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Tidbits and Mindbytes

Small bits of words crammed together to form thoughts, with a taste of opinion.

A study on Malachi 3:6-12

When we claim to serve God, and only give a small portion of our tithes and offerings to God, He declares we are robbing Him. What kind of tithes truly rob God? Is it just money and material items, or is it something deeper at work?

Verses 6-7

                With these verses, Malachi is telling the people that have left their one true God. Then he describes how they have done so; by turning away from the decrees or the Law. This has made the people become separated from God.

How does this work for us? This means that if we have accepted God but have willingly and/or willfully chosen to wander away from his Law and Person that we are sinning. It also means that sin builds up and causes each generation to go further and further from God especially when we are giving hollow offerings and tithes to the God of all Creation. Malachi also says that because we are faulty and fallible humans that cannot perceive our own consequences to the choices we have made, our hope is that the God that created us all is not and will never be changeable. His constancy and longevity are what make His plans and purposes eternal and solid which enable Him to keep every promise He has ever made by His Word.  So than why is it that we sin? Because we who are human had chosen long ago and still choose to this day our own paths. We can break our word to God, and as we do so we drive ourselves further from Him with each choice in the manner of self service and self-devotion. This means we are the ones turning from Him, and hiding away in the sin of our lives. However, He is awaiting our return and will embrace us again.  This is our salvation that we must return to God.  Re-turn. Turn ourselves back to God in a manner that He can embrace in all His holiness. But, how can we return?

Verses 8-10

                God answers with another question, “Will a man rob God?”

This is perplexing because God is eternal, all powerful, and does not require our wealth. He is indeed someone who has the entire universe as his possession and all in it is His. Therefore, how could a man rob God? This clearly is implying the sin of an ungrateful and greedy heart. But it is also implying the brokenness of the relationship with the Creator. We can see this from the language in verses 6-7 the sin is robbing God of His chosen people. Thus, the result of shallow practices and forms of worship and lifestyle have brought a curse of God upon those who practice this kind of ‘religion’. And the worst curse God has placed upon us all is to be cut off from Him. This is the spiritual death that occurs because of sin.

From verse 9 we see that all this built up sin and false worship, has robbed the storehouse of God. It seems God’s storehouse is running on empty. We think of storehouses as places to store and keep food, clothing, goods, and other material possessions. However, the storehouse of God is supposed to be crammed full of the universe –what would make it run on empty? Because it is the spiritual storehouse that God is referring to here, not the material. It is the supernatural storehouse of God, not just the natural storehouse.  That is not to say God’s power and realm is totally dependent on mankind because He indeed has all authority, power, sovereignty, and all the rights of the true king.  But, what is being said is that we have our part to play in the distribution of God’s power on earth.  In this case, God is lacking the believers in Him that are truly praying, worshipping, and seeking out Heaven on Earth as it should be.

Here on earth, the Temple represented God’s spiritual storehouse on earth. However, the sin in the people had caused this storehouse to leak and lose the blessings that God intended for His works and people, letting them fall into a dead land that was just taking away all the blessings.  We can look it at it as the Leaky Bucket Analogy.  We walk to the well (which is God) and dip our buckets (our prayers worship etc.) into the well pulling up water (blessings) but little did you notice that hole in the bucket. As you walk back to your home, the water leaks out the entire way onto the ground and is gone. By the time you get home, there is nothing left.  What does this mean? With the sin in our lives unrepented and the shallowness of our relationship with God, we have a giant leaking hole that bleeds out all that God has to offer which is material and more importantly the immaterial. The restoration of broken relationships, and healing can only happen when God’s storehouse is full.

Therefore, it is not just about giving money and materials to God. Even the hollow and shallow can do that, the unsaved can give away all their wealth and property. The sin is thinking that by doing all the ‘giving’ is how the blessings flow from God and that it is the way to get God to do things our way or for us. That sin is great because it hides the real reason we give. It is the relationship to God, the time invested into Him and His will that makes the blessings flow from heaven and it is from a grateful and life full of gratitude that we give our ‘material’ to Him. From a realization that all we have flows from Him, automatically makes us surrender our clutch on the material and the immaterial.  For a truly blessed and abundant life, one must be totally and utterly deeply rooted in a relationship with our Father, and we must place a high value and deeply desire that relationship. It sounds easy, but it requires a heavy price to have that kind of relationship with God; total and complete surrender to Him and to live in His definition of holiness. It takes praying, reading His Word, singing praise and worship, and sacrificing our will to His. It is more than just demanding from God what we want, but asking for and doing what He wants. It is not just the mere empty actions of an entertaining person that gains the heart and blessings of the Father, but a child who is learning and living dependent upon Him that receives deeper blessing and true prosperity.

God doesn’t need our material items; He already has them all for Himself. He demands a true and deep relationship with Him in all holiness and purity. He is the author and finisher and therefore He desires His creation to wholly His in all aspects of a spiritual and physical life. As Christians we are to be the Bride of Christ and we need to truly KNOW Jesus for us to be His Bride. Would you marry someone you had never known? The Church has currently lost her way, and is lacking in her knowledge of Jesus and knowing Him. There are ideologies, and different social pressures and requirements that have generated a waywardness that led to sin. We are a lot like Israel’s tragic history with God, but like Israel God calls to us to return to Him. He called to them over and over, as we see through the Old Testament especially in the Prophets writings.  Malachi hits on this in verse 7.  The return is to REPENT. That means cast off and leave behind that sin. Turn from that and return your eyes to God. Turn from your selfish, self-deluded, and worldly ideas about who God is and what He desires, and get to know the real God. Return to Him. Give yourself wholly a new to Him. This is through constant prayer, praise and worship, and studying the Bible. Restore your relationship with Him and then He will open His arms wide open and throw open the floodgates of Heaven.

Verses 11-12

After God has thrown open the floodgates of Heaven, after all of us have repented and have cried out to God, and sought to restore our relationship to God by turning away from the sin and disobedience that is when God will move. He will be the one to restore the rightness of a unplagued world, where pestilence is no more.  He will provide the life and bread of life for all who have called upon His name and repented. He will make water flow in a dry and empty spiritual land that is thirsty for His presence.  Only then will He turn to His people, both futuristically and presently in the Body of Christ.  But so long as there is leaking bucket, the presence of God will not be sustained.  The leak will bleed out and dissipate the presence, because all sin and any kind of it that is unrepented will create the leak and make it larger. It provides the footstep in that the Opposer needs to bring down the blessings God has prepared for His children.  As Christians, Paul in his letters encourages us to not allow such footholds and strongholds to form because they damage our relationship with the Creator and Father.

Mark 2:21-22, Matthew 9:16-17, and Luke 5:36-39

But when we are truly seeking that right relationship with God that the leak will cease. But it is interesting that God is not going to just patch up the leak. He will provide us with a new bucket. That means we can’t just patch up and old ways and hope they work. Jesus spoke of this in the New Testament with his parable of the wineskins.  However, He does not get rid of the old bucket either. He uses it for bringing glory to Himself as a sign of what He redeemed us from.  It becomes a piece of our testimony of how good, kind, and great our God is. Which than tells of how He has created and Redeemed all the old and the new.  That is how God uses our time of return and repentance. It is a reconstruction of the heart and relationship. Thus His tithes and offerings are more than just the materialistic buyoffs that are so often given by people today. It is all about the gratitude for our relationship with Him.  If you zoom back out on Malachi 3:6-12, you see more power in the scripture than just the ‘material’ tithes and offerings but it is the relationship and the heart behind the giving that is being stolen away from God. This makes the Scripture more powerful, and potent by explaining more about what is really being robbed away. But God is not finished there.

Luke 21:1-4; Mark 12

In Luke, Jesus notices the differences in the people who are giving. It is not the quantity of wealth being given which drew Jesus to notice the widow giving her all. It was her desperation, her broken life, and in her lack hoping above all hope that God is going to provide for her. It was the hope in her relationship with Creator that drew Jesus’ attention. She gave what she had in a manner that brought noteworthy praise which in turn Jesus rebuked the wealthy givers- not on the quantity of what they gave, but their heart in giving was wrong and did not hold the Lord of Israel, God of Jacob as true King. We can see from this passage it was easy for them to walk in a drop a large sum of money and leave thinking they were okay with God.  However, were they? Luke alludes to that they weren’t. Greed had overridden true gratitude and akin to the priests of old, they were consuming the fatted calf for themselves rather than giving it to God for His glory and honor.

What does this mean for us?

Your money, your wealth, your ‘blessings’ may not really all be blessings in the manner we think they are. You might be in the depth of poverty of the soul.  The poverty of the soul is where God is not alive, nor are you in a relationship with Him. However, it is this very relationship that needs to be the concern of our Christian walk.  From the repentant and God-centered life will flow deep seeded gratitude.

Tithes and offerings were designed to be given with a grateful heart. One that truly knows God and wants to see more of Him. He blesses those in relationship when their heart is truly centered on God. From Malachi we learn this. We see God calling His people to return through repentance. Many people can hand over material goods but God is calling for your time, your soul, your mind, will and emotions to be fixed upon Him. God truly isn’t looking for your things; He is looking for your heart’s condition. When you restore the proper vision of God, that He is your sole reason for your universe’s existence, you begin to understand the complexity God offers to you through giving Him all your GIFTS.  Not just the material but the immaterial gifts and talents, your time and energy. The whole person giving with a grateful heart to the Lord.

Fast. Pray. Repent. Praise. Pray. Fast Repent…these are parts of drawing closer to the God of all heaven and earth, to the Savior of all, the Lord on High. As we go through this cycle, God reveals in us the sin and destroys it.  But all the while we should be studying and reading the Scriptures where the God is speaking most clearly to us, and praying in the Spirit so that we may grow in strength, power, purity, and hope.  It draws us deeper into the cycle, and we repent more readily. It opens the lines of communication to the Creator, and it helps those floodgates of heaven to flow through us, His people. As a nation that is gleaming to the world the hope of salvation found in Jesus.

Therefore, true prosperity is not found in the richness of the material wealth but in the richness of relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father above.  We must remember that the true greatest gifts we have are salvation, redemption, and life eternal that God has given us through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.  The relationship with God should be and is the number one priority of a Christian because we should be living our lives as the sacrifice, the living sacrifice to the tithes and offerings of our walk with Christ. To only give the material wealth lacks the necessary components for a deep relationship with God. He is looking for your heart, for that is where your true self is. So, even if you’re giving and attending a church, if He cannot see your heart you have turned from Him and are in sin and rebellion. Which means that you could outwardly be doing all the right things but are lacking a right relationship with God because of your reasons for why you are doing ‘all the right things’. Are you doing out of a heart and desire for God? Or are you doing it for other reasons and motives? You could be doing them all without God as your reason, like Israel had over and over again. And like Israel, you will find yourself in a barren land.

An empty and robbed store house means an empty and robbed state of relationship with the God of all creation. If you’re filling your storehouse with a desire after God’s heart, you are filling your relationship with the God of all. It is difficult in an age where everyone is connected to anyone by instantaneous actions to see beyond the superficial connections and alliances that we make. It damages the longevity of a deep, formal, loving and spiritual relationship with God and people. It distorts our perceptions of what it means to ‘know’ someone, and what a ‘relationship is’.  True long-lasting connections and relationship are not instant. Superficial and haughty relationships are instant and fall away just as quickly.  Relationships develop with spending real time, and quality time with another person or people. You don’t make relationships based upon social networking, true relationships develop through the pitfalls, the downsides, and the upsides, the valleys and mountain tops of life. Shallow relationships develop through the moment, and can easily pass away. Therefore, when we are dealing with our Creator, are we looking at the depth or are we seeking our own best interests? To put God in the way many Christians have, a distant and disconnected being, we have limited His relational value to us. This is where another large sin resides, and is part of why in Malachi 3 God is calling out to a broken and desolated nation. Not only has Israel been robbed of their material blessings, but they as a people have gone wandering in the desert again. Malachi is trying to call his brethren back because he knows the value of true repentance is the restoration of relationship with God.

By spending quality time with the Father of all through fasting, praying, studying Scripture and worshipping Him through song and praise as we live our lives out in the world, we begin to restore and build up our relationship with God and our faith in Him. Faith is a correlation of our relationship with God and is what drives our walk. The weaker the faith is, the weaker your relationship to God is. The stronger the faith, the stronger your relationship is with Him. To strengthen both requires attention and time, like all true relationships. God, our Father, requires us to spend quality time with Him. God moves in the deep, personal, broken messes that are our real lives. He knows all of our sins and failures, but He is slow to anger and is a just God. He is a kind and enduring King who is fair to all (Joel 2:13). He desires to meet us down in the depths of our darkest corners and shine light in there to reveal to us His love, and our true dependency upon Him for all things especially our weaknesses.  To refill the storehouse of God, one must return to God fully. Our relationship with God is the factor that determines our spiritual state. If we are dry and parched, there might be something we need to repent of that is leaking out the blessings that God has for us. If we are in abundance, are we being deceived and hiding away our sins?

God still moves through our sinfulness, don’t mistake the power that God has for dependency on us. He does prefer to work through us, and therefore will use all means necessary. Because the storehouse also represents those who know God, and are His children. Through our relationship with God, we are being the lights to the darkest world where God can draw in more people to Him and create a larger storehouse of faith and fellowship. That is why the tithes and offerings are simply just an outward expression of all the gratitude we have for what God is doing, and for our personal and long lasting relationship with Him. It’s not because we wish to be solely blessed, but because we have a far more superior gift in Him. It is the conduit for more and greater blessings to flow from not the means. God is the means and control and power and authority behind all things on Heaven and on Earth.  Apart from God, we can do nothing. Tithes and offerings simply reinforce our relationship with Him, and remind us that He is the one who does all. Our lives are the offering and sacrifice that God is using for His glory and that means we need a deep and personal relationship with Him.  Pray.  Study. Sing. Repent. Pray. Live for Him.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in: aim at Earth and you will get neither.”  Through our right relationship with God, we tithe our time, our materials, our talents, and we serve in accordance to God’s will. This must all first and foremost be founded on a deep, personal relationship or else it will all be empty and hollow forms of worship. The tithe and offering is simply us recognizing our deep seated relationship with God, and we can serve Him by giving to organizations and people where our money will serve the best and be broadcasting the Gospel around the world. The truly good news is our relationship with God is personal because Jesus came and died for each person. We make the choice to enter into that relationship. Your relationship is the storehouse that God is seeing robbed, and empty. Not the material tithes and offerings, but your relationship to Him.  Repent, and return. That is the call and prayer for us all.

 

Summary:
1) Your relationship with God is the focal point for all things. Not what you do or how much you give, not even your Church attendance is the focal point. God ultimately doesn’t need your ‘materials’ He wants your heart, mind, soul, and a relationship with you.

2) As our relationship with God increases, we give and serve out of a desire to return what He has done for us. This in turn allows us to spread the Gospel.

3) We are lacking in relationship because we have allowed sin to carry us away. Therefore, we are tossing money hoping to pacify God. We are doing the routine hoping that God is pleased rather than investing time with Him.

4) The fix is praying, fasting, repenting, and drawing closer to God rather than living like we always do and wishing for the best. The best is to get to know God personally, and deeply.

5) Then all the other things have true meaning, and are a sign of our deep, close relationship with Him. This the focal point, and all our ‘works’ become ‘right’ because of the focus.  Prosperity is the relationship with God not the money in the pocket.

6) Stop judging your giving as the size of your ‘relationship’. Faith is the correlation to our relationship with God. Weaker Faith, weaker Relationship with God. The stronger the faith, the stronger the relationship with God is. Faith is believing in HIM; and anything else.

7) Aim for Heaven. Stop focusing on Earth you’ve lost sight of God. Restore your relationship with God and everything else falls into place because we are focused on Him not on the problems of the World.

 

 

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Thoughts on Writing

Hello everyone,

Yes. The year is now 2017 and I still haven’t posted very often.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Writing”

Elections

Hello all!

Long time no posting! Sorry, life catches up to you when it’s your senior year and you’re graduating as a teacher. Yes, I have a wonderful job teaching kindergarten in a rural school. Primarily Spanish-speaking children, but there is also a dual-language school within my school district that also meets the needs of dominantly Spanish speaking children. It’s a been an adjustment going from West Coast Washington, to Eastern Washington but God has his plans, and above all he orders the World in which we live.

This brings me to the elections. Yes, they have finally ended. Yes, Trump is in the White House. But, as Christians, does this really matter in terms of ‘who’s in control?’ If you are finding yourself answering yes to this question, then we  should talk more. Because in all honesty, that means your faith is not growing. You have begun to live in a Worldly bliss of what self-indulgence, negligence to your relationship with God which allows for you to worry that Trump is President. Nervous, sure. Change is always unsettling. Excited. Absolutely, because it’s a new beginning. But worry? Worry is a sign that you aren’t letting God be Sovereign.

I have found a new Church, one where I find myself being able to talk relatively deep on topics like politics. I have found that peace comes from knowing that Presidents are ruled by the Soverign God, even when it doesn’t seem to be. I had the delightful time of talking with one of the ladies in the church on Sunday. We had just finished praying and I found myself at even more peace than before we prayed. I was trying to talk to her about having that confidence, and it was great to hear a voice much like my own in the fact that God is in control.

Read all of Daniel 4 because it is worth a good read to remind yourself who truly is in control. But I am excerpting from Daniel 4: 28-37(NIV), which is the end of the chapter.

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.  Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”  Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.  You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”  Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 

At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High;I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
 All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Let’s put this in perspective. Nebuchadnezzar was not a great and awesome ruler. He was horribly corrupt, he was willfully destroying the Israelite people, and he was an enslaving master. He worshiped false gods, and he worshiped himself as god, but he was also great at building cities, master minding world affairs, and negotiating. He was plagued by what he thought were nightmares, and he often summoned people to help interpret his dreams. Daniel, was one such person and because Daniel sought the Lord Almighty as Sovereign, he often was called upon for the accuracy and finality of his interpretations. In short, Daniel had knowledge beyond that of the mere men masquerading as having a gift of foresight, discernment or even interpretation. Daniel also had a deep relationship with the Creator of the Universe. It did not allow for him to quake, it gave him peace and security.  Compared to the shaky earthly king, Daniel had nothing to fear for God is sovereign, even over the most cruel of rulers. The vile king had another such dream, and Daniel had revealed the meaning. At verse 28, we see the actual action of the dream take place: Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled his own curse. He was brought down to insanity, driven into the wilderness to roam the lands until he acknowledged the true authority of God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. He was made mad by his own ego, and self-aggrandizement. God brought him to his knees. God dealt severe penalty to the cruel king. God reclaimed the honor, and the title, and the worship for himself.  We don’t know what happened to the kingdom, maybe they experience a time of peace and refreshing. Maybe they were partying it up, and celebrating…all we know is that God dealt swiftly according to his promise and humbled Nebuchadnezzar before all people. This meant that ultimately, God is and was in control.

So, how does this apply today? Because no matter who the President is, the real power is not found in the office of the President but in the Sovereignty of God. He has who needs to be in office there, and he has ordered the world as we know it again. Once you come to realize that the true power is not the person in the political seat, but the God of the Universe over everything, you will find peace in your soul, hope for a future, and understand that He works out all this according to his will for our good. God, the Sovereign lord of the all, the one true God, is not afraid of any person on this Earth. He will bend people to his will if he decides it’s necessary, he will break people like the ocean breaks on the shore…

Do you still feel worried? This is my challenge to you: Find out how big your God is. Is he a tiny, boxed in God that you just call on as needed, or is his truly the ruler of the universe, the Sustainer of all that is right, and your everlasting father? Do you have your relationship with God squared up and away? Are there really big leaky holes in your walk that make you lose your Spirit and fill up with the World? How often are you talking to God? What is your prayer lifelike? These are the things we have to understand before we can truly address the issue of “who’s in charge” really. Once you have the right perspective, than you can see clearly that no matter the elected official, God has not changed. He is the ultimate, sovereign, unsurprised, unchangeable, center of all our Christian walks. He is the true source and the one who makes the rain fall on the saved and unsaved a like. He is concerned with our needs, but already knows the beginning and the end. There is nothing that catches God off guard. Not even Donald Trump winning the election. If necessary, God will do like he did with Nebuchadnezzar…

Read Daniel 4. Take heart. This too shall pass.

 

Nah, y’all got this. You know you don’t need to worry right?

dan4-neb-field

Caption: This beautiful image represent the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar. Think of the most richly adnored king, going to this state. That, is how awesome and powerful our God is.

 

 

 

Uneducated Praise and Worship (a work in progress)

Uneducated Praise and Worship: Why it may be better for the Church.

Nowadays, many of the Churches across this nation seek out praise and worship leaders with bachelors in music/liberal arts. However, as they have sought out this prize, they have also lost the passion and conviction that has come with true praise and worship. In the Bible, we do not see the college educated leading worship, we do not see the great psalmist David having a master’s degree but a sheep farmer by birth, nor was John the Beloved more than a mere fisherman. Most of the men of the Bible, that led, were given their talents by God and in turn gave them back to Him. This does not mean they were not educated, they were not professionals. They were not looking for their degrees, and not hired based upon them. They were all educated to what may be middle school or high school education. Most of them had apprenticeships, and other forms job training, and only the Priests and the family of Levi had specific training in the “worship” of God—as was done through Levitical texts. Thus, when David, the Psalmist and King, was writing his music for God, he was not looking at his pedigree, but looking at God for who God was. He was actually focusing solely on God alone.

Thus, a true worshipper does not think of themselves at all. Their true heart is to praise God with all their heart and soul. Yet, too many churches are leading by performance which focuses on the pedigree and talents of the ‘worship’ leader. They have to fit a certain style, and look sleek, there must be fog machines and other concert material. They also must have their BA, and even a Master’s if they want to get the big bucks, and most of them are paid…turning worship into a job. However, this is the outward symptom of an even larger issue within the heart of the Church.

Have we turned Christianity in a profession? Professional pastors, professional worshippers, professional janitors? Where is the confessional, and imperfect, and the outcast? Have we ever considered that we have taken our faith and focused on ourselves instead of God? In all reality, we have lost touch with what it means to be Christian. Christ is the reason, and Christ is the only reason we should ever bear the garments of Christianity. All other reasons, make your faith shallow or invalid. If it is not Christ alone, then it is not Christianity. It’s true, most people don’t even read their Bibles because they get their feel good injections of Gospel on Sunday. The Gospel Innoculation, is what I have heard it called among my Bible professors and I have watched the changes in the way we approach God. We have become so us focused, that we have no shame, nor guilt, no fear or awe when we approach the Almighty. We just barge into His throne room, and make demands of Him like He owes us something. And since our focus has been us, is it right to call us Christian anymore at that pace? The Church in America has absorbed too much of the culture, and not enough God and Christ to really be of use. There are too many self proclaimed, overly educated, unSpirit-filled, narcissistic people who have taken over worship (and other leadership positions) to lead the people not to God, but to themselves where they build up their own little kingdoms. And this is why the Church is all wrapped up in the humanity of it all, instead of focusing on God’s will and commands, and She avoids it as much as possible.

CS Lewis once wrote, “IF we aim for Earth, we never succeed. But if we aim for Heaven, Earth will be swept up in the flow of love from the Father down to Us, and our love back to the Father.” Since the Church is so focused on “fixing Earth” instead of “glorifying God” we have lost our perspective, and indeed have even become the Lukewarm Church.

Revelation 3:14-22

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ” [1]

Revelation speaks about this Lukewarm Church, and what we are to do in order for us to be redeemed. Can the American Church do it though? Can she toss aside her desires for the materialistic, and power, and prestige that comes with being ‘known’? Are we truly able to repent, and willingly repent? Can we bend our knees and pay homage to the Almighty Creator in whom all life is truly found? Can we put God back on the throne in more than just pitable words? Can we cling to the Cross, and find our first love again returning to what it means to be a true Christian? I see many people call for a Revival, but until the Church recognizes her faults, her sins, and her persistent lack of true worship…There will be NO revival until she does this and comes to her knees in more than haughty worship that they did in the synagogues at the time of Christ. She the Church, has been tarnishing herself by accepting sin, and turning a blind eye to it.

No, legalism is not the solution, as it drives people from the Gospel, but there is a deep need for correction and counterbalance. We need to quit focusing so much on ‘saving Earth’ but worshipping God. We need to lose our desire for power, and look for our God as our Source. We need to return to being lover of Christ, instead of coveters of Gold. Honestly, I do believe looking that the face of the Church today, we deserve a lot of the harsh criticisms that we receive from the public, about hate speech and not being true to ourselves. It is in fact a point that we need to examine as the Body of Christ in America. Are we actually being Christlike? Once we have come to terms with the absolute lack of Christ in us, then maybe we can begin the process of returning to worship that is true to the heart, and of the heart that wants to be closer to God rather than closer to our own little kingdoms. We need to stop seeking only those with titles, degrees, and sleek appearances to lead us into worship and to feed us as a flock.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 3:14–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Sleepless

Sometimes, my mind turns on and a million questions flood and keep going.
Sometimes a loud noise or sudden sound will awaken me from deep sleep and then my mind wanders and goes down the infinite bunny holes it can create.
And then…there are the times I fall asleep slowly and just don’t really sleep and a quiet noise pulls me out it and I stare blankly at the ceiling wondering about too much and not enough to make my mind go silent.

No, I don’t have insomnia. I just lose sleep once in a while…
And tonight is one of those nights…
It happens.
But now I have to try to get sleep before the dawn breaks and I don’t know if my mind will cease for a bit….
Too many questions run amok in my brain and the person I want to ask them all to doesn’t even know I exist or  ignores the fact I do…like I am some ghost.
It makes me ask more questions.
Deep questions emotional questions things that I don’t have answers to.

Sleepless I am tonight…

image

There are moments that can be suprising like beautiful flowers and bees being strange…

Leap

This is a small poem, currently I am faced with a lot of challenges in my life and this has just sprung from it all. Hope you enjoy this new poem: Leap


There are times I wonder,

Something doesn’t feel quite right,

Maybe I will just flounder,

Or something out of might…

Drifting aimlessly across the sky,

Dialing in old lullabies,

Alien among the sheep,

Maybe I’ll take that leap.

Slowly the mind wander,

Bunny trails and fingers nails

Lead me to ponder

Will he ever read those mails?

Sadly, and definitely I’ll never know,

Only through the show,

Yet here I write, and pen goes on,

Till the break of dawn.

Drifting aimlessly across the sky,

Dialing in old lullabies,

Alien among the sheep,

Maybe I’ll take that leap.

That leap of faith and trust,

Where I’ll find myself strong

Courageous, and embolden much,

Waiting till the night turns to dawn again

Thinking about my Thinking

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 

Colossians 2:6-10


Thinking about thinking can be a mundane thing. However, I have come to realize that my own thought patterns are rife with types of philosophies that I have little to no interest or understanding of. I think that is due to the nature of culture in America. We absent mindedly absorb other people’s interpretations of facts and information that may not hold to the true doctrines of what Christianity should be. There are many ideas that are not necessarily void of truth, but they only present a half truth. One of the professors here at Northwest University often quotes his Dad’s saying, “It’s easier to accept a half-truth than the complex full truth.” And now, I find myself wondering how many of those half-truths did I accept? How many of those half-truths have kept me from pursuing forward and hindered me?

But half-truths are a start to knowing more. Half-truths are bad when you let it just rest at that. Half-truths should spark a fire to know more, and I have found that is what many of the half-truths in my life have done. Only ever getting one side of the picture paints a picture half way. You need the other side to understand fully the complexity that is Truth. So, all my time at Biola was preparation for this task. It was foundational information that was missing key pieces, the Pentecostal side of all the theology. It was great for the basics, the understanding of what the Trinity is, and all the ground work, but it always lacked the Pentecostal side of the theology as if the Pentecostal side was not ‘truth’ but rather a misinterpretation. I have found, as I look back over my notes and thoughts from those classes, and I ultimately struggled with it because there is always another side to the coin, and the students were not receiving the other side. If you want head to heart to action kind of faith, you need to embrace the Pentecostal side of theology. It explains and fills in the gaps, but if you want to live a life that is not full of Spirit Empowerment, and your daily existence is all reasoned out—by all means do not approach the Pentecostal side of the theology. Pentecostal Theology extends the application to experience, and what God actually does in our lives. It’s not just this concept you learn and master to pass a test or say that right things to the crowds as you preach. It helps us to bridge the missing gap.

I was once asked by a professor on campus at Biola how to get head knowledge, into the heart and from the heart into hands/action. I now know the answer to this question. It’s through the Holy Spirit empowerment of our knowledge that breaks through to the heart, where God stirs a fire deep within our souls, and from that we begin to move. We need the experiences of life, to break our mental constructs. We need to have these ideas challenged by the fact that God does not work within the boxes that have been so predefined by ‘theology’.

Just because we think we understand or know…does not mean we have knowledge. Knowledge is truly something that is acquired from God, and by knowing Him in all his Truth, including the Holy Spirit who lives and moves and empowers all believers. Something that kind of grieves me is this concept that we don’t need the Holy Spirit empowerment.

The Holy Spirit is something that Jesus said we needed. The Holy Spirit was given to all believers to empower their walk.

“But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to comeHe will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

John 16:5-15

 

How can we say that the Holy Spirit was not given for empowerment? How can we deny that the Holy Spirit was given with the same authority that Christ has, and that authority is declared to us through and in us as the Holy Spirit dwells in us? How can people begin to say, “I believe the Holy Spirit is just for sanctification, and that miracles do not happen?” How is living a life of misery glorifying to Jesus? Did not Jesus come to set us from that kind of life? Trials are to be expected, but we do not have to be miserable during them. Yes hardships will come, but we don’t have to be the victim of circumstance. These are the things that the Holy Spirit just gives us, but we can go beyond that as well. With the empowerment of the Spirit, your own faith grows more, and the evidence by the bigger steps you take in following God’s footsteps for your life. So, I say again…What good comes from people denying the empowerment of the Spirit?

The more I learn about Pentecostalism, the more I realize that the Holy Spirit is desperately needed for this Age because this Age denies Him. There are many people who live with only a Dualistic God, and deny the Holy Spirit in practice. Their words say something different than their actions. We need to get back to living like the God that we serve is a Triune God. The Holy Spirit is empowering us daily with the wisdom straight from Jesus, with power straight from Jesus, and is our direct source of strength. But we also need to remember that Peter’s shadow healed people, that Paul’s presence made the demons quake. The power and Spirit of God does not keep us part of the group but separates us from it. “We are not of this World, but in it”, “Already but Not Yet”, “Redeemed”. The allure of us will now be the Christ, the Jesus of our Salvation. There is something about accepting the mantle that Christ has given all of us, that makes us different and because we’re different we need to point to the source—Jesus. Who better to help us than the Spirit who has a direct line to Jesus? Why not have that ability 24/7. I am reminded of the song by Newsboys, “I’ve got Your Number”. We have Jesus’ direct pager, cellphone, snap chat, Skype, and all the other ways we connect when we are Baptized and given the empowerment of the Spirit. We have a direct line with JESUS. Really, think about that. A direct line, a link, a tie—we have been connected to Jesus. Dial me up now Jesus, and how often do we forget this? Prayer. Study. Live. Prayer. Study. Live. This is the way Christians need to live their life, and I am guilty of not following this part of the walk. I’m just as guilty as you, but we can take a stand and ask Jesus to empower us to change these behaviors. We have to truly want it though, to live life in submission to Jesus is a light yolk compared to the burden of the law’s judgment, but it’s still a heavy yolk. But with the Holy Spirit’s power living in us, it becomes more and lighter…because Jesus is walking with us the entire time. As we follow God’s call on our lives, we shall find that if the Holy Spirit is active in life, the things that used to trouble us so much will fade away and our fiery passion for Jesus to be exalted will grow more and more…

So—have you thought about thinking yet? Thinking is something that we all do…have you thought about yours? What are those gaps in your knowledge that the Holy Spirit can help you overcome through empowerment?

 

My prayer is this:

“God, help us to understand our thoughts and actions. Help us to turn to you, and become empowered through the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we do not have the Holy Spirit, Jesus I ask that You help us to seek Him and become aware of our deep need for him. Thank you for the direct line to You, where our strength, hope, and future come from. Give us our daily bread, lead us not into temptation, help us to forgive others, and help us to move the kingdom for Your glory. Amen”.

Why I like Spring...

You see, spring came early this year. And it’s beautifully sunny, and warm. Spring is not like it has always been in the years past, with days of dreary rain and spotty sunshine. This year so far, spring has been more like summer than ever before. This photo, although older, reminds me of what it was like several years ago, that even in the rainy springs, there is beauty abounding. Beauty is something that is always present, even when the sky is gray.

So, Spring reminds me that beauty is what God is and that He created this world to be beautiful. It reminds me of why Jesus had to come, so that sin could be removed, and we are restored to God. Without God, the world look bleak and ugly…
So, this is why I like spring. 🙂

Photo by me, 2012

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