Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One of those things

OK, so it's a lot of those things. Have you ever had an extremely emotional week, where anything sets you off crying? You get frustrated very easily? OK, guys, no making fun of girls emotion-coaster. It sucks. For me at least.

It's been stressful at work. We're short a lot of people and that means that our work is almost doubled. Right now, it's supposed to be our slow time and it hasn't slowed down that much. Moral is horrible, no one wants to be there. It's been fun.

I've also been thinking back. It's not a bad thing. Well, OK, maybe it could be. I'm not thinking about dumb stuff I've done, or bad things I've done. No, its more nostalgia than anything. There is a part of my past that I don't want to let go of. I can't talk to anyone about it. OK, I can talk to God about it, but I'm at that point that I feel like He's tired of hearing about it. You ever been there? It was almost half my life ago, and it's something I still cry over. I know, it sounds dumb, but I keep hoping some day, it will return.

I'm trying to learn the guitar. I suck. I have no musical talent what-so-ever. I'm at the point that I want to give up. Someone else is learning at the same time. We practice. Or they do. I just sit there and feel completely inferior. They are so much better than me. They can pick up anything and be good at it. I practice, but I don't think I'll ever get it. I should just quit now, while I'm ahead.

My cousin thought she would be nice and try to set me up with someone who was a friend of her fathers. She's in Texas. I'm going to visit there the end of next month. Nice gesture, only he's apparently really looking forward to meeting me. I feel put on the spot and awkward about it all. I've never really dated. She said that since I'm lonely and I talk about wanting to be with someone she would take the liberty of helping me out. I'm actually really mad about it. She wants me to be excited.

Lastly, not that I was a fan, but the world was rocked this week with the death of Michael Jackson. He was a music icon for most of the world. I remember some of his it songs while I was growing up. There are some that I work with that were saying it's karma. I don't believe in karma. It is the twisted version of sewing and reaping.

You want to know the very first thing I thought of when I heard of his death? Well, besides shock. . . His eternity. I don't know if he knew Jesus. I don't know if maybe he had been born again while younger and then just didn't continue in the relationship with Him. The thing of it is, if he had not accepted Jesus, he's going to hell. It's sad. He was huge in this world, this life. It was all vanity.

Solomon talks about that in Ecclesiastes. He knew that money, riches, everything we have in this life is vanity. What really matters is the eternal. What is it that survives? It's our spirit.

With my heart and calling, it's hard to hear when someone who the world looked at as an icon dies. I didn't cry when I heard about Michael Jackson, but my heart ached. Just like I'm sure God's did, if he didn't know the Truth. I cried when Saddam Hussein was hanged. Yes, he did some terrible things. Did he deserve death? Don't we all.

But that's the thing. Jesus came to save us from death. We all die. Physically, it's going to happen. But what happens after that is either a forever death, or forever life. We as Christian's have failed to relay that to much of the world. I'm included.

What was my point? Mostly just to put it all down. Sometimes writing helps. I'll probably go write more, where I can be much more specific about it, where it's only me that sees it. I've had a crappy week. We've all had those. And it's all vanity. It doesn't really matter in the eternal.

So, now what are we going to do about it? . .

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The End of Time

No, that's not a bad movie title. Well, it could be, but that's not what this is about. It's the time we live in now. What Christian's call 'the End Times'. It's becoming more evident every day.

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn when I say there are many emotions that Christians go through. Excitement, because it means we'll be with Jesus soon. Urgency, because the world is running out of time. Grief, because not only are there the lost out there, but because those who have declared their belief in Christ are turning to alternate beliefs.

2 Peter 2:1-2, Amplified version, "BUT ALSO [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines (destructive heresies), even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their immoral ways and lascivious doings; because of them the true Way will be maligned and defamed."

That is happening right now. It's not in the future, it's something we have to be cautious of right now. There are those who were solid in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who are now saying there are other ways. How someone can know the truth, believe it, preach it, breathe it, then turn around and start saying there are other ways, is beyond me.

John 14:6, New Living Translation, "Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'"

That, my friend, is the ONLY way that we have salvation. We can't find it ourselves. That's one of the most incredible things about Christianity. We don't have to do a thing, other than accept and believe. There is no way to find it through the other 'gods' out there. There is no other way!

I bring this up because of the message that I had in church on Sunday. It wasn't something that was eye opening but it was something that our pastor felt he needed to bring up so it was clear to everyone.

My church was, up until recently, partnered with a ministry that was very charismatic, believing that Jesus is the only way to God. In the past several weeks, this other ministry has openly endorsed a teaching that there are other ways to God, that miracles are something that everyone can get, through whatever means. (This is how I understand it.) My pastor had brought up other books, written by the secular authors, that showed the very same thing. There is nothing new under the sun.

This whole situation grieves me. As I've said before, I've been all over the world, seen the temples, seen the statues. These statutes are stone, not alive. Some are made after people; Buddha, for example. However, Buddha is dead. Buddha is also, unless he found Jesus at the last moments of his life, in wait for hell. Plain and simple. Although I do not believe that any of these stone things can do anything for anyone, they do have the demonic attached to them. They can counterfeit the things of God. I Timothy 4:1 "Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons."

People are being deceived. People are following after this teaching, praising it for something it's not. It's not, first and foremost, scriptural. It has no basis of Truth. It's counterfeit, and it can eventually lead into the demonic. It's not something that we can ignore.

So, what can we do? We pray, we seek God through prayer and Scripture. If you hear a teaching that doesn't sound just right, research it for yourself. Rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you the Truth. He will let you know when there are things that does not line up with the Word of God. 2 Timothy 1:14 "Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A New View

I had jury duty today. Fun times. What's more, I had to go downtown since I'm barely in Denver county. And I do mean barely, as Jefferson County goes down the street to the west of my complex and right behind it.

I'm sure we all groan when we get the notice in the mail. I don't think one person I know would be jumping for joy, excited that they get to go possibly serve on a jury. OK, so maybe my brother, but he's done it before.

They show you this video, telling you what you can expect when and if you get called in to serve. On the video, they say thanks for coming and helping out. Right, like you have a choice. Hmm, shall I go to jury duty, or have a warrant out for my arrest. Tough choice.

I did get a bonus and got released early so I was able to go to lunch with my dad. That was fun. I enjoy the time I get to spend with him. If I had to go downtown for anything, it was so I could spend lunch with my dad.

All of that isn't really the point of this post. I had to tell you that so I could tell you what happened on the way down my civil duty. I took the light rail down, as it would be better than driving downtown and parking for $8.00 a day, or since we got a discount for serving our duty, $3.00. (I got two free passes from the county as I took the light rail, so it didn't cost me a thing, except gas. God is good!)

On the way down, and I guess on the way back too, as they didn't move, there are a lot of warehouse type places for various things. I don't really know what they are, but there's a lot of them. Most of them are pretty run down. Looking out the window, watching theses buildings go by, I got a sense that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. OK, so I wasn't in Kansas to begin with, but you hopefully know what I mean. If you have ever been anywhere new, here in the States, or overseas, you should get the point. I was looking at them with a new view, like I do when I'm in a new country.

It's hard to explain if you don't know the feeling. I was transported back to the slums of India, Nepal, Vietnam. Seeing with new eyes the part of the city that I live in. Knowing that these people, just like the people of a different culture, are going to Hell. It was heart-wrenching. I tried very hard not to cry there in my seat, with many people surrounding me. I looked around, watching them. Reading books, listening to their MP3 players like me, lost in their own thoughts. Did they know the Truth? Did they think about their own mortality, what would happen with they 'crossed that bridge', so to speak?

I'm called to missions overseas. That is my calling, my heart. I believe I have an anointing on my life that very few people have. I would love to go to the 'forbidden' countries, the ones torn by war and poverty and a corrupt government, the ones that are in no way safe for someone living there, let alone someone traveling there. Somalia is one country I would love to go to. The middle east is another example. The closed countries. If God told me to go, I would have the bags packed ready to go in no time flat.

I've been asked the question, "Why do you go overseas? Don't people here in the States need it too?" Yes, they do. We look at the times we live in and we need it more than ever. I'm not saying I'm not called here. Our mission field is outside our doors, our church walls. When I'm here in the States, I'm called here. When I'm overseas, I'm called there. There are some that are called overseas full time. There are those that are called to be here full time. Does any of this make sense?

I think what the Church needs, as a whole, especially in the States, is a New View, like I got today. We spend more time on who's right, or who has the better 'whatever', or whose cool when we need to be focused on the souls of man. So you don't believe in speaking in tongues, or some of the gifts. I don't really care. As long as you are willing to be changed by God and be a vessel for His work, it doesn't really matter. It doesn't mean you're going to hell. I believe its another level that God has made for us to experience, but it means nothing to the validation of your Salvation. (Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." It's doesn't say you have to speak in tongues, or believe in the other spiritual gifts to be saved; only that we have to believe in and confess Jesus as Lord and the true and LIVING Son of God.)

We need to figure out for ourselves, each of us individually, what is more important. Being right, looking cool, or bringing the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to this world. So, what will it be?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In the News Update

A few days ago, I wrote about a story I read about a pastor and his wife in San Diego that had been told they had to shut down their Bible study in their home because it was a 'religious' event. I am happy to tell you that San Diego county has backed off from that stand.

After many emails and calls to the county from people concerned that the county was trying to "muzzle religious expression", the county backed off. In the story on K-Love, they said it was one employee that had issued the letter to "cease/stop religious assembly on parcel or obtain major use permit."

There are several reasons, I'm sure, that this particular letter was issued. One story is because a neighbor complained about the parking on the night of the Bible study. Of course, there is always 'he said, she said', especially when the media is involved. I don't know the real reason, but God does.

I ask you, does it really matter what the reason is? Is the reason important? I tell you, I don't believe it is. Not in the grand scheme of things. Jesus told us that we were going to be persecuted. Yes, this is a mild form, but it is persecution. Look at John 15:18-25.

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’"

Jesus said those words (hence the red) to his disciples, but what are we? Yep, his disciples. Sure, we're living 2000 years after Him, but we still follow Him. And His word is alive today, right? That means He's talking to us, too. However, it's not hopeless. Duh, you might say, but Jesus went on to say in verses 26 and 27, “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry."

We don't have to do it alone! The Spirit of Truth, who is also the Holy Spirit, will testify about Jesus and He will help us in our testimony of Him as well. We may have not been there, alive with Him when He was here on earth, but we have the Bible. We know the stories, from conception to death, from Resurrection to Ascension. The Holy Spirit made it possible for us to have been there, from the beginning of His ministry. Amazing!!!

It seems this battle, small but significant, has been won. But what about the next one? Or the one after that? Just because this battle has been won, for now, doesn't mean we let our guard down. II Corinthians 10:3-6 says "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." It's not people we are waring with, even though it sometimes seems like that, it's the spiritual things behind the scenes. That's why prayer is our best weapon. It works like we can't.

Philippians 4:6-7 "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." I think that says it all. For now, anyway.