Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marc Royce 3.0- Called to be weak?

1 Timothy 6:11-12

King James Version (KJV)
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Matthew 19:26
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

If you (like me) are a fan of Davis Bunn's action character, Marc Royce, then get ready for a treat. What started in Lion of Babylon and it's sequel, Rare Earth, continues in Bunn's latest novel, Straight of Hormuz, due out November 5, 2013.  

Part three has more action, more plot twists, and even more problems to overcome. Seemingly isolated from his government, in conflict in his personal relationships, and facing a foe that is both intelligent and tricky, what's a spy to do?

However, for me personally, the true resolution of the book doesn't come at the very satisfying ending that leaves the possibility of another sequel (please?). It comes on pages 201 and 202 out of 332 pages. Marc Royce teaches us all a much needed lesson:

"I have spent my entire adult life training to be a warrior. To analyze and fight and succeed. To control risk and battle danger. And yet there comes a moment when I must go against my training. When I must accept that events are not to be fought against, but rather accepted in prayer. That at such times I cannot retreat into the safety of coldness and anger and still remain a faithful servant. There is NO (emphasis mine) harder lesson for me to learn than to recognize the moment when I am called to be weak."

Wow! What a lesson!

I can hear Paul (I believe) saying: 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (Hebrews 11:32-34).

I can hear 2 Chronicles 20:15 : And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.

We humans, especially men, seem to go through life trying to "defeat our enemies." Every situation we find ourselves in must be analyzed, strategized, and conquered.  We pat ourselves on the back for our ingenuity. Yet, sometimes, our Lord has to allow the situation to get so bad that we have no choice but to look up and ask for his divine help. That's usually when he moves his sovereign hand and brings victory- after we have submitted to him.

This is why I enjoy these books so much. Though Marc is an amazing character in literature, he is not presented as a superman. He is presented as well trained, intelligent, and dedicated, but as a real human being. He suffers the same doubts, fears, and weaknesses that we do.

Most importantly, he has to rely on God's help to bring the victory, just as we do.

If you want to read a good book just for enjoyments sake, Straight of Hormuz is an excellent choice. However, if you want to get more out of it than an afternoon or two's entertainment, then dig a little deeper.

This action book should come with a Christian study guide. It covers themes of relationships with the opposite sex (keeping ourselves pure), standing for truth (even when our superiors are against us), relationships with other believers, and much more.

Want to taste before you buy? Here's a link to the first 3 chapters:  ( 

Good stuff, Davis Bunn. When's the next one coming out?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What do you mean when you say church?

Matthew 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

When Jesus said this, was he talking about your local church building? Was he saying to Peter that on this spot, on these rocks here, we are going to build a building and call it "the church?" 

Lets examine some other scriptures about "the church" and see what we may find.

Acts 2:47
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Many read this and say that you must go to a church building in order to be saved. But, is this what the Bible means when it says this?

Acts 5:11
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

This sheds a little more light on our subject. How can a building made of wood, bricks, and mortar feel great fear? Can a building hear? 

Let's examine a little further.

Acts 8:1
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Was the great persecution against the building? Were they tearing down church buildings? Did they hit the buildings so hard that the building pieces were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria? Did those pieces landing there start a revival and more church buildings begin to grow at those spots?

Acts 11:26
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Were they brought to a building and assemble with a building? Were the disciples (believers) called Christians (Christ-like) because of a building?

Acts 14:23
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Is there more than one church? Or is this referring to local assemblies that are still a part of "the church" at large? If so, is it referring to a building, or the believing people themselves?

Acts 20:28
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

When Elders are charged to feed the church of God, are they ordered to feed and care for a building? Did Jesus die for and purchase a building with his blood?

1 Corinthians 12:27-29

King James Version (KJV)
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Are the gifts of the spirit given to build up the building? Or the believers themselves? What say ye?

Ephesians 3:10
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

Is the building supposed to know the wisdom of God? or God's people?

Colossians 1:24
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

Did Paul suffer for the building? Or for the people?

Ephesians 5:29
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Does our Lord cherish and nurture a building? Or the people who meet there.

1 Timothy 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Was Paul concerned with how we conducted ourselves in a building? Or with how we live our lives?

Seen enough? There's a lot more. However, I believe I've made my point. Jesus didn't die for a building. He doesn't cherish a building. He doesn't care for a building. 

A building will never go to heaven or hell. A building will eventually either be torn down and replaced, or rot in disuse. so why are we so focused on a building? Why do we think that unless a person attends our building, they are either not saved or backslid? 

Deny that? Well, what do you mean when you say "They don't go to our church?" What is your intention in your mind, when you say, "They stopped coming to church. They are backslid?"

No, Jesus didn't die for a building. You don't have to attend a certain building to make heaven. That's Churchianity, not Christianity. When scripture says "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together...", it is not referring to a particular building.

I have news for you that are caught up in churchianity rather than Christianity:
Not all believers have the same gifts. Not all giftings that you may have are needed in any particular group of believers. If you are attending one body of believers, and your gifts are not needed there, then keep looking. 

Somewhere there's a body of believers where your gifts are needed. Don't stay in one building and shrivel up and die. Don't sit on a pew and rust from lack of use. Let God lead you where you are needed and can be used for his glory and kingdom. 

We do need each other to make heaven. We can go to heaven together or to hell alone. But, we must allow God to lead us to our field of labor. If we are unable, or not allowed to labor in one place, we must find where it is that the Lord wants us to work with other believers. It's his "church". It's his work. We only labor with him. 

Lord, help us find the field you wish us to work in. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Leaving the wilderness.

Exodus 3

King James Version (KJV)
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The world loves "rags to riches" stories. Stories of folks pulling themselves up "by their boot straps" are very popular. They help to give people hope that they can change their circumstances. But, Moses' story is the opposite. His story is "riches to rags."

Moses had lost it all. The power and prestige of being a prince in the most powerful nation on the earth was a distant memory. At one time in his life, anything he wanted was at his beckon call. Any whim that entered his head was there for his command. But, one choice changed it all.

One choice to defend a slave left him destitute. One murder to defend the defenseless, made him lose his favored status and on the run for his very life.
When we stand up against the world's system, we lose out with the world.

Moses winds up in the wilderness. He finds the clan of Jethro and finds a wife.

The once mighty prince, instead of having slaves, servants, and attendants, now has to watch sheep. In the dirt. In rags. He has to fight off wolves and snakes to defend sheep. He no longer has the mighty weapons of Egypt to fight with. All he has is a shepherd's staff. Talk about a "fall from grace."

Moses gave up his riches and traded them for a life that taught him to care for others. He learned how to work, and not be pampered. He learned how to fight, but not for himself. He learned to provide for the needs of others. In so doing, he saw his own needs met.

Amazing, how that works, isn't it? The world says "make your own way." Jesus tells us to "give, and it shall be given unto you." The world says for us to seek others to serve us. Jesus says for us to follow his example by serving others. The world tells us to "save up until you can." Jesus tells us to obey his command and THEN he will provide the resources to accomplish what he told us to do.

Why did Moses find himself on the back side of the desert, living in harsh circumstances? Because it took those circumstances to make him usable by God to accomplish his purposes in his life.

With all the knowledge he had before he left Egypt, the world would've said Moses was ready to lead Israel. God left Moses in the wilderness for 40 years and THEN said, "Now, I can use him."

God allows circumstances in our lives in order to shape us into the vessels of service he needs us to be. Indeed, 2 Corinthians 1 says, "4 (God)Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

Our experiences prepare us to minister to others.

When we are in the wilderness, we feel utterly alone and abandoned. We cry, we complain, we feel dejected. Finally, our attitude begins to change. We begin to discover ways to be productive in our lousy circumstances. We learn how to find water in dry places. We figure out how to find food in places where food doesn't grow.

Later, after God brought Moses out, he sends Moses back to Egypt to stand against the most powerful nation in the world. He is used to free Israel. Then, because Moses knew the wilderness so well, he is used to lead them through it.

When God brings us out of the wilderness experience, he is ready to use us to help others.

We need to be like Moses. Learn from our experiences. Learn how to find nourishment from God even in our wilderness. When we do, for God will always provide for our needs, then we will be able to help others through their wilderness.

So, as one wilderness goer to another, let's praise him for our wilderness. Why? He's changing us to be used for his kingdom work.