COVID, Faith & Fear

Overview

Isn’t it amazing the different theories and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic in our families, friends and country? Those reactions are as mysterious as the disease itself. And they are  telling … about us and what we believe about God, which A.W. Tozer says “is the most important thing about us.”

Isn’t the uncertainty and inconvenience causing us all to pause and think? To consider what might be going on, instead of running up and down the road, to and fro, living lives that are too busy doing meaningless things and serving our possessions and selfish purposes to extremes;  yet not really noticing due to the speed of our lives. This slow down, if you want to call it that, seems to me like a grace attack. It’s affecting every country in the world, yet without destroying an inordinate number of lives.

If the God of the Bible, Who says He is the One true God, wanted to judge our country and world, then destroy it with fire as the Bible says He will in the end, He would have plenty of reason right now it would seem. Yet He mercifully restrains Himself and tries to show us what we are without Him, giving us yet another opportunity and more time to know Him and be known by Him. To consider our ways.

It’s more like, to use a medical analogy, the Lord our Cosmic Surgeon, has diagnosed our culture and church (not in that order probably?), to have cancer (a serious sin and idolatry problem), and He is  going about cutting it out, before it spreads further, threatening to destroy the whole. Indeed I feel like He is answering the ancient prayer, “In wrath, remember mercy.”

This Morning

I have a good friend who was taken by ambulance to the hospital yesterday with COVID. He has openly been skeptical of the threat of COVID and while taking the normal suggested precautions, has thought that our reaction as a nation in fear is way out of proportion with the threat, and doing more damage to our economy and way of life than the disease. So this morning one of our common friends said, “Isn’t it ironic that the only local friend or acquaintance we know that has contracted the disease is him?

I also have a close college friend, the best man in our wedding, who flew fighters with me in the air force, retired from that, earned a theology degree and became a pastor in Colorado Springs. He and his wife contracted COVID a few weeks ago. She only had flu like symptoms, but he went to the hospital with it.

It’s synchronistic that both are named Ron, and both are Christians, not in name only, but in practice, part of His church and His family, known by Father God through His Son Jesus Christ. They are both healing up. If judgment begins in the house of the Lord, as Scripture tells us, perhaps mercy does too!? 

Well I’m not trying to be prophetic or make this any kind of example, which one hardly could from two isolated instances anyway. I’m talking about walking by faith or by sight, in this COVID stricken time.

I called Gilberto, a friend in Honduras, last week to see what the situation was there with COVID, and whether we should be thinking about returning there on a mission trip this January.  He reported things are improving and some tourists and missionaries are returning. Then I asked him, “Do you know anyone personally who has contracted the disease or has died from it?” He said, “No.”

How many do you know? So why are so many so afraid? 

Oh, it’s a real threat. People have and are dying with it. Also how it’s contracted and how it’s to be treated and further prevented has mystified health care professionals around the globe. So the “unknown” aspect of it has caused many to fear. 

But child of God? What have you to fear? Death has lost it’s sting. The grave has no power over you as demonstrated by your Savior, Redeemer, Friend. Nor does anything, any circumstance short of death. Grace is available for living. So is faith. It’s a gift from God you know. Ask for it in prayer if you feel you need more. Dive into the Word, and rediscover the powerful God of your trust.

Creation & Thermodynamics 

Yes, there’s decay in the world. It’s a part of His design. And it’s the reason we need Him and the care and relationship He proffers. It’s a universally accepted law of physics, the second law of thermodynamics, that everything tends toward disorder and decay over time. They use the word “entropy” which is defined as a “lack of order or predictability, gradual decline into disorder.”

But in Scripture we read that Jesus the Son of God, was creator of all we see and call home. And then we read that He now sustains it by the power of his Word.

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:3 *

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16*

“The Son reflects the glory of God and shows exactly what God is like. He holds everything together with his powerful word. When the Son made people clean from their sins, he sat down at the right side of God, the Great One in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3 NCV

We also read the hairs on our heads are numbered by Him, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without His awareness. The birds of the air and lilies of the field do just fine without worry, and we’re instructed to live like they do by the caring Creator. 

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then …” Jesus (Matthew 6: 26-31a NASB)

Feed Your Faith not Your Fear

Do a word study on “sustains,” read Psalms 139, read the Sermon on the mount. Feed your faith and not your fear. 

You can read the Psalms, the New Testament, the Old Testament, some of the Bible every day or you can listen to CNN or Fox News? You can feed your faith or your fear. You choose. What you do says a lot about what you believe and who you trust, does it not?

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.” Psalm 131:2

If even a wise, busy king charged with running a kingdom can say this, surely we can. The same king no doubt read, and meditated on the Psalms, because he wrote most of them. Then the Bible would go on to say about him that, “he had a heart like God’s” and that “he accomplished the purposes of God in his generation.”

And the author of most of the New Testament and an apostle of Jesus Christ, charged with bringing the Gospel to the gentile nations and birthing the church, a reasonably active guy we might deduce, said to…

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NASB

And pray to your Father in secret….to hear from Him personally…. to be continued.

*Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Jesus-Christ,-Creator

Don’t Lose Heart

Besides the prayer scene from the Apocalypse recorded in Revelation 8:1-5, what else do you need to encourage you to pray? Maybe Jesus’ example?

Jesus’ practice was to go be alone with the Father and pray. The disciples saw how it changed Him or affected Him, and said to Him, “Teach us to pray.” He gave them a model prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”

And he told them a parable about prayer—about a poor widow crying out to a wicked judge, who granted her request because of persistence, so they “would always pray, and not lose heart.”

Notice Jesus prayer “for deliverance” and “of submission” in the garden with his sleeping friends. Notice his prayer to Father before raising Lazarus from the dead. Notice his prayer of thanksgiving upon the return of the seventy disciples and their reports of spiritual exploits and spiritual authority poured out on them.

Note Jesus in prayer. Follow his examples. Follow his lead.

Note when he prayed prayers of mercy for the likes of us, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Notice when he answered prayers for mercy like those of blind Bartimaeus in Jericho, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:46-52)

This is a skill you learn by practice as you go your way; it’s an art form; it’s a simple heart cry. It’s individual to you. It’s not complicated.

But it’s done! It must be prayed. That’s the main thing. Often and much. It demonstrates humility and worship. It fosters relationship and knowing the King – to Whom you pray — and Him knowing you.

You can almost hear Jesus as He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them.”

So pray! It pleases him. He delights in the prayers of his people, the upright.

It’s the most important communication in your earth experience, to know and be known — by Him.

I’m quite certain prayer is an important piece of the 2020 puzzle. Prayerlessness is in large measure what got us into this present darkness. Prayer will be key to getting us out! Certainly personally, and also for our families, our friends, our churches, and perhaps our nation.

Don’t lose heart!

Pray!


“He does what’s best for those who fear him—
    hears them call out, and saves them.” Psalm 145:19 MSG

The Blessing” from a good God, Who hears and answers prayer…

Teach Us To Pray!

Prayer is a piece of the puzzle. Would you agree? Read Revelation 8:1-5 — what does this tell us about prayer? Is this some sort of mystical image or an actual, ongoing event? Something that really happens moment by moment, day by day, that affects things in heaven and on earth? In our lives and the lives of the people we love?

Tomorrow our 2020 reading, friendship group starts our look into prayer.

It’s purpose and practice? How it works? How and why it pleases God? How to approach it and affect changes in our circumstances. How to expect and experience those effects.

I’m expecting new revelation about prayer — its power and efficacy. And I am expecting newly experiential intimacy with our Lord, Maker, Master, Creator, Father, Friend.

Prayer is the spiritual discipline in which I’m personally the weakest, that I understand the least. It’s also possibly the one that matters most to joyful and victorious life and living!

I’m praying for a new insight into its power and practice. That seems to be a good and humble place to begin.

It appears the Holy Spirit has led us to two simple books to read about prayer and ponder as He provides revelation, insight, and grace for the moment, to apprehend this portal into the heavenlies, into the actual throne room, for his purposes and our pleasure, our good. And the good of those around us.

The first book is “Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer,” by Max Lucado. The second is “Talking with my Father: Jesus Teaches on Prayer,” by Ray Stedman.

Feel free to get copies and read along with us, asking the Spirit to open all our eyes and hearts to the practice, purpose, and Person of our prayer.

His grace to you. Amen

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“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 NASB

Russian & Jewish Prophets

I just read the “Men Have Forgotten God” speech by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered May 10, 1983 at Buckingham Palace, London, as he received the Templeton Award. The Templeton Foundation dubbed him, “a pioneer in the renaissance of religion in atheist nations.”

One of the famous quotes from that speech and his main point or summary goes like this. “…while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’”

Wow! The whole of his speech that day blows me away! His insights — historical, political, geographical, philosophical, moral, intellectual, theological, Biblical… also “behold the man” standing there having been imprisoned many years and made a slave by his beloved Russia, full of love, and passion for his country and the world.

While I can see today’s churchmen and self-fancied theologians arguing whether Solzhenitsyn, if they even know who he is, should be considered a prophet or not — much like men playing cards in a hotel that’s on fire — his words ring honest, telling and true! Just like those of a prophet do.

This speech was delivered on the world stage in the 1980s in palaces and in leading universities around the world. I am in awe of it’s historical insight, sage wisdom, and prophetic candor. He certainly seems to be one who sees, when his culture, country, and the world around him didn’t or doesn’t.

So we have a modern Russian prophet and an ancient Jewish prophet saying, once again, essentially the same thing — from God. That’s what prophets do.

Want to hear what they’re saying? You can read the Russian prophet for yourself here. And I’ll quote the Hebrew prophet below, in part, from Psalm 106.

See if you can put the parts together looking at our country, our world, our day. Atheism and agnosticism it would seem are an important part of the puzzle of what’s going on in our culture, country, and churches.

Who in smug America knew? What atheism could do?

Atheism flowed in with idols galore
Secular humanist who think they know better
Boasting they know more

In the vacuum of God
In the strength of men
Slavery, death, and disaster
Soon reign again

The Almighty sits not idly by
But magnanimously watches from on high
He grants their desire, their want, their prayer
Knowing He must soon act with love and care

Justice meets mercy
Like a surgical knife
Cutting away cancer
Preserving life

Watching individuals and nations
This surgery can look pretty grim
Unless the eye is trained
On Him

Below are the words of the ancient Hebrew Prophet, Poet, and King — David. See if you can see a correlation to our country and our times? Much like what was reported and accurately ascribed by Solzhenitsyn to those terrible times in Russia. It would appear, barring His Grace, and our change of hearts and minds, we are on the same trajectory.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the Lord,
Or can show forth all His praise?
How blessed are those who keep justice,
Who practice righteousness at all times!

Our fathers … did not understand Your wonders;
They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses,
But rebelled …

They quickly forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But craved intensely …,
And tempted God .…
So He gave them their request,
But sent a wasting disease among them.

And worshiped an [idol].
Thus they exchanged their glory
For the image of an [idol].
They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things [for them],

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe in His word,
But grumbled in their tents;
They did not listen to the voice of the Lord.

Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.

But they mingled with the nations
And learned their practices,
And served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,
And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and their daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols …;
And the land was polluted with the blood.
Thus they became unclean in their practices,
And played the harlot in their deeds.
Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people

Does any of this sound right? Or familiar? Or like something that could happen or is happening? When men forget God?

Gratefully, Psalm 106 ends on a hopeful and merciful note, and a prayer. Let all who have ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. Amen.

Nevertheless He looked upon their distress
When He heard their cry;
And He remembered His covenant for their sake,
And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.

Save us, O Lord our God,
And gather us from among the nations,
To give thanks to Your holy name
And glory in Your praise.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
From everlasting even to everlasting.
And let all the people say, “Amen.”
Praise the Lord!

Speak to the Pandemic

“Speak to the pandemic and to these videos,” I was recently asked by two different friends, spiritual men and seers themselves.

The first video was by a pastor in Hawaii who provided some historical and political insights he thought were very relevant to our times and circumstances, which he saw as prophecy being fulfilled. They certainly speak plainly about socialism, communism, technology and what we are seeing today in the streets of some of our cities and in the news. You can decide for yourself. I think it’s worthy of your time. It’s always been important for disciples from Jesus time forward to look for the signs He told us would be a prelude to the end of the age. Among other benefits, it keeps us more focused on heaven, His kingdom there and here, and reminded of where our true citizenship and allegiance lies. He told us to be watching and aware for a reason.

The second video was by a pastor in KY who had some dreams about the pandemic and riots before they happened and told his people about them. Then he had some following dreams with time stamps of things getting worse, and when. This video has gone viral I understand, and again I would recommend you watch it for the reasons mentioned above.

As is my practice, when I see something of spiritual, prophetic, or Biblical import relating to some current situation, and it’s not absolutely clear to me how to interpret it, I ask a spiritual mentor, elder, and one with a gift of wisdom in my life, let’s call him Charles, to weigh in on it with me. To give me his time tested discernment and what he hears and sees.

In this case, he listened and watched the two videos above and then sent me a third video, by a Messianic Jew, which he said pretty much echoed his take on the two above and was amazing in its insight and clarity — in the tricky business of interrupting prophetic words and dreams.

So there, I’ve shared all three with you, for your watching, listening, and discerning pleasure. If you find yourself wondering, what in the world might be going on in the spiritual realm and spilling over into our earthly realm?

That friends, is something much more real and commonplace than any of us know. Read your Bible.

I could share how I answered my brothers who sent me the videos, before I heard from Charles, and I might do that later, but I’ll leave it as is for now.

A Word About Prophets

I guess the brothers who asked me know I’m very interested in prophets and prophecy, and I become more so each passing year. Others over the years have told me they thought I have that gift. Oddly on a backcountry flying trip to Idaho and the Western US last year, one of my least religious groups of friends gave me the nickname or call sign “Prophet” with no input from me. No one dares give input when these names are being awarded! Because it can go very poorly if you do, and these names stick.

Really I see myself more as a seer, and hearer, not a prophet, just a spiritually sensitive one trying to become more so by time in the Word and mediation and reading and journaling and solitude. Trying to abide in Christ, John 15:5. It’s “life in the Vineyard” as we have come to call it.

I would also add, that churchmen and theologians have tried to strain at a gnat and swallowed a camel when it comes to defining a prophet and identifying prophetic people. In it’s simplest form I believe a prophet is someone who hears from God and tells others what he heard. And there is also an element of being sent (by God to tell what he or she heard). As an example, Balam was gifted by God as a prophet and seer in Moses time, but he wasn’t sent to do what he set out to do; thus he became a false prophet.

I would also add the emphasis should be on the God of the message, then the message, and then the prophet or messenger. It’s not a perfect gift, but must be tested and fine tuned in the practitioner or else there would be no need for the New Testament injunction to let one prophesy and two or three prophets pass judgment on the word. It’s obvious in the stories of the Bible that dark spirits hail on the same spiritual frequencies as does the light. It’s a bit mystical isn’t it? And relational in the end? Who do you hear? And how well do you know their voice? One must always be aware that Satan can appear as an angel of light. This is not a system we made up, it’s a reality we learn, in practice, with the Bible as our guide, and the Holy Spirit our Companion.

Plague and Riots

What about this plague and these riots?

Initially I saw a country and people gripped by fear, acting out of that fear and hysteria way out of proportion to the facts known at the time. Being swayed by a news media that’s anything but objective, but rather driven by profit and greed, their own philosophical and political agenda, and so deceived they don’t even recognize they are such. Indeed, I think this was true, is true and will be true for some time into the future.

But now as time has passed and I’ve continued to read, mediate, listen and read the Bible, I have received a different view.

This pandemic is from the Lord I believe. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. It is by His grace and mercy that it’s no worse than it is. It is a “grace attack” of sorts. And invitation and impetus to wake up and live. It’s God showing disciple and non-Christian alike what we are without Him, and left to our own devices. The Creator is showing us what we really believe and who we really trust for our future and our day-to-day. Partly by stripping us of activity and idols.

The riddles surrounding this virus have been so hard to solve and are still somewhat, if not largely, unknown. How you get it? How it spreads? Who it effects not at all, and who finds it fatal? It’t origin? How to contain it? The list goes on and on. Its brilliance, if it is such, is how it’s stopped a world obsessed by speed, profit, and progress in her tracks, and encouraged her to spend time outside, with her families and friends, and take a sabbatical from sports, entertainment, and our normal idols, that we may not have regarded as such? Some eyes will be opened to this, and some will not. It seems to be his way — and ours. But I’m going to call it Grace, “Divine action on mortals for their benefit.”

And it’s not just this evidence, plus more I could point out. The Bible tells us “God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” Something and Someone stable we can cling to in chaos and storm — the only One dependable and worthy. And Solomon, the wisest man to have lived, said “There is nothing new under the sun.” “Everything that is has been, and will be again.” In other words, God has to interject Himself, His Grace, into human kind from time to time or we would implode, explode, erode, or otherwise destroy ourselves. It’s a story demonstrable from history, that deserves its own future blog. This appears to me to be the latest in that series of times — help from the Lord. Judgment mingled with mercy, and His ever abundant Grace.

Acts 17 comes to mind. Paul addresses the intellectuals of Athens and reacquaints them with their “Unknown God” The One they had lost track of or weren’t aware of any longer. Some saw and believed but most didn’t.

I read a summary of all this just yesterday morning, Psalm 106, a three thousand year old insight by David — poet, seer, prophet, King of Israel. Coming up in the next blog…

Israel-An Important Piece of the Puzzle

Shalom! Translated simply “peace” in English, it’s a much bigger word in Hebrew than that. It’s “greetings, hello, good bye, God’s favor, lack of conflict, God’s blessings, prosperity, health, ….” I think you get the idea.

Today continues the CUFI (Christians United for Israel) national, Washington D.C. conference in support of Israel. Like many events in our COVID stricken world, this year it’s being held on line. This may be a blessing, allowing for many people to have the opportunity to attend, who for time and resource reasons would not have had the opportunity.

I just wanted to make you aware of it. It appears you can watch some of the meetings free on YouTube, Face Book, etc. and the rest for a $25 registration fee. I attended this meeting in person a few years back and it was an inspiring, insightful, and enlightening experience. If you’re interested in Israel, world events, Bible prophecy, Biblical history, political science, etc. I think you will find it worthwhile and personally enriching.

I intend to do a series of blogs on Israel in the future, showing her uniqueness and importance on the world stage and in history. And why it’s important for individuals and nations to support, defend, and befriend her.

This is just a short blurb to make you aware of this opportunity to see this and learn for yourself.

Shalom שלום

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I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
” Gen 12:3 NIV

“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

Mark Twain

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

Psalm 137:5-6 ESV

John the Apostle

I was up at 6 o’clock this morning reading first, second, and third John. That’s what our 2020 book club is the reading at the moment. After a second slow reading and meditation, my thoughts turned to John himself.

What a treasure to have this glimpse into the heart, mind, soul, and spirit of the last remaining apostle, “the elder”. The one who leaned on Jesus’ chest, who witnessed the crucifixion, the resurrection appearances, the ascension, and lived through the days of the early church and then some 60 to 65 years after that, seeing the church, the bride of Jesus Christ, flourish and develop, as well as, be attacked and deceived in some instances.
He also experienced the loss of his best friends and fellow apostles, Peter and Paul, executed by Rome some 30 years earlier. In fact all of his fellow apostles had been martyred. He himself had spent prison time at the hands of Rome. He alone remained of the original twelve disciples, now called apostles.

Yet his confidence in Christ and the Holy Spirit Who Jesus sent to the church to lead, indwell, protect, and help with life — both personal and corporate, is total!

This has him only summarizing the most important tenants of faith and action — a litmus test, if you will, that helps each person and the Bride of Christ to know if they are known by God, and walking in The Way.

He’s so casual yet solid about it, that it demonstrates his great faith, after all he’s seen, in Christ’s life and the Holy Spirit’s actions; that Jesus believers and church will do well and prosper by the power and intentions of God Himself — by His grace. His confidence flows with his strong, gentle words.

This prophet of prophets — who wrote the Gospel and the Apocalypse.
This apostle of apostles — who walked with Jesus three years as His closest friend.
This fisherman from Galilee — human to the core, one of the “sons of thunder” brothers.

Now aged, and seemingly more divine than human in his manner and his speech.
Living in Ephesus, and attending to the matters of the church in that area as led by the Holy Spirit.

Very loving. Very relational. Very calm and confident, while also being direct and kind in matters of church discipline. Calling a spade a spade, but trusting the Lord to handle the matter while casting light on the situation for the sheep to know who’s faithful and who isn’t. Who is walking in truth and light, and who is not. And ways to tell for themselves in the future, down to our very own generation. Thank you John, for a life well lived, and sharing what you heard and saw as a witness, faithful to your call. Selah (“stop and think about that”). Amen.

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“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” IJohn1:1

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” I John 1:8-10 NIV

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” I John 2:1-2 NIV

Happy Father’s Day!

I’m one day late, I know, but yesterday was filled with wonder and contemplation as I enjoyed my kids at our mountain-top cabin. There were joyful games, conversations, nature walks, and four wheeler rides. Meals together, sharing some suggested songs from a friend, and other worship music, and resting as the time drifted by happily and lazily.

There were Father’s Day cards, lots of cards! And gifts too. My children have made these family celebrations an art form. 🙂 Stretching Father’s Day for me to more than a week this 2020! And family should be celebrated and lived more than written about. It was a joyful and blessed day, having us all together in a peaceful, quiet, beautiful setting, with only life and each other on our minds.

Dad’s are super central figures in families! And I would suggest a bit more mysterious than mothers. Mother’s attachments, love, care, sacrifice are well documented and known by all of us from birth. They visibly met all our needs, taught us, spent the most time with us, and so much more, so that we are forever gratefully bound to them. And yes there is plenty of beautiful mystery in that relationship too, and there always will be.

But dads? Well? I could go on and on about what the Bible teaches and says about fathers. I could point out sociologically what happens in cultures where fathers are absent in the lives of their kids. And the deeper implications of father failure that are felt by children; so deeply they are not easily discussed, studied or adequately known. The same is true with fathers present and active in their children’s lives!

That’s what we celebrate today! Anything good your father has deposited into your life, and for giving you life in the first place.

It’s a starting place for coming to know our Heavenly Father and having a living, loving relationship with Him. So in that vein, later Father’s Day, my thoughts turned to my own dad, father, abba, daddy… and the things he taught me and did for me growing up, and also later in both our lives.

I tried to remember some facts that after just four years without him were becoming fuzzy. So I thought to go back and read a blog I wrote after his home going. I’ll share it again and anew with you. 🙂

I pray you had a good Father’s Day, whether you celebrated it as a father, son, or daughter. Isn’t God’s design of family grand!? It’s a picture of His love, goodness, and care. Enjoy the journey your father gave you to start, and which continues to this day!

Grace & Humility

Grace to the Humble

Judean Wilderness near Jericho

With the advent of June, the DaySpring calendar with quotes and Scriptures that lives in our bathroom is speaking about humility.

June 1: “We have the perfect example of humility in Jesus. If He could bow to His Fathers will, and consider others as Himself, then it is our honor to do the same.”

June 2: “Lord, I ask for Your help to truly humble myself, seek Your face, turn from my wicked ways and pray more fervently.”

June 3: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Stone Mosaic Sea of Galilee

As someone has wisely said, when you see a “therefore” in the Scripture, you need to stop and ask yourself, “What’s it there for?” Then go back and read above it, or the context. I’ve included those verses below, and the context is humility.

We really can’t make too big a deal about humility, in our life and in our relationship with God.

In Psalm 34:2b we find the phrase, “The humble shall hear …” Evidently, not being prideful or boastful or trusting in oneself, but being humble is integral to hearing the voice or whisper of God.

Magdala

We know that satan’s biggest issue was pride and boasting that led to self deception. That’s true of secular humanist too, those who disregard God and make themselves out to be their own gods, and masters of their own fates.

But to all this boastfulness and pride the Scripture would say, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV

In fact the Scripture and prophets remind us in many places of a proper posture before God, “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20b NKJV

Nazareth

Christ Jesus

To Whom did this magnificent, all powerful, all knowing God — the Creator and Sustainer of all, exalt to the highest place? And give the highest name?

His most humble and obedient Son.

Could this be the trait about God Himself He admires most? In Himself, the Trinity — the triune One God?

And in His creation? Especially His sons and daughters? Think about it.


Caesarea

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.”
Psalm 34:2 NKJV

“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 NKJV


Neighborhood Bicycle Ride

“But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:20

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalm 11:4

“Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD, for the Day of the LORD is near. Indeed, the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.” Zephaniah 1:7

“Be silent before the LORD, all people, for He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:13


“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.” Psalm 75:4

“Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.” I Samuel 2:3

Happy Pentecost!

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4 NIV

Church of the Holy Sepulcher 2019

That was 33 AD on this day. Last year on this day I was in Jerusalem with my good friend Joe Carruth. This year with the planet much sequestered by Covid-19, there is a completely different feeling, but then again, not really for the sons and daughters of God. We know He is caring, loving, powerful, and sovereign over creation and the affairs of mankind. So we look to Him, and we look within ourselves.

Why within ourselves? For His Holy Spirit Who came in 33 AD in power and birthed the church fulfilling the prophecies of the prophets Joel (2:28-29) and Isaiah (7:14), among others. That God would come dwell with us and in us.


Temple Mount Jerusalem Pentecost 2019

Like the Wind

And make us like the wind, by faith following His leading, not really knowing where we’re going, but listening and obeying and trusting Him for His good will, helping us fulfill His good purpose for us by His power — an adventure, happy and free.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 NIV

Life In The Spirit

Western Wall Jerusalem Pentecost 2019

I have a nagging thought within me, conflicting thoughts really. One is that the Lord, full of grace, loves me and accepts me just as I am and doesn’t really expect that much of me, because he knows we’re all like dust. That He just wants my company and trust, so we can know each other better. What could I, or any human do for Him really? But two, could it be that I/we don’t really understand the Power and Person of the Holy Spirit that dwells within all believers? That we are living well below our call and station because of this lack of knowledge and experience? And what can I do about that, if it’s true.

Preflighting for a Dawn Flight Pentecost 2020

I’m going to leave you with those thoughts for prayer, mediation and reflection. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more and experiencing more as I pray. And I’ll probably blog some of it. Let me know if you do too!

Mainly I wanted to celebrate the day and give thanks to God for His Masterful plan to redeem us fully by His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, [Jesus — God is Salvation] and then empower us to live, love, and commune with Him by His Power sent to live with us and in us [Immanuel — With us is the Mighty One].

Sunrise Flight with son Joshua

Happy Pentecost!! He is Risen! He has Returned in the form of His Spirit! He’s coming back in Person soon! Glorious Day!! Today and That Day!!

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And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
” Joel 2:28-29 NIV

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means ‘God with us’).”Matthew 1:21-23 NIV

A special relevant message from one of my most important mentors, Charles Simpson, via Zoom.

Happy Pentecost from the Cabin