We Just Aren’t Getting It–Yet

Or —‘What the Hell is Going on Here!’

We are all a part of a much larger plan and are being prepared for the full implementation of it.

As the followers of Jesus headed to capital city with him, they had visions of grandeur that turned into horror.

They say a baby’s world ends where their vision does. If they cannot see it, it does not exist. So when Momma leaves the baby’s sight she has left him all alone in the world. But when their world is about to end because there is this sudden pain of hunger or an uncomfortable squishy feeling in the diaper causing a wail that in their minds can be heard by all of creation—all 10 feet or so of it—Momma suddenly comes back into the world and fixes it.

‘Momma—don’t you leave me again, when I wake up you had better be here. I have big plans of a bottle, a burb and a song.’ As far as they know that is all there is and all there ever will be. Sometimes that daddy person pops his face into the world and makes goofy noises—but then he just vanishes also.

A baby cannot fathom that there is a whole grand world out there full of many babies just like them and that the people who pop in and out of their world have a life and an existence apart from them, and that they are all part of a bigger plan, of which they will be more and more a part of.

Their scope and perception is very limited—as is ours. We have a hard time imagining anything beyond our own corners of the world, let alone Heaven and the spiritual realm, the true nature of eternity and the grand scope of the billions of human souls just like ours who all have a stake in how eternity plays out.

We cannot fathom how it is all affected by what happens here in the realm of time and space where the most important thing is how we feel at the moment. We think we get it, and we try really hard to look past our noses—but we are really clueless.

When our expectations of what is going to happen, what must happen, do not happen—we lose all hope; “The world will never be the same, there is no way this can work out. ‘Lord how can you just leave me here hanging like this? This person must be president, this person must be stopped, this policy must be secured, this wrong must be righted, I have to be allowed to do this and that, go here and there, I must be seated at the right hand of power— I must have my bottle filled and my diaper changed today or my world will come to an end!’

No little Johnny—just be patient, don’t sell the farm just yet—there’s a much bigger picture, a much larger battle, a much grander plan being implemented and today is just a tiny part of it.

Just because you’re uncomfortable today does not mean you have been abandoned. Just because you sister dumped the strained peas on your head and seems to have gotten away with it because daddy was off in the kitchen for a moment, doesn’t mean you are forever doomed to have a sticky head and a mocking sibling.

Okay, that got a little strange and I’m not sure where to take it from there, but I hope you get the point. We do not see the big picture, we do not know how today will affect tomorrow and we certainly do not know what tomorrow holds and just exactly what our Father in Heaven had planned for us as we squabble over the strained peas.

But I do know this—we are all a part of a much larger plan and are being prepared for the full implementation of it.

Today we may feel like helpless children—I think that is God teaching us that we must be like helpless children, we must be humble, urgently seeking our Father; ‘Please! Come back into my world and fix this—I can’t!’ Exactly—you cannot fix it. Only God can.

You just need to learn to trust, to be patient, to look for and be ready for, the day when you are used to win the final victory.

Today you are the servant of all, taking the scorn, the mocking and the beatings so that tomorrow you can be great, so that you can be used of God and see his glory revealed, washing away all the darkness and vileness that has mocked us and oppressed— not just us, but our God as well.

Today we are being taught these lessons, being taught how to trust and persevere so that we will still be here when His day comes. In the meantime it will get messy, and it is. Nothing really worth having comes without a price and a fight.

Hard Lessons

The twelve were learning this on this journey to Jerusalem.

The disciples expected Jesus to just waltz in and claim the throne. They weren’t understanding the fights required to get to where they were truly headed, the patience, determination and faith it would require. Nothing good comes easy. Not when evil insists on having it’s day.

The 12 fully expected to see everything work out according to the scenario they had imagined and conjectured, maybe even by the end of the week—’We know what’s going on, we know the scriptures, we have been following and being taught by the Messiah himself day and night for three years! I mean, it just has too, because the only other outcome is our end. We are not welcome in Jerusalem, the seat of power, not if we are with Jesus and are known as his followers.’

So this must be it! This is our day! Here we go!

They were sadly and profoundly mistaken. Instead of the glory they expected and promised one another, by the end of the week the  scorn and violence they feared had fully overtaken them, murdered their King, turned them into refugees and outlaws hiding for fear of their lives—silenced.

Glory revealed

But what happened three days later? The very thing they were promised—Jesus rose again and he was seated on the throne. But that throne and that kingdom was not earthly, the throne was at the right hand of the Father and the kingdom was the universe, and, our hearts.

The days of scorn, mocking, abuse and violence ended in the revealing of the Son of God in all his Glory. And suddenly—they, who had been scorned and mocked as ignorant fisherman and uneducated nobodies from obscure fishing villages up north, would be looked to as the ultimate authorities on all things concerning the Messiah.

They were the experts and the final word in the quickly expanding church of Jesus Christ that would soon eclipse the precious traditions and religion that the Pharisees and Priests clung to, leaving the experts who scorned them looking like fools. And they were. Fools who completely missed what God was doing because of their arrogance. Because they were sure that they were first. But in the Kingdom, the first will be last.

The follower of Jesus who thought they had missed out on and blown their chance for glory days because it didn’t happen in their time and in their way, were given their positions of authority in the Kingdom just when they least expected it, after they thought all was lost. Because they had drank from the cup and shared in the baptism of Jesus.

But today, heading toward Jerusalem, they are still in the humbling and learning stages and things are about to get real.

Before they could be washed in the blood and baptized with fire they had to see the blood shed and fight the fires of hell’s fury. They may have been born and raised at the knees of the rabbi’s who taught them the prophets and the law, they may have been hearing talk of the Kingdom to come straight from Jesus for three years now, but they were still a long way from glory, at least as far as the price to be paid.

They still were not prepared nor seemed to understand the suffering that must happen first.

See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

They had to pay their dues so to speak, learn their lessons, get kicked around by the best for a bit, mocked, scorned, bruised and tried—it would be nothing compared to what their Lord would suffer of course, but nonetheless it all seemed pretty hopeless and final; ‘This is as big as our world gets and we just lost it allwe just watched our last chance die.’

Little did they realize.

On the Mountain part 2

And now, here we are, on the doorstep of another year—wondering, praying and hoping that the new year is better then the old, forgetting that we can only live one day at a time anyway and that every one of those days is a gift from our creator until the day when we step into eternity, where a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day. Where we will be reunited with those who have gone before us, as has been the way of man since the beginning— pandemic or no pandemic.

So, since we insist on looking at individual years as somehow being a cohesive and cosmically manipulative unit—what do suppose the new one holds for us? I can just about guarantee you it will have plenty of both—mountaintops and valleys. The real question is; what are you going to do in those valleys?

We have all echoed the cry of the frightened father as he helplessly watches his son being tormented by evil—“Lord, I don’t know how you can fix this but I want to believe that you can! Have mercy!”

Yellowstone Park Dan Swaningson

We all believe. But when the valleys seem darkest, it’s hard sometimes to feel like you have enough faith to get out. And that’s when we can count of the faithfulness of our God.

I have prayed that prayer many times for myself—”Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief!” and the valleys are suddenly not so dark.

But you know, there are no true valleys for those who believe because Jesus is with us no matter the elevation or the obstacles in the path. Some places are just more challenging than others. Each day is what you make it. And if you pay attention, sometimes the valleys are the places where the real learning happens, where you truly see God at work.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the valleys, the low swampy parts of the valleys it would seem, and I have to be honest—2020 was not a valley for me, compared to some. And because I spent the year or two previously, fighting my way through some pretty dark valleys, seeing the enemy wreak havoc and attack my family and my church—if you think you know me—I can guarantee you, you do not know even a half of it. 2020 was a victory dance in comparison.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But the lessons I learned and the bonds that were forged in those fires are priceless, indestructible—and eternal.

49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Mark 9

And I am stronger and more appreciative of every day the sun rises and I am still walking with my Lord no matter what happens, because my God has proven himself faithful and present time and again. And that’s all I really need—Jesus.

Anything and everything else good in my life is just a bonus that I am immensely grateful for. Even the scars and aches are just reminders of battles I’ve survived.

On The Mountain

Should I be running in terror or kneeling in awe!?’

In the ninth chapter of Marks gospel we see the disciples go from a mountain top where they literally get a glimpse of God’s glory, to a crowded valley where the enemy is wreaking havoc on whom he wishes. They had to be asking, as we all have–Can’t we just stay on the mountain?

We know that on the day of Pentecost the Kingdom of God would indeed present with great power, as it came blazing into their lives by way of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But more immediately, just six days later, three of them did get a glimpse of the Kingdom as it descended onto Jesus so he could have a brief conference with key players of the Old covenant of law, presumably about what it would take to usher in the New Covenant of grace.

The disciples must have had their heads spinning. “I don’t know if I’m coming or going, if I should be scared or thrilled, running in terror or kneeling in awe!” One minute I’m on a mountaintop with the very Son of God shining like the sun and the next I’m in the valley being derided by an angry Scribe and a desperate father while we battle a demon and a crushing mob.

Life

Sounds a lot like life—doesn’t it? Sounds a lot like this past year. Are we coming or going, suffering the attacks of the enemy or the judgements of God? Are we blessed or cursed; finished or just beginning? ‘Is it right for me to feel so blessed when the world is in turmoil? Is it right for me to be afraid of the turmoil when I know I am so blessed? I am blessed— right?’ Should I be running in terror or kneeling in awe!?’

We don’t even know how we should feel anymore. This generation of Americans has never been forced to face the battles we have faced together lately just to live as a free people who love God, one another, and an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Yet here we are today, fed, clothed, carrying Bibles and still breathing the clean air of the most beautiful place on earth—Montana. (At least for those of us who aren’t in the shut down states)

So feel free to be happy and blessed. Every day is a gift.

And you know what? We are not being set upon in any new and unprecedented way. If you take an honest look beyond your own bubble, all the world for most of human history has lived this way; mountain tops to valleys,with the mountains being steep and difficult to climb and the valleys being deep, long and immersed in shadow.

But one thing we all share and have in common, around the world and thru the ages, at least among those who put their trust in God, is that we can always see that light just ahead of us, guiding us, beckoning us and calling us home. No matter the difficulty of the trail, with every step we take in faith, we are always one step closer to home.

Tradition or Truth?

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7

You ever hear something so much that you stop hearing it? Do something so many times that you forgot you just did it? Or don’t remember why you even do it that way? In the Kingdom of God that’s called empty religion. In Jesus’ dealing with the religious of his day, he called it your tradition.

That little word your being the telling and convicting word there. Not because tradition is bad, but because it had replaced, truth–even replaced God.

“Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, Why do your disciples eat with unwashed hands? Why don’t you respect the tradition of the elders?” Mark 7:5

In Mark 7 we see Jesus getting frustrated yet again at the blindness of those who were supposed to know better; with the teachers and scholars of the day who had taken the word of God, the law and the promises, the warnings and the blessings and managed to totally remove God from them. They added to and twisted them to serve their own purposes. They made the words more important than the people they were meant to serve, and the God they were meant to point to.

The Scribes and Pharisees had turned the word of God into something to be worshipped, rather than a means through which to worship. The law was turned into something to serve rather than something serving us. It no longer pointed to a righteous and loving God, it only served, in the hands of the Pharisees and those they deceived, to subjugate and condemn people.

Jesus came saying, ‘No, the word of God sets people free and restores and rebuilds people—that was the intent and that’s why I came—to show, provide, and be the way, the truth and the life that you failed to grasp and attain through the written and spoken word.

The word is not of no effect —because I Am the Word.’

And that’s what all of this–Church, blogging, worship, living for Jesus– is about. That is why we celebrate Christmas, and every Sunday, and every other day that we draw breath, knowing that one day we will draw breath in a new heaven and a new earth from a resurrected and perfect body.

But back to Jesus and the religious know-it-alls.

The word become flesh

Jesus accused the religious scholars of making the word of God of no effect—but we know that the word of God never goes forth but that it accomplishes that for which it was spoken. It never returns void, it is never of no effect—if it is spoken in the Spirit of which it was given—Love. God is love and all he does and says is motivated and grounded in his inexpressible and unstoppable love for his children—for us.

The word of God was and is of effect, because the word is Jesus, and he is among us. He is Emmanuel.

The promise was fulfilled.  The thing mankind and all of creation had waited for, groaned for, believed for. The wait was over, even if some failed to see.

Summer Vacation

Have you ever really looked forward to something?  Like Christmas; the year 2020 to be over… How about the best summer vacation ever? 

When I was ten years old my mom and my step dad moved us from Cloquet Minnesota to Albuquerque NM. Imagine the culture shock -unfortunately my dad still lived in Minnesota.  But my sister and I were going to spend a month with him in the summer—  a whole month!

When I first found out I was so excited to go I could hardly stand it.  Not only were we going to get to see our dad, we were going to get to fly on a big Jet for the first time. He promised us all kinds of fun, camping and fishing, and the best part of all— we were actually going to take a trip to Niagara Falls!  On the way there we were going to stay for a couple days in Detroit where one of my aunt and uncles lived and we would all go together from there.  What an adventure.  It was more than I could fathom. 

As the school year ended and the time got closer and closer for us to go, I began to worry that I would mess it up, maybe get grounded for doing something stupid and not be allowed to go.

But my biggest fear was that I would die before I got to go see my Dad, or that some tragic accident or sickness would prevent us from getting to do all those amazing things together. I was living with irrational fear, but hey, I was only a kid, that’s what they do. We’re supposed to know better now—right?

 Anyway, the night before we left, we had the plane tickets and we were still alive and well. I don’t think my sister and I slept a wink, we were just too anxious, it was actually going to happen! And it did. We flew to Minnesota, got airsick and lost our luggage—but hey, we had a great time anyway.

The wait was worth it.

Now, this is a small thing compared to waiting for the Savior to come. But it’s the sense of anticipation, the longing to see your father who seems so far away, the never ending night, clinging to the promise that it was indeed going to happen and fearing that somehow you were going to mess it up, even be hindered by death-—that is what the world, all the world who had put their hope in the One true God, the Father— experienced and lived with for thousands of years.

If we truly love God and believe the promises we are living for the day when we would get to go see the father. But God didn’t just send a plane ticket and wait, he actually came in the flesh so that we could see him, hear him, look into his eyes and know that we were loved. And then he laid down his life to pay for the ticket that would bring us home.  The word became flesh.

Jesus didn’t need religion, and he still doesn’t.  He didn’t need to perform the rituals that symbolized purity and the forgiveness of grace- he was the embodiment of purity, he was forgiveness and grace, he was the very word of God. And in fulfillment of that word, he makes us pure and whole as well. He opened the way to the Father—making Him approachable, just like he was as that baby lying in  a manger so long ago, on a night that changed everything.

That’s a promise straight from God’s word, and God always keeps his promises.

Merry Christmas Family!

Fury

People accuse Spirit filled believers and “Evangelicals” of being out of their minds. But it is really the devil who is out of his mind-with fury.

People were used in earnest by the enemy of our souls to try to stop Jesus in his mission to bring people to his Father. His family thought him mad, the religious elite thought him demon possessed, and the government thought him a threat to power. Why would we think our mission, to bring people to the Father, would be any easier?

Correction: Mark 3::21-22

Just like any power hungry world leader, inclined towards evil, the enemy of our souls is never satisfied with what he holds, he always wants more— more territory, more death, more captivity, more fear, addictions, sickness, fear, more control—he wants it all.

He can only do that by stopping us, and by proxy, stopping Jesus. Something he has been trying to do with varying degrees of success since the days Jesus walked the earth and took away his right to keep us enslaved in fear of death and judgement.

 He is now out of his mind with fury and is determined to deceive all of us into believing that God’s ways are foolishness and madnessthat the lies he spreads are superior to our archaic ways and beliefs.

By changing the language— the meaning and acceptance of words— and vilifying those who believe in right and wrong, good and evil, he turns wrong into right, truth into lies, murder into choice, perversions into preferences, lusts into needs, violence into peaceful protests, scripture into hate speech and on and on.

But no matter how he schemes and blusters, God’s word remains and continues to change lives and keep God’s kingdom present in his dominion, and Satan’s fate sealed. But he keeps trying. Just like the last great European battle of World War 2, the Battle of the Bulge, an all but defeated enemy, Germany, threw everything they had into one last gasp effort in a battle that destroyed thousands on both sides but ended in the Allies destroying Hitler’s ability to wage war entirely.

It was a doomed effort but in the midst of it, the soldiers hunkered down in their frozen fox holes in the middle of the Ardennes  Forest, only knew that they were in a fight for their lives moment by moment, but they never gave up because they knew they could not loose. They were the U.S. Army and their cause was righteous.

I think that’s where we are, in the midst of perhaps the last great push by the enemy to destroy the church, to push us back and keep us from storming his gates.

The battles are ramping up and becoming more extreme in their vehemence and absurdity. Hitler mustered up children and senior citizens to fight to the death in that last battle knowing that they could not win. But he was determined to inflict as much damage as possible. He even ordered his generals to destroy their own cities if they retreated just to spite his enemies.

The generals refused to do it, it was indeed an absurd order, and fight; and they knew it.

Too bad the leaders of the enemies army in our own battles don’t see the absurdity of destroying your own cities. I talked to my Dad yesterday again about the destruction of many of our favorite old places in downtown Minneapolis. Between the shutdowns, looting and burning, the city is never going to be the same. It just makes me sad, Minneapolis was a wonderful and uniquely Minnesotan place, my birthplace, a place of generations of family history and treasured memories for.

And that is happening all over the country. But we know who is behind it. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. We know who he is, and he and his minions know who we are as well. We are the army of God, sons and daughters of that same God.

The enemy, Satan, is showing his hand in all of this like never before because the more furious and desperate he becomes, the more obvious it is just how truly evil and hateful he is, as his thin veneer of justice and moral superiority is wearing through and the ugliness revealed. And it should disturb and motivate us to shine even brighter even as the darkness does its utmost to overwhelm us.

Having the enemy expose himself should encourage believers to pray more earnestly and specifically, and even be excited, because for all the seeming power and influence the enemy seems to have—we know we can have so much more to counter. Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the worldright? Now we get to prove it.

But it’s hard I know. No one wants to be seen as mad, out of their mind or just plain ignorant. And that’s the brush we can get painted with. That’s a strategy the enemy uses to bind us so he can plunder our worlds.

But don’t get discouraged. If people thought Jesus was out of his mind, why would we expect to be treated any differently? Don’t let the enemy stop you from being who the Father created and called you to be and whom Jesus freed you to be. God wants to use you to bless, heal and deliver others from the lies of hopelessness and worthlessness.

We cannot let the world determine our worth and our usefulness—especially to the kingdom of God. We cannot let anyone deter us from speaking the truth as God reveals it to us. We cannot let anyone deter us from doing the good we were created and called to do and we cannot stand by and watch others suffer if we can help them. Whether it’s prayer for healing, a word of encouragement or correction, a prayer for deliverance or even just a much needed hug.

God calls the foolish, so if others call you the fool, shame and slander you to shut you up or stop you, consider that a confirmation of your call and an affirmation of your effectiveness.

You are not in this fight alone, we might be seen as an army of fools, but we we are fools for Christ, and together we are unbeatable!

Tumult

We are allowing the enemy of our souls to control the narrative.

Our country and our churches are a mess. And there’s no one to blame but ourselves for the state we are in.

It’s human nature to try to control every aspect of our lives, even the God part. We want to be in control of our destinies, our fortunes, our health, our walk with the Lord and our church services. We want to control the narrative. Guess what? We aren’t. And we are certainly not letting or inviting God to do it. So, by default, just as happened in the garden of Eden, we are allowing the enemy to control the narrative.

And his narrative always leads directly away from God and directly into destruction, And the road to destruction is always lined with shiny things and beautiful promises—even as those walking along it are angrily screaming at everyone to join them; ‘Come on, what’s wrong with you? Are you an ignorant hater? That narrow difficult path is for losers and rednecks.’

 We live in tense and tumultuous times. Which is ironic really because we live in the wealthiest nation on earth in what is likely the most prosperous period mankind has ever known. But, with that comes a stress all its own also, because apparently we all have too much time to worry about why our neighbors don’t all agree with our way of thinking, and why some people have more stuff than we do.

Life just gets more and more complicated and grounded less and less in reality. On the one hand there are people who run themselves ragged, trying to keep up with all that life offers and throws at us, either fending it off or fighting to get more of it, who have little or no time to fight for what they need or believe. They are too busy working.

And then there are those who seemingly have nothing but time because everything is handed to them and they have way too much time to fret over why you still have something they don’t have. And they have nothing better to do then scheme, shame or beat you into submission to their obviously superior ways. ‘Hey, if you weren’t trying to carry all that stuff down that narrow path we would have a lot more fun over here on this easy road—hand it over!

Looters

Never mind, we’ll just take it.

That has literally been happening this year with little or no opposition from those in charge whom we pay to look out for us. And if everything being talked about gets implemented it’s only just beginning. It won’t just be the thugs looting, it will be the authorities. Looting seems to be the order of the day.

The culture war has been brewing for a while, as has the class envy divisiveness that the voices of discontent keep propagating, and has now devolved into a sanctified racism against those who must be racist simply because of their color or political leanings.

Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

You throw a little pandemic into the mix, a botched presidential election between two ideologies that seem to have no common ground whatsoever and are so far apart that no matter who wins or loses, one half of the country is going to despair nearly to death, and refuse to accept the outcome– social media platforms that none of us can seem to avoid where we can spend every minute of every day arguing, provoking and being provoked by countless people, many of whom we have never met—and you mix it all up with a concerted and outright war on the truth of God’s word and his people—which isn’t hard because they have been progressively marginalized for decades now—and what do you get?

A nation without hope. A nation without a moral compass. A nation tearing itself apart at the seams and ignorant of everything that once made it the most blessed place on earth and a light and beacon of hope to the world. A nation whose God is no longer the Lord.

The Answer

So what’s the remedy? Winning an election isn’t the answer, just the fact that we can get into the state we’re potentially in, where we stand to lose everything that we have traditionally fought for and held dear as Americans and God fearing people, because of a single election, is evidence that something is very, very wrong.

The fact that God had to use a bombastic, rude, playboy billionaire turned reality TV star to wake this country and the church up to what we were losing and how we had been too cowardly to fight for it, is evidence that something is very, very wrong.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Pexels.com

Which probably means that somewhere, we went very, very wrong. Perhaps, God has left the building, crowded out by idols of power, greed, perversions and humanism. Or perhaps he was crowded out by self-righteous blindness that can’t see the work of the hand of God and the opportunity we were given because the vessel was not polished and certified wholesome like a Bush or a Romney.

Our country was and is a mess. And in the case of now or never God uses the willing, he uses those who answer, when the rest lie down and roll over because the fight is ‘not becoming of a person of my stature, and I just want to get along—don’t you?’

I’m glad Jesus didn’t worry about impressing the righteous.

And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2

He just did what needed to be done for those who needed it the most, and who were willing to receive the gift being offered.

Our iniquity is great and our sins are many. Yes, God sometimes does leave the building, his patience is longsuffering and his mercies great, but there is always a time when he just has no room left, when even the Holy of Holies is no longer habitable.

The vision of Ezekiel in Ezekiel 8—10  where he sees the wheel, way up in the middle of the air, might make a fun Sunday school song, but that wheel was God’s Holy Vehicle for his Spirit to depart from the desecrated Temple, and from Israel.

 He was leaving a temple that had become a house of idols to all sorts of vile and detestable demonic gods and a land whose leaders and priests were far from him.

“Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ” Ez 8:12

Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!’ Ez 9:9

18 Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple Ezekiel 10:18

Ezekiel 10:18

Do you see the main problem here? They decided God was gone long before he was, and that’s what pushed him out. They say— “The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!’

We are not there yet. God has not forsaken us, we have forsaken him, and God does indeed see. See’s and weeps. ‘Turn back to me!

God has not left the building, but collectively we just act like he has—the country as a whole. It’s not too late, we who still trust in him and ache for the soul of this nation and the church need to stand up and be heard by the Lord and the world. Those God has called need to preach the word with authority, teach unapologetically, now is the time to stand up and be heard.

We have the greatest story ever told to share with a desperate world. We have the good news of Jesus Christ, the pure, simple gospel of love and forgiveness, redemption and hope. We have the power and authority by virtue of his Holy Spirit to set the captives free, to speak life to death, healing to sickness, light to darkness, infallible truth to lies and deceits.

It won’t be easy or pleasant, because the enemy is alive and well and has gained great control over much of this world including our society. But we have something he does not, truth and love embodied and dwelling in our hearts, the Holy Spirit. And if we just show up and keep speaking, acting and doing whatever it is that Spirit of love asks you to do, people are drawn to Jesus—they just are.

44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. John 6

You just open your mouth, refuse to be silenced, and let God do the teaching through you. Then watch the Father draw people to Jesus. You’ll be amazed. Just be ready to welcome all comers and keep Jesus front and center.

Invite the Lord to control the narrative. And then allow him to narrate through you.

Warrior’s Reward

Bottom line; We win!

Today’s blog will be short and to the point.

It takes no great insight to see that the world is in a state of chaos and turmoil right now. I’m not just talking political and societal, that is nothing new, although we are suddenly getting smacked in the face with it here in America where we have lived in relative peace and security until now.

I am talking about emotionally, relationally– spiritually. We all seem to be living on edge. As I write this a presidential election is about to take place that will determine the direction of our country, two radically different forms of government and economic philosophies being what is actually on the ballot. The future of the country and the church as we have known it are on the line. (Please vote!)

Even if we as a people should choose the conservative side and preserve what we have, the opposing side promises to riot, burn and loot-and they have proven they are up to the task.

We are still largely living under the thumb of a virus and the fear it’s presence has ginned up. The church and the rights we have enjoyed and taken for granted have been under blatant and outright attack and people, neighbors, families and even believers, can no longer have civil discussions as all who have an opinion that does not match your own are evil and must be destroyed. Thus we all live in fear of being attacked and cancelled from life.

And there seems to be no end or relief in sight. The long dark winter of our discontent is fully upon us and our eventual dissolution as a church and a free nation seems to be inevitable.

Except for, that one thing, that Jesus thing. We have promises, we have assurances, we have a recourse and most importantly-we have a hope.

We have a God who comes in the darkest nights, in the coldest winters, like a warrior come to rescue his children from the enemy just as the enemy thinks he has won. When all seems lost our God proves that he is indeed the Lord of Hosts and the King of Kings and no one and no thing can stand in his way or steal any of his precious lambs from his hand. He had time and again, and he will again.

The Lord goes forth like a soldier,
    like a warrior he stirs up his fury;
he cries out, he shouts aloud,
    he shows himself mighty against his foes. IS 42:13

So, hold your head up, keep looking to your redeemer, keep the battle cry on your lips and keep your sword sharp. Our redeemer lives, and so will we.

You will receive the warriors reward–a place to raise your family and live in peace where their will be no more suffering, no more tears and no more death.

So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mark 10:29-30

Until then–remember you are more than a conqueror and no weapon formed against you will prosper.

Is it Time to Panic Yet?

This whole Covid thing has only brought to light just how little peace we truly do have with our own mortality.”

“Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

Talk about global warming. T’aint no Paris Accord, wind farms or Swedish teenagers that are going to stop that one—“How dare you!”

You won’t need an arctic expedition to go study the polar ice caps to see if they’re melting. You’ll see the steam of their boiling into oblivion from here—that is if you can see through the smoke of melting rock.

We have this dire warning, and then a question is posed—Therefore what manner of persons ought you to be? That would probably not be your first thought if you picked up your morning paper—which no one does anymore I know—and read the headlines: “The Heavens and the Earth Will be Dissolved With Fire in Three Months — scientists agree.

‘Honey! We only have three months left to live on this earth. What manner of persons shall we be?’ For the most part, that’s not how most people are going to react. When faced with predictions or diagnosis of doom it’s usually fight or flight, panic or despair—not introspection and attitude corrections.

In fact, we already know how people react to news like that because we have doomsday prophets all around us, and have for some time.

“Let’s Panic! –Why aren’t you panicking, don’t you care!”

Reactions

How do people really react? They stock up on guns and ammo. They beat each other up in the grocery store Isles for the last package of toilet paper. They irrationally cling to every shred of hope the authorities might toss them, and tremble at every word of the dire predictions the experts proclaim.

They build bomb shelters and stock them with crackers and bottled water, or buy mountain retreats in Montana—which is really dumb because our state carries a good part of the world’s nuclear arsenal and is full of coal, oil, lumber and precious metal reserves —certainly we’re not in anyone’s crosshairs (He says sarcastically). Not to mention the really long winters—there’s a reason why much of this state is largely uninhabited.

Another response to impending doom is the party like it’s 1999 response. They run out and indulge the flesh as much as possible just in case it’s the last chance, or simply because they might be able to get away with it. During hurricanes, massive fires and now riots, as most are fleeing or hiding, there are those who decide ‘Let’s take advantage of the chaos and go loot a shoe store, and then the liquor store—free stuff!’

During the German Blitzkrieg on Britain as large parts of most major English cites burned illicit affairs were rampant because the beleaguered people were determined to enjoy what might be their last moments on earth.

It’s the natural inclination to seek first the needs of the flesh in times of perceived impending doom. But as believers, those who have an eternal viewpoint and know that this life is just the beginning, we know that we must seek the protection and wellbeing of the soul, and the souls of those around us, first and foremost. At least we are supposed to know that,

So the question, “what manner of persons shall we be?” becomes a critical and urgent one, and one that we no longer must answer just hypothetically believing that our generation will never face what the bible thumping preachers of old have been proclaiming for many, many years.

We are in a global pandemic—admittedly one that pales in light of past pandemics, but one that has wreaked havoc nonetheless, particularly economically and emotionally, on an unprecedented scale.

And the church is being persecuted and attacked in our own country, and around the world, like never before on such a large scale. As we speak most churches across the country are severely limited in how they gather, if they are allowed to gather at all.

All across the land of the free and the home of the afraid churches and synagogues in this country’s biggest cities are banned from meeting at all. And there are those who take great delight in reporting infractions. Neighbors are turning against neighbors.

Currently, in this one nation under God, we have the representatives of an entire political party, viciously attacking a women who has been nominated for the Supreme Court because she dares to profess that her faith is important to her. Their biggest concerns being that they might lose the federal protection on killing the unborn and same sex marriage, that in their twisted minds have become the most important rights we have.  

Around the world, Christians are still being murdered, enslaved and driven underground, and the spirit of the Antichrist is driving people mad in their hatred for anyone and anything that dares espouse any moral values that remotely resemble the laws of God.

And very few care or take any of this seriously—even within the church.

But my point is—it looks like maybe, just maybe, the day of the Lord may be drawing near, and the fiery cleansing that comes with it—because, things they are a changing at an alarming pace and the red flags of warning are going up everywhere.

And if this is what we see with our eyes, you can bet the spiritual battles raging around us are beyond intense.

So what manner of persons shall we be? 

What Manner?

What manner of persons are we to be?

We are to be people who are diligent, who are looking forward to these things, who are spotless and blameless, at peace and conducting ourselves in Godliness and holiness. ‘Huh, can’t I just buy more ammo and toilet paper and avoid my ignorant neighbors at all costs? Except to belittle and provoke them on Facebook?’ –Um. . . No!

Be found by him at peace. Are you at peace? Are you at peace with your neighbor? At peace with your family—with yourself, with your God? When you lay down your head at night do you sleep the sleep of the redeemed or are you worried and anxious? Do you handle stress by giving it to your Father, or do you dilute it with drugs or drink, or any other manner of addictive behaviors?

Are you at peace with the fact that you could die tomorrow—today even? This whole Covid thing has only brought to light just how little peace we truly do have with our own mortality, and death is the very last thing we who have eternal life should fear. We cherish life and do what is prudent to preserve it, but it cannot become our obsession and prevent us from following our Lord.

Following Jesus is the death of the flesh, that is the very definition. Peace comes with laying down our lives and our fears and placing them in his hands. That peace is reflected in our attitudes toward one another.

Are you at peace with your brothers and sisters in the Lord or are you bickering over all of the things I have talked about here and offended by some of what I’ve said?  —I know many are. Which is why my peace, and the peace of anyone who fearlessly preaches truth from God’s word, is constantly threatened, and why most preachers just preach ear candy.

Peace is a rare commodity these days. And this, from Peter, is not an offer of peace, it’s not a recipe or a formula for peace, it’s at best a reminder and at most a command to be found at peace.

Jesus is coming like a thief in the night. Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. Knowing Jesus and following his commands—that is your peace, it is a gift and a birthright of the redeemed that can only be lost or frittered away by us, his children.

Is it time to panic yet?

No, it’s time to keep our eyes on heaven and our hands to the task at hand. It’s harvest time.

A Dumb Donkey

But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. 2 Peter 2:16 KJV

Prophecy for Profit? Even a dumb ass knows better than that!

There’s a wild story in the Biblical book of Numbers, chapter 22, about a mad prophet name Balaam, having an eye opening conversation with a donkey that we could all learn a lesson from today.

The Apostle Peter thought it worth reminding us of also.

Balaam loved the wages of the unrighteous. In the story of Balaam, he was being hired by the king of Moab to curse Israel as they crossed his land in preparation to enter the promised land. Balaam was directed by the Lord not to go with them, but Balaam petitioned the Lord to allow him, the money he was being offered being a big motivator. So the Lord relented and told him he could go, but only if he agreed to say only what God told him to say.

But on the road to the land of Moab he was met by and Angel who was waiting to kill Balaam and on three different occasions his donkey saved his life by refusing to go on until the angel left. Balaam did not discern the angel, the Donkey did. You know you’re in a spiritual desert when a dumb ass has more spiritual discernment than you do, but then, that’s probably true of many animals, they trust their instinct and develop this sixth sense while we just accept everything at face value—if my eyeballs can’t see it—it doesn’t exist!

Anyway, each time Balaam’s donkey refused to plunge forward into unseen danger Balaam got more frustrated with him and started to berate and beat him, until the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey.

The donkey starts talking to Balaam, asking him why he is treating him so when he has been nothing but faithful all these years. Balaam actually has a conversation with the donkey, “Man, if I had a sword right now I would kill you!” In the course of discussion it is revealed to him that there is a very large angel, the Angel of the Lord, with a very large sword waiting to strike Balaam down.

Balaam’s punishment was about to be meted out— why? Peter gives us the answer here—Because he loved the wages of the unrighteous.

He was going to speak the words of God, not really caring so much if they were true or not or what the result was, as long as he got his wages and kept his reputation as a seer so that he could keep his lucrative prophet business profitable.

And, apparently he was mad, which would explain his conversing with his donkey like it was an everyday thing—at least right up until he saw what the donkey saw—the menacing angel, who was actually giving him a second chance through the hyper perceptiveness of the donkey who could see or sense what man could not, the danger ahead.

He could easily have just smitten Balaam and been done with it. God had another plan though, he was using this justified, but now deferred, punishment to ensure that Balaam learned a lesson and that he did indeed fulfill his assignment to speak blessing and truth on God’s behalf to Moab, and over Israel.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. 32 And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. 33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.” Num 22:31—33

There are a lot of false prophets who love the wages of unrighteousness and many who have gotten to the point of madness as they have fallen deeper and deeper into their own deceptions. They end up just leaving you all tied up and cowering in the corner bound up in rules and expectations that leave you powerless and afraid.

When you are in that state, you are very easy to take advantage of.

Cults

We have had some very extreme and horrific examples of that just in my generation. I think of the false messiah David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in the 90’s who met their end down in Waco at the hands of the Federal Government; the Heaven’s Gate cult who committed suicide to be reunited with their mother ship.

On November 18th, 1978 as I was just getting settled into my new life in the Job Corp Center in the remote mountains outside of Anaconda, hundreds of men, women and children were drinking purple Kool-Aid laced with Cyanide in another very different kind of center.

Jones, a doomsday prophet, had proclaimed that the persecution and abuse that he had prophesied was coming upon them was here, and that the only way to escape it and to retain their favor with God was to follow him in death and escape into heaven. Over 900 people died that day, most by suicide, many by forced injection, all in the name of God.

CUT

More recently, and much closer to my neck of the woods, another self-proclaimed prophet, Going by the name of Elizabeth Clair Prophet, convinced thousands of people, that she heard from what she called, ascended masters; among them Buddha, Mahammad and Jesus Christ. I don’t know or remember all the details and I don’t want to know, but she somehow convinced all her followers to send her enough money that she was able to purchase a very large chunk of land in Paradise Valley just north of Gardiner Montana. It was known by all of us around here as the CUT Ranch. C.U.T. being the acronym for Church Universal and Triumphant.

Sometime in the mid 80’s she proclaimed that she knew when–or at least real close-the apocalypse was going to take place, ushering in the new kingdom of whatever and all who survived would be living in some sort Nirvana.

Hundreds of families all across the country sold everything they had and invested it in her massive building project up at the ranch. She was building underground bunkers for all her followers to hunker down in and wait out the impending apocalypse. So, when it was time, all these people, over two thousand, who invested all they had, came out and crawled into their bunkers, and waited for the nuclear holocaust, and —nothing.

They finally went home, broke and disillusioned, Elizabeth Clair false Prophet was discredited and soon afterward was struck with dementia, she soon faded from memory, and lost hers. And her Son, who took over the ranch was eventually indicted for illegally dealing in automatic weapons.

Good times.

Deceived

How were so many people deceived? It’s kind of scary isn’t it? I’m sure they were all good people who thought they were doing the right thing, even serving God. But they stopped listening to their spirits, allowed their emotions to be played, and were ignorant of the scriptures.

There will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing, who will be judged and will suffer the consequences of their heresies even as they are in the midst of the righteous, yet the righteous will be given the means to resist the temptation to join in the foolishness which brings on their punishments, so long as they do not succumb to the temptation to join them in their presumptuousness rebelliousness.

We need to be very careful in this season of turmoil and uncertainty because prophets are going to be coming out of the woodwork all claiming to have the answers and teachers and preachers are going to be exposed and start falling like flies as their great swelling words are exposed to be empty wells that leave people powerless against the evils that are befalling this generation.

It’s not unheard of even in the natural realm, to have a sixth sense so to speak, in fact it’s more unnatural not to. We talked about Balaam’s donkey’s ability to sense danger. They say Elephants and other animals around the Indian Ocean fled inland just before the Tsunami hit that wiped out entire cities and killed untold thousands of people.

Birds can fly half way around the world and always return to the same exact places. Bees never lose their way back to their hives no matter how far or zig zagged their flights. Dogs can smell cancer or sense oncoming epileptic seizures in people and instinctively know that it is bad and try to warn people.

We can certainly know when something so important as the health of our very soul is being threatened, that something is amiss.

Listen to the still small voice of the Spirit within, your own heart will guide you, and the heart of the Lord residing in you will guide you.

Don’t just follow the crowd, just because everyone else is doing it does not make it right. A herd mentality, social pressure and cultural norms derail real discernment quicker than anything else, except for maybe the lust of the flesh.

Before you drink the Kool-Aid, maybe ask yourself, ask the Lord, is this really what I am supposed to be doing? It just feels wrong. . . Yep, it’s wrong.

I don’t know if this is the end, no one knows for sure when that is going to happen, but we must always be ready, be diligent and always looking to God, his Spirit and his word for truth.

Ultimately you will stand alone one day and answer as to what you did with Jesus—if your answer is I loved him with all my heart and soul and picked up my cross daily—you will have nothing to fear; then, or now.

Will The Church Destroy Herself?

Luther’s ’95 thesis nailed to a church door couldn’t have caused more of a stir than a mask sign does.

God’s word is a light that shines in this present darkness. It is a light we must heed—pay attention to—until the light fully comes, when Jesus, the Morning Star, rises in our hearts.

We have to heed the light and focus on it, not fear the dark. The enemy is using this season of turmoil to destroy us. When this all started I was calling it a dress rehearsal for the coming of the Antichrist, how to totally alter and mollify a population of freedom loving, God fearing people, into bending to your will while rendering the church impotent, irrelevant and willingly shut down.

Well, if it started out as a dress rehearsal, it is no longer a drill. It’s Tora! Tora! Tora! The North Tower has collapsed and Portland is burning. We are at War. If that all went over your head you need to learn history and start paying attention to current events because play time is over.

We have shut down the world and given up our freedoms at the highly subjective and varied whims of governors, shunned our families for fear, and put our very livelihoods into the hands of unelected officials all for the sake of a virus with a 99% survival rate—plus or minus, depending on which political party the person doing the math belongs to.

And it has become the most contentious thing to hit the church since the reformation—seriously. Luther’s ’95 thesis nailed to a church door couldn’t have caused more of a stir than a mask sign does.

As of August the survival rate of the American church, according to Barna Group who surveyed pastors, is 80%. So 20% of the churches in this country are likely going to shut their doors for good. Why? Because of fear, fear of illness, and animosity towards one another over how we should react.

Divide and conquer. Just in our little church we have people who will not come to church unless everyone wears a mask, and we have people who will not come because we do have the mandated sign on the door asking you to wear masks and everyone in between walking on eggshells.

This divide and conquer tactic started back in March with—you have to close the church contingent pulling the church one way, and the you cannot close the church contingent pulling us the other way. Suddenly everyone is a medical expert or a master theologian.

This fight over—

“close or don’t close, mask or no mask, distance or no distance, people are dying in drovesno it’s all a farce!— what did the experts really say this week and who can we trust?— we have to address racial injustice, we have to tell people who to vote for

—is a fight that is happening amongst every body of believers in the country if not the world. And I’ll tell you what—if there are any pastors left standing a year from now, they need to receive purple hearts and Sainthood.

And just in case the pastor’s job is not hard enough, and the sheep not scattered for enough, suddenly, everyone is a prophet also.

Be careful who you listen to. Everyone with a Facebook page or a YouTube channel who claims to be, or is said to be, a prophet—is not. Weigh EVERYTHING against scripture.

The Lost World

And that’s just the church, we who should know better. Imagine how scary this is for the world at large, people who do not have the Morning Star rising in their hearts.

Untold and incalculable damage and death has occurred because of the shutdown and breakdowns of social norms, jobs, families, and support groups. And have no doubt, this rioting in the streets that is burning down our cities is a result of the fear and anger incited by having been locked down and force fed fear. Fear without hope, fear without end.

Now we are being told that the normal flu season that is coming upon us is reason to continue all this, they can keep this going indefinitely.

Even the hope of a vaccine, supposed to be available real soon, the thing that has always been touted as the only thing that will allow us to return to normal, is being discredited and maligned before it has even been released just as long used and well established medications have been.

People need hope, people need you, people need Jesus—they need the truth, the truth of the words of the prophets we know we can trust—the words in the Holy Scriptures. If this is the beginning of the death throes of this present world and the day of the Lord is at hand, the world, and the Lord, need us to be courageous, and engaged like never before—together.

So, let’s get past this, hang on tight to the Lord and each other, keep our eyes on the Morning Star which is rising in our hearts—if we’ll allow, and reflect his glory.

Bottom Line

So, because I love you and want all of you to do be free to do whatever you believe in your heart the Lord wants you to do, If you come to my church, I cannot and will not force you to wear what many believe is the equivalent of a petri dish on your face and put your health at risk.

Nor can I ask you to be around others who are not wearing a mask if you believe it is putting your health at risk.

That is a choice I am going to let you make, I am a preacher of the gospel not an agent of the state. It is not my job to enforce man’s laws, it is my job to preach God’s laws. And, as I have been saying since this started, we need to respect each other’s choices in this even if it means you stay home for a while until we get through this latest apparent uptick in illnesses (in Montana).

For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 1 Cor 10

Whatever you decide, mask or no mask, make sure your heart is right and you are doing it for the right reason.

I have said it often over the years and I am not going to change my message now, because the word of God does not change—whatever you do, your motivation has to be love—love for God and love for your neighbor.

Because everything our God does for us is motivated by love.

Little children… love.