Rescued-The End

First, apologies for not posting in a while.  I want to try to draw this series to a close.  In fact I never meant for it to be a series at all.  I’m sure I will write about these things again in the future mostly because I believe I actually have a future and am no longer waiting to be rescued.  I want to turn our attention now to Hebrews.  Hebrews for me is key to understanding the churches error where “end time” theology is concerned and so incredible in its revelation of the understanding of the New Covenant and Jesus as the only remaining priest after the order of Melchizedek.  But that is a blog for another day.  Let’s start by examining the first two verses of Hebrews 1.  

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

At this point in the blog I should be able to simply say well there you have it.  We are not living in the last days.  But due to the erroneous preaching of most churches, especially those of the Pentecostal and Evangelical variety, it is necessary that I continue this blog.  So, here we go.  Verse 1 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,”  This is pretty simple and straight forward.  God has in the past talked at different times and in different ways to the fathers (patriarch’s and key figures) by what prophets said. 

Ok, so it’s not quite that simple.  Here are my observations.  First Hebrews was not written to you.  It was written for you to receive something but it was not written to you.  Next, the prophets were talking to the fathers and not to you.  That seems so obvious to me but it does not appear to be that obvious to the doom and gloom profits of our day.  No, I didn’t spell it wrong, I meant it.  God used prophets to speak to them not us.  Verse 2 emphasizes and verifies this is true.  Read it carefully.

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

I realize that this is just one verse, but Paul says a mouthful here.  First, he says in these last days.  He is clearly talking about the days that he and those he is writing to are living in.  We cannot even mistakenly put those last days in our time.  This in what the end time conference speakers and those who profit from a never-ending stream such ignorance perpetually continue to do.  They take the last days of that time and try to plug them into our time.  Creating a massive mess that resembles tangled Christmas lights.  It’s difficult to undo but undo it we must.  And all that comes from the first five words.  Now for the next six.

“spoken unto us by his Son”

Remember from verse one that God was speaking to the fathers by the prophets.  Paul says they were being spoken to in their time (which was the last days) by the Son(Jesus).  So Paul is writing to folks in his day and declaring that those days were the last days and in the last days Jesus is speaking to them.  In the past God spoke to the Fathers by the prophets but now, Paul says in our time God is speaking to us by His Son.  In the past specific people got talked to by other specific people but now “us” is being talked to by God through Jesus.  Jesus is still speaking that is undeniable.  Everything He is and everything He did still speaks.  But the prophets on the other hand are not speaking anymore. 

Now I recognize the five-fold ministry and I’m aware that prophets are still a part of it.  Revelation 19:10 says “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  Jesus said in Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” and in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Luke 24:27, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”  I could go on and on but the picture is clear.  The prophets Jesus said prophesied till John.  John was there and Jesus even tells us that he is Elijah.  The fulfillment of yet another prophecy.  Jesus is in and of Himself the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets.  Jesus is the prophet of the new covenant and prophets in the new covenant must testify of Him, not helicopters coming out of pits.  If the prophet you hear is speaking the about helicopters, who the anti-christ is and similar nonsense he is operating in the wrong covenant.

We have claimed that the prophets have said things that are unfulfilled and that is a lie.  Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”  The only way He is not a failure is if he did what he said he came to do.  Jesus was completely successful.  You have to believe that he was unsuccessful in order to preach or even to believe popularized, “end time” theology.  

It’s time to stop the nonsense and believe you are here for a purpose.  Jesus is not coming back because of the trouble in the earth.  If so, He would have come before now.  Those who believe things are worse than ever are in need of a history lesson.  You are not in the last days.  You are in a new day.  You are in a new covenant.

The last days Paul was speaking of as well as other writers were the last days of the old covenant.  It ended in 70 AD.  History lesson,  Jesus prophesied it in Matthew 24, since He is the only one who could.  That tyrannical religious system was left desolate, laid to waste.  Jesus was the last and only sacrifice that could take away the sin of the world.  We don’t need another one nor do the Jewish people.  Rebuild that temple and kill every animal in it you want to.  It will be a waste of time.  Hebrews 9:11-12, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”  (mic drop). 

I could continue this post as there is much more to be written.  We are here to be agents of change in the earth.  To many of us however don’t want to be here.  We are crying to be rescued.  We want Jesus to come take us home.  By taking us out or by dying.  This mindset is selfish and contrary to everything that we as Christians claim to stand for.  We at times seem to stand and cheer the for the eternal judgement of the wicked.  We seem to want people to burn, suffer, and pay for what they have done.  Jesus paid the price for all the sin of every man. That should be enough to show us how wrong we have been.

Please share this with all of your friends who frequently diet upon the errors that are preached from the popular pulpits of the world.  Smith Wigglesworth had a philosophy in preaching.  He believed it should make people happy.  It should make you happy that we are not in the last days awaiting all the doom and erroneous fear mongering prophecy.  Smith also said that if preaching didn’t make you happy it should make you mad.  It might but it doesn’t make it any less true.

 

Rescued-Matthew 24

Even as I sit here beginning this post, I’m chuckling.  I have that “Twilight Zone” theme song playing in my head.  These days when I read or listen to the trouble based, media driven, Zionist centered end time theology, I feel I’m entering the twilight zone.  The twilight zone mixed the real and the fictional worlds together.  That mixture created very surreal and bizarre shows.  Prevailing end time theology is both surreal and bizarre. 

There is an enormous amount of material to be read and studied on The Olivet Discourse.  I am not a Biblical scholar nor do I claim to be a theologian.  I just ask God to reveal HIs word and try to handle it with reverence.  I think it’s a common sense approach that will work for anyone without having to get a theological degree.  I am not going to take this verse by verse or even thought by thought, I’m just going to be brutally honest and say Matthew 24 is fulfilled.  There it is.  I’m boldly proclaiming that I don’t buy into the litany of arguments about what Jesus said here.  Read anyones writings who believes the prevailing doom and gloom end time theology(eschatology) and you will discover a bit of disagreement over what is fulfilled and what isn’t.  It’s so confusing it will make your head hurt.  The confusion arises when modern preachers compare what Jesus said to what prophets said without rightly dividing both Word and Covenant.   It’s fulfilled.  He came to fulfull the law and the prophets(Matthew 5:17).  I think Jesus was a complete success. 

What follows will be some observations that may be even less popular in the mainstream church than the idea that Matthew 24 is fulfilled.  Now, that the disclaimer has been issued, let’s move along.  Matthew 24:37 “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”  In conversation with friends the question is often ask “so you don’t think He’s coming back?”  The answer seems so simple to me now but it eluded me for a while.  Even after I became convinced of the fulfillment of this Chapter, I still found it hard to articulate my ideas about Christ’s coming.  Finally a Pastor friend of mine put it as simply as I’ve ever heard,  “Behold He Comes.”  I believe Jesus came,  He is coming now, and he will come again in the future.  The “rapture” and the “second coming”  theologies both fall short of that explanation.  Both are words and phrases not found in scripture.  Catching away is as close as you get to “rapture” and “second coming” has chronological problems as Jesus came as a babe, died descended into the lowest pit and came back, ascended to His father and came back, appeared at different places and went who knows where, but came back, and was taken up at Bethany, but appeared to the Saul(Paul).  This all makes my point that he came and keeps coming. 

Back to Matthew 24:37.  How was it in the days of Noah?  Verse 38-39 say “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”  Life went on, Noah got in the ark and the flood took all of them away. 

Luke also records this in chapter 17 verses 26-30,” 26And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”  Luke writes that Jesus also used Lot as an example on this subject as well.  It is worth noting that Luke defines the day as the day that the Son of Man is revealed.  Revealed seems to be a better understanding because that is what happened. 

The question I want to examine here is who was taken and who was left?  In both of these accounts two were somewhere and one was taken and one was left.  In Noah’s story the wicked were taken and destroyed.  In Lot’s story the wicked were destroyed.  Noah who found grace stayed here as did Lot.  This is directly in contrast to the “rapture and second coming.”theologies.   In both theologies the righteous are taken and the wicked left.  It’s always been preached that of the “two,” the one that was left was in trouble but that doesn’t line up with the stories of Lot and Noah.  Then there is the disciples question in Luke 17:37 “where Lord.”  Where what?  If I showed you two things and took one away, would you ask where the one left was?  No!  They wanted to know where those that were taken went.  The ones that were removed.  The wicked. 

We missed it, preached it wrong and developed a whole theology around the misunderstanding.  It’s a terrible mis-representation of the words of Jesus even setting aside the fact that He wasn’t talking about a “rapture or second coming.”  The Church is so fixated on His coming they forget He came.  They forget He is here.  They think trouble will bring him back.  Trouble  came when Adam fell and has been here ever since.  The second Adam(Jesus) came to reverse that curse.  But we think He has to come a second time to do what He came to do the first time.  We think this because He was rejected and despised by those He came to save.  We think we was surprised by the rejection and had to change His plan.  But Jesus said in John 10:16 ” And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”  He doesn’t sound surprised at all.  He sounds like He knew from the start.  He is after all the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 

Luke 18:8 “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?  So when  He comes He seems to be looking for something.  Now if he is coming to get you and catch you away because of all the trouble and sorrow why would he be looking for faith.  The rescue mentality teaches He is returning to get you out and of course to usher in the tribulation or the rest of it or…I think you get the point.  But Luke 18:8 still looms there, asking a rather impertinent question.  If He is coming to do what the church preaches what does he need to find faith for? 

The American church is a significant source of fear-mongering.  I for one think its time for that to change.   I wonder if we would find the same kind of surreal and bizarre theologies preached in China or Russia.  There are christians in other countries besides America.  Let’s tell Russian Christians that their county is the bear in the book of Revelation.  Tell Chinese christians that the army in Revelation 9 is their army.  Tell Catholic believers that Mystery Babylon is the Roman Catholic Church.  It’s time for American Christianity to mature beyond our small-minded mindset that we get to define who the church is.  Who is in and who is out.  It’s His body and one member can’t tell another I have no need of you(I Cor 12:21).  We don’t put people in the body and we can’t take them or define them out.  Turn off the news media,  put down the paper, click off the radio, and read the book.  Ask for understanding and you will get it.  Handle God’s word reverently and with integrity and see if revelation will not flow.  God cannot possibly be speaking all these different thoughts to all these different men,  That is confusion and God is not the author of confusion. 

I have wanted to post on this and similar subjects for a long while now but I have been reluctant because I do not want to alienate anyone.  The gospel must be preached.  I often feel as though I am shouting over the noise of the confusion about which I have just written.  If we don’t set the record straight everyone who touches Christ will have to struggle through the confusion as the woman with the issue of blood.  It’s not supposed to be that way.  End times theology is just one of many areas that the church has complicated to the a point of mass confusion.  Those that teach it mostly butcher it.  Much of the church simply ignores the subject and misses so much wonderful revelation about what Jesus has done and what He has assigned us to do.   Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  The church has just made it so hard to come.  Jesus made it easy.  We shouldn’t be making it hard or confusing or scary.  Just say “come,” for “behold He comes.”

Rescued John 17:15

Jesus is the best place to start.  He is also the best place to stop.  He is the best thing to fill all the in between.  “What did Jesus say,” or “what would Jesus do.”  These questions have been worn out but somehow we still seem to be at odds about His words and His deeds.  John is the only gospel writer that can lay claim to seeing both the glory on Jesus and the gory.  John was the only disciple at the cross and the transfiguration.  He identifies himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”  So when John says that Jesus says something, we should certainly take note of it.  John 17:15, ” I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil.”  This is Jesus praying to the Father(vs 11) and asking for them not to be taken out.  The them are the disciples.  Read the whole chapter and you will find that the disciples are not of this world.  Jesus is also not of this world.  But even though Jesus and the disciples are not of this world He asks the Father not to take them out.  I have been told that I don’t belong here.  I am a stranger in a strange land.  This world is not my home.  Jesus says similar stuff but prays they stay.  The people who told me that stuff prayed the complete opposite.  Now, I’m learning that Jesus wants me to be in agreement with Him.  Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  I think I will agree with Jesus on this one and pray the way He did.  I don’t think its an accident that those he prayed for stayed where He asked His Father to leave them.  Why does the church at large want to leave so badly anyway.  When a Christian gets cancer or some terminal disease do they throw their hands up and say “awesome, I get to leave” or do they pray to be healed?  Healing means you have to stay.  1 Peter 2:24, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”  Not only did Jesus pray they would stay but He also made provisions for the continued staying.  He bore our sins in His own body and now we are dead to them so we can LIVE and He took stripes and those stripes make us healed.  Seems like He has already rescued us.  Do you know what He rescued you from and do you know what He rescued you for? He rescued you from death and for life but that’s another post.  Again,  I’m just getting started.  Stay tuned.

Rescued

Hi!! It’s been a while.  I struggled a bit with what to title this post.  Even as I type I’m not sure if I will change it later.  Right now it is ” Rescued.”  “We are still here”, and “willful ignorance”, were in the running as well.  I like to keep things positive so let’s stick with “rescued.”  I think I’m safe in saying we have reached a point were people are at least beginning to question the church’s prevailing mindset that we are scheduled to be rescued.  The church world has been announcing our pending rescue in one form or another for a good while now.  Some argue it began with the Roman Catholics or with Darby and his dispensational theology but here we are.  I mean literally “here we are.”  We have spent years preaching a pending rescue of the Body of Christ. 

I recall Lynn Hiles telling a story of not being able to participate in gym class because of the churches standard of males not wearing shorts.  When he addressed this with his pastor he was told not to worry about completing high school because “Jesus would return before the end of the seventies.”  Well nearly fifty years have passed and “here we are.”  That is just one of likely hundreds of examples of the “willful ignorance” of the church in the modern era.  I can recall being told similar things in church.  I have recently decided it is very likely why I did not pursue higher education.  I guess I figured there was no point since I would be in heaven or Jerusalem or Hell.  Yeah, you read it right.  I believed my chances of going to heaven were far slimmer than going to hell.  After all I was far more aware of what would send me to hell than of what would get me to heaven.  It seemed preachers were keenly aware of how eager God was to fry me but not all that knowledgable of what He had done to save me.  And since my understanding then was largely preacher driven I was “willfully ignorant.”  I had a Bible and therefore no excuse for believing that foolishness.  Preachers helped me believe stupidity but the choice was ultimately mine. 

I can and will give a different view of why we are here but I’m hoping for a little feedback.  I’m going to post on this subject further but it is sufficient to say that we are better prepared to still be here today than we were in the past few decades and that’s mostly due to the fact that younger people think the church may have missed to mark, with it’s, “rescue us”, mentality.  I for one think the young folks are right.  Some scripture for thought.  Matthew 24:37.  Pay close attention to this one, the church certainly hasn’t.  More on that later.  John 17:15 and Proverbs 10:30.  Read and study and see for yourself.  It would seem we need to be rescued from bad theology not from earth.  Stay tuned we are just getting started.

Read the Instructions

Instructions are often the subject of many one-liners. “When all else fails read the instructions”. Men are supposedly notorious for not reading them. I have been guilty of it enough times that I tend to read them even if I’m pretty sure how it’s done.  It’s not really hard to figure out my direction in this blog post. The instructions are available to us. I’m talking about the Bible of course. Some of us have multiple sets of instructions even in different translations. Many times they are lying about collecting dust. That is not necessarily because we don’t care about the word, often it’s because we assume we know what it says. I have been going through a lot of scriptures that I most certainly have read many times. I was a Bible quizzer back in the day and I was the quotation guy. If a quotation question came up, no one was to touch the buzzer but me.  I was very technical and precise about the memory of a verse. Every a, an, and the exactly as the KJV recorded it. But even with that precision, I’m discovering that what I thought it said it doesn’t necessarily say and what I’ve been taught it says is even less accurate. So what’s the fix. Do we learn Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. I am versed in translating from the a Greek and Hebrew. I use Strong’s extensively. But even then,  I find myself feeling like even Strong’s misses it in places. Often that’s because God has revealed it to me in a way that a simple translation cannot. I know, I know,  you want me to get to the point already. 

I’m realizing that we approach the word with so many preconceived notions that it makes it difficult to downright impossible to understand what it actually says. We know what we have read. What we believe it says. What we have been taught to believe it says and the Spirit can’t get a word in edgewise.  Paul admonishes us of this and calls it double mindedness. You see when we approach the word we must believe that the same mind is in us that is in Christ. God is not double minded. He has a single thought about everything that He wants to convey. Many scriptures clearly some have multiple thoughts attached to them. But God will give you His thought. Even with the many understandings that can be expounded from a passage it should always reveal Jesus in a greater dimension.   

Christians say things that are double minded.  I recently read an article on the purpose of pain in the Christians life. Frankly I was appalled at the level of ignorance that such a learned man was willing to walk in for the sake of a double minded understanding. He started out well by saying that in this fallen state we exist in we will have trouble. Other understandings of that could be suffering, pain, tribulation etc. That was where my agreement with him stopped. The problem with understanding this suffering is that most of the body of Christ believes that God is the source of this suffering.  I cannot find scripture to back that concept up. And before you start screaming at the screen about being in fellowship or a partaker of His sufferings keep reading. To understand the sufferings of Christ we must know two things. One is when did He suffer?  And two, is He suffering now?  He suffered then in the garden, on the cross, and in the three days in the heart of the earth. He did all of that so you wouldn’t have to. Number two He is not suffering now.  So how do we become partakers of His suffering or be in fellowship with His suffering?  The same way we are crucified with Him, alive in Him etc…..by faith.  Now if you are being mocked and beaten, spit on and ridiculed, for someone else’s sake, then to you… I apologize.  2 Cor 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.  If you can’t see the good news in that scripture nothing else I write here is likely to change your mind. 

Now can we suffer for His sake or His cause…yes we can. Is He the cause of that suffering?  If He is … the maximum blame to be assigned is indirect.  If you crash your car on icy roads the ice is indirectly involved but the ice is not driving. The ice will not get the ticket for failure to control your vehicle.  Paul was beaten and the Jews were blamed not God. Paul was shipwrecked, snake bit and on and on but I find no place where God was blamed but rather given glory.  When you get a flat tire or an unexpected bill, you are not suffering for the cause of Christ. Your just living in a fallen world. I’m not trying to make light of your infirmities  or your trials or tribulations.  We can be thankful we are not being beaten for His name’s sake. We are afflicted in things from time to time. We do suffer through situations. God will chasten us if we submit to His Lordship.  But God is not chastising you when your cable bill is doubled. The church is not under persecution because we must install handicap rails in the bathrooms or because we have to pass a fire marshal inspection.  We are instructed to give thanks in everything.  Here we are…. back to those instructions. I have assembled stuff not realizing I misunderstood the instructions. Go back to step one, see where you went wrong.  Often we go wrong because we missed a step or misunderstood one. 

Stop assuming we know what the instructions say. Go read the instructions like it is the first and last time we ever will. Believe that we have the mind of Christ and just see if we don’t learn something. I know I have. Many times I learn I was wrong. 

Nonsense

Robert Frost said “please forgive my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.”  As we approach Pentecost Sunday we find the thieves and robbers hard at work.  Jesus said in John 10:1, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, † but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”  Now most of us have been taught that the thief and robber is Satan. That is nonsense. The thief or robber here is trying to enter into Jesus which is the door to what can be aptly described as the kingdom. Satan is not trying to get in the kingdom. However you may be trying to access it and should be aware of what makes you the subject of the words of Jesus in this passage. In Luke 12:32, Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  There it is folks the kingdom has been freely given.  It is accessed by faith in Jesus who says He is the door.  Christianity is not a fast ,a fight, or a famine. It’s a feast. The only price you pay is to have faith.  Frankly to believe.  So now to address the nonsense. Please put away your seed offering that you are giving to see your family saved.  You will only wind up poorer and the thief or robber who is encouraging you to give that seed will be richer.  You will have been turned into a thief or robber just like that preacher.  You see by trying to access things that have already been freely given in a way other than faith in Jesus you become a thief and a robber.  If it’s freely given then why are you being encouraged to buy it.  Nonsense.  If you want your family saved try judging them.  Judge them saved. Judgement is a good thing both for you and them. 

Paul writes in 1 Thes 5:1 “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.”  I do long for the day when those in the prophesy camps stop feeling the need to write books or tell me there latest absurd revelations.  From the 88 reasons that Jesus will return in 1988 or the subsequent flopped prophetic understanding of 1989 to the latest gaff of “Blood Moons.”  As a pastor friend of mine has eloquently stated it.  Those books made many well-known TV prognosticators very wealthy and in the end the books are useful only to start fires.  It will be well over 400 years before these natural phenomena occur again.  Nonsense.  Paul also wrote in Gal 4:9-10, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.”  I could go on about this type of prophetic nonsense but I will sum it up with this. Rev 19:10, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  John was the last of the Old Testament prophets. John wrote Revelation. The first verse of the book says, ” The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.”  Please see it. It’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ not anti-Christ. The spirit of prophecy should testify of Jesus not bloody moons or any other ridiculous nonsense.  And don’t even get me started on things “shortly” coming to pass. 

I am not trying to alienate anyone or make anyone angry. There are those who sincerely believe that seed offerings work and the moon will someday turn to blood.  I do not. But there are better and far more present truths in which to be established.   Like your healed by His stripes.  That you walk in His righteousness which you did nothing to obtain but believe.  That you are forgiven.  You are an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ.  Those things will impact you and ultimately the world.  But “blood moons” and seed offerings just make us the butt of more jokes. They make rich people richer and Gods people poorer.  Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge.”

Practice What You Preach

Recently I experienced something that I have not seen…well….ever.  I attended a service where people were allowed to come up and take the microphone for a limited time and express whatever was on their heart.  Some spoke of what the Lord was dealing with them about.  Some declared favor over the crowd. Some thoughts were deep and some were rather simple. Some taught and some preached. In the end many got to say something and excercise a gift that is in all of us. 

“Lay people”which is a religious word for those who do a lot of work and don’t get paid….well lay people are told they too are ministers and that they need to speak and preach and share with those around them in their communities, at their jobs, and in their families. Unfortunately beyond the admonition to do this there is seldom any training.  So as I watched…..I thought…. the best way to learn how to share the gospel is to ….share the gospel. These folks were being allowed to do something that was not normally permitted and at the same time they were being taught to share by being allowed to share. What a concept!!

As I have thought about this more I remembered seeing a Marvel superhero movie, one of the many in the gendra, where young mutants were encouraged to practice the gifting’s that they had inside of them. Not all of their practice was good.  Some of them were blowing things up and catching things on fire but in the end how else were they to learn to use the power that was inside of them? Practice was essential and they were practicing in safe places and environments that were suited to learning how to use the power. 

This is precisely what these folks were doing in church that day. They were practicing in a safe environment a place where people love them and their Pastor could minister to or direct them if necessary….and I thought….this should be happening everywhere.  The gifts need to be in operation in the church but how does one learn to operate in the gifts if never allowed to practice. Church is supposed to be a safe place and if so then it’s the perfect place to practice and learn. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 12 that we should want the best gifts and then shows us an awesome gift or as he calls it a more excellent way and in chapter 13 unfolds the gift of love.  But the easiest place to practice these gifts is in the church among people who know you and love you and have only your best interest at heart. And the more you practice the better you will become at operating in the gifts and the more likely you will be to operate in those gifts outside of the church where they can do even greater good. 

The fact is as we practice it’s not always perfect… it’s not always what we want it to be….we don’t say it just right …..it doesn’t look just right….it doesn’t sound just right, but there’s only one way to get it right and that is to keep on trying.  I know what this means. I’m talking to those of us who spend a lot of time in control. Preachers, pastors, and leaders we are going to have to relinquish a little control and allow the gifts to be practiced. We might have to relinquish more than a little control but I believe the results will be awesome.  And because I know it will come up let me address 1 Corinthians 14. Paul was speaking to  issues of confusion where the operation of the gifts were concerned but he was not discouraging the operation of the gifts. We have used this scripture incorrectly and discouraged the gifts unwittingly. They clearly felt comfortable operating in the gifts and Paul was comfortable teaching them how to do so more effectively. 

Those that are watching us from the outside should marvel(puny huh) at the gifts that are at work in us not wonder why there are no signs following us that believe.  When we as leaders encourage the gifts…. they will not always look the way we think they should….fortunately we have the wisdom of Paul in 1 Corinthians and the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help us teach and encourage those we lead.  I doubt any of us preached all that great the first time even though we practiced. So….let’s give a little room to those we lead and let them learn. We keep telling them that they are powerful and full of His spirit. We keep wondering when they are going to stop just sitting there. Well the alternative is not comfortable but it is extremely necessary. Let them practice what you preach.  

Change Is Good

 

So I’ve changed…..Big deal!!.  Who hasn’t??  We get older, larger,  grayer, fatter, thinner.  Change is inevitable, right?  For all the things that change for us……. as people, we seem to resist it……… almost instinctively.  Why? I don’t know!!  I have needed to change, wanted to change, been told to change but none of those things ever…… produced a change.  Time, life, jobs, and experience have all changed me.  All these things are external forces.   So I can’t seem to change myself, outside of outward appearance (and that’s limited) but those things don’t constitute significant change.  I have been taught it’s up to me to change or that I had to do certain things in order to see the change.  That always leads to a ( here I am again)circular frustration has led me to believe some similar circular theology.  We are just going around the same mountain coming back to the same familiar ground and it’s comfortable and obviously someone must like it because we keep doing it.  We sit on pews and listen to the same preachers say the same things and the results are shamefully the same.  If I think right, talk right, live right.  If I come to church faithfully,  commit willingly,  play nicely, give liberally, vote……………..nu uh not happening!  The gospel is not political …..and if yours is….. it isn’t the gospel.  

Frustration is all this ever leads to.  Feeling inadequate, unworthy, unholy, unrighteous.  But I’m learning that it’s not about me.  I can’t do it.  I can’t fix it.  I can’t will it!  I can’t pray myself changed, or fast myself changed, or give myself into change.  The only thing I can do is believe that……I…..am….. changed.  Jesus did the work.  I don’t need to reinvent a wheel.  I just need to believe that  He took my sin, my shame, my curse,and my sickness on the cross.  We are saved unto good works not by them.  So I began to believe the stuff the Bible says about me.  It says I’m righteous,  I’m healed, I’m favored, I’m blessed with every spiritual gift.  It says I’m anointed, appointed, washed, and purged.  It says that the God of the Universe is my father,  that I’m His heir and a joint-heir with Jesus.  It says Jesus died my death and I died with him.  But it works when I choose to BELIEVE it!!!  Belief is the key.  I can read it, study it, understand it and even have it revealed to me but if I never believe it then what good has it done me?

The Bible says amazing things that are not preached in most church’s.  Most preaching is focused on keeping you exactly were you are.  Going around that mountain just like the children of Israel.  Israel didn’t have it bad………. they had a cloud and pillar.  They had manna, great clothes, and awesome shoes.  But they were not where they were supposed to be …….and……. you should ask honestly if you are in the wrong place too.  Are you trying to get back to where you were or trying to figure out where you are.  It feels familiar and strange all at the same time.  There just enough food to keep you coming back…… but honestly…….. it’s the same food you been eating for a long time.  It will fill you up but it fails to satisfy.  Theres a cloud there and even a occasional fire but it’s not anything you haven’t seen before and you have become accustomed to it.  It’s predictable and maybe even planned.  If you are paying attention you will begin to see it.  We fasted this time last year,  we had a teaching series like this before,  same dinners, same outreach, more of the same.  The children of Israel must have seen the same stuff over and over too.

But Jesus is your land of plenty.  He’s the bounty.  He’s the fullness and the greatness.  But most of the spies have come back with a bad report.  They’ve all seen the same land.  Jesus is awesome.  Most of the church is convinced…… He’s just to big to obtain.  They will tell you how awesome He is and even show some of the fruit but will focus your attention on the giants.  He’s just to big to really have all of Him.  It’s just too great to believe we can walk in that kind of promise while on earth.  So most of what we get comes after we leave.  Won’t we have a time when we get over yonder!!  But wait… Jesus said, ‘I have come that you might have life and that more abundantly.” John 10:10  I don’t think he was talking about eternal life here.  He wants us to have life now, abundant life.  I want it.  I will believe I have it…… until the evidence of it shows up in my present reality.  I’m tired of the only hope we have in the church being in the future.  I want it now.  I believe the gospel is now, faith is now, and I believe Jesus operated in His now and He wants to operated in yours.  His now is your now…….. believe that!!! 

So now…..when I say something I no longer sound like another self-help guru.  Giving you the top ten things you should do to be better, get closer, have more,ect…..Instead, I can declare that I believe about you……. the same things that He believes about you.  That what the word says of me….. is also true of you.  So instead of trying to change you,  or get you better.  I declare to you that God himself has a thought towards you.  “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  Jer 29:11  God thinks peacefully toward you.  God is not angry.  Your leaders may be angry and they may declare angrily to you what the believe to be God’s thought ……but Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that His actual thought is better than that.  One translation says His thought gives you hope and a future.(eternal life is not your only future… tomorrow is future too) Now that’s the God, Jesus came to reveal.  That’s the God that Jesus say’s is His Father.  And since I’m a joint heir….. then that God is my Father.  I have an awesome Father who isn’t angry or even in a bad mood but He’s thinking of me and He’s thinking peace and hope.  

   I have a job, a task,  and it’s simple.  I need to point you to Christ.  I don’t need to identify the sin in your life.  I don’t need to call you down or out.  I shouldn’t be heaping condemnation upon you.  I should be telling you that Jesus is bigger than your sin, bigger than your problem, and bigger than your circumstance.  That you have all the stuff Jesus has because you are a joint-heir with Him.  That you have a new life in Christ Jesus.  Stop living for the next blessing that falls out the ceiling and start understanding that you are already blessed.  Stop waiting for the next revival, you’re alive in Christ what are you trying to revive.  We need to believe we have all the stuff we are exhausting ourselves to get.  Believe what the Word says of you and it will change you.  It’s changing me and I’m excited about it.

 

Please Be Gentle! I’m New Here

 

   At last I’m blogging! It all sounded so simple when I first decided to do it.  I read articles promising to have me blogging in an hour.  I was going to do it then procrastinated, got sidetracked, got overwhelmed, got run over by a truck…well not me specifically but our RV.  I determined I would do it on our next trip to Florida and…we are still here…till the 31st.  “NAILED IT”………sorta.  I wanted to be up and running quick but it took a long time to decide on a name. I wanted something that really captured the essence of who I was.  I wanted it to grab you and not let you go but all those names were taken……so I opted for the simple name I got saddled with as a kid…….Joey.  Of course I couldn’t possibly leave out my ultra unique surname……….please STOP laughing.  So I had it…Joeysmith.com…only it wasn’t available…Go Figure!  So I settled on adding the “s” and moved on.  That process took me about three weeks but in the end it was all mine joeysmiths.com.  Three days later, the site is built, and here I sit.

   So what am I going to blog?  Well it will very likely be centered around the Gospel.  I may occasionally review an interesting product or service.  I may even talk about a place we are or have been.  But, mostly I will probably focus on the Gospel.  I have had several friends who have suggested that I blog over the last couple of years.  They seemed to enjoy the things we discussed in conversation and thought it might be a good foundation for a blog.  I have also been told to “go jump in a lake.”  Both are perhaps equally good suggestions.  

   So much of what I read in blogs of this nature seem to be absent central elements that I feel are essential when sharing the gospel.  The most important being that it is all about Jesus.  He is the gospel.  The author and the finisher of our faith.  He must be kept central.  He must overwhelm everything we say, do, or blog.  If we saturate our thoughts and intentions in Him then what is transferred to the hearer or reader is more closely the Gospel.  It has been said that you can “preach the Bible and not preach the Gospel, but you can’t preach the Gospel with preaching the Bible.”  I really don’t want to preach here or necessarily even teach.  I have this longing to simply bless, uplift, and edify those who take the time to visit and read.  To share what God is saying to me and see if it helps you.  If it does…awesome…if not…maybe it will help someone else you know.

   So there it is.  The goals, maybe they will evolve or maybe they will narrow. Let’s wait and see.  I will share this thought and hope its a blessing to you, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor 5:21.  You are the righteousness of God in Christ.  Don’t just read it…believe it.  The righteousness of God in Christ.  By making you righteous in this manner(Romans 3:25-26)He shows himself righteous.  Our righteousness is a filthy rags but as believers we are robed in His righteousness because of what Jesus has done for us.  I am learning that I can’t do anything that affects His righteousness.   When God looks at you He sees Jesus.  That sounds very bold, but the more I believe that the more it changes me.  Believe it and it will change you too!