God’s in Control (?)

You hear the phrase “God’s in control” bandied about frequently throughout the body of Christ and it is the question that I pose to you my brothers and sisters. “Is God in control?” Maybe it’s just semantics but the misinterpretation of Scripture is how bad teaching disseminates. For one, and mainly, the phrase, “God is in control” is not even scriptural and is a false doctrine. God gave up his control in the Garden of Eden [1].

What God is, however, is sovereign [2]. The clincher is if God is in control, we do not have free will. Our actions would be irrelevant, and our efforts meaningless. The fall of Adam proves that God is not in control. God created man in His image, which is in his spiritual, intellectual, and moral nature, in righteousness and true holiness, giving man the capacity to choose. In Genesis 1:26, 28, He gave us dominion and affirmed it by giving us free will.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. [Deuteronomy 30:19 KJV]

As stated above, God gave us dominion and choice, which is free will. God’s sovereign plan revolves around our decisions and He then uses those decisions to carry out His plan for mankind, which He has already done [3]. Every call to repent is a call to choose.

God goes ‘to and fro’ looking for a righteous man to take part in His righteous and sovereign plan [4]. God also declares that we have not because we ask not [5]. If God is in control, why are we even asking God for anything? God will not interfere with our decisions. It is not that He couldn’t interfere if He was in control, but His Word says that He WILL NOT interfere [6]. God the Father never even intervened in the death of His Son. He could have sent 10,000 angels to take care of business.

God created Man with His spoken word and it is why He waited 4000 years to send Christ. However, God is not in control because man has dominion. According to Psalms 89:34 God could not create Jesus unilaterally. Therefore, God created Christ through the spoken and inspired words of the prophets of old. The prophets gave God permission to create Christ through the Virgin Birth of the Holy Spirit.

Like so many verses, blogs, and teachings, you could write a book on each of those verses. The statement “God is in control” is no different and that false doctrine has infected the whole church, led many astray, and has chased many a believer into passivity and a deteriorating faith. It also leads to a cheap grace, “grace without discipleship,” whereas costly grace cost us our life. There is a huge difference between control and sovereign [7]. So be careful of the words that you speak. Remember that the enemy listens to us as well. All he needs is a foothold [8]. With our choice we can resist the devil and he will flee from us [9]. To say that God is in control or say, it is God’s will or to say What will be will be, insults God after everything that He has given us. Que sera sera is not actively resisting the devil.
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[1] Genesis 1:26, 28
[2] Colossians 1:17; Psalms 90:2; Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 1:3 and many more. Like Psalms 8:1; Psalms 97:9; Psalms 147:5 plus more.
[3] Romans 8:27-29
[4] 2 Chronicles16:9
[5] James 4:2
[6] Psalms 89:34
[7] Control: Someone who has complete and total control over every aspect of life. Sovereign: Someone who regulates a self-governing body.
[8] Ephesians 4:27
[9] James 4:7

“Give us Barabbas”

Power is an aphrodisiac and a strong driving force to man. The need for power even supersedes the need for wealth. The need for power is exactly why the council brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate, who was the Roman Governor of Judea under Emperor Tiberius Caesar [1]. Jesus was teaching salvation through grace and not of works and many people began to follow Him [2]. The chief priests and elders of Israel were losing their power and religious hold that they had on the people.

The Bible tells us that Pilate interrogated Jesus and ultimately found no fault in Him and thus intimated this to the assemblage and that he would release Jesus forthwith [3]. There was an immediate outcry, “Crucify Him [4]!” Therefore, Pilate proclaimed that he was innocent of Jesus’s Blood and publicly, washed his hands of the matter [5]. He reminded the crowd that it was their custom to release one prisoner at the Passover Feast [6] and brought Barabbas to the crowd so they could choose who he should set free.

Barabbas was an insurrectionist and murderer [7], and Jesus was life, life to those who would follow Him [8]. So Pilate, not finding any fault in Him worthy of death, asked them, “Who should he release?” They all answered in unison, “Barabbas, give us Barabbas [9].”

The story of Barabbas does not stop there but continues even unto today. You might ask, “How is that so?” Every time we sin, we call out, “Give us Barabbas,” and we put Jesus back up on the Cross.

v6 . . .and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace [Hebrews 6:6 NIV]

Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above. . .” so says the lyrics to the song. God preordained His plan before the foundation of the world [10]. Do we actually believe that the Bible contains any coincidences?

For those of you who do not know, the name “Barabbas” is a Hellenization [11] of the Aramaic “Bar abba” or literally, “son of a father.” Therefore the context of the original text is that the name Barabbas, or son of a father, spoke to each and every one of us. Whereas every son and daughter of the Father was set free from the curse of sin by the death, burial, and resurrection [12] of our savior, Jesus Christ, and the murdering insurrectionist who deserved to die, went free and the innocent, free from sin, Lamb of God sacrificed Himself in our stead.

Like Barabbas, we deserve to die but hallelujah, we have an advocate before the Father [13], Jesus Christ, who pleads our case and is the propitiation [14] for not only our sins, but for the sins of the whole world [15].

This knowledge should change our outlook on sin, big time. So the next time we sin, seek out immediate repentance [16] or we put Jesus back up on the Cross and once again hold Him to public shame [17].
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[1] Luke 23:1-25
[2] Ephesians 2:8, 9
[3] John 18:38
[4] Luke 23:21
[5] Matthew 27:24
[6] John 18:39
[7] Mark 15:7
[8] John 14:6
[9] Matthew 27: 20-23; Mark 15:12-15; Luke 23: 14-18; John 18:38-40
[10] Romans 8: 28-30
[11] Hellenization is the spread of ancient Greek culture and, to a lesser extent, language, over foreign peoples conquered by the Greeks during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC.
[12] 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
[13] 1 John 2:1
[14] Atonement
[15] 1 John 2:2
[16] True repentance is not repenting for fear of the consequences of the sin, but for the need to get back into the presence and grace of God. Anything short of this is not true repentance.
[17] Hebrews 6:6

Single-Minded Obedience

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a present day martyr for the faith [1], who Himmler hung on April 9, 1945, by special order, just a few days before the allies liberated the concentration camp at Flossenburg in Germany. I am in the process of reading/studying his book, The Cost of Discipleship to learn how to become a disciple worthy of Jesus Christ. If anyone had the credentials and authority to write this book, he did. The only thing about his plight is that he was a free man living in New York, but went back to Berlin through England to minister to his Christian brothers and sisters during war time.

Dietrich knew that the Lord had called him to martyrdom, and he accepted his fate by going back to Germany and ultimately to die for his outspoken beliefs and abhorrence to socialism, the Fuhrer, war, and his repudiation of the Nazis. Bonhoeffer, no doubt, signed his own death warrant because of his total obedience to Christ paying absolutely no attention to the consequences, even unto death.

Come and Die
Learning how to become a disciple of Christ, The Cost of Discipleship takes us through the Beatitudes through the compelling pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The late Bishop of Chichester, G.K.A. Bell writes in the foreword to Bonhoeffer’s book, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.” The essence of discipleship is contained in those words, and this marvelous book is a commentary on the cost [2].

Chapter three, Single-Minded Obedience especially caught my attention. The dictionary defines single-minded as the focus on one thing at the expense of anything else, or the concentration on only one aim or purpose. He quickly aligns this definition to The Call to Discipleship [3]. Bonhoeffer then expounds on the call in chapter three.

Get out of the Boat
When Christ called to Peter to get out of the boat, only one thing was required, single-minded obedience to the word of God. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer writes, The forces which tried to interpose themselves between the word of Jesus and the response to obedience were as formidable then as they are today. [4]

Peter took the first step of obedience (literally) in accordance with Christ’s word and command to “Come!” Peter then walked on water or at least until the forces interposed themselves by way of the wind tossed sea. Peter took his focus off of Christ and that’s all that it took for him to take a swim [5]. Many people decry Peter’s lack of faith, to which I must make a couple observations. Number one: Peter was the only one who got out of the boat [6]. Number two: Peter walked back to the boat [7]

v28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
v29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
v30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me
v31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? [Matthew 14:28-31 KJV]

What forces are interposing themselves between your response to obedience and the word of God? Anything that hinders you from your decision of obedience stops your belief and the possibility of faith [8] or the growth thereof. Only those who believe obey. Only those who obey believe. It is unbiblical to hold to the first and not to the second. However, obedience is always the first step. We face many decisions of obedience every day. How will you respond?

What if your obedience meant the loss of a friend, a relationship, a job, jail time, or what if your response to obedience meant your martyrdom for the sake of Christ? Is your faith just a preference, or is it a commitment? Those who will not live for Christ will not die for Him.

God has set before us life and death. Therefore, chose life that we may live [9]. Dietrich Bonhoeffer received his crown of life [10]. Do we await and long for ours? It’s our decision.

Author’s note: I highly recommend The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bishop Bell was absolutely correct, it is a marvelous book.
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[1] Christianity
[2] Direct quote from the book The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, page 11
[3] Chapter two of the same book
[4] Direct quote from The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, page 79
[5] Matthew 14:22-33
[6] Christ did not mention any names. He just said “Come!” Any one who stepped out of the boat would have been able to follow Peter out to Jesus.
[7] Peter walked out to where Jesus was and sank. Jesus saved him and they both walked back. Jesus will ALWAYS answer that prayer, “Save me!”
[8] Faith is the condition of obedience
[9] Deuteronomy 30:19
[10] Revelation 2:10

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

I just returned home from the theater and the showing of “The Shack.” As a father, the movie touched me deeply because of Mack’s emotional pain. Before I went to this evening’s movie, I had a title all picked out to present to you. Tonight’s movie changed my mind. Even the movie had me vacillating between two different story lines. Story line number one asked the question, “Where do you meet God?” Because I’ve been there, that idea excited me for my readers. I would have mentioned how all the characters in the Bible have met God in many different places. God anointed them all at their individual place of rendezvous [1].

We all meet God in different places and many of us on a regular basis because we either just feel closer to Him there or we feel anointed at that place. Many of us have even decided to follow Him on the path that He has chosen for us. God has chosen a path and has a purpose for everyone [2].

However, instead of elaborating on story line one, I chose story line number two and decided to defend William P. Young from all the hullabaloo concerning his story, “The Shack.” Sometimes we Christians can be rather mean in defending God through judging man. Number one, God does NOT need defending and two, there is only one judge. That should settle all the hullabaloo. Granted, we are to be ready to give the hope that lies within us for our faith [3] but we are to leave the judging to God [4]. There are only five essential doctrines and a couple two/three secondary doctrines that we should not compromise, but the rest is non-essential and left up to the individual repentant and God [5]. We present the facts, we don’t argue the facts.

It appears that there are many believers who have a problem with William P.’s portrayal of God as a woman. Really!! Even some learned theologians object to this portrayal. Seriously!! Give me a Holy Ghost break.

v28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:28 KJV]

In God’s kingdom Galatians 3:28 says that there is no Hebrew nor Greek, no male or female that we are all one in Christ. God is Spirit [6]. God is all and in all [7]. Many Scriptures defend Galatians 3:28 like 1 Corinthians 6:17 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 just to name a couple. Remember, God created a universe. He can certainly let man see him in any way He wants and that the man needs.

The plot of The Shack was totally metaphorical and came from the mind of a deeply distraught man. When God invited Mackenzie to the shack, God planted in his mind the image of Himself as a woman and not just any woman, but the image of the only person who had ever been nice to him as a child. That woman was his next door neighbor.

William P.’s story of The shack told of one time that Mack’s neighbor offered him a piece of apple pie after a very severe beating from his father (who was a Christian by the way), just moments earlier. This neighbor was a foreshadow of Mack’s meeting with God later in the story. To Mack, NO ONE could have portrayed God as well as his neighbor. It is what Mack needed at that time and God knew that. While Mack was in the Shack, he told God that he expected him to have a beard and all. God then told Mack that he wouldn’t have accepted a Father figure at that moment. Hullabaloo solved.

If Mack had met God as a man, there is no doubt in my mind that Mack would NOT have accepted any further contact and would have left. Case in point, I personally know a relationship/marriage counselor who told me that, without exception, those who had had a bad relationship with their earthly father did NOT relate well with their heavenly Father, and just about across the board, rejected God and were miffed at Him in one degree or another.

Then there is the soft spoken portrayal of the Holy Spirit as a woman. She was compassionate and sensitive as only a woman can be. Oriental women are famous for their soft spoken and subservient nature toward a man. Trained from childhood they know how to take care of a man and how to cater to him. Geisha girls do this quite well [8]. This came through in the movie as the Holy Spirit (the oriental woman) consoled Mack about his pain. It was a beautiful scene and well written.

William’s detractors seem to forget that at the end of the story when it was time for Mack to make an excruciating decision and to man up, we all watched as God portrayed Himself as a man to Mack. God came to Mack as a man. If some of you have not read the book by William P. Young, I have tried hard not to give away any details of the story and spoil things for you. I have only told you about some generalities, that you could probably Google yourself and find out. In fact, I have told you less than you could Google.

William Young presented to us, the movie audience, a great character arc as we all watched Mackenzie Phillips grow spiritually through the most painful and stressful time in his life, probably in anybody’s life. William showed us how God can be everything to us in what we need, when we need it, and the exact time that we need it. He also showed us the grace of God’s own character and how He can heal us through forgiveness and His presence. Forgiveness is the basis of our faith.

For those who have and intend to judge William for a misunderstood and non-essential objection, remember that there is only one judge. Also, do not forget the session that Mackenzie had with “Wisdom” in the cave. Wisdom afforded Mack the opportunity to be judge and he answered his own questions. I also urge you not to forget Psalms 105:15 and 1 Chronicles 16:22, which basically says, “Do not touch my anointed.” However, something amazing happened at that point. It brought tears to my eyes and gave me “Ghost bumps.” Therefore, you’ll have to either read the book or see the movie to learn what happened. (Oh, and yes, Wisdom was another woman.)

I highly recommend this movie especially for those going through severe pain.
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[1] I would have given you examples of how Adam met God in the Garden, how Abraham had met God at his tent, and how Moses had met God at a bush. I would have also told you how Noah had met God at a boat or how Jeremiah had met God even before the womb, and yet, how Matthew met Him at a tax collector’s booth, and how Paul had met God on a road to Damascus.

I would have mentioned how the thief had met God on the cross, or how Christ Himself had met His God on Calvary’s tree (Matthew 27:46, My God My God, why hast thou forsaken me. Christ knew God as His Father but as the Son of man on the Cross He knew Him as His God). I would have you how I feel anointed when I meet God at the beach. I then would have finally told you of how Mackenzie Phillips had even met God at a shack in the middle of the Oregon woods.
[2] Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
[3] 1 Peter 3:15
[4] James 4:12
[5] Five essential doctrines of the Christian faith
1)The deity of Christ
2)Salvation by grace
3)The resurrection of Christ
4)The Gospel of Jesus Christ
5)Monotheism
Secondary doctrines
1)Virgin birth
2)Jesus is the only way to salvation
3)Doctrine of the trinity
[6] John 4:24
[7] Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:17
[8] Contrary to Shirley MacLaine, Geishas are not prostitutes. Sex was never traditionally a part of the Geisha girls as hostesses.

CALLING OUT TO GOD

The footsteps behind him were unrelenting and were gaining on him. He was running as fast as he could, so much so that he thought that his lungs would explode at any moment. Exhaustion would soon force him to stop. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep up this pace. His legs were getting tired and sore and he could feel his shoulders begin to sag and lean forward. He gasped for each breath he took and was now running on pure adrenaline. Looking from side to side, he hoped to see someone that could intervene on his behalf and help him.

Nobody was there. He was all alone except for the person chasing him.

Just when he thought his lungs and heart would burst. . .he collapsed. He quickly turned on his back and instantaneously looked down the barrel of a 45-caliber handgun and into the face of the man who was chasing him. The assailant had a smug expression on his face as he raised the weapon and aimed it at the downed man’s head. The attacker’s eyes enlarged and his smirk became a full-fledged smile, almost a laugh.

Was the downed man going to wake up any moment sweating all over his sheets with his heart thumping out of his chest? Would he soil himself? On the other hand, was this real and he only had moments to live? As if he could stop a bullet, but with a condition reflex, he raised his hands in a desperate action to futively ward off the projectile he knew was coming. In desperation, he cried out, “Oh God, no! Don’t shoot, please! God…help me!

Deep within the soul of every person lays the knowledge that there is a God, whether we want to admit that fact or not [1]. Many a person has cried out to God in any number of situations, as the unsaved man did in the story above. The act of crying out to God stems from a hidden inherent knowledge that God exists [2].

v18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
v19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
v20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse [Romans 1:18-20 KJV]

Through that knowledge [3], God calls us and invites us into the Kingdom for one reason; He loves us [4] and doesn’t want even one to perish. Free will [5] dictates that we can choose to accept that invite from God in order to become part of His Kingdom. . .or not.

There are many reasons why man rejects this call. I recently sat down and in a little over three minutes I came up with some 21 reasons why people reject God. If I continued for an hour, I could have probably come up with two or three times that amount. I surmise that the number one reason for rejecting God is because of the death of a loved one, especially if there was much prayer involved. Because of the death of a loved one, people become angry with God, because they falsely believe that God is in control of everything, and therefore reject Him. They feel that God allowed the death, or the least of which that He doesn’t answer prayers. Alas, some even believe that God had a hand in their loved ones demise just to further His kingdom. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As we learned in the last two blogs, God is not in control. God IS sovereign, but He is not in control. Control belongs to man given to him in the Garden and through free will by God. Why did my mom die at such a young age? Why did my best friend die while he was in his prime? Why did my loved one die, especially since they were Christians? People have been asking that question for centuries. Who can answer these questions?

No one. I know that I cannot. But Scripture points the way to some possible answers. Ecclesiastes 3, Deuteronomy 29:29, Isaiah 57:1, 2, Matthew 5:45, James 4:14, and Revelation 12:12 give us partial answers. I prefer to think of an early death of a believer as a promotion. When we think of early death in terms of eternity, how can we say otherwise? Life here on Earth is but a vapor that appears for only a short while and vanishes [6]. I do not say this lightly because I am now the patriarch of the Warren family. All of my family before me has gone to be with Jesus: mom, dad, my maternal and paternal grandma and grandpa, my uncles and aunts save one, and many friends. They are all now in glory.

Although the deaths that have gone before me have saddened me tremendously and I miss each and every one of them terribly (underline terribly), their deaths encourage me, bless me, and give me hope that one day I will reunite with them and I too will be promoted into the arms of my Lord. I really feel sorry for those who do not believe, for they cannot have that hope of a blessed eternity. They will have an eternity though, but a very hot one. I choose NOT to be mad at God for their deaths, even if He comes for my spirit [7] before I finish this blog. I will remain in the faith and still follow the Lord. He blesses me every day. My eternity with Him is my blessed hope.

In among all my sadness because of all the deaths that have gone before me  in my family especially the premature and innocent deaths, I am reminded that Jesus was also innocent and did not deserve to die. However, because of His death, I live. Because Christ walked the Cobblestone Road to death, I can walk my path to life but ONLY through Him who died for me and saved my soul from eternal damnation and fire. Christ, the innocent lamb of God, the propitiation for our sins upon the Cross. Thank you my Jesus.

Why do so many of us wait until Satan aims his 45 caliber weapon of temptation, circumstances, even death at us, and our proverbial backs are on the ground, before we cry out to God? The one who loves us, who is always there for us, who will never leave or forsake us, who has all the answers for life, who promotes us, who can save us, and He is the one that we reject. Go figure. This is beyond my comprehension.
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[1] Jeremiah 31:33, 34; Romans 2:14-16; Romans 1:18-21
[2] Romans 1:18-20;
[3] 2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 2:3, and others
[4] 1 John 4:19
[5] Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; Proverbs 3:31; Acts 13:48; James 4:17, and more.
[6] James 4:14
[7] Ecclesiastes 12:7

WORDS ARE CREATIVE AND POWERFUL

Part two of two: Man Said

We last left Adam and Eve just outside the entrance to the Garden of Eden and away from God’s presence, with quite an adventure to look to, namely, a vast and lonely world to populate and to build, whether they wanted to go. . .or not. We also left them with a question hanging in the air, “Why did God wait 4000 years to send Christ to deal with the problem?”

This one question brought a few other questions to light as well. Like, why didn’t He just give man’s authority and control back [1]? Why didn’t He send Christ to Earth many years earlier and relieve some of the suffering of mankind, all because of Adam’s disobedience? Why does one man have to suffer and pay for another man’s sin?

One man paying for another man’s sin doesn’t seem fair until you learn about God’s plan of incarnation, redemption, and salvation. God could only accomplish this through repentance of sin, his acceptance of Christ, and rebirth. However, this is why man was born with two feet, one step at a time.

For God to send Christ to return mankind’s authority and control, He had to come to Earth as a flesh and blood man. Remember that God gave dominion to man [2]. Because of that dominion, man also had free will [3]. So God’s word and covenant were set. Christ was to come as man to have His free will, albeit, a divine incarnation and intervention.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [John 1:14 KJV]

So. . .let’s get back to our question. Why did God wait 4000 years to send Christ? In a nut shell, Words are Creative and Powerful. God created man with His spoken words and in His image. God needed to create Christ with His spoken words like He did with man. Since God gave dominion to man and He wouldn’t go back on His word, which He places above His name, God wouldn’t come down and violate His oath (covenant) with man. God had to abide with what He told Adam, “. . .Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion. . . [4]”

Since all men were corrupt [5], man could not get back mankind’s authority and control. (If he could have, he’d of done it a long time ago and we wouldn’t need Jesus.) Therefore, Christ had to become flesh and come to Earth to get man’s authority and control back. How would He do that without interfering with man’s free will?

Now here’s the tricky part of God’s plan. Mary had to conceive Christ naturally for Him to become a man, which meant that God needed to plant a seed, not man, lest Christ receive the sin nature as well.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. [1 Peter 1:23 KJV]

God didn’t wait 4000 years to send Christ, it took man 4000 years to speak through prophetic utterances to create the words (from God) to bring Christ into the world. It took literally hundreds of prophecies to speak the words for Christ’s incarnation. God had to plan and execute many aspects to bring His plan to fruition.

When would He be born? Where would He be born? How would He be born, esp in keeping with God’s Word and holiness. Why would He die and when? How would He die esp according to prophecy? What would be His mission? How would He. . .? Yes, it took many aspects, prophecies, and words to bring Christ to us. All of this was contingent on one thing. . . conception.

Christ did NOT come into the world through conjugation but by the Word of God through a virgin birth. John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh. John 6:63 says that . . .the Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. James 1:21b says, . . .and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. Mary received the Word of God from Gabriel with meekness and conceived Christ by the implanted Word of God [6] from all the prophets of old given to them by God.

There you have it, the reason that it took 4000 years for Jesus to come and dwell among us. God’s plan of redemption is ALLOT more involved than this but this should give you a great start to study about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His time here on Earth.

God bless each and every one of you. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.

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[1] Because of Psalms 89:34 and Psalms 138:2
[2] Genesis 1:26, 28
[3] Deuteronomy 30:19
[4] Genesis 1:28 KJV
[5] Jeremiah 17:9
[6] Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 1:26-31

WORDS ARE CREATIVE AND POWERFUL

Part one of two: God Said

Five times in as many days, God said in one form or another, “Let there be. . .[1]” and created the heavens, the Earth [2], and all the fish and bird life [3] with His spoken words. On the sixth day, God spoke and created all the other animal life that inhabited terra firma [4] and God saw that it was good. On the same day, God spoke man and woman into existence as spirits [5] and gave them dominion over the Earth [6].

v26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
v27 So God created man in his own image [7], in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
v28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. [Genesis 1:27-28 KJV]

It wasn’t until Genesis 2:7 that God finished making the man and again in Genesis 2:21, 22 that He made the woman. Man and woman still had dominion because God said in Psalms 89:34 that He would NOT break His word. How important is God’s Word to Him? Psalms 138:2 gives us the answer. Verse two declares that God places His Word above His name. Therefore, as a corporeal being, and according to Psalms 89:34 and 138:2, man still has dominion over the Earth and everything in it [8]. God gave dominion to man, a physical human being. This is important to remember for later.

In summary, God created man through His spoken Word. Then God gave total dominion to man. You subdue it, you rule it, and you have dominion over all the Earth. Adam’s disobedience to God caused the introduction of the sin nature into all of mankind. This is common knowledge. However, something else major happened at the fall. When Adam took the bite of the fruit, it was an act of submission to the serpent [9]. God had told Adam NOT to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Adam disobeyed and took the bite anyway. It was in direct violation of Genesis 2:16, 17. So instead of submitting to God, Adam submitted to the serpent. This transferred authority and control from man to Satan [10].

You become the servant to whom you submit and obey [11]. Lucifer is a spirit and spirits have no control over any physical form. It is why he had to inhabit a physical body [12]. The snake is more subtle than any beast [13].

Eve took the first bite of the fruit. Why does the sin nature come from Adam [14]? To help you understand the fall [15], God tells us in Genesis 2:16, 17 that Adam must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest he should die. Now this is four verses prior to the creation of Eve and it is why Adam sinned and Eve was only beguiled (fooled). In other words, God had not yet created Eve when He told Adam not to eat of the forbidden tree. Adam evidently told Eve of God’s commandment because it is apparent that she knew of it in Genesis 3 [16]. Eve was beguiled (tricked, fooled) by Satan, but Adam knew exactly what he was doing. Adam knew what the Lord told him. He should have told the serpent to take a hike and protect his wife.

Because of His Word, God would not come down and return the authority and control to man. To do so would have been against his nature. Since God gave dominion to man, God couldn’t come to Earth to fix things, because God is Spirit. However, God needed to come to Earth and fix things. Hi answer was Jesus. Question? Why did God wait 4000 years to send Jesus to reclaim the authority and control? We’ll learn that next time.
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[1] Genesis 1:3-25
[2] Genesis 1:1
[3] Genesis 1:20-23
[4] Genesis 1:24, 25
[5] Genesis 1:27
[6] Genesis 1:28
[7] John 4:24
[8] Psalms 115:16
[9] Genesis 3:6
[10] Man was supposed to be the god of this world (Psalms 82:6). Now Satan was ().
[11] Romans 6:16
[12] Ezekiel 28:13-15 This describes Lucifer (serpent) and his attendance in the Garden in his angelic nature. At the point of the fall, man created Satan.
[13] Genesis 3:1
[14] Romans 5:12
[15] Genesis 3:1-6
[16] Genesis 3:2, 3 What was the woman doing anyway, speaking for the man whom God gave authority to provide, protect, and guide. This still happens allot today. Man abrogates his authority which forces the woman to usurp his authority.

The Little Brown Cardboard Box

A while back, I settled into my overstuffed chair with TV dinner and milk in hand, to watch a movie on the tube. The blurb was innocent enough so I clicked on the appropriate channel, squirming to get comfortable.

The title I’d chosen was The Skeleton Key starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowland, Peter Starsgaard, and John Hurt. The storyline was about a young woman who, disenfranchised by a common apathy toward patients at a hospice ward, leaves to take a position as a caretaker at a private residence in the Louisiana Bayou, which is where the bulk of the story takes place. My story, however, takes place in the hospice ward in the opening scenes of the movie.

The opening scene begins with Kate Hudson sitting at the bedside of an older male patient reading Treasure Island to him. One minute his eyes are open. . .the next minute, his eyes are closed. She closes its pages, stands, and puts the book on the chair. She reaches over and checks his vitals. Mr. Talcott had expired. As she stands there looking down at him compassionately with a sorrowful look, another nurse goes by and stops at the open door.

Mr. Talcott’s gone,” Kate says, shaking her head.

The next scene Kate is walking outside the building with a little brown cardboard box in her arms. A label identifies the box as belonging to Mr. Talcott who had just passed away. Just a few feet away from the back door sits a top-loaded trash container. She lifts the lid and prepares to throw away the box, but first she looks inside the container.

Inside we see three other similar sized boxes lying in the trash bin, each with its own label, identifying the owner of a previously diseased person’s possessions. From that scene and for another twenty minutes further into the movie, I do not remember anything that happened; I just sat there in my recliner staring through the TV, with tears in my eyes.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that old man’s box. It wasn’t that I did not have empathy to the other people that the boxes represented in the trash bin, but because of the movie, I attached myself to this man’s particular plight, which was probably the author’s intent. I thought to myself, “the sum total of this man’s whole life was able to fit inside of a small box that couldn’t have been any larger than 14″X20″X12″ deep.” That, by itself, gave me pause.

Everything in that box was the only proof that he even existed. To make things worse, there were no family members there at his side when he crossed over to the other side, just a nurse who cared enough to perform a simple act of kindness by reading to him as he slipped away.

I knew that this was just a movie but I couldn’t help thinking about what possible keepsakes were among the contents of his box: perhaps some pictures or a few personal letters, a cross at the end of a chain, or perhaps a woman’s wedding band. Everything that was important to him was the only things in the box. Now it sat in a trash bin in an alley.

I felt that the trash bin was a perfect representation of the refiner’s fire that will consume all hay, grass, and straw on that day. Everything that is not of Jesus and of the Spirit will burn in that fire. We will lose it. Although faith without works is dead (James 2:20), our works will be burned up. (How do we impress a God who has created the universe?)

Our brown cardboard box could represent what we do with our lives. What will we have to show for the years that the Lord allotted us to live? Life is a gift from God. What we do with that life, is a gift back to Him. What will the angel find in our little brown cardboard box before he throws it into the trash container of the refiner’s fire? What will survive the fire?

In that day of the Lord, the Good News Bible says that, “If what a man built on the foundation survives the fire, he will receive a reward. But if any man’s work is burnt up, then he will lose it; but he himself will be saved, as if he had escaped the fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:14, 15)

That scene at the trash bin had a huge impact on my spiritual life. I thought, Lord, what will be the sum total of my spiritual life when you send your angel to collect my spirit? What keepsakes will I leave for you? What will remain in my brown cardboard box after the fire?

I flat asked the Lord, “With what do I fill up my little brown cardboard box? What in my life is hay and stubble that the fire will burn up when you come for your Bride?” (1 Corinthians 3;12-15)

The Lord gave Scriptures to my spirit, hesitating three to four seconds between them evidently giving each one its own emphasis. He said, “son, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. . .and with all thy soul. . .and with all thy strength. . .and with all thy mind. . .and thy neighbour as thyself.’” (Luke 10:27)

Obey my commandments for it is profitable for you. (Exodus 20:2-17)

Forgive one another as I have forgiven you; (Mark 11:25)

The Lord continued, “. . .whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Hold firm to the fruit of the spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, 23)

Be ye holy; for I am holy.“(1 Peter 1:16)

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

“These are gold, silver, and stones, or true and solid doctrine. Wood, hay, and stubble are things of man’s invention; only the substantial and vital truths of Christ will make it through the refiner’s fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:11, 12)

He was not quite finished yet and led me to a Scripture in His Word that put everything into perspective for me — Colossians 3:1-4. The Good News Bible says it this way: “You have been raised to life with Christ. Set your hearts, then, on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on His throne at the right side of God. Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on Earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Here is the kicker for me, “. . .Your real life is Christ, and when He appears, then you too will appear with Him and share His glory.

Our real life is Christ! That hit me. How many times have I read that Scripture and just read over it? We are His body and Christ is the head of that body (1 Corinthians 12:27; Colossians 1:18). He is the foundation of the temple and we are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). He is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:5). Hallelujah!

In everything that we do, we need to constantly be aware that we are an extension of Christ that we are His body and can only do what the head tells us. . .or should. Develop a hunger for Christ and fill your little brown boxes with a pure Christian life, encouraging others and representing Christ here on Earth through evangelism. All else will be burned up on that day.

What will be in our little brown cardboard box when Christ requires our Spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:7)? Will we just squeak into heaven or will we receive our reward for a job well done thou good and faithful servant. (Mathew 25:21)

People have said that if the authorities arrested us for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us. I say, when people experience us. . .will they experience Christ?

Saved by the Door

I think that the Lord is trying to tell me something about what I’ll be doing pretty much for the rest of my life. There is no doubt in my mind what the Lord’s will is for my life. The Lord has called me to write for Him in these last days of human government. How do I know this? Writing is my passion and I don’t just write when I have nothing else to do, or when I get in the mood off and on, and after I do all my other projects first. I have very little balance in my life right now because writing is all that I do.

Even if I had something else to do or had a relationship, I wouldn’t have much time to do it or spend time with her. Don’t get me wrong, I’m elated and passionate about what I am doing for the Lord, but I’m getting close to burn out, (but I won’t quit.) I’m not going to fail God as well. I may have too many writing projects going at the same time, but Jesus, who began a good work in me, will bring it to completion [1]. For instance,

I have one book that is finished but need to edit. I have a book that God recently gave to me on which I have only written two chapters. I have a fiction book that I have haven’t even started as yet but have the outline finished. This is not counting a bi-monthly blog that I have to keep up with for my readers. (I used to write this weekly.) Speaking of which because of all my writing projects, I didn’t have a topic for this up-coming blog. I needed to rest in the Lord [2] for a refreshing. God periodically stops feeding me stuff when I get to that stage. He recently gave me the opportunity to rest in Him

I thank you Jesus for the opportunity to do something for my brothers and sisters, for giving me a ministry in your kingdom, and for your glory.

Recently, I stopped over at a friend’s house to spend the night and get some uninterrupted sleep and rest after a birthday party before continuing on home. I was mentally fatigued and close to exhaustion. It was mid-morning and I got this pressure in my bladder that told me to get up and go. . .NOW! Which I did.

This friend lives in the forest and it gets quite dark there. I sat up in my bed, pulled the covers back, and hung my legs over the edge of the bed. I stepped onto the floor and turned toward the door, which was only about four to five feet away. As God as my witness, I could NOT see the nose on my face. It was pitch black in the room. The room was completely and totally black. The trees even hid the light from the stars coming through the window. It was scary black.

However, I knew where the door was so I began my trek to exit the room. Now, I’m 73 years old, and to date, I have walked for more than 72 of them, but after a couple of steps, I felt myself listing forward. It startled me and I tried catching myself but I couldn’t. I stretched out my left hand to brace and catch myself against the door to the bedroom. I hoped I was close enough to catch myself without damaging my right shoulder any further. It worked. I caught myself. Whew! I left the room, did my duty, and went back to bed. Even going back through the room again, I felt a little disorientated before I bumped into the bed and crawled under the covers.

The way that my body has been falling apart lately, I was hoping that it wasn’t my equilibrium that was failing me now as well. UGH! Instead of another failed body part, I chose to believe that the room was so black that my brain had no point of reference with which to balance itself. (I mean the room was totally black. You have no idea.) As I lay there in bed thinking about my trip to the bathroom, I recognized the unction in my spirit that the Lord was hinting at something. I had my blog.

My (just about) accident was a perfect metaphor. The darkness and blackness of the room, was the enemy in our lives and the destruction that he can cause if we are not rooted and balanced IN Christ. As the door saved my bacon that night, so can Jesus, who is the Door, save us from the enemy, and all of his dastardly deeds, to steal, kill, and destroy.

v9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
v10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. [John 10:9, 10 KJV]

As Clarke points out in his commentary to this John 10 Scripture, Shall go in and out are all the actions of a man’s life, and the liberty he has of acting, or not acting. A good shepherd conducts his flock to the fields where good pasturage is to be found; watches over them while there, and brings them back again and secures them in the fold. So he that is taught and called of God feeds the flock of Christ with those truths of his word of grace which nourish them unto eternal life; and God blesses together both the shepherd and the sheep, so that going out and coming in they find pasture: every occurrence is made useful to them; and all things work together for their good.

In otherward, if we follow Christ and let Him lead us, He will save our bacon, in everything, with the truths and grace of God. God is no respecter of person [3]. He saved my bacon that night. . .and He will save yours. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. [4].
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[1] Philippians 1:6
[2] Psalms 46:10
[3] Acts 10:34
[4] Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13

Relationships through the tree

Part Four of Four: The Fruit

I love Shari’s apple pie. They make the best pies, bar none. I go there on as many Wednesdays as I can because it is free pie night with the purchase of any entree. The apple is my favorite fruit, although I can say much about blackberry cobbler for I know someone who makes the best. . .but that’s off-point and down a rabbit hole. (But you still make the best blackberry cobbler and you know who you are.) Anyway,

The apple has gotten a bad rap especially when discussing Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Actually, where this apple myth started, I really do not know because the Bible does not name the fruit as seen below. Man is the one that named the fruit.

However, the tree from which Adam ate and sinned was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This fits perfectly into our metaphor because the branches of our tree in question bear much fruit – good and evil. We basically make decisions to bear and eat from one of those two branches daily.

v16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
v17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. – [Genesis 2:16-17 KJV]

When Adam ate of this forbidden tree, physical life became terminal and man died spiritually and God separated man from Him, but no worries, redemption was in God’s plan. This is part number four of our four part series on relationships as told through a tree. Our metaphor says that if we are rooted in Christ, His strength is our strength, and we resolve that nothing will come between our relationships and marriages. Therefore, with Christ’s strength coupled with our resolve [1] the threefold cord becomes the trunk of our relationship tree.

However, life is a process and is nothing more than a span of allotted time where we make decisions, whether they are good or evil and this is life in a nutshell. Our decisions become the branches of our tree and as such, we are the products of our own decisions. Because of our free will [2], God will not intervene in that process [3], but if we commit our ways unto the Lord [4], He has a plan for each and every one of us [5], and our relationship/marriage will not easily break [6].

Throughout the top of our tree, there are many branches, all of which produce fruit. Some branches bear love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance [7], while others bear anger, jealousy, fear, regret, unbelief, doubt, impatience, disgust, sadness, contention, shame, pride, blame, accusation, disobedience, condemnation, bitterness, and so many more.

Did you notice anything about the fruit of our tree? There are many more evil branches (and many more evil than listed), than good branches. However, when the wind of temptation blows, which is the inherent sin nature of man [8], growth, demands that, we have to climb out on many branches to find and choose God’s fruit [9].

Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit (God’s fruit), which again is, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, is all that we need because. . . against such there is no law [10]. In addition, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world [11].”

God made us in His image and as such we are spiritual beings and this natural existence is only temporary and temporal [12]. So, we want to bear the fruit of the Spirit (which is eternal) and not the fruit of the Serpent, which is the fruit of disobedience. We don’t just want to reach for the ‘sun and life’ as with the natural tree, but we want to reach for the ‘Son and life’ spiritually and eternally.

The fruit of which branches are you eating. . . and bearing? It’s your decision.
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[1] Ecclesiastes 4:12
[2] Deuteronomy 30:19
[3] Proverbs 21:5; Isaiah 42:14; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah 48:18; Matthew 22:37
[4] Psalms 37:5; Proverbs 16:3
[5] Jeremiah 29:11
[6] Ecclesiastes 4:12
[7] Galatians 5:22, 23
[8] Jeremiah 17:9
[9] Joshua 24:15
[10] Galatians 5:23b
[11] 1 John 4:4 KJV
[12] 2 Corinthians 4:18