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Monday, December 5, 2016

Singing to Those Who Cannot Sing

"We have to recognize that the prophecy is Jerusalem centric in order to understand all that the prophecy communicates." Samuel Whitfield 
 ...Prompted to view the amazing gift that is given in Isaiah 24. By the time we get to verse 13-16 we are in the midst of the tribulation..."13For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done. 14They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. 15Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 16From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.” (Isaiah 24:13–16 ESV) Here we see the "singing" of the kingdom of priests who will speak and, with their laid down lives, demonstrate that the God of Israel reigns, even when it is darkest in Israel and it appears that He no longer reigns. The high call of the "ministry of reconciliation" is becoming more and more clear to me and it demands a people who see beyond this life, who trust beyond this life, who willingly follow the Lamb that was slain.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Despising God is the Root of Sin

2 Samuel 12:10 "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’"




God is revealing the root of sin here.  Lust?  No.  Despising God?  Yes.  What causes a person to get to the place of despising God?  God speaks to David of the many times He has blessed David and reveals a heart that was willing to bless him even more.  So we do not despise God due to a lack of temporary blessings in this life.  David had already acquired multiple wives which kings were warned not to do.  (Deut. 17:17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.)  Was this the beginning of "despising God"?  Did David see this "rule" as too limiting and did he begin to shift his focus from God to man?  Despising starts in the heart.  Despising says, "God does not know best."  "His rules are too narrow and hard."  "I knew that you were a hard man..." the wicked man says in the parable and proceeds to hide the blessing of the king, and when the time is up, he simply returns the blessing to the king, unused, and that servant is greatly condemned for this, the root seems to me to be not truly knowing the heart of God.


And now I turn to the people of God and I say, We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, we serve a Shepherd who carries the hurting sheep, who is gentle with the dimly burning wick and the bruised reed, who lays down His life for His enemies.  This is the way of reconciliation.  We are to display with our lives the beautiful love of the Father.  We are to make Him known.  When we despise Him and display that despising by making it appear that His commands are too narrow and His blessings too few, we "witness" to lies about His Name and character.  2 Sam. 12:14 However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”  God does not bring death lightly, He shows great mercy by allowing David to live, but the child that was the result of this sin, dies.  What we sow from a place of despising God must be cut off, if God were to allow it to prosper, we would continue in our error.  Can we see the tremendous mercy in cutting off such fruit?  Can we see the love behind the pruning?  Can we come to a place of desiring the glory of God above all else?  Can we be so in love with Him that that love compels us to stop before giving the enemies of God reason and occasion to blaspheme?


If we are to truly take up the high call of the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18) we must know the heart of God.  In order to be His ambassador and operate in His authority we must know the Lamb of God.  Lead on, Oh Faithful Savior, Save us to the uttermost!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The conclusion

This is either the epilogue or the last chapter of a book that I am writing about a Pastor's wife who died of cancer.  The purpose of the book is bigger than I originally thought it would be.  I did not get nearly as much input from others as I thought I would, so God in His mercy brought other people into my life, and through them brought a progressive revelation about the cross.  Anyway, this is about 1,200 words to "wrap it all up".  Hopefully it will be published soon.


In order to see God face to face and to recognize that He is the source of our faith and the one who brings it to perfection, we must “come to the end of our strength” and see that we are NOT the source or the one who performs, to perfect our faith. It is “all to Jesus”, so the place of seeing God face to face is the place of death, death to self, death to thinking that in any way, “I got this.” is a true statement. It is a false pride-filled statement and leads to death.
There is a reality, greater and far longer lasting than the reality we currently live in. Paul lived in it and wrote about it and encouraged his readers to discover it. The author of Hebrews states that Jesus endured the unimaginable agony of the cross because of the reality of the “joy that was set before Him.” The reality of the perfect love that casts out the fear of eternal judgment, is the one thing that John sets before us as capable of defeating fear.
Standing in opposition to this truth is “humanistic presumption.” It states we can gather our resources and educate ourselves to a place where we learn to work together in peace and harmony. Never mind that no one who believes this can point to a time or a community where this “shining example of human love” has ever actually taken place, they still cling to it as truth.
Sadly, examples of this among the followers of Jesus are few and far between also. We have been given everything we need to be able to display a “foretaste” of heaven, and yet we fall painfully short and give others good reason to mock our self-serving, self-centered efforts.
Jesus is the answer, but who will take the time to listen. Who will listen with ears that are willing to go down into the dust and allow the man-made structure to crash and burn. Someone said, we don’t break the commands of God, we are broken on them. If the words of truth that we have available to read do not break the power of our confidence in the flesh, our plans, our goals, then God must use crisis of both inward and outward circumstances, to bring us to the end or our strength. This is ultimate love. The Doctor has made the correct diagnosis and the patient must submit to the prescription and the changes that He states.
Our statement of faith in the midst of a trial, is, “God I trust you.”
The diagnosis has not changed, from Adam, to Israel, to the modern believer. Sin has consigned all of humanity to death, God has given a substitute in Jesus, who died in our place. Possibly the saddest thing in all the world is when a person stops at that place, smugly proclaims that his sin has been paid for, takes just a little tiny bit of credit for making the “decision” to trust in Jesus and never considers the call, the purpose that is inherent in the salvation. “We love because He first loved us.” To the degree that we do not love, is the degree that we have not truly taken into our being the cost and the mercy that was necessary for Him to love us. His life in us will be constantly working a death to our pride. Pride is the thing that kills the witness of the individual believer and the corporate body (sometimes called the church).
There is a sad pattern that is repeated through the ages. A change initiated and accomplished by the choice of God brings about a blessing in this temporary existence. The person or people begin to enjoy the blessings and a call comes to share or let go of those blessings. The call comes from the One who provided the blessings in the first place. A subtle evil change has taken place in the heart of the receiver and the call to relinquish the blessing reveals it. The receiver, who did nothing to earn or create the blessing, has taken possession of it. They have decided that it is part of them and they have the right to decide what happens to it. God reacts to this by bringing His word, clearly and rightly penetrating through the pride with truth. If that is rejected, then His love demands that He bring a crisis inward and outward circumstances that are designed to break the pride that grip the blessing in an eternally destructive way. This is ultimate love.
Pride and human power are the enemy, they open the door for separation, fear, abuse, hopelessness, despair, and malice. If I allow in one microscopic size thought that I did even one, microscopic sized thing to bring about this blessing, pride will take that teeny tiny area and turn it into 40 acres before you know it. Nothing that has its root in that 40 acres is from God, every bit of it actively works against the work that God is doing in the earth. (I want to give clear examples here of where the “church” has failed, and the solution from the heart of God… can you help me?)
The title I was given, “The Cross of Jesus Christ in the Life of Kathy Steele” seemed to get lost as the book progressed, but now here at the end, I see that it too has gone through a process of death and resurrection.  Kathy Steele was a friend of God.  He shares secrets with His friends and at a point in time, on a level that no other human being could be shown, one on one, with her God, Kathy had a conversation with her Friend.  She was asked to give up the blessing that God had given her for the good of others and she did.  We live in a fallen world where death still appears to reign as king, but the faithfulness of God does not stop at death.  Kathy knew this.  In doing it this way, God is very aware that most people will blame Him and cover up their hurt by lashing out in anger at the One who loves them the most.  If each individual would take a moment and pause and consider Kathy and her attitude toward this time, they would be confronted with truth.  “Cancer meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to preserve life, to call you to see beyond this temporary plain, to cause you to be willing to release the blessings you have been given to be a blessing to others, to give you the strength and courage to lay down in sacrificial love ‘for the least of these My brothers.'”

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Healing

When one heart can be open and vulnerable with another heart, admitting, owning, sharing freely, its own brokenness that is the soil on which true intimacy is planted and from which healing grows. (Very loosely quoting Ann Voskamp)

Healing all physical healing has been paid for at the cross.
We live in a time of the down payment, of the first fruits of the now and the not yet.

When a kahal a gathering of the people who know their God and are broken and very aware of the truth of their condition have one heart and one mind and in humility will steal none none none of the glory of God, then there will be an unprecedented release of the gifts of the Spirit including healing.

When the kahal has given up on any other source of healing.  Then the root causes will be discerned and the lying word, "remission" will be a thing of the past, true, permanent healing will infiltrate and eliminate disease.  Freely it will be given.  Oh glorious day!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

the one thing that matters away with distractions

Martha, Martha you are worried and distracted by many things, but Mary has chosen the one thing that matters and that will not be taken away from her.... Feels to me that is the word for right now. Feels to me there is only one thing that matters our relationship with Him. Casting aside, putting down, casting off...will all come easily and from a place of rest to a people who are in love with Him. He shines so much brighter, His love is so attractive and it is what we were created to behold and live in. The shiny baubles and glittery crap of this life is glitter on shit and we should view it as such … we will view it as such when we see Him for who He truly is... So Lord in Your great mercy draw Your corporate body unto You and let us run together!
Let us see and be enthralled by Your beauty. Let that overwhelming beauty crush the distractions. Make us a people of rest, trust, and humility whose love is pure, in Jesus name...Amen

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spurgeon on Shallow Conversion and Deep Conversion

Charles Spurgeon on the hazards of shallow conversions that do not pluck up every root of man's "goodness", conversions that are not a complete and total renunciation of any righteousness of my own, conversions that are based on preaching that makes it seem like Jesus came to make your life better. NO, NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO!!  We do a great disservice to the "hearer" when we present this "home improvement" gospel.  Jesus came because EVERYTHING that you have built is on the wrong foundation.  It will eventually, under the strain of deep suffering or the deep dealings of God, it will crack and collapse, as it must.  It is a "severe mercy" that will not let you rely on anything false.  In His dealings with Israel if they kept a friendship with Egypt, in order to have a "back up plan" in addition to their reliance on God, He would cause that stick that they were leaning on to snap or go right through their hand.  This is our God!  He is a consuming fire and only His righteousness can be left standing.  This is critical to the church in the last days.  This is the old wine skin and the new wine.  This is the root cause of so many believers who are severely shaken when troubles, trials and suffering come into their lives. This is the root cause of the great falling away.  Oh God rid us of soft preaching and shallow conversions!
And now the Spurgeon quote...."Everywhere before the salvation there comes the humbling of the creature, the overthrow of human hope.
This is mournful work, but it must be done. I think those who experience much of it when they first come to Christ have great reason to be thankful. Their course in life will, in all probability, be much brighter and happier, for I have noticed that persons who are converted very easily, and come to Christ with but comparatively little knowledge of their own depravity, have to learn it afterwards, and they remain for a long time babes in Christ, and are perplexed with masters that would not have troubled them if they had experienced a deeper work at first. No, sir; if grace has begun to build in your soul and left any of the old walls of self-trust standing, they will have to come down sooner or later. You may congratulate yourself upon their remaining, but it is a false congratulation, your glorying is not good. I am sure of this, that Christ will never put a new piece upon an old garment, or new wine in old bottles: he knows the rent would be worse in the long run, and the bottles would burst. 
 It is a great mercy for a man when God sweeps right away all his own righteousness and strength, when he makes him feel that he is nothing and can be nothing, and drives him to confess that Christ must be all in all, and that his only strength lies in the eternal might of the ever-blessed Spirit.
 If I were to win heaven partly through what I had done, and partly through what Christ had done, and if the energy which sanctified me was in a measure my own, and in a measure divine, they that divide the work shall divide the reward, and the songs of heaven while they would be partly to Jehovah must also be partly to the creature. But it shall not be."

Closing thoughts....The righteousness of God, the fear of God is the foundation, and then when the love of God is revealed it is received as something that we are wholly undeserving of, but when the love of God is presented apart from the righteousness of God, the cross of Christ makes no sense. When the love of God is presented apart from the righteousness of God, there is a tiny shred of self-righteousness that is allowed to continue in its existence that then poisons the whole well. Oh God we ask for clear presentations of the gospel!

Until we can truly hear the accusation, "Thou art the man!"...Until we come to a place of true "dead" we cannot come out into resurrection...Until humility replaces pride...Until we have at the center of our thoughts His righteousness and our total unrighteousness.... There is NO NEW BIRTH!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mercy, humility, Oh to be like You!

The mercy preceding every true move of God is a mercy that leaves the land desolate. It is a mercy that causes despair. Despair of any hope of finding the "will" and the "do" in me, in my flesh... "Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to sift you as wheat but I have prayed for you." Luke 22:31


This quote from my friend Dane,
"It is not us and them, it is all of us and HIM." 


That is the priestly heart of intercession that is "with" the people, that goes down into the waters of baptism to emphasize "I am with you."  Priestly identification is what Reggie Kelly calls it.  Oh God give us true mercy and compassion, make us a people that reflect your heart.