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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ok, I admit it. . .

I am addicted to technology!  My phone is permanently attached to my side, if I misplace it, I am mildly frantic.  I check my e-mail and Facebook in line at Wal-Mart.  If I even wonder about some trivial thing I ask Cha-Cha.  There is an app for that! I am almost always staring at some screen. . . TV, computer, telephone, sometimes simultaneously.  In my own defense, I do read books, and I haven't made the jump to Kindle.  Don't get me wrong, technology is incredible!  We have information at our fingertips today that in decades past would have seemed super space-aged.  Who remembers using encyclopedias to write papers for school?  Of course, the Internet has a dark side, but I do my best to avoid it.  The downside of so much Facebook is a loss of face time with God.  If there are any connectivity problems with Him, we need to reconnect in repentance.  God loves us and wants to have our full attention so that He can impart Himself to us.  So I am going to take my own advice and wistfully leave my phone off, unplug and unglue myself more often and give Him my full attention.        

Monday, May 30, 2011

Remember. . .

Lord, please bless this message to our spirits and do Your work in our lives, In Jesus name.  Amen.
At the Passover Feast, before His crucifixion, Jesus instituted the sacrament of Communion.  He was preparing to undergo the greatest reconnaissance mission that the world would ever see.  Luke 22:19 describes the scene, “Then He took a loaf (of bread), and when He had given thanks, He broke (it) and gave it to them saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Amplified Bible).  There is great richness in meaning for us in this passage.  The literal meaning of the word remember is to bring scattered things back together. . . or to “re”: to do again. . . “member”: make whole.  So in remembrance, we are honoring the reminiscence of a past event or person.  We revisit this time and place in our minds.  This is a worthy act in itself, but the key is the difference that this remembrance makes in our current behavior.  When we remember our fallen service people on Memorial Day it is an honor, but it should cause us to think beyond cook-outs and blow-out sales.  After the 21 gun salutes and the neatly folded flags that are placed in display cases the reality is, there are lives that have been sacrificed. There are families that must go on without their loved-ones, and broken lives that need healing.  When we, as Christians, remember Jesus in communion, we are given a charge of responsibility to forgive.  He desires that we all are healed, and the key to healing is forgiveness.  When you stand at the cross at look into the pain-etched face of Christ, and know that He suffered this injustice for your salvation it is much easier to forgive.  Jesus is saying, take my hand and forgive as I have forgiven you.  To receive Communion without taking this personal inventory and forgiving and repenting of known sin, is taking it unworthily.  Remember those who have given their lives for our country, honor their memory and bless their families.  Remember Jesus Christ who gave His life for every man’s freedom and honor Him by forgiveness.  This is the only way to truly live in Freedom.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stand Up For What Is Right

In Antioch Paul exhibits his integrity as a true minister of God’s Word.  Peter had been fellowshipping and eating with the Gentile believers before other Jews arrived.  In Paul’s own words, “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision” (Galatians 2:11, 12).  What veracity, to stand up to one who had walked with Jesus and saw the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost!  Paul stood up for what was right, not what was popular, comfortable or lucrative.  A lesson King Saul would have done well to learn.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mediums and Maxims

            After the death of Samuel and his burial in Ramah, King Saul made a decree to put out the spiritualists from the land (I Samuel 28:3).  Ramah is, “a town in the tribal territory of Benjamin near Saul’s home” (Myers, TEBD, Page 871).  At the threat of a Philistine attack, King Saul attempted to query the Lord and was met with silence.   I Samuel 28:6 records, “And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.”  The Urim and the Thummim were, “Objects used by the priests for determining the will of God” (Myers, TEBD, Page 1032).  There is no definite description of the objects given in scripture; although, due to the fact that they fit in the priest’s ephod, it is thought that they were small.  It is possible that they were pebbles or sticks made from precious metals (Myers, TEBD, Page 1032).  The Urim and Thrummin were cast similarly to dice to inquire of God's will.  At God’s silence, King Saul chose to consult a medium.  His foolish vacillation is made even more preposterous as he disguises himself to consult the medium at En Dor.  King Saul asks the woman, “. . . Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you” (I Sam.28:8).  The woman answers in fear, as she knows that the king has decreed that sorceries be abated in the land.  King Saul, in disguise, swears by the Lord that no harm would come to her.  This is a grand example of leadership deceit ad cowardice.  The medium calls up the spirit of Samuel.  Whether or not this was indeed the spirit of Samuel is open to debate.  Surely, it is within God’s power to allow this occurrence, if He so wills.  Peter would attest that he saw the spirits of Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8).  The scripture records Samuel’s reply in I Samuel 28:15, “. . . Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”  King Saul relates his fears regarding the Philistine garrison that threatened him.  Samuel’s reply is grim and definite, “Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek . . . Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines.  And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me” (I Sam.28:19).  King Saul’s repentance is obviously ego-driven; as, he sprawls on the ground and refuses to eat. This is yet another example of weak leadership and the devastating effects it has on those being led.
Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans
             Publishing Company, 1987.

Friday, May 27, 2011

All In You

Truth, Peace, Love

They all are found in You

My Lord, it's true

I found them all in You

The world cannot express, Your mercy and forgiveness

I could never see, who You created me to be

Except in You, My Lord

I found myself

in You

All in You. . .

Patti Harrison 4/20/06

Names And Hearts Change

            Saul repents to Samuel, entreating him, “. . . I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (I Sam. 15:24).  At Samuel’s refusal to return with Saul in I Samuel 15:27, 28, to worship he turned, “around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, ‘The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today. . .’”  Interestingly, Saul refers to God to Samuel, as your God, rather than my God in two instances (I Samuel 15:21, I Samuel 15:30).  In I Samuel 10:9 the scripture says, “So it was, was he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart . . .”   Ezekiel 11:19 prophetically promises, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh. . .” (KJV)  God promises to give us a new name in Revelation 2:17, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (KJV).  Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle; the name Paul means, “little”(Lockyer, ATMOTB, Page 269).  How ironic it is that King Saul sought an earthly kingdom and lost everything while egomaniacally trying to please the people; while, Pharisee of the Pharisees, Saul of Tarsus gained the Spiritual Kingdom and lost every worldly thing, while preserving his integrity, and not pandering to the status quo.

Lockyer, Herbert.  All the Men of the Bible.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1958.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sweet Escape

I searched my whole life

For your elusive touch

A whisper, a deep whisper

That seemed to escape me

Those dreams so real and then

I would awake and

Realize, I was still the same

How would I ever escape?

Searching for a faceless heart

Led me to places

You seemed so far from

How did I ever escape?

Then a moment

A single still heartbeat

I stepped out of me

and into You

Now You are my sweet escape. . .  

Disobedience and Integrity

            Through the prophet Samuel, God directed King Saul to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites (I Sam. 15:3).  In disobedience, Saul, “. . .and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them . . .” (I Sam. 15:9).  Subsequently, Saul goes to Carmel and erects a monument to himself.  At his proclamation of “performing” the commandment of the Lord (I Sam. 15:13) Samuel’s sardonic reply is, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”  King Saul answered with self justification and passing the buck, in I Samuel 15:21, “But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”  So, the king of the nation of Israel is led by the people’s desire, and will not take responsibility for his own direct disobedience.  Any action a leader willingly and with knowledge allows in his/her realm of authority is counted to their discredit.  This rings of Adam’s excuse, “. . . The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12).  I wonder how different the world would be now if Adam had turned to Eve at her offering of the fruit and said, “No thanks, I will obey God.”  Again, the people are unable and unequipped to lead themselves.  Leaders must hearken only to God and forge straight ahead in His command.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You Still Run. . .

I wonder, would I be my own friend

If I treated me like I sometimes treat You

Would I turn in love and forgive me

For the words and hurt and lack of trust

Or would I look in the mirror and run

And yet. . .

You run to me

Holding out your arms

Forgiving me in joy

Crying My child has come home

I wonder would I pay the price

That I know You paid in full

With heavy heart and outstretched arms

and love in Your eyes when. . .

You died for me

On the hill of Calvary

As I stood in the crowd

Crying crucify Him

You still run

Give Us A King!

The prophet Samuel, being of protracted age, appoints his sons, Joel and Abijah as judges over Israel. I Samuel 8:3 explains, “But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (NKJV).  How intriguing it is that man’s fleshly motivations have altered negligibly in the ages since.   The elders of Israel came to Samuel at Ramah and requested that he grant them a king as the surrounding nations possessed.  How soon they had forgotten how God had rescued them from the Philistines and the peace that was given to them with the Amorites (I Sam. 7:7-14).  The people vacillate from worshipping the Ashtoreths to worshipping the prospect of a human king, even after being saved by God’s own hand.  Samuel, although displeased, brings the people’s request before the Lord.  The answer he receives from God is most poignant, “. . . Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should reign over them” (I Sam. 8:7).  God then issues a dire admonition regarding their future king.  This “sought after” leader would plunder Israel and furthermore, “. . . you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day” (I Sam. 8:18).  Against this grim prophetic caution the people’s response was, “. . . No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (I Sam. 8:19, 20).  This is proof positive that the people are not able to lead themselves; as if the incident with the golden calf at Mount Sinai was not evidence enough.   In today’s Christian social climate, this mind set could be translated as the desire for a glossy “picture perfect” pastor who brings massive numbers in attendance at a large state-of-the-art church building rather than desiring a deep relationship with God.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hatred Preached

               It is distressing to see the headlines from the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church’s tirade of hate.  Although claiming Calvinist doctrine and primitive Baptist belief, this church is not affiliated with the Baptist Convention and is noted as a hate group by The Anti-defamation League.  This church has felt “led” to picket funerals of those that they disagree with and deem pro-gay since 1991.  Since that time, is estimated that the church has spent $250,000 dollars per year on its picketing activities and staged nearly 41,000 protests.  Among these are the funerals of the five dead from the January 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting that injured congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  The group did defer from picketing the funeral of nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was killed in the shooting, in exchange for air time on local radio.  They have also picketed the funerals of fallen service people while carrying placards declaring “Thank God For Dead Soldiers.”  Ironically, these picketers would not even have the constitutional right to publicly speak their opinions if it were not for the sacrifice of the men and women of our armed services.  They also have desecrated the American flag and are anti-Israel.  Psalm 122:6 speaks God’s heart regarding this issue, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”  The total lack of compassion this group exhibits in their rhetoric is indefensible.  They disregard the feelings of innocent loved-ones while they spew their erroneous doctrine in the name of God.  In a memo sent out at the funeral of cancer victim Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards, the group proclaimed that God hates her, and she is now a “resident” of hell.  That is judgment, which incidentally is reserved for God.  Luke 6:37 adjures us, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”  We know by the reading of scripture that God considers homosexuality a sin, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).  God despises sin, it is a disfigurement of the perfection that He created and it is a product of the Fall.  God hates sin, but He loves people and it is His desire that we, as humans overcome the sinful world to live in His Grace.  When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior our sins are forgiven and we are free to live in the unmerited favor (Grace) that Christ’s death bought for humankind.  His Blood is dynamic; it is a past perfect infinitive, meaning that it is efficacious to cover our past sins, current sins and future sins.  We have but to come to God in repentance in order to receive His forgiveness daily.  We all sin every day.  Romans 3:23 tells us this truth, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” 

Interestingly, the people that the New Testament records Jesus behaving confrontationally toward were the Pharisees, His verbiage: “Oh generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).  Jesus’ show of righteous indignation in Mark 11:15 was at the men selling sacrificial animals in the temple courtyard, “And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves.”  As Christians we are to be salt and light to the world as Matthew 5:13-16 teaches us, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Not only are the hatred-filled lies that this group is proliferating not scriptural, they are sordid, embarrassing to true Christianity and not God’s will in the least. We must know and understand scripture in order to detect the error of false doctrine. This issue is one of leadership, we as Christian leaders must be humble, motivated by love and sensitive to God’s Spirit.  Ultimately, leadership will be responsible to God for what we have taught and allowed in our realm of authority.  Pray for Godly leadership, pray for the salvation of mankind.  This is God’s desire. 
Sources:  Wikipedia, The Huffington Post

Monday, May 23, 2011

With All Your Heart. . .

The Ark of the Covenant had been in the possession of Eleazar, son of Abinadab in Kirjath Jearim for twenty years, after being hastily returned by the Philistines.  The ark had been placed in the house of the Philistine God, Dagon, to the idol’s ruin (I Sam. 5:3).  Kirjath Jearim, or the “city of woods,” was reported by Eusebius as being located 9.3 miles from Jerusalem.  The King James Version describes the situation thusly, “And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-Jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord” (I Sam.7:2, KJV).  The Hebrew word for lamented in this instance is nahah, which means to groan, cry aloud or wail.  The prophet Samuel advises the still wayward Israelites, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and he will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines” (I Sam. 7:3). The people repent and are saved by God’s hand, “. . . the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel” (I Sam.7:10).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where are we going?

More now than ever, the strength and integrity of leadership in Christianity has come under an onslaught of attack both from within and without the Church.  Secularization of ideals and motives; as well as, the methods by which Christianity is driven and implemented has caused large segments of the Church to become rife with carnality.  Attempting to fight a spiritual battle with carnality is a recipe for failure.  Ephesians 6:10-19 reminds us who are enemy is.  The weight of responsibility for this observable fact falls squarely on the shoulders of leadership.  The Maxwell Leadership Bible concisely summarizes this truth, “Leadership ability is the lid on the success of a nation or organization . . . The heart and skill of a leader will always tremendously affect the life of the people under his direction” (Maxwell, TMLB, Page 428).  While Christian leadership can only model and suggest proper behavior, total laissez faire government in the Church is neither desirable nor productive.  From time immemorial, God has had to deal with His stubborn people who would not be obedient.  Leaders must follow God and in turn lead the people.  If leaders are chasing fame, fortune or anything other than God; consequently, the people will be led in the wrong direction. 

Maxwell, John.  The Maxwell Leadership Bible.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Now Is The Time

            This is a unique time in the history of evangelical missions in the Church.  The world atmosphere is such that change is not only immanent, but constant.  World news is played out daily on a technological stage that is intensely more pervasive than in years past.  Daily newspapers and news casts have evolved into a mega-system of internet information available at one’s fingertips.  The even-newer advent of social networking on sites such as Facebook, and Twitter has accelerated the rate of information being proliferated.  It is utterly fascinating to have witnessed the 9/11 attacks of the last decade via television, as they occurred, and then to see reports of the resultant killing of the perpetrator of these acts in virtual real time.  There were Tweets regarding Bin Laden’s demise before the information officially reached the news stations.  Crowds gathered, informed by Twitter, at Ground Zero before the sun even rose on the news of his death.   The world breathlessly awaits a backlash of retaliation as this drama unfolds further.  In this truly global atmosphere of information transmission it is conclusively possible to fulfill the Great Commission in this generation. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

In A Twinkling Of An Eye

We hear the declarations of "fringe" Christianity heralding the "Doomsday" date as May 21, 2011.  In the light of scripture this claim is absurd.  Matthew 24:36 is clear about the fact that no man knows the day or hour of Christ's return.  Jesus Himself makes this crystal clear as he reiterates in Matthew 24:44, "Therefore you also be ready for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect."  God is faithful to His Word, he has given us the scripture in order to know Him and live a healthy life in expectation of Christ's return.  Our every motive must be rooted in Him and in the knowledge that the eternity of humankind hangs in the balance.  The Western world is being led astray by the lurid deception of materialism and sensuality; while, much of the world languishes in poverty and starvation.  There is an enemy of our souls, and he will stop at nothing to destroy every human being possible.  The Church must wake up out of its denominational sleep and unite in Christ as a unified body.  The scripture is sure, the scripture is clear and rifts in the body regarding interpretation must be overcome, so that we can rise up as a unified force.  This prevailing church that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 16:18 is built on the fact that Peter declared, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Jesus is who He says He is, and He is returning at the time appointed by the Father.  Christianity has a responsibility in His return, Matthew 24:14 instructs us, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."  We must be about the business of evangelization.  I Corinthians 15:52 states, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."      

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Man Knows. . .

Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, 36, "Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that (exact) day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Amplified Bible) If Jesus doesn't know the time of His return, it is safe to say that the May 21, 2011 doomsdayer doesn't know either. God is calling all of us to His heart. . . He loves you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Secret Place

The Verdant Deep is that secret place that God desires for His Children to find in Him.  It is quiet and unrushed.  It is a place of healing and change, a place in which we become more like Him.  He is calling us out into the deep, to live our lives for the Kingdom and find our place in Him only.  He is calling you to come away with Him, to rest and be refreshed. . . 

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