The Bride of Christ: Victim or Victor?

This I believe is the first short article I ever wrote, about the fall of 1999. I had forgotten about it until recently when the Father thought I needed encouragement and reminded me about the article by His Holy Spirit. The message is simple for the family of God in Christ who are down and discouraged by the evil goings on in the world today: WE WIN! I hope this blesses and encourages you as it has me. Jack

When I was 14, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Not long after, some of my new Christian friends introduced me to various beliefs about the Rapture of the Saints. That was the 70’s, and Hal Lindsey’s book “The Late Great Planet Earth” was causing quite a stir, and prompted many rapture debates. I can remember one sister asking me: “are you pre-, mid-, or post-trib, pre-, post-, or a-millennial”? Biblical scholar that I was then (I knew John 3:16 inside and out), I gave her my most profound answer: “Both!” and then I changed the subject. Eventually, I adopted as my own the popular beliefs at the time. Certainly that was easier than searching for the answers myself.

Jesus-Resurrection-Walking-out-of-Tomb-900As I’ve grown in Christ, those early ‘hearsay’ beliefs, are being challenged and changed by what I read in scripture. While I still believe in the Rapture of the Saints, my view of the church at the time of the rapture has changed.

At that time, the popular belief depicted the Church as on the verge of annihilation at the hands of Satan, when Jesus would come and ‘rapture’ the church like a holy ‘Superman’. In that scenario, Satan nearly defeats the Church, and Christ takes a victim bride.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading

Exposing the Tithe Lie

There are 7 articles in the original “Tithe” series, written between 2000-2002 and posted to my former web site Lord, You Are (dot) com, now defunct. This article consolidates the  7 articles in the order they were published. Exposing the falsehood of the modern tithe doctrine was one of the instruments God used to set me free from man’s dead Laodicean church system. As always, I pray the Lord will use them to set you free from false teaching and guilt-based giving. 

To Tithe or not to Tithe: the $earch for Truth

Though I’ve always struggled with the tithe, I still shook my head in disgust when I heard about the preacher who’s congregation quietly left the church during the prayer following a long sermon on tithing. He said “Amen”, looked up and cried out “half my church is gone!” I laughed saying “they must have fled the conviction of the Holy Spirit”.

donottithe8What the Lord said took me completely by surprise: “They fled from error and guilt-based giving”. “What?!?” I’ve heard more sermons on the tithe than on any other topic except perhaps our need of Jesus for eternal life! After I picked up my jaw from the floor, the Lord prompted me to study tithing and giving.

Throughout the Bible study I prayed for His guidance and in the end I reached the inescapable conclusion that the “tithe” is to the modern church what the issue of “circumcision” was to the church in Paul’s time.

NOTE: Nothing in this article is intended as an excuse to stop giving as the Lord leads you to give.

The verse most often cited in support of the tithe is from the Old Testament, found in Malachi 3:8-10: Continue reading

What’s been missing all along

In the spring of 1966, the entire 4th grade class was marched to the gym where we were made to take a musical aptitude test. Other than listening to single notes played on a variety of instruments and answering whether or not they were the same, I remember little else about the test. Weeks later, I came home from school and my parents greeted me saying “the school called.” Oh, how those words could make me sweat bullets and launch my suspicious mind into a frenzied inventory of excuses even before hearing the school’s complaint.

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“Do you remember the music test you took?” my parents asked. “Uh, no” said I. Dad continued with a grin “it’s difficult to believe, I know, but the school says you have a talent for music.” My little mind did a Bat-Turn** trying to  Continue reading

Sabbath unRest

Years ago I was blessed to take part in a traditional Jewish Seder meal where the Messianic Jewish host explained the meaning and spiritual significance of each element of the meal. When we were finished, the host encouraged all the Christian participants to observe the traditional Jewish Sabbath. It was a moving experience and launched me into prayerful study to determine how my wife and I should approach the Sabbath. In the end, neither my wife nor I felt led to observe it on a weekly basis as do the Jews. Speaking for myself, I felt that way long before ever attending the Seder meal. What the study did do for me was to show me why I feel the way I do about traditional Sabbath observance. Such is not unusual, for simple discernment often precedes knowledge and understanding.

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Controversial as the subject is and having had my fill of so many self-appointed defenders of man’s religious kingdom who were threatened by the many tithe articles (link) the Father led me to write, I never figured to write anything about the Sabbath. That is until recently when I heard a man argue for keeping the 4th commandment with the following twisted logic: “I recently informed my wife that I will begin sleeping with other women because of this new found freedom (that) I have (in Christ) to disregard the 7th commandment which says ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’.” The man’s inference being IF in Christ the 4th commandment (Sabbath) no longer applies, neither does the 7th (Adultery). I hope dear reader, that you find the man’s crass and manipulative analogy as nauseating as I do. Continue reading

How I (finally) forgave

If there were a meter by which to measure introversion, I’d register in the hermit zone. That means few people other than my wife and father know me well. While I prefer it that way, it’s often frustrating, especially where sharing my faith and talents are concerned. Not surprising then that I blog, journal, and post my original tunes on the web.

From time to time the Father has given me a friend with whom to break bread real and spiritual; someone to listen, offer wise counsel and encouragement. A friend is one of God’s greatest gifts as we make this pilgrimage through life.

The wounds from a friend can be trusted; but an enemy will smother you with kisses (Proverbs 27:6).

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A true friend will point out an issue, that on my own I’m blind to or simply refuse to deal with. Anger is one such issue. Decades ago, a friend observed when it comes to dealing with anger, I do a “slow boil”. Eventually that simmering pot of upset within me would boil over and I became “hell on wheels” in dealing with every unjust situation or person who had wronged me.

Upon that all-too-familiar battlefield, the grace and peace of Yeshua takes a stand against the scars and injuries I’ve accumulated over a life time and the wearisome struggle to forgive those who inflicted them. These issues, together with the all-too-frequent Continue reading

Literal or spiritual

In the gospels, the word “stone” is used literally and spiritually. For example, Matthew 7:9 appears to be a literal use of the word.

“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?” Matthew 7:9

rock-pile-ivan-slosarLikewise, Matthew 28:2.

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2

Matthew 21:42 and 44 on the other hand, use the word “stone” as a spiritual metaphor, in reference to Yeshua.

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:” ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Matthew 21:42

And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Matthew 21:44

Continue reading

Stop and ask directions

eastwesti80Driving west on I-80 in Iowa, we followed another car for about half an hour before we both exited for the rest stop. Gesturing at road signs, the passengers shot looks at each other several times, but I thought nothing of it. After using the facilities, my wife and I observed the foursome huddled around the map with bold red “you are here” arrow, arguing among themselves. The driver stopped me to ask for directions, explaining they’d come from Davenport and were on their way to Peoria, where in less than an hour, the girl was scheduled to open an important social event as Queen. “Oh my”, I replied; “Peoria is about 3 hours back that-a-way”.

So how does a driver miss the mile markers posted every mile or the large green and white traffic signs that count down the miles to the next city or interchange? You’d think that first sign “Iowa City 40 miles” would have told the driver they were headed in the wrong direction. Surely “Iowa City 30 miles” would have Continue reading

Light of the world

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ. Colossians 1:19 NLT

For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. Colossians 2:9 NLT

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That scene where Peter makes his enlightened confession of Christ leads me to ponder. As I recall from scripture, only 3 disciples witnessed the transfiguration. Before that, the 12, just like everyone else, saw the natural man Yeshua, son of Yosef, with their natural eyes. Asked “Who do people say I am?”, there was no risk (per se) for the disciples to answer Yeshua’s question; they simply repeated what they’d heard. Not once did Yeshua say “BZZT! Wrong!” Even when some of the answers were preposterous. “John the Baptist? Someone thought I was John the Baptist? He baptized Me! How could I be him?!?” No, Yeshua just listened. But then He asks the $64,000 question; one fraught with risk of humiliation for the disciples. Did fear of speaking foolishly make for complete silence? How long did the proverbial crickets chirp?

Once again, it was Peter who got out of the boat and declared what man can see only with eyes opened by God: Continue reading

Repentance

Since posting “Choices”, I’ve been pondering the nature of repentance, particularly since with every election, Christians renew the call for America to repent. Asked to elaborate, most cite abortion and homosexuality as their primary complaints. War, divorce, removing prayer from schools, and pornography are also cited, though typically with less revulsion than is reserved for abortion and homosexuality.

'Hit him again Martha he still hasn't repented...'How I wish I could claim I’ve never been caught up in one of Christianity’s campaigns to stamp out sin in the world. Frankly, the world has every right to sin; a right granted by the Father. But when has scripture – the Word of Truth – ever stopped a religious person who was hell bent on doing a vain religious work? Certainly scripture never stopped me when I was headstrong to carry out some self-righteous work “for God”.

Let the one who does what is evil continue to do what is evil. Let the filthy person continue to be filthy. Let the righteous person continue to do what is right. And let the holy person continue to be holy.” (Revelation 22:11 ISV)

The operative words above? “Let them.” Regretfully, my youthful zeal was easily exploited by those who rail against sin and one day I found myself Continue reading

Choices

Every 4 years, the people elect a new king. Christians, Evangelicals in particular, look for their candidate to be a kind of King David archetype. Then there’s the neo-Apostolic-Prophetic camp and their so-called words of “prophecy” proclaiming God’s “anointed” choice, who will help stem the tide of sin, usher in revival and restore America to its constitutional and (ahem) Biblical roots. Often such “prophecies” carry with them a broad call for America to repent, for which “prayer warriors” and “intercessors” labor in prayer, while hedonistic Americans go right on living as if there were no God at all.

dungheapAs often as America has managed instead to elect a King Saul rather than a King David, I see little point in voting for a man or woman to rule over the people. Certainly in my lifetime, every president has been a disappointment insofar as bringing peace and advancing the Kingdom of God is concerned. And yet every 4 years, regardless how poor the choices, Christians clamor to vote, admonishing one another to ignore the candidate and vote the issues or party platform, all the while claiming it is a Christian’s civic duty to vote. Frankly, I bristle at the notion that choosing between the “lesser of 2 evils” is my civic duty.

So what does scripture have to say about the matter? Continue reading