Yeshua or Jesus?

 

“When I say the Greek word Jesus in all my Montanan English influenced vernacular and accent, everyone in heaven above, on the earth, and below the earth, knows who I am talking about. . .”names-of-jesus-color-wallpaper

Several years ago Donna, my Father in Law Ralph, and I went elk hunting together. We spent the night at Donna’s folk’s farm house so we could leave the babies with Grandma as we left in the wee hours of the morning. We headed up to the Mill Creek drainage south of Livingston, the three of us sitting in the front and only seat in Ralph’s Chevy pickup with our tags in our pockets and our guns in the rack.

It was a day made in heaven. The ground was covered with fresh snow and the sun was shining. We headed into the back country on logging roads, hiked a few trails and before we knew it we had two elk down, a cow and a spike. With a little ingenuity on Ralph’s part, and a lot of rope, we had both of them loaded in the truck and ready to go home by midafternoon. It was indeed a blessed day.

After stopping for a bite in Livingston we’re headed home tired and a little sore but very content, Ralph is driving, Donna is sitting in the middle and I am riding shotgun, probably half asleep, when all of a sudden we are starting to slide sideways on an icy bridge. Ralph cranks the wheel and we start sliding the other way, and suddenly we are fishtailing down the Interstate doing 65 miles an hour or so. It all happened very quickly and I remember having three thoughts.

The first was, when Ralph cranked the wheel trying to correct the slide and sending us the other way was; “What are you doing!?” The second was, “No, we can’t wreck with elk in the back of the truck!” Apparently I was worried we would lose the elk. And then I had this picture in my mind of us overturned in the borrow pit beneath a pile of blue Chevy Pickup metal and Elk meat. Not a pretty picture. Which brought on the third thought; “It’s going to take a miracle to get us straightened out now.”

This was all in the few seconds it took to fishtail four or five times and I cried out, with my hands gripping the dashboard, a one word prayer, it was all I had time for, and I honestly don’t know if I said it out loud or if it was just in my mind but it was definitely fervent and heartfelt—that one word prayer was; “Jesus!”

And just as soon as that, suddenly the truck was headed straight down the road like nothing had ever happened. I looked at Donna who was wide eyed and white a as ghost, but okay, and then I looked at Ralph who had a white knuckle death grip on the steering wheel and his eyes glued to the road ahead like he was afraid if he looked away it would leave him again. I don’t remember much after that except a general relief and a feeling like we had just cheated death as we spent the rest of the trip unclenching our posterior muscles.

Donna and I talked about it later, both of us realizing that we had just experienced divine deliverance. I kept running through it in my head thinking, ‘well maybe we just hit a dry spot and got straightened out,’ but, I knew in my gut in the middle of that fishtail that we were beyond the point of recovery in that slide, and if we did suddenly hit a dry spot in the road it should have just sent us rolling.

It was an experience we never forgot and I know without a doubt that just the name Jesus! —uttered as a cry for deliverance when there was no time for any other words, was what saved us that day. No other words mattered and certainly no other name would have done the same.

“Jesus”, there is certainly power in the name.

 

I call him Lord

Jesus, I love the name, it brings to mind the one I love more than life itself because he loved me more than life itself—and gave me his. The more I know about him and the longer I walk with him the more I treasure the sound of the name.

I had someone ask me a couple years ago after hearing someone make a big issue about how we should be calling Jesus by his Hebrew given name; Yeshua, what I thought about that. I told her; “You know what? I was introduced to him as Jesus, I have called him that ever since, and he seems to be just fine with that.”

Seriously, I prayed to him by that name and in that name for salvation and I was saved. I asked for the baptism of the Holy Spirit in that name and I received it. I have been healed, and have prayed for others to be healed, in that name time and again the healing has come. I have squared off with and defeated the enemy in that name.

And I didn’t lose my elk, my wife and my life on an icy road near Livingston because of that name.

That name Jesus, in my mouth and in the mouth of all I know who have met the Nazarene has power beyond what we can even begin to grasp, if we just believe that power is there.

The power in the name, whatever name we use, is in the title that comes before it; whether we speak it all the time or not, as long as it is implied and accepted in its fullest sense of the word. That title is Lord. “Lord Jesus.”

Lord, that is the most important name and the one that puts the power in the name that we have come to know him by— whatever that name is in your tongue and culture— as long as it is signifying the Son of God who came to be born of a virgin from Nazareth and was crucified and raised bodily from the dead to return to the right hand of the Father.

So let’s not get hung up on the annunciation of the word, the power is in the person of the Son of God behind whatever pronunciation fits on our tongues. In fact, I like that we are commanded to be baptized in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost; no proper names there, yet there is no mistaking who we are referring to—there is certainly no confusion in heaven.

To me arguing about what name we should call Jesus is like arguing about whether your kids should call you Father, Dad, Daddy, Papa, Pop, Sir— whatever, who cares? As long as they are calling you something, acknowledging you, respectfully, lovingly and personally.

Sometime long ago my daughter Jessie started calling me “Sir Papio.” When she says that I know who she is talking to, and my other girls don’t get all huffy and say; “You can’t all him that, you have to call him Daddy.” Even that isn’t my name, my name is Dan, but it would be really weird if they called me that.

Even my wife Donna doesn’t call me that often, unless she’s really mad at me or needs my attention in a crowd. She calls me ‘Dearie’, and I answer, in fact I prefer her to call me that, Dan is for the rest of the world and when she is talking to the rest of the world about me she then calls me Dan because then they know who she is talking about.

Many at work call me Swany, and the same person who is called all those other things comes to mind when they do. You get my point here? It’s not the accuracy of the name—unless your filing your taxes— it is the person who comes to mind when the name is spoken. And the one who answers to the name being called out.

When I say the Greek word Jesus in all my Montanan English influenced vernacular and accent, everyone in heaven above, on the earth, and below the earth, knows who I am talking about and with that name comes the full power and backing of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

 

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I Am The Warrior

Against me evil shall not stand, before me evil shall fall. I do not fear the darkness nor the storm, His hand shall stay me—strengthen me, guide me.  I fear no one, I am the warrior.I am the warrior

I want to delve into a topic that has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now and that is trying to get a grasp on the reality of the war that we are in, a war in which we are called to be warriors. It is a war and a position that was never meant to be, God did not create us and this world with the intention of having to see us through storm after storm as we fight off the onslaught of evil at every turn.

When God was done creating he declared “it is good.” Then he gave us dominion over it and we allowed it to be stolen away from us when we chose to listen to the enemy, to Satan over the creator. We were not meant to live in a constant state of war, in a world that is in a state of decay.

But that is what creation has become because of the free will he gave to those of his creation who had the capacity to discern right from wrong, obedience from disobedience. Because evil was too often chosen over good, a strife inevitably arose; death against life.

But because God is love, and life, he could not leave us defenseless so he put in us the capacity to fight for what is right, and then he took the additional step of winning the bigger war for us, life overcoming death through the cross of Jesus Christ, but the battles and the storms still go on as the world continues pretending or ignoring that victory and the God who offers the spoils of that victory, life, not just life but abundant life in every sense of the word.

But not all the world remains ignorant, all who have chosen to believe are given the gift of faith, the ability to find joy, strength and hope in a thing we cannot see or touch, even when the evil around us still seems so powerful and pervasive. In short, we have the Kingdom of God residing in our hearts even while we are living in a world still ruled largely by darkness. But, just by virtue of who we are and who lives in us, we are light, so we do not need to fear the darkness.

But do we—do we fear the dark?

And that is what I have been thinking about and in reality, what I have been trying to get across to my church for years; that we have nothing to fear from the enemy, we have nothing to fear from this world, if we really understand who we are and who our God is. That’s where the warrior thing comes in. No one wants to have to fight, fighting is not good but because we were created for good, to do good works, and by a good God, when the bad comes against us or those we love, that intense love for the good that lies within us rises up with a passion and a fury that says ‘no! You cannot destroy what God has given me, you cannot destroy what God has entrusted to me. You cannot hurt those I love.’211d54bdf15b0ddc0f887cc8a1fa3d74

Thus you become the warrior of a necessity. Just as surely as the American soldier goes to foreign lands and lays down his or her life, even taking lives, to protect the good land and people he loves and cherishes. Not because of a desire to do violence, but because of a passion, a deep seated driving need to protect what is innocent and good. A good soldier who willingly fights for what is right knows that if a sacrifice is not made, their will soon be nothing left worth fighting for.

So it is with all those who love the Lord, those who know that if the truth is not defended, if we do not stand strong in our faith and defy the tempest, there will be nothing left for God to say of—It is good.

Victors or victims?

So, tentative warriors, I have to ask you: Are you living a life of fear or a life of confidence? That is the question we need to ask ourselves to determine whether we are the conquerors or the vanquished, the victors or the victims, the warriors or the cowards.

Storms will come, hard times, troubles, persecutions, heartaches—they will come, or they are already here. What do you do with them, what do they do to you? Do they cause you unbearable anguish or is your heart still good. Do they cause you to run or hide away in fear or do you face them head on knowing that whatever it is, it can only be temporary because in the end your God is still in control, still on the throne and you are his child.

You represent him, but more than that, you carry his very Spirit within you—how can you possibly loose, how can you possibly be overcome? —you can’t.

Unless you run or cower in fear, even then your defeat is only temporary, your victory postponed because in the end good will always triumph, love conquers all and our God is both of those things. God has already won the victory through Jesus Christ, He made a mockery of the devil and his demons and nullified his power over us—all he has left is fear and lies—the lies he tells us to get us to live in fear because, truth be told, he- fears- us.

14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. (nullified the charges)  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. Col 2:14—15

“No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” 

Wanna Be Somebody?

Slide2

I want to start out with a simple statement, one that will make no sense nor hold any appeal to any except for those who are committed and fervent in their desire to follow Jesus, those who love and know the love of our Savior. That statement is: A true servant must die to self.

What that statement just did in your soul is an indicator of how you are tracking with the Lord because that is indeed what we are asked to do over and over throughout the New Testament, all of which echoes and expands on the words of our Savior. Our title verse is an indicator of that. “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

It is just human nature, self-preservation even, to want to be served rather than be a servant, to be first rather than last—we all want to be somebody, but our notion of what that means is very skewed.

Garbage

It’s a tempting and an easy snare to fall into, thinking you’re somebody. I was in the bathroom at Hope Center one day. A bathroom I had built in a church I had drawn the floor plans for and then headed up the remodeling as the foreman for the General Contractor that did the work. I was standing there as an ordained pastor, something I had worked long and hard for. I was the head of the children’s ministry in a church I had helped start, had 30 or more kids team volunteers serving under me and all the kids loved me.

I had people telling me how wonderful and wise I was and everything I did seemed blessed. So I am standing there in the bathroom between services after having just washed my hands, looking at the nearly full garbage can and thinking “someone needs to empty that, that is unacceptable.” I then reached for the door handle ready to go do God’s work and dazzle the kids and teachers with another great worship session when I heard a voice in my spirit say—”Why don’t you empty the garbage?”

When I heard that it hit me like a ton of bricks and I knew it was from the Lord. And I was convicted; the Lord just asked a simple question, he didn’t have to say anymore. My conscious took over at that point and I asked myself: who do you think you are?

I emptied the garbage. And you know what? I am still emptying the garbage. Every Sunday, after every one clears out I help my wife empty all the garbage cans, and the diaper genie, before we go to lunch. And trust me, in a church with as many little ones as we have, emptying the diaper genie will keep you humble.

We all want to be somebody, but who do we want to be, and why? If I get to be too important to take out the garbage then I am somebody I do not want to be and certainly not honoring the one who called me to serve, the one who really is somebody.

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus said this. And Jesus, the one who is asking us to be first by being last, to lead by serving, to worry less about ourselves and more about others, was and is certainly somebody—yet he didn’t just ask us to be servants but he showed us how to do that. The humbling of the King of kings and the Lord of lords is a lesson we must look to and keep reminding ourselves of lest we get too full of ourselves and bristle at the notion of being a servant.

So let’s look at a picture of Jesus in the New Testament.

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Rev 1:14—18

Now picture this; the King of glory kneeling before his followers wearing the garments of bond servant, slipping off their sandals and washing dirt and dung off of their feet. Feet filthy from having walked miles and miles of country roads and city streets where animals roam and chamber pots are emptied into the dust to be churned up by countless feet and hooves.

 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,  rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet. ( John 13:3—5)

 

The apostles were aghast, no doubt the heavens were as well, as those myriads of angels who knew and worshipped him in his glory now looked on and marveled at the humility of their maker. Jesus was now clothed in humility in every sense of the word.

On this evening as he washed the feet of his chosen ones he was of course making a point, one he had been trying to get across to his followers for years. We think we know what that point is—but do we really get it?

—Who do we think we are?

Certainly not who we are supposed to be, humble servants of God and one another. Children of God yes—but the children of a functional family who move in the role of a child in a family God has ordained, obedient, respectful and diligent in doing our chores, learning to serve and share. We are all brothers and sisters, none of us any better than another. We are all God’s favorites and he would lay down his life for each of us—and has. He asks us to do the same.

That’s the big picture point Jesus is making with the foot washing thing.

Wanna be somebody? Then be a servant. . .

Slide1

 

 

 

 

Barbarians in the Kingdom

Slide1Following is the Introduction to my latest book, enjoy! —

When I first did the series this book is based on for my church back in 2014, I struggled a bit with whether or not I should. I had contemplated it for a few years actually, ever since the earliest days of our church plant in Red Lodge, Montana, because I just felt like a barbarian; charging forth with little finesse and even less real direction, at least from man, when we started Hope Chapel. I knew in my spirit what I was supposed to do and, as those few who came with me know, we just made it happen—they even jokingly referred to us as the barbarian church. Fighting, it seemed, against even our own denomination who seemed intent at the time to make things as difficult as possible for us.

“Maybe we should just break free and be an independent ‘barbarian church’. . .” Was the sentiment that the handful of brave souls that helped me plant the church only half-jokingly sometimes expressed in frustration. I knew I did not want to be out there without any covering or accountability so we stuck it out and kept paying our tribute to the ruling council in the motherland out west (to put it in barbarian terms)—and I’m glad we did. Our denomination has since gone through some major, God-ordained changes and things have gotten better, and much simpler, which was all I really wanted and what we all needed.

So anyway, the barbarian thing had been on my mind for some time but I just wasn’t sure it was biblical. I mean, barbarians aren’t usually thought of as exemplary citizens worthy of anything but disdain. What redeeming quality does a barbarian have that would make him a worthy topic for a sermon, let alone a series of sermons? Will people think I’ve lost it? Well, a couple of years ago, this son of the frozen barbarian north was fasting and praying about where I was to go next in my teaching and the Lord spoke to my heart, assuring me it was time to tackle the barbarian thing. As I prayed and sought the Lord further on this—“Really, how does that preach?” I wondered—he explained to me why it was important and showed me that it would preach.

The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to how it really does speak to who we are, why my own ministry exists, and where I believe the Spirit is directing his church. In a nutshell, back to the basics, to what’s important. The Lord impressed on me three things—barbarian qualities—that exemplify why the kingdom needs barbarians to rise up and be heard in the church if it hopes to survive till the end.

The barbarian exemplifies:

Simplicity of purpose

Singularity of mission

Determination of spirit

It was this that convinced me that the church needed to hear this barbarian’s message. I am glad I followed the Spirit’s lead because this turned out to be one of the most empowering things we have done in our church as far as advancing the kingdom of God goes; lives were changed and hearts set free. So here we go again—this time with you along—storming the gates.

“Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight” (2 Sam. 10:12).

(From Barbarians in the Kingdom to be released this fall)

Hope is a Promise

 

Down but not out.Slide1

In 2002 in the prime of my life, or so it seems looking back, at 41 years of age, I was as strong as a mule, had a good job, three kids, way too many pets, and a wife at home depending on me to provide, I was in the middle of helping start a brand new church with huge potential while still taking night classes to become qualified to be a preacher with Foursquare, when in an instant the accident happened that would set the stage for all of that to start to come undone. I fell 17 feet off a ladder while working as a foreman on a big concrete Job for the City of Billings Water Dept.

It would take a year or so but finally the pain in my back became so bad that I couldn’t drag myself into work anymore. I remember sitting in a chair by the back door of our house one morning, struggling to bend over and pull my work boots on, telling Donna; “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” The pain was literally unbearable and just saying those words out loud to my wife was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had to work, that’s what I do, that’s who I am, everyone and everything depended on it.

About that time my Chiropractor ordered an MRI, something my workers comp doctors deemed unnecessary, “It’s just deep tissue bruising, do more stretches.” The MRI revealed that I had two herniated discs, if not more, in my lower back that were pressing against the nerves going into my legs.

My hope in my own ability to provide with my hands for my family was gone. That diagnosis almost seemed like a death sentence to me, I remember beating on my dash board and yelling at God; “Now what am I going to do?” as I drove away from the doctor’s office.

I had no idea what I was going to do now, how we were going to get through this. After several months of missing work and surviving on workers compensation payments I finally had a very painful surgery which got me by for two more years during which time we went through a bankruptcy, the missed work being the final nail in our coffin of debt accumulated by desperately trying to raise a family on one income so Donna could be home with the kids, and by a years long drought that drove our little ranching operation into the dusty ground.

Then, two years after the first surgery, I was as bad or worse than I was before. So I went in for a second surgery, this time they just took out those discs altogether and fused my lower back together. This caused me to miss several more months of work. You know what though? The Lord always took care of us, money and groceries would just come from unexpected places when we needed it the most.

We never went hungry and the landlord of the house we were renting after having sold the house on the ranch to try to avert bankruptcy was very patient with us as we struggled to pay the rent. And the ministry the Lord had given me at Hope Center was very fruitful.

The hard part for me, the trial that challenged and threatened to destroy me was the feeling of worthlessness. Not being able to work to earn a paycheck for my family, to not be able to work on the house, to take my family camping, to help with the chores or much of anything for a while, was just killing me inside. I was wired to work, I was wired to provide, a man is supposed to take care of his family and I was now dependent on the state for a meager allowance and struggling to not get too dependent on the pain killers that often made me someone I didn’t want to be.

Stand by me

In this time a word from my wife could have destroyed me, my self-respect was hanging by a thread and respect—if you’ll remember what I have told you in the past—is the food that feeds the soul of a man. But, my wife never belittled me, she never made me feel like any of our hardships were my fault and that I was anything less than loved and respected by her—and my girls. She fulfilled her vow to be there for me in sickness and in health, good times and bad, richer and poorer, even though all the negative parts of that equation were hitting us at once.

But, then that was never an issue I really worried about, we had vowed even before we married that divorce would never be an option.

That commitment and support, along with my faith in the Lord, gave me hope, was a spark of peace and joy that got me through and even allowed us to find happiness in that troubled time, to be husband and wife, friends and lovers, to be our kids parents, and servants to our church family. Hope is knowing that someone is always there for you, no matter what. That goes for, especially goes for, our Lord, the one who gave his all for us even when we deserved it least.

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:1—8

I had hope, in part because my wife stuck by me, supported me and has proven time and again that she will, good times and in bad…I know someone is always in my corner, I have a faith in that, and that gives me hope. Hope is a promise that will not be broken.

Our greatest  hope comes from the knowledge that our God will not let us down, that he will never abandon us, will never stop loving us. He proved that by dying for us before we even knew him, while we were still sinners with no thought toward God whatsoever.

I want to leave you with three things to ponder:

What do you hope in? Whom do you hope in? Who are you giving hope too?

Man with bright lights
. . .  tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Rom 5:3—5