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.



Sunday, February 16, 2020

Government by the People


When you have a society which has a minimal number of laws for the most serious offenses (murder, rape, theft...) and strictly enforce them, the people are much freer and happier than when you have many laws which attempt to prevent offenses and shape behavior. The latter causes people to seek permission from government for their behavior, rather than knowing right and wrong for themselves. That is not freedom. That is control.

This is what has happened to a certain extent in America. However, this is not the government's doing, it is the people's choice. While siding with those who say they want to make everything fair and easy, they have surrendered their freedom, and their conscience, willingly. The problem is, that in the process of doing this, laws are created which affect all Americans, not just the ones who wish to be controlled. This is the basic point of contention between those who want a big government, and those who want a small, limited government.

So how do you govern a society while still allowing the free will of the people? You don't. You set things up so people will govern themselves. How? By protecting, and promoting, their freedom to love and worship God. The desire to please God trumps any motivation a government could ever give.

I know that governments have sometimes used religion as a form of control, but just because it works to accomplish that goal doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. In reality, it is not just any religion that brings order to a society. All you have to do is look at history to prove that point. No religion has been perfect, because no people have been perfect. However, look at the holy books of each religion and you will find that a Judaeo-Christian people, when following God as He intends, will self-govern and create a society that flourishes.

This is contrary to religions who force conversion, killing or enslaving those who don't comply. This type of religion confuses the role of government with the role of their god. With a biblical standard, God governs men's hearts, who then rule their lives and families. Families govern communities and nations. Governing authority starts from individuals on up, not the government down, but it only works peacefully if the individuals themselves have submitted themselves to the true, loving God.

Every society needs a standard of truth. In America, the Bible has always been that. But now, those who have drifted away from (or never had) a belief in the God of the Bible, would like to establish their own truth. They say they want diversity and fairness for all, but what they're really trying to do is force a set of beliefs, their beliefs, on everyone. They feel if they can set up a powerful government who rules through these many laws, then things will be "better" for all. This is not true. This is not reality.

The beauty of America, led by biblical truths, has always been that men can respond to the convictions of their own heart. Yes there have been laws to protect which bring limitations, and no we haven't been perfect. But the answer is not found in doing away with the biblical standards that have made this country great. The answer is to promote, yet not force, these biblical standards more. Everyone gets to choose, but the laws, and consequences for breaking them, will be judged by the one standard we have always had--the Bible.

Fight it all you want, but it works because its truth.



Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Merging of Knowledge and Truth



Our ancestors ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now we contain the ability to know what they knew. We can learn. We have learned from our ancestors and we study history to discover the knowledge mankind has gained throughout the ages. This knowledge has been passed on from generation to generation, and built upon.

But with this knowledge comes a responsibility. It's a heavy responsibility requiring us to consistently and accurately make choices towards good, not evil. For if we choose evil, just once, seeds are planted and tragic consequences are harvested at some point. Gaining knowledge brings a heavy responsibility which requires discernment, wisdom, understanding, and more knowledge. Throughout history man has made wrong choices and undesirable consequences have followed. Each of us personally, does the same.

Knowledge alone doesn't guarantee goodness or happiness or justice. Knowledge must be merged with truth. However, truth is not something we possess, it's something we observe. We don't control it or guide it, but we watch where it leads and follow its path. As we do follow its path, we see that truth leads to all things good. It leads to wisdom, life, and love.

However, try as we might, we don't have the ability within ourselves to create truth. We only contain the ability to recognize it. We've been given access to truth as a read-only version. We can't edit it. We can't change it. We can only read it, learn it, absorb it, and guide our life by it. Our inability to change it, even with all the knowledge of the world, reveals that there is a Force who is controlling it. This Force is Truth itself.

This Enforcer has the power to enforce Truth because He is Truth. He is Truth, Wisdom, Knowledge, Love, Life, and Goodness. Goodness and Truth are the same. Love and Truth are the same. Life and Truth are the same. Yet He also, of necessity, must protect Truth, and Love, and Goodness, and Life. How do we think we will fare if we try and infringe on the Author's rights to Truth, claim it as our own, and edit it to fit our purposes? The One who has Truth, who is Truth, also has the power to keep it.

So He shares. He shares Truth because He is Goodness and Love and wants people to know Truth. He wants them to have freedom to live, love, learn, and do good. But He also protects Truth because He is Goodness and Love. To allow anyone to change Truth according to their corrupted or incomplete knowledge is incomprehensible. It would be the ultimate tragedy, with harvests of suffering and torment being reaped in the lives of many people.

So in your quest for knowledge, seek Truth, knowing that it is not found within you, but is a separate living being. Seek Truth not for the purpose of changing Him, because He cannot be changed by us, nor would we want Him to change, since He is not only Truth, but Goodness, Life, and Love. He has a perspective far above ours and judges accurately. What you can seek, is His Spirit, which He freely gives to those who believe in His way of atonement from our evil intents, desires, and choices.


Friday, December 13, 2019

The Seven Mountains in Me



Recently, I’ve been contemplating the seven mountains we refer to when we talk about the “Seven Mountain Mandate.” Rather than seeing myself called to one or two of these mountains, with a presence on those mountains, I’m looking at each of these seven mountains within my life, and my personal involvement in each of these mountains.



When I first considered this, I could see a mountain range—the seven mountains—that looked like a blank coloring picture. The mountains themselves were outlined and looked something like a thermometer, which was to be ‘colored in’ to show the level of involvement I had in all of these mountains. My mission was to find out the level of involvement I already had on each of these mountains, and to what extent I should increase or fine-tune my involvement on each one. I was to ask myself, “Is each mountain up to the level and accuracy of involvement I am meant to have?”


Here are some questions I began to ask myself as I considered this.

Family Mountain
All of us are born into a family or to some person(s) who cared for us and brought us into adulthood.
  • Who are my family members?
  • Who do I consider to be “close” family members and who are extended family members?
  • How good (or bad) are my personal relationships with each one?
    Healthy or unhealthy relationships?
  • How well do I know each one? Their interests, goals, involvements, and desires. Do I understand their call and purpose in life?
  • What is my place in my family, and what kind of influence do I have over each of my family members?
          To have true positive input into their life, they must agree to it and accept our influence.
    Sometimes we are only able to pray for them and love them.A characteristic of millennials is they want relationship before lecture.
  •          Am I loving my family members? Am I praying for them? Am I peacemaker? A healer? Am I a mentor to anyone? Am I teaching them what is good and right?
  •          Which family members have influence/input over me? Which ones are “fathers and mothers” to me? Who am I receptive to?
  •           To what extent, and in what ways, am I impacting other families?
Church Mountain
This is our spiritual family which begins in a relationship with the Lord and continues with the body. You find your place and position in the body of Christ and your mission in life becomes clearer. Like our physical family, our spiritual family can help us to see our strengths and weaknesses and help us to learn and grow.
  • What level of relationship do I have with the Lord—the Head of the body?
    To what extent am I a disciple of Jesus? (John 8:31-32).
    Don’t be a “Dino” (Disciple in name only).
    How much do I study, pray, seek Him?
  • To what extent am I aware of my position within the body of Christ?
    Do I have relationships with other believers?
    Who are those I’m in ‘tribal’ relationship with?
    Who are those outside of my tribe?
    What is my position within each tribe?
    What do I receive from them?
    What do I contribute to the group?
  • Who do I consider to be my spiritual mentors?
  • Do I have any spiritual children I am teaching or mentoring?
  • To what extent do I display the kingdom?
    To what extent am I operating as an ambassador for Christ? The Ekklesia?
    To what extent am I the salt of the earth?
    To what extent am I the light of the world?
  • Am I aware of the state of the church in my community?
    My state?
    My country?
    The world?
  • Do I support any church or ministries financially? In prayer? Other type of support?
  • Do I see the church from God’s perspective?
Education Mountain
Beyond our discipleship studies, we can grow in knowledge and understanding in a variety of subjects. Particularly as we come to understand our mission in life (or in this season of life).

·       To what extent am I continuing my own education and personal growth?
What is our base level of cultural knowledge?
·       Who am I learning from?
Am I learning, or being indoctrinated? (How to think vs. what to think)
·       Am I studying, continuing to learn, both biblically and in other topics?
·       Am I training anyone in a field I am knowledgeable in?
·       Who specifically am I teaching or mentoring?
·       To what extent am I aware of the education the young people in my family are receiving?
·       What is my level of educational influence over my kids, grandkids, local kids—the next generation?
·       To what extent am I aware of what is going on in public education in my area?
Private schools?
Homeschools?
·       What kind of input am I giving towards education in my area?
·       To what extent am I supporting what is right and addressing what is not?
·       Do I contribute financially to private schools, colleges, home-school co-ops, which are abiding by biblical and constitutional standards?

Arts & Science
As we discover our mission, and educate ourselves in it, the next step is to do some hands on exploring.
  • What is my personal level of creativity?
  •  What am I doing to nurture it?
  • What do I dream about, imagine, or wonder ‘what if’?
  • What am I currently creating, researching, inventing, or developing? 
  • Who am I in relationship with in this field?
  • To what extent do I use and/or appreciate the creations of others?
  • What do I know about other creators/inventors?
    What do I know about their discoveries and inventions?
    What do I know about them personally—Newton, Edison, Beethoven, etc.
  • What innovations do I use and support?
  • To what extent do I influence, or encourage, others to be creative, dream or wonder?
  • Am I exposing my kids and grandkids to art, science and creative thinking?
    Teaching how to think, not what to think
  • If not, how can I?

Business Mountain
You may not own a business, but even just as a consumer, the business mountain is in you. Yet as you develop knowledge and skill in your life’s mission, you may enter the business world through that as well. And, if you work for a business, you have a certain level of involvement there too.
  • To what extent is my involvement in the business world personally?
    As a consumer—what are my buying habits? Do I buy too much? Am I impulsive? Do I hoard? Do I waste? Do I give to others?
  • How do I purchase? Do I go into debt?
  • Who do I do business with? Is it just Amazon?
  • Who am I helping to prosper?
  • As a producer—What do I produce with my time, energy, money and skill?
    What is my contribution to my family, body of Christ, and community? 
  • How am I affecting my community through my occupation?
  • As a seller/distributor—what type of resources do I provide for others in my community?
  • What products or services do I recommend to others?
  • To what extent do I help others connect with good resources?

Media
We have access to others beyond our local reach through media.
  • To what extent is my involvement with media, what types do I use, and what do I use it for?Develop Relationships?
    Preach my opinion?
    Criticize others?
    Entertainment?
    Education?
    News?
  • What is “trending” that I am following?
  • What kind of “news” stories do I read or take interest in?
  • What is my response to things that have a strong impact on me?
  • Who am I in communication with about current topics?
  • What part of my media use is beneficial to me personally?
  • What part of my media use is beneficial in developing good relationships with the ‘right’ people?
  • How do I influence others in and through my media use?
  • How am I influencing or setting an example to the next generation?
  • What movies, books, and forms of recreation do I participate in?
  • To what extent is my media use beneficial to others?
  • How does my media use/disuse impact God’s purposes for me and through me?

Government Mountain
In the U.S. we have a responsibility to govern our country and keep our leaders in check. This responsibility will vary depending on the country. Whatever our nation, the Bible tells us to pray for those in authority.
  • To what extent am I aware of those who are in civil authority in my region?
    Do I know the positions?
    Do I know who holds the positions?
  • To what extent do I relate to the civil authorities?
    Am I praying for them?
    Am I writing my congressmen and holding them accountable?
    Am I telling them when I agree with what they are doing?
  • Do I have a personal relationship with any governmental persons—elected or non-elected? local, state, federal, police, courts etc.
  • To what extent am I fulfilling my responsibilities as a citizen?
    Am I obeying the laws (if within God’s laws)?
    To what extent am I praying for those in authority, the land, the nation?
    To what extent am I informing myself on current issues and candidates, and how my elected officials are doing?
    Am I voting in every election?
    How often do I speak up on topics that arise with those I come across during the day?
    How often do I take action with petitions, protests etc? 
  • To what extent have I sought out God’s opinion on a current topic?
  • To what extent have I studied the Bible on a current topic?
  • To what extent have I considered the opinions of others I consider to be my mentors/teachers on current topics?



Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Seed of Faith / The Fruit of Faithfulness


Faithfulness is really the mature fruit of faith. Faith is given to all who believe in Jesus. (Romans 12:3). It is a seed. This seed is capable of growing and maturing. God plants the seed of faith inside of you when you believe in Jesus. As you tend to it, it grows into a fruit, the fruit of faithfulness, which is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Jesus talked about faith with His disciples. We often think He said that faith the size of a mustard seed would move mountains. But what He said was that if you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could move mountains. (Matthew 17:19-20). If you possessed it. He didn't say the seed would move the mountain, but once you possess the seed you have the potential to move mountains. The seed has to grow to the point that moving mountains is a possibility, but being in possession of it is the first step. 

The other day, I gave my daughter some parsley seeds. If I would have handed them to her and then immediately asked her to make me a parsley salad would she have been able to? No. But did she possess parsley? Yes, but in the form of seeds which have to be planted, nurtured, and given time to grow. Until she had those seeds in her possession, eating parsley was an impossibility. However, once the parsley seeds were in her possession it became a possibility. In the same way, once you possess faith, nothing is impossible.

We're all tested. We're sent to this earth for the testing of our faith. The earth is our proving grounds--the furnace which burns off the dross and reveals the purity of our hearts because of our faith in Jesus. (See Psalm 12:6, Isaiah 48:10).

Consider the man born blind. (John 9). His disciples asked Him whose fault it was that the man was born blind. In the Old Testament, whenever the children of Israel disobeyed or got off into sin, sure enough sickness, disease, or calamity of some type happened. When they would repent, then healing and deliverance came. We see the pattern over and over again. The disciples knew that, so when they saw the blind man they wanted to know whose sin was responsible for his condition. Jesus surprised them by saying neither. This man was born into a situation, but Jesus came to bring healing and deliverance to him.

We are all born into situations, some better than others, but all of us go through tough times throughout our lifetime. Times of trials and testing. These situations of life test us, they reveal things like what kind of person we are, and who (or what) our trust is in. Although really, its the Word of God that is tested, but along with that our faith in Him and His Word is tested. Hopefully, it will be proven to be genuine--the real thing. The Bible tells us that the trying of our faith is more precious than gold. (1 Peter 1:3-9). Jesus knows what its like to go through tough times. He lived on the earth as a man and was tempted in every way that we are. (Hebrews 4:15).

The only way to test faith is to measure it by faithfulness. Anyone can believe for five minutes. But when the pressure is on for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years, will your faith remain strong? Or maybe its not a long time of testing, but an intense period. Either way, if you remain true to the Lord, you have proven your faithfulness. Faithfulness is proven faith. Faith matures into faithfulness as it grows. The same is true of patience. Being patient for five minutes is not a true test of patience (in most cases). But remaining patience through the entire test or trial proves you have genuine patience.

It's also important to realize that the ultimate test of your faith is not whether or not you can turn a situation from bad to good, but whether you will remain faithful through the testing period. We often think that being able to proclaim a thing and see it happen instantly is a sign of great faith. However, look at these three examples:
  • Job...After Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health, he said, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" (Job 13:15). During his entire time of testing he did not sin or blame God (Job 1:22). He knew something about faithfulness. Even though God allowed Satan to do all he did to Job, he still kept his eyes on God. He was his hope for deliverance.  
  • Joseph...His brothers sold him into slavery and told his father he was dead (Genesis 37). He went through hard times--being away from his family, false accusations, imprisonment, and yet he remained faithful to God. 
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego... When Nebuchadnezzar gave the command for everyone to fall down and worship his statue, they refused stating that they will only worship God. He threatened to throw them in the fiery furnace and they responded by saying that God is able to deliver them from the furnace, but even if He didn't, they still wouldn't bow down and worship a false god. (Daniel 3:16-18).
In all three of these examples, they came through their trials with the blessing of God. Job ended up with twice of what he lost (Job 42:10). Joseph became second in command in Egypt and saved God's nation of Israel from extinction. In Egypt he was promoted and able to prepare the nation to survive a coming famine, saving the nation of Israel in the process. He told his brothers, what they meant for evil the Lord used for good (Genesis 50:20). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the furnace unharmed and not even smelling like smoke. Their faith--really their faithfulness--was tested and proven to be genuine (Daniel3:26-27).

In the book of Hebrews11, we read of some who didn't receive the promise before they died. However, they saw them from a distance and realized that this earth is not their true home. What happens here is not the end, God is preparing a much better place for us on the other side (See Hebrews 11:13-16, John 14:1-3).

What happens if your faith(fulness) fails? You still have seeds. As long as you have faith in Jesus, you have the seed of faith within you. You still have your measure of faith He gave you. Jesus prayed for Peter that His faith wouldn't fail (Luke 22:31-32). Peter went through a time of testing when Jesus died, but he came through it and lived to proclaim the gospel as he was called to do. Jesus is praying for you too! He's praying for your faith to remain strong. He's praying for you to remain faithful during the trials of this earth. (Hebrews 7:23-25).

Prioritize. If you had to choose one thing to remain at the end of your trial, would it be:
  • That you get your answer to prayer, or
  • That you remain faithful to God during the trial (don't sin, get bitter etc.)
Which would you choose, if you could only have one? The thing that will last for eternity is faithfulness. The things of this earth will fade away and sometimes, when you choose faithfulness, you will get both--like Job, Joseph, and the boys in the fiery furnace. Just remember that the end doesn't justify the means.

God cares about your eternal life. He cares about you spiritually, your character, your heart and motivations. He knows what is most important. At times He may push you. He may challenge you. Not for punishment, but to strengthen your faithfulness. He is building faithfulness in you that will last for all eternity. Isn't that better than a new car? In fact, anything that will be done away with at the end of your life, or the end of this age, is less important than the faithfulness, or any fruit of the Spirit, that is developed during your time of testing.

The seed of faith is planted in your garden. Its meant to grow and produce fruit. Will you nurture it? Will you bear the fruit of peace during your time of testing? Will you produce love during your time of testing? What about joy, gentleness, self-control, and patience? These are all fruit that you can bear during your testing time. Faithfulness is the key to it all. The seed of faith grows into faithfulness. Don't waste your trials, allow them to do the work of purifying your faith--more precious than gold.