Thursday, December 22, 2011

The "Other Side"....

Interesting how deeply held attitudes are revealed at times. Seemingly innocent moments and conversations become the opportunity for some to reveal what is really in their heart....and not surprisingly, it doesn't match with what is on the face or facade of their life. Tuesday night we allowed our youngest to go to a friend's house for dinner, or so the invitation was. Supposedly the friend's father was not able to celebrate her birthday with her on Saturday, so they were going to have a little dinner celebration. Unfortunately for our youngest and her friend, this family is one who rose up in division with others at the church and has been the forefront dispenser of false teaching and doctrine, the high priestess of the cult resides there. We don't allow our youngest to attend their religious gatherings, because of the unscriptural basis of their "faith". This particular event, a birthday dinner, hardly seemed the source for any such distribution of rhetoric and drivel, so we said yes. 
About an hour after the event began, a phone call was received asking if our youngest could spend the night....praise God for discernment of my wife; she said no. Fast forward two hours till the pick up time...we pulled up in front of the house and lo and behold, a fair sized group of folks were in the house; every single one of which had joined together in rebellion and been the core of the division. We sent our middle girl up to the door to retrieve our youngest. As she knocked on the door, several voices called out, "hide the Bibles, someones at the door", followed by cynical laughter. The door opened and our girl put her head in and asked for the youngest. The puppet husband suddenly called out from his seat in the room, "either come in or go out, I don't want the door open", a reasonable request. Our middle girl, pulled her head back and stayed outside, closing the door. The man bellowed from his chair, "well, now we know for sure she has gone completely over to the other side"....more laughter then, "yeah, I said it loud so she could hear it". Well, as the two ladies entered our car and this was related to us, along with additional information from the youngest that this evening had NOT been a birthday celebration, but instead the high priestess's idea of a Hanukkah event, complete with  "true" stories of internet fueled garbage. The lighting of the Servant candle reduced to wanna-be jews, indulging in their lust driven religiousocity....well, as the song says, we won't be fooled again! Turns out it was not only their satanic inspired ceremony, but also a sleep over for some of the folks...not sure (& don't want to know what that meant). The evening that began with a lie (birthday dinner v. religious instruction) was interrupted by truth. The words that flowed out of one who had been cared for, taught and carried through great dilemmas repaid with deceit and scorn...reminds me of Proverbs 9:8, "Reprove not a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, he will love you".  What boiled up out of the heart, aimed at a 14 year old girl standing on the porch, was nothing more than the fruit of bitterness, envy and lust. 
The real truth of Hanukkah is not found in the divisive covens of demonically influenced rebellion, but rather the illumination of Jesus Christ in the darkest time in history and in the world. The dedication of a temple cleansed from the prophetic desecration and the Light of the World being born for the world to behold God's Redemption. Sadly, as John recounts in the Gospel the Holy Spirit penned through him, " He came unto His own, but His own received Him not...". Into darkness, with revealing light....a light rejected by many because their deeds were evil. 
A hard lesson for the youngest; a friendship lost because the father of her friend chose to use the children as pawns in a game he wants to play but I remember the instruction God has given in Titus 3:10-11, "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned." and in Romans 16:17, "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." And so it shall be!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ezekiel and Christmas Trees....

High upon the mountain side of our family property is a tree, that if you viewed it today, you would consider it to be ugly and certain to die. For one simple reason, it has no top. The uppermost tender part of this tree has been cut down and hauled away. Yet the root of the tree, still firmly fixed and deeply rooted, has not given up, but rather will produce another top to this tree of the same DNA and the same root. Three times now this process has been repeated and the top of the tree taken into our home for what will be certain death, in the fullness of time. The cutting off cannot be survived by man’s efforts, for despite all its beauty and tenderness it will certainly die. And yet in this series of events, a great and awesome spiritual truth is to be remembered.

Ezekiel 17 paints the picture for me, far better than I can. In verse 5, a human king has attempted to cut off the top of an evergreen tree and transplant it in his own land.  The process, flawed from the start, results in the death of the top and the fruit that followed it. But something awesome happens in verse 22. God says “I will also take of the highest branch and will set it, I will crop off from the top of his young twigs, a tender one…and will plant it”. The tree, still rooted produced a top, with a tender branch, from the right root and the right DNA. This is affirmed in Isaiah 11:1- a Rod and a Branch from the root of Jesse; Yes, David’s daddy and the line of the Messiah. God accomplishes something man could not, but He’s not done. For in Daniel 9:26, we find that this Branch that is so well described in the prophets, will be cut off. He will die; plain and simple. The tree, like the one I cut off will be carved into a rough, cruel cross and the Messiah would shed His blood for me there. For all His innocence, tenderness and the power of God, He will die because He chose to. And because He chose to die, God raised Him up and gave Him a Name that is above all names. In His resurrection, I have victory & eternal life; because of His birth, His life and His death I have an Advocate and Friend with me all the time.

At my house we will have an evergreen tree this Christmas. We won’t worship it or even honor it, but it will serve to remind us of the Savior who was born in Bethlehem just over 2000 years ago on that twenty fourth day of Kislev (our December), as given by Haggai the prophet of God. No celebration of His birth is complete without the reminder that His death would ultimately be required. The illustration was not devised by pagans, but by God Himself and handed to us by Ezekiel; Personally, I think God knew exactly what He was doing….and still does! Merry Christmas to all!! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Church of Philadelphia.....

I am often reminded while cruising through the Book of Revelations of the stark differences in the churches written to in chapters two and three. While in many different schools of interpretation, many different assessments have been made of these churches, there still is a pattern that arises when all seven are viewed together. This pattern often repeats itself in the course of a single church as well, and the deciding factor of where a church will remain, in respect to the description of the seven, will be decided by where the church keeps Christ. If Christ is the center, the love of loves and the focus of all worship, the church will remain without correction, with commendation and without condemnation. If Christ is let go of, all hell breaks loose....literally. I've observed that recently in our own experience we seem to have entered a time corresponding to that of the Church of Philadelphia. A small church with little strength, but remaining faithful against assault. Not the pressing persecution of the church at Smyrna, but still a constant battle pressed by a unique group of folks. These are described as those of the synagogue of Satan and further illustrated by their claim to be Jews, which they weren't. At the first glance it seems that this must be a rather easily identifiable group, running around with their SofS (Synagogue of Satan) vests on, lobbing stones of condemnation at the huddling pitiful group of holdout believers. Certainly this must be easy to recognize, but alas it is not that easy. The Scriptural teaching regarding Satan and his minions (or ministers as the passage goes) tells us that they appear as ministers of light. Shining beacons of "good" behavior and social "righteousness", yet underneath driven and identifiable by their works. (And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 2 Cor. 11:14-15) Only thing missing? Christ, His Light and His Power! Now suddenly it is much easier to identify what is going on around the church at Philadelphia. There are those who, externally, look real good and nice, seem very religious and hold fast even to the practices of law and the Jewish feasts, but those are merely the reflection of the synagogue that they originate from. Their works will always give them away. Condemnation will always be their weapon of choice, for any of your choices that they don't like. It will not be enough for them to NOT celebrate Christ's Christmas, but they will HAVE to let all know that they not only don't do that, but anyone who does is pagan or religiously ignorant. They will ignore all that Christ has redeemed to live their lives in bondage, always reaching to bring others into that same bondage.  But note carefully the description in Revelations of those from this synagogue...they SAY they are, but are NOT. Not mere gentiles trying to become Jewish by practice, but trying to identify with God's chosen people for the purpose of promoting the master of their synagogue, Satan. One such member of this synagogue, practicing in the local area is well know for her adamant stance against any connection of Christ's birth to December, ignoring much of what Scripture teaches, choosing instead to follow the cult of the messi-venti-ussellites. These hold that any birthday celebration is pagan, any use of a tree for any purpose beyond firewood is pagan, any not liking what they teach are pagan and frankly all the churches and all the pastors not meeting with their group are pagan. So how do we know that they are not right? Easy, the works. The outgrowth of this cult group is loud condemnation of all outside themselves, filthy coarse speech among themselves and beyond, and a hypocritical stance on the education of their own. They feel that any time spent in the Word of God is dangerous while in the setting of the New Testament Local Church, preferring their own Nazarene Israelite (self declared) status. At the same time, they surrender their own children to the gods of this world in the educational arena for 40 hours a week. Youth group is off limits, but boy scouts is the way to go. Worshiping God in sincerity and truth, no bueno, but cooking up their own punk fueled remedy is okay. Yes, the door is open at the church of Philadelphia in Stirling and these of the synagogue of Satan will not shut it, because its key, the key of David, is held by Christ alone. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not nice like old so & so....

Finally, after two months the reasons begin to trickle out why the latest ones left. Now the leaving wasn't unexpected, just troubling in its timing. After giving free use of the facilities for a family run nuptial event, spending a huge effort of energy and time to get things ready for them, they decide to leave. Unfortunately, on their way out they also decided to steal a few tables for good measure (& who knows what else). But now the reason has come to light...I'm not nice like someone else and don't just let the poor kids eat on Youth Group nights if they don't show up till after the teaching part. Now this "policy" perception on their part was influenced by the statement made to several habitual offenders (ie. kids who don't want to participate in the Youth Group activities, but wait till dinner time to come in and get a free meal) that if they wanted to eat they need to show up for the whole deal. This happens to be a policy practiced by most rescue missions (which I guess must not be nice either by these folk's standard) that I whole-heartedly agree with. Our commission is to GO TELL, not go feed. Jesus's demonstrated great compassion on a group of 5,000 people and fed them, AFTER they had been following Him for days....same with the 4,000. Social gospelist love the feedings (nothing wrong with feeding needy, lonely folks) but stop way short of sharing the Gospel, so as not to offend. Our church was commended recently by a habitual customer of the feedings; 6 days a week free lunch and 1 night free dinner. He was impressed that we would come down and feed them; something he doesn't need,  he just likes the company. Oh yeah, nope,  he's never found Jesus in a personal relationship there, just sure likes those church free meal programs. Anyway, compounding the troubling nature of this latest "offense" is the fact that NEVER did one child get turned away. Each time they showed up and asked for dinner, it was given to them along with a short explanation of what Grace is....and more importantly, WHO Grace is!! So if that's not nice....sorry, there is a swine pen somewhere you're probably heading back to any moment now. Bye, bye!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beware the Judaizers!

Ever find yourself in a spot that you realize later you should have seen coming? Ever spend days, weeks and even years with folks to find out they are not who they appeared to be? Well, you're in good company!!
Paul interrupts a very encouraging letter to Philippi with a sudden, rather abrupt statement: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers". On its face value, in some small towns with an overwhelming (at times) population of canines, this may seem to be an appropriate warning. But further examination clearly reveals that the heart of this is pointed at the Judaizers of the day. But these were and are not restricted to the date and time of the Philippian letter, but still prevalent today in many places, including small towns with a plethora of canines.  They come in many packages: coy little, songwriting apostates; over exuberantly energetic mockers; massaging lawless builders, two faced judases and even rabbinical cloakers under the dominion of their Sara Silverstein promoting wives.  They work hard to draw, not from the lost, but from within the churches to build their followers. Taking to satiate their unsatisfied lust, using to crop up the house of sukkots and other huts, treading the Name and Grace of Jesus into the dirt for their internet fueled fantasies and religiousocity. Playing upon the innocence of those who long for social acceptance, providing a welcoming spirit as long as there is no debate of what is spoken or taught by the women driven their husbands. At the heart of the core members of these Judaizers is a woman led spiritual house in each case. Men who, like lost animals follow the every direction and speak the words prepared for them by the goddesses they serve. To beware of? Absolutely! There is a repetitive pattern in each case. The dependence on the Word of God is thrown out the door for dependence on the righteousness found in the law. But how can that be bad? Isn't the law of God good, one might ask. Absolutely, it is the best for doing exactly what God intended it to. Prove to man that you (man, woman, child) cannot, under any circumstances do of your own will and power, that which Christ would complete and fulfill in EVERY circumstance in His own power. That's why we KNOW we need a Savior! Paul makes this clear in the next few verses...all the righteousness found in the law is as rubbish (or in other words dung!). Measure it if you must, but the yardstick of measurement is Christ, pure and simple. No ifs, ands or buts, just Jesus! 
Speaking of Jesus....
Oh, yes I love to! And daily I find it a battle to focus on Him, because the efforts and energy of the judaizers draws hard upon the mind. They are so visible that to ignore them is not an option. To fight them, not a God option. To beware of them, absolutely the solution. To teach others the Word of God, always the best choice. I only pray that God will do to them according to their works, as Paul mentions regarding the actions of Alexander the coppersmith. May the division they have brought be held to their account. May the lives damaged by their lusts be restored by the power of God and be guarded from their attack. Beware the judaizers, my friends. They just might be headed your direction...or pastoring your local baptist church, or opening their own food/fun cult in your local neighborhood.
Speaking of neighborhoods....
Starting to look a lot like Christmas! Haggai the prophet three times lays out a day that will be a component of God's redemptive plan. A day in which God would set His choice as signet ring into the earth, to shake heaven and earth once more. That day? The 24th day of the nineth month (Kislev)....December 24th.  Yes, Christmas eve the birth of Christ! Thank You, Jesus!!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Redeemed or Re-Condemned?

One of the seasonal frustrations brought to light at this time of year is observing the effects of false teachers on the muddled masses of unanchored "believers". Calling them quote, believers, unquote, because it is never quite sure whether the change of heart has happened or whether they just have put on an air of religiosity for the sake of their social environs. Under the devious direction of their wool clad wolfess, they proclaim all taboo and pagan that doesn't fit her rigid formula of religious observation. I find it rather short-sighted, foolish and perhaps even sinful to reduce the Redemption that Christ died for to a mere wisp of soul, forgetting that God's plan of redemption will include all creation. A new earth, a new heaven, enjoyment of all that God plans for eternity free from the condemnation of sin in the context of Romans 8:1. But these ignorant and foolish would rather surrender all to the power and domain of really defies logic. We must (according to the dictates of Mara) avoid bright "Christmas" lights, even though Christ is the Light of the World and has come to shine in the darkness of man's sin and depravity so that the glorious light of the Gospel might show forth. I think rather, we should turn all the lights our electrical circuits can handle to make a bold statement that we Will shine in the dark. The only drab, dark places are those who huddle in fear of Christmas, gifts, lights and decorated trees.
Speaking of trees...
It is high time to remember that it was only the curse of sin that brought the beauty of God's creation to be used by man in their pagan practices. It is, on the other hand, the Redemptive work of Christ that allows us to be more than conquerors...I raise a tree to honor the tree's Supreme Designer, Creator and Maintainer...Jesus!! When He was crucified, He was stripped to the bare, placed before all to be mocked and spat upon. When He returns, He will be adorned in unmistakable radiance and shall all His creation be returned to its former beauty or replaced. This tree in our house is a reminder and a proclamation of the victory Jesus made, while hanging on a stripped tree AND more importantly, it is a vivid reminder that He too will return with all enemies under His footstool!
Speaking of footstool...
Biblically, it seems to be a place where the honor is given that is due the one who rests His feet upon it. (Contrary to the model in my living room where my feet barely come to rest, before it is stolen to provide seating for the hungry, restless brood.) Just a passing observation, but all those who reduce the work of Christ on the cross to a mere passing fancy, or make common the Son of God, have a place reserved for them....UNDER the footstool. Till all enemies....hmm, not a place I'd like to test out. I will keep the Redemption of Christ foremost in my life, honoring and submitting to the One who paid the Ultimate price for me, kneeling before Him, worshiping Him alone, not the works that I can do to please God.
Speaking of pleasing God...
The most difficult way of life for a believer is total surrender to Christ. The attempt of some to live the "law" to please God is a cheap substitute for complete dependence upon Him. So much of what would seem to make my life easier (especially in matters related to putting these times behind us) are off limits, danger zones and hazardous to my walk in Christ...why?
Because He says so! Not because it is written in a series of "how to's", but because the presence of His Holy Spirit makes it plain that I must remain dependent on Him, even when it hurts.
Speaking of hurts...
Yeah, it does! Not bitterness, just pain. The constant pain of torn relationships, lost friendships and shared strivings gone....yep, it hurts. It is prodded and torn open anew oft, to my chagrin, by the deliberate avoidance of the former "friends". I know that ultimately and practically, God is in control. His reasons for what has happened will be made clear someday, but for now I must remain, as He always requires, dependent on Him. Of course, there is a choice....Condemnation. But after tasting and seeing that He is Good (& God)....I'm leaving the condemnation to those who seem to revel in it. Yes madam wolf, you may have your little flock of sheep to eat for the moment, but the price required of you in the end will be steep beyond measure. And Eeyore, for the part you've played in this much will be demanded in the final accounting! Judas and Jezebel, I're just doing what you do and I wasn't paying close enough attention to recognize and stop it before it got to this. I'm sorry for that!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Smell of Hot Chocolate and Pine Trees

Few other smells bring quite as much to mind as the above mentioned. Sitting next to a freshly cut and adorned tree, smelling the hot cocoa and whipped cream being slurped around me brings back many, many years of great memories. Although this year has not added as much to the good memory category as others have, this year is too worth being thankful for. Too often, it is easy to be lured into a state of "it must be okay, because nothing bad is happening", when in reality much is happening all the time. Those who have planted seeds of envy are carefully grooming these plants into maturity while the calm days of getting along go by. Those who are mainlining the addictive drug of bitterness cherish these quiet years of riding the hater's train without being revealed by the times of testing and the rough track of trials. But praise God for the trials, thank Him for the testing! What was years of apparent growth and striving together would have been even more devastating to realize years from now that it was all just a game played by many much better than I. Assuming dedication and hard work was a reflection of one mind (and that of Christ's) was foolish and in many ways reflected ignorance on my part. For it is explicitly clear from the Word that trials and testing are God's plan in refusing to allow us to travel His path in apathy and complacency. He looks for those who are His and the trials are the opportunities He takes to sort out the flock. The goats prove themselves to be rather handy at self identification, given the right circumstances. An open throat, a weak believer, a wounded soldier and the wolves will strike. Wolves, both slim and heavy, male and female but all with a common set aside the grace of Jesus Christ! Plenty is offered by them to satisfy the social seeking "quasi-believer", in activities and social feedings, but little will ever be required in the accountability department, unless you cross their line....and then  you will be accountable, destroyed and discarded. The truth found in Psalm 106 is oft repeated, from a moment of belief, they turn to their own ways and lust for their own tabernacle to serve in...God gives it to them, but also gives leanness to their souls. They will never sit content to go their own way, they will continually pull and drag others into their abyss. But without satisfaction! Eventually, they will turn to destroying and consuming each other, but unfortunately, many young and innocent believers will be hurt and damaged in the fray. So, bring on the trial, Lord. Continue the test and see if there be any wicked way in me. Cleanse me and I shall be whiter than snow, create in me a clean heart daily! Thank you, Jesus!
Speaking of Jesus!
Yes, I love to proclaim His Word. Every page is a treasure, every sentence a full, multi-course meal. Thank You for coming to this earth; thanks for being born in the manner you were without pretense or fanfare. Thanks for allowing us to celebrate this day of your birth on the 9th month and the 24th day, as prophesied by Haggai. Yep, this December will find me celebrating Jesus, nothing but Jesus and All Jesus!! The rest can keep their Hukkah Huts!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heading around the bend...

In the constancy of life's changes, it often seems as if tomorrow remains just out of view. Like the display of a video driving game the path zigs and zags without warning at times. To successfully navigate the course requires rapt attention to what is just coming around the bend. In these days of many changes, what is just coming around the bend seems to bring no relief from the pressure of the last year, but I know that the end of the course is my Savior and so the road is worth driving, the race worth running. To paraphrase an old friend: "keeping our eyes on the mark, the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ" is the utmost goal. What tends to attack this deliberate focus is the small (or large, depending on the day) potholes just around the bend. They suddenly appear on life's screen, requiring swift and decisive action or it seems that they would stop all progress if hit head on. Too many times these potholes have turned out to be people, to my chagrin. If they were things, circumstances or other inanimate objects, it would be much easier to deal with. Some would merely require a slight shift in position to avoid contact, or some even would require just hitting them head on with a firm grip on the reality of life. But when people make up the potholes they tend to move, expand and contract and some even follow you around at a similar rate of speed causing constant tension. I have observed that when the local Public Works department handles a pothole they have a very specific procedure they follow. First, the pothole must be identified (cause, origin and extent). Then a plan is developed to repair....removal of loose debris, installation of firm fill, compaction and paving. The former pothole has no memory of being a hole, if properly handled, for there is no room in the former hole that is not occupied by the new firm fill and capped with the paving. The pothole is no longer...perhaps some remember where it was because they hit it once or twice before, but anyone else has no idea of what danger there lay. So it may be with the people potholes in life. The failure, betrayal and intended damage of their impact in life needs identification of the cause, origin and extent, then a swift plan for repair and restoration. Proper fill (God's Word), compaction (Holy Spirit instruction) and the paving (God's Armor) will handle any hole (person, place or thing) we then must just quit driving back to see if the hole is still there.
Speaking of still there...yep, they are. Why, is simple...the hole is not yet filled, compaction not yet complete and paving, still pending. It would seem that the Master Worker of all things public may still be in the process of removing loose, unstable debris from the hole. What appeared to be somewhat solid soil, turned out to be just someone else trying to get a free wedding reception. The seemingly stable massager and contractor turned out to be an avoider of taxes and a general scofflaws. The trusty trustees...anything but! The "pastor" of the local synagogue...collector of potholes and debris. The mousy bride...a source of Satan's influence.... And so the hole has enlarged and been evacuated, a process causing much concern as the hole seems to never be ending in its increase of size, but then the understanding comes that the hole must be free of instability or the hole will shortly appear again regardless of the appearance of the paving. I think oft of asking when will the repairs be complete, but then I am reminded that life IS the Goal just around the bend...and so, I choose to leave the pothole to the Master and just hang on as we are heading around the bend!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Satisfaction of a Hammer Swung Well

For many the success of a day's end is measured by the recline of the chair, the clarity of the big screen or the fullness of the stomach after dinner but for me, in this last month, I have found satisfaction is standing back up with a freshly driven nail beneath me. The dawn brings a new opportunity to race till dusk with hammer, nail gun and chop saw at full speed, pausing only for the essential victuals of the noon hour (which often came at 2:00pm or later). With the finest of crews at my side, a pile of lumber willing to be chopped, nailed and conformed to match the plans we have made much progress and accomplished a great feat. The boys may not like the beginning of the day, but at the end I have seen the gleam of approval in their eyes as well. So many offered so much when there was nothing to do, but when the day came to proceed it just was family left standing in the row of volunteers who stepped forward. And for that I am truly grateful, not only for the willing ones, but also for the confirmation that those who previously spoke only did so for their own good and the selfish need to hear their own words echo in the air. It makes life much clearer to understand who is not and who is!

Speaking of who is .... 20 days or so have produced the shell of what may some day be our house. God willing (and He has been so far) we will complete the exterior, roof what is now sheeted and place the lower roof trusses soon. The crew of young men, my sons, have proven themselves capable even if usually in need of a "small" amount of motivation. I occasionally catch them attempting to take over for me, in a very considerate manner to protect me from danger or the demands of a task they also could do. I am very appreciative of their presence, their help and for the most part, their attitude towards this monumental undertaking. Wouldn't trade them for anything. Much lies ahead and though we remain ready for the impending snow as a result of our collective work, it will nicer to see the metal roofing at its intended location doing its intended duty.

Speaking of duty....It seems at times that the future of the Stirling City Church remains very much up in the air and that is absolutely true. It remains in God's hands how much longer I continue, how much longer we can pay the bills and how much longer we can effectively impact this community. I still continue in my role, not in duty or obligation, but rather with great thankfulness that God has allowed me to do so. Every day and every challenge just reinforce the reality of the cost of allowing Christ to lead. No longer can it be what I want, when I want it and how I want it, but rather it all must remain in His plan, His will and His time. The separation of the goats who have moved on to their greener pastures of painted grass and calm water facades may or may not be complete, but the confidence that God is still in control will always remain the guiding force in all we do.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Countdown Interrupted!!

Just when I think things are headed to a screeching halt, out of the blue (literally) God intervenes and provides confirmation that the battle must continue....and so, continue it must! I've figured out long ago that to continue on with God's plan is always...I repeat, ALWAYS the best solution. I'd rather not stand in opposition to Him...EVER.

Speaking of some folks just never get it? You cannot EVER work hard enough, do enough EVER to impress God. The simplest action at the bidding of the Holy Spirit is more proof of Christ in me or you, than the frantic, determined, continual pursuit of the Law EVER will be. Sacrifice and offering He does not desire but mercy and the knowledge of God!

Speaking of the knowledge of is always amazing to me how some can dedicate so much effort and time to "study" of God's Word, and show so little understanding about what they study. Especially when mislead by a false teacher, and even more so when determined to study because of the bitterness towards others. As if they could, by effort alone, show the offender (in their eyes) how right they are. Out of context, twisted and distorted teaching just to fill the ears of the hearers with pleasant "scratching" for an itch that will never be satisfied...EVER! I wonder if the dark of their silent nights, they wrestle with the knowledge that they haven't moved any closer to "right" by all their efforts....hmm!

Speaking of hmm, or rather hmm, whop, whop, whop...the sounds of a gorgeous helicopter circling the landing spot and settling down to a picture perfect two skid landing. Yes, indeed...finally had the chance to meet the boss & his friends....great folks, great food, great fun and a great time had by all. The pleased look and positive comments were welcomed acknowledgment of a bunch of hard work and the potential for the future. I think this could be a good relationship....

Speaking of good wife. None better, no substitutes...she is a keeper for life! Great work on securing our permit for the house, now time to rev up my hammer and hit the boards. Full steam ahead....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

82 & now the economy "officially" stinks....

Until this last week the news had been bad; All across the nation news stories and tv specials have been telling the tales of woe, but until this last week it didn't hit home....until the death of the waffle, the Golden Waffle that is. The best ham and cheese omelette, the finest pile (literally) of hash browns and consistency...for over 11 years a consistently good breakfast meal on the occassion that I could get by and partake. Now the ecomony and the force of change has ended that era (or decade) Oh best to you, Kathy, Lisa and well wherever you end up. Noting the personal connection of being priviledged enough to officiate the wedding of Lisa & Brian will remain a highlight of the Golden Waffle era...but we must move on!

Speaking of moving on....

Again it was noted last night, following the Bible Study time, that the connection is just not being made. Lori thinks that in part it may be that when I teach it is in a manner or format that is too "high" (as in higher level) than the folks can absorb or understand. I don't think that it has anything to do with my skill or teaching style, but rather I see a resistance or reluctance of the folks to be taught. Sure at some level they like to hear or read the stories and they don't mind answering a few questions, but beyond that there is great resistance to digging much deeper and searching for wisdom and knowledge of the truth. And herein lies the rub! Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit spoke this about believers and their pursuit of Christ...."that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". In Christ are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; not just some or a few, but ALL. To seek Christ is to seek wisdom and knowledge. To seek wisdom and knowledge without Christ is a fool's occupation. The resistance noted last night may have centered around how they comprehended what they read, in the translation they read it in but at the heart of the matter was the willingness to be taught.  And the willingness to be taught comes from understanding that the pursuit of Christ is key, for from that pursuit (& finding) comes the knowledge and wisdom of God...Hmm...seems simple to me, but then again I am usually to blame for all dilemmas, both real and imagined! :-)

Speaking of imagined....

Not sure how to place this thought....Okay, it's a pretty simple idea, but it gets complicated rather fast, but here it is. In the middle of a rather straightforward study that brought us thru to the kings of Israel and Judah, people started showing up and getting saved. It became apparent that many of these had NO idea, (none, zip, nada) of Who Christ is, What He did for them and how to even find something in the Bible. I made a transition to "Discipleship 101: Discovering Jesus"....walking with Him as He calls the disciples, joining with them as they learn from Him and experiencing the challenges of giving all to follow the Savior and keep up with all He is revealing to them.....and here is where the "am I imagining this" comes that moment in time (period of weeks), the greatest resistence ever experienced began. Folks just went wacko...Oh yes, we've always had the "I got to get up and clean up now" problem and the "I'd rather talk to my neighbor" problem, but this was over the top. About time that the former pastor recognizes that something powerful is going on and verbalizes it....all....uh, hmm.....okay, "hell" breaks loose. I say this because it really, really seems like this resistance is from the influence of the enemy. And so we sit today, almost all who came in those days have left, some who were babes at the time have fallen away, the church is divided and the future looks awful it real or is it imagined?? To many of the folks, particularly those who have left, it was just ME getting into their business, where I had no right to be and the others see it as just a missunderstanding between us folks. Can't buy that!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

83 & then some....

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, 
  I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
   and I know I will not be put to shame. 

 He who vindicates me is near.
   Who then will bring charges against me?
   Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
   Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me.
   Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
   the moths will eat them up.

Who among you fears the LORD
   and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
   who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
   and rely on their God.

Now to be perfectly clear....I WISH that this could be 100% applicable to the situation I find myself surfing through....trying very hard to stay one board length away from the mouths of the sharks! However in the echo of what Jesus would do, as prophetically spoken here and DID do, I also find for the believer a reality of having Christ in us. When He is in us, the challenges of the accusers falls to Him; their charges are against Him just as He told Moses about the Israelites not rejecting Moses, but rather God. So in this I find some solace and consolation that my God is able and has proven Himself beyond capable of handling any accuser to their own disgrace not mine. My hope lies in being found in Him with no righteousness of my own, as it alone is the place that He will carry me.

Speaking of carrying...

The cross He carried is heavy, the cross He offers us is light in comparison to the cost of His, but still a REAL weight if attempted in the flesh. Only in the power of His might, the fellowship of His sufferings do I find the ability to shoulder it or even attempt to carry it, which, of course, requires movement. May I always be moving in Your love and remain immersed in Your Mercy and full of Your Grace, Lord Jesus!!

Speaking of Jesus....

I am clueless how He held His face like flint against the onslaught of the people and Satan's hoards. I find it impossible to even get beyond the consistency of soft dirt in the circumstances I now am engaged in. How He could or would take anything from anyone, when He alone had the power to stop it all, end it all and extract justice for every wrong is beyond my pay grade!! But I know enough from looking to see that I must be thankful for the fact that He did remain, He did take it and He did finish it once and for all. In that alone is the hope founded that I breathe. Thank You, Jesus!!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

88, 87, 86, 85...& now 84 days to go

Remember this, keep it in mind,
   take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
   I am God, and there is no other;
   I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
   from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
   and I will do all that I please.’
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
   from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
   what I have planned, that I will do.
 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
   you who are now far from my righteousness.
I am bringing my righteousness near,
   it is not far away;

Often lately it is necessary to remind myself that I have little power in changing others hearts and minds. God Himself often reminded the people of Israel (and us) that He is in charge, He is the Boss and He will do exactly what He plans to in present company and circumstances, I step aside to allow Him to do exactly that! If it is my stubbornness and rebellion that He seeks to change, then it is clear I shouldn't have been where I have spent these last 13 years as it onward we march.... Conversely, if what He is doing has to do with the stubbornness and rebellion of others, then my continuance may be an obstacle to that being accomplished. Once removed from the position of threat in their eyes, no enemy will remain to blame and it will be just them and God.

Hardest part passed without great travail....I was deeply concerned how the Papa would consider the decision to step down and away from this place. He showed great understanding of what my view was and considered that it may well be time to allow those to do what they will unimpeded by restraint. This thought sprang into my mind the other day when considering Judas...clearly a thief, but also a betrayer and coward. Jesus knew that if Judas had not come to the place of repentance and acceptance by the night they sat at the last supper, then it was time for Judas to go ahead unimpeded by the restraint of Christ. Mark Jesus' words to him...."what you go do, do now." Not, "I know where you're going and what you are going to do", nor "Let's sit down and discuss your eternal future based on your current temptation" but go do it. You've chosen it, you are giving yourself permission to deny the Holy Spirit's conviction and now you are free to go do what you have chosen to do. I think that Paul's term, "turning them over to Satan" is in the same vein. It is allowing them, unimpeded to procede in the choice of their heart and mind, because further talk and discussion will go nowhere!

So, what you go do, do now! Build your Bible study room, lure in the weak and immature with food and doing, feed the hungry (but not needy) in your own power and strength...practice your form of godliness, continue denying God's power and authority in establishing the church, the elders and the deacons and see what your end will be....there is no happiness here, just pain. Like watching a rebellious child suffering from the choices of their hard-headedness, so we will watch....but now we will see from a distance, no longer a source of competition from your perspective and most certainly no longer available as a resource for your self gratification.

Speaking of self gratification....

Or should I say, the lack thereof?? The famine ahead of us still proves to be a is available, but what will be the results of what we undertake? Do we pursue this as outlined by World Vision or amend to fit the capabilities of the youth? Either way, much to do and not much time to do it....

Speaking of doing it...

Business meeting for the church looming ahead in the near future....the financial part will not be too difficult, but a huge challenge remains of giving the now firm decision of leaving and setting the proper perimeters for it. Not answering the potential "why" question with anymore than the statement that the time is now and the time is right. It will be a severe test of my own desire (and the need to NOT do this) to tell the entire situation to all, from start to finish....but it cannot be. To do so would compromise the situation and provide additional fodder for the enemy to continue the division. Silence will provide the perfect environment for the others to realize they no longer have any focus to their bitterness and anger....we will not exist to them. And so it shall be! August 7, 2011, a date that shall live in....well, whatever happens is how it shall live!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

89 and feeling fine....

8 hours till an eastward departure up yon hill to the beautiful Park & the homefront of the battle....getting itchy feet already, but must stay the course till 4:00pm! Hopefully, this weekend will present some opportunities to make progress on some of the back work hanging over my head or at least dent the current work piled up before me. Read somewhere yesterday that your brain consumes about 20% of the energy you intake (ie. calories)...gotta wonder how much it consumes when you are in the middle of a battle that seems to occupy your every waking moment or at least fighting to keep the battle out of your mind? Feels like about 50% energy consumption in the good part of the days and maybe 80% in the darker times. What would it be like to truly not care? To never put an ounce of thought into the challenges of relationships and people dilemmas? Hmm.....not sure I'd like to go there...

Speaking of going there....

I was teaching the youth last night about the famine and drought currently occupying the Horn of Africa, specifically Somalia in preparation for their participation in a fundraising project for World Vision. It occurs to me that as they watched the pictures (taken from the local news of folks dying and children starving) that it wasn't really getting past their X-Box mentalities and their IPod thinking processes....just another channel to change. Wishing I had a large jumbo jet at my disposal to put these kids on and take them there....pretty sure that about 5-10 minutes spent walking through a refuge camp would clear up the affluency virus that most are infected with!

Speaking of infections.....

My hip is still sore from the gracious gift of the Dr. lady at Immediate Care. Anticef a la carte! or a la butt cheek! Either way, perhaps the toe will cooperate and things will get back to a normal state of mere degradation and not acute pain and agony. Hoping so anyway!

Speaking of hope.....

I'm sure hoping that God has a plan that I can't see and that at some point He is gracious enough to let me take a look. Running on empty and running dry is the norm on a lot of these days.  Too often its pretty gloomy in the forecast, but occasionally there is a break in the storm set and in those short glimpses of sunshine, the Son does truly shine thru. Of course, He is always is rather my immediate location and the impending circumstances around me that create a barrier to my basking in His Sonshine. The greatest of hope is for a restoration and reconciliation of all, but short of that the hope remains that God will make clear the direction for this weary pilgrim. I'd rather have His will than my comfort, but comfort is so foreign a concept these days when we are just looking for a breath of air to survive!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

90 and counting......

So what is it that causes a person that you help to veer suddenly away as if you have leprosy? Strange phenomenon, now three times repeated....and all are connected to each other. Wonder if I've tapped into a sub-species of humans who are deathly allergic to being associated with anyone giving them something or helping them out. Come to think of it....isn't that exactly what most recipients of welfare programs do? They take and want more, but speak in harsh and critical terms of the very government that provides for their daily existence...hmm! Or could be, of course considering who I am, that somehow the gift was contaminated by passing through my possession and the recipient is just protecting themselves from some nasty virus of friendship or brotherhood!

Speaking of brotherhood....

Especially as it relates to the relationship mandated by the change of nature when IN Christ; It seems so complicated and impossible for some folks to understand the nature of submission to authority and accountability that is required for Iron to sharpen Iron. Both must be present and focused on the task at hand. Both must be committed beyond themselves to the goal presented by the Master and both must see the authority of Christ and His Word as absolute. Not many do....hence the current circumstances and for whatever reason that God has determined, utter confusion and division!

Speaking of division.....

Having a hard time understanding why folks can't wrap their minds around the clear presentation that the Body of Christ requires discipline and accountability to the Body AND the Head, Christ. It is never presented in Scripture, nor entertained that we all should just seek out those who love us or whom we love and do our own thing with those. This is the root of error...affirmation of a wrong understanding is death to the holder. It further cements their position and their resistance to repentance is greatly increased by the well meaning efforts of other Body members who fail to see the absolute need for unity IN discipline as well as in love. The love of Christ NEVER accepts or excepts sin in the Body....or the pretense of those who try to imitate the Body relationship for their social desires. Religiousness as a facade is torn down, blown up and smashed to bits by Christ...and by the Holy Spirit thru Paul, James and other writers of the New Testament (as well as the writers of the Old). This "free form" christianity is doomed like Simon's attempt to buy the power of the Holy Spirit....I believe Peter said something like: "you'd have no part in this ministry because your heart is not right before God....for I see you are full of bitterness and captive to sin". In like manner....the dividers should consider their end! 

Speaking of ends.....

Don't let the news flash from today pass without consideration! Russia is now setting up to "mediate" the Libyan crisis. Giving Moscow lead in Libya is like giving Moscow Libya!! Of course in the nature of "ends" that may be exactly where we are headed in this case. Libya is one of the nations that must join in a collective effort to attack Israel according to Ezekiel 38-39. Russia appears to also have a part in that process to consolidate and motivate this action taken against Israel. Iran is already in the Russian fold, but Libya would be a substantial addition to the efforts. Time is getting short, time to wake up and smell the piroshkies......

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 91....or just another day?

 "For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the LORD; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water....well said, Isaiah and they live in my town!! Oy and how I wish at times that it was simple to disappear and leave all just to be what it will be. Years of work seem to be wasted, yet in a single, unsolicited conversation someone else will throw a spark of light into what previously appeared to be near utter darkness. Someone who is getting it? Who is being inspired by the Word of God, not empowered by their own lust to do their own thing? Is it possible? This is what brings the greatest challenge...was the statement made of affirmation or deception? A stumbling block or an encouragement? I guess that depends on the source and not the speaker, so time will tell.

Speaking of Time...

Amazing gal, my wife is...29 years with her and she still impresses me often! She took the bull by the horns and wrestled it all the way to Oroville, back to Paradise and to Oroville again to lay it on Caesar's table and it appears we are on our way to building again. Three weeks will tell whether this is just another futile exercise or a productive venture with God's blessing. Although the building department could have been gentler in the fees, doing the project with the rendering of Caesar's complete seems to be the right way to go. Of course, based on past experience and futile efforts on my part, not always so sure. Gonna have to get eating on the wheaties for sure!

To Famine or not to Famine, THAT is the question....

Okay, why aren't things just cut and dry? A simple idea, seeming good at the time has now escalated into the latest, greatest vehicle of offense. When someone asked me about looking at the materials for this project, did they mean look at it, give it back and get out of the way? Or was it please do it and let us help at the fun parts? Or perhaps even, we don't want to do this, but we signed up for it and we'd like to dump it into your lap now? Either way, in my "usual misunderstanding-please help me to understand" method, I now find myself in the wrong spot again. I need to gently return this idea to its originator, but without the offense of- "here take your stuff, I don't like it" being perceived as the issue. The advice of others pulling this one in other directions hovers about in the brain as a potential issue, but then to decide and act on possibilities and "I thoughts" is dangerous as no action? But that would require continuing in the action begun and unfortunately the kids thought it was a great idea....especially the build a hut and spend the night part. Oy vey, now what???

Random thoughts...

Watched part of a video clip in which some Pakastani Talabani dudes execute 15 other Pakastani dudes, just because. And it occurs to me that the fall of man and the sin nature is so embedded in this world, whether in Pakastan or America, that there really is no hope whatsoever....apart from Christ. With that said, the greater danger is when men THINK they have Christ, but they continue to live out the desires of the flesh and its lust just like those Talibani dudes. I'm sure they think they are just preserving the "right" way of living, doing the honorable thing and standing up for the "truth". Same with the pretend believers, for whom Christ is a nice lifestyle and a warm social concept, rather than the reality of Christ living in and directing our lives. His determination to stay the course is so far beyond the reach of the average Joe church attender. Now unfortunately the Talibani dudes have bought the lie of their father, Satan and murder is second nature to them...but is it any different from the murder of character and person that occurs daily in the "civilized" Christian circles? Who is your daddy after all????

Monday, July 18, 2011

July: like I like it!

Almost hard to fathom...morning mist rising from the ponds, cool soft breeze blowing gently through the trees; Can this really be July? Well, I shall enjoy each moment as best I can while it avails me the opportunity! Performed a wedding Saturday, shook hands and looked in the eyes of bitterness locked in the facade of a former friend and "so called brother" (in Paul's use of the phrase) and picked up an abundance of cigarette butts after the wedding outside the church. Retreated to the Park for the rest of the day and enjoyed a well needed nap, before closing up for the evening. Sunday presented another opportunity to deliver the Word of God, but unfortunately it seems to pass right through the ears and over the heads of most.
Found a recipe for some one's idea of a remedy...2 parts discarding the Word of God, 2 parts rebellion, dash of false teaching, stir with the affirmation of the clueless or purposely ignorant and serve to the weak and unsuspecting; pour into a container of non accountability and embellish with a good dose of something modern and soothing to the ultra-contemporary crowd and you've got a new dish of have it your own way if you don't like it God's selling dish, sadly!
Too much to do in the days ahead and much too little energy to complete all, but such is the way of this life. Laugh or cry, we're in for the long haul or the next 92 days, such as it may be. Much to be disposed of and organized....who in the world collected all this junk anyway?

A Time to Build....

According to Solomon there is a time for everything under the sun including a time to build. The dividers in our town are proceeding with a building project to have a place for their Bible Studies...or church services, such as they might be. Their current studies include: How to abandon the parts of God's Word you don't like; How to live a facade of Grace while enslaving under the Law; Living 7th day law while pretending otherwise; DIY Amputation of the Body of Christ; Good Food, Good Feelings for all and also, How to Live Unaccountable to God or anyone else.....Sadly, it is my fault that this has occurred as I must have been delirious to think that anyone would actually care about and submit to the authority of God's Word and His structure for the Church, His body. And I accept that responsibility.....

A Time to Search and A Time to Give Up....

Yep, Solomon wrote that down too! Searching has been a constant for the last 5 1/2 years every time the issues of bitterness, jealousy and envy arose among the dividers. Again, sadly the fault is mine and mine alone...Had this been nipped in the bud, many "babes" in Christ would still have a fighting chance. I can only hope that the Chief Shepherd is merciful, as this shepherd finds himself at the end. Stepping down and letting another shepherd step in has now become essential to preserve the growth in the few that are growing. The observers and churchy folks will continue to do what they do anyway, wherever they are or whoever is leading. Regardless of the choice of the others, responsibility for allowing their actions in a place of authority is mine alone, when there were (in hindsight) clear problems according to Scripture's qualifications for leaders, teachers, elders and deacons. So under this sun, the next 92 days or so will be by necessity a time of transition, consolidation and damage control. With God's grace and mercy, which I am in desperate need of , we shall make it to the end.