Friday, April 24, 2020

The Olympic Christian

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
We're told to run the race set before us with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus--our example. We're told to run with winning in mind. We don't run aimlessly, but we discipline our bodies, making it our slave. In other words, we train like we were training for the Olympics.

If your goal was to try out for the Olympics, and not only make the team but win the gold medal, you would train intensely. You would spend hours a day. If you were studying for your doctorate degree, you would put much time into your studies, research, writing etc. In the same way, if you want to be an Olympic Christian--one who wins the prize in the race set in front of you to run, then you must train for it. You must prepare for it. It won't just fall in your lap.

So how do you train for it? Time and energy. Thought and attentiveness. Planning your life around it. In other words, make time every day for studying the Word of God and spending time in prayer. Go above and beyond.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15.
Study. Study to show yourself approved. It's not enough to read the Bible. Let me say that again. It's not enough to read the Bible. You need to study it. Study as if you were writing a thesis. Be diligent in this. Be disciplined in this. Like a doctoral candidate. Like an Olympic athlete.

I'm not saying to simply memorize the book order and be able to eloquently quote a multitude of Scripture. But study so you understand the thoughts and concepts that are written. Study to understand the message God is saying through the Scriptures.
And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 13:23
Give diligence to understand the Word of God. Discipline yourself to inherit the imperishable prize. Train yourself daily, throughout the day. Day and night, so you are diligent to live according to the truth of it.
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Joshua 1:8
Shall not depart from your mouth means that its constantly in your mouth. It never leaves. It doesn't mean you don't speak it, but that you don't stop speaking it. Meditate on the Word of God. Speak it out loud. Ponder its meaning. Discuss it with the Lord. Don't just read it, put thought into it so you are sure you accurately understand. Ask questions. Why this, not that? What it the context, the setting, the history? Do all this and become the Olympic Christian you are called to be!






Sunday, April 12, 2020

Job and the Whirlwind


Job was a blameless and upright man. He was very wealthy, and helpful to the poor and needy. He sat in the gates and instructed others. He had the final word on matters, almost like a king. 

One day, Satan came before the Lord and the Lord bragged on Job.

“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.” Job 1:8
Satan responded by saying that the only reason Job was faithful to the Lord is because He was protecting him. He said if God touched what he had he would curse Him to His face. So the Lord gave Job's possessions over to Satan, but told him not to touch Job himself.

Job suffered complete economic devastation, as well as the lives of his children. Yet he did not sin or blame God. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there" he said. Job 1:21.

One day Satan came back to the Lord and the Lord again bragged on Job.
“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. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” Job 2:3
This time Satan said if He were to touch his flesh, he would curse Him to His face. So The Lord gave Satan permission, but said to spare his life. Job broke out in very painful boils all over his body. His wife told him to curse God and die but Job remained faithful saying, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" Job 2:10.

So we see Job as a wealthy, well-respected, upright man. God sees and is pleased. Satan accuses him of weak integrity that won't hold up under pressure. The Lord gives permission to Satan to test him, yet within boundaries. Job's grief is great, he wishes for death, while maintaining he's done nothing wrong. He says God has done this to him and he doesn't know why. He says his righteousness didn't keep him safe, and that if he could argue his case before God, he'd be vindicated.

Job's three friends came to comfort him, however they zeroed in on saying he must have sinned, and that God did this to him to get him to repent. Job insisted he had not sinned, that God is doing what He wants, but if he could just argue his case before God he would be restored. Job says his friends should comfort him, pity him, strengthen him, but instead they accuse him of sin and wickedness. His friends continue to say he must have sinned and he should repent and God will deliver him. Job 3-31

The discussion goes on for most of the book of Job. The young one, Elihu, spoke after Job and his friends stopped talking. He said that Job's friends really haven't answered Job, yet they condemned him. Then he rebuked Job saying he should listen to God's chastening and repent. He asks why he should expect God to tell him what He's doing. His case is before God and he must wait. Just because God hasn't come in anger, he says, Job continues to talk and multiplies words without knowledge. He says Job should consider the majesty of God and consider his own ways. Job 32-37.

Then the Lord came in a whirlwind and spoke to Job, humbling him. He spoke of creation and all that He did to form it, including what He does to maintain it. He asks Job if he can do all that. Job repents. Job 38-41.
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6
It was one thing for Job to hear of God, but another thing to see Him with his own eyes. Seeing Him speak from the whirlwind was enough to cause Job to humble himself before the Lord. We need the whirlwind of God to come speak to us! We need to see Him and not just hear of Him.

The Lord told the three friends that they didn't speak right of God, as Job did. He told them they needed to offer a sacrifice and Job would pray for them so they wouldn't suffer God's wrath. When Job prayed for them, his fortune was restored twofold and his friends didn't suffer the wrath of God. Job ended up with twice as much as he had before and lived another 140 years.

Why did God allow Satan to do this?
At least for two reasons. One, is that an accusation was made. Job was accused of being weak in integrity. Satan said the reason it wasn't evident is because God was protecting him. When an accusation is made, God replies. Just like in a court case, an accusation is answered with evidence. God presented evidence that Job really was an upright man. God doesn't hide from the enemy. He even brought Job to Satan's attention. He is light. He is truth. He is not afraid of Satan in any way. Not even for us.

The other thing is, that testing comes not just to prove our faithfulness, but also to strengthen us and perfect us in the areas we're weak in. Job had flaws. He didn't have a concept as to how great God really is, and how inferior he was compared to Him. He thought for sure that his troubles were God's idea and that He was the author of it all. So in the end, God set him straight, as well as his friends. Yet He restored what Job had lost, doubling it.

The devil is the one who accuses, to see whom he may devour. When these times come, we need to resist the devil firm in the faith, while remaining humble before the Lord. Yet that doesn't necessarily mean we won't suffer at all or experience any adversity. After our suffering, God Himself perfects us and establishes us.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11
If we just had God's protection, with no adversity, we may be able to appear perfect and blameless but in the end, when trouble or temptation comes, will we hold up? Do we have just a false appearance of integrity? When the tough times come, we learn to appreciate the times without it. There is darkness and we love light. There is suffering and we're thankful for peace. There is lack and we appreciate times of plenty. Paul learned from his trying times.
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Exchange of Breath--Truth for Lies



I mentioned here before that I am on an assignment which began Nov 1, 2019 and goes until Oct 31, 2020. I am speaking the entire Bible during this time-- reading out loud, writing summaries and making prayers and proclamations daily.

The Lord said that as His spoken word is released it will dispel the darkness, lies, and toxic breath of the land in America. It would be a cleansing of the land through the spoken word like Jesus said (John 15:3).

Since Nov. 1 various other themes have come up such as:
  • freedom to America (or any nation) coming through discipleship because when we study His word we know the truth which brings freedom (John 8:31-32).
  • Darkness being dispelled through transformation, not just displacement was another theme. (And conversion can come through discipleship, but discipleship doesn't always follow conversion). 
  • Cleansing being a separation from dirt, from that which defiles, so there is a holiness type of cleansing occurring (Jer. 15:9). 
But what I want to get to, is that most recently the focus has been back to the breath. As His word is spoken--breathed out--its released as a breath of truth and life. With each exchange of breath lies are exchanged for truth. Not driven away, but changed. The inhaled truth is processed through the lungs and heart. As the heart is changed, the breath of the lungs becomes pure and releases life and truth with every exhale (word). 

Specifically relating to the virus, this breath--His words that we've inhaled or studied and processed--will replace the toxic contaminates in the air (physical or spiritual) with life and truth, bringing both health and freedom. And the freedom will be more than the stay at home bans being lifted!

Psalm 12:6 says the words of the Lord are pure words as silver tried in a furnace of the earth refined seven times. We are the furnace and His words are processed through us--our heart, lungs and mouth--to release breaths of life and truth. As our spirits are filled with the Spirit of God, in alignment with His truth, then what is exhaled from our spirit--our breath--will be life-giving truth.

Take the time to hear and process the Word of God. Study it. Meditate on it. Put it into practice. Align your life with it. Make a point to intentionally inhale, process, and then, after all that, exhale (speak) the word of God.

Also check out The Parresia Anointing here.



Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Don't Be Misled


We are in an age of disinformation. Anyone can claim anything and appear to produce solid evidence of their claim. Articles, videos, photographs, “news” interviews etc. are all being used as documentation to sway people’s opinion.

This is concerning because many people are not investigating what they hear and see. I’m sure we’ve all done it. We’ve listened to someone’s opinion, watched a video, read an article and believed a lie. For the most part probably not too much harm was done. But in these days, its become more vital than ever that believers do not get deceived.

Don’t be Misled

When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the days before His second coming the first thing He said was, ‘See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4). See to it. He put the responsibility on us. It’s our job to make sure we are not misled. How? I think we can begin to get a clue in James--
 “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19
Awareness

To be quick to hear means that you listen to everything. You are paying attention. You don’t have your head stuck in the sand, but you’re alert and aware. There are many distractions out there, some even appearing to be ‘good’ things, but we need to be on our guard because we have an adversary roaming about seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is just looking for an opportunity to take you out so awareness is essential.

Slow Down

Then, notice there is to be a time period between the time you hear and the time you speak. James’ wise advice here is not to hastily respond to what we hear. The instruction is not to just parrot everything we hear. Not to be quick to say, “Did you hear…” That’s just plain gossip. Take the time to process what you’re hearing or seeing.
“The ear tests words as the palate tastes food.” Job 34:3
Our sense of taste, along with our sense of smell, is a form of discernment. We can tell if something is rotten or appetizing. In the same way, our ears test words, at least they’re supposed to. Our sense of hearing includes a decoding process in the brain. The words you hear get processed through the brain so you can decipher what was said.

There are different levels of understanding to this. Once a child learns the meaning of words he is meant to grow from there to learn thoughts and concepts. This is a lifelong process. It’s something we should always do—grow in our level of understanding.

This period of time between being quick to hear and slow to speak is an investigative phase which should not be taken lightly. Its easy to just repeat and pass on things we hear, especially if from sources we trust, but we don’t have that luxury these days.

Think it Through

Finally, we are to be slow to anger. Once we hear and understand what was said, we must not react too quickly. Our passion for or against something needs to be tempered with wisdom as well as the Lord’s input.
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 11:14
Its safe to weigh things out with other input. Compare what you’re hearing with other reliable sources you trust. Of course, sometimes even reliable sources can get it wrong, but this is where having more than one source comes in. Two or three sources can confirm a thing (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16) but not two or three sources that are just repeating each other!
“The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17
Hopefully, most of us have learned that the first comment we hear on a topic is not always the right one.

Summary

Reliable sources, confirmation from two or three other reliable sources, logically investigating something yourself, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom and input are all safeguards we’ve got to be using these days. Oftentimes people don’t mean to be spreading lies but being deceived themselves they don’t know that they are.

I’m concerned that a number of videos and articles and other posts I see are falling into this category. People are sharing things without thinking them through, investigating them, or seeking the Lord. I’m talking about Christians. We’ve got to do better! I include myself in this as well. If anyone thinks they are above deception, they already are deceived.



Sunday, March 15, 2020

Warriors of Freedom in the Battle of Truth vs. Self



In this day and age, the battles of nations are not about brute strength as the battles of old used to be. The weapons of today’s battles, (for example in the republic of America or democratic nations), are thoughts and ideas. Whoever can convince the people to believe them and follow their ideals “wins” the battle. They will be elected to leadership positions and rule as they see fit.

Because of this, deception becomes a primary tool of those who wish to rule in a way that is not good for the people. Kings would conquer lands and make slaves of the people. It was common. The remnants of it still existed when America was founded. But we recognized the wrong and did away with it. We recognized that freedom is a most basic right of all people—an inalienable God-given right. But freedom of the people does not give selfish, power-hungry people what they want. They need slaves. They need people to work for them to build their empire. So, what do they do?

They use deception to make people slaves without knowing it, without realizing what they’ve become. They do it through the schools. They indoctrinate and call it education. They don’t encourage free thinkers. They promote majority opinion over logic. As the people become hypnotized with the ideals the enemies of freedom are promoting, they willingly give up their freedom, happy to promote “the cause” of making things “fair” for everyone (or whatever the lie is), and happily vote them into office.

They also use accusations as a weapon against freedom. They make accusations against those who fight for truth to try and keep people from believing those who speak truth. For if people believe the truth, they become dangerous to those trying to obtain power through deception. They need you deceived and enslaved in order to fulfill their dreams.

They care only about their dreams. These selfish rulers do not care about you pursuing your dreams. They don’t want you to have personal rights or property rights. They want to own it all. They want to control it all. They can do better than you. They know what you need better than you do. They can’t have government by the people, of the people, and for the people and still build their own empire. So, they dumb you down. School agendas include a lot of wasted time and promotion of group thought. They can’t have free thinkers—those who want to debate and discuss—for they may think deeply enough, and cause others to think deeply enough, to disagree and challenge their ideals. They need loyal slaves.

The warriors of freedom must be properly armed. They must be both wise and good. One without the other won’t do it. Wisdom without goodness is just as dangerous as goodness without wisdom. For these wise and good warriors to be victorious, they must be thinkers, not just “educated.” They must have discernment to tell a lie from the truth, and they must have the nature of goodness Himself within. They fight the enemy of Good. They fight the enemy of Truth. So the battle becomes a battle of good vs evil, or you could say--Truth vs Self.

The focal point of freedom is truth. The focal point of freedom’s enemy is self. Jesus is the truth. The Word of God is truth. The Spirit of God is truth. These all bear witness to one another that they are in fact the truth. Believers also bear witness to this truth. God in heaven has the power to enforce the truth. Truth must be enforceable in order to be truth. Those who think they can make their own truth will, sooner or later, realize that they themselves were deceived and suffer the devastating consequences of rejecting both truth and freedom.

God gives freedom. It is His desire for all men to have the power of choice. Free will is given by God for the purpose of trying our hearts to see which side we will choose. It’s up to us. Consequences may seem delayed at times, but this is so the evidence is clear which side we are on and consequences are justified (Psalm 92:6-8).

Let’s compare the two types of warriors in this war of ideals.

Warriors of Truth
  • They have pure hearts, honesty, integrity, and goodness. They are lovers of truth and lovers of God.
  • Their weapons include divine discernment and wisdom.
  • To master their weapons, they must develop skill in knowledge and understanding. They must become reasonable, logical, and merciful people. They must humble themselves before the Lord.
  • They must be courageous—not intimidated or silenced by threats. Yet love rules them.
  • They must be righteous—not tempted by bribes. They do what is right, even if it costs them.
  • They must be resourceful and know that God is their provider and He backs the truth. They give of themselves and to others as the Lord instructs.

Warriors of Self
  • They are impure in their heart, dishonest, have no standard of truth outside of themselves, no knowledge of what is good or right apart from their selfish desires.
  • Their weapons are worldly knowledge and experience, the ability to flatter and deceive.
  • To master their weapons they may become educated, presentable, and socially acceptable.
  • They are not courageous but may be bold--mouthy and loud. Hate or anger fuels them.
  • They are greedy and work for self-gain, promotion, prestige, position, and power.
  • They are financed. Wealth is used to gain power and control. Their allegiance is to those who give them riches or status. They use people as pawns and are pawns themselves.

 Paul recognized this war of ideals when he wrote:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
May we do the same.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Forming of Beliefs



How and why do we believe what we do? How do we come to believe anything, not just about God, but our opinions and beliefs about life in general? To answer this question, we need to first realize that we have a connection with the world around us--the physical earth and the people in it. We are not all islands unto ourselves—gods who create our own universes with their own rules and laws. This would never work. There would be destruction all over the place as our “truths” collided. (Maybe this was what brought the earth to the condition of chaos in the beginning when God spoke our current world into existence). There is such a thing as Truth and it has the power to rule.

So let’s look at how the mind works. We must hear something first before we can form an opinion, agreement, or belief about it.
How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? Romans 10:14
This process involves our ability to hear, understand, and then judge ideas and concepts according to Truth. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

When we hear words, the sound goes into our ears and is processed by our brain. (Or, if we read words, they are de-coded by the brain through the optic nerve of our eye.) However it happens, we somehow “hear” language and de-code it—through sight, sound, or touch. For example, when we hear the word “winter” we know what it means because we’ve heard it before, and we’ve associated the sounds with the thought. (Or, if reading, we’ve matched the written symbols to the thought).

To some degree, we move from de-coding the sights and sounds to understanding the thoughts, concepts, and ideas that the author/speaker is trying to get across. The level of understanding varies according to our ability to think, allowing us to judge the thought according to Truth.

If you hear “the dog is red” you can understand what each word means separately, but you group them together to get the thought—the image—the phrase is conveying and in your mind you see a red dog. Thoughts and concepts vary in complexity. “The red dog is barking at the cat while a screaming man is running towards them.” Gives you a more complex thought than just “the dog is red.” You could ‘read between the lines’ to examine motive and predict what might happen. More complex sentences bring you into ideas, thoughts, rationales, explanations, right and wrong, truths etc.

Some people don’t get past the basic de-coding. They’re happy to understand at a basic level, but not at a high enough level to judge whether the concept is true. It seems they are content to de-code and accept, but don’t spend the mental exertion necessary to fully understand what the person they are listening to is saying, in order to judge whether its true or not. This may be more than personal laziness; it may be because our current trends in education encourage mental laziness.

Educators, and sad to say sometimes parents, offer to do the hard thinking for their students. However, this is nothing more than indoctrination, and children don’t often know the harm in it and will take the easy path if offered.

It’s hard work to understand. It takes effort. I would say God makes it like that on purpose because He wants a people who know the value of Truth. Look at the effort He says to give in going after wisdom, understanding, and discernment:
Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures;… Proverbs 2:2-4, emphasis added.
It takes effort. Yet people often skip over words they don’t understand while reading, guessing their definition by the context of the sentence. This can lead a person to agree with, and believe in, concepts that aren’t really true, with devastating consequences. Putting effort into thorough understanding is worth it. It’s necessary.

So how does this lead us to belief? Once a person decodes and then understands the thoughts and concepts he hears, he is then faced with whether he agrees or disagrees with it. Does he believe it to be true? Once again, some people don’t face this question. They are content to bounce around from thought to thought and let others do the “hard things” like deciding what is true.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; Ephesians 4:14
It’s dangerous to let someone else tell you what Truth is because there are those who will intentionally deceive you for personal gain if allowed. They’re not motivated by love for you (like Truth is). We must not be one who doesn't want to think and search for Wisdom and Truth.
Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
“Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you. Proverbs 1:20-23
(Of course, this passage of Scripture goes on to say the consequence of turning against wisdom, which is not pleasant. It’s worth reading the whole chapter).

So once again, when we arrive at the place where we understand a concept, we decide whether we agree with it or not. It’s important to note here that agreement is more than having heard it once before. Some confuse familiarity or recognition of a concept with agreement.
The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17
Just because you’ve heard something before does not mean it is true. When a person hears something once or twice and recognizes the thought as one he’s heard before, he might begin to repeat it and talk about it. Now it’s been given life. It’s been given space, and a rumor, or lie, is born.

Agreement is not just accepting something you’ve heard before as true. It’s taking a concept, comparing it to Truth, and making a choice about it. Some want you to think you don’t have a choice over what you agree with or believe in. They may express ideas in such a way that they prompt you to search your memory for a similar thought. If you find a familiar concept there, you begin to accept it. However, remembering is not agreeing. Knowing what something means, is not agreeing. The thought must be judged according to the Truth, which involves the person putting in effort to understand the thought, and then judging it appropriately. It is said if you hear a lie often enough, you’ll believe it. This does not have to be. This is a strategy our enemy uses against us. Yes, there is an enemy who wants to mess up your life.
…the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Agreement, or belief, is a spiritual thing. It’s free will. It’s a choice. Its where you say, “I want to know and believe this Truth,” or at least “I want to want to.” Agreement is not something you have no power over. If someone asks you if you agree with something, you don’t need to search some hidden reservoir inside of you to try and find out if you agree. You don’t search your memory banks to base your agreement on simple familiarity or recognition. You judge what you are hearing with what you have discovered to be Truth, and if it agrees with the Truth then you agree with it.  
Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, emphasis added.
Those who reject Truth and choose pleasure in wickedness over Truth, will be deceived and judged. It’s not about searching your memories or emotions to see if an idea sounds pleasant or acceptable to you. It’s not about collecting a wish-list of ideas to create a fantasy land. It’s about loving the Truth. Looking for it. Searching for it. Submitting to it. Even sacrificing for it, if needed.
Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding. Proverbs 23:23
Truth might cost you something. Do you still want it? Yes, because sincere agreement with the Truth is the only thing that will give life, love, freedom, and all that is good because God is Truth and He is all those good things. Some may have trouble with the word “God” because of a misunderstanding of who He is and His nature. But God is Truth. He is life, light, and love. He is all that is good and right.
We want to bring the thoughts and ideas that we hear into alignment with what is good and right--what is life and love. This is what we want to agree with. This is Truth, and God is the source of it.

Let’s look again at how we come to believe, or come into agreement with a thought or concept:   

De-code it for a basic, parroting-type of understanding
Put mental effort--thought--into understanding the concepts and ideas presented
Judge the thought according to Truth
Agree (believe) or disagree with it

God has enabled us to determine Truth, not just from the Bible, or nature, or the experiences of other people, but He has given us access to the Spirit of Truth. When we compare the written Word of God, the experiences of our life, the testimony of others we know, with the Spirit of Truth speaking to our spirit, this gives us a confirmation that this thought or idea is of God—it is Truth.
Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 2 Corinthians 13:1 (See also Matthew 18:16, John 5:31-32, 1 John 5:8).
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth… John 16:13
Truth is revealed to us, by God, in a variety of ways. The Bible is a tried and true way. In the Bible, truths were revealed to men by God. The Bible is a written account or record of what the authors experienced and what was revealed to them. Their testimony has become history.

The Bible is the most accurate record of Truth because it’s been proven over millennia. It’s been tried and proven to be true in the lives of billions of people. People have testified that in their experience, the truths of the Bible are in fact true. This is what it means to be His witness. (Acts 1:8).

Our own testimony, and the testimonies of others, are spoken or written accounts of experiences, which, when taken in their sum total of a person’s life, may be used as a record of truth. If studied, one might see the Word of God proven true in their life—whether the outcomes are good or bad. This person’s life, along with other non-biblical classics—books, art etc. don’t have the same degree of testing and proof as the Bible, but may still contain truths which will help those who read to understand them.

Deception occurs when a person believes what is not true. How? When a person believes something is true it means he has accepted it as an idea that can and will be enforced. So he adjusts his life accordingly and tells others to do the same. Once again:
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5
We are in a war of knowledge, thoughts, concepts, and ideas. It’s political, yet spiritual. What you have heard, understood, and chosen to agree with is what you believe. If you’ve heard it, understood it and chosen to believe it, that’s where your faith is.

However, when you hear something familiar, that you’ve heard before, don’t mistake that recognition for faith. Don’t substitute the familiarity of a concept with belief or agreement with it. Understanding is necessary, only so we can properly judge a concept in accordance with Truth. If it doesn’t line up, don’t believe it. Don’t accept it. Others might, but you don’t have it. You have a choice. There’s thought involved. There’s free will involved. God made it that way.

You have a choice over what you believe in. You can’t change the truth by believing something contrary to it, but you can become deceived by choosing to believe something to be true when it isn’t. You have the ability to choose to disagree with the truth and not believe it, however, there will be consequence to that beyond your control. Truth, by definition, is something that has the power to enforce itself. We see this in laws of nature, like gravity. It’s true whether you believe it or not.
We have an enemy who wants people to think there is not one standard of Truth, there is no God, and there is no one to enforce Truth. This lie says that everyone can believe what they want. He uses the familiar to substitute for agreement because when a person agrees with the Truth, its powerful and our enemy doesn’t want that to happen.

This is why its important to read, hear, study, and meditate on the Word of God. To quietly hear from the Lord the concepts and thoughts He’s speaking to you in your inner closet, in your own still heart, where the Spirit of Truth speaks, to get an accurate understanding of truth.

The Word of God and the Holy Spirit within you, bear witness with each other to the Truth. And your own life becomes a testimony to it as well. Don’t just read and decode the Word, understand the concepts of it, according to what the Author means, then come into agreement with it. Judge according to truth, not familiarity.

This is why its so important to give kids the Truth at a young age.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 1 Peter 2:2
We must not wait until our children are older thinking they can’t understand “big” concepts. Feed them pure Truth so they can grow. Feed them from the book of Proverbs, short concepts of Truth. The book of Job is an example of a book that needs to be read in its entirety to get the whole concept of it, but Proverbs is perfect for the young. Bite size nuggets of Truth that can be discussed, while they develop their “thinking” muscles.
Let these words sink into your ears; Luke 9:44

The Mission of the Church

I’m adding this section to the end of this (long) blog, because I feel it helps explain why developing relationships with other believers is important “and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25).

It is very difficult for one person, by himself, to research and investigate every piece of information he comes across. Every news story, every trend, thought, idea, concept, argument, etc. He needs to be connected to a group that he can trust. Each member of this group will have their own set of experiences, knowledge they’ve gained, opinions, thoughts, interpretations, revelations and so on. Together, this tribe of believers can think and discuss concepts and trends of the day and come to conclusions regarding what is True and what is not.
…When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation… 1 Corinthians 14:26
It’s like the story of The Blind Men and theElephant. Each has their own viewpoint, which is true, but doesn’t give the whole picture of what an elephant really is.  

The job of the church is to bring the thoughts, concepts and ideologies of the day, of the current generations, into alignment (obedience) with the Truth. Through our discussions we destroy “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” This means that we judge the current ideologies according to the Truth, teach our kids, and stand publicly with the Truth as needed.

We trust those who are in our tribe, yet we must always put God first. We don’t believe what’s popular, even within our own group, but seek the Truth first. Then, together we stand for Truth.
We are God’s “witnesses.” We testify of His goodness, His love, and all of His attributes, as if in court. We have a testimony—experiences we can share that validate who He is, that declares that His ways are the Truth. That our life has proven it to be so.

Each one in our tribe has personal experiences, lessons of life, revelations of truth, which becomes our testimony. We gather these things from:

·       Personal experiences (our testimony)
·       Personal revelation (from meditation, study, and prayer)
·       Biblical studies (our private time which brings revelation and interpretation)
·       Autobiographies, biographies (the stories of others)
·       Fictional stories and classics (the thoughts and concepts of others)
·       Lectures, teachings, and opinions of teachers (doctrines)
We form our opinions and beliefs based on these things.
And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old. Matthew 13:52
We must teach our kids from our stories--what we’ve learned, what we’ve come to believe, and how. Pull the old treasures from your house to share with your kids and grandkids. But there is also the new. Allow them to share their fresh perspective, based on what they’ve seen and experienced so far. It may be in its infancy, but they still have seeds within them that will need to be nurtured and grown. Rather than pulling out every concept that doesn’t agree with you, teach them how to find Truth and then, how to compare their seedlings of thoughts with it.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Second-Season Fruit



Someone once said, you don't need to try and grow every plant in your garden. Not every seed you plant will sprout into a seedling. Some will never germinate. Some will try, but won't do anything more than use up the nutrients needed for the good seed. Some seedlings, even good ones, need to be thinned out so as to make room for the plants to grow to their full potential. There's just not time nor space to nurture every seed dropped into the soil of our garden of life.

Seeds may be dropped into our soil that are not meant to be there. They are not a part of our mission. They don't fit the purpose of our garden. They may be sown purposely by enemies or opposers to distract us, use up our resources, or wear us out. They may be sown innocently by those who think they are helping us, giving us something to do, yet they use up our time, energy and resources which are meant for other things. They may be sown by ourselves, out of guilt or an unrealistic sense of duty or obligation. Again, wasting our energy on something contrary to our destiny.

Once we identify and nurture the right seeds, our plants will grow and one day bear fruit. They could be edible fruit--berries or apples. They could be leaves we harvest for tea or nutrition. They could be the fragrance or beauty of flowers. They could be essential oils used for healing. Whatever the fruit of each plant, it will have a purpose that fits our life, our mission, our destiny.

Just as we don't need to nurture every seed into a plant, we don't harvest every fruit. Some fruit will be damaged by bugs, weather, or trauma, and we simply can't save it. Yet the lessons learned and the growth experienced by their loss is valuable. It isn't a waste. We gain valuable wisdom and knowledge to be used in the future, to help our garden or educate others.

As our garden grows, we enjoy the fragrances of some plants. We enjoy the visual effect of the garden--the contrast and balance of all of our plants together. We enjoy the taste and nourishment of the fruit, the healing of the oils and leaves. The garden brings us life. It nourishes, strengthens, and heals us. It teaches us. We work in our garden, like Adam or Even, and our work pays off in bringing us the blessing of all it has to offer, the fruit of it all in its many different forms.

However, just as we don't grow every seed, or harvest every plant, we don't consume all of the fruit ourselves. our garden gives us much more than we can use ourselves. Our garden grows, expands, multiplies. From a few seeds we reap much fruit. Year after year. Season after season. So we share our harvest with family, friends, and others. However, we must not let the joy of sharing consume us to the point where we forget to feed ourselves. Apart from fasting, which our winter seasons naturally provide, we must feed ourselves, harvest our seeds for replanting, or our gardens become barren.

This is when we begin to learn the lesson of second-season fruit. Before we know how to best offer our fruit to others, we must enjoy it for a season or two ourselves. Some fruit, leaves, smells, sights, oils, teas etc. need to be experienced by us for a while before we can offer a full, ripe, mature experience to others. What pairs well? When is the best time to harvest? How do we bring the best balance of beauty or taste? When is the nutritional level at its peak? The oil most potent and fragrant? We must experience and experiment ourselves with our own produce before we share with others and offer the best to them.

This is second-season fruit. Tried. Tested. Seasoned. We become seasoned ourselves. Experienced gardeners of our own soil. Knowing ourselves and lives well enough to offer our experiences, our history, the lessons we've learned, the knowledge and revelations, the understanding and wisdom, the failures and challenges, the victories and losses. We can teach, help, prepare, prevent, encourage, and guide others as they ask of us. As they come to our garden for a visit.

Of course, we don't force. We offer. And we don't deplete our own garden. We don't harvest too soon or out of season. We share at the proper time, in the proper way, properly prepared for the proper use.

Second-season fruit. You've waited until the full cycle of the plant has been completed. You've gone through all the seasons at least once. Nurturing, observing, experiencing, learning, and now you are seasoned in how to share this fruit with others. This prevents you from experimenting on others, and it teaches you how to fully appreciate your fruit. Try your fruit yourself first. Then, when you think its good, share it with your family--those who know you, love you, and can give you an honest opinion.

Don't offer it to others unless you'd give it to your own child. Don't offer it to your child, until you know its completely safe, nutritional, and healthy. Know your fruit. Know your life. Know the purpose of your garden. Wait until at least the second season so you what you have to offer is good and life-giving.