Friday, November 25, 2022

Find Your Field

 


Several years ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a booming loud Voice which I heard in a dream. The Voice was so loud, it shook my entire being and immediately woke me up. It simply said, "MICAH 4:4! FROM THIS DAY FORWARD!!" Of course, I looked up the Scripture and it says this:

Each of them will sit under his vine
And under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid,
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

In context, it's speaking of the last days when the "mountain of the house of the Lord" will be established as the chief of the mountains. People from many nations will go there to learn the ways of the Lord (Micah 4:1-2).

Micah 4:3 says:

And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.

I was curious about this hammering of swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, so I looked further into this and found that during times of war they would hammer, or re-shape, their farming tools into weapons to fight with. In times of peace, they would be hammered back into farming tools so they could plow, plant seed, and grow crops.

We read of this in Joel 3:9-10:

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men!
Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up!
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, "I am a mighty man."

There is further study into this which is worthwhile, however I think there are some principles here which can be applied today. It has to do with recognizing the time we are in, so we may know whether we will need tools or weapons.

There are fields in our spiritual land which are sometimes farming fields and sometimes battlefields. We need to recognize what time we are in, so we know what type of field we are to engage in. Then we will know whether we are to plant or to war.

I see at least three different fields as being important right now, with each containing battlefields and farming fields at the same time.

1.      Leadership / Accountability

Leadership in the farming field. Honest people of integrity and godliness who are called into leadership might run for an elected governmental position, or obtain another leadership position in society, where they can sow seed and tend to these various “gardens” in our land to preserve our rights and prepare us for the future. Those in this field include those who support these leaders in various ways—as support staff, financial backing etc. When this field is neglected, weed seeds grow and take over allowing ungodly leaders to (knowingly or unknowingly) take the people in a direction that is oppressive and harmful.

Accountability in the battlefield. On this field we hold accountable those leaders and elected officials who have lost ground for what is good and right and allowed that which is harmful to come into our society and take root. Whether because of incompetence, carelessness, corruption, lack of courage etc. these weeds need to be pulled out, roots and all. Some are called to fight in this field and hold people accountable, engaging in legal battles when necessary. All voters have a responsibility to pay attention to what their elected officials are doing and to communicate with them when their rights are infringed upon, so all Americans are to engage in this field to a certain degree.

2.       Influence / Argument

Influence in the farming field. Everyone carries a certain amount of influence over others in their life, such as families, friends, and co-workers. Parents have tremendous responsibility and influence over their children. Some may be called to more public positions of influence such as education, media, religion, science, business etc. to accurately speak the truth, facts, history, and work to maintain and preserve this accurate information, and to do so without censorship, for the future. These are not just professionals, but include anyone who enlightens, exhorts, encourages, or influences others through discussion or example. Parent’s education and influence over their children is vital, but so is anyone who has a godly affect in their sphere of influence.

Argument in the battlefield. An argument, in the true sense of the word, is where opposing ideas are exchanged, discussed, and debated. It’s not a mean-spirited, hateful communication, but it’s when a person gives reason for his/her opinion or belief, and presents the basis for that belief—whether logic, Scripture, experience etc. This uncensored process exposes misinformation, indoctrination, and the evil influence that the enemies of what is good and true have had over the people. It is a fight to undo the strongholds of lies and deception which have taken hold within the mind. Some may respond when truth and facts are revealed this way, but others may require spiritual warfare to root out any embedded deception in their thinking.

3.       Christian Growth / Spiritual Warfare

Christian Growth in the farming field. This includes the growth of both the number of Christians and their maturity in Christ. When the Word of God—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is preached, people come to believe in Him, and the church grows numerically such as what occurred in the early days of the church recorded in the book of Acts. The teaching of this same Word (the Bible) causes Christians to grow in maturity, more accurately living by the standards of the Word of God, becoming His disciples.

Why is Christian growth so important to the preservation and stability of our republic? True believers in Christ who come to know the Lord personally and grow in the knowledge of His Word, will live biblical lives which brings God’s blessing and favor, protection, and provision upon our land. When we teach our children the ways of the Lord, our future is hopeful. As children and adults learn the Word of God, develop a relationship with Him and a love for His Word, they will know the truth, have discernment to recognize what is truly good, and be alerted to unwise or deceptive tactics which would bring us into bondage. There is only one standard of Truth. To know it, and live by it, is the only thing that brings true freedom.

Spiritual Warfare in the battlefield. Believers in Christ who know their authority in Him, will directly confront the deceptive influences which deceive and oppress people in various ways. There is an enemy which not only opposes the faith of individual Christians but opposes God Himself and mankind as a whole (because we’re made in the image of God). As the church realizes the spiritual authority given to us as the ecclesia—God’s governing body on the earth—we will more effectively win these battles for the soul of our land. The same Word of God which brings spiritual life and maturity to believers in Christ, is the weapon used against this enemy who uses lies, deception, addictions, lust, greed, all types of sin, despair, hopelessness, etc. to try and paralyze the church so he can carry out his plans. Just as Jesus used spoken Scripture against him, so is this the primary weapon of the Church today. As long as we remain ignorant of the authority and responsibility the church has been given by the Lord Himself, we are neglecting the most powerful weapon we have to maintain our freedom, but when the church matures to this point of awareness and maturity, she will confront the evils of the land, bring others into the kingdom of God, and open up the windows of God’s blessing.

The Word of God not only brings numerical growth to the church through people hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior; it brings maturity to the church as people receive the teaching of Scripture and live accordingly. The Word of God is also the primary weapon used against the enemy of God and His church. It’s vital that the Word of God remain free in our nation and all areas of our lives.

Fields of Home and Family

I don’t want to neglect to mention here that each one of us has a field in our own lives and homes. As you make decisions to live according to what is good and right—to not rebel against God and truth—you win a battle that affects the land you live in and the body of Christ as a whole, which you are a part of as a Christian. Don’t think that your decisions to do the right thing and make good and godly choices don’t have an impact. When you win a battle in your own life, you win a battle for the entire kingdom of God on earth. This impacts an entire region, as God responds to His people in a land. As you take the time to study the truths of God’s Word, allowing yourself to be discipled by His truths, you become equipped and prepared to recognize and confront error and lies. You and your life are not insignificant.

I’m not saying these are the only “fields” that exist but seek to find your place in these areas. Are you to engage, or support others, in a leadership field to directly affect the governing of our nation, state, local government or other areas? Are you called to an influential field to give people factual, accurate, truthful information to enlighten minds and teach others to think for themselves based on truthful standards? Are you called to a spiritual field to preach or teach the gospel of Jesus Christ resulting in changed and renewed hearts so good is called good again and truth is truthfully defined?

Once you find your field, determine what time it is in your season. Is it time to battle, or time to farm? I believe both need to occur at the same time right now. Some will engage on the battlefield of their particular field—driving out that which has invaded and planted poisonous crops. And some will prepare for the future by plowing the hard ground, removing deep roots, stones, and overgrown weeds, planting seed, tending to it, and maintaining it.

All that is going on in the world today really emphasizes the fact that the only rightful leader is King Jesus, and the only truthful law is the Word of God. The more we align with Him and His Word, the more we’ll maintain a level of peace and victory that is unattainable any other way.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Bonheifer's: The Cost of Discipleship

 Some of My Thoughts on Bonheifer’s The Cost of Discipleship Book

Chapter 2: The Call to Discipleship

 Faith isn’t something that “happens” to us. It’s an intentional thing. We make the decision to read and study the Bible, to seek the gifts of the Spirit, to love—that is faith. We do it whether we “feel led to” or not. We do it because we believe in Him, and that’s what we do as His disciples. We don’t wait for someone to tell us to take a breath, or drink water, or eat food. We do those things because we are human. In the same way, we study His Word and pray because we are His disciples.

As long as we doubt God’s leading and call to us then we have an excuse not to obey (or so we think). When He says something like, “Follow Me…” and we question, “Is that Him?” or “Is He really the Son of God?” Then we hesitate to follow Him. We begin to reason, to doubt, and make excuses not to obey. After all, we can’t follow Him if we don’t know its really Him right? Right?

Yet, do we blindly follow every “voice?”

When the devil tried to lead Jesus to do certain things, to start down a certain path, to obey what he said, (Matthew 4), Jesus responded with, “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).

He’s given us His Word to follow too.

And yet the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness (Mark 1:12). The Spirit also guides us (John 16:13, Romans 8:14).

Hath God said?                Is it God?            Is He the Son of God?

Is that how we respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him and the Spirit’s urging, leading, guiding?

The questions become:

Is this what God said?

Or

Is this God who said it?

The first one questions if we heard and understood what He said correctly. Do I have the correct understanding of what He meant? How do I put it into practice and apply it to my life?

The second one questions if the one who said it is in fact God. You heard it right, but was it God who said it? Is the one who says he is God really God? Or is it an imposter, lying, saying he is God?

The devil said to Eve, “Hath God said…” (Genesis 3:1). He didn’t deny it was God who said it, but raised doubt as to what He said and what He meant, or even if He was somehow holding them back from something good.

But to Jesus, the devil said, “If You are the Son of God…”(Matthew 4:3, 6). He tried to raise doubt that Jesus is God. Jesus had just heard the Voice of God say, “This is My beloved Son…” (Matthew 3:17) and the devil wanted to bring doubt to Jesus about who He is, or else move Him to an arrogant display of power to prove who He is.

It keeps us in obedience to God when we not just hear what He said, but know what He means—to have understanding. This is why we don’t just read the Bible, but study to understand (2 Timothy 2;15, Proverbs 4:7).

The devil told Eve, you won’t really die. It’s a different kind of awareness… God knows that if you eat that fruit you’ll be like Him, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5). Implying that maybe God was holding something back from them, something good. The question/doubt was raised, is this command of God really the best thing for me?

Ask:

1.       Is it God who said it? Yes!

2.       What does He mean by it?

3.       Do it!

Some people say there is an order to understanding dreams, visions, or other revelations from the Lord: 1. The revelation, 2. The interpretation, 3. The application.

I would add something to it: 1. The revelation, which is to include the discernment of the source, 2. The interpretation, e. The application. Don’t even try to understand what it means until you know where its coming from. Yet, even in this, there is a potential trap.

To “prove” who God is, we have His Word.
The devil tried to get Jesus to doubt who God was (who HE was). Jesus’ response was the Word.

On the one hand the devil tried to get Jesus to preserve His physical life (turn the stones into bread). On the other hand he tried to get Him to be reckless with it (throw yourself down from here).

We must keep in mind though, that we try to understand the Word He spoke in order to determine if it was He who spoke it. But yet..
Doesn’t that make us a judge of Him, of who He is, or if He is God?

This makes us His judge, which we are not. This is the trap to avoid. He can say what He wants. It’s not up to us to judge whether what He says is “correct” or good. Even Jesus said there is only One good, which is the Father. He wouldn’t even call Himself good (Matthew 19:17.) So we are not judging God, but we search the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit, to gain proper understanding of what He said. He is truth above all. We seek to align with it, not judge whether its right or not. There is a difference that we must be aware of. It's easy to cross that line if our heart is not fully surrendered to Him.

If we try to analyze what He said to make a determination if its Him—the voice of God—we might cross the line to becoming His judge. The Pharisees tried that, but it didn’t work for two reasons:

1.       They didn’t study the Scriptures like He told them to.

2.       Their heart was not right. They didn’t want Him to be the Son of God. They didn’t like Him. They were critical of Him. He threatened their positions.

So then, how do we know and determine if it is He who spoke so we are not misled?

He said His sheep know His voice and won’t follow another. (John 10:27).

“If you continue in My Word you are truly His disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” (John 10:31-32).

Not only did the Pharisees doubt He was the Son of God (they stumbled over the stone), but they critiqued / analyzed everything Jesus said, trying to disprove He was the Son of God (the stone will fall on them). (Matthew 21:44).

Eve didn’t pray about what the devil said to her. She didn’t discuss it with Adam either (that we know of).  She just reasoned within herself—not looking to verify what he said. Of course he could have spoken to her more than once, raising the doubt on several occasions, but was there any verification with Adam as to what God exactly said? Or was there any direct communication with God Himself when He walked with them in the cool of the day?

There are other voices, and there are voices/revelations/ideas/thoughts & concepts that appear good. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), so discernment is necessary. Discernment is necessary, but not excuses.

Not intentional fault-finding just because we don’t like what He said.

It comes down to the heart motive. Seeking an explanation for further understanding and clarification is O.K. (Mary—how can this be since I am a virgin?) (Luke 1:34).

He’s not asking for blind obedience to every voice, but willing, undisputed obedience to Him.

You know Who, but not necessarily why. That’s O.K. Yet more is revealed to the one who seeks.

Ultimately, do we WANT to obey Him?

“Search the Scriptures” Jesus said, “In them you think you have life, but they testify of Me.” (John 5:39).

 

 


Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Cause of Job's Troubles--Fear or Faith?

 


25“For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.
Job 3:25 NASB 1995

This verse has often been used to say that the reason Job experienced the troubles he did—the loss of his children, his wealth, and his own health—was because he was in fear. That his fear opened the door to allow Satan to come in and destroy him. I may have repeated this myself, but is that what really happened?

I woke up one morning with the following thoughts laid out before me like a fine feast. I believe the Lord was clarifying my thoughts and satisfying some questions I had about the reason for Job’s troubles. Although I hadn’t thought about Job recently, I had studied the book of Job often and had prayed the day before and asked the Lord to remove any deception from my thinking. So, this is what I now have to say about the trouble which came on Job—It didn’t come because of his fear, it came because of his righteousness, his faith or faithfulness to God.

Job was concerned his sons were sinning so as a regular practice he would offer burnt offerings after they would hold a feast and invite their sisters.

 4His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. Job 1:4-5

When reading through the book of Job we learn about his character. He was a well-known, righteous man in the community. He was very wealthy and helpful to the people. He helped the poor and needy. He sat in the gates and instructed the people. He had the final word on matters. God saw him and was pleased. In fact, the Lord discussed Job’s righteousness one day with Satan.

     6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 9Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10“Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11“But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Job 1:6-11

Satan went before the Lord to accuse Job. Notice he didn’t say, “Job is full of fear, worry, making all these offerings for his kids, look how anxious he is, he doesn’t trust you.” But he did say, “He is only blameless because you’ve blessed him. Without your blessing he would curse you.”

Now notice that God didn’t say “Look at Job, he’s full of worry and fear. All the things he’s feared will happen to him.” But He did say, “Look at Job, he’s blameless.” Blameless!

They both agreed that Job was blameless and upright. Neither one of them said Job was full of fear and that destruction would come on him because of his worry, fear, or lack of faith in God.

The argument some make that Job’s trouble came on him because, “What he greatly feared came upon him” just isn’t true. It wasn’t Job’s fear that made all these things come on him. Rather, it was his faith. Specifically, his upright, faithful behavior towards the Lord.

Some say Job was engaging in fear-based actions regarding the behavior of his kids (offering up burnt offerings in case they sinned). However, this was not a works-motivated type of fear where he felt he had to right their every wrong. If anything, it was the fear of the Lord—his love for God and his children.

His statement that what he fears comes upon him was during his lament over his condition. He had just lost everything, was suffering a horrible sickness, his wife was no comfort, and his friends had just come to visit and were horrified over his condition. He was mourning his losses and commenting on how everything was going wrong.

His friends proceeded to tell him that he must have sinned and needed to repent. They kept trying to get him to admit he’d done something wrong and repent. This line of thinking would be making Job’s troubles a consequence, a result of sin, but they weren’t, they were a result of his faith, or faithfulness to God.

Why is it important to make this distinction that Job’s troubles were not brought on him because he opened the door through fear or sin? It’s important because if we think trouble comes upon us only because we’ve done something wrong, then once we ‘fix the wrong’ and the trouble is still there, we’ll begin to make accusations against God, joining the side of the enemy. We say, “God, I fixed this, why is the trouble still here?”

Again, we must understand that troubles don’t only come on us because we’ve done something wrong. Job was blameless and upright. God and Satan both agreed to that. It wasn’t Job’s sin that brought the trouble on him, it was his faithfulness to God. Satan made an accusation that the only reason Job feared God was because God blessed him—take away the blessing and he would curse Him. God, being the just God that He is responded to the accusation. God would provide proof to back up His words, His claim that Job was blameless. The proof could only come by putting Job to the test. This was the evidence God presented to Satan to prove that His claim—His words—are in fact truth. We must realize when we are tested here in the Earth, we too are providing evidence that God’s Word is true.

If we believe that trouble has come upon us only because we’ve done something wrong then once the wrong is fixed, we won’t understand why the trouble didn’t go away. Sometimes it takes a while for troubles to go away whatever the reason is for their existence. Instead of questioning the Lord, accusing Him, we need to strengthen our faith, become more determined, and remain faithful until the thing is over.

Of course, we sometimes do bring trouble on ourselves. There are consequences to sinful behavior or attitudes that need to be corrected to prevent us from suffering the eternal consequences. (See 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Romans 1:18-27, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). We should always examine our hearts and repent if needed. But the way out of trouble isn’t always to get out of sin. Sometimes our faith in God brings us into trouble—persecution or some other suffering for the sake of the gospel. Sometimes its simply the trying of our faith. Will we remain faithful to God during tough times as well as good?

Consider the following Scriptures:

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

33“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:6-7

2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:1-2

12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:12-15

9“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Matthew 24:9-13

Are there times sin brings trouble? Yes, absolutely. Isaiah 48:22 says there is no peace for the wicked. If we engage in evil behavior, things won’t go well. Yet we also see that trouble comes simply because one is righteous and following Christ. This is important to understand so seeds of doubt regarding the goodness and justice of God are not planted in our minds.

Our mind is fertile for seeds of doubt if we believe that our suffering trouble could only be due to sin. We search our hearts, repent of sin (of course a good thing if needed), but then if the trouble continues, we begin to question God. We doubt. We accuse. We think, “I did my part and repented, but God didn’t do His part and stop this trouble.” This leads to accusation and opposing God, when what we should be doing is becoming more committed and determined to persevere in our faithfulness to God.

When these seeds of doubt are planted through false teaching (even if a person means well they still may be wrong in their teaching), and we believe them, we will begin to nurture these false thoughts as our own beliefs and a stronghold of false thinking gains a place in our mind and heart.  

Guard against this kind of false teaching!


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Four things to Guard Against and Three Things to Do During Global Troubles


There are four things we need to guard against during times of global troubles.

1. Complacency
In this condition, we are unaware of what's going on around us. We have our head in the sand and are naive. The solution is to wake up.

2. Anxiousness
Once we wake up, we will see the condition of our world and there is a tendency to fear and be anxious. The solution is to trust in the Lord. Repent where we need to, and get our heart, mind, and life in line with Him.

3. Viciousness
Once we get our faith in the Lord right, we see that other people's behavior still affects us. There are consequences to what others are doing. We may want to attack them as a way to get them to stop. The solution is to pray to the Lord, and intercede for the others. Direct your energy into boldness to speak the truth, and to speak it in love.

4. Arrogance
The wicked will reap the consequences of their actions. When they do, there may be a tendency for us to snicker at that--or to all out laugh at them or mock them. This is not God's way. The solution is to humble ourselves and have mercy. 

Remember that there are wicked people who intentionally do evil things, but there are also those who do wicked things because they are deceived. They may not intentionally be trying to hurt God, or His people, but they are deceived. The strong delusion Paul spoke of to the Thessalonians is sent to those who don't love the truth and take pleasure in wickedness. Love of the truth is the answer, along with not taking pleasure in those things which are wicked.

We ourselves need to always make sure we embrace and seek truth. Proverbs tells us to buy the truth and not sell it. Truth costs something. It may cost us repentance or admission of wrong. 

During global troubles, it rains on both the just and unjust. The godly and the wicked live on the same planet and what one does affects the other to varying degrees. The Bible tells us of three things--Faith, Hope and Love. Our own lives, and the lives of those around us, can be affected by these three things.

Hope---After we awake in a state of anxiousness, we receive hope and speak words of hope to others.
Faith—We replace our anxiousness with faith and trust in the Lord so we will not attack others, but intercede, and boldly speak the truth.
Love—We are not arrogant and laugh at the calamity of others, but are merciful and humble.


2 Thessalonians 2
Proverbs 23:23
Matthew 5:45
1 Corinthians 13:13

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Third Thing

4: One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.
5: Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 1 Corinthians 14:4-5
In the church, we pray with our understanding so we, as a people group, are edified and built up. We speak in the common language so we can gain knowledge, learn, and bring our thoughts into line with the Lord’s.

We can pray in other tongues when we are gathered with other believers, and we ourselves will be edified, but the church will not be unless we interpret--or put into the common language--what we are saying. What this tells us, is that if people don’t understand with their mind what they are hearing from the realm of the spirit, it won't build up the group into what the Lord desires it to be. It is as “speaking into the air.” 

Language has meaning. It’s purpose is to bring understanding to the mind. This understanding enables the group to see their purpose which will cause them to think in line with that purpose, and then act accordingly.
6: But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?
7: Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp?
8: For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?
9: So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.
10: There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning.
11: If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me.
12: So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 1 Corinthians 14:6-12
When we gather, each of us has something to offer, and we should seek to give from the spiritual gifts we have, that which will edify the others.
26: What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26
When the church comes together, they become something corporately that is separate from who we are individually. The church is edified when we come together with the purpose of speaking intelligently to gain understanding and knowledge of the ways of the Lord. But what occurs is not just for the personal benefit of each one of us. It's not just you and me--a third thing happens. A corporate identity is birthed, and this corporate entity becomes built up into what the Lord desires it to be. The third thing is what the Lord is creating and birthing--the thing that He wants the corporate group to do/be.

There is power when people speak and understand each other. We see this at the Tower of Babel. The  Lord divided the language of the people because they were intending to build something as a group that was against His desires. They had the power to do it because of their common language. He scattered them because what they were intending wasn’t right. Common language enables building--the building and birthing of something new--the third thing.

The Holy Spirit is given to us to be our teacher, He gives us insight and understanding into the Word of the Lord.
26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26
He teaches and reminds us of all that Jesus has said. When we come together with the goal of gaining a corporate understanding of what the Lord is saying, we will be able to build the church into what He desires it to be. Let's keep that in mind when we gather, and use the individual gifts each one of us have towards that purpose. We need more discussion, not lecture, so every part of the body is able to give the piece they have to share in building what the Lord is doing.




Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Professors, Petitioners, and Protesters



When an American feels he has been unjustly treated by the government, there are certain avenues in place to address it. It is a blessing that America has these things in place, not all countries do such as communist countries. However, it’s the responsibility of every American to become, what I call, a “professor” of the American Way. This being a person who has studied American government and civics, educating themselves on how America works.

Without knowing the ways of America, a person will not accurately understand whether or not the government is mistreating him. Or, if they do know they’re being mistreated, without understanding how America works, they won’t know the avenues in place to properly address it. (On a side note, in America, if a person feels they’ve been wronged by another person, there are civil courts to handle disputes between citizens. That is a separate topic not covered here).

There are three types of people, or you could say three behaviors, I want to point out in this article.

Professors of Principles

As I stated above, every American should be a “professor” of the American way—knowledgeable in the ways of our government and citizenship. Professors are first students themselves. They study the constitution, our founding documents, and the Bible. The Bible is one of our founding documents and it is where our founding fathers got the idea of all men being created equal with certain “inalienable rights.” America’s form of government is based on the biblical concept that certain rights have been given to all people by their Creator and no other man or government can take these rights away.

All citizens need to become professors, not just when they feel they’ve been mistreated. If we don’t, we won’t know when or if our rights are violated. Laws may be passed that take away our rights and we are not aware. Or we may accuse our government of not doing enough for us, when in reality, a limited government is necessary to keep the people free. These misunderstandings can lead to the deterioration of our freedoms and our country itself. It’s vital for all Americans to be students of the founding documents—especially the constitution and the Bible.

A professor of principles will study America’s founding documents to be sure he has a clear and proper understanding of them, including the Bible. This is where the core basis of truth is established. These documents are the legal authority which grant American citizens their way of living. Any legal or military action needs to be based on the authority of these documents. These documents state that Americans have the freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The government exists to protect those freedoms. The government doesn’t grant freedoms. Since professors have gained understanding of America themselves, not only can they act accordingly in their own lives, but they are able to explain, or teach the American way to others.

A professor who feels he has been unjustly treated by the government—for example unjustly charged with a crime, or becoming aware of a law that appears to be unconstitutional—after knowing what his rights are, follows the next step—petition.

Petitioners in Prayer
A true petitioner of the American way will first have become a professor and studied the founding documents. If he believes there should be an adjustment or change he petitions for it. For example, if he was given a ticket or charged with a crime that he believes is not just or in line with the law of the land, he petitions it by going to court. This is in response to a governmental action against him. It could also involve contacting his legislatures when he’s discovered a law or practice that violates his rights. Or voting for or against candidates based on how closely the adhere (or don’t adhere) to the constitution.

It’s the responsibility of every American citizen to inform themselves of candidates running for office, to vote, to pay attention to what their representatives are doing, and hold them accountable when necessary.

A petitioner in prayer will approach the throne of God to ask for his/her request to be granted by the Lord. Go to the Lord to present your case, be open for instruction and a more accurate understanding of what is true and right concerning your request. Be humble and admit you’re wrong if that’s the case.

If petitioning hasn’t resolved the situation, and you are confident your request is right, then the next step is protest.

Protesters with Prophetic Proclamations

A true protester of the American way will first have been a professor who has a proper understanding of the founding documents, he will have some sort of action against him he is responding to, or discovery of something wrong, and has taken the route of petitioner and not gotten a favorable response. He protests to bring awareness of what has happened.

Once again, you need to make sure your protest is based on the core foundation of founding documents.

When protesters express themselves verbally, those who hear need to be professors themselves, so they can properly judge whether or not the protester is accurate in his accusations. This is vital, otherwise people can respond sympathetically or emotionally and give support to a cause that is unconstitutional and/or unbiblical. By knowing the founding documents yourself, you can make an informed decision as to whether the protester has a valid point.

The enemies of America have used protests against us. They know many people don’t know the constitution and will side with protesters out of sympathy. They want to change America, not enforce her greatness. They’re not protecting people’s rights, they’re actually trying to destroy America and the freedom of the people. They’re preaching another ‘gospel.’

Violent protests which violate the constitution are nothing more than an invasion of America and the American way. Once again, its important for all legitimate protesters to first be professors so they are working to keep America in line with her founding documents through their protest, not steering her into socialism, communism or some other ‘ism that oppresses the people.

If the government really is tyrannical the people have the right to bear arms and fight the tyranny. But there are those who are using protests or other types of chaos to try and make it appear that the government needs to step in to keep peace, make life safe or healthy, or whatever the case may be. Their goal is to give the government more power, reducing America’s freedoms in the process. As they protest for more laws to make things more “fair” or “safe” they are actually taking away freedom and safety by creating a monstrous government.

A protester with prophetic proclamations is one who will also, after having received the knowledge of the Word of God through study, and the heart of God through prayer and petitioning, will take what the Lord has revealed and prophetically proclaim it. This addresses the spiritual opposition, as well as bringing a prophetic word of God into a situation.

As a Christian American, it really is your duty to:
  • Educate yourself both in the Word of God and in America’s law of the land.
  • Address the areas that are out of line through legal means, voting, discussion, petitioning, as well as going to the Lord in prayer. 
  • Protest only to keep America in line with her founding documents, particularly the constitution and the Bible. Be careful not to support the protests of others who are out of line with these things. Proclaim and declare what the Lord has solidly spoken.

An excellent resource is The Founder’s Bible by David Barton--check it out here.


Monday, June 8, 2020

The Endless Stream



Joel was sitting at his computer looking for a new game to play. He had heard of one that sounded really fun but couldn’t remember the name of it. Something about a stream, or was it a river? The final stream maybe? He did a search on all those words and couldn’t find what he was looking for. Then he saw a link to “The Endless Stream.”

“That’s it!” he cried out as he clicked on the link. “I think…” he said doubtfully when it turned out not to be a game at all, but a story. He started to read…

Peter jumped in his dad’s old rowboat. And I do mean old. The faded blue paint was peeled in several places, and rust forming in its place. Peter hoped it would hold up. He was on a mission. They lived on a stream. It was a large stream, big enough for him to take the boat out onto. He and his dad often went out fishing on the stream.

Peter had heard that the stream ended at some point and he was on a mission to find the end of the stream. As many times as he went out on the stream, he never saw the end of it. Today was the day, he decided. So he dragged the old boat onto the water, put in the oars, a bag of chips and bottle of soda pop and off he went—downstream. Upstream, where he and his dad usually went, would be too much work.

He was excited about his adventure and rowed enthusiastically at first. But it didn’t take long and he stopped rowing to rest. He floated for a bit with the current and then slowed almost completely to a stop.

“This is hard work.” He said out loud as he opened his bag of chips. Just then a canoe came by with two people in it. They were moving pretty quick.

As they approached him they called out, “Did you see the apple tree back there?”

“No.” Peter yelled back. He had been so busy rowing he didn’t notice anything that was on the shore he passed.

“They’re really good!” They yelled as they passed him by.

Peter thought about going back to find them as he realized the chips wouldn’t last him very long but decided that would be too much work. He started rowing again, trying to remember to glance at the shore every so often to see what might be there. But soon he was just staring downstream looking for the end. Sometimes the stream would curve, and it looked like it ended, but when he rowed closer he saw it continued around the curve. By late afternoon he had finished his chips and soda pop and was really tired.

“How far can it be?” He asked out loud.

Then came a motorboat. “A motorboat!” He thought. “A boat with a motor!” He stopped rowing and admired the ease at which the boat quickly moved through the water.

“Where’d you get the motor?” Peter yelled out to them.

The man stopped and looked over Peter’s boat.

“Where you heading?” He asked, without answering Peter’s question.

“To the end. I want to find the end of the stream.” Peter answered.

“The end huh?” The man asked while rubbing his chin.

“So, where do you get a motor?” Peter asked again.

“Well son.” The man answered. “You need to stop sometimes. Learn how to build a good boat. Find those who make motors. People who can help you.”

“That sounds like a lot of work, and like it takes a long time.” Peter answered.

“Are you in a hurry?” The man asked.

“Well…” Peter answered. “I guess. My chips and soda are all gone and its starting to get dark.”

The man nodded. “Mmm hmm.” He said. “Well, there’s a spring just down the way a bit. Keep a close eye out for it and you can fill up your soda bottle with water. Then be sure to keep an eye out for fruit growing along the shore. You can find apples and berries all along in here.”

“O.K. Thanks.” Peter answered. Wondering if the man could just give him some food and water. But he was too afraid to ask.

“And listen.” The man continued. “Sometimes you need to stop and rest. You need to get off the stream and explore. Live life. You understand?”

Peter nodded.

“You want a nice boat? That’s what you’ll need to do.” He said.

“O.K.” Peter answered, wondering if that was really necessary.

The man left and Peter rowed with his eyes on the shore until he found the spring. He was happy when he found it. He wished he had more than one soda bottle to fill up, but he took a long drink from the spring and then filled the bottle up.

He rowed until well past dark. He was tired and stopped next to the shore. He decided to sleep for a bit and got off his seat and onto the floor of the boat. It was hard and uncomfortable, and Peter wished he had a pillow and blanket. His boat kept floating away too so he pulled down a small branch from the tree on the shore next to them and held onto it while he laid down.

Before long he heard some laughing and yelling and peeked up over the edge of the boat. There was a boat full of weird looking people. Pirates? He wondered. No, not on a stream. Right? Whoever they were they gave Peter the creeps and he stayed low in his boat hoping they wouldn’t see him. It seemed to take forever, but they finally passed by. Why are they going so slow? He wondered. He never knew there were such strange people on this stream at night.

Peter slept poorly. His hand was tired from holding the branch to keep them from drifting away. He was happy when the sun came up. Happy, but hungry. He was anxious to continue down the stream but first looked around for something to eat from the shore. He couldn’t find anything, so he started rowing while his stomach was still growling. He had every intention of watching the shore for apples or berries, but soon his mind wandered and his thoughts drifted back towards the end of the stream. By mid-morning his hunger pangs were quite distracting and he realized suddenly that he had not been watching the shore.

Just then, another motorboat came by.

“Have you seen any apples?” Peter asked.

“You just missed them a little ways back” The woman answered.

Peter looked down sadly and she stopped her boat.

“You know.” She said. “There are a lot of things on the shore that might help you on your journey.”

Peter looked up at her, thinking she sounded just like the man in the other boat. 

She continued, “Following the stream isn’t everything you know. Why don’t you go back upstream just a bit and get some apples? There’s a woman there making some apple fritters too.” She said with a smile.

Peter thought that sounded wonderful but also that it was too much work to row upstream. She must have read his mind because she said, “You know, we see a lot of young people like you in this stream. They get so caught up in the stream that they don’t know what they’re passing by. They’re looking for something they can’t ever find. The stream never really ends. Or if it does, its in a lonely place. Its meant to be used to help you build your life on the shore, with your loved ones.”

Peter looked up at her. She looked very nice and very happy, but he wasn’t sure what he thought about what she was saying.

“What I’m saying is, if you just follow the flow of the stream, eventually it takes you to a lonely place. Away from your shore.”

Peter didn’t answer. As she sped away, he admired her boats ability to go quickly, and how well she could steer. “She could even drop anchor if she wanted.” He thought, thinking of his sore hand. But Peter didn’t go back to get the apples and by mid-afternoon he rowed towards the shore and pulled out seaweed from the bottom of the stream. He ate the seaweed and didn’t like it.

Peter continued to follow the stream, but he started paying more attention to the shore watching for apples, berries, and springs of water. At night, he laid low trying to avoid the weird people who came out. After several days of this, he stopped and got out at a place where he saw a man making boats. It felt good to stretch his legs and he realized he had hardly gotten out except to use one of the outhouses along the way.

“What you looking for?” the man asked Peter, glancing up from painting a boat.

“I was looking for the end of the stream.” Peter answered.

The man stopped painting and looked more closely at Peter. “How’s the search going?” He asked.

“Well. One person said I needed to get out on the shore sometimes and another woman said the stream doesn’t really end, except in a lonely place. So, I haven’t found it yet.”

“You know.” He said. “This stream here is very useful. We use it for fishing, for traveling, for swimming, and just plain enjoyment. It’s pretty to look at. But when you never get out of it then it becomes more of a curse than a blessing. It can consume you—rob you of all your time, your people, and your energy.”

Peter nodded. He started to understand now. The stream was useful, and fun. It helps people with their purpose. But the stream itself isn’t the purpose. He couldn’t live in the stream forever.

“What are  you going to do?” The man asked.

“I never meant to run away.” Peter answered. “But that’s what I’ve done.” He started to cry then quickly wiped his tears. “I’m going to go back. Upstream. But I’ve got a long, hard way to go.”

The man smiled and said, “Well, I’ve got just the thing for you.” He stood up and motioned for Peter to follow him. They went into a barn and he picked up a motor. “This motor works for those who’ve made the decision you just made. Use it to go back upstream, back home to your family and find your shore there.”

Peter’s eyes got wide. Yet he wondered why the man would trust him to use the motor to go home. What if he tried to take it down stream?

“I’ll only use it to go upstream.” Peter said, feeling the need to reassure the man in case he was wondering. “I’m done looking for the end of the stream. If it never ends, I’ll never find it anyway and I’ll waste all my time. If it does end, but in a lonely place, well...”

“That’s the right choice son.” The man said with a smile. “Let me show you something.” He walked away and Peter followed. They walked along the shore of the stream and stopped a little ways down. The stream ran into a lake.

“Is this the end?” Peter asked.

“No, not really. It never really ends. It empties into the lake here but picks up again over there.” He pointed to a place far across the lake. “The lady told you right son. It doesn’t end. The streams keep going and if you don’t pay attention, they’ll take you farther away from your own shore—the place where you build your life.”

Peter didn’t know what to say. He was glad he made the decision to go back. This stream is nice to explore, but not something to follow endlessly.

“Thanks.” Peter said, staring across the lake, thinking how wrong it felt to go any further.

The man mounted the motor onto Peter’s boat and gave him enough gas to get home. He showed him how to use it and how to steer.

As Peter traveled quickly upstream, he watched the shoreline and saw all he had missed when he passed by before. The people living life, enjoying each other, talking, playing games, the beautiful houses, gardens, squirrels and birds. It was full of life. But with his head down and his eyes and thoughts focused on the stream, he missed it all before.

Before he knew it, he was back home. His dad was waiting, very happy to see him. When he saw the motor he said, “You made a difficult decision didn’t you?”

“Yes dad, and…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to run off like that for so long. It’s just… I thought… I thought I would find the end of the stream and that the end was someplace that would make me feel good. Like I finished something. Like I found something. The end. But it didn’t end. It keeps going. Some people tried to tell me. And there were weird people out at night. I didn’t eat right. I didn’t do anything except row, row, row, in the stream.” Peter was rambling but he didn’t care. He had to get it all out and his dad was listening intently.

“The boat man helped me. He gave me this motor…” Peter turned back to look at the new motor on the boat but it was gone. He looked at his dad and then back at the boat. There was no motor.

“You learned an important lesson Peter.” He said. “That motor is in you now. Once you’re willing to make the tough decision to get off the stream and back onto the shore of your life, you’ve gained new strength. Come on, we’ve all been waiting for you.”

Peter walked up to their house with his dad, knowing that this is the end of the stream for him. Or really, the beginning. This is where he belongs and where he can begin to build his purpose.

Joel finished reading the story which touched him deep inside. He no longer wanted to find that game. He wanted to find his shore. He climbed out of the boat and walked away.