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.
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
I was anxiously making my way down the side of a mountain on foot with another man who seemed to be a mixture of my earthly and spiritual fathers. The mountain we were descending from was desert like, covered with rock, cactus and stumps. Not a single tree remained on the mountain, while the valley below was lush and inviting with green forest and clear streams. Though I could not see them from the rocky trail, I knew the valley to be filled with people, shelter, food, fellowship, etc. Conversely, the mountain I recognized as “snake country” (if I’ve never mentioned, I hate snakes!) Despite my best efforts to convince my “father” to continue on to the valley, which we could have reached by nightfall, he decided instead to camp out on the mountain for the night. We unrolled our sleeping bags, even while I was objecting to it and the danger posed by snakes. My “father” laid out his sleeping bag next to an old rotting stump, from which a vine-like fern was growing and he began to eat the fern, which I thought was most unappetizing. Finally in response to my concerns about snakes, my “father” pulled a full size wall calendar from his pack and showed it to me. In the dream, I was aware it was the month of December, and the calendar was marked “snakes in hibernation” beginning in November. Upon seeing the calendar, I thought to myself “it’s the cold that sends them into hibernation but it’s unseasonably warm!” Consequently, I believed the signs of the times more so than the calendar. As we settled into our sleeping bags with our heads pointed up hill, I did seem to get over my concerns about snakes. We went to sleep.
End of dream.
The dream confused me for several reasons. Continue reading
Revelation chapter 18 concerns the Lord calling His people out of spiritual Babylon and its ultimate destruction by fire. I believe one day spiritual Babylon will be destroyed, literally, but until then, each of us who have heard and responded to the Lord’s call to “come out of her, My people” (Revelation 18:4), must overcome the strongholds religious Babylon has within us. To that end, the Lord has often challenged me to examine what I believe and throw down to destruction that which is not of Him and His Truth.
One of the most unsettling things I’ve done to examine my beliefs, is to compare the 4 books of the gospel, with the rest of the new testament. Take for example the word “church”; Jesus used it just 3 times (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17), whereas it is used 113 times in Acts through Revelation (KJV translation). The Greek word “ekklesia”, which translators have rendered “church”, actually means “assembly”, yet it is translated “assembly” just 3 times out of 116 occurrences in the New Testament; Acts 19:32, :39 and :41. That passage refers to a gathering of the Ephesians in a civic hall to address the threat that The Way posed to their profitable business of making and selling silver shrines for the idol Artemis (Diana). Continue reading
Before retiring a few years ago, I was an auditor and analyst. A successful auditor requires a well developed nose for error, i.e., we’re a suspicious lot, but hopefully not to the point of paranoia. Likewise, a good analyst is all about the facts and data. So I suppose it was only natural that my suspicions together with my need for fact-based truth, would compel me to sit down with a large stack of church bulletins spanning several years of worship services, to inventory and analyze the many scriptures that were read for the sermon. My “gut” strongly suspected us pew-warmers were not getting the whole story and so I set out to confirm my suspicions.
It was quickly apparent that the same scriptures were read year after year in the weeks preceding Passover, Easter, Pentecost and Christmas, while entire books and chapters of scripture were never read at all. The first time I attempted such an investigation back in the early 80’s, I discovered that the pastor read just 10 verses of scripture on average, before giving his sermon. A few minutes of number crunching demonstrated it would take almost 60 years** to preach through the Bible at that rate, assuming no scriptures were ever repeated. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; “how anal” and I don’t deny that. It’s just one of those things us analyst and auditor types do for fun when we’re not digging through the freezer to sort TV dinners in order of the “best used by” date. Suffice it to say, the exercise showed me IF I wanted to know what was in the Bible, I would have to read it for myself. Continue reading
Religionists have a habit of interpreting spiritual things physically and literally. Take for example the prophecy of Amos wherein God said “I will rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David … declares the Lord” (Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16). In Kansas City, Metro Christian Fellowship (formerly Kansas City Vineyard) church has created the International House of Prayer (IHOP) which they claim to be a model for the rebuilt tabernacle of David, where musicians, singers, dancers and other artistic people have “worshiped” God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since September 19th, 1999. Clearly they have made a literal interpretation of Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16.
But is that a Spiritual and Biblical understanding of the prophecy in Amos/Acts?
I am of the belief that IHOP is misguided, even a vain work of the flesh as are many of men’s efforts to replicate old testament temple worship practices and to build that which the Lord has said HE himself will build. Once again, following the command of Paul who wrote “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), which I believe to mean “let scripture interpret scripture”, nowhere in the NT are we commanded to go out and build buildings for worship or holding church services.
Concerning all the buildings we have put up “for God”, scripture still says “God does NOT live in temples made by men” (Acts 7:48, Acts 17:24, Matthew 23:38) and Jesus said, upon leaving the temple in Jerusalem for the last time before His trial “BEHOLD! Your house has been left to you, DESOLATE.” In other words, God has left the building. We could cover the world over with buildings we’ve built for God and not one would be good enough or big enough to serve as His house. That is why the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house, then, could you build for me, what kind of place for me to live in?” (Isaiah 66:1 GNB) Where God uses the earth as His footstool, the best we might do is make Him a foot cushion, but certainly nothing big or grand enough to serve as His house. Continue reading
As mentioned in the post Fun with numbers, I was a professional business system analyst before I retired. When I first hired into the aerospace industry, I worked for Quality Assurance and traveled all over the country to conduct audits and reviews of major space and defense hardware systems. My work exposed me to government contracts, military and federal standards and specifications, technical documents and statements of work that give me a somewhat unique approach to studying and understanding the scriptures, now that I am retired and have devoted my life and talents to Christ Jesus.
While writing the post The crook who forsook the assembly, I began to meditate on the word assembly and remembered an old Military Standard that defined the word “assembly”. The thought launched me on an amusing thought train, worth sharing.
In my observation, when paid ministers, aka “hirelings” (ref. John 10:12-13) make accusations from the pulpit, they are often guilty of the very thing they have accused the congregation of doing. Psychologists refer to the phenomenon as “projection”, or more commonly “blame shifting”. Of course that doesn’t account for the spirit(s) behind the accusation about which Jesus said the religious rulers were speaking for their father, the devil. Scripture says Satan is a liar, the father of lies (John 8:44), and the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10).
So when a hireling resorts to accusing the sons of God about whom scripture says there is NO condemnation (Romans 8:1), is their behavior any different than when the religious leaders did so in Jesus day? And what of the hireling’s minions, aka “members of the congregation” who more often than not, mindlessly parrot the hireling’s accusations? Are they not also acting on behalf of their father, the devil in accusing the brethren? It is well to remember that Jesus runs off the accuser and He does not condemn (John 8:3-11).
One favorite accusation among hirelings is “you are robbing God”, which stems from a deceptive application of Malachi 3:8. The manner in which God was being robbed is outlined in Nehemiah 13:4-13, wherein the wicked priest Eliashib allowed Tobiah, a Molech worshiping Ammonite, to plunder the temple storehouse thereby robbing the Levite priests of the tithe, which was theirs by law. When the Levites did not receive their portion of the tithe, they abandoned their temple duties and took to the fields and pastures to raise food for their families. Thus, robbing God had to do with robbing the priesthood who ceased their temple service.
If as the law of Moses teaches the tithe is brought to the temple for the priests, where now according to the new covenant every believer is a priest and living temple, then all believers should share the tithe (if the tithe were still applicable under the new covenant, which it is not). Accordingly, hirelings are modern day Eliashibs and Tobiahs who are robbing believers of their inheritance in Christ Jesus! No wonder John 10 speaks of hirelings, thieves and robbers, who come to steal, kill and destroy in the same breath! Continue reading