Sunday, February 3, 2019

God's Mark & Requirement for Leadership


And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel and get from them a rod from each father’s house, all their leaders according to their fathers’ houses—twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod. And you shall write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each father’s house. Then you shall place them in the tabernacle of meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you. And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you.”So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses placed the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness.Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almondsThen Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.


First, this activity revealed God's selection for leadership. Secondly, it also tells us of the requirements for leadership. Contrary to popular belief, the requirement for leadership is not spiritual maturity.


The requirement for leadership in the ekklesia is LIFE.


Some areas of a leaders' life will be mature (ripe almonds), but other areas of their life will be various stages of maturity. There will even be areas of the leader's life that have just begun to take shape (sprouts) into Christ-likeness.  God's requirement for leadership is LIFE in all areas of life, not maturity in all areas of life.

Seek Blessings

Psalm 67 (among other scripture describing our status as Children of God, Kings, and Priests) shows us that we are all leaders within the ekklesia:
God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us (selah). That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.
In other words, we are to seek and receive the blessings of God, not for ourselves, but so that others may know Him and His salvation.  It is through those blessings that we gain His Life into all areas of our life, and thereby release His presence into the world.

The good news is this: it doesn't matter where you are in your walk with God.  You are currently enabled to bring His presence into the world.  Our job is to learn how to submit to His blessings so that the world will know what He is like.

Friday, January 11, 2019

More Paradigm Busting

Forward

I know that many people believe Jesus told harmless, little white-lies in order to make a point. That is to say, He knew the truth about a topic, but actually said something completely opposite or wrong in order to make people think or re-consider an idea. I'm not one of those people.

In 2017, I wrote about Breaking Your Jesus Paradigm.  Today I'm adding an additional thought which I originally left out: how the common doctrine of miracles feeds into and prepares for, the eventual acceptance of the anti-christ.

When your belief system enables you to assign significance or value to a person just because of a miracle, then you have been taught to follow a wrong sign.  Jesus Himself said,
“... An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;" (Matt. 12:39)
So, dare I ask: how many signs were given to that generation?  If your answer is greater than one, then you can be forgiven: you're probably just like me, having spent a good time in the average church.

The one sign given to that generation was the resurrection, and that sign was not performed by Jesus, but by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11).  In doing so, Jesus was glorified by God (John 17:1)

Contrary-wise, the anti-christ will perform signs for the purpose authenticating himself, thereby deceiving many:
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life. (Rev. 13:13-14)
Performing a sign for the purpose of self-authentication is deception, it is self-glorification: which is plainly and simply, an act of bragging.

Contrast that with love -
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Summary


I would suggest that it is time we re-think the doctrine of self-authentication and self-glorification, and relegate it to the heresy that it actually is.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Illegitimate Christianity

https://goo.gl/YyCVeD
I've been told I use strong words herein. That may be true. But I really want us to consider that how we think, feel and respond directly affects our relationship with God. And when our thinking, feelings, and responses push us away from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then we're working from a place that is not ordained by God.

Illegitimate Christianity


When events occur in your life, and your response to that event pushes you away from God rather drawing you closer God, then you are responding based upon a belief system that is incorrect. 

That is what I call illegitimate Christianity: belief systems built upon doctrines of demons designed to damage your relationship with God, wound your soul, steal your peace and joy, and destroy your ability to function in your God-given purpose, thereby stealing the reward that would otherwise have been due to you at the judgment seat of Christ.

Our beliefs systems shape how we interact with everything in this life and in the life to come. When our interaction with God does not result in the fruit of the spirit, then we have believed, and consequently acted upon, a lie. The solution is to know the truth:  and the truth will make you free (John 8:32)

Lies push us away from God, they inhibit our ability to pray, study God‘s word, fulfill His purpose for us, or choose the correct path.  They cause us to perform works that do not result in the fruit of the spirit.  It is those things that are founded upon doctrines of demons, which, unfortunately, we have many times learned them in church.

Awareness and Responding


Being aware of your state of mind is the first challenge.  It's so effortless to automatically respond to stimulus in our lives.  We can arrive at the place where we merely run on auto-pilot: responding to one thing after another without giving any thought as to the why we said that thing, why we did that thing.

A Short List of Illegitimate Christianity

  • Improper fear of God 
  • Depression 
  • God the mighty smiter 
  • Anger when studying the Bible 
  • Avoiding bible study and prayer 
  • Anger 
  • Co-dependence 
  • Lust 
  • Immorality 
  • Racism 
  • Ungodly responses to stimulus 
    • Being triggered into bad behaviors, feelings, actions

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Breaking Bad: Overcoming Objectification & Addiction

Start 2019 off on a good foot: begin the process to find freedom from addictions and objectification.  Here's a starter list to get you going:

  1. Understand and eliminate soul wounds caused by (a) others and (b) bad theology.
  2. Identify and eliminate triggers of bad behavior.
  3. Do not suppose that success gained by using technological controls (DNS/URL filtering) is evidence of a changed inner man.
  4. Re-train your brain: unlearn female objectification.
  5. Replacement behavior - 
    • Train yourself to "look the other way" when you see something tantalizing
    • Include and design a practice that makes use of objects or things that trigger desire, covetousness or lust (cars, food, hobbies, sports, politics, etc.)
  6. Learn to re-focus desires towards your spouse
  7. Exit illicit and harmful relationships.



Monday, December 24, 2018

A Quick Comparison of Legalism vs. the Gospel



LEGALISM (RELIGION)
GOSPEL
1
I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.
I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.
2
Motivation is based on fear, punishment, and insecurity.
Motivation is based on a fruitful relationship.
3
I obey God in order to get things from God.
I obey God because it is within my nature to do so[1].
4
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe, like Job’s friends, that anyone who is good deserves good things a comfortable life.
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I may struggle, but I know that bad things[2] are not from God because He is good[3], and He will work all things together for good in my life.
5
When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated because it is essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”  Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
When I am criticized, I may struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”  My identity is not built upon my performance, but upon who I am in Christ [4],[5].
6
My prayer life consists largely of petition and only heats up when I am in need.  My main purpose in prayer is to ask God to control circumstances on my behalf or the behalf of others.
My prayer life consists of praise, adoration, and action on the behalf of others because a primary purpose of my life is to function as a Priest and a King in His kingdom [6],[7].
7
My self-view swings between one pole and another.  If and when I am living up to His standards, I feel confident – but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to people who fail.  If and when I am not living up to His standards, I feel humble but not confident – I feel like a failure.
My self-view is not based on a view of being a moral achiever.  My self-view is based upon His view of me: redeemed[8], loved[9],[10], accepted[11], conqueror[12].




[1] 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

[2] John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

[3] James 1:16-18: Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [b]shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

[4] Malachi 3:17: “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on that day when I publicly recognize them and openly declare them to be My own possession [that is, My very special treasure]. And I will have compassion on them and spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

[5] John 10:28-29: and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 [a]My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

[6] Rev. 1:6: and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to [a]His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen

[7] Rev. 5:10: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

[8] Gal. 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

[9] Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

[10] Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

[11] Romans 8:15: “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!””

[12] Romans 8:35-39: “Who will separate us from the love of [a]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Monday, September 3, 2018

Plucking the T of TULIP.

Within Calvinism, there is the idea of the TULIP, an acronym that describes the fundamental axioms of Calvinism.

The TULIP was constructed in response Arminianism, which asserts free will across the spectrum of salvation.

The acronym is as follows:

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)


Total Depravity 

According to the Calvinist Corner, 
The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, "In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine." 
Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

Well, that's all-n-good, but like so many other doctrines of men, we pick-n-choose which verses support our perfect ideal and promote those scriptures, all the while ignoring the others that cast doubt or contradiction upon our position.

What has happened here is a failure to consider the whole counsel of God.  In other words, we should also consider other scripture before making this leap of blind faith.  I, therefore, submit the one scripture they have not provided, the single context which plucks the 'T' from its root, and unravels the doctrine of Total Depravity.

Acts 17:22-28 (emphasis mine)


So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;  nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;  and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,  that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Sabbath


I was recently asked what I think about Sabbath keeping.  While I know what I do regarding the Sabbath, I've never gone through scripture and documented the whys of my behavior.  So that I won't forget, and so you'll have something to refer to later, here are my thoughts on Sabbath keeping.

The Cross Changed Things

One of the harder things to grapple with in the Kingdom is understanding that some things ended at the cross, some things were modified through the cross, and some things didn’t change by the cross.

The 10 commandments were not touched by the cross - they didn’t change.  But the Levitical and the sacrificial system didn’t survive the cross. 

Faith was not touched by the cross, but the temple was changed through the cross: the veil was rent in two, and the temple itself moved from a physical place into us. 

Therefore, when we review or see OT precepts being re-treated in the NT, what we may be seeing is a clarification of the original idea. The Greek word for Sabbath is used 63 times in the NT. But it’s not always translated, rather sometimes interpreted.  In an example, one of the favorite ways King Jimmie’s translators interpreted sabbath was “the first day of the week.” 

If ever you thought there was a verse in the Bible you should just mark out with a Sharpie and re-write it, then Acts 20:7 is at the top of the list. It should actually read, “And upon the first of the Sabbaths …” which is in reference to the seven-week count to Pentecost. The same interpretation is used in 1 Cor. 16:2. 

Liberty in the Sabbath

First, Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath (Matt. 12), which means He transcends the Pharisaical idea of restriction and blesses the Sabbath with liberty: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). 

Working on the Sabbath is Okay

Secondly, to do good on the sabbath is wholly lawful – whatever that good may be. In an example, our jobs provide blessings and honor to our families, therefore working on the 7th or 1st day of the week is not forbidden, nor is it sin.
But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?"
Notice that Jesus said the best day to heal (to do good), was the Sabbath. (Luke 13:15)

Sabbath is for Man, not Man for the Sabbath

Third, the Sabbath was made for man, to provide him rest from his work, just as God rested. It was not made to bind man to a law so that God could accumulate the goodies for us and count the baddies against us.
Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

You are not to Judge one According to the Sabbath

And finally, since the prevailing wisdom was to do no work on the 7th day, Holy Spirit adds clarity to the idea of Sabbath being made for man by reminding us that we’re not to judge others in regards to how they keep the Sabbath (Col. 2:16).
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us ... Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—  things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col. 2:13-14, 16-17)

Traditions of Men

The prevailing wisdom taught in many of our churches regarding “don’t work on Sunday,” is clearly a tradition of men. They’ll call you a sinner if you don’t rest and go to church on that day, but neither do they have any qualms about making others in the hospitality industry work for them by serving them meals while they complain about the food, the service, and ungraciously don't leave tips.

In Summary

The most important thing to remember about the Sabbath is to recognize that rest was designed for us by God. He intends for us to rest. Without vacations, periods of rest and relaxation, we will burn out, get sick, develop heart disease – or worse.

But we must also remember that doing good on the 7th day, is not a sin. Neither do should we force ourselves to be bound to the 7th (Saturday) – Sunday usually works better for me.

God's Mark & Requirement for Leadership

And the  Lord  spoke to Moses, saying:  “Speak to the children of Israel and get from them a rod from each father’s house, all their lead...