Category Archives: Edification

thanksgiving stock…

Holidays make me miss my Dad who died a young eighty five… I also miss the family who live a little too far from us to be with and the family who are separated from us for other reasons too at this time in their lives. It is hard to be away from them all at a time when the holiday just reeks ‘brothers and cousins and Mom and Dad’ but I am glad for those I can be with just the same – though a tear may fall into the stuffing along with the chicken ‘stock’ and dried bread. Somethings can’t be helped – I guess I can add a little less salt if it does.  (Now who wants to eat at my house!!? lol)

Maybe there is more than a tinge of sadness that is a bother in the midst of your recipe planning, food buying, cooking and general prep for the day of Thanksgiving coming up soon. (wow… it is just two days away now – I sure hope the turkey will be thawed out in time! – P.S.  see how distracted I get? It is tough getting old – have you heard the one about…whoops…) We get so busy during this time of year that we can be gloomy or even truly sad and not really take the time to figure out why. We might say to ourselves,  “What is really wrong… and should I – do I have time to…to squeeze out even a few minutes to take stock and take it to the Lord and examine His Word and figure out what the problem is?”

If that is you then you are not alone. The holidays are times of sadness for many. Some may choose to get to the bottom of it but most won’t, choosing to instead sweep it up with another scoop of seven layer salad or a cup of “strong” egg-nog. If you are a Christian it would be better to face the music and simply take stock of where you are and where you have been and once again, “enter in to the joy of your Lord.” We know that “in His presence is fullness of joy – at His right hand are pleasures for ever more! But is that our actual experience during the week? I am sure for some it is. If your heart is rejoicing – then get loud and praise and worship and thank the Lord for His bountiful gifts!

But what if you are stuck? What if you are down and not able to quickly stoke up the fires and get them bright and burning right away? Take the simple route…if you want a better attitude of gratitude…

Take stock I say – take inventory – see what’s missing in the store house. Has some gnarly character come crawling and creeping into your world and you somehow missed it? Thieves are usually burglars. They sneak in with the expertise of a spider or a mouse and rummage all over the house undetected but nonetheless their work is to our peril – they do real damage. They wait for you to fall asleep, they work at night and work hard at not being noticed. But they do such damage when we are unaware…when we haven’t been taking stock. The Bible says to examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith.” Not only should we make sure we are really saved but that also we are “being saved” or a better word is…being sanctified. We easily drift, and wander, and coast – the Word says be diligent, watchful, sober-minded. We must continue to reassess…examine, walk circumspectly!

In His commentary on Revelation, Matthew Henry puts it this way: “they must compare their present with their former state, and consider how much better it was with them then than now, how much peace, strength, purity, and pleasure they have lost, by leaving their first love,—how much more comfortably they could lie down and sleep at night,—how much more cheerfully they could awake in the morning,—how much better they could bear afflictions, and how much more becomingly they could enjoy the favours of Providence,—how much easier the thoughts of death were to them, and how much stronger their desires and hopes of heaven.” Boiling that all down, take stock!

The problem in Revelation 2 that Matthew H. was writing about all the way back in 1701 is the same problem we face now…the tendency of all of us is to decline in our love of Christ and not to increase in it. It’s like a slow leak really. Not a lot of noise, in fact it happens with us being quite unaware. It is not as though we have abandoned Jesus or His Word – we just get flat on one side of the tire. We give Him – second rate love…and old the first place for old number one! We have a little faith when we know He desires the big’n – but it works itself into our actual lives –  we don’t have any fervor in our praying, or we don’t get mad at sin – we are no more grieved at abominations than we are of a hiccup. We don’t hate what God hates and love what He loves. We get politically correct – spiritually speaking. WE ACT TOO RESPECTABLE when we praise the Lord of glory!!  We all tend towards getting more religious and less raptured…that is unacceptable when we used to get all excited and freaky by just one glimpse from our Savior.

Oh that we would take simple stock of the situation and see the truth of Jesus’ Words in Revelation 2:7  – the simple solution – repent and do the first works! Be grieved over your own declension. Be mad at your stupidity – your lack of zeal – then turn from it and turn to the gracious and loving embrace of the one who delights in you…His gaze is sufficient for ridding the stain or your shame – one coal from His fire will cleanse you and warm your heart simultaneously.

Then pick yourself up by His grace and love others. Show the reality of the first love man or woman that you really are – be the city set on a hit in miniature and it will rub off on other like minded men and women and the city will indeed be shining even brighter than it was a few minutes before. You will then praise like you did when you first were born again and sing with the rest of the throng of blood bought lovers of JESUS:

Hallelujah Thine the Glory
Hallelujah Amen
Hallelujah Thine the Glory
Revive us again!

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.*

Thank you Lord for loving us so much – and forgive our less than mutual love in return. Thank you for your Word that reminds us, and Shepherds us – and warms us and fills us! Thank you for reminding us to take stock – and then to be thankful in all things!!!

Hallelujah – what a Savior!

*(I can still hear my Dad singing this at the top of his lungs during “the Breaking of Bread” in our Plymouth Brethren tradition – sweet memories…so thankful for those days!)

Thankfulness in Ecclesiastes

framingI just heard a great word on thankfulness from Dr. Steven Runge today. It went something like this: “as a carpenter framing houses, I knew that God maybe had something more for me – but I also knew that I should be thankful and enjoy what I was working on and where God had me at the time. So I started looking for 2×4’s that were the right size so I could thank God for that. It is like when you are doing laundry and the socks all match up and you are just so excited about that and you thank God for that little joy in the otherwise mundane work you just have to do.”

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 says There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

What do you think about this subject?
Is God’s Word true on this?
What ways do you look at – and for, in your everyday life in “your toil?”

One of the dying arts of living is to actually enjoy seeing a job done, and done well. Many times I get in a hurry and forget the details that will make the job shine better and in turn reflect better on my Lord who does “all things well.” Sometimes I try to be a loner and yet when I take the time to involve others in the work of the kingdom and see their expertise and their enjoyment the job is more Joy than just job.

Looking for input on this subject. …like…What other Scriptures come to mind or Bible characters that can better inform us and fill us with more joy as we journey to our real and forever home?

Btw…I don’t think we will sit around in heaven. I’m sure there will be much for us to learn and do.
Jesus as a boy even was “busy about His Father’s business” like He was already plenty use to working and enjoying the pleasure of pleasing Him. And, besides that his earthly Dad was a carpenter…plenty to think about here…I think!

Judgment Day

In light of the Supreme Court ruling this morning basically legalizing homosexual marriage,  you may be wondering if the title of this blog is appropriate. Many are celebrating the decision and many are not. I choose to celebrate people none the less. They are made in God’s image and they are a treasure, though marred by the fall of man recorded in the Bible. All of us are flawed, myself at the top of the” broken and earthen jar” list. People sometimes drive me crazy and disappoint me, but I sometimes let myself and others down too, so I choose to love individuals unconditionally and will fight to preach the truth that all men are created equal because God says that they are. In the eyes of the law they are equal – but of course we are not all the same and not all “things” are the same or equal either.

But why choose a provocative title? Am I trying to satisfy the wrath of those who believe in the Bible, like I do? No, though I understand it. I chose it because my job every day is to look into the Scriptures and draw out treasures both old and new and then share those treasures. The Bible has witnessed many a day like today. Many so called saviors have arisen who claimed that they loved their country, and that their dictatorial stance was only temporary and would lead to more freedom eventually.

Whenever they drastically changed a law they would claim that they were actually purifying the nation. When all of the less desirables were dealt with, the country they were dismantling would be whole again. History has a way of making deja vu seem boring – after all some memories would be better off being kept in the past where they belong. Today we are told that we are evolving for the common good. We are told it is a good thing to sue someone who won’t bake you a cake when you demand it just because you are willing to pay for it. We are told that some need to sacrifice their freedoms for the “greater” good.

The Same Old Sin-Thing is Boring
Today is a repeat. It is not boring unless you consider the fact that we have seen a series of laws be thrown out even though they were passed legally by a majority vote. And, we have seen more strident judges making up new laws, although their job is to rule on the constitutionality of laws and not to make incursions into the legislative branches business. But that being said, the legislatures would probably go the same way anyway, eventually, “for the good of the country,  you know!”

But all this is blather. Meaningless chit chat. It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans really, now that it is. We have crossed a big line today. What I also mean is that talk is cheap when it comes from those who will soon turn to dust, but who will face judgment before they do enter their final state.  The will meet Him – the Judge – God.

Warnings Are Mercy in Disguise
We have been as a nation meeting Him all along.  He is no absentee landlord. He has sent messengers from headquarters to warn us and counsel us. “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord.” That guy ,Isaiah, came a long time ago and told us what God wanted. I am pretty sure his own people’s nasty king Manasseh took him out. He probably told people it was for the good of the nation, that Isaiah was just too exclusive and harsh and narrow minded. Jesus told about the prophets of Israel as though they really were coming from headquarters and that they were beaten and such as reps of the real and merciful Landlord. Then the Chief runs out of messengers and sends His own Son to warn people, and the people think that if they kill the Son they can keep the remote branch office for themselves. So they actually kill him. Mercy in disguise was not recognized properly. It was not appreciated properly.  But it was also ironic that supposedly “religious” people were the ones who loaded the gun, and cocked it, and handed it to the Romans to pull the trigger that killed Jesus. They were religious in name only. Real religious people are by nature merciful and compassionate. See the book of James for that score.

Jesus was talking about Himself in the story about the killing of the son and his messengers. (Mark 12) It was a prophecy. Jesus, mercifully told the people of His day to turn around and be reconciled to God – He warned that if they didn’t change their mind they would perish – judgment would happen. Turn or burn. They thought if we kill Him, that judgement will be done away with and we will be free from this ‘too tight for us to wear’ morality straight jacket kingdom. It didn’t work. He rose from the dead. They all died in their sins and sealed their fate. They enjoyed their so called freedom of sin for a season but now they are wishing for drops of water to cool their tongues from the flames of judgment.

Jesus ascended gloriously to the right hand of His Father and left a small group to keep up the work, and they were given a portion of His own Spirit for power and understanding – so they could continue to fight the fight for real freedom, for real peace, for real equality, but also for eternity. To keep on warning is the job of every Christian. Our very witness is proof that the true owner of this planet is coming again to reclaim it for Himself and to deal with those who would defile it.

A Terribly Tragic Day
This day is tragic because it is a huge step towards attempting to legalize the continued degradation of the human condition. It is a day of death, not of life. It is temporal, but it is still tragic. Most of all it is that way because it means judgment has fallen even more poignantly than ever before this day. We have come to a point that is outlined definitely in the very scary, but very good chapter of the letter to the Romans that one of God’s messengers wrote 2000 years ago. He wrote it to a church in the capital.  Rome was massively moving towards a free for all society. They were falling headfirst into a moral morass. Paul wanted to warn the whole world that true righteousness was not found in wrecking the law that resides on the pages of Holy Writ by passing laws written on cheap paper.  He appealed to whatever was left in the human conscience and wrote a treaty on law, culture, the human condition, and most importantly on the answer, the true answer, for real freedom and hope. In order to get there he had to warn first about the problem. So…

HE TOLD THEM IT WAS JUDGMENT DAY
I will quote him here: “for this reason God gave them up” it says in Romans 1:26. First, let me say this – it actually reads “the God gave them up.” There is only one lawgiver and His name is Jehovah. That was the name God was known by only  to men who were in relationship to Him. He has other names, one is Judge. He is Judge because He always does the right thing. He is Judge because He is the Creator. He made us and owns us and has always done right by us. He also will eventually give us what we want. If we want to be “free” of Him, He somehow allows that. By definition that is not what we would think a “righteous” judge would do. WE would think He would stop it immediately. But a judge is not a cop. A judge is to rule on law. Eventually all will be brought to justice when the Son’s angels will police everyone up – and deliver all to be judged- by what we have done in the body for good or for evil.

Judgment Equals “Gave Them Up”
When it says in Romans that the Judge, God, “gave them up,” what Paul is saying is that the guilty guy is not being sent to a reformatory, but is being consigned and locked into the exact state that they were attempting to force everyone else to become – rebels against a holy Judge. God’s judgment was “so be it then!” First to unbridled passions in Romans 1:26. People kept and keep going on in sin.  Sin is never satisfied; when it is out of the barn it is mowing down everything in sight. Being “given up to” passions without controls means God consigned someone He loves, that He has an interest in, to get what they want.  The Judge, God then gives them over to a “debased mind” in verse 28. This is so critical. When the mind is given over to be in a debased state, it cannot guard the heart and the rest of the person is absolutely compromised. In verse 22 we find out that a futile thinker leads certainly to having a darkened heart. Without a heart there is no mercy, no compassion – brutality will follow. There is no doubt where the culture is headed – certain ruinous barbarism.  Rome was the same way – moral debasement then great cruelty.

The 1900’s Were No Accident
I skipped over one – one state that we passed many moons ago in our nation. It is the state of impurity in Romans 1:24. We lost our purity it seems in the last century. It came like a flood in the music of the 1950’s and went crazy in the 1960’s. It started much earlier in the church – somewhere in the 1940’s when the church went for impure doctrine – abandoning the pure gospel for another that was no gospel. By the time the 50’s hit there was no guard for the heart of the country. The American church was already sick in the head – impure doctrine leads to a state of impurity and degradation. Satan’s scheme worked maybe because he knows God’s words better than we do – he used it against us. He went after the church and then the culture was easy pickings.

Legalized abortion followed in the 70’s and now we are in 2015 and we have legalized homosexual marriage by court mandated/sanctioned lawmaking. It had to happen. I want to throw up. I am ashamed to be an American now. It is my shame too – I am a sinner, a lawbreaker, a moral failure, a sinner of the first degree. I have known Jesus since I was eight years old and still I have been guilty of breaking His laws. I, in some ways, am worse than those who know not the law and break it in some level of ignorance. But I am also redeemed from the curse of my law breaking. I have found freedom – and I don’t mean perfection yet. But I will one day be perfected in My King who already is  perfect.

Chapter two of Romans consigns the so-called moral man to being branded a sinner/lawbreaker, as well as the sexually immoral and more outward sinner of chapter one. The warning of Romans two is that there will be tribulations and distress for every man being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek, for God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:9-11)

The Really Big Question
So where do we go from here? It is time to preach the gospel like there is no tomorrow because there may not be too many of them left. Romans 3 preaches that “all are under sin – none is righteous, no, not one.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one….the way of peace they have not known, there is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The really big question is what to do now, sinner! If the whole world, including me, is accountable, what do we do? How do we get back? The answer is tragic today – as a nation we do not. We have crossed a line. Our hope is for one person at a time, here and there to repent. Peter preached that sermon on Pentecost – some fifty days after Jesus was killed – repent! Change your mind is the meaning of that word in the Greek where it was penned first. Only when the gospel is preached is their enough light available to enlighten a mind that is dark and a heart that is black with the night of death. We need to be made right – righteous as the Bible says it.

Answer
Paul said it under inspiration of God Himself this way in Romans 3:21-26

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Be Emboldened Dear Christian
This is not a day to give up on people, but to give up on politics. I don’t mean that we should stop talking about changing the laws, or throwing out the bums from congress, or arresting the criminals (even if they work of the government) – for a fitting and reasoned cultural response as American citizens read Randy Thomasson’s article here.

What I am saying is that a “cultural” response is not the real focus of evangelical Christians and can not be – the Ameri-Titanicus is going down – we must rescue “possible” survivors. We must preach the gospel to people who can be saved but maybe eternally lost. The culture is lost but we may, and we will, be able to pick up willing people out of the ocean and put them on the Ark with us by proclaiming the gospel that is powerful to save!

We must also renounce sin – anything that is distracting us and snaring us must go. We must have a humble and broken spirit about the great loss that today’s decision portends. We must weep and pray and fast and weep some more. Then we must get up and let God’s Word be a fire in us – we must steel our souls by the Word and be washed by the water of the Word, and get ready to fight for souls. WE must pray for courage! We are going to need it.

We must come together in our local churches and band together with those who are like minded. We are going to need to be one as Jesus commanded us to be – in love. We are going to need to abide in His love by keeping His commandment to love one another in reality by His grace.

It is time to move on with the work that we have been fitted to do by the generous gift of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into our hearts that happened when we were saved. It is time to get back to Bible reading, and Biblical meditation, and Biblical living and Biblical preaching. It is time to be the church of Acts.

It is time to act.

God be with us.

Suddenly

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 
Acts 2:2

The Word αφνω in the original language of the New Testament, or aphno in our alphabet is the word “suddenly” in the ESV, the KJV, NASB, NIV, and even in the paraphrase NLT. I suppose we should stick to suddenly.

The Greek Lexicon of Louw & Nida gives this definition of ‘aphno’ – “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’.

There had been a promise made a long time ago. That can be found in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and Joel.

Jeremiah Foretold It
The weeping prophet who cried out in Jeremiah 9:1 “oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” found solace in a future day when the Lord would do something “new.”

Listen to his voice repeating the revelation of the Spirit of God regarding the very days that we are privileged to live in:

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

You might say “wait a minute with that interpretation dear brother! Where does it say the Holy Spirit in this text?” You would be right to ask it. But notice what it does say. “I will write it on their hearts.” It says, “and no longer shall each one teach his neighbor…for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.” How does this happen according to the revelation of the greatest prophet who ever lived? Jesus said in John’s gospel chapter fifteen,  “but when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

He called the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth.” We have all heard that but have you ever made the connection that God’s Word – titled “my law” in Jeremiah had to be written on the hearts of every believer and the one person in God who could write this on each and every one of us had to be the promised Holy Spirit? That is a sweet truth. God did send the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. God does send the Spirit to every believer who by faith comes to salvation and is made a new creation in Christ.

Joel’s Prophecy is Different
Joel says simply this”

28  “And it shall come to pass afterward,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions.

29  Even on the male and female servants

in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

Joel says it will result (the Holy Spirit being poured out) in prophecy, dreams and visions. He says all flesh as in all kinds of people without distinction between the nations. This matches Jesus’ command to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.

But wait a minute again. These happened hundreds of years before the “suddenly” in Acts 2.  Isn’t hundreds of years a long time? Not with God it isn’t. With God time is not necessarily linear – “one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.” So in God’s timetable it was only half a day later when the promise came true.

You could also look at this way. From the time Jesus commanded in Acts 1 for the disciples to wait in Jerusalem it was even more “suddenly.” Jesus stayed around for 40 days giving many convincing proofs of His resurrection bodily. Then He ascended to heaven to His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Pentecost was 50 days from Passover. So fifty minus forty equals ten. Ten days from the promise in Acts 1:8 to the fulfillment in Acts 2:2. That is suddenly. This suddenly changed the lives of the believers. Not just the apostles but the believers in the “whole house” heard the sound and the church was founded in one sudden moment of explosive power and wonder and signs and dreams and visions and prophecy. The New Testament was written because of the coming of the Holy Spirit and people, thousands of people go saved and added to the “number” there in Jerusalem. Then they started to be persecuted and Stephen was martyred and then others and then the gospel began to spread as it has even to this very day. So intense is this work of God’s Spirit in this age of grace that fits into an age that is also called the eon of the dominion of the Enemy…that he must be turning into a schizophrenic personality. On the one hand he has many bamboozled into believing his lies and at the same time many are turning to Christ and being filled by the Holy Spirit of God.

For them, indeed for us when we get born from above as Jesus described it in John 3 that same suddenly happens all over again. It does not stop with conversion. Suddenly we find ourselves in places and all of a sudden the Spirit of God works. We can’t stop praying or reading or witnessing or doing our jobs with excellence or dreaming of what it would be like if we could leverage more of our gifts for His precious and mighty kingdom.

Suddenly He re-fills us. Suddenly peace comes. Assurance returns. Joy bubbles up. Life is put back into perspective. It is almost like the wind. We don’t see it coming. It is almost like a fire – it consumes our fears and our shame and lifts up the soul on wings as eagles.

suddenly…

ready????
What about the sinner. This suddenly ultimately applies to you more than anyone. Here is the definition at the top of this post. “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’ from Louw & Nida. I have been talking about the event of the promise and not the rest of the definition….the “state.” For the unbeliever the status of no Holy Spirit to the condition of having the Spirit of God is instantaneous. One moment dead in trespasses and sins. The next you have God – you have Jesus – all because you have been baptized into the Holy Spirit. “Extremely short” is a massive understatement  as these states are infinitely closed together. Suddenly you know your sins forgiven. Suddenly you have the power to be transformed, to understand, to see, to be alive. Oh sinner…you can by simple faith in Christ, turn from your sins to the Savior and suddenly you will be made new. Suddenly He makes all things new. Suddenly al the promises of God are for you Yes and Amen! Suddenly the plant bursts forth a flower and then just as suddenly the flower becomes fruit. Won’t you come sinner to the cross and be made new this very moment? Please ask if you need more explanation or want to talk or pray with us who have undergone this great event…We WOULD LOVE IT!!!!

OH GOD…again ALLOW YOUR Holy Spirit to fill us with your presence and use us in the work we have all been commissioned to do…to witness to the truth – the powerful gospel. We will change and others will for the first time be introduced to “suddenly there came from heaven…” and all will be blessed and His name will be glorified, the mighty, beautiful and awesome name of the Mercy on High – our blessed Savior and soon coming King Jesus!

Selah

Return

The Simply Awful State of our Union
Today I was led to read the book of Hosea. I could only get through the first six chapters and had to come up for air. Air is in chapter fourteen, the last chapter in the book. Israel and Judah, (for the land is still divided) had gone ‘whoring’ after other gods for so long that the prophet is commanded to take a whore for a wife and children are produced whose very names signify the consequences of the people’s immoral and idolatrous ways.

The first is Jezreel. This is a place name though it means ‘God will sow.’ What God would sow is immediately apparent in that God promises to punish Israel. Jezreel was a place of bloodshed. Jezebel’s agents murdered Naboth just to give King Ahab his garden. Gideon fought there as did Deborah. It seems that the word punish is better translated “visit upon” and it drives home the point that the one time obedient King Jehu who righteously slaughtered evil Omri and the priests of Baal/Ahab, but then later failed to walk in the ways of the Lord, would himself be “visited upon” with the same wrath he displayed in the valley of Jezreel. To be named ‘Jezreel’ has great significance as a lesson for continued faithfulness to the Lord and should be just as onerous a name to give to a child as  Chernobyl would be today.

The next ‘baby names’ are easier to pick up just from a glance. “No Mercy” is the girl and “Not a People’ is the next boy. What a graphic illustration of impending judgment and rejection, and of the inevitable consequences of unfaithfulness to the amazing Husband that God had been to Israel since the day of their deliverance from Pharaoh, in the promises to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in the giving of the Law, and their final entrance into the promised land.

After all the blessings, Israel had turned on her God and whored after others. She was an unfaithful woman, a prostitute. God says enough, enough, enough of it for thirteen chapters. Hosea is tough to read. It is tough because it is still accurate.

Wake Up Call
It would be less tough if it didn’t apply to our world, our country, our states, our counties, our cities, our families. Family Safe Media reports that “the pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink.”  The numbers behind this assertion are several years old… So what is the current state of affairs in our nation now? Where are we really at morally? Only God knows. But we know this, young men and woman are leaving the church in droves. The church itself seems less potent than ever. Is it because we are morally degraded and getting high on sin and not on God. Isn’t it because we are not all we claim to be?

What about God? Is He happy when divorce in the church is just as common in the world? Is He going to bless a nation or a church that is morally compromised? He will not be patient forever. He is  a loving God but He is holy as well.

Hosea stands as a call to repentance and renewal. God pulls no punches in it. He promises to be a lion and a leopard and rip us apart as a “no people” with “no mercy.” As a country we will become Chernobyl. Over and over Hosea calls out to point out the sin, and not just the sin, but the heinous and horrid and whoring and sickening aspects of our sin.

Hope
Oh, this doesn’t sound like grace but it is. To see the need in all of its awfulness is not just motivating, it is the truth. God hates sin. Sin is not just a bad idea or a bad choice, it is abhorrent and a stench in the Almighty’s nostrils and IT WILL BE DEALT WITH post haste.

We must come to grips with it or it will ensnare all of us. Compromise will destroy not just our institutions like marriage and family and our economy it will destroy people, even the babies. The spirit of whoredom (Hosea 4:12) inundated the glorious land to the point where parents laid their infants in the arms of pagan gods to be burned alive and then kissed the idol. (13:2) God says that person will be done away with so completely that he will burst into flames one day and be as “smoke from a window” himself. God is the one who draws a line from the sin of immorality then to idolatry and then murder and then to final judgment. Indeed it would be better for that person to have a millstone tied to his neck and drowned than to receive what the Lord has planned for him.

Oh wait, I entitled this paragraph “hope.” There is no hope unless we let the weight of our sin crush us towards repentance. Hope comes when we turn from sin and return to God. The air of chapter fourteen is not available until we are in a position to see our sin and hate it and turn to God with the wonderful words of confession and pleading for mercy from God to “take away all iniquity, accept what is good” and “pay” with an offering of sacrifice. For us in the New Testament the offering has already been made. But the words must still be given. The ‘Return’ must still be effected. We must destroy the idols. We must pound them into dust. WE must seek Him while He may still be found.

We must resolve as Judah was told to know that

Assyria shall not save us;

we will not ride on horses;

and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’

to the work of our hands.

In you the orphan finds mercy.”

The hope comes from a broken and contrite spirit…in realizing our “orphan” status is real, and in then fleeing youthful lust and returning to the Father humbly, and then being willing to walk in the ways of righteousness.

This orphan finds mercy. This is air. Air we can breath.

God promises to “heal” our apostasy.
“Love” us freely.

What more could we really want than to have the God of the Universe love us freely?

Some will no doubt read this and ask theological questions of me. Don’t you believe in eternal security? Yes, but sin is real. True repentance is in the heart of those who will be secure but don’t kid yourself. The New Testament is full of warnings against sin – see the whole of 1 Corinthians written to Christians. We must still speak with the prophetic voice of the Bible. In our day we are too afraid of making some theological mistake when what we simply need to do is to proclaim all of the Bible all of the time. Let God sort out the tares. Let the Holy Spirit be unleashed to convict the world and the church of sin and righteousness and judgment…it is His job but we are ambassadors whose job according to Daniel in the last days is to turn many towards righteousness…and therefore to shine like the stars forever!

Daniel says the wise will understand. The wicked will not. God says the wicked have no hope but the one who returns does.

Hosea ends with these poignant words.:

O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?

It is I who answer and look after you.

I am like an evergreen cypress;

from me comes your fruit.

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;

whoever is discerning, let him know them;

for the ways of the Lord are right,

and the upright walk in them,

but transgressors stumble in them.

Selah

The No-Option Option

This will be a little shorter in length than blogs that will follow. It comes from my heart and is a painful write, but a needful one and should be helpful in the end. Let me explain.

One of the difficulties in our day is that those who control much of the popular media have decided to take quite a different approach than the radicals that were running around in long hair and fermented body oder and LSD laced sugar cubes in the 1960’s. They wanted to show their parents something, and the “establishment” too. They were not going to be hemmed in. They demanded a new society of free everything. It wasn’t really fun to watch but it was easy to identify.

Today, they look respectable and many finish their education with a degree. They want to make money and be radicals and so it’s more confusing. Along with that mix they want to have the moral high ground. Their issues come to the forefront in legislation and not in sit-ins or protests for the most part. They write the TV shows and the movies and have taken classes in media so they are experts at presenting their case.

They are no different morally. The difference is they have made it legal. Their idea of an abomination is wedding cake discrimination or the non-hatred of sovereign national borders. They really do believe in these new ideals. They are actually willing to part with their mad money to support causes they have anchored their souls in. They still sleep around and watch porn and rock out to profanity. In fact those vices are more prevalent and growing to engulf more and more of our culture.

The last place they look for any semblance of truth is the church, especially a church that believes the Bible is true and inspired. They pay a token nod to the Bible but that sentiment is even fading and devolving into hatred. It is a part of the problem they perceive in our nation. They see no bounds on the horizon if we just elevate mankind and get out of his way and let him evolve. In this scheme the church is in the way, and will have to be dealt with. That idea has actually been around since the new age was translated to a woman in the 1800’s named Blavatsky.  It has been repeated in a more modern, quasi-spiritual book in the 1900’s but is kept somewhat quiet and will remain that way in my opinion. Better to keep that kind of talk quiet until arsenals are a reality and are ready to be acted upon.

If this sounds conspiratorial it is not. It’s old news. The scheme has been alive since before queen Esther intervened so bravely. The Egyptians were there at the birthing stool to remove a people who had grown unwieldy even though they were slaves. Pilate was ready to erase the race in Jesus’ humble entrance account, but God had other plans. This plan was not to be deterred because it answered the real moral issue that still faces us.

That issue is really rebellion against a personal God who made us, and so owns us, but who actually loves us. Because of that love the rebellion is truly a horror. It is a transgression against divine law not only because it breaks the code of Exodus 20 but before the law was given it broke the fellowship that God had instituted in the garden. It ruined everything. It infected everything and brought death and the worry of death for all people.

It is this threat of death that hangs like a hidden veil over every single human. No grandstanding of moral issues that aren’t really moral at all but abominations (sometimes) can alleviate this hidden dread that sneaks out in our daydreams and nightmares. It, the sure judgment of sin has no answer. No drug or drink can deal with it in the long run. No amount of money can. Sin can push it down and out of the consciousness of the culture but not the conscience of the individual unless a complete abandonment of good is attained and the mind breaks and pathos takes over the host. Of course the pathos will seem to die when the host dies but that is only that which we see with the physical eye. The disease will rot in the soul for eternity. I believe that our hardwiring knows this. I believe this knowledge is alive though artificially suppressed with more and more sin and activity. This activity is what we think is good and includes the new morality I discussed earlier. This righteousness in God’s eyes is, of course filthy rags. It is actually a hindrance to one coming awake to God’s truth and seeking Him.

God has given plenty of evidence to lead us out of our stupor of degrading sin on one hand and “do-goodism” on the other hand. The creation itself and the human conscience and the external witness of the proclaimed Gospel. The very structure of nations is a witness that God is behind it. This is what the Apostle was getting out when he said as much in Acts 17. Then he gave the reason  27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.

God’s purpose and plan was to appeal to the ability of man to reason from what he observed. To make sense of the facts and make the logical deduction that what we see in the reality of creation and cultural organization and the beneficence of the creation-provision is plenty to send man on a search for the God of that creation. There is not another logical option.

The problem is that with our investment in our own moral goodness this option became a non-starter. You have to abandon worldly standing to attain a godly one. It still takes faith but as the old evangelist said, “we put faith in every chair we sit in.” So what is so hard about putting faith in a God as revealed in Scripture that meticulously matches the God of observable reality.

In writing some elementary code to run an app for a website I learned that there is only one way to get the desired result in any application. It is the right way. You must follow the specified code not only to the letter but down to every semi-colon. Fail at those two dots and the code stops and gives a fatal error. Junk in and junk out is absolute truth in that field. When the user runs into a glitch caused by faulty writing then he curses and is disgusted at the “sin.” Can you see where I am going with this? Of course you can. God is no different. Perfection is hardwired into our minds because it is the standard of a kind God who likes “nice things” that work perfectly and are nice because they accomplish the desired result, namely His glory.

Jesus’ atonement for our sin was just so perfect. He was God made flesh. He became one of us and yet was still God the Infinite. That infinite life alone was perfect and so could make a sufficient sacrifice for our sins and not for ours only but for those of the whole world. What other option is there really? To reject a perfect rescue is to deserve infinite separation from the rescuer.

That is the real non-starter in all of the universe, known and unknown to our limited site. But what I see is glory ahead for every son that comes simply by faith in the perfect work of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of Glory. If you know Him already you are already jumping up and down on the inside. If you don’t – what are you waiting for? Get on board and be made new, for He is not far away from you at all. He wants you and paved the way for you to come running home.

…More when I have time.  Love and grace and peace to you all!   Rod

Anyone Can Have a Good Marriage…

I was recently reading an amazing book that made this bold statement. The one who wrote it had been saved out of a very sinful lifestyle. This person was an interesting test case for marriage because she had, at one point despised it and scoffed at it. But through God’s grace she had totally been transformed and through reading God’s Word – by learning what marriage is and who ordained it and how it can be done – she made this startling claim….”Anyone can have a good marriage.”

Any broken vessel will do – who has been softened in the potters firm and loving hands. No matter the marring, the hurt, the rebellion, the crud, the hopelessness! Anyone can in Christ!

Then, the author quoted from the “charge” given by the pastor who performed their wedding. The key of course is God’s transforming love seeded in the heart and mind and then fleshed out in obedience into everyday life.

I would like to share part of the “charge” as it applies to the groom -yah, us men. Being one, I know the challenges and the particular struggles – the risks but also the rewards of being in a lifetime covenant with a woman. For me it has been my station in life for over 34 years and I have a really good woman as a wife. But I am a man, a sinner man, and so, I know the ups and the downs that accompany even a “blessed” marriage.  I also know that it takes a daily commitment…and that it is sometimes incredibly stretching, and that I need every bit of encouragement and help along the way.

If this “charge” below excites your electrons to a higher orbit, then you are a follower of Christ who desires a really good marriage. It is after all, God’s Word with a pastor’s Biblical exhortation to us guys! That is exciting! If not – examine your heart and give in to the Master – for all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved! Then, you too can have a good marriage!

Through God’s Word, we can change and be continually changed to better reflect the Lord Jesus in our life and relationships. If you are not married – you, of course can apply all of 1 Corinthians to your life relationships – especially chapter thirteen which is the center of this “charge” and you will be truly blessed as well.  Many marriages, even ones in the “church” are not good – in fact they are a source of misery. That breaks my heart. But that can change today…as we meekly accept the “implanted Word” we can all experience the blessing of the transformation that is ours for the asking!

Well…here it is…enjoy this and be blessed as I was today!

* Test your love toward your wife by the scripture’s own definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love suffers long and is kind;
When you are tempted to be impatient and harsh with your wife, remember the infinite patience that Christ has shown toward you, and continues to show on a daily basis.

Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
When you are tempted to be jealous for preeminence over your wife, remember Christ who did not think it beneath Himself to wash the feet of His disciples. Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own; When you are tempted to insist upon your own way, and belittle your wife, remember the condescension of Christ, who left the glorious habitation of heaven, clothed Himself with flesh, and endured the shame and suffering of the cross all for the sake of your own helpless, hopeless soul.

Love is not provoked,
When you are tempted to raise your voice in frustration against your wife, remember Christ, who “when he was reviled, did not revile in return.”

Love thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
When you are tempted to judge her motives, or to exalt in being proven right when she is in the wrong, remember Christ who had every right to think evil of you and to rejoice in your destruction, but instead took your shame upon Himself and covered you with His righteousness. When you are tempted to belittle your wife, or to sit quietly while others tear her down, remember Christ, who comes to the defense of His sheep and stands between them and the accuser.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
When you are tempted to throw in the towel, and surrender hope that your marriage can continue— when conflicts mount and it seems that it would be easier to walk away than to persevere, remember Christ who bears your sin daily in order to cause your hope to persevere until the end, and who promises “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The love of Christ for His people is not based upon any worthiness within them, nor should your love toward your wife be conditioned upon her actions and your judgment as to whether or not she has earned your love.

Love never fails.
Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate. In all of these things, and in many more ways, the self-sacrificial, loving headship of the Christian husband mirrors the love of Christ for His Church. This is your calling as you enter into this sacred union. But there is more.

 There is more!  If you would like someone to pray with you about your marriage – please call and ask!  If you need to talk to someone about the claims of Christ – and about the love and grace that is only available in Him – please call. Our number is listed on the Contact page. God bless you richly,
Pastor Rod

(* quoted from Pastor Doug Comin) by Butterfield, Rosaria (2012-09-06). The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (Kindle Locations 1888-1916). Crown & Covenant Publications. Kindle Edition.