Supernaturally Speaking

Many people will tell you that the universe is void and empty. Since there is no one out there then there is silence. But if we listen, we will find that the universe was created by God and therefore is fundamentally personal. There is a story out there. If we are related to the Lord Jesus than we are part of the bigger story being written called His story. If we are willing to listen then we will hear God speaking in a multitude of different ways. It is supernatural. We strive today to be informed as to the latest happenings and events. We hate being uninformed so we attach to many streams of social media. We look for trending. But without a connection to the Creator of the universe, we are being led astray. We are influenced by mute idols. Because we refuse or are confused by all of the chatter in the world does not mean that God has stopped talking.

Under the old code, diversity was not tolerated. There were no options to obeying the code. It was unity under the code or penalty of separation or worse, death. 2000 years ago God updated the code. He undertook a new humanity project and this was all about unity through diversity. Under the old code there was a rupture causing alienation in our relationship with the Creator. God, wanting to repair the rupture, came to the earth as Jesus, who headed up this new humanity project. Jesus bridged the rupture and created a new man. It was like Gandalf suddenly showed up on our door step and our relationship to the Shire was never the same again. Here is the problem. Nothing makes sense in the Bible unless we are rightly related to the Author who is speaking supernaturally to us.

Organic or Synthetic?

Relationships bring meaning to life and are the key toward good health in mind, body, emotions, spirit and soul. My question to you today is simply this: Do you have an organic life in Christ or are you a synthetic Christian by association? If you say that you have an organic relationship with Jesus Christ then those who you do life with will see you growing in your spiritual life. Children do not stay children long. They are constantly hungry and growing. Maintaining childhood is not natural, either in the physical realm or spiritual. If you starve a child it will die. I find it interesting that it is the people who call themselves Christians and are starving for the Word of God who are the biggest abusers of religion. Calling myself a Christian means, according to the Bible, that I am a saint. Sainthood is not reserved for a special group of people. If you think this way, then what do you make of Paul’s salutation: Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.  All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. [Philippians 4:21-22 NASB] We have a choice. We can believe humanly spawned dogmatic criteria to what a saint is or is not. We can believe as the Bible teaches that saints are simply those who worship Christ. A saint is nothing more or less than a holy one. And the only way to true holiness [again according to the Bible] is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Caesar’s household had many saints, none of whom are known today.

An organic Christian [saint] should be a faith-builder. They are the ones in the church who should be seeking to represent the ‘fullness of Christ.’ In everything they do they look for the mature way of doing something. Children [synthetic Christians] know no boundaries and can be destructive and suck the life out of a church. Synthetic Christians are interested in themselves. They love others when others love them. A saint is like wheat and seeks to feed the body of Christ whereas a child is like a weed and seeks to crowd out the wheat so they can fulfill their own agenda. A saint struggles to love people as Christ loves them. They work hard to bring those feelings of “I cannot stand that person” to the altar so that Jesus can love “that person I cannot stand” through them.  but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ … (Ephesians 4:15 NASB) As an organic Christian, Jesus desires nothing more or less than for me to be growing in all aspects of what He wants to accomplish through me. What was true in the Old Testament is still true today: For I am the Lord your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. [Leviticus 11:44 NASB]

Biology 101 teaches us that living cells split apart and replicate themselves. Are you replicating more organic or synthetic Christians? Intellect means nothing in the spiritual realm. Does the Word of God pierce my heart? If so then what should I do now? Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37, 38 NASB)

A View from a Flyleaf …

The following article contains an imaginative reconstruction of the life of a Bible through the Bible’s eyes – pieced together from information found on the flyleaf of an actual Bible in China.

www.opendoors.org.za

I came off my press in 1992 so by China’s standards, I was a fairly new Bible.  However, since I did not come off an official press I had disadvantages.  My paper was not very thin, so I was a thick book…nearly four inches thick.  That immediately gave me away as an illegal Bible.  Also my cover was cheap and made of paper, so whenever I traveled, it had to be clandestinely.  My first trip was at the bottom of an old suitcase down among the socks and underwear.  The owner did not dare to take me out and read me on the train journey.  We arrived in the north of China and I was taken to a small house where there was a class of sixteen house church leaders.  They were overjoyed to see me.  It seemed I was the only Bible they had there.  Perhaps because of that I was actually roped to the table, so that no one could steal me.  Then the students would arrange to read me in two-hour blocs, even through the night.  I was in constant use.  They would read me with a grubby finger, often sounding the words aloud.  I heard all their emotions as they read – puzzlement, anger, joy and peace.

A year of constant use began to take its toll and I had to be refurbished twice; once re-glued, and the other time re-covered.  Every two months a few women from the house churches would come and spend hours with me copying my pages.  The students used to get irritated at that time because they could not read me.  The women copied me around the clock for a week each time.  They were directed to certain books.  One of them copied the prophet Isaiah in a week but mostly they copied the Gospels, Acts, Romans and Revelation.

Suddenly the school was raided.  I was jerked out of my rope and carried off by a policeman.  Two students ended in jail for possessing me.

I found myself in a dark cupboard in the policeman’s house.  But I was not alone.  He had a fifteen-year old daughter that used to creep downstairs at night and read me by candlelight right there in the cupboard.  It was very cold for her.  She was only in her night-shirt and her skin often turned blue.  But she read me quietly, hardly daring to breathe as she turned the pages.

After a few months she actually smuggled me away from there in her school satchel.  Perhaps she thought her father would never notice.  Anyway I was passed into the hands of a young itinerant evangelist who treasured me as if I was a baby.  He would wrap me in his luggage and cycle from village to village.  He rarely had time to read me himself but when he would preach, he would turn to a few of his favorite passages, read me and then preach.  He loved preaching from Romans Three and on the parables of Jesus.  He would weep as he preached, his tears falling on my open pages in great drops, smudging the print.

But after a few months someone robbed him, stole me and I found myself in a house full of incense.  It seems my new owner was a Taoist priest and for a while I lay on his altar to his ancestors, flanked by two oranges and a bag of nuts.  But a visitor saw me and shrieked in horror warning the man what trouble he would be in if others saw me.  This intrigued the priest so he began to leaf through me.  But he could not read very well so he invited a local Christian to come and explain some passages.

A month later I saw them both on their knees, confessing their sins to God and trusting Jesus.  The next thing I knew the altar had gone.  Soon there were groups meeting in the house – mainly because I was there.  I was read aloud and then they would sit and discuss the words until it was very late.  Once they took me out to the fields and when they stopped planting rice they gathered everyone around and read me.  But the leader of the work unit grew angry, grabbed me and began to stand on me, pressing me into the mud.  To my surprise, the others rose up and threw him in the mud.  But I was sodden and half-ruined.  They took me back and tried to dry me out but it was too late.

After a conference they decided to burn the spoiled parts, then to split up the remaining books and sew each one with thread.  So I became thirty-one books instead of just one.  But that is when I lost my flyleaf and so my tale must end.

He did not rob me …

Humanly speaking, I have Dave Pauley to thank for diligently allowing God to speak and act through him, even when it was inconvenient, so that I would not stay in my original state sin. Looking back, he tithed his time above ten percent. Had he not he would have been a thief. When we withhold what God wants to do through us, we become thieves. He was an ordinary guy who refused to live for himself. Because he lived for others, he did not rob me of the blessing that God wanted in my life. He was the one who took the time to talk to me about my relationship to Christ. Because he was a saint [one set apart for the work of service in God’s Kingdom] I left my darkness and entered into the Light. Had he declined the mission, God would have raised up someone else. David was obedient. He did not always understand my doubts and hesitation and endless questions. But he was obedient and continued on patiently praying and talking to me. I finally “heard” the Gospel because David was obedient and faithful to God. And He gave some as … teachers … to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:12 NASB)

Insanity

Christians, if you have not noticed, we are at war. The bombing at the Boston Marathon is just one skirmish in a war. All of this barbarism we are seeing in the world is not about religion, economics, politics or mental instability. We live in a world that has learned that the blame game is easier and avoids responsibility rather that looking at the source. We have a choice. We can believe what the world believes, that if we just fixed [add what you think] the world would become a friendly place. Or you can believe what God inspired a man to write about two thousand years ago. Consider: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. [Eph 6:12 NASB] The murderous actions we have on our doorstep are the result of living in a world that is hell-bent in an insane rebellion against our Creator God. Since the Garden Plot instigated by Satan at the beginning of our history, we have shifted the blame. What is the underlying force behind every hate-filled action? It is nothing less than treason against the One who made us for love and flourishing. We live in a world that has run amuck due to insanity. Sin is insanity. Sin destroys everything good, right and true. Sin is not rational. An insane person cannot be reasoned with. Our rebellion has allowed sin to thrive in darkness, hating anything that opposes the darkness. We insanely allow abortion, lying, greed, idolatry and the twisting of marriage, to name just a few, within the ranks of Christianity. Sin opposes everything God loves.

We as a society have aggressively worked to find answers to the flare up of violence through pathology. We turn everything into a study of disease, attempting to map out the ‘social diseases’ nature, processes, development and consequences. We divorce God from the study, and are successful in laying out a disease’s functional manifestation but rarely its prevention. We spend huge amounts of resources looking for answers to horrific events such as the Boston Bombing or Sandy Hook but forget to go to the source of all social pathology, the soul. Second generation man introduced brother murdering brother over jealousy. Jealously leads to resentment which leads to anger. Anger looks for a way to express itself physically in a rage, and as God told Cain, ‘sin is crouching at the door, looking to own you.’ Violence, in other words, is often the tipping point after resentment turns to rage, inciting us to do violent things.

In all of man’s history, we still have not figured out how to ‘cure’ or prevent jealousy. Or greed. Or hate. Violence does not begin with saber-rattling armies, generational ethnic hatred, and longstanding social inequities. That is a mask for the real issue that we avoid like the plague. Violence is as close to us as our own hearts. We insist that the solution lies somewhere outside ourselves. God makes it clear that our hearts are the issues. Shifting the blame to something or someone started in the Garden. Evidence of the fall, is our willingness to we lie to ourselves by saying our act of adultery caused externally by someone else’s good looks. We lie to ourselves if we say that our greed is caused by our lack of money. We lie to ourselves if we say that envy is caused by our neighbor’s new car, and violence is not caused externally by video games or movies. It is and has been there all along, since our birth.

How do we tip the scales toward non-violence in practical terms? What does that looks like from God’s perspective? There must be a change in the heart. There must be a ‘God intervention.’ What can we do about violence in our hearts? Consider what James wrote: “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness…. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Sounds very much like what God told Cain: “Sin is crouching at your doorstep” so be care what you decide to do. What are you going to choose to do? Cain chose to be a vigilante. Jesus came so that we could choose vigilance. Jesus does not want us to be doormats and wait for violence to erupt. As followers of Jesus he commands us to close the gap. He wants us to do as He did and engage with those who have been rejected by others. We are to reach out and connect with the wounded of our community before they snap and lash out in rage. We cannot end violence. But we can do much to bring down the level of insanity seen in tension and stress around us by living at peace with our brothers and sisters within and without the family of God.

Lying lips …

Finding just one proverb to write on is like going into a candy story finding just one favorite candy in a store full of candy. So after wandering around the Proverb Candy Store, here is mine: Proverbs 12:22. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”

The word ‘abomination‘ is not a commonly used word in today’s vernacular. The word we us today is ‘to detest something of someone.’ Where I have most often heard the word abomination used is by Christians who misquote and misapply what God says is because they are on some righteous bandwagon [e.g.: the gay-lesbian debate]. They will say that God says that all gay people are ‘an abomination to the Lord’ [attempting to quote a 1611 KJV version that they probably have never read for themselves]. They quote this as if that were the ONLY thing that God detests. Shame on them.

Key Word: Abomination. It means abhorrence, disgust, an action that is vicious, vile; an intense loathing. It is a strong word and God does not sling it around randomly. Other words that help describe abomination would be: outrage, atrocity, repugnance, something detested. The opposite of abomination is love: consider John 3:16. This is the love that God exhibits as He overlooks and puts away our sin. Not only does he condemn the sin [not the sinner] but He eliminates the sin. Wow!

Two reasons that God hates lying enough to call it an abomination: [1] it breaks His Law. God never lies. God never misspeaks. God never has to go back and correct something He has said. [2] it is destructive to human society. We do not seek out liars to be friends with. We do not seek out those who we suspect might stab us in the back to share our lives with. No. We want to be friends with those who will be honest with us and that we can place confidence in.  

Lying is so easy to do. We will lie because our pride prompts us to protect ourselves. We will lie because our pride tells us that we need to protect others; a mindset of “they cannot handle the truth.”  

  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to God’s nature. In His kingdom and in the final chapter of history as we know it, God says clearly: “… and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” [Rev 21:26-27 NASB]
  •  Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to community. Lying takes place in community; in relationships no matter how surface. Lying breaks the “imago dei” [Latin: asserts that humans are created in God’s image and therefore have inherent value independent of function.] in which we were created. But wait, is lying all that God considers an abomination; something that He detests vehemently? Consider Pr 11:1 “A false balance is an abomination…” Again, a form of lying in a community setting; e.g.: lying to another in a buyer / seller relationship. God also detests gossiping  
  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to the Scriptures that He has empowered to change our hearts. When God tells us the truth about ourselves, He tells us the whole truth. He leaves nothing to imagination. To tell someone a partial truth from God’s word [like Christians like to do with the gay-lesbian debate] is really lying to make a proud full point. And that is from the pit of Hell! 
  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to the essence of His Son Jesus, who is the embodiment of truth itself. There was always a harmony between the words that Jesus spoke and the inward intents of His heart. We need to be careful that our ‘favorite’ biblical truth is not taught to the exclusion of other biblical truths, producing a dangerous imbalance. We need to be careful that we do not teach a biblical truth in an exaggerated way, often going beyond what Scripture actually says, and in the end this does more harm than good. Many times clear, biblical warnings are ignored or reinterpreted so radically that they lose all impact or effect, leaving people vulnerable and exposed.
  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to the Holy Spirit who is the One who leads us into all truth as seen in Jesus

The opposite end of the spectrum from lying is loving faithfulness, loving people enough to always act in faithfulness to truth which is the delight of God. John 3:21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”  Now I know that this is not directed toward those who have a personal relationship with Jesus, but it does clarify, if there was any doubt, about how God sees lying. It should give us pause to consider how well we tell the truth. Are we prone to misspeak and therefore mislead because our pride wants us to have the advantage in the relationship?