated on his ability to reveal the scriptures to them. He also tells them to wait at Jerusalem for the promise of the Spirit, he sends us out like him. In Luke we read Jesus quoting Isaiah about the Spirit of the Lord being on him, how his calling and teaching were Divine functions. He tells his men he will do the same for them. Here in my ‘prayer yard’ I have all these scriptures and maps of nations and signs all over the place, my yard is designed for early morning intercession. A few weeks back I painted a plastic table with this verse, it was an old table that I had for years. I drew a picture of the loaves and fish that I saw on the church page of my paper and added this Psalm. It speaks to me of ‘the table’ that the lord sets before us. Proverbs says wisdom prepares her table, mingles the wine and sacrifices the animal. Wisdom also ‘sends out her servants’. I see a great picture of Jesus and his disciples thru this. He prepared his table [with his own Body and Blood- mingled wine and sacrafice] he sends us out to tell the world ‘all things are ready, come and dine’ and he gives us the Divine unction to carry this out [1st John]. David said the Lord prepared a great table before him in the presence of his enemies, God didn’t say in their absence. Psalms 110 says of Jesus ‘sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool- rule in the midst of your enemies’. Paul said ‘a great door has been opened for me, and there are many adversaries’ [Acts]. God has prepared a table for you, a place and giftings for you to function and feed his people. The process is not without difficulty and testing, but the important thing is to get the riches from the table to the people, to ‘send out the servants’ if you will. Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days it will return. Have you cast the bread yet? Or is the seed still in the barn.

(1245) 2ND KINGS 4:8-37 Elisha travels thru a town called Shunem and a woman decides to prepare a little ‘prophets room’ for him on the city wall. She goes out of her way to assist in Elisha’s ministry. So he wants to return the kind deed and he asks what he could do for her. He finds out that she has had no kids and prophesies that she will have a child. She disbelieves the word but sure enough she has the child. One day when the boy is in the field with his dad he gets sick and dies. The woman lays his body in Elisha’s room and heads out to meet him. He comes back with her and raises the child from the dead. Elisha has already multiplied the oil supernaturally [well God did it] and here he raises the dead. He truly is doing the miraculous signs of a prophet among them. I am still reading Brian McLaren’s book ‘everything must change’ and I like the way Brian shows us how the ministry of Jesus was a challenge to unjust power and human government. He actually uses the example from Pontius Pilate, when Jesus was asked ‘are you the king of the Jews’ and Jesus says yes, he came to testify of the truth. Pilate says ‘what is truth’ and McLaren uses this to illustrate that unjust power structures see truth as this ‘wishy washy’ type thing. I find it funny that Brian accuses Pilate of being a ‘postmodern, relativist’ McLaren himself espouses postmodernism! In the prophetic ministry of Jesus the father gave him the tools he needed to accomplish the mission, in the gospel of John we read ‘many other miracles did Jesus do that are not written in this book, but these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing you would have life thru his name’. Jesus shook up the systems of his day; he knew the prophecies concerning him that were found in the Old Testament. One of them said ‘Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising’ when Pilate asked Jesus ‘are you this king or not’ Jesus replied ‘did someone tell you this about me, or did you come up with this idea on your own’.  Jesus knew that the Father had promised him that he would impact nations, that kings and rulers would hear his ‘narrative’ and be changed. He fulfilled the 3 years of earthly ministry; he raised the dead, opened blind eyes, fed the masses. Now his time has come to take the cup and drink it. Much is on his mind, at the moment of truth Pilate asks him if he is really who he said he was. Jesus says ‘I can’t lie, for this reason was I born. I am taking this thing to the end, I am going to finish the course that God has set before me’. Pilate was simply a ‘first fruit’ of Roman rulers that would hear about the story of Jesus. After his death and resurrection many kings and aristocrats would come to the Christian religion. Within a few short centuries the whole empire would succumb to a form of Christianity under the Emperor Constantine. Truly Gentiles have come to his light and kings to the brightness of his ‘rising’, before you can rise, you must die. Jesus drank the cup and finished the course, the Father kept his promise.

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