Sunday, March 25, 2012

The path of most resistance: Honour thy Father and thy Mother.

Exodus 20: 12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Ephesians 6

 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
 2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
 4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

We live in a day and an hour where rebellion seems to be the new name of the game. Like never before, this modern generation seems to scream, "I'm going to do what I want to do!" Parents, who are on the front lines of this battle, seem to be fighting a losing war.

The scriptures tell us to "train up a child in the way that (they) should go..." (Proverbs22:6), yet we find resistance to that training on every side. Children are indoctrinated by schools with false theologies (evolution, falsified history, global warming, etc). These ungodly philosophies paint parents as being "stuck in the past", uneducated, unable to cope or dwell successfully in the new and evolving world. Movies, television, and music, all to often paint the parent as an idiot and the child as the hero who shows up to save the day. So the kids begin to doubt the word of the very people who love and care for them, and want them to be successful in life: their parents.

The scriptures tell us that, "foolishness is in the heart of a child, the rod of correction shall drive it far from them." (Proverbs 22:15) Yet the schools we send them to, and even (in some cases) the laws of the land, have declared that spanking is child abuse. So, when the child is acting in rebellion, as children do, and we reach for the rod to correct them with, the child begins to reach for the phone and threatens to throw us in jail for attempting to do the very thing the scriptures TELL US to do: drive that foolishness out of their hearts and far from them.

Yet, when our children act up, the law wants to point a finger of blame at us for "not controlling our children properly." When we point out the obvious reasons of the shackles they have placed on us, they tell us to go see a psychologist. These "professionals" (for after all, we parents are the idiots and can't possibly know what's best for our own kids) then put our children on mind altering and harmful psychotropic drugs to help control them. These drugs open our children up to demonic attack! Many of the people who do the worst violence in our society were raised on these very drugs that the professionals tell us will help our children be good people.

Sadly, huge numbers of these children wind up leaving the God of their youth, going wild, and end up in jail for crimes that they probably otherwise wouldn't have committed. 

The 6th commandment boldly tells our children how they are to respond to their parent: Honour thy Father and Mother. What does the word Honour mean: I went to the Hebrew, but it basically said "Honor". So, I turned to Websters and found this: 

1: a : good name or public esteem : reputationb : a showing of usually merited respect : recognition honor to our founder>
: privilege honor of joining the captain for dinner>
: a person of superior standing —now used especially as a title for a holder of high office Honor please>
: one whose worth brings respect or fame : credit honorto the profession>
: the center point of the upper half of an armorialescutcheon
: an evidence or symbol of distinction: asa : an exalted title or rank(1) : badgedecoration (2) : a ceremonial rite orobservance honors>c : an award in a contest or field of competitiond archaic : a gesture of deference : bowe plural (1) : an academic distinction conferred on a superior student (2) : a course of study for superior students supplementing or replacing a regular course
: chastitypurity honor and her life — Barton Black>
plural : social courtesies or civilities extended by a hosthonors> 

So, since our children are commanded by God to look at us with respect, love, admiration, as being above them and obeyed by them, God gave them a promise. IF they will honour us, HE promises them "thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." After all, if they will learn to honour us, they will one day learn to honour God.

This honour that they are to show us starts with how we raise them. If we raise them in "the nurture and the admonition of the Lord" by obeying HIS recipe for raising a child they will become children that bring us honour and respect us. 

Real love doesn't defer to "the wisdom inherent in the child". Rather, real love teaches them how to live and corrects them when they are wrong. 

Spanking is necessary because it teaches them that there are painful consequences to doing wrong. Planting the seed in them that they want to live Godly. It also reinforces God's warning of ultimate punishment (hell) for those who choose to live ungodly. After all, if my earthly Father will punish me, how much more will my heavenly Father punish me? 

But, we are also to teach them:

Deuteronomy 6: 4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

to drug them, we need to correct them and give them responsibilities and Godly activities to do. We don't need to get them all that they want, we need to provide them what they need to be successful for God. We can't let them be involved in ungodly activities and hang around ungodly so-called friends, we need to guard them against these things that will ultimately send them to hell. 

When the scriptures tell us not to "provoke our children to wrath", it doesn't mean not to make them mad. It means to raise them in a way that will keep them safe from God's wrath! Sometimes, a little pain to the rear or a little doing without something they think is so important, may be the difference in their lives between heaven and hell, freedom and jail. 

If we truly want our children to receive God's promise of a long and Godly life, then we need to honour them. We do this NOT by treating them as if they are in charge. We do this by praying, being diligent in the things of God, and setting up a Godly structure in our homes that they can later emulate in their own lives and homes. If we do this, then they will begin to honour us. If they begin to honour us, then they will be open to honouring God.

They may think us crazy now, but later, they will thank us for teaching them and showing them the way. They will proudly tell their own children: "Your Grandparents are the reason I am who I am today. I thank God for them and I thank them for teaching me about God."   

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Excuse me, but your insides are hanging out!

Imagine with me that your walking through the streets of your town. As you walk, you begin to notice that some folks are looking at you strangely. The farther you walk, the more folks keep looking at you. You don't wonder about yourself. You know there's nothing wrong with you. You're not sure what's gotten into these people, but they have problems. You decide to ignore their stares.

Finally, a kindly old gentleman approaches you. He begins to speak to you in a nice, but concerned manner. His words strike you as strange, for what he says is, "Excuse me, but your insides are hanging out." You're offended at first, but your automatic reaction is to look down. Sure enough, your insides are hanging out!

You are stunned! Fear takes a hold of you. You begin to feel weak and dizzy. Your breathing becomes rapid and shallow. But, the old man, places gentle hands on your shoulders, looks you in the eyes, and says, "It's OK. I'm a doctor. Let's get you into this hospital over here and we'll fix you right up.

Does this sound ludicrous to you? Of course. Yet, millions of people every day do just what you were doing in the above story: they walk around with their insides hanging out. Not physically, to be sure. But, all of our inner lives are on full display for all the world to see everyday. It's obvious by our actions and speech (remember, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh", Jesus said.) to any who care to look closely, what we truly believe.

Proverbs 23: 7a "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..."

Our actions always follow our emotions. Our emotions always follow our beliefs. Our beliefs always follow our thoughts. Who we are on the inside is- quite literally, who we are! 

This is why the scriptures warn us to think only on godly things and, in this way, to guard our hearts. If our thought life is in line, then our beliefs will be in line. If our beliefs are in line, then our emotions will be in line. If our emotions are in line, then our actions will be in line. 

As an example, lets look at Saul's life. 

King Saul's story begins in 1 Samuel 9. We find him out looking for his fathers donkeys with a servant. His father, according to verse 1, was a "mighty man of power." His father evidently was a man of some financial means, as he owned animals and had multiple servants. With money comes power. So, he was an influential man, as well. 

Saul, was a young man who seemed to have his life planned out ahead of him- beautifully! Grow up in wealth and prestige. Take over the family biz. Grow that wealth and prestige. But, the Lord God had other plans.

Israel had lived in a theocracy for hundreds of years. But, Israel wanted to be like everyone else and have a king. So, the Lord looks around and chooses Saul. He doesn't allow Saul to find the animals. He gets him so frustrated that Saul goes looking for the judge/prophet Samuel to learn where the animals were.

This is where Saul's life takes a sudden turn. Like Saul, most of the time, when God wishes to call us into a different direction, it seems he reaches into our everyday lives to work things to get our attention and point us in a different way. 

Saul is told that God is calling him to be King over Israel. Talk about unqualified! From herding animals to leading a nation- Oh what a change. God equips him by filling him with his spirit to strengthen and guide Saul in his new duties. God gave him a great start! 1 Samuel 10: 9-10)

Saul is a bold man, if nothing else. We've already been told of the wealth and prestige his Father had. Yet, he has the audacity to LIE to God's prophet about who he is in society: 21"And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?"

He's a liar who suffers from low self esteem- as most liars do. Already, his insides (who he really is) are beginning to show. To top that off, on the day of his coronation, Saul is nowhere to be found. Where is he? He's out "hiding amongst the stuff." (1 Samuel 10: 22) He doesn't want the responsibility God has given him. More of his insides were hanging out. 

How many of us RUN from the call of God on our lives because we don't want the responsibility, nor do we desire the necessary change in our lives. So, we hide in the stuff of life. We get caught up in entertainment, our jobs, finances, parties, status, etc. All the while, God has a job for us to do that will benefit many other people- IF we will submit.  

Later, he is told to wait on Samuel to come and sacrifice before he goes off to war. Samuel is late. Some of his men begin to leave him. Saul's lack of faith in the God who called him, his looking to others to validate his self esteem, and his impatience come rapidly to the surface. He steps out of his God-given role and tries to stand in Samuel's role. He performs the sacrifices.

As he's cleaning up his mess, Samuel comes. God requires obedience and listening to him MORE than he requires sacrifice. Saul's lack of letting God change him costs him dearly. He fulfills the ritual, in the wrong way. 

He should have been praying and seeking God all along. When he was hiding in the stuff, he should have been asking for God's direction. Instead of religion and ceremony, he should have sought relationship. 

Due to his bad insides, he has a bad ending. He loses his kingdom and loses out with God. 

Saul was placed under immense pressure. This pressure caused the real him to come out for all the world to see. 

Like Saul, God calls us- even with our bad insides hanging out. But, if we don't enter into relationship with him and allow God to change our insides, we will lose our promises and lose out with God as well. 

Let us be like David: "Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, Oh Lord. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me all the joy of thy salvation." 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Apostles in scripture in relation to church Government. (Do we have it backwards?)

I have been contemplating some things about local church Government. I made a blog post at an earlier date here. This is an outgrowth of that post. 

It occurred to me that we, as Apostolics, should fulfill the ministries of the church as they did them in the book of Acts church. That having been said, our modern churches glorify bishops, pastors, and evangelists. Most of our churches don't use deacons and prophets are both revered and feared. But, what about the Apostle?

Scripturally speaking, aside from them having personally seen Jesus- something only the originals could do (unless he gives us a vision or dream)- they seemed to act as pastor/elders, evangelists, missionaries, bishops, prophets, and teachers in the scriptures. They would go to an "unchurched area", start preaching and teaching, and (if the Gospel gained traction there) they'd raise up a local body (or church, if you will) until God raised up some elders in that group to take over the leadership of the group. Then, the Apostle would move on to start another work, occasionally keeping an eye on their previous works- offering encouragement and correction to the elders and church body where needed.

Another thing they'd do, however, was that they seemed to be the authorities of the whole movement. Look at the disagreement over circumcision in Acts. Who was it that the dispute was taken to? Who was it that seemed to be the final arbitor of doctrinal truth for the whole body of Christ (under the direction of the Lord)? The Apostles!

So, since in our modern day movements, a missionary is probably the closest thing to an Apostle we have, do we have things backwards in our organizations? Instead of the Bishops and pastor/elders leading our organizations, shouldn't it be the missionaries? Why are they relegated to an almost fringe status in our movements, when they had such a HUGE role in the early church? 

Thoughts anyone?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shalom Shabbath: Enjoy the peace of the atonement!

Exodus 20:8Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

In continuing our lessons on the commandments, the fourth commandment seems simple: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy". But what does that mean, especially to the Christian? 

Do we have to keep the Sabbath? If so, what how do we do it? Can we work on the Sabbath day? There is much we need to learn about this commandment. After all, we cannot obey a commandment until we understand it. 

The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbath and means: 

"1) Sabbath
a) sabbath
b) day of atonement
c) sabbath year
d) week
e) produce (in sabbath year)

When we celebrate the Sabbath, we celebrate our atonement!

There has been much debate over these eight words. Some say they no longer apply, but Jesus said, 
"17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19) 

Obviously, the earth is still here and the kingdom of heaven has not yet been set up here on earth. We must, therefore, conclude that the law is still in force, to some degree. Of course some things, such as the sin sacrifices and the ceremonial aspects to the law are FULFILLED through Jesus' death on Calvary. Is the Sabbath one of them? 

The Lord's moral laws are still in force. "Looking at the ten commandments", it is obvious that these are part of God's moral laws. So, yes, we have to "keep the Sabbath day". But, how do we do this?

Some folks insist that Saturday (the Sabbath day- the seventh day) is the day we should meet and worship the Lord. They say that it was the Catholic church that changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday- in order to secretly worship "the sun God- Mithra". Is there any evidence in the scriptures to suggest the early church got together on the first day of the week (Sunday) to worship?

A few facts: 1) Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. (Mark 16:) 2) Jesus appeared to the disciples on the first day of the week. (John 20:19) 3) Acts 20:7 suggests that the apostles did meet on the first day of the week. 4) 1 Corinthians 16:2 suggests that the early church met and took up offerings on the first day of the week. 5)Romans 14:5-6 says that, in essence, whatever day you wish to set apart for the Lord- do so, but don't judge your brother because they chose a different day. 

So, it would seem, that even back then, there was controversy concerning the Sabbath. Yet, there is evidence that the church did, in fact, meet on the first day of the week. It even became known as "the Lord's day" because Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Jesus appeared to John on "the Lord's day" while he was imprisoned on the isle of Patmos and showed him the book of Revelations.

For these reasons, I chose to take Paul's position in Romans 14. Whatever day you wish to make holy- do so! Just don't judge your brother who does differently than you do. 

If your group chooses to gather together on Saturday, great! There are some Apostolics who do worship on Saturday, rather than Sunday. This is the original Sabbath day. You cannot be wrong in gathering together that day to worship. Most Apostolics gather on Sunday, the Lord's day. Great! The early church seems to have done this as well. I have known some that gathered on BOTH Saturday and Sunday. Awesome! We need to "forsake not the gathering together" of the saints. I say go for it!  

So, we've settled the day issue. Is this all there is to keeping the commandment? Or is there more? 

What does it mean to "remember" the Sabbath day? Are we to simply say, in passing, "Ah, it's the Sabbath. I remember that now", as if we're remembering a recipe or some other lost bit of knowledge? The word "remember here comes from the Hebrew word, zakar, and means: 

1) to remember, recall, call to mind
a) (Qal) to remember, recall
b) (Niphal) to be brought to remembrance, be remembered, be thought of, be brought to mind
c) (Hiphil)
1) to cause to remember, remind
2) to cause to be remembered, keep in remembrance
3) to mention
4) to record
5) to make a memorial, make remembrance

Notice definition 5, "to make a memorial". 

Now this opens up a whole other can of worms to fish with! When we make a memorial, in our society, we set up a special place. We put time, money, and effort into that place. And we go there to visit that place to remember. 

Jesus died for US ALL! He then defeated death, hell, and the grave, for US ALL! We gather together in this place we've set aside and put our time, money, and effort into in order to REMEMBER and CELEBRATE what our Lord has done or us! The creator of all, loved us so much that he died and rose again for us. If we can get excited about anything, we can get excited about this!

This is far better than the new car, the new job, the new house, the new clothes, etc. This tells me that God loves me so much he died for me! As unworthy as I feel, he died to make me worthy! He arose to lift me up into heavenly places and experience his love and glory and to see his awesome power at work! 

Do we get to that place, simply by showing up? Is it enough to gather together in this place to take part in all what God wants for us? He said he has plans for our good for our lives. How do we take part in those plans?

In Acts 10, Cornelius is told "thy prayers and thy alms are come up as a memorial" unto God. 

Let's give to the work of the Lord, both in and out of church. God always honors giving. If we see our brother in need, and we have it to give, let's reach out and help him! 

Let's pray! Let's keep getting together to seek God. Let's keep setting aside specific times, both in private and as a body, to pray and seek the Lord- not just for what he can do, but also (and more importantly), for who he is! 

We want power with God. He wants relationship. If we have the relationship with him, the power will begin to manifest itself. Apostolic power and ministry is not based on our doctrine (though doctrine is important). Rather, it is based on developing a strong relationship with Jesus! 

A memorial is also a place to get away and rest. 

Sometimes, we just need a break from our lives. That time of prayer and study. That time spent talking things over with God! He says "Come unto me, all ye who are weary, and I will give you rest." 

Isaiah put it this way: "11For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
 12To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear." (Isaiah 28:11-12)

The Lord of all that is has made the whole world and offer we should not refuse. We spend most of our lives fighting with the world, with our flesh, with family and friends (sometimes). We sometimes, in spite of Paul's instructions, DO grow weary in well doing. How do we not when we sometimes feel as if we are fighting the hordes of hell every day?

Every boxing match has a break between rounds. Jesus, in the days of his flesh, got away every day to recharge his batteries and get instructions. The reason the Lord gave us the baptism of the Holy Ghost goes WAY beyond it being part of becoming a child of God. Yes, he gives us the power to become what he wants us to be. But, he also gives us a place of rest. An unhindered access to connect with him.

Sometimes a child just needs to feel loved. Sometimes a child just needs to feel the strong arms of their daddy around them, holding them, keeping them safe. Sometimes when we fall down or get knocked down, we just need to hear daddy whisper in our ear, "Hush child. Daddy's here. It's gonna be alright. I'll see you through. I'll help you do this."

Having the Holy Ghost gives us access to: 

1) the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5)

2) the ability to speak truth and a witness to our conscience when we're right (Romans 9:1)

3) righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17)

4) a hope that is born in our hearts and brought on by God giving us hope to believe (Romans 15:13) in spite of the circumstances we face! 

5) Our offerings, be they money, time, giving to others, helping others in our labor, giving a friendly and understanding ear, bringing sinners in to the house of God, etc, are useless in our flesh, but are made acceptable by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:16)

6) the understanding of the word of God, as well as help to teach it's precepts (1 Corinthians 2:13)

7) the understanding that we are NOT our own. That we are bought with a price and have no right to live however we wish to live. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

8)1 Corinthians 12:3 says we can't even call Jesus LORD (Supreme controller) except by the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives!

9)We can commune with God only through his spirit (the Holy Ghost) being in us (2 Corinthians 13:14)

10) The ability to walk uprightly as an example to others, and the power to minister to others comes only from the Holy Ghost living within us and working through us. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

11) joy in the struggle (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

12) The ability to stay right with God and complete his will for our lives comes only through the Holy Ghost (2 Timothy 1:14) 

13) Our salvation comes through the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5)

14) When God chooses to, miracles and signs and wonders can be done through the power of The Holy Ghost. (Hebrews 2:4)

15) Guidance comes through the Holy Ghost (Hebrews 3:7)

16) The Holy Ghost is how God writes his laws on our hearts! (Hebrews 10: 14-16)

17) The Holy Ghost allows us to prophecy. (2 Peter 1:21)

18) We can build up our most holy faith by PRAYING in the Holy Ghost! (Jude 1:20)

What is the Christian Sabbath? It is the Holy Ghost! It is God dwelling in us. 

How do we access that needed rest? How do we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Through praying in the Holy Ghost! 

For the christian EVERY day can be a Sabbath of rest! For, in essence, the Holy Ghost IS our relationship with God almighty! The Holy Ghost IS the power and love of God in our lives. 

What am I saying? If you need rest, healing, help, etc, the answer is found in a relationship with our Lord and Savior. When we Obeyed acts 2:38, we were born again. But, we need to actively work at our relationship with him to stay right. And we do this through the power he places in us out our new birth- the Holy Ghost. 

The Holy Ghost is NOT a person. It is the power, the connection with God that enables us to be used by him. This power is accessed through prayer. It is the phone line through which God almighty speaks with us and teaches us. It IS the Christian Sabbath! 

Shalom, Shabbath, dear friend! May the peace of the Sabbath (the joy of the Holy Ghost) be in you!