Tag Archives: body of Christ

Love or Die

Love or Die

Love is a law therefore it is commanded. Somehow this has escaped me all these years. I know it is good for me to love because it is reciprocal. Hate is reciprocal too. Indifference is no more than a silent hatred. What has escaped me all these years is that love is a law that cannot be broken without extreme collateral damage. Even so love is the motivating law of life.  We see this law in action all around as an inescapable command: “Love or Die”.  We have an insatiable need for love. We are served and serve through love. Intimacy of relationship is though love. By serving others we add value to ourselves and others. We call this appreciation or to appreciate.  The absence of love depreciates, decreasing the value of ourselves and others.

god is love

The Love Defined

God is love. What does this mean? Love can be expressed by four Greek words, agape, phileo, eros and storge.

Storge is a love God the Father expresses toward Christ as the heir of all He has designed and purposed to show the Glory of God to all creation. This love is also expressed toward us who are made in the image and likeness of God.  To live is to manifest the Fathers glory of genius. To reflect this glory is an expression of storge. Storge is the most organic form of love that anyone can feel; something as natural as falling asleep at night. This love is the most comfortable and least ecstatic of all loves. It’s not the rapturous feeling you have when falling in love with a partner. Storge  it like soft slippers might feel to your body. Storge wraps you around like a blanket, almost like sleep itself. The Father has provided all that you need intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. To love God you must express this level of appreciation with your total being. You are wrapped in the Fathers love resonating for all to see and feel.

Eros is a love that shows intimacy of being. Eros is the romantic flavor of love. It’s passionate, it’s rapturous, and it’s euphoric. It’s what the greatest songs have been sung about, what the greatest poems have been written about. It’s what many consider the greatest feeling of the human experience. Far more it is an expression that makes you human. If you’ve been walking around with a void in your life, when you find someone who can wipe it clean, it can truly feel like heaven on earth for a period of time.  This is the love of Jesus Christ toward His bride the body/church. This is His glory in action. To eros is to have the most intimate relationship intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. To love Christ you must express this level of appreciation with your total being.

Dr. Seuss once said..

“You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

Phileo is a love that is dispassionate, deep, and enduring friendship. This love knows your faults and does not abandon you in times of need. This love stands with you regardless of the circumstances. This love laughs when you laugh, cries with you when you cry and comforts you all the day every day. This love tells you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. This love anchors you to stability not shifting with the sands of time. This love strengthens by faith and creates hope in your life. This is the love of the Holy Spirit toward you expressed in knowledge, wisdom, health and faith of intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. To love the Holy Spirit you must express this level of appreciation with your total being.

 

Agape is a love that is comprehensive of storge, eros and phileo. God is Love. This would be better said Elohim is Love. The trinity is Love! You cannot have one without the others. Jesus said “He dwells within me and I in Him…He does the works.” Faith, hope and agape is the essentials of life and agape is the greatest of these. Why? God is agape. Who wants a husband or wife that is eros only? No you want a friend who will walk with you, a lover who will court you and spouse who knows your needs better than anyone! This is expressed toward you comprehensively by God intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

jas 1_5

Law of Love in action

This is where the road rises up to meet you. This is the great teaching of Christ Love is life. Love dwells in all human beings. All things that are good are the result of love. Love creates and appreciates. It does not benefit a person to attempt anything without love. Despite all your will to think positively and accept only good, you will find your thinking warped, demented and twisted into patterns of selfishness, bitterness, and resentment every time you cross a crisis in your life. If love has not manifested fully in your life you will see a world that is hostile and people and things that are hostile. This is a matter of view and not necessarily a reality. You will expect people to be bent on beating, taking from and destroying you. As long as this type of belief lies at the door of the subconscious you will be subject to the Law of Reciprocal Actions. You will get your expectations met creating an environment opposite of your desires. Consequently through lack of love you grow selfish, bitter and complaining, and sow the seeds of hate and destruction; you will wither, die and detract from life.

Life is creation, and all creation is a labor of love. The desire to contribute or add value(appreciate)  to humanity creates our environment and things. The fundamental nature of creativeness is love of life, for such love guides a man to progress, advancement, improvement or more enhanced than has ever been done before. Devine love draws a man into the great unity and purpose, guiding instinctively with perception the direction in which life moves; becoming one with its efforts, he contributes and creates.

This is no secret or special knowledge: only a measure of ignorance that has be sustained from one generation to another. Life seeks out knowledge and creation is the measure of the learning. Creation is the purpose of life; Creation is the mechanism of love. In other words you were created by Love to live in love and to express love with creativity. You have a designed purpose. For example a coffee cup is designed to be filled with coffee. More importantly it is designed to be filled with the brew that the master desires. We should not argue semantics noting that any hot or cold beverage may be placed in the cup. Rather that the desire is love and that love created the cup for the love of the beverage to the satisfaction of the master. You are designed with purpose by love and this love has designed talents and abilities given especially to you making you unique in the universe. Love develops character and sets you free to do the good works that God the Father has ordained that you should walk in. Lasting or complete satisfaction is established in your talents being developed, and your vision and knowledge God magnified. This is the chief end of man to glorify God by enjoying Him where magnification or your vision and knowledge reveal the magnitude of His greatness. This gives you a telescope view of God! By cleaving to the love of God as the power to good works you become free to develop your talents and abilities with an expanding and seeking universe; you become free to contribute. This is to say your life has meaning and purpose that is unique. This is not to say that the world is dependent on you and cannot exist without you; instead you add value to the world you live. This contribution advances humanity along the road. The great deception and evil resides in rejecting God as the source of love and life and proposing humanity as the source. This would be like proposing the eye is the most important organ of the body because it can see and perceive when the body can live without it. However with the eye the whole body advances in function. You are of value and add value. Your contribution is of great value.

We should be shocked and dismayed at the most disgraceful expression evil of our time by those people who do not realize that malfunction and despondency are their own fault. Some would say I have no friends and yet they are not friendly or are not a good friend. Some would say they have nothing to plant in their fields in the spring yet they ate their seed. They are sick and yet do not follow good hygiene. They sow the seed of idleness and laziness and reap neediness. They complain just as the children of Israel in the desert and ignore the greatest miracles right before their eyes. They cry in outrage and resentment along life’s road blaming God:  too much rain, not enough rain, too cold, too hot, too much sun, not enough shade, and negative, negative, negative! The greatest lesson to learn is that the fault is not fate, luck or an angry God—they are the fault. The very word itself presumes a mistake made. Ignorance and lack of love is the error which is to be the fault. This is a shame when we have such a great witness that surrounds us that God is Love!

Love or Die

Life does not have to be this way. God has created you to be more than you can imagine. You can achieve the desires God has placed in your life just as a seed that is planted in the ground. Are you fertile ground for it to grow and develop? The fertility of the ground is dependent on your love. Love is the power to live and grow; the lack of love is death.

Too Many Mind!

Too Many Thoughts

too many mind

We humans think altogether too much on altogether too many things. In the space of a split second our minds may entertain a mishmash of unconnected ideas and half formed notions such as could not be found on the printed page outside of Wikipedia. We jump haphazard from one idea to the next, unguided, unguarded, unfiltered and clutching on to whatever is blasted at us across the moving screen of mind and declaring it to be real. We start the Subconscious Mind moving in one direction, halt it, start it off in another, recall it, send it off again, recall it, literally hundreds of times each day.

We have developed habits of utterly undisciplined thinking. Worse still, very often where any discipline is present it is aimed at negative thinking. One moment we are happy and entertain happy thoughts. Then a shadow crosses the face of the mind, and we entertain morbid thoughts. A friend pays us a compliment, and we feel important and vain. An acquaintance criticizes us, and we entertain thoughts of resentment and bitterness. We wait for stimulus from outside to determine what thoughts we will accept and which we will reject. Consequently we become victims of every wind that blows and every twig that falls, and the temper of our lives is determined by countless unending streams of circumstances over which we have no control.

Rare in fact is the man that disciplines himself to accept only positive thoughts and beliefs. Rare is the man that is firm in his faith and foundation, who out waits the world to achieve his ends.

The sea and the mountain, the storm and the stars shall not persevere against such a man, and he shall move the very ends of the earth: Faith that moves mountains and the faith that by shear thought transplants a tree in the ocean.

DO WE THINK?

Do we think? This many well be the trillion dollar question. Could it be that we as human beings have been deceived into believing that we think or better said we make thought? It is strange that we should believe this, since we have no concept or perception where a thought comes and from what it is made. Even so most treatises on the mind maintain that man imagines and makes up thoughts. Yet a vigilant investigation of the process of thought, you will find that we observe thoughts instead of making thought. You will find that thought is a stream or a river that flows across the conscious mind more like a screen projection. These thoughts parade across your consciousness in a never-ending stream, following one upon the other incessantly.

Some you select and add to you, others you reject and send on their way. But the plain and irrevocable fact is that it is not you who sets the stream of thoughts in motion. If you doubt this, try to stop it!

streams of thought

Do not despair! You will find that all your efforts cannot stop your thinking, for the essence of being is observation, contemplation, and comprehension; and though you may slow the stream of thoughts even to a focal point, and examine each thought presented to you with diligent care, still they come.  These thoughts come from out of nowhere, displaying before your consciousness word pictures and images, demanding of you to establish a position: accept or reject. You are demanded to evaluate truth and fiction, right and wrong, real and fantasy.

Consider the writer who sits keyboard in hand. Does this writer “think up” the story? Does this writer “think up” the characters or plot? The writer unequivocally puts himself in a position of someone who is going to write.  The process is simple from this vantage point. He then observes the thoughts and ideas that cross the conscious mind accepting or rejecting until the ideas which appeals to him is settled. This idea he takes and examines places him in position not only to observe thought but in a position of writing a story about a man who is, let us say, standing in the middle of a busy city street. He wonders how he arrived there and the stream of thoughts come, and he accepts one, and now he is writing a story of a man who is going to meet his future wife. With each question and resulting thoughts that stream by the plot, characters and story line emerge. In no way shape or form does he “think them up. Fact is he has rejected far more thought that he has accepted.  His entire story, once completed and written, is merely evidence of the thousands of ideas he has accepted from the thoughts that have streamed through his mind. He has not thought up a thing; he has simply exercised choice. His story tells you what he has accepted; nothing will ever tell you the millions of ideas and thoughts which he has rejected.

WE CHOOSE THOUGHTS

Though it is a far stretch to say we author the story of our life; Like the writer who authors a story, each of us observes the life script of our lives and how we deal with the thoughts we accept and reject. Each of our lives is a story, unfolded by the silent contemplative Self who dwells within us, who does nothing more than accept and reject, who is involved only in making choices. This indwelling Self says, this is the law of nature and the law of God. All thought then becomes a matter of acceptance or rejection of these truths:  “This is so,” “This is not so,” “I believe this,”  “I do not believe this,” “There is hope,” “There is despair.” And each of these choices is manifested in the physical world.

We are today living testimonies to the choices that have been made from the thoughts that have streamed through our minds. We are literally products of the thoughts accepted or rejected. We are what we believe, that only, nothing more or less.

We are admonished to hold every thought captive!

2Co 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The Spirit of God within us is teaching us to accept only good. The Spirit of God within us is teaching us to reject all evil by bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ!

Col 3:1-2, 12-16  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

We are deliberately compelling ourselves to accept the things that build us up and add value to our lives. This includes the values listed in scripture whereas these values are health and strength to us.

Consider these word carefully:

Gal 5:19-23  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We are deliberately compelling ourselves to reject all suffering, all sorrow, all depression, all morbidity, all inferiority, all aches and pains. We know that we are only what we accept from the thoughts that come to us, and more than ever the wisdom of Jesus is brought home, “As ye believe, so shall it be done unto you.”

St. Augustine wrote:

I, Lord, went wandering like a strayed sheep, seeking Thee with anxious reasoning without, whilst Thou wast within me. I went round the streets and squares of the city seeking thee; and I found thee not, because in vain I sought without for him who was within myself.

Heed the Holy Spirit in the recesses of your being. Know that to him all things are possible, according to what he accepts. You are what you choose to be, and your choice is made in the mind. Seek the high and forsake the low. A man adds all things unto himself simply by taking a position with impregnable faith.

mustard seed faith

As a reflection know that “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). However the limitation of this statement is based on our view and maturity. Consider the mustard seed as given by parable by Jesus. If you have the faith the size of a mustard seed you would be able to say to a mountain be moved or to a tree be transplanted in the sea. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”. Do you believe? How big is your faith? Dare to believe and have courage to stay the course. This we know that at the end of life the person who loves much, laughs much has lived much will view life as having much to show. The opposite or negative of this is true as well. The person who has loved little, laughed little has lived little and will view life as having little to show.

Prayer:

Father grant to me discernment to accept the thoughts that flood through my mind that add value. Grant faith that moves mountains in my life and restore to me the joy of my salvation. Grant me grace that moves my view from my own and this world to your view. Let me see your thoughts toward me and allow me to see myself as you see me and accept the thoughts you have accepted toward me. Give me discernment to reject the thoughts that will unleash evil and the consequences of this evil in and through my life. Restore health and vigor to my life, mind and spirit.

Additional scripture reference

Gen_6:5  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Psa_10:4  The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

Psa_33:11  The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Psa_40:5  Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

Psa_94:19  In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

Pro_12:5  The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit.

Jer_29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Heb_4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Seek and find

Ask, seek and knock. Jesus encourages us to come to the Father who has all and is able and willing to give. Over the years I have witnessed this to be true. This is not some mystical search rather something that is more logical and spiritual.

 

We either work in accord to the power of the Holy Spirit within us or by opposing it destroy ourselves.

 

“He who seeks finds”, Jesus says. I have found this to work even in the negativity of this world. He who abandons search as hopeless will find a hopeless life. Amazingly the search does not stop and search is fulfilled albeit hopelessness. The question is what are we really searching. What do we really want? And why do we want it? Seeking does not take much effort. Seeking for any length of time may prove to test our patience. Therein is part of our problem. Our culture has destroyed perseverance as acceptable. Technology has stepped in to be our new god providing right now what we want or at least what the technology tells we want. Shamefully we have forgotten what we need and really want. We need and want lasting relationships starting with our creator. Our first breath was recognition that we can not do this life alone. We Cried out at birth hold me, feed me, clothe me. What has changed? We then cried out please save me, I can not save myself Jesus. What has changed? We are needy and want. This is natural.

“You have not because you ask not,” once again we are reminded. Stand at the counter in your favorite restaurant and say nothing and your will get exactly that, nothing.  What do you really want? and Why? Take these request to God. Be courageous and fervent! We know that the fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much. So do not give up in hopelessness. Your answer is coming either to correct your wants and whys or the thing that you have asked for. In both you have received your need and want.

Marriage: Two Become One

The Woman at the well (John 4) paints a picture of mercy and grace granted by Christ. I have read this passage and preached this passage many times over the last 30 years. I am confounded, amazed and astounded every time I read the passage.

Imagine for a moment the position of this Samaritan woman as she approaches the well of Jacob at midday. She is broken, tormented by her transgressions of God and man. She has been used by men and abused by the culture and society she lives. For her this is life. She represents in many ways what is wrong with our messy world. Pragmatically she is the common woman. She is as God designed yet she’s bound by circumstance, culture and sin that easily beset every human being. As I read this passage I am filled with compassion. Yet we live in a world just like this setting and we have people just like her around us. In many ways we are just like her. I ask the myself “do I have compassion for the people around me who have her kind of story?” She is married 5 times and lives with a man who is not her husband. She represents the licentious, immoral, depraved, profligate and scandalous life. Many would call her a harlot. I imagine though she was called a free spirit and in some circles lived a life that other were jealous. Why? The praise of man is more sought than the scorn of society. She lived with the scorn with a level of freedom. I can imagine that every woman in the village warned their husbands to give wide girth to this loose woman. Fear of conflict kept both men and women at bay restricting the influence this woman has to only the debased and depraved culture that enslaves her to a life of scandal and scorn. This scene is so familiar to us in today’s society that it is like watching afternoon soaps or evening sitcoms.

In times past I have gotten so caught up with the story that I have overlooked the scene and the principles taught by Christ. Jesus comes to this woman to teach her that the day has arrived He is revealing His Deity. Very clearly He states that the day has come that He the Son of God will be worshiped in Spirit and Truth. This is the Purpose of His meeting her at the well. There are many more lessons to be learned in this passage that is not stated yet are taught none the less.

Jesus first tells this woman that if she knew who He was she would ask Him for living water. What does Jesus mean by this statement?  To know Jesus is the prerequisite to the question. Who is Jesus Christ? Plainly stated in

Colossians 1:15-18  “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Who is Jesus Christ? I love this picture because the One who created this woman before the foundation of the world is speaking personally to her. He is her creator. He is my creator and He is your creator.

What is this “living water”? Jesus reveals to this woman an evil that has darkened the landscape of earth.

Jer 2:9-13   Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

She catches on to His statement. She asks Him “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well…”? She is pricked by His comments and after Jesus tells her to call for her husband she replies “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” The issue is the living water or the place of contentment, satisfaction, peace, joy and safety. The design of this woman by God was to have the fountain of living waters not the land of dry sand that cannot hold water. She was designed with purpose and Jesus seeks her out personally. She is caught not in adultery, but idolatry. The base of her problems is her view of God. She is caught in Idolatry believing she is worshiping her creator; However she is not sure even about this view. She is caught in the theological debate where to worship. She is caught in religion with no way to divide the word of truth. Underlying is the question “what is truth?” She is less concerned with what is truth and more concerned with which truth to follow. From this passage I believe she understood that truth is coupled with the expression “just because you can does not mean you should”. An extreme example of this is exemplified with the hydrogen atom. We are capable of splitting the atom this is true. However to split the atom brings mass destruction. Truth at this point is not the question. Which truth to follow is the unspoken question. The “living water” answers the question for her. We are to worship every day, everywhere all the time. Later we would hear these words from Paul a very religious person who met Jesus and his life was dramatically changed, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

We cannot escape the scene with our hearing the rest of the story. To easily we could walk away from this scene and Say, Amen. The scene though draws us in deep. Deep calls to deep in this passage. This woman goes back to the village and I am convinced just as Christ created her exemplified her God given personality. As an evangelist personality she has discovered information that everyone should hear about. Further she has had a life changing experience she is by design compelled to tell everyone who is close to her and will give audience.

John 4: 28-30  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

I speculate that the men in this scene are her five husbands and possibly the man she lives with. However there may be others who, like her, find themselves in bondage of circumstance and culture. I would like to propose once again that this woman was caught in Idolatry not necessarily adultery. This is not situation ethics. Though we have little information in this passage we do have historical accounts that give us some clarity in understanding this passage and more importantly the institution we call marriage.

I am ashamed that I was unable to see this scene over the years due to a view that is not wholesome. We can make assumption that prevent us from seeing clearly what is set before us. We assume that this woman is married and divorced 5 times and now is shacked up with a man whom she is immorally involved. However this is not stated. She is married 5 times and she is living with a man that she is not married. There is no indication she is physically involved with this man. We get the indication that she simply serves more as a servant than wife. She is at the well to draw water for the household it would seem. So what do we see in this scene and what can we ascertain from the testimony of Christ and this woman?

We must comprehend the times which this woman lives. For simplicity and personalization I will call her Samantha (Samaritan Woman). Samantha’s culture is a male driven world where females are typically property. Samantha does not have rights to own property or own a business. Imagine now her plight. We do not know and cannot know the why or how she ended up in the circumstances she faces. However many scenarios could play out the same way. She could have been an unwanted child forced to the streets at any age or by losing her father to death with no redeeming man to take her mother (orphan). Male children were not typically abandoned unless they were lame because they carried on the family name and inherited the estate. We see a similar circumstance in the book of Ruth. Ruth could have become Samantha having no husband alive to care for her and provide proper living quarters. We don’t know the why and how she ended up on the streets but we do know that she is on the streets and not in a respectable nature. The very nature of property ownership carries the preclusion that the property must be useful and wanted. Obviously she was needed 5 times and not wanted 5 times. She is passed around like a cup of wine giving a pleasure for a time and left empty. Samantha at this time is in dire straits needing a level of security and safety. I observe she is also in need to be gainfully employed or stated another way need to serve for room and board.  I am persuaded this is why she is shacking with the 6th man and he is not her husband. This calls into question what is marriage that one could be married 5 times with no divorce. This is not easy to accept by our current view of marriage. We assume marriage as a legal binding agreement with ceremony and contracts . However this has not always been and in this case most assuredly. Find a marriage in scripture like our marriage ceremony today. Trace marriage back as far as you can in scripture and you will find no ceremony. You however do find celebration of marriage. Marriage therefore is the union of a man and woman physically. Marriage was consummated by witnesses during or after the fact. We find it unfathomable to have a marriage consummation in our private society.  Privacy was not as common as it is today. Poor married couples rarely had their own private chambers, and wealthy couples had servants sleeping on the floor at the foot of the bed. We see Ruth sleeping as a servant at the foot of Boaz. (Ruth 3:8) Therefore most people were shameless or unembarrassed by something considered natural and good between a husband and wife. Jacob was surprised to find Leah in his bed come morning when the witnesses came to consummate His marriage to Rachael. He was deceived in to believing he was marrying Rachael, only for Leah to be placed in his bed chamber during the darkness of night. That night he married Leah and seven years later he married Rachael. (Gen 29: 21-28). Marriage by this definition is sexual intercourse.  Consummation then was cause for celebration. It goes without saying that without the marriage there is no celebration. Anything could happen prior to this union negating the necessary of the celebration. The two become one flesh is the biblical definition of marriage and more importantly is the origin of the word.

Samantha is not unlike many who we read in scripture that has more than one spouse. Jacob had 4 wives. We commonly recognize two Leah and Rachael. Leah and Rachael both gave handmaids to Jacob for the purpose of having children. The 12 tribes of Israel are from 4 women 1 man. Jacob tended to the needs and cared for his wives and large family. He was devoted to the family God had given. There is a distinct difference in Samantha’s circumstances and situation. She has had a union with 5 men whom seemingly are unable to care for her or are unwilling to take care of her. In the same way other marriages in scripture are reported she has 5 husbands. The absence of other reports of women having more than one husband is in part due to a male dominated society (lack of documentation) and in part to commonality of these relationships. In no way does this validate these relationships making these truth models to be followed. Once again we are faced with truth that must be divided:  just because you can does not mean you should. Marriage is not a ceremony or a contract. Marriage is designed to be a union that meets the physical and emotional need of a man and woman. Procreation from this union is God’s design to establish the first institution called a family. The success of this institution is dependent on our view of God which Samantha is learning in this story. For this reason Jesus does not condemn her as an adulterer. She is married to 5 men. She has found solace in the home of another man that is benign: a mere boarding arrangement. I see a life that is broken, battered and bruised to the point of survival. God has designed for our lives more than surviving till our last breath. He has designed with purpose a life that is thriving.

This raises questions concerning promiscuity in our culture and multiple partners prior to ceremonial contractual marriage.  Further this raises questions concerning “live in” couples that fall under common law. The church in general does not recognize marriage without a contract signed between man and woman or at minimum exchanging of vows. This raises questions concerning the doctrines accepted and taught. Marriage is a serious matter to God. I believe there is a clearly drawn line that God has drawn which lends understanding to the concepts of equally yoked couples. Whereas choose carefully the man you are getting involved with or choose carefully the woman you are getting involved with. I can only imagine if “The Samaritan Woman” had a view of God that she got that day at Jacobs Well how different her life would have been.

watch and wait

I am persuaded that much of what we believe we have come by wrote and not by reasoning. Let us take for instance the love of God. How do I know that God love me? Most of us if we were honest with ourselves would say “because I was told He does”. Have we examined the scriptures to verify this and experienced the joy of this divine love? The analogy does not stop there. Most of our theology comes from sources that we have not verified nor have we examined the facts for ourselves. Matthew 25 is an example of this same analogy. We see 10 virgins waiting on the Groom and when he returns 5 are ready and 5 are left. Now I have heard theologians and those who consider themselves learned in the scriptures speculate on this passage. However most will only regurgitate the last person they read or studied under. Why? we are not habitually called studied people. We give our references from an authority rather than consulting the real authority and that is the Holy Spirit. The end of the passage states….Watch! So does this mean I am never to sleep until Christ return? Of course not. However this has been explained away by those who would say that Christ is not meaning literally watching rather, expectation and attitude. Though I may agree with this the question is not answered and only those awake and watching went with Christ.

Our understanding of this passage truly eludes to maturity and understanding of believers. Jesus was talking to the Jews at the time of this discourse and they understood the idea of appointed times and seasons. the result? Christ will reveal to those who are mature the season and timing and they will be watching and waiting. Scripture is filled with doing the right thing for the right reason at the right time in the right place. We call this righteousness. The pharisees were great about most of the right except for the reasons. Their lack of maturity made them blind and deaf to the words of Christ.

Some things really never change. We as americans are so full of our own righteousness that we have very little room for Christ in our lives. We lack discipline and maturity therefore we have blindness and deafness to the words of Christ. It is time to awake from our laziness and study to show our selves approved before God and man. Maturity is needed for revival and necessary for the return of Christ.

If Christ were to return today, what would he find you doing? Hopefully what he has called you to do.

See Yourself As God Sees You

God didn’t make a mistake when He made you. You need to see yourself as God sees you.”

Most of us don’t believe we have an important job or that we have a local position that has little impact worldwide and most importantly a position that has eternal meaning. J. John gave a great response to how he sees himself as a pastor/evangelist. I believe we short change our importance to God and consequently we deny His design and purpose for our lives. Tragically this is dishonoring to ourselves, to our loved ones and most importantly dishonoring to God. Read this transcript and enjoy, but most importantly know that God has a special plan and purpose for you. You were #designedwithpurpose

Whenever I get asked, “J.John, what do you do?” it’s always very difficult to know what to say, because if I say to them that I’m a Reverend, which I am, that conjures up certain images in people’s minds. So, I often like to be a little bit creative in telling people what I do. I sat next to this woman on an airplane at Heathrow Airport in London and I said, “Hello.” And she said, “Oh, hello.” I said, “Where are you going?” She says, “I’m going to Singapore.” She said to me, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to Australia.” I said, “What do you do?” And she told me.
Then she said, “What do you do?” and I said, “Well, I work for a global enterprise.” She said, “Do you?” I said, “Yes, I do. We’ve got outlets in nearly every country of the world.”
She said, “Have you?” I said, “Yes, we have. We’ve got hospitals. We’ve got hospices. We’ve got homeless shelters. We’ve got orphanages. We do marriage work. We’ve got feeding programs. We do justice work. Basically, we look after people from birth to death and we deal in the area of behavioral alteration.” She went, “Wow!” like really loud. People all turned round and look at us. She said, “What’s it called?” I said, “It’s called ‘The Church.’ Have you heard of it?”

Peace in a war weary world

“All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.” (Isaiah 54:13–14)

Often we quote proverbs as a guide to raising children: “train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”. In doing so we lose sight of the “way” and why no departure is a promise. We forget that evangelism begins not in the world but in our own families. Joshua was told by God “let not the book of the law depart from your mouth meditate on it day and night.” Jesus words, in Matthew 28 known as the great commission, is regarded as a church mandate and yet it is a personal command to “teach them to observe what I have commanded”. We get caught up in the actions associated with these great references and never ask the why? God tells Isaiah he will teach the children. Now ask who are the children? The narrow understanding of the “Who” is Israel however the grand scope of the intent is all those who are called by his name: “if my people who are called by my name will pray and humble themselves before me”. The training and teaching belong to the Holy Spirit and yet we are to have a relationship and cultivate a relationship with God and our children (training) so that they are in an environment of growth. The who and how become the cause for the effect. Cause and effect in this case is Righteousness (right living) and peace (family and community trust). Do you trust those in your community? Do you trust those in your family? We can live at war with the world and have peace at home. However you can not have peace with the world and be at war at home. Tyranny in the family creates terror that strips all peace in a persons life. God addresses the most basic family unit and extends this same model to extended family and the community we live. Peaceful communities are made up of peaceful families. Destroy the family peace and the community and the world breaks down one building block at a time. Terror will be on every door step.

Joshua, Solomon (proverb) and Isaiah all address the same model that was reinforced by Jesus. Law and Grace are not opposites rather Grace and Law labor hand in hand as do faith and works. The “why” is so important that with out the “expected end “(Jer 29:11) we have no reason to live in this war weary world. Why the teaching of the commands and law of God? Why the 10 commandments? Why the moral teaching? Peace of mind and Peace of the soul. Once a person has tasted this peace neither will they depart for long from the cause nor will they give up the cause so easily. In fact once a person has tasted this peace of mind and soul they will fight to have and keep it.