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)

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Unending book!

“…the word of the Lord stands forever…” 1 Peter 1:25

As a new Christian I some older Christians challenged me to develop the habit of reading my Bible daily. I took up the challenge eagerly. About half way through reading the Bible cover to cover, I suddenly wondered “What am I going to do after I finish … there will be nothing left to read!”  I asked my Christian mentors and they said something like “You could read the Bible for a lifetime and not ‘scratch the surface.” At the time I did not believe them. But over the years I have found that there just is no other book like the Bible. In my 70 years of living I have found no  human being that would have written a philosophy for living to such a high standard. The Bible speaks from outside the human condition. I think that it was Martin Luther who said: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” I have found that the Bible creates a sense of God’s presence that forces a reaction in public places. I can lay a newspaper on my table in a Starbucks and no one gives me a second look. However, when I lay my Bible on the table I get looks. Some see the Bible and then stare as they walk by as if I am going to jump up and preach! So for the last 50 years I have worked on maintaining a daily reading schedule. The Bible is and will be the last word. ‘The Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us to what we really are’ (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).

Love via Truth

We live in treacherous times. Truth has become relevant. The principles that we thought to be sacred are being eaten away. Our Constitution is currently being interpreted by events and “modern times.” The things that we held dear 100 years ago out of date by our society. Sticking to the things that the Founding Fathers thought important for freedom are now considered inappropriate and anachronistic. We no longer need to do things by the ‘old code.’ We live and act according to relevant beliefs. Since we have no standard outside of ourselves we behave according to the dictates of the circumstance. How sad. It looks like freedom but it is stressful. We need fences. As we reject the norms set by Judeo-Christian principles, we act more god-like. We seek wisdom and find folly. We talk and sing songs about love. But love without boundaries is chaos. Without a guiding principle love becomes greedy and self-serving. Jer 31:3 “…the LORD appeared to him [me] from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” I as a husband need to reflect and act on this continually.

Healing our wound…

“Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors…” Isaiah 1:9

Yesterday’s headlined news story was a second day “in infamy” for our nation. The story was how we had a national day of mourning for the loss of life ten years ago, on our soil. All day the TV ran unfolding stories of the tragedy and heroism that occurred. Commentators compared 9-11 to Pearl Harbor. Aside from the surprise attack, these two events cannot be compared. The Pearl Harbor story has an ending with the total defeat of the Japanese empire and the totalitarian German government. We healing for the wound of Pearl Harbor in the victory of WW II. Pearl Harbor was avenged. But what about 9-11 … Where is the closure? Where is the victory? Sure we killed Bin Laden but we still have 100,000 spread out on various foreign soils being exposed to acts of deadly force. Peace has become elusive for us. The story of 9-11 is not ended.

Watching the news events unfold yesterday once again affirmed to me that we have lost our moorings as a nation. With a double mind we contemptuously throw God out of the public affairs and then ask for His protection and blessing in times of national need. We commit national fraud by denying Christian prayers or symbols in schools or government lands but then invoke the name of this same Christian God to help us heal. We watch our Presidents ask for God’s blessing today while tomorrow supporting laws that hinder His name being invoked in governmental sanctioned places. Are we insane? If this God whose name we keep invoking is real, then He is making the same assessment … that we are insane.  With our own flimsy resources we build wall and then white wash them. We cry peace but there is no peace. We reject this God’s authority so we can live as we please, seeking comfort and love without the truth. This is the stuff that fairy tales; we have become a nation believing in fairy tales.

But wait! We are just at the good part of the story. In every story there is a hero. This same Christian God is none other than the Hero Jesus Christ and His remnant in this rebellious nation who have not bended the knee to the god of rebellion. To many citizens, Jesus is a stone in their path that they trip over and kick out-of-the-way. But to the remnant this stone is the Rock. They have discovered that He alone is the Source of all comfort and love. They live by His Truth.

Yesterday was a day of mourning for us as a nation “under God.” Today, one day later, we move forward as a nation not under God, on a war footing with no peace in sight. God warrior saints; that is His remnant. This is a small band of Hero followers, equipped for victory. Gideon thought that he needed an army of 32,000 but his Commander ordered a reduction in arms. Gideon obeyed [it was an insane military move] and ended up with a force of 300 and that was enough. Gideon’s remnant received the  applause for success but it was the Hero who won the victory. Today there is a rag-tag remnant in our nation. They are obediently expanding the Kingdom of God in their own lives. The Hero’s prayer finds fulfillment as His people in the remnant learn obedience; others see the Hero and obey His call. The final victory is not in the weapons of war but in the salt and light of the remnant.

Not My Opinion

This is my name forever…” Exodus 3:15
At some point in the future there will be one final word from a Name that will end all controversy for all time. We live in an apartment building where some apartments face inward to a courtyard with a fountain. For several nights now there have been loud collections of words being spoken till the wee hours in the morning. Loud obnoxious words without meaning. Words trying to drown out other words with their own noise. Words quoting resources. Words of anger. Words of surprise. Words rolling off alcohol saturated tongues. Words from many languages. Piercing words disturbing us in our sleep. Annoyed words thrown from quiet balconies to shut down the irritating words. Words, words and more words tossed into the night from voices in the dark. As I lay there trying to sleep, often I have asked the question: “In the multitude of words where is the wisdom? There is one Word that points us to the One Name that has the Ancient Wisdom. I AM. “This is my name forever…” Exodus 3:15 Many words try to explain or explain away I AM. Look into the past; examine the present; peer into the future … the Word forever accurately represents the Name. The Word did not grasp the Name on his own. “…he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs.” Hebrews 1:4 “…God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name…” Philippians 2:9 So the next time that you hear words flowing around you, remember that this Name provides the final “say so” – the final word of I AM. “…keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus…” Hebrews 12:2 One Word. One Name. One Source. Amen!

“See, I have told you beforehand.” Jesus

Judgment Day on May 21, 2011?

For months now there have been billboards on freeways and flyers circulating about the coming judgment of God on the world.  People are asking questions as to how can anyone teach that Christ’s return will happen on a particular day?  Some Christians have seen this phenomenon predicted more than once in their lives and so chalk it up to a nut-case.  Some Christians see the billboards and wonder because they do not know their Bible.  Some Christians read what appears to be a Godly pamphlet and wonder if they have missed something.  And Satan smiles with delight.

Last week I was out doing my daily walk, noticed an eight-page pamphlet on the sidewalk claiming “THE END OF THE WORLD IS ALMOST HERE!”  Picking it up I skimmed through it as I walked and found nothing obviously or blatantly wrong … as a matter of fact it sounded really evangelical.  I folded it up and stuck it in my pocket for further analysis.  What I discovered is a lie couched in some bible verses.  Here are some excerpts:

“…about 35 years ago God began to open the true believers’ understanding of the timeline of history. Thus it was discovered that the Bible teaches that when the events of the past are coordinated with our modern calendar, we can learn dates of history … However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible.”  It continues on by saying: “During these past several years God has been revealing a great many truths, which have been completely hidden in the Bible until this time when we are so near the end of the world.”

“Several years ago we had learned that the silence in Heaven for about half an hour referred to the 2,300 days that were the first part of the 23-year (exactly 8,400 days) Great Tribulation period. This period began on May 21, 1988. It was during this 2,300-day period that, both in the churches and throughout the world, very few, if any, were saved.”

“We had learned that May 21, 1988 was the last day of the church age and was also the first day of the 23-year period of Great Tribulation, during which Satan has been employed by God to officially rule all of the churches as well as the whole world. During the first 2,300 days of this 8,400-day period the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from all of the churches as well as the entire world. This produced silence in Heaven. However, beginning 2,300 days after May 21, 1988 (the end of the church age), the Holy Spirit was again poured out, producing what the Bible calls the “latter rain” (Zechariah 10:1; James 5:7) throughout the world (but not in any church), and God began a final great harvest of salvation, bringing great joy in Heaven. This salvation is not occurring in any church, but will continue outside of the churches to the end of the Great Tribulation, on May 21, 2011.[1]

Jesus, in His own words told the disciples: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” [Act 1:7] Jesus, the Master Teacher did not make mistakes or have after thoughts about what He spoke about.  The tone of what He plainly said “It is not for you to know…” seems to imply that we can ask but we will not get an answer.  Jesus spoke these words as He was departing from the disciples.  They were asking questions that were running through their collective minds.  These were troubling times for them.  I agree with one commentator who said that this was a rebuke to them and a cautionary statement for the church down through the ages.  Beware of getting focused on the wrong things; intruding into things that I have expressly stated as forbidden knowledge.  The implication for the church is there are limits to our curiosity.  In other words: “…concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” [This is quoting Jesus from Mat 24:36]  Finding scriptural evidence to the contrary of what Jesus spoke plainly about is walking into Satan’s trap.

I am reminded of Gen 3:1 where we have the account of Eve’s walking into Satan’s trap. “Now the serpent was craftier than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  We seem to feel that we know more than God and that we should understand more than we are capable of understanding.  Eve looked at the tree and saw it was good looking fruit.  Instead of remembering exactly what God had told them about this particular tree, she missed the subtle shift that Satan included in his misquoting God.  God said: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” [Gen 2:16-17]  Satan, always the liar, quoted God as saying: ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’

Like Eve, we miss what is right because we fail to remember to go to the Source of all knowledge.  Instead we create perplexing questions that take our eyes off of Jesus.  By doing that we miss the very next thing that Jesus told His inquiring disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Act 1:8] You are asking about end times but that question is irrelevant to the business that I want you as my church to be about.  Being my witnesses is you work now and in the future until I change it.

Jesus warned clearly that the church would encounter people creating parties and factions.  Jesus warned that Satan appears as an angel of light so that he can deceive people with the greatest evil with a convincing show of what appears good.  Jesus warns that Satan will incite men who pretend that they have some special insight or divine inspiration that runs outside of the Word of God but it is a lie.  Jesus warns that Satan will take advantage when there is trouble that threatens our security; people will seek out anything that looks like salvation.

Mat 24:5 “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” Verse 24: “… false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

Jesus warns us to be watchful by paying attention to all of His words!  “See, I have told you beforehand.” [Mat 24:25]