Truth for Christians who would rather be “entertained” than HOLY

September 19, 2016 at 1:55 am (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

be-holy

The past few times that I’ve had a minute or two to scroll through my Facebook feed, I’ve run across multiple posts by friends and acquaintances (who often openly profess Christianity) that share thoughts or activities that absolutely dishonor the Lord. I purposely did not comment directly on any of the posts so as not to single out or embarrass anyone that I truly care for. Instead, I wept. I am ASTOUNDED that somehow the “church” in America has sooooo watered down Christianity and the full gospel of Christ that the very ones who have been set free from slavery to sin…the very ones who are supposed to take on the nature and character of Jesus Christ, the perfect and sinless one…think it is absolutely acceptable to continue inputting (through tv, music, movies, internet and other media, and even relationships) and outputting (through thoughts, speech, and actions) pure SMUT.

My Christian friends, I have a HARD word for you. A word that Satan will try to use to turn you against me. But I love you too much not to speak it. So here goes. A relationship with the One who is Holy is not possible when you continually and habitually indulge in sinful activity. Yes, Jesus came to take away your sins, but that “transaction” requires repentance. And repentance by definition isn’t repentance unless you literally TURN away from those sins and go the opposite direction. You CHANGE. If you continue to welcome sin into your life, there is no turning, no change, no repentance, and therefore no forgiveness. Christianity ISN’T living the sinful life you’ve always lived with a little Jesus sprinkled on top. It is dying to self and the sinful desires of the flesh EVERY SINGLE DECISION of EVERY SINGLE DAY and giving up those things to walk in a right relationship with God. (And if anyone has led you to believe any different, well, you’ve unfortunately been MISLED by a false teacher and you need to read your Bible to find the truth.)

A relationship with Christ is a free gift yet it requires great SACRIFICE. In the world we live in today, with VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS, it will require giving up most of what we consider to be our “entertainment.” If you think you can boast the title of Christian and still choose to watch movies like “BAD MOMS,” (or the endless other titles out there with similar content) you seriously need to re-examine your decision to follow Christ and evaluate whether or not you are actually in an active relationship with Him. God’s presence cannot co-exist with sin. If you’re legitimately in a relationship with Him, He’ll let you know real quick that He is HOLY and no man can approach Holy God while holding onto sin. Sure, Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery. Further, He did not judge her. (That’s not His job. He doesn’t judge. God does. Jesus came to save.  John 3:17) But He DID instruct her to go and SIN NO MORE. Everybody likes to point out the “no judging” part but nobody wants to discuss the part that says you have to give the sin up. You don’t get to keep holding onto it. It just doesn’t work that way.

Before you launch your argument defending how or why you welcome entertainment that dishonors God into your life, let me remind you of some of the content in the particular film I’ve randomly called out: (and keep in mind that similar content can be found in just about everything rated above PG in theaters today)

*Crude or Profane Language

About 65 f-words, nearly 30 s-words and a bake sale’s worth of doughy profanities, including “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “h—,” “d–k,” “t-ts” and “p—y.” God’s name is misused about 50 times, including at least once with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is abused five times.

If the ability to sit through that filth doesn’t make you question whether or not you and God are on the same page regarding His expectations and what is and is not acceptable for a Christian to watch, then this should.

*Sexual Content

An explicit scene involves Amy catching her husband, Mike having an affair with a woman via video chat online. There’s an implication of masturbation, and the camera shows us a completely nude woman (we see her from the front, side and rear) on his computer screen. At first, Amy thinks her husband is “just” looking at pornography, but she soon realizes it’s that the woman is performing for Mike. “This really feels like cheating,” she says.

Amy kicks Mike out of the house and, a day or two later, tells Kiki and Carla that she wants to get “laid.” They go to a bar and Amy flirts (badly) with several men before she runs into a widower she knows from their kids’ school. They kiss and quickly fall into a physical relationship: We see the two begin to have sex on Amy’s kitchen island before the scene moves to a post-coital moment in the bedroom, where they discuss how great it was. There’s also another visual reference (under the covers) to oral sex.

Verbally, this movie is just one long string of sex jokes. We hear graphic references to oral and anal sex, manual stimulation and explicit discussions of men’s anatomy. Carla uses obscene words and gestures to flirt with a bevy of men (including married fathers), passionately kisses a middle-aged grocery clerk and “encourages” other moms to attend a party by threatening to have sex with their husbands if they don’t. She locks lips with another mother there, then encourages other moms to do the same. (She later brags to Amy about how many women she kissed.) Kiki details her and her husband’s sexual habits.

We see Amy in a bra. Someone encourages her to wear a “slutty” dress. There are scads of crude references to the male and female anatomy. Amy, Carla and Kiki watch a man rip off his shirt in a movie. We hear references of lesbian moms and “moms who used to be dads.”

In a movie postscript, the real-life moms of the movie’s actresses talk about motherhood. One admits to taking her child, Christina Applegate (who plays Gwendolyn), to the movie Cruising, a film that involves the gay, S&M underworld of New York City.

**Movie content reviews found at http://www.pluggedin.com/

My Christian friend, I’m not sure exactly what path has led you so far from the ways of the Lord…or what teaching you’ve sat under that never led you to the one true God of the Bible in the first place… but THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR YOU. Though sadly expected from those that are still slaves to sin, IT’S NOT AN OPTION for true followers of Christ. You’ve got to give it up. That’s all there is to it. Nobody gets to ride the fence. Christians share His death (and victory over sin) and we get to share His life in doing so. We don’t get the life without dying first. And here’s a spoiler alert: It’s a continual process. As you begin to approach God, His light illuminates the darkness that is within you. You repent, turn away from that sin, and step closer to Him into brighter light that again usually reveals more hidden sin that separates you from Holy God. The closer you draw to Him, the brighter His light to illuminate even the deepest darkest secret corners of your life. So basically, those of us a little further into this journey aren’t off the hook either. We, too, should constantly be communicating with the Lord about ANY areas of compromise or disobedience in our own lives that do not line up with the word or ways of God. If Jesus wouldn’t think it, say it, do it….then we shouldn’t either.

Colossians 3:1-10

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.  So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Friend, I urge you to take a deep look into yourself and your life that is on display to your family, friends, and co-workers. Does your language honor God? Does your thought life make him proud? Could you sit through the movies you watch or surf the internet side by side with Jesus Christ and feel 100% comfortable while doing so? If it doesn’t, of if you can’t, then you have a very real problem that needs immediate attention and this hard message is a gift from God straight to you BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU and PASSIONATELY DESIRES TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.

Need help getting right with God? You can start by reading 1 John in the New Testament. It explains exactly how Christianity works. And by all means, feel free to reach out to me or another Christian for help and accountability. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you cannot sin. It means you *CAN* not sin. Your desire for sinful things will decrease as you spend time with and grow closer to the Lord… for one cannot be with the One who is Holy and remain the same.

Again, a hard TRUTH, but one spoken in love.

 

 

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

Josiah Justice: Chapter 8 Miracle Before My Eyes

September 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm (Josiah Justice) (, , , )

For those of you following along as I release the book, this is the chapter that we skipped over last week.  I received permission to post it today, so we’re going to back track a little to get you all caught up!   As always, click here if you want to start from the beginning.

 Many of you followed the news coverage of our dear friends Matt and Tara Way and the miraculous pre-mature birth of their precious daughter, Myla Faith.  This is “my version” of how that fateful day transpired.  I pray that through it you’ll catch a glimpse of  the unseen spiritual realm that parallels this physical world that we live in.

Chapter 8

Miracle Before My Eyes

I raced out the door, brushing my teeth and spitting leftover toothpaste in the grass as I ran.  The team was already gathered at the picnic table that we had officially declared to be our meeting spot to discuss new missions. 

“So what’s the story?”  I huffed. 

Gabby quickly briefed me.  “Twenty-three year old pregnant woman stroked.  They’re trying to get her brain to stop bleeding right now.  They’re going to have to deliver the baby early.”

“Stroked?”  I said in shock.  “How in the world does a 23-year-old have a stroke?  That doesn’t happen until you’re like – really old!” 

“Don’t know.  But it’s way too early for her to deliver that baby.”  Gabby shook her head.  “The girls said it’s actually a lady from your church.  Her name’s Tara.” 

“Our Tara?”  I asked, stunned that she could possibly be the one.  Tara was young, beautiful, healthy…and newly pregnant.  She didn’t even have a belly to show for it.    “How early is she delivering?”

“Early, early.”

“Too early for the baby to live?”

“She may live, but not without severe complications.    She’s not due to be born for another three and a half months.”

“How’s Tara?”

“In bad shape.  Not responsive.  They aren’t sure she’s even gonna make it through the surgery.”

“How’s Matt holding up?”

“They say he’s doing amazing – considering the circumstances.”

“I’m sure he is.”  Matt was a perfect example of a godly man.  The son of our pastor and his wife, he had been raised right.  From the time he was a small child, he chose to follow God rather than to rebel.  He absolutely adored his wife, Tara, and considered her to be a treasure straight from Heaven. 

I shot off a list of orders in my best take charge tone of voice.  “Gabby, I’m going to need you to organize ‘round the clock’ prayer.   Grampy, can you and Granna get to that hospital later tonight and lay hands on Tara?  Joy, back them up here at home by petitioning Yahweh for healing.  Grace, several things.  I need you to war for Tara’s life.  War for the baby’s life.  War for Matt.  I’m sure he can use all the strength he can get right now.  I’m headed to the hospital.  I’ll let you guys know if I need anything else.”

I raced back into the house, grabbed a pair of red warfare flags and two chocolate chip cookies and stepped into my awaiting elevator.  “Hey Kodesh?”  I called out as the elevator surged through the clouds.  “Would you mind cranking my spiritual vision up a notch?  I’ve never seen a miracle before.  I wanna know how it all works.”

“And what makes you so sure you’re about to see a miracle?”  Kodesh countered.

“Well, my team was given the mission.  And our job is to restore God’s justice.  We take back what the enemy has stolen.  I can only assume that we are taking back Tara and her baby.”  I quickly finished up my mint-y cookie snack as the clouds parted and a hospital building came into view.

“You’re a pretty bright kid, Josiah.  Pretty bright…”  Kodesh stopped in mid mutter as we entered an operating room. 

The sight filled me with a mixture of fright and awe.  An entire team of doctors surrounded Tara causing her small body to be barely visible.   As I leaned in to get a closer look, my spiritual vision kicked into high gear revealing huge, beautiful, bright beings of light.  I could not tear my eyes from them.  They had to be angels.

The spirit-like body of the first one mingled with the human flesh body of the lead surgeon and carefully guided his hands.  The second being gently cupped the tiny fetus nestled up in Tara’s womb which was now radiating a yellow glow.  The third angelic being hovered horizontally – creating what appeared to be an impenetrable force field above Tara’s body on the surgical table.  The fourth and final angel, the strongest and largest of them all, was in constant motion fighting off demons and dark powers sent on a mission to destroy Tara and her young child.  I watched, dumbfounded that what happens in the physical realm is a direct reflection of what is going on in the spiritual realm.  This random emergency was not an accident and it was not random!  It was a direct attack from the evil one.  I wasn’t about to let him steal our Tara or her precious unborn child.  Looking down at the shimmery red fabric of the warfare flags in my hand, I sighed.  “I guess now is as good a time as any.” 

Though I was very familiar with the flags, it had been a really long time since I had used them.  Years ago, our church did a small study on the Biblical use of banners and flags, or standards, as they are called in the Bible.  While flags are often used to make the worship of the Lord glorious, they are also used for other specific purposes.  My mother had fallen in love with the worship art of flag twirling the very first time she saw it performed.  The flags, created to express a particular thought, prayer, or declaration, were skillfully crafted out of beautiful fabrics of various colors. 

I’ll never forget the day Mom’s first pair arrived.  Rounded off into huge half circles and two different shades of glistening blue in color, they represented the Holy Spirit.  Sheer sparkly white fabric shaped like wings billowed out from each flag, creating the flapping sound of a  flying dove as they sailed through the air.  As she stood in our den late at night practicing, she looked silly, like an awkward teenage girl trying out for the high school drill team.  But once she got the skill of flag twirling down, it was absolutely stunning to watch.  Every movement had purpose.   It wasn’t a fancy dance routine but an expression of her worship and adoration to Holy God.  The flags, an extension of herself, released the unspoken cries of her heart to permeate the room and rise to rest in the Heavens. 

That first pair of flags was followed by many, many more – all used at the right time to lift the right request up to the Lord.  In the mix of all of the gorgeous colors and fancy fabrics to praise and petition the Lord with was a plain rectangle flag made of dull colored material.  It was divided into thirds: one black, one red, and one white.  Though it could not possibly compare in splendor, it was my favorite of all of our flags simply because of its meaning.  The black portion of the flag was chosen to remind us of the sin that once ruled our lives before we came to Jesus.  The red represented the blood of Jesus that was literally poured out to take those sins away.  The white was a picture of the new righteous life He gave us when we chose to forever commit our lives to Him.  The flag was a constant reminder of how we were once slaves to sin and death but are now new creations in Christ.  Anytime I messed up and did something I knew was wrong, I could raise that flag up, pour my heart out to God, tell him how sorry I was and ask for His forgiveness and for a fresh start.  It was a sign of surrender, a petition to make things right, and an exclamation of gratitude and freedom-all in one!

It wasn’t long before I had my own pair of twirling flags – a pair of double red and gold shaped flames representing the fire of the Lord.  Though I was fascinated with the speed and accuracy required to twirl, it wasn’t quite a fit for me.  The thick metal twirling poles were heavy and they bruised and blistered the insides of my fingers within minutes.  Mom’s flagging was slow and graceful in worship and fast and graceful in praise but my style was quite different.  In fact, from the time I was just a few years old, my flagging had been raising the hair on people’s arms on end…

 My style had but one purpose – to kick some enemy butt!  It’s no joke!  There is an exact flag sequence that declares war on Satan.  It came naturally to me as a toddler and I simply couldn’t stop doing it.  Mom realized very quickly that her sweet little boy had a not so sweet job to do.  Now, most people prefer to steer clear of directly engaging in warfare with Satan.  But for some reason, I loved it!  At the time though, I was way too little to understand what I was doing.  Mom was advised that she should be cautious when allowing me to flag – as I was unintentionally entering into a dangerous battle that I was not yet equipped to handle.  She somewhat  listened to that advise and we sort of put the warfare on hold.  Life got busy and that was pretty much the end of that…until now!

I lifted one crisp red flag into the air and hesitated.  It had been years since I had done this.  Was I ready yet?  Was I strong enough to take on evil itself?  “Better be sure and put my armor on again!”  Quickly voicing a prayer, I took my stance.  There was no time to spare.  Tara’s brain was still bleeding heavily and the doctors looked slightly shaken.

It appeared that Satan had unleashed another group of his hellions.  The force field angel was now assisting the strong one in keeping the creatures away from the operating table.   Horrific snarling demons were clawing at both Tara and the baby.  I watched with disgust as one tore at the baby’s eyes.  One at her lungs.  And one at her kidneys.  At that moment, one of the goblin-like creatures squealed in delight.  He had gotten a claw into the small area where the surgeons had removed part of Tara’s forehead bone to operate on her brain.  I wasn’t sure how much damage he had done, but judging from his glee, I knew it could not be good.  Just inches away, heat radiated from Kodesh, reminding me that I was not on my own.  “Let’s do this!”

I began to violently wave the warfare flags in front of me in fast strong strokes repeating an ‘x’ pattern.  Cool air rushed back at me, summoning chill bumps up and down my arms and chest.  The sharp popping of my flag resounded like an approaching army’s footsteps in cadence.  Left.  Left.  Left, right, left.    My enemy was not deterred.  He faced me dead on, threw back his head, and began to laugh.  “Just who, little boy, do you think you are?” 

Refusing to allow him to intimidate me with my young age, I called back to him in my bravest voice.  “It’s me, Josiah.” 

“And why would a human boy think he has any power over me, the Prince of Darkness and every evil thing?  I.  Rule.  Your.  World.  You are mine.  Stand down you filthy sinner.”

Again I braced myself and thrust my chest out.  “Think again dark one.  I may have been born under the curse of sin, but I have chosen of my own free will to be a son of the one true and living God.  I have been bought with the very blood of His son, Yeshua. By the way Loser, how did that feel when He rose from the dead and beat you once and for all?  How’d you like handing over those keys to the grave?”  I knew better than to taunt him but I just couldn’t seem to help myself. 

“Silence!”  His shriek pierced my ears.  “You better shut your mouth now or I’ll drag you right down to hell with me.”

“Fat chance!  My salvation is sealed.  My name is forever in the Book of Life.  I am not yours to take.  Not to mention the fact that you have to ask my Father God if you can even do anything to me in the first place!  Why don’t you just go back to where you came from!  Oh Da-aaaad!”  I called.

A wind that sounded like a thousand twisting tornadoes swept through the room and the enemy and all of his demons were gone at once.  It was Yahweh. 

“Thanks for backing me up!”  I breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Remember, your battles are my battles.” 

Yahweh Himself led me to the packed family waiting room.  Practically every family from our entire church was represented.  The members of our congregation stood encircling Tara’s young husband, Matt.  Matt was voicing a prayer for his precious wife.  Tears streamed down his face as he cried out for God to save Tara and their unborn daughter.  “Lord, you know my heart.”  He prayed.  “And if there is anything I want – it’s for my girls to be safe.  You are sovereign; You are faithful.  I know that your ways are not like my ways.  But I can trust you.  I know that you have a bigger plan than this.  I know that there’s a reason for all of this and that whatever the outcome is, it will bring you glory.  So, I give them up to you right now.  I trust you with both of them.  May your name be forever glorified through our lives.  If there is anyone who needs to come to know you, use our situation to do it.”

I lifted my head to meet Yahweh’s gaze.  He was beaming.  Pride filled His voice as He spoke.  “That’s my boy!”  

I couldn’t help but laugh at the goofy image forming in my head.  Yahweh, Master of the Universe, was wearing one of those bulky “That’s my kid” sports ribbons that parents buy with a photo of their kid playing ball on it.

“Hey.  You better watch it!”  He grinned.  “I have one with your picture on it, too!”

“Yahweh, can I ask you something?”

“Anything, my child.”

“Are they going to be okay?  Uh, you know, Tara and the baby?”

“Matt’s great faith, along with that of everyone else believing for a miracle, has already unleashed my power.  I have already restored the child’s lungs, kidneys, eyes, brain, and liver and I will continue to heal her as the enemy attacks.  The doctors will deliver her in perfect health at one pound, thirteen ounces.  The world will watch as a child born too early to survive thrives.  She will be called ‘Miracle Baby’ and people will marvel at her astounding story.  Thousands will unite and lift her continued health up in prayer.  She will be blessed her entire life.”

“And what about Tara?”

“Tara will struggle immensely, but she is strong and I will mold her character through all of this.  Your work here is not done.  You all must continue to fight for her.  The enemy has requested permission to destroy her.  He believes that she will turn against me and against her faith if she has to endure such hardship.  I have granted his desire.  He has already taken part of her brain function, the use of her right arm and leg, and her speech.”

“What?!  Are you kidding me?  Why would you allow that creep to do that to her!  She’s a good person.  A really, really good person.  I know she’s a Christian.   I can tell by the way she acts.  She doesn’t just talk the talk.  She walks the walk!  She loves you and obeys the Bible…It just isn’t fair.”

I decide what is fair.  But you are exactly right.  Tara has done nothing wrong – nothing to deserve what has happened to her.  On the contrary, she has done everything right.  Her heart belongs to me.  Satan can take anything he likes from her and she will still praise me.  She will still worship me.  She will still place all of her hope and trust in me.  She’s about to display that to a whole lot of people.  Her story will change lives and hearts everywhere.  And while everyone’s eyes are on her ‘loss,’ I will have great opportunity to heal her and display my sovereignty and power.   Her season of hardship will bring me more glory than an entire carefree lifetime of ease.  I am greatly pleased with her and am allowing her the awesome privilege of bringing me glory.”

“You said you will have great opportunity to heal her.  That means she’ll be normal again, right?”

“Tara is still normal now.  She’s still the same Tara on the inside.  Her thoughts, values, and dreams are just as they were before she had the stroke.    It is not what is on the outside, but what is on the inside, that makes a person who they are.  Tara will struggle greatly with this – as I will only partially restore her natural body.  She will feel inadequate.  She will feel incomplete.  She must learn that she is worthy ‘as-is.’  It will take some time but she will come to realize that she is just as beautiful to me and to everyone else now as she was before anything happened to her.  She will see that people love her for who she is and not for the things she can or cannot do.  You see Josiah, a person’s worth is not measured by how they look or by the skills or talents they may have.  Those things won’t last forever.  But a blameless heart will.  In the end, those who invest all of their time in the things of this world will have nothing to show for it.  But those who invest their lives in me and the things of my Kingdom will have gained everything.  They will have eternal life as their reward.”

God’s ways truly are a mystery to man.  We definitely do not think like He thinks!  Relieved that Tara was truly going to be okay, I turned to board my elevator.   A small commotion in the corner of the hospital waiting room caught my eye.  Matt, now on his knees, had a visitor.  I listened in as the messenger spoke.  “Do not be afraid Matthew.  For it is by your faith that the child has already been healed.  You are to name her ‘Faith’ as a remembrance of what the Lord has done for you.  Every time you speak her name, a charge resounds to trust in Yahweh, the living and active God.  Take heart and do not grow weary.  Your journey will be long.  It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.”  As he spoke the last word, the angelic being vanished into thin air.

Permalink 1 Comment

A 911 Call I Have to Make

September 11, 2011 at 1:49 am (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , )

To my friends and family:

 I love you all too much not to make this 911 call.

 Today marks the 10 year anniversary of September 11, 2001. As I watch the horrific news coverage of the terrorist attack on America at the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and The Pentagon in Washington, I can’t help but wonder how different the day could have been —would have been–had someone exposed the evil plot. If a single person had made a single warning call to 911 just say… 30 minutes before the attack…how many thousands might still be alive today?

 On 9/11 Americans busily went about their routine, entirely unaware that a terrible enemy was scheming against them. Life and business went on as usual, but in an instant, everything changed. Fates were unexpectedly sealed forever. Countless individuals never had the chance to say, “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” or “I forgive you.” Their time, time that they were counting on, simply ran out.

 Because I understand that everything that happens here in our physical world is directly related to things of the unseen spiritual realm, it’s not hard to find a parallel here.

 The truth is that the entire human race has a very, VERY real enemy that’s been plotting against us for a long, long time. He’s crafty and cunning and generally carries out his plan undetected. He is a terrorist by nature, purposed only to steal, kill, and destroy. And sadly, those who are unaware of this enemy don’t really even stand a chance.

He is the enemy of God, the rightful owner of your soul if you haven’t come into relationship with God through His only son, Jesus, and he’ll do whatever it takes to drag you to the pits of hell with him. He is deceitful, the father of all lies, causing man to believe “it’s all good” when really the plane is en route and the building is about to go down.

 If you’re running from God, procrastinating, putting off giving your life to Him so you can live a little more of it for yourself-

 If you know a whole lot about God and know “religion” but you aren’t actively in a day-to-day back and forth relationship with Him-

 If you think that just being a good person will get you to Heaven-

 If you haven’t yet realized that you are a sinner that doesn’t measure up to God’s holy standard-

 If you haven’t turned away from your sins and asked for God’s forgiveness-

 If you haven’t started living life in obedience to Him-

 Then you’re in grave danger. You’re on schedule to go up in flames.

 So my loved ones, whether you want to hear it or not, I’ve made the 911 call. The clock is ticking. You have had the good fortune of receiving a 30 minute warning. Don’t waste another minute taking your chances. Evacuate immediately. Leave your old ways behind right now. Take hold of your loved ones, run to the source of life, and never look back.

May anyone that doesn’t yet know Jesus be rescued by Him today.

If you would like to learn more about how to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, feel free to visit our church website at Remnant Church Online and contact us now.

And please, make the 911 call to warn your own friends and family by forwarding or sharing this post on your social networking sites.

Permalink 2 Comments

Leakin’ Life

September 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

It’s amazing how God will use everyday things to teach us if we’re willing to listen. 

Back in April, on a whim, my husband and I decided to create a little rose garden. While I’m not exactly the romantic type and I’d prefer a practical gift to a bouquet of cut flowers any day, I’ve loved the intoxicating scent of the Don Juan rose since I was a little girl.  After much research, I carefully chose nine rose plants worthy to take up space in my small slice of paradise.  Though I’d already been advised to stick with cacti due to my bad history with plants, I was determined to make my little rose garden flourish.  May and June passed without a hitch as I carefully pruned and watered my new babies.  When July arrived with her triple digit temps, I ran into trouble.  I watered, but my precious plants continued to wilt.  So, I called on my brother and trusted horticulture expert for a little advice.  “You’re not watering them enough and you’re not watering them the right way.”

 Turns out, roses thrive when they receive a l-o-n-g deep drink.  Frequent sips don’t quite do the job. 

Well, I tried out the deep soak idea for a few weeks and my plants did perk up.  But my soaks became few and far in between because I simply did not have the time to stand out there all day with the hose!  I tried leaving a hose to work alone at the task only to return and find that it had somehow gone wild.  The water that I had intended to give life to my precious rose plants had actually done the opposite!  The overspray scorched every leaf it landed on! 

Just when I was about ready to give up on my project, I was introduced to the greatest invention on the planet:  the soaker hose!  A hose that’s created to leak water in the right places at the right time without any assistance!  What a perfect solution!  I excitedly unwound my new treasure, carefully surrounded each wounded plant with it, turned the water on full blast, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I left, picked up my kids from school, returned home, and waited.  We did homework, baths, and dinner, and waited.  Hours had passed but the mulch barely looked damp!  “This method’s not getting me anywhere.”  I thought.  Though I was frustrated that I could not see a visible change in the flower bed, I continued to utilize the soaker hose- as it was my last resort.

This morning as I went out to gaze at my beautiful, well nourished, and healthy roses, (a delayed but direct result of the soaker hose I had no faith in) the Lord clearly spoke, “Your life should resemble that soaker hose.  My holy spirit should literally leak out of you all day long.  When people come into contact with you whether it be in person, or over the phone, or even through words on the internet, they should leave ‘damp’ because of your kindness.  Your hope and joy should ‘trickle’ deep down into their roots and nourish them.  Your love should ‘creep’ up on them when they’re least expecting it and your peace should ‘penetrate’ their spirits.  You have the source of life in you but you’re not watering often or deep enough.  Words are not enough.  Your actions must also speak of Me.”

“But Lord, if I’m going to leak life I don’t want to just drizzle.  I want to spray at full blast!  I don’t want to wait forever to give people the source of life.  I want to dump everything that I have on them now.”

“Different plants require different watering techniques.  Some flourish at full blast and others require gradual saturation.  Those that are already wounded can easily be burned if you spray them directly.  However, if the resources that they need are readily available nearby, they will pursue them when the time is right.  Remember that no one comes to Me unless I draw them near.  Your job is simply to be filled daily with My spirit and to be prepared to ‘leak’ Me onto anyone that crosses your path.  Your actions (ALL of them) should point others to Me.  Show patience to the hurried driver on the road.  Walk in integrity as you make your purchases.  Be gentle with your employees.  Have self-control when dealing with your children.  Pray blessings over the teen walking to school.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t see a  ‘visible change’ right away.  No one can come into contact with Me and not be changed.  If I am in you, and you come into contact with them, they will be changed in some way or another.   Wait patiently on that growth.  It will come.”

I don’t know about you but my desire  is to become so filled with the presence of God that wherever I go and whatever I do, my actions will naturally ‘leak’ His goodness all over the place! 

 What are your thoughts on leakin’ life into others?

Permalink 5 Comments

If You Don’t Know Me By Now…

July 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , )

 

 Ironically, I actually wrote these words for those who DO know me.  Those who have walked through each and every up and down of my life for the past ten years.  Those who are willing to drop everything to help, pray, encourage, love, or listen.  Today I offer a little glimpse into my home away from home where everybody is truly family, Remnant Church.  So, for those of you who have always wondered but haven’t mustered up the nerve to ask, this is what I (as a part of Remnant) am all about!

When friends and acquaintances hear that we’re part of Remnant, the “Hebrew Roots” church in town, they never hesitate to ask in a half whisper, “Remnant Church…Are you Jewish?”

I can’t help but to grin in response. No, We’re not Jews. We just have a true understanding of our Christian heritage. God in His sovereignty chose the Jewish people as His own. He set them apart from all other people groups-that they might testify of His integrity and give credence to the absolute authenticity of His holy scriptures. While His redeeming plan of salvation from sin was originally intended for the Jews alone, the Bible makes it very clear in Romans 11 that we, the non-Jewish believers, were “grafted” into the work that God is doing in and through the Jewish people. We did not replace them, but were graciously included into the covenant God made with them. That’s REALLY good news for us!

Because most Christians today aren’t even aware that a vital connection once existed between Christianity and Judaism, our friends are usually shocked to learn that 2000 years of Jewish history, culture, language, and customs literally form the root of what they know today to be Christianity!

At Remnant, we study the Jewish roots of Christianity to understand our Savior. Jesus was a Jew born into a Jewish family in the Jewish village of Bethlehem in the land of Israel. He lived life and ministered to others as an observant Jew. He read the Jewish scriptures, spoke Hebrew, wore Jewish clothes, ate only biblically kosher food, kept the Jewish Sabbath, celebrated the Jewish feasts, followed Jewish customs, and kept every single law of God. Whew!

Our goal at Remnant is not to “act Jewish” but to pattern our lives after Jesus and to become more like Him and those in the Bible that faithfully aligned themselves with His commandments and character. Over the years, we’ve found that the more our lives line up with the Bible, the more “Jewish” we appear!

Many are curious to know, “What’s the vision. What’s Remnant all about then?”

Well, like Barnabus, Remnant sets out to encourage others, building them up to reach their full potential and God’s purpose for their life.

We’re Caleb. People of faith in a GREAT God. And like the woman with the issue of blood and the centurion whose great faith Jesus marveled at, our confidence rests not in our own abilities but in our understanding of just who God is and what He is capable of.

We are Lazarus, once dead and decaying from sin -raised to walk a new life with Christ here on earth. And like His sister Martha, we are learning that “busyness” of every sort, even serving others and doing “good things,” can become a barrier to knowing Jesus personally and intimately.

Remnant Church is David expressing His praise and worship unrestrained and unashamed before the Lord.

We are Jeremiah, Samuel, and Josiah-our youth equipped and trained to hear from and follow the Lord at any cost.

We are the Hebrew people, meeting up with God in the feasts for scheduled one on one appointments with Him.

Like Mary Magdalene we’ve been miraculously freed from the powers of darkness.

Remnant is Noah, committed to a lifetime of faithful obedience to God, doing our best to live a righteous life in the midst of an unbelieving generation. Our reverential fear of God is greater than our fear of man and anything he may think about or do to us.

We are John the Baptist, continuously pointing others to the Messiah.

Like Joseph and Daniel, we believe that God speaks through dreams and visions and often reveals Himself and His plans during the night watch.

We’re the hands of Jesus reaching out to the broken, the unaccepted, the unlovely.

Remnant Church is Elijah-finding God NOT in the midst of the windstorm, earthquake, or fire but instead in a gentle whisper.

We are Peter experiencing the Lord’s provision in nets that are overflowing when necessities are scarce.

We’re Solomon seeking Godly wisdom above all else.

We are the disciples, learning to live naturally supernatural lives. We choose to be empty vessels for God to use as He pleases. In doing so, we are privileged to utilize the very same power and authority that raised Jesus from the dead to release healing and miracles to those in need.

We’re the New Testament church meeting together in our homes, breaking bread, celebrating Bible prophecies that have already come to pass and anticipating the fulfillment of those that are soon to come.

Like Mary, we desire to lavish our love on the Savior. And like Mephibosheth, we can bask in the Father’s love- knowing that we are in a forever binding blood covenant relationship with Him.

Remnant Church is Esther raised up at a specific time in history for the specific purpose of advancing God’s kingdom here on earth.

Because Almighty God specifically chose Israel to express Himself to the world, we choose to love, support, encourage, pray for, respect, and speak the truth about the Jewish people. Our desire is to be among those who bridge the gap between Christian and Jew and to live our lives in such a way that others hunger to know the God that we serve.

That’s what Remnant’s all about!

http://www.remnantchurchonline.org/

Permalink 1 Comment

Dream Interpretation: Unlocking the Mystery of Your Dreams

May 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , )

 

Would you believe me if I told you that God speaks to me on a regular basis? Would it surprise you to find out that He speaks to YOU just as often?

 I’ll pause right here for just a moment and allow you to voice the argument that’s brewing in your brain right now!

 Okay. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the most common ways God speaks to mankind today. It’ll probably shock you!

 Job 33:14-15 explains it like this,

 14 For God may speak in one way, or in another,

Yet man does not perceive it.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,

 When deep sleep falls upon men,

 While slumbering on their beds…

 That’s right! Last night’s weird dream wasn’t caused by the greasy pizza you ate or the midnight kitchen run for chocolate cake. It came from the Creator Himself! And believe it or not, each crazy and seemingly off-the-wall detail has meaning that relates specifically to you!

 Before we go any further, let me back up a little for those of you who Job refers to as those who “do not perceive that God speaks through dreams.” I’ve got some proof to help you accept this whole new way of thinking.

There are approximately 200 Bible verses that directly refer to dreams or visions given by God. When you add in the interpretations and all of the other related biblical “chatter” about those documented dreams and visions from the Lord, you find that ONE-THIRD of Scripture directly or indirectly relates to dreams and visions! If a third of the whole Bible revolves around one concept, I think we can safely assume it’s a pretty important one!

So the next question is, “Why does God speak in dreams?”

 If we return to the Scripture verses in Job, we find part of the answer.

Job 33:14-18 (New King James Version)

 14 For God may speak in one way, or in another,

Yet man does not perceive it.

 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,

When deep sleep falls upon men,

 While slumbering on their beds,

16 Then He opens the ears of men,

 And seals their instruction.

17 In order to turn man from his deed,

 And conceal pride from man,

 18 He keeps back his soul from the Pit,

And his life from perishing by the sword.

 God speaks to us through our dreams to reveal to us in a very personal way that He is intimately aware of and actively involved in our lives. He has instructions for us regarding our purpose! He wants to keep us from pitfalls that will cause us to stumble and fail! He wants to lead us into a life that is meaningful and fulfilling!

Now, if you’re like me, you might ask Him, “Why not just talk to me out loud?”  After all, who doesn’t want to hear the audible voice of God? But the Bible shows us that mankind’s ability to hear from God varies. In John 12 God spoke and Jesus heard every word the Father said.  The passage also indicates that some of the other people present thought that they heard thunder. Some speculated that an angel had spoken and yet others heard NOTHING.

 I’m no Bible scholar, but my understanding of this portion of Scripture is that the ability or inability to hear God’s voice is directly related to the degree of relationship that exists between God and the listener.

 I can only speak for myself, but I know that this listener has entirely too many distractions coming in to be able to hear a clear message from God during the daytime. Perhaps the few slumbering hours that my mind and body aren’t racing to do a million things are the only moments He can actually get a word in. Not to mention the fact that I’m a logic bound human being trying to hear from a supernatural God whose wisdom is so far beyond my understanding that I may not even believe what He says if it‘s up to me. Or that His instructions may seem impossible to accomplish in the flesh and I might disregard them altogether. Or maybe His message will contradict what I’ve been taught and I’ll just flat our refuse to listen…

 You see, we have the ability to push Him off when we’re awake and our minds are in control. But dreams bypass the resistance of the soul. The mind, will, and emotions don’t have a say in the content of a dream message sent from God. They are disabled– which allows His spirit to communicate and our spirit to LISTEN!

 A true “God dream” creates an unrest in the inner man that will drive the dreamer to search for the hidden meaning in the specific symbols that God crafted together to speak the message.

 If you’ve ever experienced one of these “night messages” from the Lord, then you know that it generates a curiosity that absolutely demands an answer. It was that intense curiosity that led my husband and I to John Paul Jackson of Streams Ministries International last July. In the past nine months, we’ve completed over 94 classroom hours at the Streams Training Center that have equipped us to better hear and understand God and His dream language.

 While other dream interpretation methods (including most of those offered by the Western church) are misguided, originating from Freudian and/or Jungian methods of dream interpretation, the principles of dream interpretation and the meaning of the symbols taught by Streams Ministries are found in, are in agreement with the tenets of, and do not violate scripture. It’s an awesome place to learn and safely explore what God is speaking to you through your dreams!

 If I’ve peaked your interest in unlocking the mystery of your dreams, you’ll definitely enjoy the insight and revelation shared at the ministry’s Dream BloggR And, if you have a dream that you absolutely must know the meaning of, our church has a dream team that consists of believers who have also completed the necessary training to biblically interpret dreams. Go to RemnantChurchOnline and click on Dream Interpretation under the ministry tab.

 Sweet Dreams!

~Jewel

Permalink 4 Comments

WARNING: ‘Serious Killer’ on the Loose!

January 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , )

 

I’ve always thought that if I could change one thing about myself, I’d loosen up a little!  You know, not stress out over every single little detail of life!   Chill out!  Relax!  Enjoy the ride!

I’m not even sure how I came to be so uptight.  I’ve just always been this way.  Rarely spontaneous.  Never silly.  And absolutely under no circumstances willing to purposely act stupid.  I’ve spent the past twenty years of life being serious with a capital S.

Which means…I’ve missed out on a whole lot of fun!

I’ve finally come to realize that the ‘s’ word has damaged more than just my social life.  My spiritual life -my walk with the Lord- has suffered over the years as well.  Oh, I’ve done a halfway decent job at the serious parts-talking to the Lord in prayer and reading His word.  (Because they can be done in private and don’t require me to leave my comfort zone.)  It’s actually the worship part that I, along with the rest of the non-smiling serious types, have a problem with.   It’s the passionate effort, the reckless abandon, the Psalm 20:5, Psalm 95:6, Psalm 138:1, Psalm 149:3, Psalm 150:4, 1 Chronicles 13:8 and all the other scriptures instructing us to worship beyond half heartedly singing along.

In 2 Samuel 6 we find David dancing unashamedly-leaping and whirling before the Lord.  While his on-looking wife, Michal, despises his dramatic expression of adoration to the Creator, David passionately proclaims,

“And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.”

I imagine that Michal must have considered herself to be a pretty serious individual.   Too self-respecting to leap or whirl.  Too dignified to dance wildly before the Lord.  And definitely too concerned about what others might think to actually abandon herself in genuine worship.  (Sounds like somebody I know all too well!)

Though Michal perceived David’s worship to be irreverent foolishness, God was PLEASED.  And He was so DIS-pleased with Michal’s disdain that He forever cursed her womb!  For, as 1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”

Well, I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but I am bright enough to realize that I generally gravitate more towards Michal’s mindset than David’s.  And I think it’s pretty safe to say that that is NOT a good thing.  So, last year I began to ask the Lord to free me from my comfortable, predictable ways so that I can genuinely worship Him in spirit and truth according to the directives set forth in scripture.  I can’t say that it has been an easy process.  Even surrounded by the spirit-led Davidic worship offered up to the Lord at Remnant Church, I’ve had great difficulty letting go of the fear of man.

It was only when I brought worship into my home as a routine part of my day that I began to overcome my fear of looking foolish in man’s eyes.  After all, it’s much easier to put all your inhibitions aside when the lights are out and no one’s looking!  Whirling about is actually quite fun when there’s no one standing nearby to criticize.  And to my surprise, words that the mind’s not even capable of composing can be spoken through the spirit while waving a banner before the Lord.  I’ve come to find that there is no greater “high” than expressing my love for God with ALL of my strength in any manner He lays upon my heart.

While God has not yet brought this new work in me to completion, I can honestly say that I yearn to worship Him with my entire person -my body, my emotions, my mind, and my spirit- as David did.  And now that I’ve had a taste of the real thing, attempting to praise or worship the Lord without giving my absolute all just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.  It’s not enough for Him, and it’s not enough for me.  I admit that I still hold back at church, but one day I hope to bust my shackles wide open!!

Until then, I thought I’d leave you with a little warning.  Beware!  There’s a ‘Serious Killer’ on the loose!  One that can’t be restrained in chains or held by bars.  So you might as well not run.

Check out this awesome song at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6kSRKZ60q4

 

The song of my heart:

Undignified by Darrell Evans

Teach me to have a child-like heart
Free me to be undignified
Teach me to have a child-like heart
Free me to dance all over my pride

Gonna dance like a child
Sing like the Son
Abandon myself to the Holy One

Permalink 1 Comment

I’ll Have What HE’s Having

October 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

Is it just me or does anybody else out there believe that there is more to this life than just living and dying?  That you’re on this earth for a reason – to do something that actually matters – to carry out a specific purpose? 

Don’t worry.  Your secret’s safe with me.  Because as corny as it sounds, my deepest desire is to be a “world changer.”  By the masses or one person at a time.  Either way works for me – as long as I am somehow used to touch a life, mend a heart, change an attitude, lead someone into truth. 

Now maybe my mother told me I was special one too many times, but I think the real source of this pressing desire to make a difference in others’ lives is actually my father…my Heavenly Father, that is.  Not only does He put desires deep within us, He also provides us with the tools necessary to fulfill those desires.

Ten and a half years ago I sat in a church pew listening to a teaching by a man named John Paul Jackson.  In the middle of his message, he called me out and prophesied over me.  At the time, I was not at all familiar with the spiritual gift of prophecy and had no intentions of familiarizing myself with it.  It was one of those parts of scripture that our particular denomination altogether dismissed.  (Maybe somebody tore those pages out of our Bibles)  Along with healings, deliverance, and miracles, I believed prophecy was a thing of the past –for I had been taught only the Gospel of Jesus, not the gospel that Jesus taught.

With my childhood church background it should have been easy to go home and forget the words spoken over me.  However, that proved to be quite impossible because the words John Paul spoke were not his own.  They were directly from the Lord.  They were not general in nature, but very specific.  In fact, they hit so close to home that those who knew me best were just as stunned as I was.  How could this complete stranger speak the details of my life so accurately?  There was no doubt –this man definitely had a connection with the Lord unlike anything I had ever seen before.  He heard from God on a regular basis, something I desperately craved in my own life. 

Life happened.  We started a family and it grew and grew and grew!  Extra time in my life literally became non-existent.   My destiny didn’t appear to be coming to pass.  But I held onto those life-changing words that God chose to plant in my heart that fateful day.  And now, years later, I am finally seeing the fruit of them!

Over the years I’ve poured over John Paul’s teachings as well as those of my own pastor, Jim Way of the Remnant Church, and also those of Dr. Richard Booker of the Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies.  These three men all hold a priceless treasure that I seek.  They hear and know the Lord intimately.  They are living proof that Christianity is more than empty religious practices and unanswered prayer.  That a living, breathing, loving God genuinely desires to communicate with us individually and will if we allow Him to!  That He chooses to empower us and to use us to share His truth to overpower deception.  To be His light in the midst of a world full of darkness.  To speak His life into those that are dying.  To bring deliverance to those in bondage.  And to release healing to those who are broken.  As I have sat under their ministries, I’ve come to realize that the close relationship that they maintain with God the Father and the ability to be used for His purposes is much too big to embody in my current spiritual state.  There must first be an emptying.  A purging to free me from everything within that might stifle God’s voice and suppress His presence.  I welcome that cleansing process because it is there in that place of brokenness that my dream of being used to impact others will finally be realized.

As I think of each of these three godly teachers, my prayer to God goes something like this, “I’ll have what he’s having!  I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”

As I continue in my blog, know that the inspiration for my writings comes from the Biblical principles and truths that I’ve gleaned from the teachings of the aforementioned men that have been divinely placed in my path.

http://remnantchurchonline.org/

http://www.streamsministries.com/

http://www.rbooker.com/general/about.htm

Permalink 1 Comment

Queen of the Treadmill…and Elliptical…and Recumbent Bike…and…

October 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , )

 

With a few exceptions, I work out six days a week.  Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are my “elliptical” days.  I’ve built enough endurance to master the advanced setting on the trainer and can even do my entire workout backwards.

 Tuesdays and Thursdays are my “treadmill” days.  I must confess that running is not my forte’ and the slightest thought of it causes my nose to wrinkle up, my knees to ache, my stomach to contract, and my breathing to become labored!  Nonetheless, I drag myself onto that machine, command my children not to fight or mom just might die trying to respond to them and run at the same time, and huff, puff, and cramp through the next thirty-five moments of life. 

Sprinkle this general routine with recumbent bike rides and various ab exercisers from late night infomercials and you have a surefire recipe for success, right?

WRONG!

You see, I’ve always had this flawed mindset that I can eat whatever I want and workout twice as hard later to keep the pounds off.  The problem is… it doesn’t work that way!  Not only does medical science disprove my logic, my own body does!  Honestly, I haven’t lost a pound and kept it off in the last 3 and ½ years.  I’m sure you’re wondering how this can be possible with my rigid exercise schedule.  Well, there are currently three reasons…okay, a lot more than that, but three MAJOR reasons for my lack of success.

Number 1  Kettle cooked jalapeno chips

Number 2  Chocolate of any sort

Number 3  Ice cold Coca Cola

The three greatest loves of my life!  The things that bring me instant joy beyond anything else in this world…other than my family!

“I don’t want to do this the rest of my life!”  I complained to a dear friend as we worked out this morning.

“Maybe we’ll get where we need to be and not have to anymore.”  She encouraged me.

But deep down inside, I know that as long as there are jalapeno chips, cokes, Famous Amos cookies, chocolate covered peanuts, Hershey kisses with almonds, cookies and cream, Rocky Road, and chocolate Moo-lenium Crunch Bluebell (you get the idea) my weight will always be an issue.  It’ll be a constant battle and I’ll have to fight will all my strength because my self-discipline is practically non-existent some days.  The “no” in me is usually not big enough to overcome the temptation, so I give in almost every single time.

Knowing that nothing will change until something changes, (mind blowing concept!) I recently committed to giving up my daily cokes (Except when we go out to eat and in absolute emergencies.  Hey!  Cut me some slack here.  Everybody’s got to start somewhere! )  As the weeks have passed, I can see a very small but noticeable difference.  It’s that difference that strengthens the “no” inside of me a little more every time I encounter the desire for a coke.  And at the moment of decision, I can honestly say I’d rather lose the weight than enjoy the soda.  I’m well into the process of getting there on the chocolate…but have to admit that I’m still a slave to those darn chips!

We don’t have to look very hard to see a spiritual parallel here.  First of all, we can’t just intake whatever junk we want and expect to be unaffected by it or to easily get rid of it later.  Remember the old saying “Garbage In, Garbage Out?”   Sin happens to be a lot like junk food.   It appears to be harmless at first.  Like chocolate, it doesn’t take long for sin to become a regular part of our life and we certainly try to justify its existence.  What’s wrong with chocolate?  Well, nothing…except for the calories it contains that forever attach themselves to our hips in the form of giant fatty deposits due to unhealthy levels of sugar and fat!  Put that way, it’s not quite so appealing anymore!  Likewise, in the heat of the moment, the lure of unrighteousness usually doesn’t come with a disclaimer listing consequences that will be suffered for partaking.

  Sin offers the ease and convenience of grabbing a bag of potato chips over taking the time to make a healthy snack.  How often are we too busy to do the right thing?  We don’t have time to pursue righteousness, so we settle for less.  We think we’ll worry about the consequences later when they show up. 

Sin often appears to offer something “good” that masks all of its bad.   The caffeine in my coke makes my day go by much smoother, so I’m willing to overlook every other reason that it might not be a wise choice.  Sin’s “caffeine” might be physical pleasure.  Or maybe personal gain.  But any way we look at it, we WILL eventually pay.  Because nobody is immune to its effects.  Even my gorgeous stick skinny sister-in-laws can’t get away with a junky diet for long!

We can “workout” spiritually, reading the Bible, praying, spending time listening to God, and doing good deeds, but if we’re not willing to give up the junk  then we’re not going to get anywhere.  We’ll stay on our spiritual treadmill for a lifetime with no change.  No results.  No fit spirit to show for all of our hard work.  It is absolutely crucial that we get to the point where we desire spiritual change enough to say “no” to that little white lie, to those impure thoughts itching to be entertained, to the anger we feel rising up within us. 

Just like junk food, sin ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.  It’s something we’ll battle for the rest of our lives here on earth.  We can either let it take us down, or we can change our mindset, strengthen our inner “no,” choose to stand against it, and let go of the unrighteous indulgences we’ve picked up along the way of life.

Is it going to be hard?  Absolutely.  As hard as giving up that wonderful throat burn and eye glaze you get with that first gulp of coke, that second of pure bliss when chocolate melts in your mouth, and that ever satisfying blast of burning flavor you get from a jalapeno chip.  But once you’ve gone without it for a little while, the change you see and feel inside will be sooooo worth it!

So, today I challenge you to search your heart, actions, and attitudes.   Find your “junk” and tell it, “You’re just not worth it anymore.”  And don’t forget to pray for me…that I’ll one day have the strength to let go of those stinkin’ chips!

 In my next few blogs, we’ll talk about a lot of the character flaws and other “junk” that God’s been pointing out in my life and asking me to let go of.

Permalink 3 Comments

No Price Too High To Pay

October 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , )

So I know that salvation from sin is a free gift from God.  It can’t be bought.  It can’t be earned.  It’s simply there for the taking.  Being close to God, however, comes with a price.  A high price.  A price I am finally willing to pay because a ticket to Heaven isn’t enough for me anymore.  Playing church isn’t enough for me anymore.  Doing the absolute best I can in my own strength…and still failing…isn’t enough.  I’ve come to find that every bit of my “religion” is worthless without relationship with the Creator.  And the “relationship” that I’ve convinced myself that I’ve had up until now has been nothing more than one-sided.  So I’ve set my heart on the real deal—to intimately know and actively experience the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the Bible every single day of my life all day long.  I’ve got a long road ahead of me…for hearing His voice and knowing His ways require dying to the desires of self and living each day for Him-things I am only beginning to put into practice.  Every choice, every action, every thought is a test-a step away or a step closer to Him.  Even when I have the strength to choose right and draw near to Him, the light of His holiness searches out the darkness hidden deep within my soul and purges me of it.   It’s an ongoing process.  It’s ugly.  It’s messy.  It’s uncomfortable.  And it’s down right difficult.   But nobody ever said it would be easy.  Jesus himself repeatedly reminded His potential followers to count the cost before following Him. 

Well, I’ve counted the cost and I’ve determined that there is no price too high to pay.  Why?  My answer might come as a surprise.  It’s simply that I’ve come to an awareness that God is not at all who I thought He was.  My greatest moments with Him to date are merely a taste of what’s in store for those who love Him.  With each step closer to Him, I find that He is immeasurably above and beyond everything I have ever been taught.  So I find myself consumed with the desire to learn who He truly is and who I  truly am as a child of the one true King. 

A wise man recently told me that we learn best through teaching.  So with each new discovery, I teach my children what I’ve learned.  I chew it up, simplify it, and pour into them what has been poured into me.  Today I’d like to share something with you that I chose to teach my son Josiah through a written story form.  Though it is written at a child’s level, it holds great truth for all ages.  I pray that you’ll encounter God as you experience an ancient tradition and how it still applies to our lives today.

Please note the following characters & who they represent:                                                  

The story is written in first person through the eyes of  Josiah

Kodesh = the Holy Spirit

Yahweh=God

Yeshua=Jesus

Joy, Grampy, Grace, and Gabby=Josiah’s team members

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Chapter 6

Covenant

My normal life as I knew it no longer existed.  My days as a regular boy were over.  In a matter of a week or so I had been stripped of my childhood innocence and given the keys to a brand new life.  One without all of my favorite things: video games and toys and television.  But, one with purpose.  One with adventure.  One with power beyond measure.  Stepping into my destiny was going to be really difficult, but it felt so….so right! 

Kodesh woke me up bright and early as he had a lot planned for my first day on the job.  “Load up Josiah.  We’ve got to pick up the rest of the team.”

As each member of the Spirit-led Gang squeezed into my elevator, I watched them fidget.  We were all very excited, but also nervous and even a little scared.  Kodesh had recently invited Grampy to become the newest member of our team.  Though Grampy had made it very clear that he was coming to learn rather than to chaperone, we all found great comfort in travelling with an adult.

Grace spoke up and broke the silence.  “So, where are we headed to Boss?”

“The palace.”  Kodesh’s voice was calm and steady.

“The what?”  Gabby and I both spoke at the same time.  Joy giggled.

“Uh…the last time I checked, there weren’t any palaces around here.”  My attempt at being funny fell flat.  No one laughed.

“Lesson one is on trust.  You will not be able to step out and do mighty things in faith unless you fully trust Yahweh.  You will not be able to fully trust Him until you understand His commitment to you. Today you will witness covenant.”  Kodesh did not offer any extra input.

“Like a marriage?”  I asked, hoping he would give an explanation.

“Marriage is in fact a covenant, though few people realize it.   A covenant is a binding agreement between two individuals or even two groups of people.  Each party makes promises to the other one.  A covenant is sacred.  According to the Bible, it cannot be broken under any circumstances.”

“Well that can’t be right, because married people leave each other all the time.”  Joy struggled with the concept.

“That’s true Joy.  The idea of covenant has little value in the world you live in.  Your modern world treats a covenant casually and honors it only when it is convenient for them.  But that’s not how it used to be and it is definitely not how it is supposed to be.  In Biblical days, a covenant was much more than a legal agreement between two people.  Covenants lasted for many generations after they were made.  It didn’t matter if circumstances changed over time or not.  People kept their word.  They did not violate the contract they had entered into.”

The elevator came to a stop.  I looked up.  Two young men stood in front of us.  One was dressed in beautiful garments.  His appearance, posture, and mannerisms were clearly those of royalty.  The other young man looked as if he was a day laborer.  He was rugged and common and held a staff in his hand.  There was nothing special about him.

“Who are they?”

Grampy spoke up.  “Jonathan and David…from the Bible.”  He recognized them from the story.  “Jonathan was the son of King Saul who would likely lead his father’s kingdom one day.  He had it all.  Anything money could buy!  Fame, power, prestige.  He was educated and refined.  But David was just a shepherd boy with no education.  He had no possessions, nothing of value.  To the world, he was a nobody.”

“So why are we here?  What does this have to do with any of us?”  Grace spoke aloud the question we were all wondering deep inside. 

“It has everything to do with you.  Whether you realize it or not, if you are a Christian then you are ‘in covenant’ with Yahweh God.  You must actually understand that covenant and what all it involves before you can benefit from it.   A Biblical covenant has many steps.  Watch and learn.  When two people agreed to enter into a covenant friendship they would choose a time and place to meet up.  Now, you must remember that the Jewish way of life is filled with symbols.  Most of the people back in the Bible days wore an outer garment which symbolized who they were as a person – their very being.”

We watched as Jonathan removed his elegant princely robe and placed it around David’s shoulders.  Then David removed his tattered and worn cloak and gave it to Jonathan.

“What are they doing?”  Gabby whispered, her eyes round with wonder. 

“They are exchanging robes.  By this they are saying, ‘I give you my life – all that I am and all that I have.’  David is now free to walk in Jonathan’s garment.  He has the right to take on Jonathan’s identity.”

Our attention fell back to the two young men who were continuing in their pledge.  They were now exchanging their belts. 

“What’s the belt all about?” I asked.

“They fastened their weapons of defense onto their belts.  A man might carry a bow and arrows, or a knife, or maybe even a large sword on his belt.”  Grampy said. 

“What?  Why would he give up his weapons?   That doesn’t make sense to me.   If he gives up his belt, then he gives up his ability to protect himself from an attack!  He’s defenseless.  That’s not too smart!” 

“That’s right Josiah.  He is handing his defense over to his covenant partner.  When he gives up all of his weapons, not only is he making himself incredibly vulnerable, he is also choosing to forfeit his own ability to hurt that friend.  This action says, ‘I’m handing over anything I could ever use to hurt you in any way.  I am at your mercy.  If I am attacked, I can do nothing – unless you choose to defend me.’  In the same manner, when his covenant partner surrenders his own belt he, too, is promising to fight his friend’s battles.  It’s a huge commitment.”

Grampy spoke up.  “A missionary came to our church once and shared a story about African tribes.  She told us that whenever two people would enter into a friendship, they would make a cut on their arm deep enough to scar.  If they ever got into any sort of trouble with another person or tribe, all they had to do was raise that arm up and show the scar.  It clearly represented that they were not on their own but had someone else who would stand up and fight on their behalf.  It was like saying, ‘If you’re gonna mess with me, then you’re gonna have to face my friend, too!’”

“That is so cool!”  I had never really thought there was anything exciting or even interesting about Jonathan and David before.  My Sunday school teacher had mentioned that they loved each other like brothers.  But this…this was much, much bigger.  These guys were pledging their lives for each other.  That’s huge!  People just don’t do that anymore. 

I was jolted out of my thoughts as Joy let out a shriek of disgust. The two men now stood before us ankle-deep in blood.  They had taken a young ram and slaughtered it.  The creature had been cut into two equal sections.  The sections lay side by side on the ground with just enough space in between them for the two men to stand.  As bizarre as this ceremony seemed to me, a modern twenty-first century kid, I knew it was sacred.  I stood in awe and continued to watch the ancient tradition. 

Just then Jonathan spoke.  Kodesh translated for us.  “Today I die to myself.  I live to bless you David, my covenant partner.  Every decision I make from this day forward will be with you in mind.  I will seek what is best for you and not what brings me gain.”

 David loyally repeated the very same words to Jonathan.  And then they both spoke at once.

“What did they just say, Kodesh?”  Joy asked.

“May God do this and even more to me if anything but death separates you and me.”

“What does that mean?”  Joy squinched up her tiny sweet face. 

“They are agreeing that the covenant they are entering into is so important that the punishment for breaking it should be death.” 

It seemed that we all gasped for air at once.  Death?  Yikes!  A covenant was certainly not something you entered into lightly.  As the two young men stood in the now cold pool of animal blood they each made a cut close to their palm.  They rubbed the cuts together until their blood mixed and then each spoke again.

“What are they doing now?”  I whispered, forgetting that they could not hear me. 

“They are exchanging names.  Jonathan has given David the authority to use his name when needed.  There are no limits on what he can do with this power.  It is as if he, too, is the royal son of King Saul.   Not that Jonathan would ever need it, but David has also given him the right to act on his behalf.” 

David grimaced and Jonathan muffled a groan as the two rubbed salt and hyssop into their freshly cut wrists. 

“Why in the world would anybody do that?”  Grace bluntly remarked. 

“It causes the wound to scar and keeps it from fading away in the future.”  Grampy explained.  “The scar is like a reminder of the covenant they have made.  Every time they look at it, they will be reminded of the rights and the responsibilities that they received by entering into that agreement.”

Kodesh continued to explain the covenant.  “The book of Leviticus reveals that life is in the blood.  The people believed that once their blood mingled it could never again be separated.  Likewise, Jonathan and David’s lives became one – never to be separated.  It didn’t matter how they felt or how circumstances in their lives changed.  The scar was a visible reminder that grounded them in the reality that they were in a binding agreement unto death.”

“Awesome!”  I couldn’t hold my excitement in any longer.  “Who would have thought there were blood brothers in the Bible?  Wait ‘til I tell my Mom.  She’s not going to believe it!”

The men were now talking again, still standing in that disgusting blood!  YUCK!  Before I could ask, Kodesh translated that they were promising their assets to one another.  This included their property and money…just about anything with value.  In my opinion, poor Jonathan was getting the short end of the stick because David truly had nothing to give.  Well, Jonathan did already have everything his heart could possibly desire, so maybe it wasn’t that bad for him after all.  Kodesh went on to inform us that the covenant partners were receiving each other’s liabilities as well. 

The two finally stepped out of the blood and began to wash their feet.  They shared a meal together breaking bread and sharing a cup of wine as lifelong covenant partners.  We watched in silence as they celebrated.  When they finished eating, they planted a small tree near the slaughtered animal and sprinkled blood on it as a memorial of the new covenant relationship that existed between them. 

I watched the two men and their little tree grow smaller and smaller as Kodesh sent the elevator in a new direction.

“Where are we going now?”  The girls asked at once. 

“Another time, another blood covenant.”  Kodesh was anxious to reveal more to us.

I quickly spoke up.  “I can’t.  I mean…I can…but not now.  Y’all go ahead.  I’ll catch up later.  Would that be alright Kodesh?”

Knowing exactly what my struggle was, Kodesh agreed and quickly returned me to my room.  He made one last remark before he left.  “Just focus on Him Josiah – you’ll get there.”

Chapter 7

My Upper Room

I sat on my bed and fluffed up the pillows.  Leaning back against them, I drew my knees up to my chest and breathed in deeply.  I needed to think about everything that I had just seen.

“Okay, I can do this.”  I thought.  “It’s simple.  Just go to my Upper Room.  Yahweh said He’d be there waiting on me.  Just gotta get there…somehow, but how?  Oh yeah, Kodesh said to focus.”

I took two more deep breaths and squeezed my eyes shut.  No distractions.  Just thinking.  Thinking about the God of the Universe.  He’s sitting on a throne.  He’s standing up.  He’s walking toward me.  He’s reaching out His hand toward me….

Something was happening.  My body was beginning to gently rock.   I opened my eyes.  I was scared.  “What are you scared for, silly?”  I argued with myself.

“I don’t know.  I’m just scared of not knowing.”

          “Focus, focus, FOCUS Josiah!  You do NOT want to mess this up!”   I thought.  A warm tingling sensation began to spread through me.  I reached out and took a hold of His hand.  I was still sitting on my bed at home, but I was also there!  And I didn’t even have to fly!  It wasn’t far away like I thought, but right here.  But how could I be at two places at one time?  Who cares!  I made it to my Upper Room – ON MY OWN!  Yahweh was there grinning that amazing grin at me.  He walked over and gave me a huge bear hug. 

“It’s about time you came!”  His words were kind and gentle.  “I’ve been waiting on you, little man.  Did you enjoy your visit?”

“I’m not sure.  It was kinda…well, weird!  Kodesh explained what they were doing, but I don’t really understand what it has to do with me.”

“It has everything to do with you.  You see, I like to reveal truth through pictures and stories.  It makes it a little easier for humans to understand.  Jonathan and David are a model of the two of us.”

“Us?  What do you mean?”  I was totally confused at this point. 

“You and I entered into that very same covenant the day you asked my son, Yeshua, into your heart.”

“We did?”

“Yes, Josiah.  Before I created the world, I already knew that mankind would not meet up to my holy standard.  I knew that Adam and Eve would choose to sin and that all of their offspring would be born forever cursed with a sin nature that would eternally separate them from me.  Knowing that on his own man could never escape the spiritual death that sin brings, I set my own plan into motion to redeem him from that sin.  Because it is impossible for sinful man to approach holy God, I made an agreement with my perfect sinless son on your behalf.  He and I ‘cut covenant’ together for your sake.  He took your rightful place when He died on that cross.  You received His rightful place of eternal life with me.”

“Whoaaaa.  That’s deep.”  My brain started to buzz inside.  “But why did He have to die?”

“All actions have consequences.  They may be good or they may be bad.  The consequence that results from sinning is death.  There’s not another choice.  A price must be paid for sin.  Blood must be shed to cover it.  My son, Yeshua, was without sin.  He didn’t have to do anything.  But He chose to pay the price for your sins by shedding His own innocent blood on the cross.  By doing this, He made atonement for your sins, causing you to become righteous and acceptable in my sight.”

I squinted my eyes and squished up my nose.  My brain hurt.  It was bulging with information and thoughts itching to be entertained.  God’s son, Yeshua, crowned prince of the entire universe, left Heaven in all its splendor and glory to come and redeem me from my sin?  Wow!  That was a lot to ingest.  The whole concept didn’t make sense.  Why would He do that?

Yahweh spoke up.  “Because I love you.  Just as Jonathan gave up his royal identity to take on that of a simple commoner, my perfect son gave up His life for you and all sinners.  As it is written in the book of Isaiah, He clothed you with the garments of salvation.  He took on your robe of self-righteousness – a filthy rag – and wrapped you with His own pure and holy robe of righteousness.  Yeshua died your death so that He could give you His eternal life.  You are now to take on His identity and nature as a child of the King.”

My mind was soaking His words up like a dry sponge.  I could not yet even begin to comprehend the notion that I had actually exchanged lives with the very son of God. 

Yahweh moved on.  “Josiah, can you see that we have also exchanged belts?  If you’ll read Deuteronomy 20:4 in your Bible, you’ll see that I, the Lord your God, am He who goes with you.  I will fight your battles.  I will deliver you from your enemies.  I will bring you safely to everlasting life.  It is so very important that you understand this.  I don’t want you to spend your whole life believing that your have to do it on your own.  Nothing is further from the truth.  I am your covenant partner.  You can trust me to defend you in any situation.  I will never leave or forsake you.”

Peace trickled down over me and soaked deep within.  There’s nothing better than knowing that you have a big strong dad that’s going to take care of you no matter what. 

Yahweh grinned.  His eyes lit up and I could tell that He was pleased with my thoughts.  Of course He knew them as soon as they formed in my mind – just like Kodesh.  He continued.  “You should also realize that you have access to my name.  Obviously there is great power in using my name and you should do it carefully and wisely.”

“I can just use your name without permission?  That doesn’t seem right to me.”  I was a little cautious.   

“You are my son and you are learning to follow in my footsteps.  From now on, you’ll be doing the work of your Heavenly Father.  In your natural world, when a son matures enough to help out with his father’s business, he is allowed to make decisions and act on behalf of his father.  Any transaction he makes in his father’s name is considered valid.  It is the same in the spiritual world.  If you are not sure of what you can and cannot do, read your Bible.  My children can do everything that my son Yeshua did….and more!  Seek me first and if it is my will, you will be able to do mighty things with authority.  If you act in your own flesh, my power will not be released.”

A thick lump began to swell in my throat.  “But…what if I get it wrong?  What if I think I heard you but I really didn’t and I try to use your name and power and nothing happens?”  My mind was quickly filling with scenarios of failed attempts at using God’s name.

“So what?”  Yahweh’s carefree answer instantly dissolved the panic that was invading me deep within. 

“You aren’t going to be upset if I blow it?”

“There is no such thing as a mature birth.  In the natural and in the spiritual, everybody has to start out as a baby.  All things require practice.  You’re going to make mistakes.  Lots of them.  That doesn’t mean you give up though.  When a little child learns to walk, he will not be able to do it perfectly the very first time he tries.   He’s going to fall.  Does he stop trying and settle to crawl for the rest of his life, convinced that he is not capable of walking?  Of course not!  He’ll fall time after time – only to get right back up and try again.  And one day, he’ll get it!  What parent would get upset at their small child for falling?  Instead, the parent is there close by, encouraging that child and strengthening him and pushing him on to excellence.  It is the same with me.  I’ll be proud that you tried in the first place.”

“I don’t know how good I’ll be at leading a team.  You know, the teachers at my school don’t think I’m good for much.  They say I’m “unreachable.”’

“Their eyes are closed.  They do not see now, but one day they will.  Josiah, you must not care about what the people of this world think.  Just stay focused on me.”

“I will.  It’s just… sort of hard.  I mean, it’s great when I’m right here with you, but that isn’t always the case.  So many things are fighting for my attention…it’s hard to stay focused on you.”

“That’s why I left a reminder with you – a scar.”

“A scar?”  I began examining my body for any new markings.

“My Holy Spirit is the seal of the blood covenant.  He’s the ‘scar,’ or the constant reminder that you and I are in a covenant relationship together.”

“Kodesh.”  I whispered.  “He’s always with me.”  I hadn’t fully realized his purpose in my life until now.

“That’s right, Josiah.  You’re never alone.  When the enemy comes to you, don’t be afraid to show him your scar.  When he sees the power of the Holy Spirit operating in your life, he’ll know exactly who your covenant partner is.  He has no choice but to run, because he knows he doesn’t stand a chance against me.”

I flopped over on my stomach and began to think on all that I had just learned – straight from the mouth of God!  The knowledge that I was marked as His lifetime covenant partner permeated my entire being.  Warmth bubbled up from the base of my throat at the collarbone.  I didn’t even get up to check it out.  I knew without a doubt that Yahweh had forever branded me.  Spending time with Yahweh was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  He was so kind and loving and so very real.  The sweetness of His presence soothed me from the inside out.   Within minutes, I was drifting into a deep, sweet sleep.

How incredible that we can be lifetime COVENANT partners with Almighty God! 

  Any thoughts? 

 

 

Permalink 1 Comment

Next page »

%d bloggers like this: