Posts from the ‘Living It’ Category

Today

Today too many people are living for the great “I” instead of The Great “I AM”.

Dig Down, Don’t Run

Do It

The Bible is not merely human words. Vast amounts of the Bible are quotes from the mouth of God. Much of the Gospel of Matthew is teachings from the mouth of Jesus. Much of the writing of the prophets is made of quotes from God to them, or the record of the visions/dreams that God gave them. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, is “the revelation of Jesus Christ…to his servant John”, and consists of dreams.

Despite that, a number of years ago a group of “scholars” decided what Jesus was really like, and anything in the Gospels that did not fit their intellectual assumptions was discounted as mere human words.

Paul challenges this kind of academic exercise, teaching Timothy that the Bible has value beyond human thinking because “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures. They have the power to give you wisdom so that you can be saved through faith in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things” (2 Timothy 3:15-17 GW©).

So stop giving interpretations of The Bible; stop “making applications to today’s world” and stop picking verses to prove the doctrine to which you are already committed. The Bible points out this error. It corrects such human thinking. It trains you for the life prepared “to do good things”.

The Bible is not a textbook of mere knowledge, but an open channel with God for action on the front-line of life.

Do it; don’t think about it!

Opinion Is Killing You

Be Content

During our morning devotions today this came into my mind:

I am not spiritually weak because of this pandemic, and I am not obsessed with gathering in person with others who name Jesus as Saviour to get back to “normal”. God has not left me during this time, nor left me without an abundant supply of spiritual food. Indeed, I have never felt alone nor unattached to the people of faith in my life. A strong binding has kept my spiritual comrades close to my heart, in my mind’s eye and in thoughts and prayers.

And then this thought entered the process, one which has both intrigued me and encouraged me for 17 years:

In the Ojibwe language there is no word for “good-bye”! Whether someone is physically present or not, the connection remains intact over time and distance because being face-to-face does not determine the depth of affection and attachment to the people in our life.

The Words of God in the Bible are even more lively and penetrating (Hebrews 4:12) than ever before as I am given a clearer vision of the heavenly realm and reign of Christ on earth.

“So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!…Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!…The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable…I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:1-13 God’s Word Translation©, selected).

We do not need others in order to live with Christ, but we need The Spirit free in us to live with others!

German Police Smash Darknet…

I just read this in Tanzania news:

https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/tanzania/news/international/german-police-smash-darknet-child-porn-network-with-400-000-members–3385874

Faith in a Worldly Culture

People underestimate how they are manipulated and controlled by culture. I am not talking conspiracy theories here. I refer to the habits and customs that surround us and which we follow without thinking about even when they turn us into an anti-Christ. This cannot be overstated.

I will speak only of the Canadian culture here (though it is part of what is termed the “western culture”). We have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This particular cultural institution has become the foundational motivation for congregations that refuse to follow public health orders during the pandemic. Their claim is that they have freedom of religion in this document which means they are exempt from any law which they interpret to persecute their customary practice of religion. Notice that culture plays a double role in this fiasco.

The congregations are enveloped in a subculture that defines worship as meeting in a certain place at a certain time, and they define this further to be the primary definition of their identity. As prisoners of the wider culture of “rights” they use the secular laws to demand their religious laws as having priority over their responsibility for each other, inside and outside their circle.

This use of rights is entirely selfish. They refuse to see this because that would mean reviewing their subculture of privilege, that their right to act their way is superior to all other “rights”.

Jesus had the right to a fair trial, a right which was denied to the Christ. So did Jesus appeal the kangaroo court? Did Jesus whine on the cross about personal innocence and the injustice foisted upon the “Sinless One”?

No, because secular rights, won or argued in secular courts (or even religious courts) betrays an attitude of mastery or control instead of servanthood.

Here is the extreme example to verify the stand of the Bible (Matthew 5:40-41). Jesus taught that if someone sues you for your shirt, give them your coat also. If you are compelled by a military or civic power to carry a load for one mile, then carry it for two. “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).

If a public health order suspends the “right” of congregations to meet en masse in their precious edifice, then the congregation should not only obey it, but over-obey it somehow.

Instead we have self-righteous religious fanatics demanding their “human” rights to reject the teaching of Jesus, deny their community responsibilities, publicly declare that they have superior rights to others in the culture and forfeit the role of serving in their arena of operation.

What is their justification to abandon what identifies people as followers of Jesus instead of self and culture? They are heroes (self-appointed, alas) who are fighting for the human rights of all religious and spiritual people! I don’t need that. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31b).

Even If

Even if the fig tree does not bloom
and the vines have no grapes,
even if the olive tree fails to produce
and the fields yield no food,
even if the sheep pen is empty
and the stalls have no cattle—
even then,
I will be happy with the Lord.
I will truly find joy in God, who saves me.

(Habakkuk 3:17-18 God’s Word Translation©)

Vital Versus Vapid #4 – Ministry

Teachings that are about Church organization, human authority, religious rituals or cultural requirements cannot be used to shape righteousness (“doing the right thing for the right reason for the Right Person [God]”), even if they seem to be Biblical.

Another teaching that is not foundational is the so-called Five-fold Ministry. “And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct]” (Ephesians 4:11 Amplified Bible).

This verse describes various functions within The Church, not a teaching that is necessary for salvation. Therefore, this teaching must be used with caution, because:

  1. This teaching occurs only once in the Bible, and is therefore more likely an answer to a specific problem at Ephesus (while things like Christian love, humility, servanthood, and giving glory to God alone are taught repeatedly and have no expiry date);
  2. The Greek of this verse can also be translated, as some versions attempt, that the last role in the list would be written in modern English as “pastor/teacher”, one person whose function is explained by The Amplified Bible translation “to shepherd…and instruct” (so there might be only four ministries listed here);
  3. These functions will not continue into eternal heaven as we will have no need of such an organizing principle when we live with Jesus face-to-face (whereas God’s grace and love will continue on forever, foundational to salvation);
  4. Misused, these functions become titles which the spiritually weak use to “hold absolute power over” those who are even more spiritually weak and undiscerning (“Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26 God’s Word Translation©).

    Because this structure is conveniently helpful does not qualify it as foundational.

Godly Protest

How do I know when to be a protester? I have protested against the government, very publicly, and this is the basis I follow for knowing when to protest and when to adapt. This is not theory, dogma or philosophical thinking. This is what I have lived, and God grant I will never lower this standard.

  1. If I gain any personal benefit from the successful outcome of the protest, it is wrong to proceed. If I gain then my actions may be (or become) selfish, and even if only the appearance is that I stand to gain, then my protest is not driven by God.
  2. If people affirm my object, and I am energized by that, I cannot proceed. Right is right, and if I need human compliments to be strong in the cause I have no cause that comes from God.
  3. If I gain fame or notoriety from my actions I must stop. The cause is not for me, and if I become the focal point of the protest I have lost the purpose. For example, during a protest I help organize the media wanted to interview me. I had to decline assertively as they did not want to take “No” as an answer. Another person, who had no role in the protest at all, came to the scene and basked in the media coverage, gaining brownie points for advancement. That was as it should be.
  4. If people oppose what I am doing this is to be expected. If I stand for a godly cause and purpose then evil people and religious zealots will become vocal and actual enemies. If religion supports my cause I stop. God does not work through religious institutions, who have power, but through The Spirit whose purpose is to bring glory to God alone, not through financial, political or cultural clout.
  5. If at any point I trade humility for pride in what I am doing, I am compelled to cease. Human pride, close-minded confidence and disregard for spiritual wisdom from Scripture mean I am off the rails.

I have never published this testimony before, but in the present age I felt led this afternoon to be vulnerable and make this known.

May God “receive glory and honour and power” (Revelation 4:11).