IN THE KNOW

Where do you look for information and instructions? Not news, weather, and sports information. Not instructions on how to build, bake, or fix something. But “in the know” information and instructions like:

How to deal with real life situations?

How to interact with difficult people?

How to handle challenging circumstances?

How to respond when unexpected events occur?

Here’s where people “in the know” look:

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way?

Or know when we play the fool?

Psalm 19:6-12

 

Where do you turn to uncover truth, to get help, to receive healing, to find hope?

Here’s where people “in the know” turn:

There’s nothing like the written Word of GOD for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live GOD’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks GOD has for us. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

People “in the know” know GOD’s Word is the best source for finding answers to life’s questions and in dealing with life’s problems. Nothing else is more practical, powerful, profound, and poignant. In the late 90’s a group named Burlap To Cashmere came out with a song titled Basic Instructions (Before Leaving Earth) which forms the acronym BIBLE (this song can be found on YouTube). Only The BIBLE reveals what has been, what is, and what will be. It explains who GOD is, who we are, and what this life is all about. GOD’s Word provides insight and understanding in regards to the happenings in our world today both near and far away. GOD’s Word puts life into life.

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

Unfortunately, we live in an age where most people are not “in the know” when it comes to the Word of GOD, but rather just say “no” to it. The majority of people place no value on the information and instructions it contains, and believe it is archaic and irrelevant. This passage describes the state of affairs today:

 …because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

What is offensive about the Word of GOD? Why is it ridiculed, mocked, and ignored? How is knowing about GOD and knowing about ourselves a bad thing? Does learning to live fully and love fully have a negative side to it? Even people who claim to love Jesus and consider themselves to be Christians rarely or never read their Bibles – which is ludicrous. It’s like a person who claims to be a swimmer but never gets into the water; or a vegetarian who avoids eating vegetables.

So here are a couple questions:

Do you find information and instructions for living and loving from The Bible or from fancy fads, novel notions, and tired traditions? And when it comes to the Word of GOD are you “in the know” crowd or in the “no” crowd?

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GOD-FEARERS & FOOLS

The wisest and richest human being who ever walked this earth, King Solomon of Israel, said these things:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.   Ecclesiastes 12:13

King Solomon’s father, King David, who is known as “a man after GOD’s own heart” and also a great leader and warrior, said this:

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.   Psalm 14:1

Thus, human beings who inhabit our planet can be broken down into pretty simple groups: We have males and females, and we have GOD-Fearers and Fools. The differences between males and females used to be as obvious and basic as anything can ever be, but even now that is being dissected, debated, and determined by high courts and science laboratories. So this post will focus on the main differences between GOD-Fearers and Fools:

  • GOD-Fearers acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth. They proclaim that He is the One, True, Triune GOD who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of life.
  • Fools make up a god of their own by forming an image, fabricating a notion, or formulating a scheme within their own imagination.
  • GOD-Fearers attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD.
  • Fools give credit to Mother Nature, Father Time, Lady Luck, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy – just to name a few.
  • GOD-Fearers admit dependence upon GOD, openly surrender control to Him, and yield their free will to His will.
  • Fools boast of their independence, strive for power, and force their will upon others.
  • GOD-Fearers accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters – the good, bad, and ugly, as well as life and death. They allow and invite GOD to work through all things for their good and His glory whether or not they agree with or understand why.
  • Fools panic, complain, and attempt to control and manipulate situations and circumstances in order to “fix” things and “avoid” all pain and strain, so they forfeit their opportunities to grow and develop through such happenings.
  • GOD-Fearers worship GOD. They give Him thanks and praise for who He is and for what He does.
  • Fools worship and praise the things GOD created – nature; people who are popular, powerful, and peculiar; and themselves.

So what group are you in – GOD-Fearers or Fools?

GREATNESS

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”  Matthew 18:1 

It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request. “What do you want?” Jesus asked.  She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”   Matthew 20:20-21

 

James and John wanted greatness for themselves. Their mother wanted it for them (and herself) as well. Jesus’ followers today are no different either. We all seek greatness for ourselves. We want respect and recognition, along with a little applause. But Jesus was (and still is) seeking a different type of greatnessgreatness for His Father, not Himself. It is greatness defined in an entirely different way.

 

“I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is great than John. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of GOD is greater than he is!”  Luke 6:28

 

Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies. “I assure you, He said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”  Luke 21:2-4

 

Both John the Baptist and the Widow would not be considered to be great people in our society. They were poor in worldly goods, but very rich in godliness, and that is what made them great. Our culture, and our Church, has a flawed foundational problem in how we define greatness. We think great people are those who hold prominent positions, draw large crowds, write best-selling books, give big donations, get their faces on magazine covers and silver screens, and win the most championships. Thus, our thinking is the problem, and we need to repent (change it) in regards to what greatness really is. We need to turn around and reform our attitudes and actions.

True greatness is not a place of affluence, accomplishment, or advantage. It is not a matter of getting the most, gaining the most, nor grabbing the most. Greatness is associated with sacrificing for, sharing with, and serving others. It is demonstrated by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness – all traits of Jesus (Colossians 3:12-13). Jesus was also characterized by His meekness, which was mistakenly confused as weakness. But meekness is far from weakness. Meekness is confident, certain, assertive, gentle, humble, powerful control. Meekness doesn’t have to talk or act big, since it has nothing to fear or prove.

Few people thought of greatness when they saw Jesus two thousand plus years ago, and few people think of greatness concerning Him now. That’s because He spent His time touching lepers, healing the disabled, caring for the troubled, encouraging the outcasts, hugging the children, and spreading the GOOD NEWS message of His salvation – all the stuff that we don’t like to do. For we really don’t like Jesus stuff, and we don’t value the people He spent His time serving or spreading the Message He shared.

We don’t even go near the diseased – let alone touch them.

We don’t associate with people who are disabled.

We don’t have time for little kids.

We don’t interact with homeless people.

We don’t inconvenience ourselves by caring for orphans and widows.

 

While we try to flaunt, force, and finagle greatness, Jesus’ example is serving greatness.

 

So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”  Matthew 20:25-28 

 

In light of Jesus’ perfect example, true greatness seems to be this: willingly and cheerfully looking for opportunities to do the dirty work of sacrificing for, sharing with, and serving those in our society who have been labeled as problems, defined as troubled, and viewed as unnecessary – and do this for the honor, praise, and glory of our Father in Heaven.

 

May you and I strive for greatness today and everyday!

PEACE & HARMONY

I often wonder about the various countries and people groups who live in the Middle East and think: “What’s their deal anyway?”  “Why can’t these people find a way to get along with each other?” “How long are they going to keep this up and continue killing each other and destroying their lands?

Then I look at the Church. Not any particular local congregation, but the universal Church on earth. I believe it is fair to say that nothing on our planet is more conflicted, confusing, and combative; more divided, dissonant, and denominated than the Church.

What happened? Why is the Church like this? How did so many different synods, sects, classis’, cults, bodies, branches, orders, and movements come about and muddy up the simple GOOD NEWS message?

 

For Jesus said:

I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.    John 17:20-23 (The Message)

 

Paul wrote:

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?    1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV)

 

The GOOD NEWS message is clear… JESUS died on the cross and rose from the dead. 

The GOOD NEWS message is compelling… Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ and you will be saved! 

The GOOD NEWS message is complete… JESUS SAVES!

 

So how did the Church ever get so separated over JESUS?

So why hasn’t the Church listened to JESUS and become one in heart and mind?

So what is the Church going to do about it now?

 

This godless world is waiting for its witness.

HERE, not THERE

Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion.

Isaiah 8:18

 I don’t want to split hairs here, but here is a little issue that I think is worth mentioning. Almost daily, I read and hear references to GOD as “He is there” and “He will always be there for you.” So I say to myself, “where is there?”

When it comes to GOD, there is no there, but only here.

The Son radiates GOD’s own glory and expresses the very character of GOD, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.

Hebrews 1:3a

Our Creator and Sustainer is forever here.

Immanuel, GOD with us, is here with me, here with you, here with all people in all places right now.

GOD has been here, always will be here.  Here as Alpha. Here as Omega.

Here at the beginning; Here at the ending; Here through the in-betweens.

From here on out, try to catch and correct yourself and others, and always refer to GOD as being here with us, here with them…here, here!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! PLEASE!

I wonder if there is anybody anywhere – any pastor, elder, deacon, council member, or anyone else – who has the nerve, the guts, the balls (sorry girls) to say “enough is enough” and just shut the church doors and keep them locked? Because something has got to change in the way “church” is being done. Has anybody anywhere had enough yet? Had enough of the week after week cutesy, cliché, clever, crowd-pleasing song and dance? Had enough of pacifying egos, patting backs, padding asses, promoting programs, purchasing properties, pitching pennies in offering plates, and giving applause to performers? Had enough determining if we will be a contemporary, traditional, blended, emergent, seeker, …type of congregation?

How about this:

Let’s refocus, reform, and return to being relevant and useful to GOD and to the people around us instead of just being another form of entertainment and recreation.

Let’s get back into the salt and light business, where we influence, affect, and lead the culture instead of conforming to it.

Let’s take back from the government the people-care businesses of healthcare, welfare, childcare, elderly care – you know the “orphans and widows” stuff talked about all throughout the Bible.

The government doesn’t know how to care for anything but itself and its primary function is to protect our borders and to police our land.

Let’s let the government do its job and we’ll do ours. The Church’s job is to witness of Christ in our lives and evidence this by our love for other people through our helpful words and good deeds – how we sacrifice for others, how we serve others, and how we share with others – all the things that Jesus modeled as He walked upon this earth.

So let’s stop building churches and let’s start being churches.

How about this:

What if all the Jesus followers in each community all worshipped together every week? What a novel idea!

Because we don’t need padded pews, theatre lighting, surround-sound, video screens, stained glass, and coffee & donuts to worship. We can worship Almighty GOD anyplace, anytime – if we have the want to.

In good weather worship can take place at a park, a beach, a football stadium, a parking lot, an open field, etc…

In poor weather worship can take place at an arena, a theatre, a barn, a warehouse, a gymnasium, etc…

As it is right now we have thousands of individual congregations all doing the exact same things, yet each has the perception that it is somehow special and unique. Each is wasting resources of time, money, property, and energy.

Just imagine what it would look like, and all the good that could be done, if each zip code had one common unity (community) of believers sharing their common union (communion) in, with, under, and through Christ.

Let’s stop playing church and actually play the church.

Let’s turn our buildings into things like orphanages, homeless shelters, hospitals, medical clinics, counseling centers, daycare centers, elderly care homes, community centers, after-school centers…

Let’s get back into the people care business which is what making disciples is all about – you know “The Great Commission.”

There are weak, sick, broken, hurting, dying people all around us.

Let’s tell them about Jesus and touch them with His love.

Let’s re-model our buildings and re-define our building programs and put our millions into people caring activities that do more than take up an hour or two of our Sunday mornings.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before GOD the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

James 1:26-27 (The Message)

WHO IS YAHWEH TO YOU?

All people are born with an intrinsic relationship with GOD, for He is someone to everyone, one way or another. As such, everybody has some level of accountability and responsibility to GOD and is without any excuse in this matter, for He designed, created, and sustains us. HE IS our source of life.

 

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.     Romans 1:19-27  (The Message)

GOD is Yahweh, as this the name that He gave to Himself.

 

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.’”  Exodus 3:13-15 (NLT)

 

Yahweh refers to Himself as “I AM”, we tell Him, “YOU ARE”, and when referring of Him to others we say “HE IS.” Yahweh is the one, true, Triune GOD, and Jesus, His Son, is the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

The basic question is then this: Who is Yahweh to you?

What is your relationship to Him? You get to choose. Do you feel close or far way from Him? To you believe you know Him and He knows you in a personal way? How do you approach Him – timidly, boldly, or not at all? How do you communicate with Him – formally, frequently, or never? What exactly is your level of intimacy with Yahweh?

 

HE IS Creator to all people – those of every tongue, tribe, group, and nation – whether or not they choose to acknowledge Him as such (including you).

HE IS is a god – one of many gods – for many groups who welcome and recognize a plethora of deities whom they invoke and appease in order to have their basic needs met.

HE IS God, in one variation to people of the Jewish and Islamic faiths as these recognize and worship the GOD of Abraham.

HE IS King to the nation of Israel, though not currently realized as such, as most Israelite’s today have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, but will one day find out that He is their true King of King’s and LORD or LORD’s.

HE IS is Messiah to millions of the Christian faith who have received His grace – the forgiveness of sins, and a new, eternal life through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

So, Who is Yahweh to you?

 

If HE IS only the Creator to you, you may feel quite distant from Him and know very little about Him.

If HE IS only one of many little gods to you, you may feel confused by Him and don’t understand how to approach Him.

If HE IS God to you, but a misrepresentation of the GOD who HE IS because of a religion’s refusal to acknowledge Him as He has revealed Himself and related to the human race, you may feel alienated, and humiliated by Him and by the rest of the world.

If HE IS only King to you, you may fear His power and authority, but you limit Him as being responsible for only your provision and protection.

 

But if HE IS Messiah to you, this changes everything. If Yahweh is your Messiah, HE IS your one, true, triune GOD!

HE IS your loving and loyal Father who provides you with affirmation and approval.

HE IS your ever-present and empathetic Savior and Friend who provides you with assurance and acceptance.

HE IS your constant Helper and competent Counselor who provides you with assistance and advice.

 

Again, the question of the day:  WHO IS YAHWEH TO YOU?