Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spreading dung: The lost art of mentor-ship.

Luke 13:6-9

King James Version (KJV)
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Matthew 3:8
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

John 15:16
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Galatians 5:22-23

King James Version (KJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We live in a very strange time. Saints complain about their pastors and preachers. Pastors and preachers complain about their saints. Everybody complains about everybody. 

We "go to church" to "have church".  But, the world wonders "Will the real church please stand up?" (Please see my blog post from  8-14-11)

Why are there so many shallow Christians in the world? Why are not the fruits of spirit shown openly to the world? Why are we not having revival? Why are so may saints- even some that have been "in the way" for 50 years- still spiritual babes and not spiritual adults? 

They want milk. They want to be patted on the back and spiritually burped. They want to be told how beautiful they are and how loved they are, but have seemingly no desire to dress themselves and clean up their own messes. Why?

I've wondered this and prayed about it for years. The other day, I opened the word and, as it seems to when the Lord wishes to tell me something, a section of scripture leaped off the page at me. Read Luke 13: 6-9 above. anything jump out at you? There's a wealth of wisdom in those few short verses. 

First, for the saint (all preachers/pastors are supposed to be saints first of all), if your life seems full of dung (mess), perhaps the Lord is trying to fertilize your life so that you can bring forth fruit.

I want you to notice, though, that the Lord goes to "the dresser of his vineyard" and tells him to cut down the unfruitful tree. Who is the dresser of the Lord's vineyard? THE MINISTRY! Now, before you go off half cocked and try to really tell those rotten saints a thing or two, please notice the response of the dresser.

"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

This is reminiscent, in a way, of a couple of verses in the Old Testament: 

Isaiah 41:28
For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word.

Amos 8:11
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the wordof the LORD:

We live in a time where there are more church buildings and more congregations of "Christians" than ever before in all of history. Yet, the spiritual state of the majority of the world is about as bad as that of Sodom and Gomorrah! How can this be? 

We, as preachers of the Gospel MUST be honest and repent! If there is a finger to be pointed, it is not at the saints, the government, and certainly not at God. It is to be pointed at us!  

We have fallen into the traps the devil has laid before us. We try to build large congregations and bigger and better buildings. We build large radio/TV ministries and increase our exposure to sell more books. All this is done under the guise of a bigger platform in order to "get out the word." Yet, we water down the word, to attract more people. Is this right? 

The truth is that it is done to build our ego's and line our own pockets! We, if we are successful, have large organizations, homes, nice cars, clothes, and cars. But, what is the spiritual state of our hearers? 

While we are busily telling them about how much the Lord loves them and how he wants to bless them, they are not growing in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior- as Peter prayed they would!
We tell them to give money to "support the ministry of the Gospel", but we are not really doing the ministry we are called to do. 

Real ministry is NOT standing above them and giving them religious platitudes. Our ministry is to get down and dirty with them in their lives. Notice again what the dresser tells the Lord: 

"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:"

He offered to dig about the tree and fertilize it. 

This requires getting your hands dirty. This requires getting involved in their lives as people. It requires digging about in their lives, giving them the word, and fertilizing it. In other word (in the worlds vernacular), we are to "give them crap!"

This is not a relationship of a hug, a few well spoken words, and a handshake- now watch me speak next service. This is a relationship of, "let's get together and break bread." 

It is doing something that Jesus did and his disciples (the Apostles) did: MENTORING them! 

It is allowing them into your life and getting involved in theirs. It is eating with them, loving them, hanging out with them, rejoicing with them in their victories and crying and praying with them in their falls. We are to help them stand up again!  

There is a false teaching that most ministers are taught: "Don't get too friendly with the saints." This is a lie from the pit of hell! Jesus got personally involved in the lives of the Apostles. The Apostles got personally involved in the lives of those they ministered to. And the legacy was passed from person to person. This is what the scripture means in Ephesians 4:11-13:

Ephesians 4:11-13

King James Version (KJV)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

WE help to perfect them, by mentoring and teaching them. We get personally involved in their lives. Then, as they grow, they begin to mentor others. THIS is the work of the ministry. THIS edifies (grows) the body of Christ. It will eventually bring us all into the unity of THE faith.

So, preachers, come down off your platforms (and high horses) and get personal with the saints! True ministry requires prayer and study, but it also requires friendship, love, and a willingness to serve them personally. 

Faith is more than belief. It's an action word.

Ministry is more than a position, it is a call to mentor. 

It's time to roll up our sleeves, till the garden, and spread a little dung! 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

No middleman needed.

Exodus 20: 18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

There are many religions on earth. All are man's attempt at getting God's approval. We try to come up with so many ways to reach God. We try to bargain with God. 

"If I do this, can I come be with you some day?" 

"I know what I'm doing is wrong, but I'm doing these things right. Does that count?"

Men also seem to love religions where they have a middle man between God and them. In our text today, Moses tells Israel to come with him to the mountain and let God change them into what he wants them to be.

I have a coworker that seems to come to me about all job related questions and problems. Yes, I'm a manager and he is not. But, I'm not his Supervisor. Yet, he insists upon using me as a middle man, rather than talk to the Supervisor (both of our's boss) directly for himself. One of the greatest frustrations our Supervisor has is that my coworker won't go to him.

I wonder if God- the ultimate Supervisor and judge of all- has the same frustration with mankind. Rather than pray to him and let him change us, we seek our answers from those that we look at as spiritual supervisors. They can be preachers, teachers, priests, a spiritual family member or coworker. Yet, all the while we use these folks as go-betweens, God is trying to reach out to us and beg us to come to him HIS way.

You see, God only allows us to come to him HIS way. We must conform ourselves to his word and ways. He will NOT just wink and allow us in. 

And just as I cannot gain approval for my co-worker, our go-betweens cannot gain approval for us with God. Using a go-between is a form of idolatry. And scripture says that no idolater will make heaven. 

God himself, robed himself in flesh to become the lamb of God, dying on a cross and paying for our sins with his own blood. He has opened the way for us to have a real relationship with him- a life changing and altering relationship. 

No priest, Rabbi, Moulla, or Preacher can ever take his place and act as a go-between for us. The Lord God almighty loves us and begs us to come to him his way. Any other way will not work. 

Yes, God is mighty and scary. But, just as he invited Israel so long ago, he invites us to him now. The question is, will we do as he asks? Or, will we try to stick with our go-betweens.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

If we are the body? The truth about binding and loosing.

Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

You hear it said often:

"Speak to your mountain."

"I bind that spirit...."

"I loose the power of God into...."

People love this kind of stuff. Preachers love to say it. It gives us a feeling of power and control. And why not? Are we not the "children of God?" Didn't he say that what we bind or loose, he will too? 

Not exactly.

Lets dig a little bit deeper here. 

The word bind here comes from the Greek "deo" and means: 
1) to bind tie, fasten
a) to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains
b) metaph.
1) Satan is said to bind a woman bent together by means of a demon, as his messenger, taking possession of the woman and preventing her from standing upright
2) to bind, put under obligation, of the law, duty etc.
a) to be bound to one, a wife, a husband
3) to forbid, prohibit, declare to be illicit

See, you say. We CAN bind the devil. Not so fast. We have the power to CAST out demons and resist them. But where is the scripture that says we can bind them? Where is the scripture that says we can rebuke them? Even the archangel Michael didn't take that kind of authority. He told Satan "The LORD rebuke thee." (Jude 1:9)

So, what about loosing? The word loose here comes from the Greek, lyo, and it means:  
1) to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened
a) bandages of the feet, the shoes,
b) of a husband and wife joined together by the bond of matrimony
c) of a single man, whether he has already had a wife or has not yet married
2) to loose one bound, i.e. to unbind, release from bonds, set free
a) of one bound up (swathed in bandages)
b) bound with chains (a prisoner), discharge from prison, let go
3) to loosen, undo, dissolve, anything bound, tied, or compacted together
a) an assembly, i.e. to dismiss, break up
b) laws, as having a binding force, are likened to bonds
c) to annul, subvert
d) to do away with, to deprive of authority, whether by precept or act
e) to declare unlawful
f) to loose what is compacted or built together, to break up, demolish, destroy
g) to dissolve something coherent into parts, to destroy
h) metaph., to overthrow, to do away with

So, can we indeed "loose the power of God" into anything? No.
Not on our own.

I believe that the proper understanding of what Jesus told Peter (and by extension, the church) is found in Jesus' mission. We are "Christians" The word means "Christ-like." 

As I've said before, Jesus died to prepare a spiritual place for us so that WE could have the kind of relationship with the spirit of God that the son of God (the flesh) enjoyed. 

His intention was not to build a religious organization. Rather, it was to develop a "body of believers" that would- through HIM- be empowered BY him to do the things that he did. We are to be his hands and feet. Healing the sick, raising the dead, setting the captives free (through him), etc. 

Just as Jesus started his days (and many times ended his days) in prayer, we are to do the same. Even though he was God in the flesh, the secret to his ministry was the relationship of flesh and spirit that was built through prayer and time in the word. 

ALL our ministry begins in prayer and study. THEN, we are to obey his leading. WHEN we obediently act or speak, THEN all the power of heaven is released to back up our obedience to God. In this way, what we bind and loose on earth, is bound and loosed in heaven. 

The more we pray, the closer we get to him. The closer we get to him, the more we begin to be able to discern whether it's HIS voice, our voice, or the voices of our enemies we are hearing. If it's ours, we repent. If it's the enemies, we respond with the word (resist). If it's HIS, we submit and obey. 

We have become a presumptuous generation. We have bought into the "name it, claim it" falsehoods. God is NOT our servant to do as we please. We are HIS servants to do as HE pleases. We can't order God to heal someone. All we can do is ask. If HE says to say, "be thou healed", then say it under his power and anointing. But, we can't just say it and expect him to obey us.  

We are his body to do what he says. WE are to complete HIS mission through HIS leading. So, what was his mission? 

Luke 4:18-19
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Notice, "heal the brokenhearted." 

Another definition of a "bind" is a bandage. A bandage stops further infection, keeps in the medicine, and allows healing to begin. When we "bind" the hurting, we are placing a holy bandage on their spiritual wound that allows inner healing in their lives. 

Binding is not, as some teach, an offensive weapon. It is a healing balm to the hurting.

Most sins begin through a response to pain. They are bound to that sin because of some past pains and hurts. If we will stay close to God and do as he says, we will be able- through him- to enable inner healing in the lives of many. This helps them to repent and takes away (eventually) the perceived need for the sin in their lives. 

Notice, "to set at liberty them that are bruised." When we set something free, we loose them. There are many in this world that have been bruised and battered by both their own choices and the choices of those around them. If we will walk close with the Lord, he will help us- again through him- to do and/or say something that will cut the ropes and break the chains from their hearts. This will allow them to begin to heal and be set free in Jesus.

So, the true order is this: 

HE says bind, we do or say as he told us to, he unleashes his resources to accomplish what he told us to do. 

When he says loose, we do or say as he told us to, he unleashes his resources to accomplish what he told us to do.

If we try to circumvent the first step in the binding and loosing cycles, then we mistakenly try to do the second, the third part doesn't happen.  

As Christians, we truly do have a lot of power at our fingertips. But, this power cannot be used arbitrarily and at OUR choosing. This power is to be used when HE wants and how HE wants. 

The popular song by Casting crowns, asks, "If we are the body, why aren't his arms reaching, why aren't his hand healing..." The reason is either a) we aren't his body (some that claim to be truly are not), or b) we are trying to improperly bind and loose.

God has limitless power and resources available for his body to use, but we can only access them through the patterns and ways HE has ordained. If we break from these, we are powerless against a dying world- and defenseless against an enemy that has sworn to destroy us. 

If we will truly submit to Jesus, then we can become his body indeed. 

We are his body, lets let him use us as he sees fit. If he speaks, then we should speak. If he says do something, then we should do it. Our ministries should grow out of our relationship with him and through him, not out of our own minds, attitudes, or popular methodologies. 

We plug into his power through the new birth, but we only use his power when HE turns on the switch, not when WE decide. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sometimes, real men need to sit down.

John 6

King James Version (KJV)
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
My pastor preached "little is much with God" out of this section today. It was truly a very good message. However, I must confess that, as he read the scriptures, my mind went a slightly different direction. So, let's take a look. 

The first thing that caught my attention was the fact that it was NIGH Passover. In other words, it was very close to Passover. Without going into a great amount of detail, there was a lot of things that had to be prepared for Passover. 

             A) They had to find just the right lamb (unblemished in any way). This lamb had to be killed and prepared for their table in specific ways using specific herbs. 
            B) The unleavened bread had to be prepared (not a fast process, to say the least). There were also dipping sauces made with bitter herbs that had to be made. 
            C) The list goes on. 

Suffice it to say that to prepare for the Passover was not a microwave process. It could take days to prepare for this special and God-ordained day. 

Yet, what were these masses of people doing to prepare for this high Holy day? Following an itinerant preacher they knew little about because they had heard he was a miracle worker. 

Though this is a good place to start (Jesus did say, "Believe me that I am in the father and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works sake." Translation, "believe what I say, but if you have trouble with that, at least believe the miracles.") but this should not be our stopping place.

Many follow Jesus for what he can DO for them. Indeed, to some, he's a spiritual candy machine: press the button (pray) and down drops the delicious treat. Again, Jesus says this is a good starting point. It's weak faith, at best. Those who follow him for what he can do, will soon stop following him because they didn't get the desired result when they pressed the prayer button.  

Back to our story. These people were following Jesus, but disobeying the law of God. Let that sink into your craw a minute. Jesus was (and is) God in the flesh, yet, on this day the masses that followed him were breaking the law because they were not preparing for the God ordained Passover meal. 

There were 5000 men (and who knows how many women and children) there who should have been out looking for that perfect lamb to use. The women should have been preparing the unleavened bread and sauces, getting the clothing ready, etc. Husbands and wives should have been using this as an opportunity to teach their young children about what God did on the first Passover, when he set his people free from Egyptian bondage. Yet, here they all were, following Jesus. 

Jesus, as the author of the law himself, had every right to condemn these people. He could have openly and strongly rebuked these folks. But, he didn't. He had a higher purpose in mind than the Passover formalities- though they were important. After all, he would soon fulfill Passover on a rugged cross. He was after their hearts and minds, not just mere legalities. 

Rather than rebuke or destroy them, he had mercy on them. He notices their predicament. These people need fed. So, knowing full well what he is going to do, he asks his disciples: Where we gonna get bread to feed all these folks? 

His disciples are flabbergasted! Are you kidding me Lord? All these people? Why even if we had close to 8 months of wages (a penny is a days wages in scripture. They had a 6 day work week. Do the math and that's about 33 weeks- or nearly 8 months- of wages), we could never feed this many, Lord.

Phillip had pointed out the lack of supplies to get the job done. Andrew then, showing a little more faith, points out that there's a young boy with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. 5 BARLEY loaves, at that. As my pastor pointed out today, Barley was the poor man's wheat and flower. The poor couldn't afford the good stuff. So, not only do they only have 5 loaves, but it's not very good quality stuff. Not much to work with, to be sure. 

Then Jesus decides this is enough for him (God almighty) to work with. He takes this little bit and feeds the multitudes with an abundance left over to boot. This little boy gave truly all he had, and God blessed it to bless thousands! 

But, there's something else he did first. He ordered the men of the multitude to sit down. Right there, in a field and on the side of a mountian. No comfy chairs. No Air conditioning. Just hard ground with a little grass to soften it slightly. These men should have been out providing the Passover meal for their own families. Instead, they are being told to sit down. In other words:

                          "Get out of my (Jesus) way and let me work! I'll have mercy on you and provide for your needs- even though you are disobeying me by being here in the first place." 

We men are told by God to provide for the needs of our families and help others with theirs. We are told, as preachers, to instruct and feed the flock of God diligently. Pray, work, give until it hurts (our all- not just money). 

But, sometimes, in spite of what we are supposed to be doing, God will find us in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing (or not doing) our best to fulfill the burdens placed on us. Like these folks, we get sidetracked and find ourselves drawn away from what we should be doing. Before we know it, we're in a real fix.

Away from home and totally helpless. We try and hunt in vain for the provision we should give our families (physically and spiritually), to no avail. We are at the end of our rope with nowhere else to go. We will die, if there is no divine intervention. 

But Jesus, as he did for these men, calls to us men and tells us to....SIT DOWN. Take a load off. DO NOTHING. Leave it all to me.

If you find yourself in this predicament, take heart. Whatever your need, trust him to fulfill it. He will! He fed the multitudes full of rebellion and he will care for us and our needs, too.

These men could have thrown their hands up in the air and stopped following Jesus altogether. They could have struck out on their own, dragging their families behind them, in a desperate attempt to do what's right. If they had, they'd have been wrong- and they would've died apart from Jesus. 

We are the God ordained provider for our homes, but HE gives us what we need to give our families. Wisdom, food, shelter, godly instruction, it all comes from God to us. Our job is to do what we are supposed to do and follow Jesus. 

When we find ourselves hogtied by our situation though, our job is to pray and sit. Let him handle the struggle. He will come through in his mercy! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A soft word: communication help for the hapless.

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Matthew 5:37
But let your communication be, YeayeaNaynay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

We Christians are commanded to be honest in all that we do and say. We fight our human nature, which- if we're honest- desires to protect itself and lift itself up. 

We take great pride in "saying what we mean and meaning what we say." Yet, in relationships with others, this prideful bluntness can be very harmful. It can drive wedges between us and our co-workers, our spouses, our family, our friends, and our fellow Christians. It has destroyed careers and decimated families and churches alike. 

We love to say, "let your yeas be yea, and your nays be nay." When we say that, many times there's a smug self righteousness that sneaks through and is heard by others. What they hear is, "I'm gonna say what I feel. I don't care how you feel about it at all."

Proverbs 15:1, I believe, is the key to better communication. It is the method by which we can BOTH say what we mean AND not alienate most of who listens to what we have said.

While it is true that somethings we say, especially Biblical things, will hurt some people's feelings. This is a given no matter how nicely we try and word things. In these situations we need to remember: Proverbs 27:6
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Some folks just need the unadulterated truth, even if it hurts them. We cannot short cut the word of God in favor of someones feelings- no matter how much we love them. 

By the same token, however, we cannot go around swinging our sword at all who come near. This hack and slay approach may make you feel good about how much you know and are telling the "godless heathens" around you. But, it truly won't win the vast majority to your cause. If you're married, or soon to be, then swinging your sword isn't going to gain you any good will with your spouse.

When we are speaking to others, we need to be prayerful about it and try to be led by the spirit of God in what we say and do. Instead of angry retorts, try rewording what you're saying in a way that both lets them know you care and helps them see what you're saying from a different angle.

We men, as heads of the home, truly struggle with this. There is a tendency for us to parade around as "the master of all we survey" in our homes. God has named us head of the home (understood to our male ego's as "Lord of the Castle") and "by God, they had better do what I say." This attitude belittles your spouse (who is your helpmate, not your doormat) and will drive your children away from you as well. 

Rather than giving orders, try prayerfully explaining your ideas and allowing both their feedback and (if there's time) time to pray and think about it, as well. Instead of telling them what they will and won't do "because I say so", explain your reasons for your conclusions and allow them to ask questions. They may see things in a way that helps YOUR understanding, as well. 

While the husband does have the final say (in Jesus) on what can and cannot happen with his family, it is far better (and easier) to do things in agreement. In this way you truly LEAD your family. You're not trying to force them into your will. Even God allows us freedom of choice.

Granted there are times in which you will have to put your foot down, or make a decision that only you agree with- making your family upset. However, when those times come, they'll be far easier for you than if all you do is force your will down the throats of your loved ones. Remember, scripture says that, Proverbs 11:14
"Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety."

If you allow your family, especially your spouse, to be a part of your decisions, they are far more likely to follow you when they disagree. 

Major decisions, if possible, need to be done only in family unity. If all do not have peace about it, then take the time to re-examine and re-pray about it. Minor decisions, too, should be made together as much as possible. 

We have a hard enough time battling the influences of the world and our enemy without forcing battles in our homes. So, to my wife and family, I love you and am still learning. Please forgive me the errors of my past. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rarefied Air

1 Corinthians 9:25-27

King James Version (KJV)
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

This blog post will be a fun departure from the norm for me. As most of you know, I tend to blog about Scriptures and how they apply to our lives. I try to be an encouragement to you, the reader, in your daily walk with Jesus. 

However, I am also a fiction writer (having published one book) and an avid reader of Christian fiction myself. So, to take a short break from reality, I'll pick up a good book and immerse in the world I find there. 

As Christians we are to be very careful what we watch, read, and listen to, so I tend to be very picky about what I choose to read.

Around a year ago, I picked up a copy of the book, "Lion of Judah", by Davis Bunn. I first became aware of his work when he did the "Song of Acadia" series with Janette Oke (an author my family has enjoyed for years). So, when I found this book, I was willing to take a chance. I was so glad that I did. It was a wonderful and engaging book and I wrote Mr Bunn on his website ( and told him so.

You can imagine the thrill I felt when I was given the opportunity to read and critique the sequel to "Lion of Judah." I was on pins and needles awaiting the arrival of "Rare Earth." 

As a former Army Medic and a preacher, I have long stood for the idea that Christians are not just patsies. We are not made to simply roll over and be killed like lambs to the slaughter. Rather, we are commanded to fight (sometimes physically, if need be) the evil in this world and make a difference in the lives of others.

"Rare Earth" is about a man, Marc Royce, who does just that. A strong Christian man, he is also an intelligence agent trying to correct injustice and make a difference in people lives- many of which he's never met. Yet, he does it because it's the right thing to do. 

Along the way, he must weed through the mine field of political intrigue, dangerous enemies, financial offers made to side track him, strange tribal customs, and even an erupting volcano. This story has it all: Mystery, danger, intrigue, politics, corruption, romance, action, and the main character has to make it through all this while still standing up for biblical living. Marc Royce has to pray and seek God's advice on who to trust and not to trust, something we can all learn to do.

The action is breath taking. The romance is subtle and sweet without giving in to the tendency of many books and being graphic (Thank you, Mr Bunn!) The politics are realistic. The danger is heart pounding. You can't help but find yourself rooting for Marc Royce to be successful. After all, the future of the Kenyan (and some Israeli) people is at stake and Marc has to figure out what's going on in order to stop it and bring true freedom to them all. Not to mention trying to stay alive himself.

There are many poignant moments that leave you thinking how you would react in that situation. There are many plot twists and turns that leave you guessing about what's next. 

The Characters are well written and have real depth to them. The descriptions of the landscapes are vivid enough that you can almost feel the volcanic ash falling around you. The action is fast paced and realistic. Marc is not made out to be Superman. He's just a man who loves people and God. 

I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did "Lion of Judah"- probably because I was in Iraq in the 90's. I did very much enjoy "Rare Earth." I heartily recommend it for any Christian who wants to read some good fiction and stay away from all the junk the world tells us to read. 

This book is in rarefied air. My only question now to Mr Bunn is: will there be a third installment to the series? Please?